The 94th Academy Awards ceremony is just days away, and it will end with history being made. Genre-wise, there could not be a more diverse collection of 10 nominees up for Best Picture this year, as the field includes a blockbuster science-fiction epic, a new production of a beloved musical, and several feel-good movies that can lift the spirit during dark times. It is one of the more fascinating races in years, as the once-clear frontrunner now has serious competition.
Thanks to streaming, it is also easy to see all the nominees before the awards start on ABC Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. ET. Eight of the ten nominees are widely available on services with subscriptions, including two on two different platforms. The other two nominees are available to rent on digital platforms. However, many of them are also still playing in theaters.
This year features ten nominees for the first time under a rule change announced in April 2020. Since the 84th Oscars, the number of nominees in the top category was determined through a preferential voting process, where between five and 10 films would make the cut. That's why there were eight nominees last year and 10 this year. Of course, this move still didn't give room to comic book blockbusters, but the Academy did nominate Dune, one of the biggest hits of 2021. So, let's jump into the 10 nominees for the top prize without any further delay.
Kenneth Branagh's childhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland inspired Belfast. The film is set in 1969 during The Troubles, and told through the eyes of a young boy, played with unforgettable charm by Jude Hill. Although the film's steam at awards shows subsided, it was nominated for seven Oscars. Branagh himself earned nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It is available to buy or rent at Prime Video and other digital retailers.prevnext
'CODA' (Apple TV+)
Although CODA has been widely available on Apple TV+ since August, the charming coming-of-age movie has continued to shock with its awards wins leading up to the Oscars. Directed by Sian Heder and based on a 2014 French film, CODA is the story of Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), a Gloucester, Massachusetts high school student who has spent her life as an interpreter for her deaf parents and older brother. She is torn between her dreams of singing at Berkley and helping her family's fishing business. Aside from Best Picture, CODA earned nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur) and Best Adapted Screenplay.prevnext
'Don't Look Up' (Netflix)
Don't Look Up was released on Netflix back in December. This bloated satire was directed by Adam McKay and is jam-packed with stars. Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio star as scientists who struggle to convince everyone to prepare for a coming asteroid that will wipe out the planet. Despite earning mixed reviews, it still scored nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Original Score.prevnext
'Drive My Car' (HBO Max)
Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car is the first-ever Japanese movie nominated for Best Picture. Thankfully, it is available on HBO Max so the widest possible audience can see it. Hidetoshi Nishijima stars as a theater actor and director who oversees a multilingual production of Uncle Vanya while still grappling with the death of his wife. It's a powerful meditation on loss and what it means to live. The real shame here is the Oscars not nominating any actor from the film. Drive My Car also earned Best Director, Best International Feature, and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations.prevnext
'Dune' (HBO Max)
Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Hubert's Dune is also available on HBO Max. It was easily the biggest box office hit of 2021 to earn a Best Picture nomination. Villeneuve is already working on the sequel. Dune earned 10 nominations and has a shot at being the biggest winner of the night, even if it doesn't take home Best Picture.prevnext
'King Richard' (HBO Max)
King Richard, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, is another Best Picture nominee you can check out on HBO Max. Will Smith stars as Richard Williams, the father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. The film tracks Williams' drive to turn his daughters into the biggest tennis stars in the world, even if his methods are unconventional. Smith is widely expected to win his first Best Actor Oscar finally.prevnext
'Licorice Pizza' (VOD)
Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza is a fascinating trip to the San Fernando Valley in 1973, where we meet high schooler Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and twentysomething Alana Kane (Alana Haim). Gary is desperate to make a name for himself, and he makes sure Alana, who is 10 years older than him, is there to help. The movie also earned nods for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Licorice Pizza is available to buy or rent on Prime Video and other online retailers.prevnext
'Nightmare Alley' (Hulu, HBO Max)
Although Nightmare Alley was a box office flop, Guillermo Del Toro's adaptation of William Lindsy Gresham's twisted 1946 novel still secured a Best Picture nod. The movie tells the story of Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a drifter who starts working for a carnival and learns he could use a psychic act to scam the wealthy. He eventually teams up with Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) to get one big score. The movie's other nominations are in the Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design categories. It is available to stream on Hulu and HBO Max.prevnext
'The Power of the Dog' (Netflix)
Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog held the "undisputed frontrunner" status until CODA's recent resurgence. It still has an excellent chance to win, especially with 12 nominations. The Western is based on the novel by Thomas Savage. The lives of Montana ranchers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemmons) are changed when George marries innkeeper Rose (Kirsten Dunst). Rose's son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) soon learns a big secret about Phil. The Power of the Dog has been available on Netflix since November.prevnext
'West Side Story' (Disney+, HBO Max)
Steven Speilberg's exuberant West Side Story remake is only last here because the list is in alphabetical order. Although the original film remains a classic, Spielberg brought something new to the material, thanks to great performances from Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez and Mike Faist. West Side Story is available to stream on Disney+ and HBO Max.prev