Why Netflix Might Dominate the Oscars This Year After Last Year’s Controversy

The streaming wars may be raging on, but last year marked a major turning point for one compay. After all, Netflix production Roma walked away with several Academy Awards, including Best Director. In an instant, the streaming service proved it could compete for awards against the bigger studios.

Although its conflict with major theater chains like AMC continues, Netflix is doubling down on its role in awards season. In fact, this year the company has several critically acclaimed releases on the way. Despite some controversy, expect one or all of the below films to secure a slot in the Best Picture nominations this year.

Eddie Murphy and Netflix ‎Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos at the 'Dolemite Is My Name' premiere
Eddie Murphy and Netflix ‎Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos at the ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ premiere | Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Netflix

‘Dolemite Is My Name’ (currently streaming)

Eddie Murphy plays real-life blaxploitation director Rudy Ray Moore in this comedic biopic from director Craig Brewer. Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and Wesley Snipes co-star. Dolemite Is My Name chronicles Moore’s rise to icon status through his signature character of Dolemite.

Critics are praising Murphy’s performance as the best of his career. Likewise, Dolemite Is My Name is considered one of the finest Netflix original films to date. The film is expected to be considered for a variety of nominations but especially for Murphy.

‘The Irishman’ (streaming on November 27)

Martin Scorsese’s thoughts on Marvel movies have been in the news so much lately. But he’s actually making headlines for this three-and-a-half-hour crime epic. The Irishman reunites the director with Goodfellas stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, with Al Pacino joining the film as Jimmy Hoffa.

Given Scorsese’s influence over the past several decades of cinema, the film is essentially a shoo-in for Best Picture. Moreover, its Oscar-winning cast is likely to take over the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories. Could Scorsese — who finally won Best Director for 2006’s The Departed — be gunning for a repeat?

‘Marriage Story’ (streaming on December 6)

Domestic dramas tend to be popular with Oscar voters because of their intimacy and performance showcase. So writer/director Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story fits right in. This is especially true since his Oscar-nominated 2005 film, The Squid and the Whale, also tackled the subject of divorce.

Marriage Story stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple going through a difficult divorce. Baumbach himself got divorced from actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2013, lending the new film particular resonance. With near-unanimous critical praise, Marriage Story is proving to be a major Oscar contender, especially for its two lead performances.

‘The Two Popes’ (streaming on December 20)

Based on Anthony McCarten’s 2017 play The Pope, this new film comes from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Fernando Meirelles (City of God). The Two Popes focuses on a meeting between Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce). The stakes? The fate of the Catholic Church.

Although this film may seem like it has less mainstream appeal than the others on our list, the dual performances by Hopkins and Pryce set it apart. Both men are esteemed veteran performers with decades of stellar work behind them. While Hopkins is an Oscar winner, Pryce has yet to earn an Academy Award nomination. The Two Popes can finally set that right.