Will Netflix finally stop crying yourself to sleep on Oscars night?
That’s the sad streaming giant’s best hope for next week, when “The Power of the Dog” enters the ceremony (Sunday, March 27, 8 p.m. on ABC) as the favorite to take home the Best Picture Oscar gain weight.
And while it’s pretentious and sluggish, director Jane Campion’s “Flix Movie” is likely to win.
But until they hear that “phew” out of the host’s mouth — unless of course it’s uttered by Warren “Bungle” Beatty or Faye “Flub” Dunaway — Netflix execs will be biting their nails and drinking Jameson out of a bottle. Because even though they turned the entire Hollywood business model upside down, they still don’t get any respect. Not only would it be an asset to the film, it would also be a mark of industry recognition.
When Ted Sarandos and company take the stage at the Dolby Theater they will surely be singing the famous “Cabaret” lyrics sung by Sally Bowles: “No more losers – like last time and the time before!”
And the time before that.
Do you remember “Roma”? Alfonso Cuaron’s 2018 semi-autobiographical film was a critics’ favorite for the streamer. The Spanish-language black-and-white film was heavily favored to win the grand prize and appeared to be a shoo-in after Cuaron took home the meaningful trophy for best director. Instead, the social media outcast “Green Book” was called to the podium.
Netflix — which bills itself as the new king of movies — doubled down. The next year they produced the massively expensive film The Irishman ($159 million) and released it in November. If you asked Siri, “What does it take to make an Oscar-winning movie?” she would reply, “Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and a mob conspiracy.” It won 10 Oscars nominated, including Best Picture, and lost every single one.
Has Marriage Story, Netflix’s smaller but still prestigious 2019 film about a crumbling relationship with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, walked down the aisle? nope! Best Picture lost that too.
Even Aaron Sorkin couldn’t change her fate. In the first year of the pandemic, when almost nobody went to the cinema for months, Netflix’s “Trial of the Chicago 7” still lost to “Nomadland”, which only ran in the two open cinemas.
Now comes “The Power of the Dog”. Boring than a train delay, it has all the right parts: It’s a western; Campion would be one of only three women to ever win the Best Director award; its stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst are both having a moment; The film is kind of homoerotic (just ask Sam Elliott!).
While it has won a ton of awards so far, it hasn’t even been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble, and Cumberbatch, Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee have all been nominated there either. Do you hear the angry barking in the distance? That’s because Netflix knows that the majority of Oscar voters are actors.
The film is also confronted with the new ranking voting system, just like New York is using in our mayoral election. This method of forming the winners’ table, which is perceived as fairer, increases the chances of “Belfast” or Apple TV’s “CODA” (the big SAG winner) because if a film doesn’t get more than 50 percent at number 1 slot votes, the slot votes No 2 are taken into account.
I’m no mathematician, but I don’t think that helps in a movie as divisive as The Power of the Dog.
So Netflix could break its Oscar curse next Sunday. Or not. Just ask Glenn Close.