Netflix’s ‘Roma’ wins Golden Globe for best director and foreign language film

It might be strange to imagine now, but it was only a few years ago when the presence of Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms at major award shows was considered disruptive. Today’s Golden Globes showed how formidable streaming platforms have become, with Netflix’s “Roma” winning the awards for best foreign language film and best director, strong harbingers for success at next month’s Academy Awards (“Roma” previously won the Golden Lion, the Venice Film Festival’s highest honor).

Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” was one of the best reviewed films of 2018 and its award prospects prompted Netflix to change its long-standing theatrical release model for original films.

When Netflix had previously agreed to release its films in theaters, it did so without granting the theaters an exclusive release window. Instead, it insisted that its movies could only be released in theaters if they premiered on its streaming service at the same time. As a result, few theaters carried Netflix films and the rule may have hurt some films’ chances of being nominated for major awards. For example, the Cannes Film Festival implemented a rule last year that effectively barred Netflix films from competing.

Roma’s prospects and its pedigree (Cuarón won an Oscar for directing “Gravity”) gave Netflix enough incentive to change its policies. Along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” directed by the Coen Brothers, and “Bird Box,” directed by Susanne Bier, “Roma” was given an exclusive theatrical run in some markets, opening a few weeks before being released on Netflix.

Cuarón was also nominated for a best screenplay-motion picture at the Golden Globes, but lost that award to “Green Book” writers Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, and Brian Currie.

Some shows that usually dominate the list of Golden Globe winners, including HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Netflix’s “The Crown” weren’t eligible to compete this year, making room for other productions to shine. Netflix had a total of 13 nominations (eight for TV series and five for films), Amazon received nine nominations for TV series, and Hulu earned two nominations for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” (Variety is live-updating a full list of nominations and winners here). 

Other victories for streaming services included Rachel Brosnahan’s win for best performance by an actress in a television series–musical or comedy for Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” while “A Very English Scandal’s” Ben Whishaw scored another acting win for Amazon by landing the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, limited series or motion picture made for television.

The star of Netflix’s “Bodyguard” (originally produced for the BBC), Richard Madden, won best performance by an actor in a television series-drama for star Richard Madden.