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Looking to watch top Oscar nominees before the 94th Academy Awards air on March 27? There are many ways to get that done, including a trip to a theater in some cases. Here’s a few other ways, though it’s worth looking around as many have myriad paths to digitally buy, rent and stream:
Streaming On HBO MAX
Dune — It’s no longer streaming on HBO Max but worth watching for its return. Meanwhile, digital rentals and purchases are plentiful, including on Amazon Prime Video and through Apple TV+, iTunes and Google Play. The sweeping desert sci-fi saga based on Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 novel received 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture and cinematography. It stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. Denis Villeneuve directed.
King Richard — Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the story of Richard Williams — father, coach and driving force behind tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams — has Will Smith in the leading role. The film earned six Oscar nominations, including one for Smith, the young Aunjanue Ellis, best picture and original song for “Be Alive” by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. It’s an intimate, authorized view of the family and their rise from Compton, California, to the top of the tennis world. The film is no longer streaming for HBO Max subscribers but may someday come back. Available at a cost on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Redbox, YouTube and more.
Nightmare Alley — This Guillermo del Toro remake of the 1947 neo-noir classic earned four Oscar nods, including best picture and cinematography. The cast is star packed: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn. It’s the story of the brief rise of a handsome hustler, from low level carney to highly paid showman. It’s also streaming for Hulu subscribers.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye — The rise-and-fall story of televangelist power couple Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker secured Chastain her third Oscar nomination. The film received two nods, including makeup and hairstyling — notable for the brash Tammy. Andrew Garfield plays Bakker.
Spencer — Kristen Stewart’s unhinged Princess Diana earned her a best actress Oscar nomination after snubs from the British academy and the Screen Actors Guild. Director Pablo Larraín takes a tragic surreal approach in this biopic. Though reviews were mixed, some critics consider it an evocative and artful look at one of the most famous women to ever live. It’s set over a Christmas weekend with the royal family that preceded her divorce from Prince Charles.
Flee — With the exception of live-action archival footage, this grand jury prize winner at Sundance is entirely animated. It’s the story of Amin, a pseudonym for a refugee boy who filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen befriended in his sleepy Danish town when he himself was 15. Amin didn’t talk about his past in Afghanistan or his family when they were kids. It took Amin some 20 years to open up to his friend.
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) — Thanks to Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival has received its due, and an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature. Held in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park), the film includes performances at the New York festival by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and more.
ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Belfast — Based on the childhood of Kenneth Branagh, this black-and-white film received seven Oscar nominations, including best picture, a directing nod for Branagh, best supporting actress for Judi Dench and supporting actor for her screen husband, Ciarán Hinds. Absent was a notch for star Jamie Dornan. The film was one of the first shot in Britain after lockdown in 2021. It stars Dornan as a Belfast dad struggling to keep his family safe as the troubles began in 1969. It’s no longer streaming for subscribers but may return. Available at a cost on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, YouTube, Redbox, Vudu and more.
Being the Ricardos — This behind the scenes look at the work and marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz received three acting nominations: Javier Bardem as Desi, Nicole Kidman as Lucy and J.K. Simmons in a supporting role. Aaron Sorkin has created a loving and sharp dramatization of a particularly fraught week during the making of the TV classic “I Love Lucy.”
Coming 2 America — This sequel to the Eddie Murphy hit earned one Oscar nomination, for hair and makeup. With Murphy back as Prince Akeem — and three other characters — the comedy directed by Craig Brewer has things looking up a bit for women in Zamunda, post #MeToo. Yes, it’s still a patriarchy and yes, there are still obedient royal bathers. Also starring Jermaine Fowler, Tracy Morgan, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, KiKi Layne and more.
ON APPLE TV+
CODA — Apple received its first best-picture nomination with this drama, which also made history as supporting actor nominee Troy Kotsur became only the second deaf actor ever nominated. (His “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin was the first.) It was also nominated for best adapted screenplay. The film follows the Rossi family of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Ruby, a high school senior, is the only hearing member of her family and often their only connection to the hearing world.
The Tragedy of Macbeth — Joel Coen directed, with Denzel Washington starring as a gray-haired Macbeth who knows in his aching bones that the witches’ prophecy has given him his last chance to be what he wants, no, deserves! King of Scotland. Washington’s turn at Shakespeare in this black-and-white version earned him a lead actor Oscar nod. The movie also received nominations for cinematography and production design. Frances McDormand co-stars.
Encanto — There’s something about this Disney animated feature. Rather, there’s something about the music that has tickled many. The soundtrack became the first from a film since 2019 to reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Its most popular song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” became the highest-charting song from a Disney animated film in more than 26 years, ranking higher than even “Let It Go.” The music magic was made by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The story is magical as well. It features a charmed family called the Madrigals in the Colombia mountains hamlet of Encanto. Miranda earned a nomination for original song (“Dos Oruguitas”) and its other noms are for original score (Germaine Franco) and best animated feature film.
Luca — The Disney and Pixar coming-of-age story about a boy and his summer on the Italian Riviera is among the contenders for best animated feature. Luca is voiced by Jacob Tremblay. He befriends another boy, Alberto, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer. There’s lots of seaside fun, but the two share a menacing secret. Directed by Enrico Casarosa.
Raya and the Last Dragon — Another film in the competition for best animated feature. Take a trip to Kumandra, where an evil force destroyed the harmony between humans and dragons 500 years ago. The dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, that evil has returned and warrior Raya goes in search of a legendary last dragon to restore order once again.
The Power of the Dog — The leading nominee with a dozen Oscar nods, including those for Kirsten Dunst, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. It also received a best picture nod and a best director nomination for Jane Campion. Cumberbatch is a rough-hewn Montana rancher with a menacing arrogance in a Gothic story brought alive on the Western plain.
Don’t Look Up — Adam McKay’s apocalyptic comedy nabbed four Oscar nominations, including best picture, original score and original screenplay. The climate change satire that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence gives Earth six months before a massive comet destroys the planet.
tick, tick … BOOM! — Andrew Garfield earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jonathan Larson, who upended the theater world as the creator of “Rent.” The adaption of an autobiographical musical by Larson, who died suddenly and young in 1996, was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature directorial debut and also earned a nod for film editing.
The Lost Daughter — Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson, it received three Oscar nominations, including nods for Colman and Buckley. The adaptation of an Elena Ferrante novel of the same name is a psychological drama that has Colman and Buckley in the same role as young and older versions of the sad and frustrated translator Leda Caruso, set on holiday in Greece.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines — The oddball Mitchell family must quell an uprising by the world’s electronic devices while on a road trip to drop off daughter Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) for her first year of film school. Thank goodness for two friendly robots. The best animated feature nominee is directed by Mike Rianda, who made “Gravity Falls.” Also available at a cost on Apple TV+, Disney+, Vudu, Redbox and more.
ONLY IN THEATERS
Among the Oscar nominees are some notables playing solely in theaters, for now.
They include the 1970s-set Licorice Pizza with three nominations: best picture, director (Paul Thomas Anderson) and original screenplay. Set in sunny Southern California, it’s a charmingly loose love letter to the San Fernando Valley of Anderson’s youth.
Drive My Car from Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi. It’s a three-hour drama with four major Oscar nominations, including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay. It was adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story. The film follows a widowed actor played by Hidetoshi Nishijima. He seeks a chauffeur and winds up with a taciturn 20-year-old girl, played by Toko Miura. A touching friendship develops against a backdrop of loss and sorrow.
Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of West Side Story is still playing in theaters, but it will be available to Disney+ subscribers starting March 2. His version of the 1961 classic received seven Oscar nominations, including best picture, and director for him. Ariana DeBose was nominated for her Anita. Spielberg, Tony Kushner and Steven Sondheim dug deep to reconsider the iconic Romeo and Juliet tale that has the Sharks and the Jets front and center in New York City.