The Irishman and The Oscars: Moving Pictures Weekly


Joel Valdes, Staff Writer

November 1st marked the one year anniversary since the release of The Irishman, Martin Scorcese’s latest mobster drama. The film was already planned to be available for Netflix streaming on November 27th, but its limited release in theaters had a strategic purpose.

The eligibility section of the Oscar Rules states that for a movie to have the potential to be nominated, it must “be shown in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily”. 

Although Netflix did not win any Oscars from The Irishman, its limited theatrical release allowed it to secure ten nominations in a variety of categories. 

The eligibility rule from the Academy has had unfortunate consequences for movies that are released directly to streaming, since they are not able to gain recognition for the most important American award for movies. As we enter an era in which entertainment increasingly comes from streaming services, it may be time for those rules to change. Some of that change may come from this year’s pandemic. One of the consequences of the virus is that movie theaters have closed, so many of this year’s films have either gotten streaming deals or were delayed. The rules were changed accordingly for the 93rd Academy Awards:

“Until further notice and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available through commercial streaming, VOD service or other broadcast may qualify for awards consideration in Best Picture”.

Even though the effects of the virus on the Oscars are still up in the air, the phrasing of that rule gives the impression that the Academy is resisting change. The new eligibility requirement is clear in stating that this rule only applies to movies from this year, and the 94th awards may have rules more similar to the pre-COVID world. Even so, streaming services are getting more public recognition as the movies that are produced reach Oscar-worthy levels of quality. It is only a matter of time before the rules adapt to the changing world of entertainment.