Back in 2013, Netflix produced the first season of “House of Cards,” which was the first online-only series to receive major awards nominations. Since then, streaming services have exploded. Seemingly every major distributor has launched one, or more, of their own streaming services, producing shows and movies you can only see via app or website, not on broadcast TV. While streaming series have been embraced wholeheartedly, streaming-only movies still have yet to get the respect they deserve.
Until recently, Netflix has been the main producer of web-only films, and they have released some real gems. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Roma,” “Marriage Story,” and “The Irishman” are just some of the movies that Netflix has released in recent years. Despite love across the board for these movies, Netflix’s Oscar wins (outside of documentaries) have been very limited, with only “Roma” winning multiple Oscars.
Until this year, the Oscars only allowed for films released in theaters to be eligible for awards. Even now, streaming only films had to have a planned theatrical release to be considered. This comes alongside a general hostility towards streaming services–last year Steven Spielberg went off on how Netflix films shouldn’t ever be eligible for Oscars.
This year might be a sign of a change, however. To start, Netflix’s offerings this year are, frankly, ridiculous. “The Devil All the Time,” “Mank,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” are all receiving a tremendous amount of love. In fact, Netflix might take the crown for most Best Picture nominees ever, a record set by MGM over 80 years ago. This doesn’t even take into account other streamers’ offerings, like Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Additionally, traditional theaters have been more or less absent this year, and most major studio releases have been exclusive to Disney+, another streaming service.
So, while some Hollywood traditionalists may not love it, streaming services are here to stay. Streaming services are pumping out better content than ever, matching and often surpassing the major theatrically-based studios. While this crazy year has brought about plenty of negatives, especially in the film industry, one positive that is (hopefully) on the not-so-distant horizon is these great movies getting the mainstream respect that honestly, they’ve deserved for years now.