Phew. What a year for cinema.
The Oscars, like everything else, were drastically different this year in a low-key, socially distanced ceremony at L.A.’s Union Station railway terminus. Interestingly for the first time in decades, the ceremony focused on the nominees much more than the spectacle itself. The evening was also full of historic wins for women and people of colour. Chloé Zhao won best director for Nomadland while Daniel Kaluuya won the best supporting actor Oscar for his work in Judas and the Black Messiah. Sir Anthony Hopkins took home the best actor statue in a major upset over favoured actors Riz Ahmed and the late Chadwick Boseman. As awards season officially wraps up with the closing of the Academy Awards, here are our top picks for the most critically acclaimed Oscar winning movies you should add to your watch list if you haven’t already.
If there’s one movie on this list that you should get to watching right away, its Chloé Zhao heart wrenching drama, Nomadland. A movie about a woman who leaves her home to travel around the American West following a personal tragedy, Zhao makes Oscar history by becoming the first Chinese woman to win Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director with Frances McDormand winning the best actress trophy as well. The film carries a simple message- the inner strength and resilience that people carry in the face of hardship; a message that resonates particularly loud in these times.
Oscars won: Best Picture, Best Director (Chloé Zhao), Best Actress (Frances McDormand)
Available to watch on Disney+ from April 30.
2. The Father
Helmed by writer-director Florian Zeller, The Father is a deeply intimate and sympathetic look at what living with dementia could be like. Sir Anthony Hopkins took home the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Anthony, a man who forgets names, dates and numbers and is constantly plagued by hallucinations. The Father is a haunting, immersive experience and an absolutely devastating watch — one you shouldn’t miss.
Oscars won: Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Adapted Screenplay (Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton)
Coming to UK cinemas soon.
3. Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman is not just another feminist revenge thriller, it’s a clever mix of comedy tropes meeting the serious and complex narratives of the #MeToo movement. Helmed by writer-director Emerald Fennell, the film stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a confident and smart woman who leads a secret double life by night. The movie is bold and infectious, just like its protagonist and makes a loud, important statement.
Oscars won: Best Original Screenplay (Emerald Fennell)
Available to watch now on Sky Cinema/NOW TV.
Minari is a grounded, profound and detailed look at a Korean family’s attempt at assimilation and chasing the American dream in 1980s America. Led by striking performances from Steven Yeun and Yeri Han, Minari is a classic immigrant tale that stands out because of its detailed screenplay and atmospheric nature. With six nominations and one win, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
Oscars won: Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-jung Youn)
Available to watch now on Amazon Prime.
A jazzy, poignant drama that makes you look inward and evokes a sense of gratefulness for the life you have, Soul was a hot favourite to win across the animation categories at the Oscars. The visuals are captivating, the music simultaneously soulful and groovy and the banter between the two leads deeply engaging. This one is a winner for all age groups.
Oscars won: Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score
Available to watch now on Disney+.
6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chadwick Boseman’s last outing is an incredible watch. The film focuses on Ma Rainey, a blues singer who was highly influential in the 1920s – portrayed by a remarkable Viola Davis. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a well-rounded experience for the viewers with rich costumes, incredible production value, a gripping storyline and of course – Chadwick Boseman.
Oscars won: Best Costume Design (Ann Roth), Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson, and Sergio Lopez-Rivera)
Available to watch now on Netflix.
7. Sound of Metal
Directed and co-written by Darius Marder, Sound of Metal stars Riz Ahmed as a metal drummer who loses his hearing. The movie is a powerful drama led by an arresting performance by Ahmed and evokes genuine empathy and heartbreak for its lead. The movie is overall fantastic and touches upon themes of loss and resilience — another heartening lesson in these times.
Oscars won: Best Film Editing (Nicholas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Coutollenc, Carlos Cortes and Philip Bladh), Best Sound (Nicholas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Coutollenc, Carlos Cortes and Philip Bladh)
Available to watch now on Amazon Prime.
8. Judas and the Black Messiah
Judas and the Black Messiah is an American biographical drama film that follows the betrayal of Fred Hampton (played by an incredible Daniel Kaluuya), chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, at the hands of William O’Neal an FBI informant. The movie is a truly gripping historical drama yet very relevant for the current socio-political scene.
Oscars won: Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), Best Song (Fight For You)
Available to watch now on the Sky Store or BFI Player.