The movie landscape has been changing for a long time, but last night at the Oscars may have been the beginning of a massive shift, as Netflix took home its first Academy Award. The streaming service has been nominated for, and even won, some major awards before, but the award for Icarus for Best Documentary Feature was the first time a movie produced by Netflix took the stage to accept the gold statue for a feature length film.
Netflix documentaries have been nominated for Oscars before, and won last year for the documentary short The White Helmets, but Icarus, the documentary about the Russian sports doping scandal that impacted the recent Winter Olympic Games, was the winner last night in the feature category. The film focuses on Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of Russia's anti-doping agency, who blew the whistle on the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by many Russian athletes. Icarus director Bryan Fogel thanked Rodchenkov during his acceptance speech and said that the whistleblower now lives in "great danger" for his actions.
Documentaries have been one place where Netflix has been making its presence felt, though it was also under consideration in several other categories last night, including Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Song, all for Mudbound. The film also brought about the first ever nomination for a woman for Best Cinematography, for the work of Rachel Morrison. Unfortunately, Mudbound went home empty-handed
It will be interesting to see if this win from Netflix pushes the Oscars to adopt a rule they have reportedly been considering that would force streaming services like Netflix to choose whether its films will be submitted for Emmy or Oscar consideration. The services have been double dipping the nominations, especially in the documentary categories, in recent years, and it's possible that Icarus could be submitted for Emmy consideration as well. It seems the Oscars is mostly afraid of a movie being nominated for, or winning, Best Picture while also winning Emmy Awards, but this is yet another step in that direction.
As streaming services go, Netflix has some ground to make up against Amazon, who won the first Oscars for a streaming service last year, including Casey Affleck's Best Actor win for Manchester by the Sea.
Between the numerous nominations and wins for companies like Netflix and Amazon, it is clear that the landscape of movies is really changing. While the first Oscar win for Netflix is certainly news, it's likely that has time goes on this will become more and more normal. The Best Picture winner will likely come from a streaming source before too long.
One of the benefits of having a streaming service provide your Oscar winners is that you're not required to wait around to see the movie if it's not currently in theaters. You can watch Icarus as well as Mudbound on Netflix right now.
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