What to stream in time for the 2021 Academy Awards

By Kaitlin Dunn

Elm Staff Writer

With the 93rd Academy Awards approaching, some students may wish to view some of the films nominated for Best Picture before the awards ceremony, set to take place on April 25 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC, Hulu Live TV, and YouTube Live TV. 

“The awards will recognize films released during a year in which movie theaters were largely closed,” The New York Times reporter Gabe Cohn said.

For those students who have not seen any of the films yet, here are some of the nominated Best Picture films to watch before the awards ceremony. 

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (2020) 

 Following the 1969 trial of seven college-aged students who were federally charged with conspiracy, Aaron Sorkin’s film is set during the protests of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and depicts the unfair trial of the titular seven.

 Aaron Sorkin’s second film as director and writer has already won the Satellite Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actor Guild Awards in 2020 and Best Screenplay of a Motion Picture at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards on February 28, 2021. 

The film is also slated as Variety’s predicted Best Picture win, as, according to Variety Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis, winning big at the SAGS and Golden Globes gave it “an Oscar boost.”

“‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ took the top prize of the evening for cast ensemble, marking its first major win of the awards season,” Variety Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis said. “The last five have been ‘Parasite’ (2019), ‘Spotlight’ (2015), ‘Birdman’ (2014), ‘Argo’ (2012) and ‘The King’s Speech’ (2010) … Only ‘Braveheart’ (1995), ‘The Shape of Water’ (2017) and ‘Green Book’ (2018) have won [Best Picture] without the nom[ination for Best Ensemble].”

This film can be streamed on Netflix.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” 

“Judas and the Black Messiah” follows the story of William O’Neal, who is offered a plea deal by the FBI to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and get information on Chairman Fred Hampton. The film is a biographical drama about the betrayal of Hampton, offering a dramatized perspective to a more unknown segment of American history.

The film has a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics offering high praises, including for Shaka King’s direction and David Kaluuya and LaKeith Stainfield’s performances as Hampton and O’Neal, respectively.

According to the Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus, the film is “an electrifying dramatization of historical events, Judas and the Black Messiah is a forceful condemnation of racial injustice — and a major triumph for its director and stars.”

This film is available in theaters and can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video and Vudu.

“Nomadland” (2020)

“Nomadland” follows the story of Frances McDormand’s Fern, a woman in her sixties who, upon losing everything in the aftermath of the Great Recession, heads out West, living in her van as a modern-day nomad.

The film is nominated for six Oscars. Director Chloé Zhao is also a front-runner for Best Director after becoming the first Asian American to win Best Director at the 2021 Golden Globes.

In addition to the films Oscar nominations, “Nomadland” also won several awards for the film, including Best Picture – Drama at the 2021 Golden Globes and Best Leading Actress for McDormand’s performance at the 2021 BAFTA Awards. 

The film is available in theaters and can be streamed on Hulu.

“Promising Young Woman” (2020)

“Promising Young Woman” is, according to The Chicago Sun Times reporter Richard Roeper, “a smart, provocative, pitch-black dark comedy and revenge movie with an astonishingly powerful, deeply layered performance by Carey Mulligan.”

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, the film follows Mulligan as Cassie, a traumatized young woman avenging her best friend, who committed suicide after being dismissed for reporting her sexual assault and taking matters into her own hands, seeking to expose “men who equate a woman’s inebriation with consent,” according to The New York Times reporter Jeanette Catsoulis. 

The film is available in theaters and can be streamed on several video-on-demand services, including Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Vudu.

“Minari” (2020)

“Minari” follows the story of a Korean American family on an Arkansas farm, searching for their own place within the American Dream. The film shows the strength of family even in the face of adversity.

Wall Street Journal reporter Joe Morgenstern reports the film as “intimate, poignant, improbably funny and steadfastly stirring.”

Minari is available in theaters and can be streamed on several video-on-demand streaming services, including Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Vudu.

All these films are worthwhile to watch, whether as a movie junkie, casual movie watcher, or as someone who simply wants to be in “the know” on the Academy Awards.

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