When the Oscar nominations were announced on Monday, one film very quietly made Academy Award history.
Mudbound, a film with four Oscar nominations, helped Netflix become the first streaming service to land eight nominations in this year’s awards.
The film, which tells the story of two men returning home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, deals with PTSD post-war and racism.
Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s film group, told Vanity Fair he felt the nominations marked a “huge day.”
“It’s so exciting,” Stuber said. “It’s always great when you are in the middle of someone’s coming-out party. This is the recognition they all deserve and their careers have all been changed because of it.”
Stuber said it was a sign the Academy was finally warming to the idea of considering streaming services legitimate alternatives to movie theatres.
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“Technology, in general, is changing consumer habits. Now because of the explosion of television, and the ability for a human being to be entertained for two hours by whatever app they have on their phone, we have to expand the love of storytelling and film… For us, we want to be part of that and we want to be part of the cinematic experience, too. But we recognise that the consumer is now in control.”
After the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year, many-a-distributor passed on the film. It was too long, some said. The subject matter was a little dense, said others.
Now, after streaming online and being shown in just 17 theatres across five weeks, Mudbound is up for four awards.
Mary J. Blige is boasting two nominations from her contributions to the film; one for her song Mighty River and another for her supporting actress role. Screenwriters Dee Rees and Virgil Williams were nominated for their adapted screenplay and Rachel Morrison was nominated for cinematography.
While history being made regarding streaming services is important, so too is Morrison’s nomination.
In 90 years, she is the first female director of photography to receive an Oscar nomination.
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“I’m glad that people are recognizing the craft of it and not making decisions based on tokenism; Rachel’s work is on the screen,” Mudbound director Dee Rees said on a recent episode of Variety’s Playback podcast.
So this weekend, jump on Netflix and watch Mudbound.
Not only did it result in the first female cinematographer ever being nominated for an Oscar, but it was such a standout film it didn’t even need to be in mainstream cinemas to be recognised for the most illustrious awards in the industry.