CALIFORNIA, USA — It's a tour de force at the Oscars for digital streaming. Streamers like Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Hulu have all earned a shot at the biggest awards their industry has to offer.
Netflix leads the pack with 27 nominations across all the categories. Other streaming services have also earned nominations, such as Apple with six, Amazon with four, and Hulu with one.
“I think the quality of the streaming films that we see, especially nominated for Oscars this year, is just better recognized. It's not that Netflix is making better movies than everybody else. It's that, when Netflix makes a great movie, it's available to everyone… all over the globe,” said Eric Melin, editor-in-chief of the movie review website Scene Stealers.
Last year, the LA Times touted the 2021 Academy Awards as "streaming's biggest year." Netflix had a whopping 36 nominations and won seven awards.
This year, Netflix's "The Power of the Dog" is considered by many to be a favorite to take home Best Picture. Streaming distributors also have their hands in the acting categories, as well.
It’s more than just quality movies coming off the streaming service. It’s the kind of movies they’re distributing that’s a real gamechanger. Something that a few years ago, might have been a farfetched idea.
"During that time, Netflix had crap because, you know, Blockbuster had the rights to most of the distribution, so Netflix didn’t have much,” said ABC10 entertainment reporter Mark S. Allen.
Allen said Blockbuster, a former household name for movie rentals, had all the conventional movie titles while Netflix was in a position to "take anything" coming form the independent movie scene.
“Slowly, Netflix started ticking up its catalog, its capital gain, and it started investing that money into making great movies. So yeah, the Netflix product has gotten infinitely better and stands side-by-side with quality with any of the major theatrical traditionally-owned studio releases,” Allen said.
Netflix used that money to attract blockbuster talent, which were typically associated with the movie theaters, to make better movies and also movies that were exceptionally different from what was seen on the silver screen.
“I think what's significant about it is that Netflix, especially, and some of the other streaming services are giving directors the greenlight for pictures that never would be made otherwise,” Melin said, pointing to the Martin Scorsese’s three-hour mob epic “The Irishman” as an example.
“The Irishman” was an expensive movie that no one in Hollywood wanted, but Netflix ultimately stepped in and made. Other movies Netflix took a risk on include Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” and the Coen brother’s “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”
Melin said Netflix and other streaming distributors are looking to change the way people view both streamed movies and movies that have both a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release.
“They have completely trained audiences to understand that the day that a film comes out on VOD (video-on-demand) or their streaming service and it’s out in the theater, it does not mean that the quality is any less,” Melin said. “There's still some films that haven't done that like ‘Licorice Pizza’ and ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Belfast,’… But I don't think you could argue that those films are any less good than something like ‘The Power of the Dog,’ which is the favorite to win Best Picture.”
Allen said its a change in perception that might already be here, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic shuttering theaters and some in the industry changing their tune on streaming altogether.
“All of a sudden now, it’s not even an option. Now, streaming matters more than ever and I think if anything that (the pandemic) just sped up the inevitable that it doesn’t matter, shouldn’t matter. Movies are movies,” Allen said.
In the end, movie fans are winners.
“It's actually kind of cool… They're really doing both, but for film fans, it's really cool that we get to have movies like ‘Roma,’ and well, this year, ‘The Power of the Dog,’” Melin said.
WATCH ALSO: Sacramento's Jessica Chastain is the favorite to take home Best Actress at the 94th Academy Awards. Chastain's earned the nod for her starring role in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." Mark S. Allen caught up with Chastain before her nomination to about the movie and her deep connection to Sacramento.