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Netflix Films – Worthy of Oscars?

The world loves being entertained – that’s a fact. Such entertainment can be found in many art forms – music, theatre, dance, poetry – but an art form whose interest will never dwindle is that of television and film. Movies and television series have been enjoyed worldwide for years and have maintained popularity as an art form due to a constant upkeep of interest by fans.

But the world is constantly changing. Society is always evolving socially and technologically, too. Advancements in technology have paved the way for new ways to watch television. Streaming sites such as Amazon Prime, and most famously Netflix, have changed the way audiences can consume television – the old-fashioned methods of switching on the television or taking a trip to the cinema have not yet died out, however they face serious competition from Netflix whereby series and films can be accessed through an app.

But is the quality of a film affected by whether it appears on the big screen or on an app? Does a movie which is produced exclusively for Netflix deserve the same recognition as a movie which is set for theatrical release? That is the question currently dividing opinions among movie moguls and fans alike.

Director Steven Spielberg was met with both praise and criticism recently when he confessed his opinions on the matter. While he acknowledges that Netflix produce good quality original movies, he does not believe they should be judged on the same level as movies released in theatres when it comes to awards ceremonies such as The Oscars.

Speaking to ITV News, Spielberg said, “once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theatres for less than a week should qualify for an Academy Award nomination.”

Spielberg raises a good argument here. His opinion is derived from the fact that Netflix movies do not qualify for Oscar nominations under the current criteria.

According to ThoughtCo, there are a number of qualities a movie must have should it be considered for an Oscar nomination. The movie in question must have a running length of more than forty minutes, must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film or in a qualifying digital format and must open in a commercial theatre, for paid admission, in Los Angeles between January 1st and December 31st and run for at least seven consecutive days, amongst plenty of other criteria.

Unfortunately for Netflix, this means that their original movies currently are not recognised on the same level as those released in theatres. However, the power of Netflix should not be underestimated. It is becoming increasingly popular by the day and the movies they release have some big names attached to them.

Some of the most popular original movies to be released on Netflix include The Fundamental of Caring starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez, Beasts Of No Nation starring Idris Elba and Bright starring Will Smith. These movies contain well established actors who have starred in plenty of other movies which have been box office successes, and they clearly don’t view starring in a movie exclusively for a streaming site as invalid.

Pair this with the amount of Netflix users worldwide and there is no reason to believe a Netflix original should not be worthy of the same recognition as any other movie. According to High SpeedI nternet, Netflix has roughly 70.5 million subscribers worldwide. To put this in an Irish context, Ireland currently ranks in third place for countries with the most subscribers. Subscription numbers are currently estimated to be more than 250,000 and this is expected to rise to more than 500,000 by the year 2020.

Failing to meet the criteria aside, there is little reason to suggest that a Netflix movie should not be considered during awards season. They are quite clearly legitimate and popular worldwide.

Thierry Fremaux, the director of Cannes Film Festival, from which Netflix movies are currently not eligible for entry, recently spoke to Variety magazine about finding the right balance when it comes to recognition.

“Netflix and Amazon do represent something important, and we will eventually come up with a good agreement,” he said.

“Because in order for a film to become part of history, it must go through theatres, box office, the critics, the passion of cinephiles, awards campaigns, books, directories, filmographies. All this is part of a tradition on which the history of film is based.”

While there are good arguments to be made which both agree and disagree with the opinion Spielberg holds that Netflix movies should not be considered for Oscars, no one can deny the popularity of Netflix as a whole. Times are changing, conventional methods of consuming movies are being transformed, so isn’t it time the rules for The Oscars are reviewed and modified too? Despite whether or not this belief ever comes into fruition, excellent movie-making should always be praised, and wherever such a movie is screened should not matter.

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