Back in January, Netflix crashed the Oscars party with 15 total Academy Award nominations, including the streaming platform's first-ever for best picture.
Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, the director's semi-autobiographical drama about a family in Mexico City and the caregiver who holds them together, scored 10 nominations, tied with The Favourite for the most by any movie this year. Roma earned a nominations for best picture, best director for Cuarón, best original screenplay (also for Cuarón), best cinematography (Cuarón, again), best actress for star Yalitza Aparicio, best supporting actress for costar Marina De Tavira, best foreign language film, best production design, best sound editing and best sound mixing.
While this is a wide-open best picture race, many pundits are expecting Netflix to make history with Roma on Sunday night. More than half the experts on GoldDerby.com have Roma pegged to win — and even Amazon's Alexa has Cuarón's film landing on top of what has become a very competitive race.
Roma, which has also been released in select theaters, debuted Nov. 21 on Netflix. It's the first streaming feature released by Netflix to ever land in the best picture category. (Last year, Netflix grabbed multiple nominations for Dee Rees' Mudbound, but the film failed to crack the best picture category.) Previously, Amazon became the first streaming platform with a best picture contender with Manchester By the Sea, which was nominated at the 2017 Oscars. (Amazon, however, released Manchester By the Sea via a more traditional theatrical model; the film didn't appear on the streaming service until months after its theatrical debut.)
Cuarón is one of the industry's most acclaimed filmmakers, having won best director at the 2014 Oscars' ceremony for Gravity. The Mexican-born director is a heavy favorite to win the award at this year's Oscars as well. All told, Cuarón netted four individual nominations this year: picture (he was a producer on the film), director, writer and cinematographer. That tied him for the most ever individual nominations for a single film in Oscars' history.
Roma stars Aparicio as Cleo, a housekeeper living in 1970s Mexico City who cares for a middle-class family (led by De Tavira's patriarch, Sofia). Throughout the film, many tragedies befall Cleo, including a traumatic still-birth scene that Cuarón filmed without any visible cuts — a tradition for the filmmaker. A later scene, where Cleo saves two of the family's children from drowning in the ocean is similarly shown without any visible edits.
"Ninety percent of the scenes that you see in the film come out of my memory," Cuarón told Deadline last year. "I'm not saying everything in this is linear, but what I did was compress around three years of memory into a narrative of 10 months. But almost every single scene is something I remember, complemented with the real-life Cleo [played in the film by Yalitza Aparicio]. I would talk to her about what she remembered. And then there's subtle elements of fiction because I wanted to include thematic elements that I found relevant both to character but also to this sort of broader story. What we tried to do is balance between character and a social context as well. Because we're talking about personal scars. That is definitely a period that scarred me, probably for life. I can assume that it scarred the characters that play in the film. But also the social events that were portrayed are one of the most important and deep scars in the Mexican psyche. In the collective consciousness."
Roma isn't the only Netflix success story at this year's Oscars: Joel and Ethan Coen's The Ballad of Buster Scruggs earned three nominations, including best adapted screenplay, best costume design and best original song. The Netflix film End Game was also honored in the documentary short category as was Period. End of Sentence.
The 2019 Oscars will air live on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8/7c on ABC. That channel is available for live-streaming at ABC's website as well as Hulu's Live TV service.
Roma is now streaming on Netflix.