After roaring into the 2020 Oscar show with a company record of 24 nominations, Netflix wound up walking away tonight with only two wins: Laura Dern with Best Supporting Actress for Marriage Story and Best Feature Documentary American Factory.
Call it a bad case of deja vu: Netflix charged into this year’s Golden Globes with a massive 34 nominations (a combo of film and TV noms), and walked away from the night with a Best Supporting Actress win for Dern, and a Best Actress TV drama win for The Crown‘s Olivia Coleman. If you were to take bets in the Globes press room that night, there was a straw poll consensus that best drama was The Irishman‘s to lose, and lose it did. That projection was fueled by Irishman‘s Best Picture wins at the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.
Of the streamer’s 24 Oscar noms this year –10 were for Martin Scorsese’s $200M mobster epic The Irishman (which came up completely empty) and 6 for Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. The streamer according to reports shelled out a mind-boggling estimated $100M on its overall 2019-20 awards season campaign (versus a theatrical studio’s average spend of $5M-$20M per contender).
In a world of presidential elections and awards campaigns when you’d think he who has the most gold ultimately rules, that wasn’t the case here. As one strategist has always wisely said when it comes to awards campaigning, “It’s an art, not a science.”
Last year, after notching 15 noms, Netflix won four Oscars, tying with Disney, 20th Century Fox and Universal: three for Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma with best director, best foreign film and best cinematography as well as documentary short subject Period. End of Sentence. Of last year’s 15 noms, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma counted 10.
Meanwhile Amazon, which was hot out of the gate back 2017 with three Oscars for Best Foreign Film (The Salesman), and Manchester by the Sea (Best Actor Casey Affleck and Original Screenplay winner, filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan), the Jeff Bezos tech shopping corp came up way short this year with just one nom for foreign film with Les Miserables.
Specialty arthouse movies that are potential awards contenders, yet run the risk of deep-sixing at the box office, enjoy the benefit of Academy rules and Netflix in seeing a truncated theatrical release in a handful of theaters for a limited number of weeks before being available to the streamer’s 167M subscribers around the globe. During the summer, Netflix tried to close the theatrical window (now at 90 days) with big theatrical exhibition chains for the release of The Irishman, but talks fell apart.
Yes, of course, Emmys are right around the corner with strategists around town already booking their TV accounts. But Netflix is already looking to Oscars 2021 with such feature contenders like Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy starring Amy Adams, Glenn Close and Freida Pinto; George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight starring Felicity Jones and David Fincher’s Mank starring Gary Oldman as Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz.
That’s quite awards pedigree. And Netflix will be back, again.
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