Must-See Movies You Can Watch Before The 2017 Oscars
The red carpet and acceptance speeches are just part of the fun of watching the Oscars; the ceremony is so much more exciting when you’ve seen the nominated films. While some must-see Oscar nominees like Hidden Figures and La La Land haven’t been released on DVD, Blu-Ray, or Video on Demand, the following films are easy to watch from the comfort of your own home before the 89th Academy Awards on February 26th.
Manchester by the Sea
Kenneth Lonergan’s drama film Manchester by the Sea has racked up six Oscar nominations. The film follows Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who looks after his nephew after his brother dies, but who doesn’t know if he’s up for the task. The film is currently available for purchase on Amazon.
Manchester by the Sea has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Directing. The film’s performances have also received critical praise, with Casey Affleck nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Lucas Hedges nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Michelle Williams nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
The biographical drama Jackie directed by Pablo Larraín follows Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) after the 1963 assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. The film will be available on Video on Demand on iTunes and Amazon on February 21st, a few days before the Academy Awards.
In addition to paying attention to Natalie Portman’s performance as Jackie Kennedy, who was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, pay special attention to the score composed by Mica Levi that was nominated for Best Original Score, and the stunning costume work by Madeline Fontaine that was nominated for Best Costume Design.
The science fiction drama Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve is a fresh take on the alien invasion film starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. The film is currently available on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play.
Arrival racked up eight Oscar nominations, including the coveted Best Picture nomination. Denis Villeneuve is nominated for Best Directing, and Eric Heisserer is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was adapted from the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. The film is also nominated for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
Fire at Sea
Fire at Sea is an Italian documentary directed by Gianfranco Rosi that’s nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category. The film is shot on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa during the European migrant crisis. The film will be available on iTunes on February 17th.
The main subjects of the film are a twelve-year-old boy from a local fishing family on Lampedusa, and a doctor who treats migrants upon their arrival. In Rosi’s acceptance speech for the Golden Bear award, he stated, “It’s not acceptable that people die crossing the sea to escape from tragedies.” This prescient harrowing look at the international refugee crisis could give Fire at Sea an advantage with Academy voters.
This historical drama directed by Jeff Nichols follows the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in a 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Loving took inspiration from The Loving Story, a 2011 documentary by Nancy Buirski that followed the Lovings through their landmark case. The film is currently available to watch on FandangoNOW, Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes.
Ruth Negga received critical praise for her portrayal of Mildred Loving, a woman of black and Native American ancestry whose marriage to white construction worker Richard Loving violated Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law. Negga has been nominated for Best Actress for the role.
Life, Animated is a documentary film directed by Roger Ross Williams based on journalist Ron Suskind’s 2014 book Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism. It tells the story of Suskind’s son, Owen, who struggled to communicate with autism, but learned how to express himself to others through his love of Disney films.
The film was released to rave reviews, and won the Sundance Film Festival’s award for Best Direction and the National Board of Review’s award for Best Documentary. It adds an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature to that list. Life, Animated is currently available on Amazon, iTunes, FandangoNOW, and Google Play.
If you’re looking for an offbeat comedy-drama, Captain Fantastic is the film to watch before the Academy Awards. The film, directed by Matt Ross, follows Ben Cash and his wife Leslie who live in the Washington wilderness where they pass down their distrust of capitalism, survivalist skills, and left wing philosophy to their six children. After a family tragedy, they’re forced to reintegrate into society after living in isolation for a decade.
Captain Fantastic is racking up awards and was chosen as one of the National Board of Review’s top ten independent films of 2016. The film is currently available to watch on Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, and FandangoNOW. Viggo Mortensen, who plays Ben Cash, is nominated for Best Actor.
O.J.: Made in America
If you couldn’t get enough of the hit series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, this five-part documentary miniseries directed by Ezra Edelman should be next on your must watch list. O.J. Made in America follows Simpson from his emerging football career, through the trial of the century and his acquittal, to his arrest, conviction, and imprisonment for another crime 13 years later.
O.J.: Made in America is currently available to watch on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, and Google Play. The series, made by ESPN Films, has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Annual Academy Awards.
The fascinating biopic Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic and Seventh-day Adventist who refused to carry a firearm or weapons through World War II. He was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his service during the Battle of Okinawa.
Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for Best Picture. Andrew Garfield was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, while Mel Gibson was nominated for Best Directing. The film was also nominated for Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. The film is currently available on Amazon.
Netflix is making a name for itself at the 2017 Academy Awards with multiple films nominated this year. Extremis is a bite-sized documentary with an enormous scope. Clocking in at just 24 minutes, the film tackles the subject of end-of-life-care and the difficult decisions doctors and family members must make.
The film, which was directed and produced by Dan Krauss, is available to stream on Netflix. It’s currently nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short Subject category. The film previously won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Florence Foster Jenkins is a biographical comedy-drama directed by Stephen Fears about the New York heiress of the same name who became an opera singer known for her complete lack of any singing skill. Meryl Streep stars as Florence Foster Jenkins, and Hugh Grant plays her husband and manager, the Shakespearean actor, St. Clair Bayfield.
The film is currently available to watch on FandangoNOW, Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes. Meryl Streep, who has 20 Academy Award nominations under her belt, is nominated again for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Consolata Boyle also received a nomination for Best Costume Design.
The Netflix documentary 13th by Selma director Ava DuVernay centers on the impact of racial prejudice in the United States criminal justice system, and is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which outlawed slavery with one loophole—unless as punishment for a crime.
The film explores the disproportionate incarceration of black people in the United States and points out that 25 percent of people incarcerated globally are incarcerated in the United States. 13th argues that slavery is being perpetuated through mass incarceration. The film is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards and can be viewed by anyone with a Netflix subscription.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings is perfect for a family movie night. The 3-D stop-motion animated adventure film directed by Travis Knight has an all-star cast of voice actors, including Rooney Mara, George Takei, and Charlize Theron. The Laika film revolves around Kubo, a one-eyed boy in ancient Japan who has magical powers and must subdue an army of evil spirits.
The film is available to watch on FandangoNOW, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. Kubo and the Two Strings has been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards. The film is also the second animated feature to be nominated for Best Visual Effects following The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The White Helmets
The White Helmets is yet another short Netflix documentary to receive a nomination at the 89th Academy Awards. The prescient film follows the daily operations of volunteer workers of the Syrian Civil Defense who put themselves in the middle of the direst situations to rescue citizens. This group is also known as the White Helmets.
The film clocks in at just 40 minutes but makes an enormous impact in that limited time. The White Helmets is directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and produced by Joanna Natasegara. It has been nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject and is available for streaming to anyone with a Netflix subscription.
Zootopia is a Disney animated film directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore that details the unlikely partnership between a fox con artist and a rabbit police officer as they undercover a conspiracy involving the disappearance of certain predator species from Zootopia. The cast includes Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, and Shakira.
The film received critical acclaim for its animation, humor, cast, and more serious themes of discrimination and social stereotypes. It was also the fourth highest-grossing film of 2016. You can watch this Animated Feature nominated film on Netflix, FandangoNOW, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play before the Academy Awards.
Moonlight, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, was written and directed by Barry Jenkins. The film follows Chiron through three stages of his life, from his difficult childhood to his teen years and then his adult life as a closeted drug dealer living near Atlanta. The film recently won Best Motion Picture at the Golden Globes.
Moonlight is nominated for several Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (for Naomie Harris), Best Cinematography, Best Directing, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film will be available on February 14th on Amazon.
The family-friendly animated Disney film Moana, directed by Don Hall and Christ Williams, follows Moana, the determined daughter of a Polynesian chief who is chosen by the ocean to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess to save her people. The film features music by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, and received critical attention for its music, animation, and stellar voice cast.
Moana has been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film, and for Best Original Song. “How Far I’ll Go” was written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and is performed by Auli’I Cravalho in her role as Moana. You can watch the film on February 21st on Amazon.
A Man Called Ove
The Swedish film A Man Called Ove is a comedy-drama written and directed by Hannes Holm, and adapted from Fredrik Backman’s book of the same name. The film follows 59-year-old Ove, a recently widowed man who is suicidal. When Pravaneh and her family move in across the street and accidentally knock down Ove’s mailbox, an unexpected friendship occurs. The friendship helps Ove’s life turn around.
A Man Called Ove was nominated for the Academy Award’s Best Foreign Language Film category, as well as Best Makeup and Hair Styling. You can watch the film before the Oscars on FandangoNOW, Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes.
The World War II romantic thriller Allied, directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Night, follows Max Vatan, a Canadian Air Force intelligence officer who is partnered with French Resistance Fighter Marianne Beausejour to assassinate the German ambassador stationed in Casablanca. The two pose as a married couple, but the real feelings they develop for each other are a danger to the mission.
Brad Pitt stars as Max Vatan, and Marion Cotillard stars as Marianne Beausejour. Costume drama lovers will adore this period piece film, which has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Costume Design category. The costumes are by Joanna Johnston. The film is currently available on Amazon and FandangoNOW.
Hell or High Water
This neo-Western crime thriller directed by David Mackenzie follows divorced dad Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster) who rob banks, and the two Texas Rangers, Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), who are on the case. The film is currently available to watch on Netflix DVD, Google Play, FandangoNOW, iTunes, or Amazon.
Hell or High Water has been nominated for several Academy Awards. The film received a coveted Best Picture nomination, as well as Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Jeff Bridges was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.