Musings on the Spielberg VS Netflix Debate

Hello readers! Today is the fifth and up until a couple of years ago, it’s customary that I post five random movie news/tidbits/query under the Five for the Fifth series. Well, this topic would certainly be part of that series today!

I had thought about this quite a bit since I heard about Steven Spielberg’s plan to push for the Academy to ban Netflix from Oscars at its annual post-Oscars meeting. Spielberg is the Academy Governor of the directors branch and this is what his company Amblin spokesperson is quoted as saying:

“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation… He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.” (per Variety)

I didn’t know this but apparently Spielberg has said in the past that Netflix films should only be eligible for Emmys rather than Oscars. Again per Variety, this is what he said back in 2018: “You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

This news was first reported by Indiewire, and it lists some of the complaints from Hollywood studios against the streaming service. Among others, the fact that Netflix doesn’t report box office and that it doesn’t respect the 90-day theatrical window. ROMA only spent spent 3 weeks in the theatre before it’s shown on Netflix.

Now, this is what Netflix responded with on Twitter a couple of days later, without mentioning Spielberg by name…


Now, when I first read Spielberg’s comment, I was already unnerved by it. My initial reaction is that he’s just a big Hollywood elite who does not like change, especially one that threatens his own status and tradition he holds dear. No doubt that ‘threat’ got bigger when Netflix’s ROMA got no less than 10 nominations at the Oscars this year AND won three, including Best Foreign Language film.

Now, I don’t have to be a filmmaker to realize how tough it is not only to get a film made, but to get it distributed. An indie filmmaker would be lucky to get even a limited theatrical release, and few could expect to get a wide release the way a standard legacy (studio) system would. The title of the IndieWire article alone says it all about what this ‘battle’ means for the underdogs, aka indie filmmakers…

The Spielberg vs. Netflix Battle Could Mean Collateral Damage for Indies at the Oscars

I recognize that many of the films Netflix campaign aggressively for Oscars were about people of color AND were made by people of color who are still very much a minority under the Hollywood legacy system… Beasts of No Nation (Cary Joji Fukunaga), 13th (Ava Duvernay), Mudbound (Dee Rees), and Roma (Alfonso Cuarón).

So naturally, as a filmmaker of color myself who’s trying to get a feature made, I experience it firsthand how arduous it is to get the chance to make a film. Indie filmmakers don’t get the privilege to expect ANY theatrical release, and many consider getting even a streaming release as a huge accomplishment. Thus I see Netflix as an ally to independent filmmakers, and also filmmakers of color. Based on the films they’ve made/distributed, they seem committed to inclusive storytelling which can only be a good thing for film fans everywhere. But of course that’s still somehow seen as a challenge to the ‘status quo’ who only says they support ‘diversity’ if it aligns with their own success and pocketbooks.

As a film fan, I have increasingly choose to see films on my TV rather than going to the theater. Yes, as a press member I do get invited to advanced screenings, but if I miss some of those films, I often choose to wait until it’s available on VOD. Now, when I know it’s a Netflix film or an Amazon Studio film, I’m glad to know that I can see it sooner and without paying extra because I already have subscriptions to both streaming services. So to me, the quality of a film and its legitimacy to be regarded as a motion picture (read: its Oscars-eligibility) has no bearing on where it’s presented. Spielberg seems to say that there is one way to see a movie and that is on the big screen. I think that communal way of film viewing will never go away, and I still do enjoy seeing some films on the big screen (even in IMAX if it’s made specifically for that giant screen), but there is really no wrong way to see a movie.

Many Hollywood studios don’t like the fact that Netflix doesn’t report theatrical grosses. They are starting to share some metrics of audience viewerships (per BGR.com) so perhaps they’d do the same with theatrical release numbers in the future? Not that it matters to me, the audience member, nor should it have any bearing in the quality of a film.

Even before the Spielberg news came out, Alfonso Cuarón already weighed in on this subject to Variety:

There needs to be greater diversity in how we release our films. Distribution models need to be more flexible, depending on the film. You cannot impose the release strategy of a tentpole film on a smaller film. You may need fewer theaters and longer runs or models in which the so-called window is shorter. We’re thinking in one single paradigm. It’s a moment to start opening up paradigms. Right now it’s a confrontation between economic models. It’s not like one model benefits cinema, and the other does not.


Now, I’m NOT writing this because I’m on the side of a multi-billion dollar streaming company. In fact, I’ve been a longtime fan of Spielberg, but his comments shows him as being out of touch and elitist who wants to maintain his status quo. He’s a product of the studio system where minorities (women, people of color, disabled, etc) struggle to get in and tell their story.

I came across this thread from Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List (an annual survey of Hollywood’s executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays), and it’s hard to argue with his points…


Yes I realize some of you might argue that Netflix is not an ‘underdog’ company that deserves our sympathy. After all it spent about $50 million for Roma‘s Oscar campaign alone. So perhaps the argument should be about limiting spending on Oscar campaigns? I personally can’t stand studio’s award campaign, that’s one of the worst things about award season for me. But if the film Netflix or other streaming service is promoting is a worthy one, who’s to say it’s not eligible to be included in the Oscar race??

As I have just seen a Netflix Original Film last night, TRIPLE FRONTIER. It’s the first time I saw a Netflix film on the big screen, surely the first of many. At the film premiere, no doubt this topic was all the buzz. One of the film’s star who’s also a filmmaker, Ben Affleck, is naturally supportive of Netflix, saying that “they’re helping define the future of cinema and distribution” (per Deadline).

Per Cinema Blend, Affleck spoke of his rationale why he wouldn’t be in Spielberg’s camp in trying to disqualify streaming films (even those that has limited theatrical release) from competing at Oscars…

We certainly approached [Triple Frontier] as any other movie. There’s no difference when you’re making it between what the platform is that it’s going to be seen on. I do think Netflix is doing more interesting stuff in creating a more cinematic experience for the home. More people, more viewers, bigger TVs, bigger sound. They’re doing Dolby Cinema color correction, they do Dolby Atmos sound mixes. So they’re sort of synthesizing the theatrical with the home viewing experience in a kind of interesting way. It’s all changing very fast.


Netflix continues to work with big names in filmmaking, (One of Triple Frontier‘s executive producers is Kathryn Bigelow) and they’ve got Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman with its all-star cast (DeNiro, Pacino, Harvey Keitel) which will likely get an even wider release than ROMA. I personally think it’s an exciting time as a film fan as we have more options for content and how we want to see them.

So in conclusion, I’m glad there are streaming services like Netflix exists. I’m lucky that I live in a city where there are plenty of cinemas. But even so, there are always smaller films that I want to see that don’t get shown or they’re shown only in 1-2 theaters in Minneapolis for 2 weeks tops. I’d imagine people in rural or remote areas don’t even get that same privilege, but it’d be easier for them to subscribe to streaming services like Netflix.

In the end, I believe in options… I like to be able to see movies wherever and whenever I want. In the ideal world, the theatrical and streaming model should co-exist. Just because something has been done one way for so long doesn’t mean it has to be the ONLY way.


So what do you think of this Spielberg VS Netflix debate? Let’s hear it!

 

Movies coming to Netflix in June – here are the ones I recommend & look forward to

NetflixBnr

Hi folks, I’ve been meaning to post this for sometime as every weekend my hubby and I always spend way too long browsing Netflix on what to watch. Yes I know, that’s what the queue [or My List] is for but for some reason we still browse the new releases and decide which one appeals to us at that given moment. Well, at the start of the month, some sites are listing which movies get added to Netflix so I thought it might be mutually beneficial for us movie fans if we could give each other recommendations 😀

Ok, so this site breaks it down by genre and list the exact date of the month it’s going to be released, including TV shows. Well, I barely watch any TV so I’m only focusing on film recommendations. So here are

Newly Added in June

The Aviator (June 1)
I’d think most people have seen this Howard Hughes’ biopic from Scorsese by now, but if not, well what are you waiting for? To be honest though, I’m much more enamored by Cate Blanchett’s performance as Katharine Hepburn than Leo’s.

Words and Pictures (June 7)
Saw this last year at MSPIFF – stars Juliette Binoche & Clive Owen. Worth seeing just for those two alone. [full review]

Beyond the Lights (June 24)
I can’t recommend this film enough simply for the sublime performance of miss Gugu Mbatha-Raw. I’ve raved about her several times on my blog, and for good reason. The music is terrific as well, which I have also featured on my music break post. [full review]

Nightcrawler (June 10)
I saw this rather late but now that it’s on VOD, Bluray AND Netflix, really you have no reason to put this off any longer if you haven’t seen this yet. Trust me, it’s worth your time. SO good that I’ll be rooting for Jake Gyllenhaal come award season for Southpaw, it’s criminal that he was overlooked for his performance here. [full review]

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (June 27) 
Very cool that TWO of Riz Ahmed’s films are released on Netflix in the same month. He’s a darn good British actor who’s really quite versatile. His role here couldn’t be more different from the one in Nightcrawler and he’s quite mesmerizing. I wish he’d get more leading roles in the future! [full review]

Newly Added in May

I figure I’d include a few from last month that just got released, especially since it includes one of my favorite dramas of the year I’ve seen so far [Girlhood].

The ones I most look forward to seeing

I wasn’t just on the lookout for female-centric stories, but hey, no matter how [seemingly] numerous there are, it’s still not enough.

NetflixMoviesJune15

Two Days, One Night (June 16)

Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.

For some reason I missed this film last year but the premise sounds intriguing and surely would show Marion Cotillard’s acting chops!

Cake (June 20)

Claire becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group while grappling with her own, very raw personal tragedy.

I’m mostly curious to see Jennifer Aniston’s performance. Somehow I just realized Sam Worthington’s in this movie also, wonder what role he’s playing.

Grace of Monaco (June 8)

The story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly’s crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco in the early 1960s.

This one also piqued my curiosity because supposedly it’s such a train wreck. One thing for sure, not matter how much makeup they put on Nicole Kidman, she still wouldn’t hold a candle to the luminous Grace Kelly in real life.

On the Road (June 6)

Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.

Well, now that I’ve finally warmed up to Kristen Stewart thanks to Clouds of Sils Maria, I just might rent this one.

Definitely going to avoid …

The Best of Me – it’s one of those Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation, ’nuff said.

 …


So which of these movies have you seen? Recommendations are always welcome too!

Question of the Week: What new (or new to you) TV series are you really into right now?

Hi everyone! Just to switch things up from all the awards chatter (which is so tiresome already), let’s talk about TV shows.

BroadchurchBBCIn the start of the new year, I thought I should catch up on some great shows that people have been recommending. So last week I finally caught up on Season 1 of BROADCHURCH starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant. Thanks to my friend Dave W. who gave me this top 10 reasons of why you should absolutely check out this amazing British drama if you haven’t already. It’s every bit as gripping and emotionally-engaging as I had expected. It took me about four days to finish all 10 episodes as it’s really quite addictive that I couldn’t stop watching!

Now, just yesterday I finally got around to seeing another British series I’ve been meaning to check out: The Honourable Woman.

TheHonourableWomanI erroneously thought that this 8-part series will leave Netflix at the end of the month but it’s actually not up for renewal so it will REMAIN on its streaming service, yay! In any case, I can’t tell you enough how good this series is and Maggie Gyllenhaal absolutely deserves her Golden Globe win as the show’s protagonist. Here’s the premise:

Nessa Stein, a woman who inherits her father’s arms business and finds herself in a international maelstrom when as she continues to promote the reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Right from the get go, the show created by Hugo Blick is immensely riveting and suspenseful. Plot twists abound as you have no clue who’s good or bad, there’s no clear heroes or villains which makes it all the more intriguing. The writing, acting and cinematography are top notch, and not only does it have a strong female protagonist, it’s nice to see women playing prominent characters in this series. As a fan of British dramas, the show is filled fantastic mostly-British cast: Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer, Andrew Buchan (who’s also in Broadchurch), and Tobias Menzies. Maggie is a native New Yorker but her British accent is flawless (well it sounds that way to me anyway) but it’s her acting and elegant way she moves that is truly fun to watch.

Check out the trailer:


So that’s what I’ve been obsessing lately. Which *new* shows did you just discover that you can’t get enough of?

Guest Post: Fixed fee – Unlimited movies. The future of movies?

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today we’ve got a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Nostra from My Film Views. It’s a fascinating topic surely us moviegoers and film fans have an opinion about, so read on …

MyFilmViewsBlogLogo
The internet has changed our lives, not only in regards to being able to connect with people instantly or being able to shop online, but it has also changed the world around us. Some physical stores have seen the number of customers drop and were forced to close down. Two big examples are music stores and video rental places. It is possible to get your music and movie fixes without leaving your home and even on the move it is easy to get a couple of songs on the go through your phone. It has forced record labels into changing their model and the pricing for songs has changed. Although the movie industry was also forced to change I started wondering about pricing. In the past I already wrote about the death of DVD and Blu-Ray where I mentioned fixed fee services. For movies the obvious service to mention is of course Netflix where you can watch as many movies and TV shows you want for a price which normally might buy you one “new release” on DVD/Blu Ray.
Pathe_DutchCinema
Some cinema chains have been paying attention as well. The biggest one in the Netherlands, Pathé, has an online offering of movies (still with individually priced movies though) but also has been doing a lot to make sure people keep visiting the cinema by organising special nights (for example one for women where they will have a small market where clothes and jewelry are sold) to make it more of an experience. It is not the only thing they do however. A couple of years ago they started offering Unlimited passes. Basically they work the same as Netflix does. They cost around 20 euros a month (depending which option you take) and what that allows you to do is visit the cinema as much as you’d like. So you could just go to the cinema in the morning and stay there all day seeing the movies you like. There is no limit and the cards even allow you to buy concessions for reduced prices (10 to 25% off the normal prices). It’s a great deal for both moviegoer, who can watch all the movies he/she wants and for the cinema as well as they have a fixed income and know when people come they will probably still buy some food or drinks.
The consumer wants to be able to choose what they watch. This is already possible with on demand services and there are also initiatives to introduce that for the cinema. I bet there are a ton of older movies you wish you could see at the cinema. “We Want Cinema” is a dutch platform which does just that. On their website they have a big selection of titles to choose from. You select one of the participating cinemas you would like to see the movie and then you will have to make sure enough other people also want to see that movie. If enough tickets are sold the movie will be programmed and you can enjoy the film on the big screen again.
NetflixCinema
I’d like to imagine about a possible future of movies. What if you would combine these things where a cinema chain or something like Netflix would have a subscription form where you have an unlimited selection of films on demand and could also head to the cinema with that same subscription? It would be an awesome offer for movie lovers (for about 30 euros/40 dollar per month). The movie companies would be able to negotiate with the provider of the service about the pricing. Since both the online service and the cinema would be run by the same company this would also open up the possibility of simultaneous releases of new movies in the cinema and on demand. It would not matter where people watched their movies. An added extra for the movie companies would be that pirating of movies could decrease because people would be able to watch the latest movies immediately.

Add to that a special section in the online service to pick movies to see at the cinema, which makes promoting events like that and it easily something to get excited about. Unlimited movies for a fixed fee has already been partly-realised, but the future could be even brighter.

Well movie lovers, what do you think of this idea? 

A Rant and a Question: Where do you get your movies?

This is what the Random Thoughts category is for. I haven’t actually posted anything under that in a while but what happened today prompted me to this rant I rarely do on my blog.

Before I get to my rant and question, let me give you a quick background. Well, yesterday I found out that the next subject of the LAMB’s Acting School 101 is Nicole Kidman. I really want to participate in this, maybe do a Top 5 Fave Roles of hers, but after looking at her filmography, I realize there are some of her films from the past few decades that I’ve missed. I figure since the blogathon isn’t starting until the end of the month, it might be good to catch up on a few of her past movie One of them that caught my attention is The Portrait of A Lady by Jane Campion. I quite like period dramas and this is based on a novel by Henry James. Alas, as you can see on my tweet below, it’s NOT available to rent anywhere!!

In fact, neither Netflix DVD NOR Streaming has the movie available to rent! I even went so far as searching my local library for it! Zero. None. Zip. Nada. Basically my only option to watch this movie is to BUY the darn thing! Gah! Now after seeing the trailer I’m even more curious to see this movie, I mean it’s also got John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey (who was nominated for Oscar’s Best Actress in a Supporting Role), plus Christian Bale and Viggo Mortensen in smaller roles!

Now, a few other of Kidman’s movies I’m hoping to check out this month are Fur, The Hours, and Rabbit Hole. Ted is going to lend me The Peacemaker this weekend. I have no interest in seeing Dogma, The Others, nor Eyes Wide Shut. Those who know me probably know those films aren’t my cup of tea. I haven’t checked yet if those movies are readily available to rent.

Truthfully, I’m dismayed that there are some movies are practically impossible to see unless you have Netflix DVD subscription (except for The Portrait of a Lady as I’ve mentioned above, the date of availability is listed as UNKNOWN!). Two other films my hubby and I had been wanting to watch are The Guard and The Whistleblower.

Yes I know they both have super generic, uninteresting titles but the premise and cast of both of them are quite appealing. But unless I’m willing to buy them, it doesn’t look like I have any option to see those two! Right now I just can’t justify paying $15 bucks a month for both Netflix DVD and Streaming option, so I guess that’s my problem, eh?

All right, enough about my rant. I’ll find a way somehow to rent those titles, but I’m curious now if any of you encounter the same issues about not being able to rent the movie you want. So my question to you is…

Where do you get your movies from?

Is it through iTunes, Netflix or (LOVEFilm if you’re in the UK), Amazon on Demand? If you get your movies through illegal means, you don’t have to answer, ahah.