Skip to main content

Golden Globe Awards send a message to Netflix: It’s not your time yet

Going into the 2020 Golden Globe Awards, the prevailing question was not so much whether Netflix would have a good night, but rather how big of a night the streaming service would have. With 16 nominations spread across four films that spanned both genres and generations of actors and filmmakers, the deck was seemingly stacked in the streamer’s favor.

And yet, in the aftermath of a ceremony that saw Netflix win in just one major movie category, the message sent by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — and perhaps Hollywood in general — to the industry-leading streamer seems clear: You’re not welcome at the adults’ table yet.

Just a year after Netflix seemed to get a foot in the awards door with Roma director Alfonso Cuaron’s Best Director wins at the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Awards, the service went all-in on this year’s awards season. Of the five films nominated in the Golden Globes’ Best Picture – Drama category, three of the projects were produced by Netflix, as was a fourth film nominated in the Best Picture – Comedy or Musical category.

Netflix even went so far as to convince acclaimed Oscar darling Martin Scorsese to bring some of Hollywood’s most esteemed leading men together for The Irishman, a mob drama that seemingly checked off all the right boxes for awards success and gave the streamer its most potent contender among this year’s nominees. Combining Scorsese’s acclaimed résumé with those of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci — the latter of whom the project lured out of retirement after nearly a decade off screen — The Irishman was the heavyweight favorite, while fellow Netflix nominees Marriage StoryThe Two Popes, and Dolemite is My Name added some extra insurance with their own unique and awards-friendly profiles.

The Irishman | Official Teaser

A lot can change in one night, though, and The Irishman left the Golden Globes ceremony not just empty-handed, but likely without much of the momentum it had carried into the awards season. And with just one win at the ceremony — for actress Laura Dern in her Marriage Story supporting role — Netflix’s Oscar aspirations now seem like a long shot, too.

So what went so wrong for Netflix?

The elephant in the room continues to be Hollywood’s resistance to judging streaming projects on even ground with theatrical releases, with traditional awards voters slow to consider movies produced by and for streaming services — even if they get the requisite theatrical release — as anything but second-class cinema. Although he later backtracked on his comments a bit, celebrated filmmaker Steven Spielberg came to epitomize that regressive view on streaming in March when he insisted that films made for streaming services shouldn’t receive Academy Award consideration.

While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t entirely capitulate to Spielberg’s request, it continued to make a theatrical release — even an extremely limited one — a requirement for an Oscar nomination in a given year. The Academy’s response stopped short of putting streaming films on the same level as made-for-theaters projects, suggesting that Netflix and its streaming peers still have work to do before their movies are judged on equal ground with major Hollywood (read: theatrical) studios.

Of course, that shouldn’t take away from the level of competition the Netflix films faced this season.

Sam Mendes’ World War I drama 1917 squeaked into the Best Picture field due to a brief, limited release in theaters at the end of 2019 (the film won’t have a wide release until Friday, January 10), and ultimately won out over The Irishman — likely due to Mendes’ innovative use of long takes that make the period piece feel as if it’s one, continuous shot from start to finish. Mendes is also an Oscar darling, and the win at the Golden Globe Awards has quickly pushed 1917 among the three favorites to win the top prize at the Academy Awards.

"1917" Wins Best Motion Picture, Drama - 2020 Golden Globes

That Mendes also took home the Best Director Golden Globe only makes it more likely that 2020 could be yet another year in which Scorsese is nominated for an Oscar — giving him the second-most nominations of any filmmaker in Oscars history — but goes home empty-handed after the ceremony.

In the Golden Globes’ “Best Picture – Musical or Comedy” category, Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name was generally considered an underdog to win (although star Eddie Murphy was a surprising snub in the “Best Actor” category), but the win by Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood now makes that film the odds-on favorite to win the coveted “Best Picture” Oscar. After all, Hollywood tends to love movies about, well… Hollywood.

In the end, that doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for Netflix and its Oscar hopes this year. The combination of uniquely impressive (and historically favored, in the case of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood) competition, along with the uphill battle faced by any streaming service to have their projects recognized on par with theatrical studios seems destined to make 2020 a year that hammers home not only how far streaming video has come, bot how far it still has to go in Hollywood.

Editors' Recommendations

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
Netflix’s latest price increase heralds the end of streaming’s golden age
Netflix Announcement

This week the collective streaming world shuddered (and investors rubbed their hands together in glee) as Netflix announced its biggest price increase ever. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal announced plans for yet another streaming service to compete with the Flix --bringing the total number of new streaming services in the works or online to somewhere around one kajillion.

If you haven’t noticed yet, allow us to be the first to break the bad news: Streaming’s golden age is finally ending. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we do know the days of finding all your favorite shows on one, two, or even three streaming services at a price that falls well below cable are over. Don’t kill the messenger.
The good old days
It seems counterintuitive to say that more options will actually be a bad thing for streaming. Yet as virtually every network seeks to create its own portal to peddle its shows and movies, we’ll have some serious choices and compromises to make about where to spend our limited streaming budget. To illustrate the problem, let’s look back a few years into the streaming past.

Read more
2019 Golden Globes provide plenty of surprises and a big night for Netflix
Rami Malek BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Freddie Mercury

There was no shortage of intriguing storylines going into the 76th Golden Globe Awards -- and arguably even more as the winners were announced.

In a night filled with surprise wins and a remarkably fresh list of nominees -- particularly on the television side -- there were few big winners on the night from any single studio or network, with the possible exception of Netflix, which won multiple awards for projects on both the big screen and small screen.

Read more
Like The Creator? Then watch these 5 great sci-fi movies
A robot farms a field in The Creator.

This weekend brings with it a wholly unique sci-fi film from director Gareth Edwards: The Creator, starring John David Washington and Gemma Chan. The highly anticipated movie is exciting for fans of the genre who have been waiting for large-scale sci-fi beauty.
Edwards' new film is set in the future as a war between the human race and artificial intelligence ravages the world. Joshua, an ex-special forces agent, is tasked to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI. The Creator has reportedly developed a mysterious weapon that has the power to end the war and all of mankind. As Joshua and his team venture into enemy-occupied territory, they discover the world-ending weapon is actually an AI in the form of a child. From there, Joshua engages in a world-changing journey abounding with moral questions.
The Creator, another example of AI gone wrong, pulls on a lot of sci-fi influences. The science fiction genre is vast and dense, and it can be hard to find the exact right movie to satisfy that sci-fi itch. If you're interested in seeing some sci-fi movies like The Creator, check out these five films.

Ex Machina (2014)

Read more