‘Mudbound’: After PGA snub, could academy actors branch still push Netflix film into a Best Picture Oscar nomination?

Netflix could make history this year if “Mudbound” earns an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Though it had a limited theatrical release to qualify for awards, it would be the first primarily streaming film to contend for the academy’s top prize. Unfortunately, the film hit a stumbling block on January 5 when it missed out on a nomination from the Producers Guild, but the good news for the film is that it’s not just producers who will be voting for the Oscars. The actors branch will too. Actors make up the largest branch of the academy, and they’ve shown they don’t just love “Mudbound,” they love Netflix in general.

“Mudbound” earned two nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for its ensemble cast and for the supporting performance by Mary J. Blige. It’s the latest Netflix project to clean up at the SAG Awards. Previously “Beasts of No Nation” (2015) earned a nomination for its ensemble (which only went to three credited cast members) and won for Idris Elba‘s supporting performance even though the film was entirely snubbed by the Oscars. And on the TV side Netflix dominated last year, winning both ensemble awards: for the drama “Stranger Things” for the first time, and for the comedy “Orange is the New Black” for the third year in a row.

It’s not hard to imagine why actors would love Netflix. The expansion of streaming programming for film and television in recent years would naturally lead to more opportunities for actors. The same is true for industry writers, so the Writers Guild also nominated “Mudbound” for its adapted screenplay. Perhaps industry producers are more skittish about a media trend that disrupts the traditional distribution models, which could explain why “Mudbound” was snubbed.

That said, those same PGA voters didn’t seem to have a problem with online TV programs, as three streaming dramas (“The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Stranger Things”), two streaming comedies (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Master of None”), and one streaming long form program (“Black Mirror”) were nominated. But the disruption is greater in the feature film business, which has potentially more to lose if audiences stop going to movie theaters and start watching everything at home.

But will that skittishness translate to the Oscars? Maybe, but for every traditionalist producer who may resent the Netflix revolution, there might be an actor, writer, and director who sees it as an avenue for greater creative freedom and opportunity. That could be enough to keep “Mudbound” in the Oscar race even after the PGA said no.

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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