Streaming TV is crashing the Oscar party, and it’s only a matter of time before a production from Netflix or Amazon or even — someone get the defibrillator — Hulu wins Best Picture.
Last year, “Manchester by the Sea,” an Amazon co-production (with Pearl Street Films and K Period Media), was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and took won two statuettes — Best Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan).
This year, Netflix has some skin in the game. The streaming service paid $12.5 million at the Sundance Film Festival to distribute “Mudbound,” the story of two Southern men, one black and one white, who face difficulties adjusting to American life after serving overseas in World War II.
The film, written and directed by Dee Rees, was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Mary J. Blige as Best Supporting Actress. It raised alarms among some insiders that the film industry was losing ground to the streaming services — in the same way the broadcast networks and premium cable have learned to play second and third fiddle to streaming TV.
(Netflix also received Oscar nods for the short-subject documentary “Heroin(e),” foreign-language film “On Body and Soul” and two long-form documentaries, “Icarus” and “Strong Island.”)
It’s a little too late to fret. The walls between television, movies and streaming content have already tumbled down. As part of its roll-out, “Mudbound” was available on Netflix the same day it opened in theaters, meaning you could watch it at home as part of a $10.99 monthly subscription fee instead of plunking down $16 at a Manhattan movie theater for a one-time only screening. Hollywood purists may look down their noses at the non-traditional distribution method, but Netflix was able to bring the film to a wider audience by featuring it on more than one platform.