Amazon makes streaming history with Oscar nomination for best picture
And the winner for first ever best picture Oscar nomination for a streaming service is… Amazon, not Netflix.
With “Manchester by the Sea” getting a nod Tuesday, Amazon Studios beats out streaming pioneer and larger rival Netflix in silver-screen prestige.
Amazon bought rights to the independent drama for $10 million at Sundance last year, reportedly outbidding Fox and Universal, and it looks like it has paid off. The film has scored six Academy Awards nominations, including for best director and best screenplay for Kenneth Lonergan, and best actor for the controversial Casey Affleck. In addition, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges got nominated for best supporting actress and best supporting actor.
Netflix also scored an Oscar nomination — for best documentary feature for “13th,” director Ava DuVernay’s documentary about racial inequality and mass incarceration. The company has four previous Oscar nominations for best documentary.
Netflix also received Academy Awards nominations for two documentary shorts this year, “Extremis,” which is about end-of-life care, and “The White Helmets,” which is about volunteer rescue workers in Syria.
Amazon was expected to have spent $3.2 billion on content in 2016, while Netflix has set aside $6 billion for content in 2017.
Amazon has an advantage over Los Gatos-based Netflix when it comes to the high-profile Oscars. Amazon buys films and shows them at movie theaters before making them available online, while Netflix mostly buys rights for its own streaming platform. Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” which was released to a limited number of movie theaters simultaneously, nabbed a Golden Globe for best supporting actor for Idris Elba last year.
This year, Affleck has already won a Golden Globe for best actor for “Manchester by the Sea.” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said he wants an Oscar; this may be the year he gets one.
Photo: Michelle Williams, left, and Casey Affleck in a scene from “Manchester By The Sea.” They were both nominated for Academy Awards for their work in the Amazon Studios film. (Claire Folger/Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios via AP)