For one thing, it is streaming itself that is destroying the ability for people to watch the films he considers art: Disney+ is the reason for Disney’s clampdown on the titles in its vault. What’s more, Netflix and other streaming services rarely offer “movies older than a college student,” in the words of Film School Rejects, which notes: “Of the 1,350 drama titles [available for streaming on Netflix U.S. in 2017], only 97 were released prior to 2000. Even if we consider 1920, the year when the oldest of these films (The Daughter of the Dawn) was released, the ‘starting point’ — that is, not even going back to the late 1880s/1890s, when film was first invented — then 82 percent of film history is represented in a measly 7 percent of streaming Netflix’s drama library.”
Even more misleading, though, is Scorsese’s rave that Netflix “alone allowed us to make The Irishman the way we needed to.” That’s not to say Netflix didn’t — when I saw Scorsese speak at the New York Film Festival press conference, he addressed how Netflix was the only studio willing to fund the expensive, complicated, cutting-edge cameras that allowed the director and his crew to digitally “de-age” the actors. But Netflix’s decision to get behind Martin Scorsese’s new movie was as calculated as any made by Marvel over the years. It is good business to win an Oscar in a major category, something Netflix is clearly lusting after. Additionally, the streamer bagging a Scorsese flick makes fools of the few dusty institutional holdouts of the streaming era, like the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, which still does not allow Netflix movies in competition. And while Scorsese praised Netflix for allowing his film “a theatrical window,” the fact that The Irishman is in theaters likely has more to do with it still being a requirement for submitting to the Oscars than anything else.