Netflix’s ‘Icarus’ wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature


It was a quiet Oscar ceremony for the big streaming services, but Netflix’s doping film Icarus (directed by Bryan Fogel) did win the award for best documentary feature.

The Big Sick, distributed by Amazon Studios, was nominated for best original screenplay, while Netflix’s Mudbound was nominated for best adapted screenplay, cinematography (amazingly, Rachel Morrison is the first woman nominated in this category), original song and supporting actress — but both films are going home empty-handed.

On the one hand, this still seems like a respectful performance for companies that only started producing and distributing their own movies a few years ago. (Netflix, in particular, faces an uphill battle, given its unwillingness to allow its movies to screen in theaters first.)

On the other hand, Amazon did better last year, when Manchester by the Sea won awards for best actor and original screenplay, while The Salesman won for best foreign language film.

Also worth noting: Indiegogo got a shoutout tonight when The Silent Child (which was crowdfunded on the site) won for best live action short.

Among the other films we’ve written about on TechCrunch, Blade Runner 2049 won for best cinematography and best visual effects, while The Shape of Water won for best director, best production design, best original score — and the big one, best picture.

Featured Image: Netflix

As David Letterman’s first Netflix guest, Barack Obama warns against the ‘bubble’ of social media


David Letterman seems to be taking the title of his new Netflix show very seriously: On the very first episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, he’s joined by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

The episode has plenty of funny moments, like Obama ribbing Letterman about his nearly Biblical beard. But they cover substantive political topics, too — not just during the onstage interview, but also in Letterman’s walk across Selma’s famous Edmund Pettus Bridge with Congressman John Lewis.

In fact, Letterman seems to be treating the new show as an opportunity to move a little bit away from his usual sardonic style and offer more depth and seriousness. He ended the interview by telling Obama, “Without a question of a doubt, you are the first president I really and truly respect.”

On the tech front, Obama repeated some of the points he made in a recent BBC interview with the U.K.’s Prince Harry. After being asked about threats to our democracy, Obama warned against “getting all your information off algorithms being sent through a phone.”

He noted that he owes much of his own political success to social media, which helped him build “what ended up being the most effective political campaign, probably in modern political history.” So he initially had “a very optimistic feeling” about the technology, but he said, “I think that what we missed was the degree to which people who are in power … special interests, foreign governments, etc., can in fact manipulate that and propagandize.”

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Obama then recounted a science experiment (“not a big scientific experiment, but just an experiment that somebody did during the revolution that was taking place in Egypt”) where a liberal, a conservative and a “quote-unquote moderate” were asked to search for “Egypt,” and Google presented each of them with very different results.

“Whatever your biases were, that’s where you were being sent, and that gets more reinforced over time,” he said. “That’s what’s happening with these Facebook pages where more and more people are getting their news from. At a certain point you just live in a bubble, and that’s part of why our politics is so polarized right now.”

Appropriately for a politician who was so closely associated with hope, Obama also offered some optimism: “I think it is a solvable problem, but I think it’s one that we have to spend a lot of time thinking about.”

It seems that Facebook and the other big platforms are at least trying to address the issue. Yesterday, for example, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network will be prioritizing “meaningful social interactions” over news and publisher content.

Netflix has officially renewed ‘Stranger Things’ for a third season


What pleasant news to end the week on. Netflix announced today its plans to renew the hit Stranger Things for a third season. The announcement came shortly after Netflix asked the Twitterverse if the streaming media company should make another season.

The show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, told Vulture back in August that the third season had already been approved. But now Netflix has made it official.

Season two of the show garnered an average of 15.8 million U.S. viewers within the first three days of its availability, according to some data from Nielsen. However, Netflix said Nielsen’s “math might be from the upside down.” Netflix said Nielsen’s numbers only measured a fraction of the actual amount of viewing that went down on the streaming site.

There’s no word on when we can expect the new season to drop, but it will continue to star Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, David Harbour as Chief Jim Hopper, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and the rest of the gang.