There has been a surprising amount of backlash towards films on streaming services this awards season, as Netflix’s Roma and Ballad of Buster Scruggs have been nominated for and winning plenty of recognition around the worldwide circuit. Some big names in the industry are especially vocal critics, one notably Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg does have some swaying power in the Academy, being a current governor of the director’s branch. He is proposing that only films that receive a theatrical release should be eligible for Academy Award nomination. Otherwise, they would be restricted to the Emmys. He plans to make a proposal for the enactment of this policy at the Board of Governor’s meeting, which is not open to general members of the Academy.
Many actors and fellow filmmakers have voiced opposition to Spielberg. Ava DuVernay, also an Oscar nominee and director, is encouraging Spielberg to consider the other side and rethink his position.
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
Blocking Netflix from Academy recognition would silence a large number of voices that Netflix has managed to support. Streaming is a new part of the film industry that may be unfamiliar, scary territory to those that are veterans of the film world, but that does not mean it’s a bad thing. Let’s hope that Spielberg and other critics of this new system can realize that more outlets for creativity lets more people, and therefore a more diverse body of voices, make content for a larger range of people. Theatrical release or not, that does not determine the value of a film and this awards season has proven that.