Netflix spends big, but Oscars don’t look promising

February 7, 2020 By Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling

LOS ANGELES — Ballots for the Academy Awards have not been counted — at least officially. But it already seems clear: This will not be Netflix’s year.

The Los Gatos streaming giant will arrive at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony leading the field, with 24 nominations. That’s up from 15 last year and eight the year before, a trajectory that highlights the success that Netflix has had in building a prestige film operation with a minimal presence in actual movie theaters. But the company could end the evening with only two wins, according to Gold Derby, which compiles the predictions of 28 awards handicappers, despite dumping truckloads of cash into awards-oriented marketing campaigns. Competitors estimate that Netflix has spent at least $70 million, a startling sum even by Hollywood’s profligate standards. Netflix declined to comment.

“The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s gangster character study, nominated for 10 Oscars and relentlessly hyped by Netflix as “one of the best films of the decade,” is expected by awards forecasters to get shut out. Prognosticators like Mark Harris of Vanity Fair and Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter base their opinions on how films have performed at predictive awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars.

At the same time, Oscar voters are poised to shower statuettes on films from old-line studios that received traditional runs in theaters, including the late-arriving World War I drama “1917” (Universal), which is the front-runner to win best picture.

It raises unpleasant questions for Netflix. Spending freely on awards campaigning is one of the ways it has been able to woo marquee filmmakers like Scorsese. But with some analysts starting to question the return — Netflix already had a poor outcome at the recent Golden Globe Awards — will the streaming giant change...

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