Why Steven Spielberg is Wrong to Hate on Netflix Movies

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: ITV)

Steven Spielberg has been throwing shade at Netflix this week, and in spite of his legacy as a filmmaker, it’s hard to take his side in all this.

It’s no secret that Netflix movies are, by and large, a bit awful. Some of them are worse than others, but the streaming service has yet to release an exclusive film that’s actually won over critics and audiences alike.

This being the case, Spielberg could be forgiven for trashing Netflix films in general, but he’s not going after the quality of the storytelling we’ve seen thus far – instead, he’s opposed to the idea of streaming movies being taken seriously as alternatives to theater releases.

Said Spielberg:

“I don’t believe that films that are given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for Academy Award nominations. Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. If it’s a good show, you deserve an Emmy. But not an Oscar.”

Spielberg’s argument is similar to opinions expressed by a lot of key voices (from old people) among the Canned Film Festival voting body.

There’s an attitude among the ruling class within the film world that unless a movie gets shown in a theater (and, apparently, for a long time, rather than just a few weeks), it doesn’t count as a real movie.

What utter nonsense.

This argument comes from bastions of an old world, attempting to gatekeep the movie industry by refusing to accept anything new or innovative.

Movie theaters have been a fairly obsolete staple of this industry for a while – now, audiences have access to technologically impressive home cinema setups that in many ways are more enjoyable than any projector set-up at a local multiplex (for one thing, you won’t be charged through the nose for popcorn).

The idea that the only good movies are ones shown in theaters is such an arbitrary viewpoint. There’s nothing inherently flawed about movies such as “Okja”, which are made by Netflix and which have earned theatrical awards.

Source: Netflix

The biggest thing against Netflix at the moment is the fact that the platform has become a dumping ground for bad or unpopular films. If the streaming service ever manages to get hold of a really, truly great film, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be in the running for an Oscar.

The movie theater industry is propped up by the likes of Steven Spielberg and other, older industry professionals that refuse to accept innovation or change. In a few generations, streaming will eventually become more respectable, whether these creators like it or not.

But, then, there’s the other side of the coin. Perhaps the Oscars are simply too outdated for Netflix. It’s clear already that the Academy Awards have lost touch with the moviegoing public (outliers such as “The Shape of Water” and “Get Out” notwithstanding). Maybe it’s no bad thing that the triumphant symbol of Hollywood stagnant self-aggrandizing doesn’t want to recognize the type of moviemaking that will ultimately serve as its replacement.

If the Oscars won’t acknowledge streaming movies, then one day, Netflix, Amazon, and any other companies that want to get in on the act, will form their own award ceremonies.

Once that happens, it’s hard to imagine anyone really caring about the Oscars anymore either way.