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Netflix at the Oscars

Posted by Jean Valjean , Mar 04 2019 · 103 views

:kaukau: Some controversy has been raised on this subject, courtesy of my idol Steven Spielberg. He's a big believer in the power of the Big Screen, and that the Oscars celebrates the culture of the Big Screen every year. It isn't necessarily a celebration of all movies across all mediums. After all, movies that are made for television win their awards at the Emmy's.

So how does Netflix fit into this? Netflix movies have budgets, and major directors and actors attached, and they aim for a cinematic experience. In terms of quality, they seek to be indistinguishable from a movie released on the Big Screen. They do not flow like movies made on television at all. So do films initially released on Netflix have a place at the Oscars?

My sentiments align with Spielberg's. He has made things for screens of all sizes. He also loves video games. The guy is aware of the various different mediums of entertainment, I agree that each medium should have its own separate awards ceremony. People are telling him to get with the times and acknowledge that Netflix movies are not inferior to theatrical movies, but I actually think that he's ahead of his time, as he always has been.

Here's how I see it: online streaming services should have their own award ceremony for their medium. They have reached the point where they have become distinctive enough as a medium that they cannot be categorized as TV or Big Screen, and they are mainstream enough to deserve their own ceremony. Think about it: there's not just Netflix, but Hulu, Youtube, Amazon, and more. Disney is coming out with its own pretty soon. You can bet that in the next decade, new entrepreneurs will pop up. If you try and lump this in with the Oscars, you're essentially denying that this is its own unique and upcoming thing with its own distinct identity. You're trying to define it in terms of the past and in terms of its visionary future.

Streaming isn't like TV, because it often doesn't rely on commercial breaks. It isn't like the Big Screen, not just because of the different sensory experience but because it creates an entirely different kind of communal experience. It's just so different. It can create magic just as much as TV and the Big Screen, but it's its own kind of magic.

If I may, when such an awards ceremony becomes mainstream, I propose that they be called the Fonso's..

EDIT: Guys, I take that back. Such an awards ceremony should be called the PEWDIE AWARDS. Also, make sure to never, ever subscribe to Youtube channels run by large corporations and record label companies. Losers who live in their mothers' basements, unite! WE SHALL BE REPRESENTED!


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Vorahk1Panrahk2
Mar 05 2019 08:40 AM

Its an interesting line to be sure. The thing about Roma is that its not a made for TV movie. It's not even a made for streaming movie. It was intended for the big screen but only Netflix was willing to distribute it. So here's a movie that was intended to be seen on the big screen, limited to the small screen because that's the only way the artists could share their work.

 

And let's be honest here: academy members watch many of the films through DVD screeners, not in the theater. So, to be blunt, who cares if something has a theatrical release if the thing isn't even going to be watched that way? I have no evidence of any industry people against streaming films at the Oscars who also watch nominated movies via screeners, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. I certainly don't see Spielberg advocating that academy members must see movies in theaters (a sentiment which I would get behind, to be honest).

 

At the end of the day, a film is a film, and the line between 'TV' (and 'streaming') and 'Cinema' is getting more blurry every day. I don't buy that streaming is its own unique medium. Something like Bandersnatch is, but a movie like that is so rare it shouldn't even factor into the equation. Just look at Roma. Which is it? TV movie or movie movie? Why should where it gets watched make a difference? So maybe its time the academy change their eligibility rules. The best movie is the best movie regardless of where it comes from.

 

I don't agree with Spielberg's vehemence here, but I know where he's coming from. He's worried about losing the theatrical experience and wants to preserve that. That's admirable, and from that perspective I'm absolutely on his side. But I think he's going after the wrong thing here. Rather than attack streaming he should be encouraging streaming services to give their movies theatrical releases. Amazon does this, and no one complained when Manchester by the Sea won Oscars two years ago. I would have loved to have watched Roma and Ballad of Buster Scruggs in the theater.

 

EDIT: And yes, I am aware that Roma and Ballad both received a theatrical release in order to qualify them for the Oscars, but a bare, pathetic, minimal release just for awards qualifying is not the same as giving a movie a real run in the theater. 

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Jean Valjean
Mar 05 2019 03:07 PM
I certainly don't see Spielberg advocating that academy members must see movies in theaters (a sentiment which I would get behind, to be honest).

 

 

:kaukau: I can get behind that sentiment, too.  I like the idea of there being special theatrical showings of a bunch of these during awards season, and Academy Members being invited to screen it and get a feel for how a movie is experienced in a communal setting.

 

By the way, I wouldn't have complained if Roma won.  As things currently stand, it's not against the rules.  And if Roma won, it would have legitimized online streaming services in a really big way and opened new creative opportunities.  Anyway, I don't necessarily have a problem is movies produced by Netflix show up on the big screen.  What I think is the issue is whether or not a movie first appears on the small screen or the big screen, and that would be the standard way of determining whether or not something is considered private or public entertainment.

 

I still stand by my point of view that there should be a separate ceremony, since movies made for television get categorized outside of the Oscars.  So it's clear that the Oscars categorically don't cover movies as a whole, as a generic catch-all.  They're quite specifically an ode to the theatrical experience, and always have been, especially since home media wasn't invented when they first institutionalized the awards.  When new technology opened up new means of entertainment, they created a new ceremony for that, called the Emmy Awards.

 

Regardless of here we stand, I do find your viewpoint interesting, and your input always has been and always will be appreciated.

 

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Vorahk1Panrahk2
Mar 05 2019 09:10 PM

Oh I know you wouldn't have, sorry if my post came off a bit aggressive (I realize rereading it that it is a bit). But there definitely are members of the industry who would have sadly enough  (there was one quote that said Oscar night was a "bullet dodged" or something to that effect), and regardless of where you stand I think complaining about a Netflix Oscar is completely missing the spirit of the award.
 
 

They're quite specifically an ode to the theatrical experience, and always have been, especially since home media wasn't invented when they first institutionalized the awards.  When new technology opened up new means of entertainment, they created a new ceremony for that, called the Emmy Awards.

 

​I completely get this, but man, I dunno. Back in the day the division was so much more obvious than it is now. TV movies are TV movies, and some streaming movies are definitely meant for streaming (Bandersnatch, everything Disney has planned, probably), but then there's those movies that were meant for the theater and then got picked up by a streaming service (Roma, Wolfwalkers) I just think it'd set an unfortunate precedent if a movie wasn't allowed to be recognized because it ended up on a streaming service, and for me that's where the rub lies.

 

Your points are fare, and I think I can be open to the idea of recognizing streaming separately as long as there's a solid distinction between the Romas and the Bandersnatches (which I keep using as an example because as rare as that type of movie is, its a really easy example). Although how to make such a distinction.... I don't know, Kraagh. I just don't know.

 

I think the academy will be taking a hard look at their eligibility rules this year and I just hope that industry pettiness is kept in check. And that Netflix caves in and starts allowing their films a decent theatrical release, which would really end the whole issue, wouldn't it? Maybe everyone just needs to meet half way. Film is a wonderful medium however its watched and the squabbling over what is what gets depressing.

 

(I don't think Spielberg has made any official comments on the matter, right? I've just heard second hand reports. I'd be interested to hear his actual words.)

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Jean Valjean
Mar 09 2019 05:03 PM

:kaukau: Don't worry, I didn't interpret your post as aggressive at all.  I just know that whenever there's a disagreement online, people seem to think that everybody must hate each other, but I personally love it that we're able to have this discussion and bounce around a few different ideas.  It's a lot better than having no conversation at all.

 

My feelings are that a movie can be meant for one thing, and then end up as another thing, and we should judge them based on the final result.  In my opinion, one of the best Star Trek movies is The Motion Picture, and the ironic thing is that it was actually meant to be a pilot episode for a spinoff series on television, but then they scrapped that idea, padded out the run time, and made a really interesting movie that has a cult following among Trekkies.  Should it have been nominated at the Emmy Awards instead of the Oscar awards?

 

And if I'm going to bring that up, then I may as well being up the pilot episodes for Marvel's The Inhumans.  It was made for television, but they initially released those as a special experience in IMAX.  I believe that before The Clone Wars was aired, they released their first three episodes in theatres as a single movie to raise excitement.  I interpret both of these as being cinematic releases and technically eligible for the Oscars, even though they barely qualified as movies.  But then, short films are nominated for Oscars, and short-form documentaries are nominated, so I guess that technically these would count.

 

As for people saying that Roma was a bullet dodged, I don't really agree with their wording.  Under current Academy rules, it's not a controversy; it fit the rules.  And though I can't afford Netflix, I really want to see it because it looks gorgeous.

 

If I could make a distinction between movies that are "officially" streaming movies and those that are "officially" made for the silver screen, I would want a movie like Roma released first in the theatres, even if only for one weekend on a limited release, before being pulled and released online.  In that way, it's born into world as a child of the Silver Screen.  It's the ceremonial unveiling that, if we're to draw distinctions, matters to me.  After that, if your producer was an online streaming service and you're limited to your platform, I don't really care.  There are many movies with limited theatrical runs that go straight to DVD within weeks.  And some of them win Oscars.

 

Perhaps there should be an award ceremony that celebrates the film genre specifically and not medium.  For that, I guess we have the Golden Globes, but they aren't quite in the same league as the Oscars and Emmy's and Tony's (and the future Pewdies), which were established to correspond with their medium.

 

Speaking of which, we're talking about film as a genre across many mediums.  Imagine if ongoing shows were a part of all the main mediums.  We have them on television and streaming, but imagine if some trailblazing entrepreneur found out a business model that allowed him or her to show every episode of his show on Silver Screens around the world every Thursday?  I'd imagine that, technically, this would be eligible for an Oscar, since it isn't necessarily a single movie by genre, but it fits into the medium that the Oscars focus on.  My main question is whether or not the "Cinema Show" would be judged by the Academy based off its merits as a show as a whole, based off of its season, based off of the episodes that were released that year (which may be the end of one season and the beginning of another), or if each episode would be judged as a movie.  That's a really curious idea to me, and to be honest, if I was a big-shot who could do whatever he wanted, I always liked the idea of taking on idea for a rather cinematic idea for an adventure serial I had in mind and put it on the actual big-screen instead of over the airwaves.  And then people would just buy a Season's Pass and all watch the latest episode communally.  For all we know, something like that could become mainstream in the distant future, and it's hard to predict where the institution of cinema will go.  A quarter of a century ago, who would have thought that the Big Screen would receive competition from mobile phones?

 

So perhaps there's an award ceremony specifically for more long-form standalone entertainment, and an awards ceremony for serial entertainment.  The main problem I see with this is that at this point we're obviously getting a bit heavy in the sheer number of mainstream awards ceremonies.

 

There are some mediums that nobody has been talking about, either.  For example, if you go to Walt Disney World, they have several attractions that are theatrical, but they are non-standard in their format.  Their documentary showing of O Canada! takes place on a 360 degree circular screen.  They may have additional bells and whistles, such as props meant to augment the reality of the screen.  Or if you go to the Minneapolis Science Museum, there's the Omnitheatre, which is a semi-spherical screen that wraps around your whole vision.  I also once watched a play put on that had a big screen in the background constantly showing flashbacks; it was a play and a movie at the same time.  Then, eventually, virtual reality will become more mainstream.  How are we to address that?  Will all virtual reality, from movies to shows to games, be acknowledged in the same awards ceremony, or will they be acknowledged differently?  Plus, not all of the virtual reality will be quite the same in its implementation.  At Walt Disney World, there was a VR ride called Soarin' which created a more communal virtual experience.  What we're able to create a VR experience where we're not alone in our headset, but physically surrounded by the VR, along with our fellow viewers, so that we can interact with our friends as we're being entertained?

 

Am I speculating too much?  But actually, I do think that this level of speculation is necessary moving forward.  As we figure out how we want to categorize our awards and recognition, we do need to seriously think through all of the possibilities for how things can be categorized in the future and speculate all possible combinations of genres, mediums, and interfaces.

 

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Me

Username: Jean Valjean
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