Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
The Television Movie used to mean a lot more during the basic cable days, and even HBO would join in on the fun. But with the rise of streaming, the television movie is a lot more difficult to categorize and has created an interesting riff in the formerly beloved Emmy category.
The television movie used to be something created by a network to be played on a Sunday night much when people would sit in the living room together and see after being heavily advertised. Then in the nineties the category was dominated by HBO and understandably so as they were still a television channel.
Things began to grow interesting when streaming came into the mix and Netflix began to win for Black Mirror episodes, not that they weren’t deserved but they were still single episodes of an anthology series and seemed that should be considered a portion of a limited series instead.
The rise of Netflix shook most awards bodies, Netflix films began to be nominated for Oscars provided they spent an allotted time in theaters and yet if they did not reach that requirement they would be considered Television Movies. This led to minor levels of chaos in not just this streaming service but other streaming services as well trying to figure out what boxes could be checked.
The pandemic didn’t make things much easier, with the theater requirements being lifted and streamers dominating the Oscars this category became a wild card where studios just simply decided to submit movies for Oscars or Emmys. This was most prevalent with Bad Education from HBO and Sylvie’s Love and Uncle Frank for Amazon. These were theatrical level movies, but instead were put in the Emmys which didn’t make a terrible amount of sense.
In the beginning of this year, the requirements once again changed for the Academy Awards in which a film must have a theatrical run. This caused films like Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers and Good Luck to You Leo Grande to be only eligible for the Emmys. This creates a strange place for the category where there were movies nominated this year like Barry Levinson’s The Survivor which is clearly meant to be a cinematic film against Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas.
So what is the right decision? Well the category is a desolate wasteland of either movies that do not deserve the honor of a nomination, or movies that don’t belong in this category by clearly being above it. However, if the category is dissolved that would leave some movies out to dry without receiving any honor. It would have to be a cooperative move where the Academy loosens their restrictions and the Emmys remove the category which is barely given the time of day now anyway. While this doesn’t seem like an easy move, it is the direction the industry headed where something of this nature needs to happen.