Gary Oldman plays Herman J. Mankiewicz in Netflix’s “Mank”.
For the past several years, Netflix’s films have had no problem scooping top spots in Oscar votes, but turning those nominations into trophies has been difficult.
The streaming service first appeared on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences radar in 2013 when it was nominated for Best Documentary for “The Square”.
Eight years later, Netflix has a total of 36 Academy Award nominations in 17 films – most of any distributors on this year’s list. His film “Mank”, a film that revolves around the co-writer of “Citizen Kane”, Herman Mankiewicz, leads the pack with ten nods.
While Netflix has outperformed its rivals in the nominations for the past few years, it hasn’t racked up many victories. Since 2013, the streamer has received 54 nominations and 8 wins.
In the past, some Netflix’s lack of profits has been attributed to Hollywood’s refusal to reward the streaming service with top prizes for rejecting traditional cinema windows, a sacred piece of the film industry. It’s much more likely, however, that it’s a combination of stiff competition and Netflix, with multiple films nominated for the same categories. This year, for example, “Mank” and “Trial of the Chicago 7”, both Netflix films, will compete against each other to get the best picture.
Last year, Netflix had 24 nominations, the most from any distributor at the Academy Awards, but only won two categories. It seems that the streaming service might be ready to repeat that fate again this year. However, Netflix’s track record in the nominations shows that Netflix has a place in Hollywood.
While “Mank” has the most nominations of any film, it hasn’t received many awards on the award circuit. The film had six nominations for the Golden Globes in February, again the most of any film, but it went home empty-handed.
“Mank” has won several awards for production design, cinematography and art direction, so it was able to take home a trophy at the Oscars. However, the awards for the best picture and best director will likely go to Searchlight Pictures “Nomadland,” along with the award for the most adapted screenplay. The best original script is expected to be published in Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman.
Netflix is expected to receive the Best Actor Award for the late Chadwick Boseman appearance on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. And it could also win the best actress trophy if Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Butt”) or Vanessa Kirby (“A Woman’s Pieces”) win, but right now that category is too close to mention.
Warner Bros. is expected to pick the best supporting actress win for Daniel Kaluuya’s appearance in “Judas and the Black Messiah”, while independent distributor A24 is the front runner for best supporting actress win with Yuh-Jung Youn from “Minari”.
Oscars 2021 coverage by CNBC
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Even if Netflix doesn’t collect many Oscars on Sunday night, the streaming service’s record nominations are impressive. It shows that as the streaming service has worked to improve its library content, it has made quality decisions about the product that it has either purchased or produced in-house.
Netflix is keen to deliver content to its subscribers as soon as possible. Even when his films hit theaters, they often hit the platform soon after. The streaming service has rejected the traditional Hollywood release window, where a movie will be in theaters for about three months before it’s available on video-on-demand or on a streaming service’s website or app.
While Netflix didn’t have to go to theaters this year to qualify for the Oscars, in the past it has let its films run just long enough to get the cut and then put the films on its streaming service.
Netflix’s goal was to create great content with top developers and top talent. It is successful in that regard. Talented films nominated by Netflix this year include Aaron Sorkin, Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, David Fincher, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
The full list of nominees for this year’s Academy Awards can be found here.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal has Focus Features.