Steven Spielberg is concerned about Netflix. Well, not just Netflix, but streaming in general. As the various streaming services have moved into producing more original content – including movies – he wants them out of the running for Oscars.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” said an Amblin spokesperson. “He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”
Why now? It seems that it’s because Roma won some awards, and was in the running for best picture. However (as the article notes) it’s not really clear that Roma violated any Academy rules, so…
What’s really the concern here is the business model. Suddenly upstarts are coming along and producing a lot of movies (most pretty bad, but some really excellent) that don’t depend on the traditional movie distribution system to get to viewers. Is this an advantage? Probably. More people will probably see the hot new Netflix release than something they have to go to a theater for.
And while I think Spielberg honestly believes that seeing movies in theaters is different (and I agree with him), it’s 2019. Theaters are expensive and often not very pleasant experiences (that whole hell is other people thing). We’re accustomed to seeing movies in different ways now, and calling them “TV movies” is just silly; streaming services are bringing things to people that are a far cry from the mostly painfully bad made-for-TV movies of the 70s and 80s.
Movies work differently now. I suppose the Academy could decide to tighten up its rules and start ignoring the things that are not primarily released in theaters, but that seems like a way to just marginalize its entire mission. What I have not heard anybody say about Roma is that it wasn’t a film made by people who are serious about their craft who strove to make a very high quality production. (I haven’t seen it; it’s on my Netflix list though…)
As it happens, Roma did not win best picture; that went to Green Book, which I have not seen, and have no plans ton see. I’m sure the writing, acting, and production are all top-notch, but my tolerance for “racism for white people” movies is pretty low. There are enough African-American filmmakers making great movies about African-American life in the United States that I’d rather spend my time with their work.
Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen BlacKkKlansman and Sorry to Bother You, you really should.