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Is Netflix Coming to the Academy Awards?

Sara Elliot October 4, 2017 October 4th, 2017

Last week, a members-only meeting was held for the second time in its 90-year history (the first being in 2013). One of the main reasons? Netflix.

We can’t deny that streaming services have changed the way we consume media. Though Netflix is most popular for its binge-worthy original series, the company has produced several acclaimed movies in the last few years. “Okja”, released earlier this year, made it to the Cannes Film Festival, and with “Mudbound” generating Oscar buzz, some changes might be coming.

As Business Insider points out, Netflix has been nominated at the Academy Awards before for its documentaries, but never for narrative originals.

To be eligible for an Academy Award, a film must complete a seven-day theatrical release in both Los Angeles and NYC during the eligibility period. Streaming services can get around that by buying slots in theaters to make themselves eligible, but the immediate release to consumers remains a problem.

This has been an issue since the 2015 release of “Beasts of No Nation”. Netflix released its first original movie simultaneously on ┬ástreaming and in theaters. The major chains boycotted the film because it did not respect the 90-day exclusive theatrical window.

“Beasts of No Nation” (2015)

The possibility of a film winning both an Emmy and an Oscar in the same year is particularly controversial. A prominent Academy member even said that this could mean “a cheapening of the Oscar”. Others have been led to wonder what truly defines a movie.

Another recent controversy for the Academy that has not been fully resolved is the lack of diversity. After general outcry on the lack of nominees of color in 2015 and 2016, 2017 was a better year. The ceremony presented diverse nominees and “Moonlight” took home several awards.

However, members of the academy were also impatient with the organization’s defensiveness on the issue, and the general feeling is that they have done enough for diversity.

What could the addition of Netflix-produced films mean for the Academy Awards? Is it really a cheapening of the Oscars? Or could this be key to making the awards ceremony more diverse? All these questions could lead to interesting changes for the upcoming 90th Academy Awards ceremony on March 4, 2018.