Awards season is in full swing and speculation and questions for top winners and potential nominees are swirling. One of the biggest questions is, “What are Netflix’s awards chances in 2019?” After a strong and interesting awards year in 2018, Netflix is on a mission to solidify itself as a premium platform for high-quality content, both movies, and television series. This “serial disruptor” is trying to disrupt the industry again by garnering critical and awards acclaim for its productions by showing Hollywood (and the world) that they are a creative force to be reckoned with.
Changing this perception will, however, be an uphill battle. There are obstacles at every turn, including the push back they received last year around the Oscars and it’s “theatrical release” requirements and Emmys and television behemoths as their competition. Just like last year, this year’s Emmys race is a battle between the giants: Netflix and HBO. Netflix garnered 117 nominations, while HBO landed with 137 (setting an overall record and individual record with HBO’s landmark series “Game of Thrones”). But Netflix’s chances this awards season, not just with the Emmys, looks strong and this might just be their breakout year.
So, let’s start with the Emmys. Last year, Netflix won 37 awards out of 128 nominations – an admirable 28.9% winning percentage. This year’s chances of earning Emmys are even stronger as they have a number heavyweights in contention this year. For example, Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” garnered 16 noms, while dramedy “Russian Doll” earned 11 and the streaming platform’s critically-acclaimed drama “Ozark” has nine nominations. In the individual categories, Netflix faces some competition from veteran and breakout stars. In the “Lead Actor in a Comedy Series” race, Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) goes head to head with heavyweights the likes of Bill Hader, Eugene Levy, Ted Danson, Don Cheadle, and Anthony Anderson. As the oldest nominee in this category, this marks Douglas’s sixth Emmy nomination of his career and he has already won a Golden Globe and received a Critics’ Choice nomination this year and his chances here are strong. The actor has already earned an Emmy for his work in 2013’s “Behind the Candelabra” for playing Liberace.
Other watched races include “Lead Actor in a Drama Series” where Ozark’s Jason Bateman faces off against “Pose’s” Billy Porter and “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harrington. Netflix’s freshman British import “Bodyguard” has strong chances with critical fervor and a strong showing at the recent Golden Globe Awards. We will be watching the “Lead Actress in a Drama Series” rather closely as Robin Wright has been nominated for an Emmy for each season of “House of Cards,” but it will be a difficult task to win as the show lost some of its appeal following the Kevin Spacey scandal. One of the more interesting races is “Best Comedy Series” where freshman comedy phenomena “Russian Doll” goes up against juggernauts “Fleabag,” “Veep” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” but it just might have the chops to pull it off.
Netflix’s innovative shows (“Russian Doll”), old reliables (“Ozark”) and “flood the market strategy” should work in their favor in this year’s Emmys race. But what about the Oscars; is it too early to speculate? Never. The streaming service is trying to achieve a level of prestige that will help them attract more high-profile filmmakers to their platform. Last year’s Oscar performance should go a long way to push them closer to their goal. With 15 Oscar nominations and 4 wins last year, Netflix has some projects in the pipeline that are getting a lot of buzz and are bound to garner some awards discussion.
One such film is Martin Scorsese‘s highly anticipated “The Irishman.” This decades-spanning story boasts some innovative de-aging special effects along with a quasi- “Goodfellas” reunion (Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci). “The Irishman” is premiering at the New York Film Festival and should get a good boost from the festival circuit along with early critical acclaim. Netflix also has the period drama “The King” starring recent Oscar darling Timotheé Chalamet, the film’s production values should do well in the awards race. There’s also Steven Soderbergh‘s “The Laundromat” about the Panama Papers scandal, which boasts an all-star cast (Meryl Streep, James Cromwell, Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman, Sharon Stone, and Jeffrey Wright, among others). “The Laundromat” has all the right ingredients for awards fervor There is also early talk about Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” and the Eddie Murphy (who is arguably overdue for recognition by the Academy) vehicle “Dolemite is My Name.”
This is a big year for Netflix, not only do they have to stand their ground and give HBO a run for their money this September at the Emmys, but they also have to seize the tailwinds from last year’s Oscar performance. Netflix has the resources and the team to pull it off, but the campaigning must be relentless. The platform has the big names and acting prestige (both with the Emmys and Oscars), so let’s see if they can pull off wins on both fronts.