Alfonso Cuarón's Roma was the talk of TIFF on Monday.

Netflix May Have Just Won the Company’s First Major Oscar

I know, I know, it’s only mid-September. But collectively overreacting based on film festival buzz is as much of a time-honoured TIFF tradition as L’Oreal ads and people screaming pirate noises at the screen. And if you’ve been following along reading the tea leaves and early reviews and tweets, then you probably already know what’s winning Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Oscars: Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which just had its TIFF premiere on Monday night.

Cuarón’s black-and-white, semi-autobiographical Spanish-language drama about a year in the life of a live-in maid (Yalitza Aparicio) in 1970s Mexico City is currently making the festival rounds; this past Saturday, it won the Golden Lion at the 75th Venice Film Festival. After a successful premiere at TIFF, the Mexican auteur might as well start working on his speech now.

And that’s kind of a big deal. Not just because it gives Cuarón a clear edge in his Oscars rematch with Steve McQueen,1 but because it would mark the first major Academy Award victory for Netflix. …Only a year after Steven Spielberg — somebody who knows a thing or two about winning Oscars — dropped his own searing hot take on why the streaming giant should be ineligible for the industry’s top prize.

Last year, Netflix made history by getting four Oscar nominations for another festival favourite, Dee Rees’ Mudbound. This year, they went into Toronto with seven original features (including 2018 Best Chris nominee Outlaw King), but Roma is their first clear frontrunner: a critically-acclaimed passion project from an Oscar-winning director. That’s the kind of pedigree that can overcome even the most stubborn anti-streaming bias.

With or without Steven Spielberg’s blessing.

Day 5

Winners: Netflix’s Oscar hopes, this Julia Roberts superfan, one uber-Canadian bromance

Losers: The rest of 2018’s Best Foreign Language Film field

References   [ + ]

1. Turns out, Jenkins and Damien Chazelle aren’t the only ones with a grudge match at TIFF this year — Gravity may have won seven Oscars back in 2014, but McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave still ended up beating it out for Best Picture.