By Bridget Sjoberg |
Oscars season is officially underway. The movie industry’s most anticipated night of the year takes place this Sunday, and will feature this year’s top films receiving prestigious awards like Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, and the top prize, Best Picture. There are eight films nominated for Best Picture this year- some of them are slightly obscure smaller films, which is typical of films nominated in this category, but others are some of this year’s top-earning blockbusters. Although it’s always good to see as many movies as possible nominated for Oscar categories, it can realistically be challenging as a college student to find time to watch eight films that oftentimes run over an hour and a half.
Because of this, I’ve composed a quick guide to this year’s top eight films nominated for Best Picture and have included the easiest ways to watch or stream each movie, as well as top information to know about each film.
A Star is Born
This Bradley Cooper-directed film depicts the relationship between Jack, a country star who struggles with addiction, and Ally, a young singer looking to break into the music industry (played by Lady Gaga). Although the film was popular amongst audiences and critics, the Best Picture nominee has seemed to lose momentum over awards season, with Cooper not even receiving a Best Director nomination. However, the film was still nominated in several other important categories, including Best Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Gaga), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott) and Best Original Song (“Shallow”), which will likely win in its category. Personally, I absolutely loved A Star is Born and believed the movie deserves more recognition this awards season, particularly for Cooper’s directing and underrated acting performance.
Best ways to watch: A Star is Born is still showing in select theaters, and can be rented via iTunes for $5.99.
Director Spike Lee’s film depicts police officers who go undercover to monitor activity of the Ku Klux Klan chapter in their Colorado small town during the 1970’s. Lee establishes the film as one with topics relevant not only 40 years ago but today in our nation as well, containing references throughout the film to issues that we still currently deal with. For me, the film’s strength lies in its impressive acting and clever dialogue, as well as in its choice to not brush over important topics. The film is favored to win for Best Adapted Screenplay, and has garnered nominations for Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Adam Driver).
Best ways to watch: The film can be rented for $5.99 on Amazon or YouTube.
Black Panther is the second highest-grossing film worldwide of 2018 and is one of the most well-known films nominated in the Best Picture category. The story follows the fictional nation of Wakanda, which poses as a third world country while in reality housing some of the world’s top technological advancements. The choice to use the nation’s resources to help other countries or to maintain an isolationist stance to preserve culture and discoveries leads to power struggles among competing leaders. I’m typically not a huge fan of superhero movies, but I found Black Panther thoroughly entertaining and enjoyed the creative plot and visual effects. Although not expected to win in its nominated categories, Black Panther still remains an impressive feat as the first superhero movie nominated for Best Picture and for promoting African and African American representation in the film’s storyline and cast.
Best ways to watch: Black Panther is available for streaming on Netflix. The film can also be rented on platforms like YouTube and Amazon.
The popular biopic film following the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is also one of this year’s highest grossing films, ranking 7th in overall international sales. Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film garnered a large fan following and has gained momentum during awards season thus far, even winning Best Motion Picture- Drama at the Golden Globes. Although not likely a contender for the Best Picture prize, Rami Malek is highly favored to win Best Actor for his realistic and larger-than-life portrayal of Mercury. I loved Bohemian Rhapsody for its visual effects and attention to detail, but like most critics, saw Malek’s role as the best and most impactful part of the film.
Best ways to watch: Bohemian Rhapsody is still playing in select theaters, but can also be rented for $5.99 on platforms like iTunes and YouTube.
This period piece takes place in 18th century England, and depicts the desperate and at times extreme lengths that cousins Sarah and Abigail go through to win the favor of reigning Queen Anne. The film includes elements of humor as well as a star-studded cast, several of whom are nominated for awards like Best Actress (Olivia Colman) and Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz). Something that stood out to me about The Favourite was the unique cinematography, editing and set design, all of which also proved impressive to the Academy, with the film receiving 10 overall nominations. I personally saw Olivia Colman’s performance as Oscar-worthy, but the most likely category The Favourite will take on Sunday is Best Original Screenplay.
Best ways to watch: The Favourite can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon or YouTube for $14.99.
Green Book depicts a bouncer from an Italian American neighborhood in the Bronx who forms a friendship with a renowned African American pianist while serving as his driver. The film takes place in the 1960’s, and revolves around the bond made between the two characters during the pianist’s concert tour in the South. Unfortunately, Green Book is the only Best Picture-nominated film I have yet to see, but the movie is expected to pick up several awards on Oscars night. Along with being a definite contender for the Best Picture prize, Green Book is nominated in categories like Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen), and Mahershala Ali is highly favored to win for Best Supporting Actor.
Best ways to watch: Green Book is currently still showing in theaters, and can be bought on platforms like Amazon for $14.99.
Out of all of the nominated films I have seen, Roma personally stood out to me the most. The film depicts the story of Cleo, a live-in maid for a middle-class family in Mexico City. The film is in Spanish but can easily be watched with English subtitles, and is shot completely in black and white. The film’s symbolism, cinematography and realistic depiction stood out to film critics, and landed the movie 10 Academy Awards nominations. If Roma wins Best Picture (which is likely), it would be the first foreign language film in history to take that category. Along with Best Picture, Alfonso Cuarón is favored to win for Best Director, creating the film as one heavily inspired by his childhood and home growing up.
Best ways to watch: Roma is available to stream on Netflix.
Vice was another of my favorite films this year due to the unique film editing and creative take on what could have been a standard biopic of former vice president Dick Cheney. The film depicts the life story of Cheney from his days working as a lineman in Wyoming to his time serving in the Bush administration. Although the film received mixed reviews and was deemed by many as inaccurate, I viewed the exaggerated dialogue and mannerisms as an intentional choice on Vice’s part, although the overall portrayal was definitely not a positive one. Christian Bale’s transformative performance as Cheney establishes him as Malek’s biggest competition for Best Actor, and the film also received seven other nominations in categories like Best Director and Best Supporting Actress and Actor (Sam Rockwell and Amy Adams).
Best ways to watch: Vice may still be showing in select theaters, and will become available to watch on platforms like Amazon and iTunes for $14.99 in March.
The Oscars will be airing at 8 p.m. ET, and can be streamed through ABC’s website or the ABC app.