After “Beasts of No Nation” (2015) was completely snubbed by the Oscars two years ago, many of us wondered if a streaming service like Netflix would ever be welcome at the Oscars beyond documentaries like “Virunga” (2014) and “13th” (2016). The answer, as it turns out, is yes. “Mudbound” earned four nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Mary J. Blige), Best Adapted Screenplay (Dee Rees and Virgil Williams), Best Cinematography (Rachel Morrison), and Best Song (“Mighty River” by Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson). And all of those nominations include the work of women. Check out the complete list of nominees here.
“Mudbound” is based on a novel by Hillary Jordan and tells the story of two families — one black and one white — that intersect during the 1940s in the Jim Crow South. It earned rave reviews when it was released simultaneously in theaters and online on November 17, but Netflix had ruffled feathers at other events, so it was uncertain whether awards voters would be open to it. Just a few months earlier two other Netflix films, “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” sparked controversy at the Cannes Film Festival. The outcry over streaming-only films prompted the fest to institute a new rule requiring a French theatrical release for any movie in competition.
This isn’t the first scripted film produced by a streaming service to earn Oscar noms, though. Amazon Studios previously released “Manchester by the Sea” (2016), which earned six nominations and won Best Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan). But “Manchester” had a more traditional distribution, getting a theatrical release in November before being made available online the following February. It wasn’t free for Amazon Prime subscribers to stream until months after the Oscars. So it’s still a major milestone for a primarily streaming film to be embraced by the highest profile arbiters of quality filmmaking.
That said, “Mudbound” was missing from the Best Picture lineup, so there’s room yet to grow for streaming contenders.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in all 24 categories. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your Oscar winner predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4.