The year 2020 was undeniably one of the stranger, if not the strangest, times for cinema across the world. When movie theatres closed last spring, the industry lost a near $10 billion in ticket sales alone. Many of us turned to streaming services for our entertainment, and the film industry shifted with us. As we enter this year’s unorthodox award season, many of us aren’t even sure where to begin.
Without further ado, here is the comprehensive guide for the 2021 Academy Awards.
“Mank,” 10 Nominations, Netflix.
“Mank” tells the story of famous screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he rushes to finish his hit film “Citizen Kane.” Set primarily in 1940, the film deals with Mankiewicz’s alcoholism as he navigates the writing deadline, the pressure of failure and addiction. The film stars Gary Oldman (nominee) alongside Amanda Seyfried (nominee), Lily Collins and more.
“Mank” was well received and ran in theatres for a short time before releasing on Netflix on December 4. The film is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Costume Design and Best Hair and Makeup.
“The Father,” 6 Nominations, Theatres.
“The Father” follows an 80 year old Anthony (Anthony Hopkins, nominee) as he attempts to reject any caretaking help provided by his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman, nominee). As he begins losing his grip on reality when his daughter visits less and less, this film explores the grief felt as age begins to take its toll.
The film is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress. It’s currently playing in local movie theatres, though attending theatres carries an obvious COVID risk at this time.
“Judas and the Black Messiah,” 6 Nominations, Select Theatres.
This film follows a young William O’Neil (LaKeith Lee Stanfield, nominee) who infiltrates through the ranks of the Black Panther Party (BPP) in the late 1960s, as sanctioned by the FBI. Alongside this, it follows BPP leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, nominee) as he leads the group through Chicago and the quickly changing world around them.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” was nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song. Though this film is in select theatres now, it was also released on HBO Max for a limited time, and some suspect it will return there once it has had a theatrical release.
“Minari,” 6 Nominations, YouTube.
A Korean American family in search of obtaining the mythic American dream moves to a small farm in Arkansas. When their grandmother moves with them, their family dynamic is completely shaken. They have to pick up the pieces and find out what truly makes a house a home.
The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Steven Yeun), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-Jung Youn). “Minari” is available for rent on YouTube for $19.99.
“Nomadland,” 6 Nominations, Hulu.
Fern, the main character, has lost everything due to the Great Recession and must start over in her sixties. She then discovers a new life within the lifestyle known as the modern nomad. For her, this means traveling through the American West in a van.
“Nomadland” has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film is available through Hulu.
“Sound of Metal,” 6 Nominations, Amazon Prime Video.
“Sound of Metal” is about the drummer, Ruben (Riz Ahmed, nominee), of the metal band “Blackgammon” as he slowly goes deaf. With the help of his girlfriend and the lead singer of the band, Lou, (Olivia Cooke) Ruben begins to adjust to his new lifestyle.
It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Paul Raci). It’s available on Amazon Prime Video with a Prime subscription.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” 6 Nominations, Netflix.
Focusing on the 1969 trial about counterculture protests at the Democratic National Convention, this film is packed with big names like Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Keaton and Joseph Gordon Levitt. The seven men of which the film is based were anti-Vietnam War protestors who ultimately got charged with conspiracy against the government, intention to start a riot and more.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7 was nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Best Original Song. The movie is available on Netflix.
“Promising Young Woman,” 5 Nominations, YouTube.
“Promising Young Woman” is about Cassie (Carey Mulligan, nominated), a 30 year old med school dropout who spends her nights attempting to bring unorthodox justice to potential sexual predators. After witnessing the arduous case of her best friend’s rape (a case that was quickly dropped), she yearns to get her case the justice it deserves.
The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. It’s available for rent on YouTube for $5.99 and is still in theatres.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” 4 Nominations, Netflix.
This film is based on the August Wilson play of the same name following Ma Rainey (Viola Davis, nominee), a real life blues singer. It follows her and the Georgia Jazz Band as they struggle to record some of Rainey’s songs. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” has a knockout cast and serves as Chadwick Boseman’s last performance.
The film was nominated for Best Actress, Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman), Best Production Design and Best Hair and Makeup. It’s available to view with a Netflix subscription.
“News of the World,” 3 Nominations, YouTube.
“News of the World” is about former Civil War Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) when he crosses paths with a young girl (Helena Zengel) living among the Kiowa people. She is forced by her aunt and uncle to return home, and Kidd agrees to escort her across Texas on the arduous journey.
The film was nominated for Best Production Design, Best Sound and Best Original Score. It’s available to rent via YouTube for $19.99.
There are more films out there than on this list. If these don’t suit your fancy, try a short film, documentary or international film. Happy movie watching!