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Netflix’s moment in the best picture spotlight will have to wait another year.
The streaming service’s big Oscars bet, “Roma,” won best director and best foreign language film on Sunday night, but “Green Book” took home the top prize.
The chemistry between Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen was “apparently enough to help Academy voters forget the controversies that have plagued the film,” CNN’s Sandra Gonzalez wrote.
Looking beyond best picture, “Roma” and “Black Panther” both won three awards; Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar for best adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman;” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” picked up the most wins of all, with four Oscars.
So there was no dominant winner overall. Netflix scored several significant victories. But given the amount it invested in an award campaign for “Roma,” the best picture result must have been disappointing for Netflix.
The New York Times said that “by backing ‘Green Book,’ voters slowed the ascendency of Netflix, which had been pushing a competing nominee, ‘Roma.’”
Resistance to Netflix?
Was there a resistance to the streaming service – and its disruptive ways – among some Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members? That’s what some observers surmised after Sunday night’s show.
“My guess is that ‘Roma’ would have won if it wasn’t for the preferential ballot,” Variety’s New York bureau chief Ramin Setoodeh tweeted. “Many Oscar voters that I talked to truly loved it, but also a bloc voted against it because they didn’t want a Netflix movie to land best picture.”
This anti-Netflix view also came through when Brooks Barnes of The Times spoke with anonymous Academy voters earlier this month.
But the “preferential ballot” was probably also a factor. This format has been employed by the Academy for the past 10 years.
CNN media critic Brian Lowry commented: “There’s going to be a ton of grumbling about ‘Green Book,’ but as I stated in my predictions, both ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Roma’ faced enormous hurdles – the first that there’s still a sense that superhero movies are big and dumb, and the second because of Netflix’s high-handed approach to the movie business, no matter how much money it throws at the process.”
Lowry added: “We’ll never know, but if Netflix had treated ‘Roma’ like a more conventional nominee — starting with providing box-office data — it might have been a different outcome.”
Netflix did some things the old-fashioned way. For one, it absolutely blanketed Hollywood with ads and events to promote “Roma” to Academy voters.
“Netflix clearly didn’t spend enough,” THR editor Matthew Belloni quipped after the show.
On a more serious note, Belloni added, “That people consider ‘Green Book’ an upset is a testament to how successful Netflix’s ‘Roma’ campaign was. They took a black and white foreign language film all the way, in the process sparking a dialogue about the future of film. A pretty remarkable achievement.”
Along with the three Oscars for “Roma,” Netflix also prevailed in the best documentary short category for the film “Period. End of Sentence.”
“With 4 wins, Netflix tied Disney, Fox, and Universal for the most wins by any studio,” Yahoo’s Daniel Roberts wrote.