Steven Spielberg Doesn't Think Netflix Films Should Be Considered For Oscars
In what's starting to become an annual tradition, for the second year running, legendary director and producer Steven Spielberg has kicked up a stink around Oscars time. His gripe? Once again, the trend (and objective success) of Netflix films becoming major players when it comes to awards season.
The director has been a long critic of the view that many critics and awards shows have taken towards films produced by streaming services, which this year culminated in Roma — a Netflix owned film — winning two oscars and receiving a nomination for Best Picture in the process. An increasing amount of seasoned actors and directors are also either making or selling movies directly to the streaming service, bypassing both studios and the process of theatrical releases entirely, including Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney.
However, if Spielberg has his way, these types of films won't be put into contention for Academy Awards at all going forward. As a current governor of the Academy's Director's Branch, he plans to propose changes to Oscars eligibility rules, arguing films that debut on streaming services or get a short theatrical run should qualify for the Emmys instead of the Oscars.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” an Amblin spokesperson told IndieWire. He has a number of reasons for this, some valid. Netflix was able to spend far more in PR campaigns leading up to the Oscars than some other nominees, and many of their movies, including Roma, only receive extremely short theatrical releases.
Being available in 190 countries, 24-7, they also have a distinct advantage in getting viewers and garnering public support over other films that spend months in cinemas.
“He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”
This time last year, Spielberg ramped up the press surrounding the release of Ready: Player One by adding a little controversy into the mix, coming out to say that Netflix films, as a rule, shouldn't qualify for Oscars as they're technically TV films.
Speaking to ITV in the above interview, he said “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie…Television is thriving with quality and art, but it endangers film as a form because creators won’t brave the indie awards scene, and just to go to streaming providers instead. But once you do, the creation crosses a Rubicon to become television and shouldn’t be considered for an Academy Award.”
Spielberg isn't the only person in the old-class of filmmaking to express displeasure at Netflix's business practices, including taking a highly TV-movie approach to filmmaking and releasing films in limited runs at theatres to qualify them for Academy Award nominations while making them available to stream at the same time.