At Golden Globes, '1917’ upsets Netflix for best picture. Is Oscar next?

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Going into the 77th Golden Globe Awards with deep pockets and something to prove, spendy streamer Netflix missed out on its shot at a coveted and historic prize: Best picture.

Universal’s WWI drama “1917,” something of a last-minute entry in the year’s awards race, scooped the best picture, drama, prize. In a field of five best picture nominees, it topped no fewer than three Netflix contenders: “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes.”

Accepting the best picture Golden Globe, “1917″ director Sam Mendes made a point to champion the traditional theatrical moviegoing experience.

“It’s difficult to make movies without big movie stars in the leads and get people to come see it in a cinema,” said Mendes, urging audiences to see his film in theaters. “I really hope this means people will turn up and see it on a big screen, as it was intended.”

For the past few years the global streaming behemoth has played the traditional awards game, backing a growing slate of prestige projects, bringing them to glitzy film festivals, and putting on razzle-dazzle campaigns for voter attention.

Scoring a dominant 34 nominations across TV and film categories, the company’s 17 film nominations this year outnumbered the traditional studios, with Sony coming in second in total nominations with 10 nods for its films.

The three Netflix films that earned best picture drama nominations also picked up multiple additional nods: Martin Scorsese’s epic Jimmy Hoffa mafia drama “The Irishman,” which earned five nominations, Noah Baumbach’s dour divorce melodrama “Marriage Story,” which notched six, and the papal friendship picture “The Two Popes,” which earned four. The only film to earn a Globe was “Marriage Story,” which landed a supporting actress trophy for Laura Dern.

Eddie Murphy starrer “Dolemite Is My Name,” about the life of comedian Rudy Ray Moore, notched another two Globes nods for Netflix including best picture, comedy or musical. It did not win either prize.

Netflix’s awards presence increase over its five nominations last year reflects the eye-popping estimated $15 billion it spent on content last year, when Alfonso Cuaron’s black and white Spanish language drama “Roma” brought it to the Globes winners stage for the first time, garnering best foreign-language film and best director for Cuaron.

On the TV side, the streamer also led the pack at the 2020 Globes with 17 nominations, outpacing traditional competitors among the networks. Its only win came for Olivia Colman’s work in “The Crown.”

As Netflix angles to position itself as a film-friendly disruptor, bringing Scorsese aboard the streaming train was a direct line to awards prestige. The 77-year-old Academy Award-winning auteur spent years trying to make his mob epic about the life of alleged mob hitman Frank Sheeran, adapted by Steven Zaillian from the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt.

With the streamer footing a reported $160-million budget he was able to make “The Irishman,” de-aging stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci using pricey visual effects. The 3 1/2-hour film saw a beefier than usual theatrical run before debuting on Netflix in November.

After a disappointing showing at the Globes, can Netflix crack the Oscars? The voting window for this year’s nominees closes Tuesday.

At the end of the evening Netflix responded to the Golden Globes outcome in a Tweet: “It’s what it is.”