Netflix is coming for that Best Picture Oscar with a strong slate of contenders

Netflix has a healthy Oscars history. The streaming studio has won a total of 22 Academy Awards. Among this haul: three for Best Cinematography, three for Best Documentary Feature, two for Best Director (more on those later), two for Best Foreign Language Film, one for Best Animated Feature and one for Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern for “Marriage Story”). However, despite that prowess, which also includes a bunch of below-the-line wins, Netflix has never won a writing award, a lead actor/actress award, or, the ultimate prize… Best Picture.

For a long while, academy voters seemed reluctant to nominate Netflix movies at all for Best Picture but “Roma” made history in 2019 by becoming the first Netflix film to earn a Best Picture nomination. After that, the floodgates opened. “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” were both nominated in 2020 but lost to “Parasite.” “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” landed bids in 2021 but lost to “Nomadland.” “Don’t Look Up” and “The Power of the Dog” were nominated in 2022 but lost to “CODA.” And “All Quiet on the Western Front” was nominated earlier this year, losing to “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

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“All Quiet on the Western Front” won Best Foreign Language Film and could have, in theory, taken home the top prize, but “Everything Everywhere All at Once” swept. Netflix’s best chances of winning Best Picture were for “Roma” and “The Power of the Dog.” “Roma” was arguably the favorite going into the Academy Awards that night after it won Best Picture at the BAFTAs and the Critics’ Choice Awards. It also tied for the most nominations that year — 10, with “The Favourite.” “Roma” won Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, and even Best Director — with all of those awards going to Alfonso Cuarón. However, “Green Book” was announced as the Best Picture winner that year after it also won Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.

“The Power of the Dog” was also, arguably, the favorite going into the 2022 awards after it won Best Picture at the BAFTAs, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Golden Globes. Like, “Roma,” it was also the most nominated film at the Oscars that year, with 12 bids. However, “The Power of the Dog” underperformed at the Oscars and only took home Best Director for Jane Campion, leaving the door open for “CODA” to win Best Picture after it also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur (coincidentally, the same two awards “Green Book” won — Best Supporting Actor and a writing victory). So, Netflix left empty-handed once again in terms of Best Picture wins despite a total of eight nominations.

But could that change this year? The streaming service has a slew of films coming out, of course, and a handful of them could be up for Oscars next year. “Pain Hustlers” teams up Emily Blunt and Chris Evans with “Harry Potter” director David Yates to tell the story of a woman who gets a job at a pharmacy in order to give her daughter a better life but instead ends up caught in a criminal conspiracy. “Nyad” is the biopic of athlete Diana Nyad (Annette Bening), who swam from Cuba to Florida aged 60. And “El Conde” is an black comedy from Pablo Larraín that imagines Augusto Pinochet as an undead vampire who, after living for 250 years, decides he wants to die. These are three hotly anticipated movies each with their own distinct flavour. However, we do not currently predict that any of them will be nominated for Best Picture. Bening has a decent shot at a Best Actress nomination, “Pain Hustlers” could be up for writing, and “El Conde” could be nominated for writing, cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film. But it’s unlikely they’ll be nominated for Best Picture, let alone win it.

What else? Well, there’s David Fincher‘s “The Killer,” starring Michael Fassbender as a hitman who gets caught up in an international manhunt. That, too, is outside of our predicted nominees for Best Picture but, if it lands with critics and audiences, it could make the nominees list — as could Fincher for Director and Fassbender for Actor. “Rustin” looks like it will be popular this year. The biopic tells the story of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who organized the 1963 March on Washington. Colman Domingo is predicted to land a Best Actor nod for his turn as the titular Rustin and that could lift the film, eventually, into our Best Picture lineup. Currently, it is outside of our predicted nominees. A “Rustin” Best Picture win seems a long way off, though.

That leaves “Maestro,” Bradley Cooper‘s biopic of Leonardo Bernstein. This could be a huge year for Cooper, who co-writes the script with “Spotlight” Oscar-winner Josh Singer, stars as Bernstein, directs, and produces the picture, too. “Maestro” is the only Netflix film we are currently predicting will be nominated for Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. We think it will be nominated alongside “Oppenheimer,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Barbie,” “Poor Things,” “Past Lives,” “The Holdovers,” “The Color Purple,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” and “The Zone of Interest.” “Maestro” is seventh on the list at the moment.

However, this film is produced by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, so it will have power and credibility to back its awards campaign, while we expect lead actors Cooper and Carey Mulligan to be nominated. The film could also contend for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and a bunch of below-the-line awards including Best Editing and Best Cinematography – all the marks you typically need to win Best Picture. In what looks like it could be a competitive year this year, “Maestro” could benefit — particularly on a preferential ballot. “Barbie” and “Poor Things” will likely go down as acquired tastes that not all voters will like (some will place them in top spot, others in 10th). “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Oppenheimer” could also split voters, too. “Maestro,” however, might just be the film that gets ranked second, third, or fourth, by enough voters that, in a preferential ballot, it manages to win Best Picture. Netflix will certainly be hoping so.

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