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Netflix leads 2020 Oscar nominations with ‘The Irishman’ and ‘Marriage Story’

Robert De Niro in Netflix’s “The Irishman.”
Robert De Niro in Netflix’s “The Irishman.”
(Netflix)

After coming up short at the Golden Globes, can Netflix translate awards nominations to wins this time? That will be the big question in the entertainment industry over the next several weeks as the streamer campaigns for its Oscar nominees.

The Los Gatos, Calif., company scored 24 nominations for its movies Monday morning, the most of any studio. Netflix’s tally was led by Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which earned 10 nods, including for best picture, director, cinematography and supporting actors Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.

Netflix also earned six nominations for Noah Baumbach’s emotional drama “Marriage Story” and three for “The Two Popes.” “Marriage Story’s” bundle includes kudos not only for best picture but for its stars Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver and Laura Dern. Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins were recognized for their acting in “The Two Popes.”

In a sign that the entertainment industry is living through strange times, Netflix earned two animated feature nominations (“I Lost My Body” and “Klaus”), while Disney earned just one (“Toy Story 4"). Additionally, Netflix’s bounty includes two feature documentaries (“American Factory” and “The Edge of Democracy”) and one documentary short (“Life Overtakes Me”).

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The tech company’s total is by far its biggest showing in terms of Oscar nominations, coming off a year when Netflix spent heavily to become a bona fide Hollywood studio. Last year, Netflix earned 15 nominations, 10 of which were for Alfonso Cuaron’s Spanish-language drama “Roma.” In 2018, Netflix had a mere eight nods for movies including “Mudbound,” illustrating how quickly the firm has become a show business power player.

Close behind Netflix in the nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards was Walt Disney Co. It’s the first Oscars since the Burbank company bought 21st Century Fox last year.

Specialty division Fox Searchlight scored six nominations for Taika Waititi’s anti-Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit,” while the 20th Century Fox label was represented by “Ford v Ferrari,” which pulled in a healthy four nominations. Disney itself received 10 nominations, for movies including “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Toy Story 4.” Disney and its many subsidiaries came away with a total of 23 nominations.

Sony Pictures had a big year with 20 nominations, thanks to critically acclaimed films including “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” the Quentin Tarantino movie that is in contention for 10 awards, including best picture, director, lead actor and supporting actor. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” and Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory” (released by Sony Pictures Classics) boosted the Culver City-based Sony’s haul.

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“We were obviously very pleased and very gratified for the filmmakers and the company,” Tom Rothman, Sony’s motion picture group chairman, said in an interview. “We took a number of risks on originality this year and are very gratified to see that strategy pay off.”

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. earned the distinction of having the most-nominated film, “Joker,” which is up for 11 statuettes. The grim R-rated supervillain origin story is battling for best picture, director (Todd Phillips) and lead actor (Joaquin Phoenix), among others. The studio also had one nomination for “Richard Jewell” (Kathy Bates, supporting actress).

Universal Pictures received 11 nominations, led by 10 for Sam Mendes’ World War I epic “1917,” which was a surprise best picture winner in the Golden Globes. The harrowing drama’s awards-season hype launched it to an impressive $36.5 million at the U.S.-Canada box office this last weekend, its first in wide release. The Comcast-owned studio also was nominated in the animated feature category for DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Universal’s specialty division Focus Features took two noms for “Harriet,” bringing the company’s total to 13.

Also well-represented was New York-based indie distributor Neon, which scored eight nominations in total, including six for “Parasite” and two for the Macedonian documentary “Honeyland.” Bong Joon Ho’s South Korean social thriller “Parasite” is up for best picture, director and original screenplay. Both films also are contenders in the international film category (formerly foreign-language film).

Santa Monica-based Lionsgate’s multiple nominations include three for “Bombshell,” the Fox News sexual harassment drama the company picked up from Annapurna Pictures, which dropped the project. Lionsgate’s total includes an original screenplay recognition for Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out,” in addition to two for Roadside Attractions’ Judy Garland biopic “Judy.” (Lionsgate is a major shareholder of Roadside Attractions.)

Faring less well was A24, which is known for specializing in prestigious movies. The New York company earned one nomination for the black-and-white “The Lighthouse,” in cinematography. “Uncut Gems,” the studio’s frenetic Adam Sandler-starring thriller that has done strong box office, failed to earn any nominations.

Netflix is hungry for its first best-picture win at the Oscars after last year’s contender, the black-and-white “Roma,” lost to the crowd-pleasing race-relations road trip film “Green Book,” which was produced by Participant and released by Universal Pictures.

But there’s a big difference between having a preponderance of nominations and actually winning awards, a fact highlighted by the recent Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton.

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. showered Netflix with 34 nominations, including 17 for its movies, but the streamer came away with only two trophies, for Dern’s performance in “Marriage Story” and Olivia Colman’s turn in its series “The Crown.” In the best picture categories, Netflix lost to “1917" in drama and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” in musical or comedy.

The 2020 Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 9 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. As with last year, the ceremony will not have a host.

Here are the studio rankings.

Netflix: 24
Walt Disney Co./Fox: 23
Sony Pictures: 20
Universal Pictures/Focus Features: 13
Warner Bros.: 12
Neon: 8
Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions: 6


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