For all of the fighting over Netflix, its crashing of the Academy Awards, and the worry among Oscar veterans that the streaming giant would upend Hollywood’s traditional business model, the Academy’s rules for next year’s Oscars will not be changed in regards to streaming.
And no, they’re not bringing back the “Achievement in Popular Film” idea, either.
Following a Board of Governors meeting earlier this week, the Oscars did announce one big change, but it had nothing to do with Netflix: The category formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film will now be known as Best International Feature Film. This de-emphasizes the idea of foreign language in favor of simply films coming from other countries.
“We have noted that the reference to ‘Foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee, told Variety. “We believe that International Feature Film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”
Director Steven Spielberg, following this year’s Oscar ceremony, had been among the prominent voices pushing for change in the rules in regards to Netflix. The famous director’s position, however, was somewhat misinterpreted – he was never advocating for a ban on streaming films, but only for a longer window of theatrical runs before movies could go to Netflix. Roma, the 2018 Netflix film that won three Oscars, was in theaters for three weeks.
This also meant that Spielberg was not a hypocrite when, last month, he announced a new series with Apple’s new streaming platform.
The big Oscar movie this year from Netflix is expected to be The Irishman, director Martin Scorsese’s latest crime epic, with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel all starring in the film that’s based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses, with a screenplay by Schindler’s List’s Steven Zaillian. The film, Scorsese’s first ever for Netflix, is set to arrive in the later part of 2019.
Last year’s Oscars were one of the more tumultuous ones in memory, with the Academy proposing various ideas, including a “Popular Film” award and the shunting of some awards to commercial breaks, which were quickly abandoned. The show itself, which went hostless following Kevin Hart’s abdication, was actually better received than expected, and even managed to avoid a ratings decrease for the first time in years.