Idris Elba’s recent win at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild offered a telling sign to even the strongest industry skeptic of the current trajectory of digital originals.
On Jan. 30 Elba took home the award for best supporting actor for his role as the warlord known only as the Commandant in the Netflix original movie Beasts of No Nation.
The drama, which was released concurrently in theaters as well as on SVOD last fall, had, until that moment, suffered a disappointing awards season that saw it fail to garner any Oscar nominations and only one Golden Globe nomination (also for Elba’s performance).
Indeed, the win marks the first time a digital original feature film has taken home — or has even been nominated for — a SAG award.
It is also the first year originals from an SVOD besides Netflix have had a presence at the awards, with the two nominations for Amazon’s Transparent.
In all, online originals accounted for five awards, with a total of eight nominations.
Other high-profile winners included Kevin Spacey for his role as Francis Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards (outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series), Uzo Aduba for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series), Jeffrey Tambor for his role as Maura Pfefferman in Transparent (outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series) and the main cast of Orange is the New Black (outstanding performance by an ensemble cast in a comedy series).
Spacey, Aduba and the cast of Orange is the New Black all won their respective awards for the second year in a row.
Other digital nominees included comedian Bill Murray in his Netflix original Christmas special A Very Murray Christmas (outstanding performance by a male actor in a mini series or television movie); Robin Wright for her role in House of Cards (outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series); Ellie Kemper for her leading role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix (outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series); the main casts of House of Cards and Amazon’s Transparent (outstanding performance by an ensemble cast in a drama series).
Last year, online originals walked away with three SAG wins (five total nominations), all for House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. In 2014, digital originals saw only three nominations (for Spacey, the ensemble cast of Netflix’s Arrested Development, and Jason Bateman for his lead performance in Arrested Development). There were no wins that year for digital.