By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer
With the rise in video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, the amount of movies each year has risen significantly. Now, while the majority of movies Netflix has chosen to publish are nothing special, such as the overly preachy BRIGHT or the confusing for the sake of confusing Cloverfield Paradox.
Netflix isn’t the only service producing films of varying quality as well, as Amazon has produced such films as the charming romantic comedy The Big Sick and the beautiful Manchester by the Sea.
This doesn’t change the fact that Netflix is pumping out as many movies as any other production company. Some of which, such as the 2015 masterpiece Beasts of No Nation and the recent sci-fi horror Annihilation, are actual, quality films that have a shot at some form of award. However, with Beasts of No Nation not being released in any theater across the US and remained a strictly streamed movie in the United States, it was unfortunately not eligible for any form of award, and was snubbed from the 2016 Oscars.
It can be argued that it’s more than just an ineligibility that stopped Beasts of No Nations from being nominated for an Academy Award in any category. That same year, audience favorite biopic, Straight Outta Compton was snubbed from a best picture nomination, so the issue was potentially one of race, and the technicalities simply allowed the Academy to restrict Beasts of No Nation as they wanted.
Whether this has something to do with the non-white cast or it really is simply a lack of theatrical release, the Academy Awards are going to miss out on quality films simply for not releasing in enough theaters across country.
Regardless of what the issue was for Beasts of No Nation, the issue was fixed this year, with Get Out being nominated for four awards, including Best Picture, and winning one for Best Director. Whether the issue was race in the past, the Oscars have proven they intend to right the past wrongs.
This still does not account for the numerous movies Netflix and Amazon is publishing without a theatrical release.
Could Netflix and Amazon release their movies in theaters across the US to meet the Academy’s standards? Of course, Netflix and Amazon are both multi billion dollar companies. However, the question at hand is should they?
The fact is with the rigid restrictions for Academy Awards, the most esteemed awards ceremony for movies is restricting itself from judging all films, thus failing at its specific goal.
Yes, Amazon and Netflix could work to meet the standards of the Academy, but why should they? Film production is obviously evolving in a way the Academy needs to adapt to.
When the Academy is heralded as the greatest judge of film, who are they to restrict any number of potential films on something as arbitrary as “number of theaters this film has released in.” With that standard there at all, the potential films to even be considered, let alone assessed, is hindered.
The fact is, film production is evolving to what Netflix and Amazon have already began doing, which is self publishing and home streaming. A theatrical release count is arbitrary today, and will only become even more so when streaming takes over for good.