Opinion | Netflix’s Oscar run

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If Netflix is the envy of the entertainment world, it’s not just because of its market reach and revenues as an app, but the critical acclaim its productions have begun to acquire. Just scan the Oscar nomination list this year. Its films have amassed as many as 24 nominations. The two Netflix movies that lead the pack, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, have also been among the most talked about in recent weeks. Both are reckoned to have a good shot at Best Picture, while the latter, a divorce flick, is an odds-on favourite for the top acting honours. This is domination of a rare sort—the kind film critics welcome.

Netflix began its tryst with Oscars only two years ago, when it scored its first major Oscar nomination. Last year, it came within sniffing distance of the big prize with Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, a period film that looked at political turbulence in Mexico through the eyes of a household help. Given the big production budgets at Netflix’s disposal and the emphasis it has been placing on worthy cinema, its Academy Awards success seems inevitable.

Could this be Netflix’s year at the ceremony? There are contenders from other studios, no doubt. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out Oscars, may soon discover that what’s available on the internet at the tap of a thumb also gets watched a lot more. It also generates the sort of global buzz that award juries can’t overlook. If Scorsese’s film offers us an America where the personal and the political coalesce to evoke an unlikely empathy, Baumbach’s does something similar for an institution that’s much older but no less fraught with tension and self-doubt.



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