Netflix Dominates Oscar Nominations For the First Time, Beating All Studios — Even Disney

Netflix became a film distributor just four years ago. Now it has 24 Oscar nominations for movies like "The Irishman" and "Marriage Story."
scarlett johansson and adam driver in marriage story
"Marriage Story"

Netflix has proven itself to be a master at the awards game. Four years since it began distributing films, it bested legacy studios ⁠— including the newly amalgamated Disney-Fox behemoth ⁠— to claim a total 24 Oscar nominations Monday morning. That’s one more than Disney in its first year since acquiring 21st Century Fox, and four more than Sony, which came in third place with 20 nominations.

Netflix’s Oscar dominance was carried in large part by Martin Scorsese’s mob epic “The Irishman” (10 nominations) and Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama “Marriage Story” (6).

Both movies earned Best Picture nods, putting Netflix in a three-way tie for shots at the Academy’s highest honor against Sony, which distributed Best Picture nominees “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Little Women,” and Disney, whose newly acquired Fox labels released “Ford v Ferrari” and “Jojo Rabbit.”

Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in the film JOJO RABBIT. Photo by Kimberley French. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in the film JOJO RABBIT.Kimberley French

With 23 total nominations, Disney’s number-two spot came with a major assist from the company’s $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox earlier this year: Oscar standby Fox Searchlight earned six nods, all for Taika Waititi’s Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit.”

No. 3 Sony was carried largely by Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which earned the studio half of its 20 nominations. Greta Gerwig’s fresh take on Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” nabbed six.

Specialty distributor Sony Pictures Classics’ contribution came from Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.” The Spanish film was nominated for Best International Feature and Antonio Banderas earned a Best Actor nod for his performance as ailing director Salvador Mallo.

Among independent distributors, Neon had the biggest showing Monday with eight nominations, six of which came from Bong Joon Ho’s South Korean hit “Parasite,” which earned nods both for Best Picture and Best International Film. The company’s Macedonian “Honeyland” was nominated for Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature.

That makes this the best nomination year ever for the three-year-old company, which saw its first and only Oscar win in 2018 when Allison Janney won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “I, Tonya.” Margot Robbie was also nominated for Best Actress for her performance in that film, which also earned a nod for Best Film Editing. The Neon-distributed “Best” also earned a nomination last year for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Missing Link still
“Missing Link”Annapurna

Meantime, Annapurna Pictures’ awards offerings slid precipitously. In 2019, the arthouse distributor earned 11 nominations total for “Vice” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” This year it landed just one nod, Best Animated Feature for the Golden Globe-winning “Missing Link.”

That comes as the Megan Ellison-run company has faced financial pains in the last year after a string of box-office misses. As part of its reorientation, Annapurna had to step away from high-profile projects including “Hustlers,” which found distribution from STX and earned Jennifer Lopez a Golden Globe nod, and “Bombshell,” which scored three Oscar nominations Monday after it was released by Lionsgate.

Indie distributor A24 saw just one nomination, Best Cinematography for Jarin Blaschke’s work on the Academy ratio black-and-white movie. That’s despite campaigns for the celebrated performances by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in the two-hander. Meantime, the company’s other acclaimed releases were shut out: “Midsommar,” “The Farewell,” “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” saw no nominations. Neither did “Uncut Gems,” which saw a highly publicized Best Actor push for “Sandman” Adam Sandler — which would have been his first-ever Oscar nomination.

The seven-year-old distributor saw “Moonlight” win Best Picture in 2017.

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