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Netflix in the running for ultimate film honour with ‘Roma’

January 22, 2019 at 4:37pm
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Netflix Inc scored its first nomination for the prestigious best picture Oscar on Tuesday for “Roma,” a milestone that will test whether Hollywood’s film establishment is ready to award its top prize to a streaming service.

“Roma” received 10 Academy Award nominations in total, tying “The Favourite” as the year’s most-nominated film.

A Spanish-language movie, “Roma” chronicles the life of a housekeeper and the family she works for in 1970s Mexico. The movie was filmed in black and white, and was named after the neighbourhood in Mexico City where writer, director and cinematographer Alfonso Cuaron grew up.

Awards experts consider “Roma” a front-runner to win best picture at the Oscars ceremony on Feb. 24, though they say it has hurdles to overcome.

After disrupting television, Netflix has stirred unease in the traditional movie industry by encouraging people to skip the theatre and watch films at home. Major theatre chains refuse to show Netflix films, and some top directors have balked at making films that will be seen primarily on the small screen.

A portion of Oscar voters may be reluctant to honour Netflix, said Hollywood Reporter awards columnist Scott Feinberg, but he believes that group is shrinking. Many actors, writers, producers and others have now worked on Netflix TV shows or movies, and they are happy that the Silicon Valley company has deep pockets and a willingness to fund arthouse fare, he said.

“At this point they are accepting that they are here, and they are not going away, and they are not the big, bad wolf they were made out to be,” he said.

“Roma” also faces an uphill climb because no foreign-language film has ever won the best picture prize.

Netflix has lobbied heavily to win over Academy members.

The company hired a top awards strategist who worked previously for The Weinstein Company, which was known for its masterful Oscar campaigns. Actress Angelina Jolie and other A-list fans of “Roma” have attended screenings, part of an effort to lure voters to see the film on a big screen.

Netflix also showcased the movie on the home screen of its streaming service, something its rivals from traditional studios could not do.

“There has never been a foreign-language Oscar hopeful that has had the support that this one has,” Feinberg said. “They have left no stone unturned.”

Cuaron said he was thrilled with Netflix’s backing of an unusual movie with no recognisable stars.

“They are giving a huge, huge, huge international push for this film, really in both streaming but also theatrical,” he said in a recent interview. “Not any company does that.”

The nomination alone should help Netflix achieve its ultimate goal of adding to its global membership of 139 million streaming customers, particularly overseas where the company is looking for growth, Feinberg said.

“I would imagine in Spanish-speaking countries around the world, it’s been a big point of curiosity to see what this is about,” Feinberg said. “That will only increase.”

KEY NOMINATIONS

Best Picture

“A Star is Born”

“Vice”

“Roma”

“Green Book”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“Black Panther”

“The Favourite”

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper – “A Star is Born”

Rami Malek – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Christian Bale – “Vice”

Viggo Mortensen – “Green Book”

Willem Dafoe – “At Eternity’s Gate”

Best Actress

Lady Gaga – “A Star is Born”

Glenn Close – “The Wife”

Olivia Colman – “The Favourite”

Melissa McCarthy – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Yalitza Aparicio – “Roma”

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron – “Roma”

Spike Lee – “BlaKkKlansman”

Adam McKay – “Vice”

Yorgos Lanthimos – “The Favourite”

Pawel Pawlikowski – “Cold War”

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – “Green Book”

Adam Driver – “BlacKkKlansman”

Richard E. Grant – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell – “Vice”

Sam Elliott – “A Star is Born”

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – “Vice”

Regina King – “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone – “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz – “The Favourite”

Marina de Tavira – “Roma”

Best Original Screenplay

“The Favourite”

“First Reformed”

“Roma”

“Green Book”

“Vice”

Best Adapted Screenplay

“BlacKkKlansman”

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

“A Star is Born”

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Best Animated Film

“Incredibles 2”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

“Mirai”

Best Documentary Film

“RBG”

“Free Solo”

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

“Of Fathers and Sons”

“Minding the Gap”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Capernaum” – Lebanon

“Never Look Away” – Germany

“Shoplifters” – Japan

“Roma” – Mexico

“Cold War” – Poland

Best Original Song

“All the Stars” – “Black Panther”

“I’ll Fight” – “RBG”

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” – “Mary Poppins Returns”

“Shallow” – “A Star is Born”

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” – “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”