Netflix and its streaming peers were all but shut out at the 2024 Oscars, so what went wrong?

Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan, and Charles Roven pose with four of Oppenheimer's seven Oscar trophies during an official photoshoot
Oppenheimer stole the show with seven wins at the 2024 Academy Awards. (Image credit: John Shearer/Getty Images)

The 2024 Oscars have come and gone – and, while Oppenheimer and Poor Things are celebrating their multiple award wins, there are plenty of big names reflecting on a disappointing night of 'what could have been'.

The biggest losers? Netflix and its streaming rivals, all of which were effectively shut out at the biggest movie awards ceremony of the year. Indeed, with 23 prizes on the line at the glitzy Los Angeles event, some of the world's best streaming services would have been hoping to walk away with something to show for their efforts over the past 12 months.

As you've likely picked up on from the first couple of paragraphs, that wasn't the case. In fact, Netflix was the only one to land a gong at this year's Academy Awards – the streaming giant nabbed the trophy for Best Live-Action Short Film for The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. So, what went wrong for the world's leading streamers at an event where, just two years earlier, Apple TV Plus appeared to signal a sea change in the industry by securing an historic Best Picture victory for drama flick CODA?

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Ironically, I don't think Netflix, Apple, or any other company that has its feet entrenched in the streaming market did anything wrong. The movies that were nominated for this year's prestigious event were all worthy of recognition. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been chosen to potentially win on the night.

And yet, particularly where Netflix and Apple TV Plus are concerned, they failed to compete against their big-screen rivals. Just look at Oppenheimer (streaming on Peacock), the latest expensive epic from auteur Christopher Nolan. It walked away with seven prizes on the night, including coveted gongs for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Cillian Murphy), and Best Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr). Check out where Oppenheimer ranks on our best Christopher Nolan movies list while you're here.

But I digress. Compared to Nolan's latest big-budget offering, the billion dollar-spinning juggernaut that was the Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling-starring Barbie (now available on Max), the zany Emma Stone-led Poor Things (watch it on Hulu and Disney Plus), and harrowing World War II-set The Zone of Interest, Netflix and company just couldn't put up a worthy fight.

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It's not for a want of trying, mind you. Netflix released some really good films this year, some of which take pride of place in our best Netflix movies guide. Animated fantasy comedy Nimona, biographical sports flick NYAD, and eerie survival drama Society of the Snow were all acclaimed by fans and critics alike upon release. Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper's Maestro, which critics loved but audiences were underwhelmed by, had the best shot at winning one of the most prestigious Oscars yesterday (March 10), but came away with nothing. In fact, Netflix's success ratio on the night was a measly 6%, with the streaming titan winning just that aforementioned solitary award, despite 16 nominations.

Netflix wasn't the only streamer that failed to win the necessary votes to secure an Academy Award. Okay, Killers of the Flower Moon and Napoleon – two of the best Apple TV Plus movies – debuted in theaters before they joined Apple's streaming film library. However, given their disappointing box office hauls, it seems audiences waited for their Apple TV Plus arrival before watching them. As such, I view them (rightly or wrongly) as streaming spectacles rather than big-screen offerings. Take that into account alongside the fact that were up for multiple awards (Killers of the Flower Moon was nominated 10 times; Napoleon three), Apple TV Plus was just as unsuccessful as Netflix was on the award-winning front.

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Even without the likes of Oppenheimer on the ballot sheet, though, I firmly believe that Netflix, Apple TV Plus, and other streaming services would've struggled on the night. Industry observers have routinely opined that the movie going experience hasn't recovered since that pandemic – and that's even with hotly anticipated new movies debuting in cinemas worldwide. The wildly successful Barbenheimer cinematic event, which earned almost $2 billion collectively in mid-2023, proved things are getting back to normal, though, in my view.

Regardless, Netflix and company would've had a hard time winning more than a couple of trophies at last night's ceremony, let alone dominating it. Sans seven-time winner Oppenheimer, this year's nominees list was as strong a field of contenders that I can remember in a long time. Just look at some of the other big names who were also up for this year's biggest prizes: The Holdovers. Past Lives. Anatomy of a Fall. American Fiction. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Godzilla: Minus One. Mission Impossible 7. Any other year, this contingent (and other non-Netflix and Apple films I've mentioned throughout this article) would've walked away with one or more gongs. There's no guarantee, then, that the world's biggest streamers would've upset the odds.

So, why were Netflix and its streaming peers all but left out in the cold at this year's Oscars? The answer is simple: the competition, Oppenheimer or otherwise, was just too strong. There'll come a time when Netflix or someone else springs another surprise (like CODA did) and win Best Picture, but it wasn't this year – and, if the nominee field is similarly sturdy this time next year, I can't see it happening then, either.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.