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Streamers come of age after ‘CODA’ Oscar win

LOS ANGELES: Almost buried by the attention surrounding The Slap at the Oscars was a historic first: a streaming film won best picture, taking Hollywood’s top prize from the legacy studios that have long dominated the town.
If Will Smith had not mounted the stage and hit Chris Rock, the best picture win for Apple TV+ crowd-pleaser “CODA” would have been the talk of Tinseltown ever since the Academy Awards.
“There was clearly going to be a streaming service break through that barrier. And I think it’s an important break,” said Kendall Phillips, a Syracuse University professor who specializes in pop culture.
“I do think it’s going to open up a much wider body of films to be taken more seriously by Academy voters.”
For months before the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, streaming’s coming of age had appeared likely to be the main storyline from the 2022 Oscars.
The smart money for best picture was initially on arty Western “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion’s brooding meditation on toxic masculinity.
The film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a sexually repressed cowboy, was a Netflix title that the streamer — the biggest player on the small screen — had spent heavily to promote as it chased Hollywood’s ultimate stamp of approval.
But a late surge from “CODA” as audiences warmed to its charming cast of loveable characters — and its hopeful message of a deaf family overcoming adversity — pushed it into the top slot.
Streaming services first barged their way into Hollywood’s premier awards in 2017, when Amazon’s “Manchester by the Sea” bagged a best picture nomination.
It lost out to “Moonlight,” at the ceremony when “La La Land” was briefly and incorrectly announced as the year’s winner.
Netflix now has a growing stable of best picture nominations — including “Roma,” “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “Mank,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and “Don’t Look Up.”
For the past three years, Netflix has snagged the most Oscar nominations of any distributor. This year alone it had 27, though only won one — best director for Campion.
Apple TV+, by contrast, received its first-ever Oscar nomination last year, and this year managed three wins from six nods.
Trade title Variety reported Apple had lavished more than $10 million on its Oscars campaign — about as much as it cost to make “CODA.”
Netflix spent heavily on its bid for Oscar glory — Los Angeles was awash for months with advertisements puffing its prize bull.
For some in the industry, all that money being thrown around was a little difficult to swallow.
“Everywhere you drive in LA you are faced with a billboard saying it’s ‘The Best Film of the Year,'” one anonymous director told Indiewire.
“If anyone is to blame for pushback it’s Netflix themselves for pushing really hard on the movie.”

Sidra Karim

Sociology graduate Sidra Karim is currently working as co-coordinator/host for Ibex Media House and contributes to on a myriad of themes particularly art and literature. Earlier she was associated as Poetry Writer with Hamari Web.Com and Screen Playwright with Kawish. As a social worker she remained associated with Smart Urban Forest for a considerable period.