Netflix once again fell short of its Best Pictures ambitions.
The streaming giant entered the Oscar sweepstakes with the most nominated film of the year, Mank, its love letter to old Hollywood. The film from acclaimed director David Fincher garnered 10 nominations, including for Best Picture, for its story about screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz who worked with Orson Wells to create Citizen Kane.
Mank collected a pair of awards — one for production design that seemingly acknowledged the film’s realistic recreation of Hearst Castle; and another for cinematography. But the big prize was elusive.
Netflix has launched multi-million-dollar awards campaigns to support other Best Picture contenders, including last year’s entry, The Irishman, a mob tale from director Martin Scorsese. That film also collected 10 Academy Award nominations in 2020, but left empty-handed.
Roma, the streaming service’s marquee contender in 2019, captured three Oscars, including awards for best director, best foreign language film and cinematography, but failed to win Best Picture. At the time, industry observers attributed the snub to insiders’ anxiety about the streaming service’s gathering clout in Hollywood.
This year, Netflix had a two pedigreed best picture nominees: The Trial of the Chicago 7, set in the civil unrest of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and Mank.
Netflix collected seven Oscar statues — two for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, an adaptation of the August Wilson play, and awards for best documentary feature (My Octopus Teacher), live-action short film (Two Distant Strangers) and animated short-film (If Anything Happens I Love You).
The prestige films may well have paid off for Netflix in the way that matter most: viewership. Netflix told the trade publication Variety that it experienced a viewership bump in the days following the Academy Awards nominations. Mank alone experienced a dramatic 702% percent spike in viewers.