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TV vs Cinema: A Battle to Win the Oscars

By Beatriz Neves

Arts & Culture Editor


From the end of the 19th to the mid-20th century, that we can safely call the Golden Age of the film industry, cinema's only real rival was theatre. Theatre was significantly inferior to the new technology in both versatilities and accessibility. The studios competed with each other, having no other competitors, astonishing audiences with more and more sophisticated scenarios and special effects. Then, everything changed with the mass production of televisions.


Later, they compromised: TV channels bought old films to broadcast, and the film industry began to use the advertising opportunities to attract people to premieres. There was a clear difference between TV and cinema, which involved the most prestigious cinema festival: The Oscars. It was always a cinema festival that for many years did not include television.


Aside from bestowing international recognition and prestige, an Academy Award can play a crucial role in the success of the major winners. The Best Picture award, for example, can significantly increase the box office earnings of the winning film. The award often results in higher salaries, increased media attention, and better film offers for actors and directors.


Unfortunately, the film industry was directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Movie theatres closed all across the world, influencing the box office and opening night of many movies. On the other hand, streaming companies such as Netflix, Disney + and Amazon Prime saw an opportunity to release their original movies on their platforms and earn their spot on the Oscars.


Netflix, in particular, has released some Oscar-winning original movies before the pandemic, such as Marriage Story and Roma. But this year, Netflix cleaned up in nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards, reflecting what a pivotal year it was for the movie business in the age of the couch-bound filmgoer. Netflix won seven Oscars overall. Disney + and Amazon studios both earned two, and even Facebook won its first-ever Oscar.


Before the pandemic, many of the nominees were not available worldwide. They were reserved for US viewers or shown in exclusive movie theatres. According to the Youtuber film critic and cinema student Amanda Doria, "the most positive thing to come out of this is that the world can watch and properly follow the Oscars." Streaming companies made high-profile movies available to a large part of the world that did not have that privilege before.


Yet, the Oscars is a cinema festival, not a TV festival. "Cinema has a different language than television. Watching a cinema movie through a television does not have the same impact, which can have an influence on the festival," says Amanda. The atmosphere of the cinema is different from the one at home. When you go to a movie theatre, you can get a better viewing experience. The bigger screens and realistic sound effects make it feel like the real world, especially in Hollywood movies.


Movies are made with the size of the screen and the environment in which the audience is watching in mind, affecting everything from the development of the story to the size of the frame they are filming. The experience of watching a film in a movie theatre is undeniably better than at home. For instance, in some cinemas, their screens are as big as a 6-story building, and in some cinemas, the sound is so good that you have a mega immersion in the film, making the whole experience even better.


For the future of cinema versus streaming companies, Amanda believes that people will probably not abandon movie theatres. "People will go back for the nostalgia and the undeniable better experience that it offers," says Amanda. Only the future tells us what will happen to the cinema industry, the streaming companies and the Oscars. Until then, we sit in our couches and enjoy the new Netflix original.


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