This was always going to be a possibility and from the moment the Oscar nominations were announced in January, I wondered if “the Academy’s solution might be to give Alfonso Cuaron and Roma their day in the director category but Best Picture…well…”
That is exactly what happened. Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director and, as a bonus, the Academy made him the first director to win the Cinematography Oscar and the first cinematographer to win Best Director. Roma was also awarded Best Foreign Language Film. All of that now feels like it was an appeasement, to show respect for him but not go so far as to give him Best Picture because, well, that would mean a major win for Netflix – or, rather, the biggest win for Netflix. Alfonso’s wins represent Netflix’s most successful gains at the Oscars, a breakthrough in the marquee categories. They weren’t going to hand Netflix everything all at once, no matter how much they admire Alfonso as a filmmaker.
For now, then, not surprisingly, the status quo has prevailed. But how much longer can Hollywood cling to this standard? I was talking to several film critics and colleagues on Sunday morning before beginning our broadcasts, all of us trying to guess what would happen last night, and one journalist, who was predicting a Roma win, said that he was leaning that way because he thought that Academy members would vote for Roma because they all want to work for Netflix anyway. Not all and not yet. The old guard still has a significant amount of influence. As Netflix’s ambition continues to grow though, and more and more industry leaders move their projects over to Netflix, this traditional hold is eventually going to break.
Alfonso dedicated his wins last night to Mexico. Here’s an interesting Oscar fact:
Alfonso almost took Netflix to the Best Picture circle. Guillermo del Toro is already working with Netflix. It’s probably only a matter of time for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. During the Oscars last night, Netflix dropped the teaser for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, announcing a fall 2019 release, which would position it for an award season run. Looks like the Academy might be facing the same dilemma next year.