Roma wins Netflix top Oscars but falls short of best picture
Roma delivers Netflix its highest Oscars prestige yet, but the race remains open for a streaming service to wear the best-picture crown.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Netflix may have finally broken into the last area of Hollywood it has yet to conquer: the Oscars.
On Sunday, Netflix won multiple Oscars as the awards ceremony stretched on, with Alfonso Cuarón winning for Roma's directing and its cinematography, and Roma itself winning for foreign language film. Netflix's Period. End of Sentence also won in the documentary short category.
But Roma fell short of the ultimate prize, a best picture Oscar.
Of Netflix's 15 nominations, other contenders bested the streaming giant in different categories, including Roma's nominations for leading actress, supporting actress, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and original screenplay, as well as The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' nominations for costume design, original song and adapted screenplay. Netflix had a second nominee, End Game, in the documentary short category that lost out to its Period. End of Sentence.
Watch this: Netflix hauled in Oscars but couldn't quite land best picture
"Against all the odds, a black-and-white Spanish-language film with previously little-known talent has been embraced by the Academy across three categories including Best Foreign Film and Best Director -- as it was by audiences the world over," Ted Sarandos, Netflix's head of content, said in a statement. He also congratulated the creators of Period for bringing attention to the "important but underreported issue" of how taboos about menstruation limit opportunities for women and girls.
Even without a best picture Oscar, the victories marked a big night for Netflix. Roma, the black-and-white period piece hailed as Cuarón's masterpiece, was nominated in 10 categories, tying with The Favourite for the most nominations this year, and it won three in high-profile categories.
Netflix was relying on Roma, which won the Golden Globe for best foreign language motion picture and a Bafta for best film, to finally earn it Oscar prestige. The wins burnish Netflix's credibility as a go-to place for top-tier original films. While Netflix is known for television-award darlings like The Crown or Master of None, the streaming service's films have gotten the cold shoulder from the Oscars in the past. As Netflix hikes prices higher this year to offset its eye-popping spending on content, its rep as a home for prestigious films is key to keeping membership growing and drawing in top talent.
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Last year, Amazon beat Netflix to become the first streaming service to be nominated for a best picture Oscar, for Manchester by the Sea. Though the bleak film won statues for best actor and best original screenplay, it didn't cinch the best picture title -- leaving that milestone untouched for another streamer.
The Oscars haven't totally overlooked Netflix. Its documentaries have been perennial nominees. The company also won an Oscar for documentary short film in 2017 for The White Helmets, about volunteer rescue workers in bomb-ravaged Syria, and it took home a feature-film documentary Oscar last year for Icarus, about doping among competitive cyclists. And Mudbound, a period drama, racked up four nominations last year. (It won none.)
But that pales in comparison to Netflix's Emmys track record for TV programming. Netflix tied juggernaut HBO for the most Emmy wins last year, and it beat HBO in the number of nominations for the first time.
First published on Feb. 24 at 5:47 p.m. PT. Updates on Feb. 24 at 6:58 p.m. PT; 7:30 p.m. PT; 8:09 p.m. PT; and 8:18 p.m. PT; and Feb. 25 at 9:18 a.m. PT: Adds results and statement from Netflix executive.