Renowned film director Steven Spielberg recently made efforts to restrict the Academy Awards’ eligibility to films not released on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In the past, he’s said these types of movies should be eligible for Emmys, which give awards to television shows.
However, there’s a reason platforms like Netflix and Hulu are thriving.
Movies released on streaming services are accessible to more people around the world. As a result, the diversity of the people watching these movies is greater than that of movies released at a theater, where one ticket usually costs more than a month’s subscription to Netflix.
Not only are the people using streaming services more diverse, so are the stories that are told.
On March 3, director Ava DuVernay tweeted about her appreciation for the platform she and other black artists have when releasing work through Netflix, referencing how the service is available in 190 countries.
“I’ve had just one film distributed wide internationally. Not SELMA. Not WRINKLE. It was 13TH. By Netflix. That matters,” she said in the tweet.
Legitimate films by directors and filmmakers of all sorts of acclaim have been distributed by streaming services. Directors such as Alfonso Cuaron, Steven Soderbergh and the Coen brothers have all made movies for Netflix.
Ultimately, the effort is meant to counteract the perception that films released on streaming services undermine the unique experience one has when going to the movie theater.
However, as trips to the movies become more expensive and options online become increasingly diverse, going to the theater has become more special.
There will always be a need for movie theaters. Not only is there a level of sentimentality in going to the movies, but the visual and sound quality far exceeds that of a computer or phone screen.
Going to movies still remains an enjoyable experience and a staple in my life, despite having a myriad of options in my dorm room. Acknowledging films from streaming services does not reduce the legitimacy of the movie theater experience.
However, the quality of the films released online is not less than those released in theaters. They are, in all relevant respects, the same kind of content, just distributed in a different way.
There could be a separate form of recognition for these types of movies, but I fail to find a reason why there should be.
This discussion ultimately boils down to what exactly makes a movie. Does its distribution matter more than its actual structure, concept and quality? Perhaps there is no objective answer to this question. But we should celebrate the increasingly diverse selection of movies that we are now offered.
Chris Agard CM ’21 from Atlanta, Georgia. He does not put pineapple on his pizza.