Although Netflix has already established itself as an award show staple for its original TV programming, it finally broke the streaming barrier in film at the Golden Globes with two wins for Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film Roma.
Roma, Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical period drama inspired by Liboria “Libo” Rodríguez, the nanny who raised him, nabbed two of Netflix’s five Golden Globes for the night. The film won two of the three awards it was nominated for; it won for best motion picture—foreign language and best director while losing in the best screenplay category to Green Book. (Roma was not eligible for the best motion picture—drama category due to Hollywood Foreign Press Association rules.)
“Cinema is at its best, tears down walls and builds bridges to other cultures,” he said while accepting the award for foreign film. “As we cross these bridges, this experience, and these new shapes and these new faces, we begin to realize that while they may be strange, they are not unfamiliar. We begin to understand exactly how much we have in common.”
In his latter acceptance speech, Cuarón thanked Netflix for bringing “this very unlikely film into mainstream awareness.”
Roma is pushing the narrative of what kinds of movies can win awards in part due to its distribution methods. It made the rounds at several film festivals and got a limited theatrical release, and at one point expanding to 600 theaters worldwide. But the majority of people who have seen Roma have probably watched it on Netflix after its debut, although many critics have urged viewers to watch it in a theater if possible.
Netflix’s distribution methods (particularly around awards season) have raised concerns in the past, which will likely come up again as the streaming giant has a major contender on its hands.
When asked whether Roma winning awards for Netflix would be “the death of cinema,” Cuarón stuck up for Netflix. He argued that his movie would’ve not reached as many people as it had if it had only gotten a traditional theatrical release and called it “very unfair to say that.”
“My question to you is, how many theaters do you think a Mexican film in black and white, in Spanish and Mixteco, that is a drama without stars—how big of release do you think it will be in a conventional theatrical release? I’m having a bigger theatrical release than that, but way, way bigger, and it’s still playing. It was not a cosmetic release. To this day, this movie opened more than a month ago and it’s still playing, that is rare for a foreign film.”
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He also highlighted the limited audience that foreign films tend to have when they’re only released in theaters.
“I just hope the discussion between Netflix and platforms in general and theatrical should be over,” he added. “I think those guys—platforms and theatricals—should come together and realize whatever they’re doing to the discussion is hurting cinema. They both together can elevate cinema.”
In television, both Netflix and Amazon won multiple awards for its programming. The Chuck Lorre comedy The Kominsky Method grabbed two Golden Globes, an acting award for star Michael Douglas and one for best television series—musical or comedy.
At one point, Lorre—who once wrote an open letter to Golden Globe voters about how one of his shows didn’t receive any nominations in a vanity card—spent several seconds praising Netflix by saying “Netflix” repeatedly.
Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden won Netflix’s other award for best actor in a drama for Bodyguard.
Amazon Studios won two television acting awards. One went to Rachel Brosnahan, who won her second award for her role in Amazon’s period comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel while A Very English Scandal’s Ben Whishaw won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in a TV series, limited series, or TV movie.
However, not everyone came out of the 2019 Golden Globes a winner. Last year’s winner for best TV drama, The Handmaid’s Tale, was nominated for three awards but ultimately went home empty-handed while the best drama award went to FX’s The Americans instead.