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Netflix granted greatest wish with Roma best picture Oscar nod

The streaming service has found Oscar glory in other categories, but never the big one.


Yalitza Aparicio plays Cleo in Roma, Netflix's film written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. 

Alfonso Cuarón

With Roma's nomination for a best picture Oscar Tuesday, Netflix finally got one of its deepest wishes -- big-time Academy Award validation

The black-and-white drama about a middle-class Mexican family and the domestic workers who care for its children will go up against Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, A Star is Born and Vice when the Academy Awards are doled out Feb. 24. In total, Roma received 10 nominations, including Yalitza Aparico for best actress and Alfonso Cuarón for best director. 

Last year, Amazon beat Netflix to become the first streaming service to be nominated for a best picture Oscar nod, for Manchester by the Sea, helping to cement it as a legitimate platform for films. Though the bleak film won statues for best actor and best original screenplay, it didn't cinch the best picture title -- leaving unclaimed the crown for first streamer to actually win a best picture Oscar. 

Netflix is hoping Roma, which won the Golden Globe for best foreign language motion picture, will carry it to the throne. An Oscar win would burnish Netflix's credibility as a go-to place for top-tier original films. While Netflix is known for prestige television series like The Queen or Orange Is the New Black, the streaming service's films have erred more toward the popcorn side, where Adam Sandler is a power player

Having Oscar-winning original content would be good news at a time when Netflix is preparing a new round of price increases. The company has long banked on original content to keep its customers happy, which helped yield better-than-expected subscriber growth over the last quarter

"Thank you to the Academy for recognizing all those who took creative leaps this past year," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. "We are honored to receive our first Best Picture nomination and so many other firsts this morning." 

The company's Netflix Film Twitter account tweeted the nominations this morning. 

The nominations are also further validation of Netflix's strategy to pursue original content in a bid to upend the traditional movie and television businesses. Netflix has been known to scoff at Hollywood convention, one reason why Amazon may have gotten the best picture nomination first, but this time, it's reportedly giving Roma the hard sell to Academy voters. 

The Oscars haven't totally overlooked Netflix in the past. The streaming giant's documentaries have netted the company a feature documentary nomination every year since 2014, and Netflix took home its first feature-film Oscar last year for Icarus, its documentary about doping among competitive cyclists. 

The company also won an Oscar for documentary short film in 2017 for The White Helmets, about volunteer rescue workers in bomb-ravaged Syria. 

Two documentaries, End Game and Period. End of Sentence, were nominated for the documentary short category.

This year, however, Roma is giving Netflix its best shot yet at potentially scoring the biggest prize of the night. Roma has been hailed at film festivals and by critics as Cuarón's masterpiece. Cuarón has already been anointed as Oscar-worthy, having won best director in 2014 for Gravity. And Netflix has been on breakneck promotional campaign to drum up award support for Roma. 

Originally published at 6:03 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:48 a.m. PT: Included additional context and background.

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