Netflix Gives Veiled Response To Steven Spielberg’s Campaign To Bar Them From The Oscars
In a cryptic tweet Sunday morning, Netflix Film seemed to be taking aim at three-time Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg. “We love cinema,” the post read, before going on to explain three ways the streaming platform gives audiences and filmmakers broader access to film.
We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:
-Access for people who can't always afford, or live in towns without, theaters
-Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time
-Giving filmmakers more ways to share art
These things are not mutually exclusive.
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) March 4, 2019
The tweet is likely a reference to an ongoing battle in inner Hollywood circles as to whether streaming platforms like Netflix should be allowed to compete for the Academy Awards. Last Sunday, Netflix was up for 15 nominations at the 91st Annual Academy Awards, including a nom in the Best Picture category for Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma. Although they lost out to Green Book (which was backed by Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment), they went home with three awards for Roma, including Best Director.
And among those most unhappy is Spielberg, who has dominated the Best Picture and Best Director categories in the past. Spielberg first expressed his frustration with Netflix in an interview with ITV News last March, claiming that streaming platforms should not be eligible to compete at the Oscars because of their limited theatrical release. “I don’t believe that films that are just given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for the Academy Award nominations,” Spielberg said in the interview.
Further angered by the results of this year’s awards, a representative for Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment told IndieWire that the director, who serves as the Academy Governor of directors, will bring up the question at the next Academy Board of Governors meeting. At the annual post-Oscars meeting, Governors get together to discuss what went well and what didn’t, and it’s assumed Spielberg will suggest changing the rules so that Netflix and other streaming platforms become ineligible for competition.
Not all directors are on board with Spielberg’s plan, although as the representative Governor Spielberg will be the only one in attendance at the meeting. Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay, who previously worked with Netflix on her film 13th, took to social media to ask the Board of Governors not to bar Netflix from Oscar competition. In a follow-up post, she praised the streaming platform for giving an international voice to black filmmakers.
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
One of the things I value about Netflix is that it distributes black work far/wide. 190 countries will get WHEN THEY SEE US. Here’s a promo for South Africa. I’ve had just one film distributed wide internationally. Not SELMA. Not WRINKLE. It was 13TH. By Netflix. That matters. https://t.co/lpn1FFSfgG
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 3, 2019
Netflix’s veiled Twitter post was the first time they directly responded to Spielberg’s attempts to quell their Oscar hopes, but the streaming service won’t be backing down from the Oscar race anytime soon. Academy Award winning director Martin Scorsese is set to direct an upcoming film (called The Irishman) for the platform, and with A-listers like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci on board to star, it’s likely this debate will come up again when it’s time to vote for the 2020 Oscar nominations.