Award Winning Netflix Original Programming

Photo Credit: GathrFilms
January 29th, 2014

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Netflix has come a long way since it began as a subscription DVD rental service in 1999. It now features instant streaming, claims critically acclaimed original programming and, in January of 2014, received its first Academy Award nomination for “The Square.” House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Hemlock Grove” and “Arrested Development” are just a handful of the successful original series presented by Netflix. They have earned a combined fourteen Emmy nominations for Netflix in 2013.

“Hemlock Grove”

Netflix teamed with famed horror director Eli Roth to produce “Hemlock Grove,” the horror series based on the young adult novel series of the same name. Although the series has not been as well-received by critics as some of its fellow Netflix originals, it has garnered a large viewing audience and started a second season. Two Emmy nominations have been awarded to this showing 2013.

“Arrested Development”

“Arrested Development,” the acclaimed series about the wacky Bluth family, has been revived by Netflix for a fourth season following a seven year hiatus. It pioneered the popularity of single-camera filming that is now utilized by other popular television shows like “Modern Family.” Faithful fans and critics alike eagerly embraced the series again. It received three Emmy nominations in 2013, most notable of which was for Jason Bateman as Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.

“House of Cards”

“House of Cards,” a drama starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, follows a U.S. Congressmen determined to get back for being passed over for a key role within the Presidential cabinet. The debut season of the series made history by being nominated for nine Emmy awards. It is the first series offered exclusively by a web based subscription provider to receive that amount of nominations. The series continued to break records again at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards when Robin Wright won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series.

“Orange is the New Black”

“Orange is the New Black” is the winner of the People’s Choice Award for Best Streaming Series, and Taylor Schilling was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series. "Orange is the New Black" is a comedy-drama created by “Weeds” veteran Jenji Kohan. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of an affluent woman who finds herself in prison following a botched drug deal.  Like Kohan’s earlier creation, “Weeds,” heavy content is frequently offset with witty dialog.

“The Square:" Netflix’s First Big Splash in the Movie Industry

With its credibility already established through its award winning original series, Netflix received an Academy Award nomination in 2014 for the much talked about documentary “The Square.” The nomination surprises very few people. Oscar buzz began generating early when “The Square” won several international film festivals. The intense, moving and controversial film combines interview footage with footage shot during the riots to tell the story behind the 2011 overthrowing of Egyptian dictator, Mubarak, and his regime. Ahmed, a young Egyptian who has felt little hope for his future since he was a young boy, becomes an activist after seeing a video plea for Egyptians to march on Tahrir Square in Cairo. He joins the crowd at the square for what is originally supposed to be a peaceful protest against cruelty; it becomes violent when police charge the crowd. The protesters manage to push back the police, and the crowd grows as more angry citizens make their way to the square to join the protest. The most gripping aspect of “The Square” is that it is more than a story about young revolutionaries: it is a tale of how powerful people become when they stand united. The protesters share their commonalities, form relationships and bond as a single successful force. Among Ahmed’s new friends is Magdy, a fellow young revolutionary with whom Ahmed becomes fast friends. Filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer both say that they specifically partnered with Netflix in order to have the opportunity to speak to a wider audience. Social media, they emphasize, is at the root of the revolution. They find it apt that the movie is viewed through a web based venue. “The Square” also enjoyed a theatrical release in addition to being streamed on Netflix.

With its entrance into to the Oscar arena, Netflix original programming establishes a presence and credibility to web based venues. In doing so, it is revolutionizing not just the way that audiences view programming, but how programming is distributed. Netflix clearly recognizes that fewer people are accessing their favorite television shows via traditional sources.  Now, with an Academy Award nomination to its credit, it is pioneering changes in the movie industry as well.