The Netflix original documentary, which aimed to expose the flaws in doping testing but led to an exposé of Russia’s sponsored doping program, faced strong competition including Strong Island, which also debuted on Netflix. The win for Icarus makes it Netflix’s second Oscar after The White Helmets took home best documentary (short subject) last year.
Director Bryan Fogel thanked Netflix and the partners who worked with him, his agents, and his parents, but he also used his film to convey a larger message. “We dedicate this award to Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, our fearless whistleblower who now lives in grave danger,” Fogel said. “We hope Icarus is a wake-up call. Yes, about Russia, but more than that, about the importance of telling the truth. Now more than ever.”
Netflix celebrated Icarus’ win on social media with new graphics, captioning it with “Truth wins.”
Netflix was up for eight awards Sunday night in several categories. Along with Strong Island, its film Mudbound was up for four awards—best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best original song and best supporting actress for Mary J. Blige—but lost all of them. Heroin(e) was up for best documentary (short subject) while On Body and Soul was nominated for best foreign language film, but they lost to Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 and A Fantastic Woman, respectively. Amazon Studios also struck at the Oscars with its only Oscar nomination, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon in best original screenplay for The Big Sick, losing to Jordan Peele for Get Out.
Crowdfunding also received a big win at the Oscars. The Silent Child, which was funded for £12,685 ($17,516.46) on Indiegogo, took home the award for live action short. Writer Rachel Shenton also gave her speech in sign language, a promise she made to the star of the film, as she thanked the Academy for giving the issues tackled in the film a spotlight. Shenton’s fiancé and fellow winner, Chris Overton, used his time to express thanks to everyone who made the film possible, including the people who supported the film on Indiegogo.
“Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence,” Shenton said. “It’s not exaggerated or sensationalized for the movie; this is happening. Millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers and particularly access to education. Deafness is a silent disability—you can’t see it and it’s not life-threatening—so I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience.”