The New Guard: A24 and Netflix dominate at the 2023 Oscars

The two studios, both barely ten years old, have officially cemented themselves as Oscars power players, winning 15 of the 24 Academy Awards categories.

Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Wang, Stephanie Hsu, Daniel Scheinert, Ke Huy Quan, Daniel Kwan

Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Wang, Stephanie Hsu, Daniel Scheinert, Ke Huy Quan and Daniel Kwan at the 95th Annual Academy Awards.

Gilbert Flores for variety

While it was becoming all too predictable towards the end of awards season that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” would take home the Best Picture Oscar, the win points to a surprising trend among 2023 Academy Awards winners. Netflix, two studios barely ten years old, completely dominated the Oscars, winning 15 of the 24 categories. Looks like awards season has ushered in a new watch.

Their performance this year in particular comes as a surprise, as the overall narrative around 2022 as a year in theaters celebrates the films that brought people back to cinemas after the COVID-19 pandemic eased. While that was mainly driven by major studio nominees like “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) and “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount), one can see A24’s “Everything Everywhere All At Once” as the lucky medium that deserved over $100 million at the box office, but still had the independent, arthouse chops of some regularly nominated production companies like Searchlight Pictures (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) and Universal Pictures (“The Fabelmans”), both of which just happen to go to went home empty handed this year.

It’s probably no coincidence that the remaining major studios would struggle this year at the Oscars after 2022 was such a mess of M&A that saw many movie professionals lose their jobs. A24 and Netflix can better adapt to an increasingly digital world. While the former is now likely to appeal to those working above the line, with A24 becoming the first studio ever to win all four acting categories, alongside wins in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, it’s now safe to also saying that Netflix has earned the respect of the craft community.

While the streaming service didn’t break its previous Oscar record (it won seven Academy Awards in 2021), “All Quiet on the Western Front” did beat out “Roma” for the Netflix movie with the most wins (four Oscars to three). Even with a tough six-straight break from multiple losses within the category, after making films starring masters like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Jane Campion, a Best Picture win for Netflix feels inevitable. To come so close with a movie this year, the company didn’t originally push to show that the company really can be an Oscar powerhouse.

However, the Academy still places a high value on films that provide a theatrical experience, and A24 is fast becoming the only studio able to attract a large number of theatergoers to ‘prestige’ projects. Even without a Best Picture nomination, “The Whale” still had a strong showing at the box office upon its December release. Until the big media conglomerates that own perpetual Oscar-nominated distribution companies like Searchlight Pictures, Focus Features, and Sony Pictures Classics figure out how to reach the arthouse audience again, making better use of digital marketing as their newer competitors do, expect A24 and Netflix will top the Oscars leaderboard again next year.

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