26.9 C
New York
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

20 Oscar-Nominated Movies You Can Stream Right Now

Between Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Avengers: Endgame’s record-setting $2.8 billion worldwide haul, superhero movies—and Marvel Cinematic Universe films in particular—continued to dominate the box office in 2019. But in the wake of Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning Roma (2018), several of the year’s most critically acclaimed films opted to forgo a wide or prolonged theatrical release in favor of streaming on Netflix. Which means that many of this year’s Oscar-nominated movies are already waiting to be watched on a Wi-Fi–ready device near you.

With less than two weeks to go before the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony takes place on February 9, you’ve got plenty of time to catch up on this year’s nominated films from the comfort of your own home (though you’ll have to cough up a fee for a few titles). Here are 19 of them.

The Irishman (2019)

Martin Scorsese seemed to be a magnet for controversy in 2019—first because of his decision to partner with Netflix to release The Irishman, then again when he declared that Marvel movies were “not cinema.” Regardless of where you stand on either matter, it’s hard to deny that his adaptation of I Heard You Paint Houses—former homicide prosecutor Charles Brandt’s retelling of the life of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a Philadelphia truck driver turned hit man for crime boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), and the part they played in the murder/disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (played with typical gusto by Al Pacino)—was worth the decade of development hell it took to complete. Though much was made of the film’s de-aging process, the fact that the technology allowed Scorsese to maximize the screen time of his three main stars makes some of the film’s soft edges a non-issue. Especially in the case of Pesci, who came out of retirement after turning Scorsese down a reported 40 times before agreeing to play Russell Bufalino in a quietly menacing albeit uncharacteristically subtle performance that ranks right up there with Goodfellas and Raging Bull as one of his best.

Where to stream it: Netflix

Marriage Story (2019)

Noah Baumbach came into his own with 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, a largely autobiographical and emotionally draining examination of a Brooklyn couple’s divorce and the impact it has on their two young sons, which earned Baumbach a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. Marriage Story plays into many of the same themes, but examines the unique particularities of a marriage that is irreparably broken despite both its participants still loving each other. The film earned a six Oscar nominations, including nods for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actress for Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, who both successfully sidestep melodrama and deliver painfully raw performances to which anyone who has ever been in a relationship—married or not, happy or otherwise—can relate.

Where to stream it: Netflix

The Two Popes (2019)

Between The Young Pope, The New Pope, and The Two Popes, it’s a very good time for papal enthusiasts. New Zealand novelist Anthony McCarten—who has made a career out of writing Oscar-nominated biopics over the past few years with The Theory of Everything (2014) and Darkest Hour (2017)—adapted his own 2017 play The Pope to create The Two Popes, which earned three Oscar nominations (including one for McCarten). The film, directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God and The Constant Gardener), masterfully balances its narrative as (fellow Oscar nominees) Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce—Pope Benedict XVI and soon-to-be Pope Francis, respectively—discuss God, tradition, the changing role of faith in people’s lives, and the unspeakable issues of child abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic Church in a way that invites thoughtful conversation but isn’t afraid to use levity when appropriate. Surprisingly, it works.

Where to stream it: Netflix

Joker (2019)

Leading this year’s pack of Oscar movies with 11 nominations is Joker, Todd Phillips’ subversive supervillain origin story that gives us the deepest, bleakest backstory yet on Batman’s most notorious enemy. Joaquin Phoenix gives a mesmerizing performance as Arthur Fleck, an aspiring (and terrible) stand-up comedian and clown-for-hire whose life is anything but amusing. Though the film is being hailed as the most nominated comic-book movie ever, in many ways Joker is not a comic book movie at all. Sure, it’s a familiar character who originated in the DC universe, but the movie ignores any superhero movie tropes. At its core, Joker is a character study of a psychologically damaged man fighting to maintain his sanity in a world gone mad—and failing miserably.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Speaking of comic book movies: If you aren’t one of the millions of people who contributed to Avengers: Endgame’s massive box-office haul, it’s time to find three hours in your schedule to see how Marvel’s Infinity Saga ends (or to see it again)—even if you feel like you’ve already read every spoiler imaginable. While the bulk of its screen time centers around the original Avengers, the Russo brothers found a way to cram just about every character from the franchise’s previous 20-plus films into its lengthy run time, closing the door on many characters’ stories and opening up new narratives for folks who will play a part in MCU: Phase 4. All in all, it’s a satisfying wrap-up. (In case you’re wondering about its Oscar nomination, it secured just one: Best Achievement in Visual Effects.)

Where to stream it: Disney+

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Like so many Quentin Tarantino movies before it, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood brings together a handful of storylines that collide in a cultural cacophony—a meticulously choreographed finale that makes seemingly throwaway scenes featuring Bruce Lee or Steve McQueen all add up to something. That “something” is both a love letter to a very specific time in Hollywood (in this case, the bulk of 1969—leading up to the night of August 9) and, to a lesser degree, a revisionist history of the Manson family’s infamous Tate-LaBianca murders of that night. That happy(ish) ending left some viewers confused/annoyed, while others have declared it QT’s best-ever work. While the film’s narrative isn’t its strong suit, in the end it doesn’t really matter, because the chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio as a has-been Western star and Brad Pitt as his stunt double/driver (who spent some time in prison for murdering his wife) electrifies the screen. Though both actors have worked with Tarantino before, they’ve never worked together; that two of Hollywood’s biggest names would choose a project that pays homage to the power of celebrity is either cheeky stunt casting on Tarantino’s part or a fantastic coincidence.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Ad Astra (2019)

Brad Pitt: Murder-Prone Stuntman was clearly an easier sell than Brad Pitt: Astronaut With Daddy Issues. James Gray’s epic space film sees Pitt traveling to Mars 30 years after his astronaut father went missing during a mission—to see if he can find him and, oh yeah, save the world. Though the film arrived with much fanfare and received mostly positive reviews from critics, it’s a bit of a slow burn, which didn’t sit well with every audience. Which is unfortunate, as seeing it on the big screen is the best way to appreciate Gray’s masterful moviemaking; he’s meticulous with the details, from lighting to sound (hence the film’s nomination for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing).

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Judy (2019)

After dominating the awards circuit throughout much of the 2000s—with three consecutive Oscar nominations beginning in 2002, including a win for Cold Mountain in 2004—Renée Zellweger took a bit of a break from acting beginning in 2010. But she has come back in a big way with Judy, in which she takes on the enviable albeit enormous task of portraying Judy Garland, one of history’s greatest entertainers. And she does it exceptionally well by looking and, most importantly, sounding like Judy herself.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Parasite (2019)

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite has already made history as the first Korean feature to compete at the Oscars—a feat made even more impressive by the fact that it’s not just vying for Best International Feature Film. After winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes by unanimous vote, Parasite has been breaking box-office records and was nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Editing, and Best International Feature. Like The Host and Snowpiercer before it, Parasite is a movie with meaning; on the surface, it’s a darkly comedic grifting film about the Kims, a poor but entrepreneurial-minded family conning their way into a series of well-paying jobs with the wealthy but oblivious Park family. But just when they think they’ve got the upper hand, they realize they’re not the only people playing characters to insinuate themselves. To say much more would be to give too much away. Just know that the odds on Parasite actually winning Best Picture keep rising—and it would be well-deserved for this multilayered social satire.

Where to stream it: Buy at Amazon

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Twenty-five years after the original Toy Story arrived, Pixar’s flagship franchise has not lost any of its charm. While the sadness of a kid outgrowing their favorite toy is still one of the series’ underlying themes, the fourth film in the franchise gets a bit more existential when Forky, the newest member of the gang, has a bit of an identity crisis after realizing he’s made of bits of garbage. Which means it’s up to Woody to convince Forky of his importance to their new “kid,” Bonnie.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon; coming to Disney+ on February 5

The Lighthouse (2019)

When talk turns to this year’s biggest Oscar snubs, Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are two names you’ll hear again and again for their roles in The Lighthouse. The film, directed and cowritten by production designer turned filmmaker Robert Eggers, who made his directorial debut with 2015’s Puritan period piece The Witch, deftly blends elements of horror, fantasy, and comedy as it follows two lighthouse keepers who find themselves stranded on a remote island in New England circa 1890 and slowly begin losing their minds. While Jarin Blaschke’s black-and-white cinematography is stunning (and earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination), it’s the interplay between Dafoe and Pattinson that ultimately makes the film the kind that stays with you for days.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Rocketman (2019)

Taron Egerton took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy for his impressive portrayal (songs and all) of Elton John in this biopic that tracks the superstar’s roller-coaster rise to fame, yet he was shut out at the Oscars. Still, the film earned a nod for Best Original Song for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”—the same tune that earned John and Bernie Taupin their own Golden Globes earlier this year.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Pain and Glory (2019)

Though Pedro Almodóvar has shown himself to be a master of absurdist comedies with films like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up! Time Me Down!, the 70-year-old moviemaker has pointed the camera inward for Pain and Glory. The semi-autobiographical movie tells the story of a filmmaker remembering and confronting his own past, including his discovery of cinema and how movies and real life become intertwined in his life. Which makes it all the more appropriate that the film stars two of his longtime collaborators: Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas (who earned his first Oscar nomination for the role, as Best Actor).

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

Harriet (2019)

Given the hunger audiences seem to have for a good biopic, it seems amazing that it took until now for Harriet Tubman’s story to be told on film. While the movie has been in the works for a while now and had different talent attached over the years, Kasi Lemmons finally made it happen with actress/singer Cynthia Erivo in the title role. Though the film doesn’t really take any opportunity to break free from the standard biopic format, it’s hard not to be inspired by Tubman’s courageous story, which sees her escape from slavery only to help 70 more enslaved individuals do the same.

Where to stream it: Buy at Amazon

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

If you’re going into Ford v Ferrari expecting some kind of real-life version of The Fast and the Furious, you’re likely to be disappointed. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t feature its fair share of action, but director James Mangold is much more interested in character development, which is exactly what you get here. The film tells the true story of famed car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), who worked together to develop a vehicle to reign supreme at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. As is so often the case, Bale—playing the charismatic daredevil Miles—steals the movie, which earned a total of four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

Where to stream it: Buy at Amazon

Jojo Rabbit

Few filmmakers could get away with making a movie as audacious as Jojo Rabbit. Fortunately, Taika Waititi is one of them. The loyalties of a young boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) are tested in this World War II satire when he finds out that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic—a discovery that puts Jojo at odds with his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

Where to stream it: Buy at Amazon on February 4

For Sama

Syrian director Waad al-Kateab spent five years in Aleppo as part of the uprising opposing President Bashar al-Assad. During that time she worked at a hospital that treated civilians injured in bombing raids. She also married one of the doctors and had a daughter, Sama. All the while she filmed every bit of triumph and tragedy. The resulting film, nominated for Best Documentary Feature, is constructed as a letter to her young child—a poignant document exploring the impossible choice she had to make between protecting her daughter and continuing the fight for freedom.

Where to stream it: Rent or buy at Amazon

American Factory

Higher Ground Productions, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, has gotten off to an impressive start by scoring a Best Documentary Oscar nomination for American Factory, their first film. The movie documents the opening of a new Fuyao factory, a China-based glass manufacturer, in a former General Motors facility just outside Dayton, Ohio. While at first the factory seems like a godsend to the area’s working class community, as it means the addition of thousands of new jobs, it’s not long before a culture clash between the company’s American employees and Chinese workers becomes obvious. Directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert adopted an old-school, cinéma verité–style approach to the film, which gives the viewer a fly-on-the-wall perspective as American workers attempt to adapt to the ongoing challenges that a truly global economy brings.

Where to stream it: Netflix

The Edge of Democracy

With much of the world in a state of political unrest, The Edge of Democracy will have a twinge of the familiar as it delves into issues like abuse of power and the rise of populism. While it specifically deals with the roller-coaster political ride that’s been happening in Brazil over the past several years, with bribery scandals that have resulted in several arrests and actual jail time for former presidents, the film feels even more personal given the access documentarian Petra Costa had to her subjects, former presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva.

Where to stream it: Netflix


In an isolated part of the Balkans, a woman named Hatidze Muratova does her best to take care of her elderly mother by attempting to make a living in the same way that her ancestors had: beekeeping. Though the village where they live has no electricity or running water, and the nearest town where Hatidze can sell her goods is a four-hour walk, she continues the family trade … until a new family arrives. While actual neighbors are a welcome respite for the company-starved Hatidze, a fracture begins to form in their relationship when the head of the new family decides to go into competition with Hatidze. It’s a fascinating look at the lengths a person will go to in order to survive and provide for their family.

Where to stream it: Hulu

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Related Articles

Latest Articles