Roma won Alfonso Cuaron an Oscar for Best Director, but Steven Spielberg isn't having it. He doesn't think Netflix original movies should be nominated, and he wants the Academy to block the streaming giant, and others like it, from being eligible in the future. This, naturally, has caused some big backlash, perhaps most notably from acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, who is working on a few original Netflix projects herself, and could be eligible for an Oscar sometime in the future.
Roma's Oscar win this year was a big deal for Netflix, who shelled out millions of dollars in their campaign for the award. Roma also scored a Best Picture nomination, though it lost out to Green Book, which faced a controversy of its own following the awards ceremony.
Roma isn't actually Netflix's first triumphant at the Oscars, either. In 2017, the streaming service was just starting to dip its toe into awards season, and won Best Documentary Short Film for The White Helmets. Some directors have taken big issue with Netflix in the past, but Roma's Best Director win has pushed everything to a boil. Now Steven Spielberg is getting proactive and speaking out.
Spielberg wants all future Netflix original movies barred from Academy consideration. He has complained about it in the past, as these films rarely play in theaters, and when they do, it's very limited. Netflix is bucking the traditional theatrical distribution model, and that is upsetting a lot of Artists in Hollywood. Though others, like Martin Scorsese, whose The Irishman will stream on Netflix in the fall, are embracing what the company has to offer. In some cases, like Roma, it's a freedom directors wouldn't otherwise get at a major studio.
Steven Spielberg has gone on record to call Netflix Originals 'TV movies', and that includes the likes of Roma and the Coen Brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which was also nominated this year. Netflix did put Roma in select theaters for a three week run. That didn't do anything to sway Spielberg's thinking though.
Spielberg is expected to speak in favor of changing Academy rules that would disqualify movies like Roma from an Oscars run. He'll be making his case at the Academy Governor's Board meeting next month.
Some studio complaints against Netflix include the fact that they spent way more on their Oscars campaign than anyone else. Some reports go as high as $50 million or more. That's ten times what Universal spent on Green Book. Not running theatrically until being ultimately pushed to do so is also a sticking point, as Netflix doesn't have to report box office numbers. A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment says this.
"Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation."
Spielberg is expected to become the main mouthpiece for this movement. But not everyone is going to be in his favor, especially as Netflix starts to throw more money at established filmmakers who just aren't able to get some of the projects they really want to do up and running. Take Ava DuVernay's recent tweet for example.
Dear @TheAcademy, This is a Board of Governors meeting. And regular branch members can’t be there. But I hope if this is true, that you’ll have filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently. Thanks, Ava DuVernay. https://t.co/DFBLVWhiJj— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 1, 2019
She has already made 13th for Netflix and has When They See Us on the way soon. She is asking for those in opposition to Spielberg to speak out. It's not clear where Alfonso Cuaron stands on all of this, with his Oscar now safe and secure in his hands. It's likely that he'll collaborate with the streaming giant again. And there is already an awards push happening for Scorsese's The Irishman, and it's not out for months. Would he dare side with Spielberg and take himself out of the running? This news comes from The AV Club.