Steven Spielberg explains why Netflix movies don't deserve Oscars

It is no secret that streaming services like Netflix have become a new market for feature motion pictures. Some deals that Netflix sets up involve having a brief run for movies they finance on the big screen in order for them to qualify for awards, such as the Oscars. Famed film director Steven Spielberg takes a dim view of this practice, according to the Hollywood Reporter. According to him, films that are financed by Netflix and show primarily on the livestreaming service are TV movies and should be categorized as such.

Spielberg went on to say that the challenge that Netflix and other livestreaming services represents to traditional films is as great as the one that television posed in the 1950s. He also suggests that the quality of writing, directing, and acting has vastly improved on the small screen, representing a big challenge to more traditional films.

Spielberg did not mention another advantage that staying at home and watching content on Netflix and similar services has, that of convenience. The movie-going experience, once a great part of American life, has increasingly become a trial. One has to get in the car, drive a long distance, find a parking place, then brave lines, expensive concession food, crying kids, talking adults, and other aggravations. And, needless to say, ticket prices continue to climb unabated.

With the rise of big-screen TVs and the proliferation of content that caters to almost every taste, one has every incentive to stay at home, grill some barbecue or cook other snacks, relax on the coach and, as the euphemism states, Netflix and chill. The livestreaming experience is a perfect family outing or date night.

According to the Verge, movie theater attendance went to a 25-year low in 2017, despite a number of blockbusters such as “Wonder Woman.” Despite the ticket price inflation, revenues from big-screen theaters declined roughly 2.7 percent.

One reason for the decline has been ascribed to bad content. For every “Wonder Woman” or “Black Panther,” one can point to bombs like the Tom Cruise version of “The Mummy” or the big-screen version of the children’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time.” However, every year in the history of cinema has had its share of stinkers. Something else is going on, driven by technology and changing consumer tastes. Spielberg may be railing against the inevitable in his disdain for Netflix movies.

In the meantime, Netflix films have been barred from the Palme d’Or competition at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The inclusion of two films from the livestreaming service, “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” in the competition last year kicked up a firestorm of controversy. Henceforth, to qualify for the Palme d’Or, a film has to be released in French movie theaters. Moreover, because of French media laws, the Netflix model of premiering its films for a week to qualify for awards competitions is prohibited. How long this prohibition remains sustainable is open to question.