Netflix had it's most successful year at the Academy Awards this year when the streaming service/movie studio saw Roma take home multiple awards. While it didn't win the big Best Picture prize, simply being nominated for the award was a major step. However, it was one that not everybody was happy to see.
The word on the street was that Steven Spielberg, a member of the directors branch of the Academy with a seat on the Board of Governors, would be asking for a change in the rules for Oscar nomination that would have prevented the current release practices of Netflix, where the film is only given a limited theatrical release in a few places before ending up on the streaming platform, from being nominated. However, the Board of Governors has now decided against any changes to eligibility requirements.
As it stood, any movie that had a seven day theatrical run, with at least three showings per day, in the city of Los Angeles, was eligible for nomination for Academy Awards. To that end, Netflix would release a film like Roma in order to meet those requirements, and at the end of that week, the film would debut on the streaming service for all subscribers to see.
It's unclear, based on what's reported by Variety, if a rule change was every formerly requested, however, Academy President John Bailey did say that the Academy would continue to study the broad changes occurring within the industry, so the possibility of future changes certainly remains open.
There are many who feel quite strongly that part of what constitutes a "movie" is the theatrical experience, and while a company like Netflix may offer that in a very limited fashion, it's certainly not what the company is about. The experience is truly different, it's hard to argue otherwise, but should awards only be available to those who offer one particular experience?
Streaming services certainly do blur the line between film and television. Netflix and others create original material in both fields and make that content available to watch anywhere. The one place it's hardest to watch, however, is the movie theater. Unless you live in Los Angeles or one of the few other places that Netflix movies get screened, you can't watch them on the big screen.
This is an issue that clearly isn't dead. The film industry has gone through massive changes before and it will certainly adjust to these. It's simply a question of how. Netflix certainly isn't going away and considering the company's success with original movies, both in terms of viewership and awards success, it seems like a matter of time before Netflix wins a Best Picture Oscar, unless the Academy decides one day they shouldn't be considered for them.