Skip to main content

10 Oscar-Nominated Movies and Where to Watch Them

Everyone’s opinion on the 10 best movies of the year is going to be different, and the Oscars have the impossible task of providing their list to an enormous audience when they announce their best picture lineup. This year’s nominees encompass a diverse array of genres and filmmaking styles, and everyone may not agree on whether each of them deserved a spot on the list.

Ultimately, though, the best picture nominees are a solid representation of what has happened over the past year at the movies. There are titles from services like Netflix and Apple TV+, but others that played in movie theaters before finding a second home on streaming. Now, as the Oscars approach, many people are looking to catch up on the titles that were nominated this year. Thankfully, that won’t be as difficult as it might have been in years past.

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story.
20th Century Studios

Belfast (2021)

Belfast
75%
7.3/10
98m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Jude Hill, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench
Directed by
Kenneth Branagh
Watch on Amazon
Kenneth Branagh’s personal tale about growing up in Ireland during the Troubles works in part because it holds the perspective of the child at all times. The movie is about feeling nostalgic for a period in history in which things were actually terrible, and reckoning with what it means to have lived a relatively happy life amid such turbulence and upheaval. Belfast is a small, quietly profound movie about a family learning to live in an unstable world, and it features great performances from a wonderful, tight ensemble.

CODA (2021)

CODA
74%
8/10
112m
Genre
Drama, Music, Romance
Stars
Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur
Directed by
Siân Heder
Watch on Apple TV+
CODA debuted at the Sundance Film Festival more than a year ago, and its persistence in the Oscar race speaks to the power of its relatively straightforward story. The film follows a child of deaf adults who has a passion for music and finds her ambitions butting up against her parents’ expectations. None of this is unfamiliar territory, but CODA always leads with the emotions of its characters, and its ensemble cast may be the very best of the year. CODA isn’t always the most subtle film, but it is deeply moving in a way that few movies on this list dare to be.

Don't Look Up (2021)

Don't Look Up
49%
7.2/10
143m
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction
Stars
Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep
Directed by
Adam McKay
Watch on Netflix
Adam McKay doesn’t care much for subtlety, and Don’t Look Up is very much in line with his most didactic qualities. The film tells the story of a pair of astronomers who discover that there’s a massive meteor headed towards Earth that could destroy the planet, and try to get anyone to do anything about it. Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio are great in the central roles, but it’s McKay’s anger that shines through most brightly. Don’t Look Up is about government inaction, but in its quieter finale, it’s also about how easy it is to take everything, from the people around you, down to the very air you breathe, for granted.

Drive My Car (2021)

Drive My Car
91%
7.6/10
179m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Masaki Okada
Directed by
Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Watch on HBO Max
There were plenty of commercial releases in 2021, but Drive My Car was emphatically not one of them. The movie unfolds over three hours, and tells the story of a theater director who first discovers that his wife has been cheating on him, and then loses her completely. It’s a movie about the process of grieving that never feels preachy or overly sentimental, as this theater director begins putting on a Chekov play where many of the actors are speaking different languages. Drive My Car is about what it means to move on in the face of unimaginable loss, and it’s one of the best movies of a very good movie year.

Dune (2021)

Dune
74%
8/10
155m
Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure
Stars
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac
Directed by
Denis Villeneuve
Watch on Amazon
In a year filled with great blockbusters, nothing matched the sheer ambition of Dune. Adapting just half of Frank Herbert’s iconic novel, the film tells the story of a young man who finds himself completely adrift after arriving on a new planet and discovering that his powerful father has been overthrown in a violent coup. The movie may lack a sense of finality, but it works because of the total commitment of everyone involved. Timothee Chalamet is excellent as Paul, the story’s protagonist, but he’s matched by a wonderful cast and deeply immersive production design and seamless visual effects. Dune is a marvel to behold.

King Richard (2021)

King Richard
76%
7.5/10
145m
Genre
Drama, History
Stars
Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, Aunjanue Ellis
Directed by
Reinaldo Marcus Green
Watch on Amazon
Of all the movies on this list, King Richard may be the one most propelled by its central performance. Will Smith stars as the father of Serena and Venus Williams, and the movie works hard to complicate the man who managed to raise two tennis legends. The film chronicles both girls while they’re still teens, and makes it clear that they were able to succeed in part because of Richard’s ambitions on their behalf. What’s also clear, though, is how much Richard’s expectations could weigh on them, and how strange his parenting style could sometimes be. King Richard paints a portrait of a complicated man, even as it makes clear how successful his approach ultimately was.

Licorice Pizza (2021)

Licorice Pizza
90%
7.2/10
133m
Genre
Drama, Comedy
Stars
Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn
Directed by
Paul Thomas Anderson
Watch on Amazon
Licorice Pizza writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules. His films are wonders of tonal management, and they often operate more on a wavelength than on any strong, overarching plot. With Licorice Pizza, Anderson tells the story of two young people, one a teenager and one in her mid-twenties, trying to discover themselves against the backdrop of 1970s Los Angeles. It’s a story without any grand direction, but one in which every emotional beat is laid out pretty precisely. Licorice Pizza is about finding connection and validation in a world that is so often starved of those things, and how beautiful and sad life can be even when nothing much is happening.

Nightmare Alley (2021)

Nightmare Alley
70%
7/10
150m
Genre
Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars
Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara
Directed by
Guillermo del Toro
Watch on HBO Max
A remake of a 1940s noir of the same name, Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley is the director’s first movie without any concrete fantasy behind it. The movie, which tells the story of a carnie who becomes a successful mentalist, is ultimately a broader story about American profit and greed. It can feel long, and a little disjointed, but thanks in part to its stellar ensemble cast, anchored by a phenomenal Bradley Cooper, the movie’s inevitable final beats feel immensely satisfying. Nightmare Alley is a sprawling noir epic, and what makes it great is the ways in which it does and doesn’t update the conventions of that genre.

The Power of the Dog (2021)

The Power of the Dog
89%
6.8/10
127m
Genre
Drama, Western
Stars
Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
Directed by
Jane Campion
Watch on Netflix
Jane Campion’s return to feature filmmaking after more than a decade didn’t disappoint. The Power of the Dog is a western, but it’s unbound by many of the conventions that have defined that genre. Telling the story of a Montana rancher who responds cruelly when his brother decides to marry, the film is lyrical and subtle and ultimately reveals itself to contain many conventions of the thriller genre. Every moment is handled masterfully by Campion, and she’s recruited an all-star lineup of incredible actors to help make the movie sing.

West Side Story (2021)

West Side Story
85%
7.2/10
156m
Genre
Drama, Romance, Crime
Stars
Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Rita Moreno
Directed by
Steven Spielberg
Watch on HBO Max
Remaking West Side Story is perhaps the craziest idea Steven Spielberg has ever had, and this is the man who released Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in the same year. The remake updates the original in some key ways but is incredibly faithful in others. Starring a cast of largely unknown talent, Spielberg gives each member of his ensemble a moment to shine, but what’s most important to this adaptation of the musical is what the virtuoso director is able to do with his camera. The choreography, the colors, the movement, all of it feels wonderfully alive in a way that even the best movies rarely are. West Side Story is a staggering achievement.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Contributor
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
The 9 best movies to watch over Father’s Day weekend
Watch these films together and bond with your dad or father figure
Family watching TV together

In between grilling burgers and brats and checking sports scores, celebrating fatherhood presents a chance for men (and masculine-identifying people) to enjoy the people who appreciate and support them. Bonding over a great story on the big screen that both dads and children can relate to brings the entire family together for some fun!
Sure, they’ll still have to take out the garbage and clean the garage. But when the paternal figures in your life get an opportunity to rest on their day, the best Father's Day gift you can give is quality time. If his favorite hobby is watching movies, then you're in luck! Here are some Father's Day movies to watch with dear old Dad (Gramps, or Freat Grandpa). 

Daddy's Home (2015)

Read more
How to turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary
These tips will help you sleep better and feel rested in the morning
A redesigned bedroom with hardwood floors and a wood ceiling

Of all the rooms you'll spend time in over the course of your life, one of the most important is your bedroom. It’s where you start and end your day, and your mood when you wake up can affect your performance and attitude as you head out to take on the day.

When getting ready for bed at night, if you take the stresses of work and life to bed with you, you’re just not going to sleep well. As the place where you rest, recharge, and recenter yourself, your bedroom should be a sanctuary, a calming place that allows you to fully let go, relax, and get a good night’s sleep.

Read more
This is how long a Tempur-Pedic mattress lasts – plus, how to extend its lifespan
Tips to help your investment last longer
Tempur-Pedic Tempur Adapt mattress

Buying a Tempur-Pedic mattress is a process that should be done with an ample amount of care and consideration. Not only can mattresses be quite a significant financial investment, but because they serve as your foundation for sleeping night after night for what should be many years, it’s extremely important to buy a high-quality, comfortable mattress. After all, a poorly made mattress will break down prematurely and may fail to provide the support, pressure relief, temperature regulation, and comfort you need to get restful sleep. A bad mattress can even cause back, shoulder, hip, or neck pain, and if it does an inadequate job of arresting the transfer of motion, you may find yourself constantly disturbed by a bed partner's restlessness.

Tempur-Pedic mattresses are among the upper echelon of mattresses in terms of quality, comfort, and effective design, which is why they are consistently one of the most popular mattress purchases every year and adored by nearly every customer. Each Tempur-Pedic mattress model is specifically designed to precisely adapt to the weight, shape, and temperature of your body to eliminate potential pressure points and intimately contour to your body to provide maximal cradling support and comfort. The materials and construction of each mattress minimize motion transfer and enhance airflow and heat dispersion.

Read more