Amazon wins 3 Oscars in a first for streaming studio — and Jeff Bezos gets a fun shout-out – GeekWire

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos chuckles at the Oscars after host Jimmy Kimmel tells a joke about Amazon. (Photo via ABC live stream)

Amazon Studios won its first-ever Academy Awards on Sunday night, taking home three Oscar statues in what was a historic achievement for the streaming industry.

“Manchester by the Sea” star Casey Affleck won the best actor Oscar for his role as a man who returns to his hometown to care for the teenage son of his deceased brother.

“One of the first people who taught me how to act was Denzel Washington and I just met him tonight for the first time. Thank you,” Affleck said as he fought back tears in thanking one of his fellow nominees.

The wins for Amazon drew the praise of company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who was in attendance at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and tweeting his congratulations to the winners.

Kenneth Lonergan also won an Oscar for the film for his best original screenplay, and he thanked Amazon when he stepped to the stage to receive the trophy.

Amazon’s third win of the night was for “The Salesman,” which won best foreign language film.

“The Salesman” director, Iranian-born Asghar Farad, boycotted the ceremony to protest President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. He designated Anousheh Ansar, the first Iranian in space, to accept the award on his behalf. In her speech, she condemned the president’s attitude toward immigrants and promoted inclusion.

“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time,” Farhad said in a statement read by Ansar. “I would like to thank the members of the academy … Amazon and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”

The first-ever Oscars for Amazon put it ahead of Netflix, which has yet to win an Academy Award.

Amazon also received a shoutout early on during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony. Host Jimmy Kimmel called out Bezos during his opener and ABC showed Bezos chuckling after hearing Kimmel’s jokes about his company.

Bezos was at the Oscars on behalf of Amazon, which landed its first-ever Oscar nominations — eight in total, including six for “Manchester by the Sea,” a film acquired by Amazon Studios a year ago that even snagged a best-picture nomination.

“Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO, and I want to say, congratulations to Jeff,” Kimmel said. “And I also want you to know Jeff, if you win tonight, you can expect your Oscar to arrive in 2 to 5 business days, possibly stolen by a GrubHub delivery man.”

As ABC cut to Bezos in the crowd laughing, Kimmel had another Amazon-related joke.

“Amazon produced ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ that was a fun movie, wasn’t it?” Kimmel said. “You know, if you search for ‘Manchester by the Sea’ on Amazon, it says ‘customers who bought this item also purchased Zoloft.’”

Bezos and Amazon were also the focus of jokes during the Golden Globes last month.

Amazon’s best picture nomination marks the first time a streaming service has received a best picture nomination. That gives Amazon bragging rights over Netflix, which has received Oscar nominations of its own in the past, but not yet in the best picture category. Both companies have separately won Golden Globe and Emmy awards for their streaming shows.

With “Manchester by the Sea,” Amazon has taken a different approach from other services by releasing the film in traditional theaters before its streaming debut. Amazon reportedly paid $10 million for the rights to “Manchester by the Sea” at the Sundance Film Festival a year ago. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the film debuted in November and is set for release on Amazon in May.

Amazon Studios focuses largely on shows and films released through its Amazon Prime Video service, and its original content is one of the reasons for the rapid growth in Amazon Prime memberships in recent years. The company has made its biggest mark on the Hollywood awards circuit with the show “Transparent,” which has fared well at both the Golden Globes and the Emmys. It also resulted in Amazon and Bezos’ first shout-out on stage after the show’s Golden Globe win in 2015.

Winning awards and getting called out on stage at the Oscars is an impressive feat for Bezos and Amazon, a company traditionally known for its e-commerce business but one that has quickly grown its video content arm over the past several years.

In other categories in which it was nominated on Sunday, Amazon failed to take home the Oscar. It lost in its first category for best supporting actor, which went to Mahershala Ali for his performance in “Moonlight.” In the company’s second nomination, for best supporting actress, “Manchester by the Sea” star Michelle Williams lost the Oscar to Viola Davis for her role in “Hidden Figures.”

Amazon’s documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” lost to “OJ: Made in America” for best documentary feature.

Lonergan lost in the best director category to “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle.

“Manchester by the Sea” actress Michelle Williams lost in best actress category to Emma Stone on “La La Land.”

And in the final award of the night, “Moonlight” took the best picture prize after a monumental screw-up had “La La Land” and its cast and crew thinking it had won the Oscar after the wrong winner was declared — and then corrected minutes later.


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