Roma has become the first Netflix movie to be added to the Criterion Collection’s prestigious roster of films. Director Alfonso Cuarón's low budget black and white drama scored big at the 2018 Academy Awards, bringing in 3 Oscars. The film, which Cuarón shot, wrote and directed in his native Mexico, tells a semi-biographical tale about growing up in Mexico City’s middle-class Colonia Roma neighborhood. Roma focuses in particular on a live-in maid, Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutiérrez, who becomes a vital part of her employer family’s dynamic after their father walks out on them.
The film marked a drastic change in direction for Cuarón, whose previous efforts such as the Oscar-winning Gravity as well as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were much larger-scale affairs. Nevertheless, Roma found success both at the box office as well as among critics. Surprisingly enough, the film was also at the forefront of a growing controversy, as its success prompted iconic director Steven Spielberg to lead a campaign designed to make it more difficult for Netflix original films (which Roma was) to qualify for Oscars.
With all its past accolades and achievements, Roma is now set to mark yet another milestone, this time as part of one of physical media’s most beloved and enduring brands. Collider has reported Roma will officially be joining the ranks of The Criterion Collection come February 2020. The announcement was made as Criterion revealed their titles for next year, marking the very first time in the New York-based company’s history they’ve added a Netflix film to their library.
The Criterion Collection was founded in 1984 and has since gone on to become the mark of quality for home video among cinephiles and film enthusiasts. Typically focusing on out-of-print or hard-to-find international and American films, Criterion has been responsible for giving important or rarely seen films a proper release. This process often includes restoring lost and damaged classics, as well as releasing films in their proper aspect ratios and working with their original directors whenever possible in order to ensure the final product can be seen exactly as it was intended. In addition to transferring films to 4K Blu-Ray quality, Criterion is also known for its extensive disc supplements, such as behind the scenes documentaries and interviews, as well as other exclusive content. Last but not least, the company’s product packaging is typically an artistic achievements in itself, making each title in Criterion’s library a first rate experience that cinephiles have long since come to adore.
Getting a Roma release on Criterion is great news, not just for fans of the film but also for those who see the importance in preserving physical media. Recent years have seen a substantial drop in DVD and Blu-Ray sales, thanks to the wide variety of subscription streaming services like Netflix. For their part, Criterion has always worked hard to bring important titles to its library, and with Netflix now permitting Roma, one of its most successful films, to get the Criterion treatment, perhaps more of the best Netflix Originals will begin finding their way to this dying but important format.