Every year, there seems to be an awards favorite not many lay people have seen. 2021’s been particularly rough in that regard, since many Oscar hopefuls have held off on on-demand releases, opting instead for Oscar-qualifying theatrical runs or limited streaming runs mid-pandemic. Judas and the Black Messiah, for instance, already left HBO Max on March 14 as part of the Warner Bros. 31-day streaming clause for theatrical releases; The Father won’t be available on demand until March 26. But before you resign yourself to being mostly confused during this year’s Academy Awards, know that there are several Oscar-nominated movies readily available for you to screen at home right now—starting with these 13.
Sound of Metal
For one of the strongest films of the year, actor Riz Ahmed got to know real members of the deaf community—many of whom are featured in the film—to play a heavy metal drummer and recovering addict who suddenly loses most of his hearing. You can stream the film, directed by Darius Marder and with a story by Marder and Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, on Amazon Prime Video.
If you’re looking to live vicariously before your vaccine dose(s), check out Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s alcohol-soaked ode to living. Mads Mikkelsen gives one of his most compelling performances yet as a down-in-the-dumps high school teacher who teams up with three close friends to mimic the methodologies of some of history’s most powerful men. The film has earned a best international feature nomination and Vinterberg a best director nomination. It’s available to rent or purchase on demand.
Documentarian Garrett Bradley created a dazzling and heart-wrenching work of art by directly collaborating with her subjects, including prison abolitionist Fox Rich and her sons. Rich spent decades fighting to get her husband out of prison after he was handed a stunningly harsh sentence for a robbery they both committed in a moment of financial desperation. You can stream Time, nominated for best documentary feature, on Amazon Prime Video.
Currently a favorite to win best picture and possibly best director for rising star Chloe Zhao, you can stream this wistful Americana road movie starring Frances McDormand as an itinerant seasonal worker on Hulu.
If you loved Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, you’ll enjoy director Autumn de Wilde’s take on Jane Austen’s Emma, nominated for both costume design and makeup and hairstyling, with Taylor-Joy in the title role. De Wilde takes the flounciness of period dress and manner and turns it on its head. You can stream the comedy on HBO Max.
Director Alexander Nanau’s documentary following a team of investigators at Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sportilutor who crack open a story of government corruption following a devastating fire at a concert hall has received nominations for documentary (feature) and international feature film. Anyone angered or worried by the state of the U.S. healthcare industry won’t be able to look away. You can rent or purchase the film on demand.
Director Lee Isaac Chung, lead actor Steven Yeun, and supporting actress Youn Yuh-jung have all scored nominations for this moving tale of a Korean immigrant family’s budding life in 1980s Arkansas. You can rent or purchase the film on demand.
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s high octane Vietnam-flashback film—starring (the unfortunately snubbed) Delroy Lindo, the late Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (plus past awards season breakout Jonathan Majors) and nominated for its score—is available to stream on Netflix. Rather than hiring younger actors or using de-aging technology for the flashback scenes, Lindo, Peters, Lewis, and Whitlock appear in the past as their present selves.
David Fincher’s Herman Mankiewicz/Citizen Kane biopic, co-written with his late father Jack, stars Gary Oldman as the eponymous heavy drinking screenwriter. Amanda Seyfried, playing movie star Marion Davies, is a standout, as is a painstakingly reproduced Hearst castle. You can stream the film, nominated in seven categories including best picture and best director, on Netflix.
The United States v. Billie Holliday
Andra Day, starring as Billie Holliday at her most vulnerable, has scored her first Oscar nomination for Lee Daniel’s gritty biopic, which traces the controversy surround Holliday’s Strange Fruit as well as her heroin addiction. You can stream it on Hulu.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Aaron Sorkin’s historical courtroom drama has earned Mank six nominations, including best picture, original screenplay, cinematography, and best supporting actor for Sacha Baron Cohen. Stream the film, also featuring Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, on Netflix.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of August Wilson’s play features Viola Davis as the real-life music legend Ma Rainey and the late Chadwick Boseman as cornet player Levee. Both Davis and Boseman have earned nominations for their performances, with Boseman a favorite to win.
Promising Young Woman
Director Emerald Fennell’s rape-revenge-by-proxy film has secured several nominations, including best picture, best director, and best makeup and hairstyling. Star Carey Mulligan has also earned her second best actress nomination. You can stream the film on HBO Max.
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