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Can Netflix Score Three Best Picture Nominations This Year?

After coming up just short in the Best Picture race last year, getting a nomination for Roma but losing to Green Book, Netflix is on a quest to take the crown this time around. To that end, they’ve come out with a slate in 2019 that features multiple Academy Award contenders. In fact, they have four major Oscar hopefuls, with Dolemite Is My Name, The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes, each of which is getting full pushes by the streaming giant. Across the board, pundits, including myself, have The Irishman and Marriage Story in the top tier of Best Picture nominees. Most have The Two Popes getting in as well. This leads to the question of the day…can Netflix do the (almost) impossible and three of their titles into Picture?

The same distributor or studio getting three films into Best Picture almost never happens. It’s been well over half a decade since it last happened, and these days, it’s unheard of. To even be in contention for such a feat is something special, especially in this day and age where so often we see less awards season fare presented with a big push, not more. The blockbuster has become the studio currency, not the prize winner. To that end, there isn’t the same gigantic crop of contenders we used to see out of Hollywood. Mid level studios and the more independent distributors (or what used to be indies before they were all bought up) dominate the field now. However, Netflix is attempting to change the game. Here in 2019, they’re oddly not alone though, as you’ll see next.

Interestingly, Sony also has a chance to pull this off. They have Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood in the thick of the race to actually win Best Picture (some, like myself, even have it in the pole position right now), while A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Little Women are Oscar hopefuls with chances to be nominated. I hinted at this in a recent prediction update, but if you have both Netflix and Sony doing this, that’s six of a maximum ten slots going to two studios. Simply put, that’s not going to happen. Sony would wildly exceed expectations if their other two flicks get in, but at least for now, two spots going to them is not out of the question at all.

Now, back to Netflix. Their two highest profile movies are very safe for Picture nominations. The Irishman and Marriage Story are in, and the former is arguably the current frontrunner to win, give or take the aforementioned Sony title above. Then, there’s The Two Popes, which has over performed and exceeded initial expectations, hurdling itself into the conversation for a Picture nod. Had it been a release by another studio, a nom would arguably be even more likely. Hell, the same could be said for Dolemite Is My Name, which is a major crowd pleaser. They won’t get four in, that’s for sure. Dolemite Is My Name has turned mostly into an Eddie Murphy in Best Actor or bust play, much as it’s getting pushed elsewhere. The Two Popes has across the board potential and possibly can compete for a half dozen citations. If it’s going to come close to, or even exceed, Marriage Story’s haul, it’s hard to keep it out of the lineup.

If there’s a worry here, it’s last lingering remnants of the Netflix bias. Last time around, that may have been what held Roma back from winning. This year, maybe it happens again? Also worth pondering is that maybe the streamer has their own vote split? Especially if they get all three in, do they see The Irishman not get as wide support, allowing 1917 or Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood, for example, to come up the middle and emerge victorious? No scenario is especially likely to present itself just yet, but these are potential ones to keep in mind as the final month of the year begins and voters start to more clearly consider their choices.

Right at this moment, I have them predicted to pull it off, getting The Two Popes into Picture along with The Irishman and Marriage Story. We won’t know for about a month and a half what ultimately will happen, but watch the precursors. They will tell part of the tale. If the Producers Guild goes for all three, that’s a great sign. Besides PGA, look for the other guilds to possibly showcase strong support. No one factor will tell the story, but the more evidence we have that voters aren’t penalizing Netflix at all for a history making slate, the better one can feel about making such a prediction (the same for Sony, though it seems like more of an uphill climb). After breaking in last year to Best Picture, the streaming service is going for the win this year, that much is for sure…

Stay tuned to see if Netflix can pull this feat off with The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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