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Oscar-nominated films to binge over Easter

For the first time ever, this year's Oscar-nominated flicks are available for the public to see – before the awards ceremony. Here are the potential winners streaming this weekend.

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Produced by Michelle and Barack Obama, Crip Camp is a soul-nourishing documentary about an upstate New York summer camp for teens with disabilities. Photo: Netflix

This year’s gong season culminates with the Academy Awards at the end of April (Sunday 25). It’s the most diverse Oscar nominee list ever, with several categories featuring a majority of nominees of colour, and Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao continuing her historic award-season run as the first woman of colour to be nominated for Best Director, competing in a category that features – for the first time – two women (the other being Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman).

Since the Academy modified eligibility guidelines as a result of the pandemic, many titles are already available on streaming platforms this year, with (surprise surprise) Netflix leading the pack. Its original films have picked up 35 Oscar nominations in total (beating its own previous record of 24 in 2020), ahead of all other Hollywood studios. To put that in context, United Artists holds the most-ever nominations with 45 for its 1941 slate – which makes Netflix’s 2021 tally the second-best in Oscar history.

Even if some titles aren’t available to stream in Germany – with a few major awards players like the bet-your-bottom-dollar-it’s-the-soon-to-be-Best-Picture-winner Nomadland, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Another Round and The Father still slated for cinema release this month (all of which have been reviewed in our April issue) – there are still plenty of Oscar-worthy films to catch right now from the comfort of your sofa.

Here are our top 10 Oscar-nominated films to binge this weekend – before the ceremony itself on April 25.


Nominated for: 10 awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Oscar chances: Mank may end up as one of the biggest losers at this year’s Oscars, considering the nomination-to-win ratio, joining last year’s The Irishman which went home empty-handed despite its 10 category nods.

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 4/5

Directed by David Fincher, Mank was always tipped as Netflix’s overt bid for Oscar glory this year. It leads the pack with 10 nominations in total across most major categories – even if it was snubbed, somewhat surprisingly, for the Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing. Safe to say that Mank’s Best Picture hopes evaporated a wee while back, with Nomadland tapped to win the big prize on the night. However, this superb and unapologetically dense black-and-white biographical drama is still well worth a watch. It’s both a sophisticated love letter to Hollywood and a nostalgia-free takedown of the film industry’s knotty realities.


Nominated for: 6 awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Original Screenplay and Best Sound.

Oscar chances: Its best chances for Oscar glory are Nicolas Becker’s outstanding sound design and Paul Raci for Best Supporting Actor.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Rating: 5/5

Darius Marder’s brilliantly accomplished feature-length debut stars the fantastic Riz Ahmed as Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer whose life is thrown into free fall when he starts to lose his hearing. Voices are muffled, noises are muted, and the viewer is immersed in his existential crisis. Ahmed – the first Muslim Best Actor nominee in Oscar history – is at his finest here: he learned drumming and sign language for the role, and ensures that this character drama dodges the shop-worn clichés linked to disability. The film never sensationalises the character’s condition and does justice to the community it represents.


Nominated for: 6 awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Editing.

Oscar chances: While Aaron Sorkin missed out on a Best Director nod for his second venture behind the camera, The Trial Of The Chicago 7 seems like the frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay.

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

This courtroom thriller focusing on the Chicago 7 case ticks all the Oscar movie boxes: a film about injustice, a politically-charged biopic, an eye-wateringly impressive ensemble cast portraying real-life individuals. There’s no doubt throughout that Sorkin can write a cracking courtroom drama – with his trademark motormouthed walk-and-talks and brilliantly crafted sentences – but there’s an unwarranted sense of self-importance and congratulation that sneaks in towards the tail end of the film and ends up diluting the overall message. The less said about Sorkin’s abilities to write female characters, the better. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 remains a very engaging – if not profound – film while you’re watching.


Nominated for: 5 awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Production Design.

Oscar chances: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom missed out on the Best Picture category, but will doubtlessly see the late Chadwick Boseman win a posthumous award for Best Actor.

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 4/5

Directed by Tony Award-winner George C. Wolfe, this adaptation of August Wilson’s 1982 play of the same name centres on the tensions that arise during a fateful recording session by “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) in 1927. The film makes Viola Davis the most-nominated Black actress (four in total, alongside Doubt, The Help, and her Best Supporting Actress win for Fences), but its legacy remains bittersweet due to Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing. The actor, who died from cancer aged 43 last August, looks set to become the second star to win a posthumous Best Actor Oscar after Peter Finch, who won in 1977 for Network.


Nominated for: Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Oscar chances: Vanessa Kirby won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in Venice last year, but her Oscar chances seem slim, in a particularly strong category that includes Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday).

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

Kornél Mundruczó (White God) returned with Pieces Of A Woman, an affecting exploration of grief that follows a couple (Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf) as they experience the loss of their first child shortly after birth. It’s a devastating, heartfelt depiction of motherhood and bereavement, and the way trauma is conveyed is utterly bracing – particularly in the film’s opening act, an intensely claustrophobic 23-minute single take. The film is undeniably let down by its on-the-nose metaphors and truckloads of obvious symbolism, as well as an ending that’s far too neat. However, it is definitely worth a watch for that unforgettable opening act, and Vanessa Kirby’s stunning performance.


Nominated for: 3 awards: Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score and Best Sound.

Oscar chances: There’s little doubt in anyone’s minds that Pixar’s latest film is set to win in all three of its categories, especially Best Original Score, by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste.

Where to watch: Disney+

Rating: 3/5

Not content with simply personifying feelings à la Inside Out, writer/director Pete Docter anthropomorphised the concept of the soul in this existential tale of grabbing life by both hands. It’s debatable whether Soul should win Best Animated Feature Film: even if it’s wonderful to see Pixar deftly and empathically explore huge ideas about life, death and one’s purpose on this planet, it doesn’t live up to some of the studio’s high points, and the feel-good ending arrives far too abruptly. Plus, we’re Team Wolfwalkers all the way (see below).


Nominated for: Best Animated Feature Film.

Oscar chances: Soul will take it, even if an Oscar win would be a great way of cementing Cartoon Saloon’s already stellar reputation – showing that the animation category isn’t just about celebrating the big Pixar and Disney players year after year.

Where to watch: AppleTV

Rating: 5/5

Directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, from a script by Jericca Cleland and Will Collins, this moving and magical Irish film from the Kilkenny-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon (The Secret Of Kells, Song Of The Sea) is an absolute masterpiece. It’s a hand-drawn modern classic as rich in drama and thematic layers as it is in visual gorgeousness. Beyond the Avatar and Brave comparisons, this vibrant animation film functions as something of an eco-fable that is both historically specific and universal: we witness the Irish resentment of English colonisers and a more global story about settlers violently quashing pagan traditions.


Nominated for: Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature.

Oscar chances: A tie with Crip Camp (see below) for Best Documentary. Win or no, Alexander Nanau’s film is not just recommended but required viewing.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Rating: 5/5

The Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature categories are always the most exciting, and this year is no exception. Collective stands out, not only for the first Romanian International Oscar nomination, but because it’s genuinely one of the most important investigative documentaries since 2014’s Citizenfour. Alexander Nanau’s documentary about the fire that breaks out during a free rock concert at a nightclub in Bucharest and its aftermath exposes corruption, fraud, and puts the spotlight on the responsibility-evading tactics and barefaced lies of the Romanian government. Just when you think he’s uncovered the core of the issue, further scandals are revealed in a rotten Pandora’s box that keeps on spewing.


Nominated for: Best Documentary Feature.

Oscar chances: This could be one of the big Netflix wins on the night.

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 4/5

Produced by Michelle and Barack Obama and directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, this soul-nourishing doc is an origin story of sorts about Camp Jened, affectionately nicknamed “Crip Camp”. It’s an upstate New York summer camp for teens with disabilities, one which had become a safe haven by the 1970s. By giving voice to a community unheard for so long, the film becomes inspiring testimony to teenagers who found acceptance and gained the confidence to fight for disability rights. The footage is excellent, the stories engrossing, and the film balances righteous anger with a great deal of uplift.


Nominated for: Best Documentary Feature.

Oscar chances: This crowd-pleasing, lightweight nominee is good escapist fun, but not much else.

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

It’s arguable that shortlisted documentaries like Welcome To Chechnya, The Painter And The Thief and Dick Johnson Is Dead would be more merited nominees than My Octopus Teacher. However, Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed’s beautifully-filmed nature documentary is worth a watch. Narrated by filmmaker and conservationist Craig Foster, My Octopus Teacher shows the unexpected soul connection between Foster and the stunning eight-limbed mollusc he encountered whilst diving in the underwater kelp forests off the southwestern tip of Cape Town. It feels like a cross between Disney and David Attenborough; as such, it pulls on the heartstrings a bit too heavily for comfort.

There we have it. Take your pick(s) – and don’t forget to grab a copy of the April EXBERLINER issue, which features reviews of Oscar-nominated films Nomadland, Promising Young Woman and Minari.