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Netflix’s ‘Roma’ wins three Oscars, including Best Director (but not Best Picture)

“Roma” took home three Academy Awards tonight — though not Best Picture, which went to “Green Book.”

Alfonso Cuarón did win an Oscar for directing the film. It was his second victory in the category, following his previous award for “Gravity.” And it marks the fifth time in six years that Best Director has gone to one of the “Three Amigos,” a trio of acclaimed Mexican directors that also includes Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Iñárritu.

“Roma” is based on Cuarón’s childhood in Mexico City, as told through the eyes of the family’s maid Cleo. It went into the night with 10 nominations, tying “The Favourite” for the most nods, so it seemed well-positioned to bring home the first Best Picture award for a streaming film (it would also have been the first for a foreign language film).

Despite losing out on the biggest prize, it won the awards for Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Film and Best Director.

“Being up here doesn’t get old,” Cuarón said as he took the stage for the third time. He went on to thank the Academy for recognizing “a film centered around an indigenous woman — one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights, a character that had been historically relegated to the background in cinema.”

Netflix spent an estimated $25 to $30 million to campaign for “Roma” — a particularly impressive sum since the film cost $15 million to make. The company also dropped its previous insistence on simultaneously releasing films on streaming and in theaters. (Giving theaters just a few weeks of exclusivity still wasn’t enough to win over the major chains.)

While “Roma” was the big streaming success story for the night, Netflix’s “Period. End of Sentence.” won for Best Documentary (Short Subject). The streamer’s “Ballad of Buster Scruggs” also received three nominations, and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings took the stage to perform the movie’s Best Song contender “When The Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” though it didn’t win in any category.

Meanwhile, Hulu’s “Minding the Gap” was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, but lost to “Free Solo.”

Beyond the streaming news, “Black Panther” was the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture. Ultimately, it took home the awards for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Original Score. Also on the superhero front: “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” won for Best Animated Feature.

And since I’ve written about “First Man” — hey, it won for Best Visual Effects!

The awards were given out at a ceremony without a host, for only the second time in Oscar history. Instead of a monologue, there was a performance by Queen, then a montage highlighting all kinds of movies from the past year, then Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph came out to make a few host-style jokes before presenting the first award.

And how did I feel about the results? Well …

If Green Book wins Best Picture I’m going to set this television on fire

— Anthony Ha (@anthonyha) February 25, 2019

Hulu teams up with that world record Instagram egg to raise awareness of mental health

Remember that egg that became Instagram’s most-liked post? It used its recently-acquired fame to shed light on mental health and the pressures of social media.

The account now has 10 million followers — its record photo has over 52 million likes — and it put that audience to use with a 30-second video that aired on Hulu around the Super Bowl. The account had teased a major revealed in recent weeks, and it proved to be the short spot with Hulu that promotes mental health awareness, particularly around the context of using social media.

“Recently I’ve started to crack… the pressure of social media is getting to me,” the video reads as the egg’s shell begins to crack before breaking into pieces.

“If you’re struggling too, talk to someone,” the egg says before it is resurrected with a full shell once again.

The video closes with a link to the Mental Health America website.

Hulu’s Egg reveal is a mental health PSA which I love 🥰pic.twitter.com/Mb46prevKR

— Alexandra Able (@AlexandraAble) February 4, 2019

The video received praise from Mental Health America and many others on Twitter, but plenty of its Instagram followers expected more or don’t have a Hulu account, according to comments.

We’d like to thank #TalkingEgg for shining a limelight on #mentalhealth tonight with an important message. Not everyone chooses to #fightintheopen for mental health, but you did for the 1 in 5 Americans living with a mental health condition. Thank you, #EggGang! 💚🥚pic.twitter.com/9KPlXG5re4

— Mental Health America (@MentalHealthAm) February 4, 2019

At the same time, the creators of the account — three advertising executives in South London — revealed background on the project, the egg is called “Eugene,” in an interview with the New York Times.

The trio — Chris Godfrey, Alissa Khan-Whelan and C.J. Brown — explained that they had been approached by Hulu, which had paid to develop the video which aims to take advantage of the hype and online chatter around the Super Bowl to raise its message. Given that the account is followed by a large number of children, as its creators acknowledged in the interview, a positive message like this rather than a commercial sell-out is a pleasant surprise, particularly when it is estimated that brand deals could fetch $10 million.

Hulu is the first to get a crack at the egg, but it remains to be seen if its appeal to brands will endure and whether its future messaging and partners will also be health-related.

Hulu unexpectedly releases “Fyre Fraud” days before Netflix’s competing documentary

Not since the literary biopic showdown between “Capote” and “Infamous” has there been such an intense battle for the attention of viewers. This time, the fight is between Hulu and Netflix’s competing documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, a 2017 music festival whose failure led to eight lawsuits and a six-year prison sentence for co-founder Billy McFarland. Hulu unexpectedly released its film, “Fyre Fraud” today, just four days before Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” was scheduled to premiere. Both films are helmed by award-winning filmmakers.

Entertainment Today reports that Hulu hopes its documentary, directed by Emmy-nominated, Peabody-winning filmmaking team Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason “will provide enlightening context ahead of [co-executive producer Elliot] Tebele’s Netflix documentary.”

“Fyre Fraud” contains exclusive interviews with McFarland, who co-founded Fyre with rapper Ja Rule, and people who used to work for Tebele’s marketing agency FuckJerry, one of the festival’s promoters. Some of Tebele’s former employees claim in “Fyre Fraud” that Tebele asked them to cover up early warning signs about the festival.

McFarland was later sentenced six years to jail in for defrauding investors, while Ja Rule is fighting to be removed as a defendant from a $100 million class action lawsuit. Attendees paid thousands of dollars for tickets, expecting a luxury music festival in the Bahamas, but instead found themselves staying in tents, no Internet service, no water, and food like processed cheese sandwiches. Delayed flights made the experience even more nightmarish, as guests were forced to wait hours in the heat for their charter flights back to Miami.

In response, the makers of Netflix’s “Frye,” directed by Chris Smith (whose “American Movie” won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), told Entertainment Weekly that even though they worked with Tebele and Jerry Media (a FuckJerry brand), “at no time did they, or any others we worked with, request favorable coverage in our film, which would be against our ethics. We stand behind our film, believe it is an unbiased and illuminating look at what happened, and look forward to sharing it with audiences around the world.”

Smith told Entertainment Weekly earlier this week that McFarland wasn’t included in the documentary because he “wanted to get paid” for appearing and “we didn’t feel comfortable with him benefitting after so many people were hurt as a consequence of his actions.”

TechCrunch has contacted Netflix and Hulu for comment.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ returns to Hulu on April 25 (and here’s a new trailer)

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Hulu’s new live TV service scores A&E’s channels, loses Viacom

 Hulu’s forthcoming live TV streaming service is starting to shape up. Today, the company announced it scored a deal with A&E Networks, which will bring six more channels to the core package, including A&E, History, Lifetime, LMN, FYI, and Viceland. The deal follows others Hulu has made with CBS, 21st Century Fox, and Disney which, combined, add 40 networks to its service,… Read More

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