Why The Power of the Dog could make history for Netflix at this year's Oscars

Leading this year’s Oscar pack with 12 nominations, Jane Campion’s Netflix-backed The Power of the Dog could make history by becoming the streaming giant’s first movie to take home Academy Awards in the major categories.

That’s not for want of trying. It’s spent vast sums in recent years luring A-list directors to its stable with the promise of lavish budgets and creative freedom, yet so far the streamer’s Oscar haul has been confined to technical awards and documentaries.

If Power of the Dog wins for best picture, best director (Campion’s second best director nomination) and best actor (for Benedict Cumberbatch) – all likely – it’d also be somewhat symbolic of the shift in power that’s been happening in Hollywood over the past few years, with cinemas no longer the only space where major movies dominate the cultural conversation.

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That Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is up for seven nominations makes this transition even more pointed, though traditional studio and arthouse fare is also well represented thanks to the multiple nominations for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (ten), Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast (seven) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza (three).

Benedict Cumberbatch, left, and Jesse Plemons in a scene from The Power of the Dog. Picture: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix via AP

Still, other prominent nominees such as Aaron Sorkin’s Amazon-backed Being the Ricardos (three acting nominations for Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem and J.K. Simmons), AppleTV’s surprise best picture nominee Coda and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Netflix-funded The Lost Daughter are all streaming success stories.

The last of these also saw 2019 best actress winner Olivia Colman pick up her third nomination, making up for this year’s Bafta snub.

Indeed the nominations list further highlighted some of Bafta’s more bizarre choices recently by recognising Kristen Stewart for her fearless turn as Princess Diana in Spencer.

Elsewhere there’s a surprisingly strong showing for critics’ favourite Drive My Car.

Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s three-hour adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story is up for not just best international film, but best picture and best adapted screenplay – a positive legacy, perhaps, of Parasite’s historic win two years ago.

But all eyes will be on the battle between cinemas and streamers represented by this year’s nominees in the best film, director and acting categories.

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