How is this for symbolism — Mahershala Ali won his second Oscar in three years for Green Book while the finale of his series True Detective was airing on HBO.
For the first time ever, all four acting Oscar winners this year have current TV series, Bohemian Rhapsody‘s Rami Malek (USA’s Mr. Robot), The Favourite’s Olivia Colman (Netflix’s The Crown), Ali (True Detective) and Regina King (HBO’s upcoming Watchmen).
It is the strongest indication yet of the blurring lines between film and television and a culmination in the process of television — once considered film’s far less prestigious ugly stepsister — evening the playing field.
Just a few years ago, it was almost unheard of for an Oscar winner to do a TV series. In the current golden age of television and amidst a proliferation of premium/streaming networks, that is a regular occurrence. For instance, HBO’s Big Little Lies’ upcoming second season features not one but three Oscar winners, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep. And Oscar winner Julia Roberts, who was chosen to present the biggest award tonight, Best Picture, is coming off a starring role in the Amazon series Homecoming.
There also has been traffic in the opposite direction, with TV actors getting to shine at the Oscars. Mom star Allison Janney earned her first Oscar nomination and first win last year for I, Tonya after 14 Emmy nominations and 7 wins. King, Malek and Colman were first-time Oscar nominees this year after strong Emmy runs. King has earned four consecutive nominations in the past four years, winning three times for American Crime and Seven Seconds, and Malek too is an Emmy winner for Mr. Robot, which is heading into its fourth and final season. Colman is a veteran TV actress, who received an Emmy nomination for The Night Manager, starred in Broadchurch and has taken on the role of Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, which landed her predecessor Claire Foy an Emmy.
Besides strong writing, what has been drawing movie stars to TV has been the top dollar deep-pocked streaming platforms and premium networks can pay as well as the shorter TV seasons that have become the norm. That also allows TV actors to better juggle TV series and films, giving them more chances at meaty movie roles.
HBO and USA Network took to Twitter tonight to congratulate their Oscar winners.