CHICAGO - Despite the usual snubs, flubs and surprises, the Academy Award nominations were actually pretty solid this year. In addition to honoring great performances like Penelope Cruz in "Parallel Mothers," Andrew Garfield in "Tick, Tick … Boom!" and Denzel Washington in "The Tragedy of Macbeth," the Academy also rounded up an appreciably diverse list of Best Picture nominees.
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There’s something for everyone here, from the over-the-top comedy of "Don’t Look Up" to the heartwarming family stories of "Belfast," "CODA" and "King Richard" to the serene depths of "Drive My Car" and the musical fantasia of "West Side Story."
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We’ve put together a guide for where you can stream, watch or buy the 10 Best Picture nominees. And since we could all use more stuff to watch these days, we’ve also rounded up recommendations for movies (and TV shows) that echo or influence them in some way — all of which are streaming (for free!) on Tubi.
Belfast (in theaters; available to buy on VOD)
Jamie Dornan (left) stars as "Pa" and Caitriona Balfe (right) stars as "Ma" in director Kenneth Branagh's BELFAST, a Focus Features release. Credit : Rob Youngson / Focus Features
The premise: "From lauded director Kenneth Branagh, and starring an acclaimed ensemble cast, "Belfast" is a personal and joyful story about the power of memory, set in late 1960s Northern Ireland. At the center of the film is Buddy, a young boy on the cusp of adolescence, whose life is filled with familial love, childhood hijinks, and a blossoming romance. Yet, with his beloved hometown caught up in increasing turmoil, his family faces a momentous choice: hope the conflict will pass or leave everything they know behind for a new life."
The recommendations: It’d only be natural to pair writer/director Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-nominated drama with his 1989 directorial debut, "Henry V." But this sweet, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story really has more in common with "My Girl" than it does a Shakespearean epic. Given that "Belfast" is a love letter to Branagh’s Irish hometown that ends with a big musical number, it would also make for a nice informal trilogy with John Carney’s own Irish musical love letters, "Once" and "Sing Street."
- WHERE TO WATCH: In theaters or purchase on VOD
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 7
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Henry V / My Girl / Once / Sing Street
CODA (streaming on AppleTV+)
Emilia Jones in "CODA."
The premise: "Gifted with a voice that her parents can’t hear, seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones), is the sole hearing member of a deaf family—a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams."
The recommendations: Troy Kotsur earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his great supporting turn in "CODA," making him the first deaf man nominated for an acting Oscar. And it’s worth seeking him out as a romantic lead in the 2016 period romance "Wild Prairie Rose." In terms of other movies that capture the same vibe as "CODA," there’s the fellow Sundance breakout teen dramedy "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl." Plus you can find similar quirky family dynamics (and a small town Massachusetts setting) in the sweet 1990 Cher/Winona Ryder/Christina Ricci comedy-drama "Mermaids."
- WHERE TO WATCH: Streaming on AppleTV+
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 3
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Wild Prairie Rose / Me and Earl and the Dying Girl / Mermaids
Don’t Look Up (streaming on Netflix)
DON'T LOOK UP (L to R) JONAH HILL as JASON ORLEAN, LEONARDO DICAPRIO as DR. RANDALL MINDY, MERYL STREEP as PRESIDENT JANIE ORLEAN, JENNIFER LAWRENCE as KATE DIBIASKY. Cr. NIKO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX © 2021
The premise: "Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy grad student, and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) make an astounding discovery of a comet orbiting within the solar system. The problem — it’s on a direct collision course with Earth. The other problem? No one really seems to care. Turns out warning mankind about a planet-killer the size of Mount Everest is an inconvenient fact to navigate. With the help of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), Kate and Randall embark on a media tour that takes them from the office of an indifferent President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her sycophantic son and Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), to the airwaves of The Daily Rip, an upbeat morning show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry). With only six months until the comet makes impact, managing the 24-hour news cycle and gaining the attention of the social media obsessed public before it’s too late proves shockingly comical — what will it take to get the world to just look up?!"
The recommendations: For better (or for worse), "Don’t Look Up" is a comedic concoction all its own. That makes it hard to recommend a direct parallel for Adam McKay’s star-studded dark comedy about the end of the world. But if you mix the apocalyptic drepression of "Melancholia" with the principled debate of "12 Angry Men" and the political absurdity of "The Interview," you might come close. Maybe. Sort of. A little.
- WHERE TO WATCH: Streaming on Netflix
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 4
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Melancholia / 12 Angry Men / The Interview
Drive My Car (in select theaters)
Hidetoshi Nishijima and Toko Miura in "Drive My Car," directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Photo: Sideshow/Janus Films
The premise: "A visualization — more than an adaptation — of Haruki Murakami’s eponymous short story, "Drive My Car" is a road movie sui generis that travels paths of loneliness, loss, and bereavement, and investigates the deepest meaning of artistic representation as a universal key to understanding human nature."
The recommendations: What makes this humanistic Japanese epic special is the hypnotic intensity writer/director Ryusuke Hamaguchi maintains throughout its three-hour runtime. There’s something of that slow-burn pacing in James Ivory’s British romantic drama "Remains of the Day," starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. And though "Drive My Car" isn’t a thriller (it’s actually a grounded drama about a multilingual production of a Chekhov play), it still put us in the mind of Chang Dong Lee’s tense psychological drama "Burning." Or if you came away just wanting to see more from magnetic leading man Hidetoshi Nishijima, you can watch him play an ex-detective in the 2016 horror thriller "Creepy," or a humble bodyguard in the 2011 Japanese rom-com TV series "99 Days With the Superstar."
- WHERE TO WATCH: In select theaters
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 4
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Mother / Burning / Drive / Creepy / 99 Days With the Superstar
Dune (in select theaters; available to rent or buy on VOD; streaming on HBO Max starting March 10)
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ adventure "DUNE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures.
The premise: "A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, "Dune" tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive."
The recommendations: It’s hard to find a modern day space opera that doesn’t owe at least something to Frank Herbert’s wildly influential 1965 novel "Dune," which director Denis Villeneuve stunningly re-adapts for the big screen. That includes "Battlestar Galactica," the 2004 sci-fi series about space politics and cosmic survival. A re-imagining of the 1978 series of the same name, "Battlestar Galactica" helped kick off the golden age of TV. And its mix of militarized space travel, socio-political metaphors and high-octane thrills puts it right in line with "Dune." (Or if you just like watching Jason Momoa in space, you can check out his 2014 low-budget sci-fi horror thriller "Debug.")
- WHERE TO WATCH: In select theaters or rent/purchase on VOD; streaming on HBO Max starting March 10
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 10
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Battlestar Galactica (four seasons) / Debug
King Richard (in select theaters; available to buy on VOD)
KING RICHARD - Will Smith, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney - Warner Bros.
The premise: "Based on the true story that will inspire the world, Warner Bros. Pictures’ "King Richard" follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who will end up changing the sport of tennis forever. Two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith ("Ali," "The Pursuit of Happyness," "Bad Boys for Life") stars as Richard, under the direction of Reinaldo Marcus Green ("Monsters and Men"). Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to the global stage as legendary icons. The profoundly moving film shows the power of family, perseverance and unwavering belief as a means to achieve the impossible and impact the world."
The recommendations: What’s unique about "King Richard" is the way it combines a sports movie origin story of two world-class female athletes with a moving family drama about Black resilience and love. And you can see echoes of those individual threads in two very different movies: "A League of Their Own" is a baseball classic about women athletes carving out their own space game by game. Meanwhile, the Sidney Poitier-led drama "A Raisin in the Sun" is a timeless look at a Black family striving for the American dream. Or, hey, if you’re just looking for another crowd-pleaser about what it takes to be a coach, there’s always the beloved high school football TV series "Friday Night Lights."
- WHERE TO WATCH: In select theaters or purchase on VOD
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 6
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: A League of Their Own / A Raisin in the Sun / Friday Night Lights (five seasons)
Licorice Pizza (in theaters)
LICORICE PIZZA - Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman - MGM
The premise: ""Licorice Pizza" is the story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film tracks the treacherous navigation of first love."
The recommendations: Paul Thomas Anderson’s groovy 1970s nostalgia trip would pair nicely with his other two ‘70s-set films, "Boogie Nights" and "Inherent Vice." But it would also make a great double feature with "The Graduate,"Mike Nichols’ iconic tale of 20-something ennui and age-gap relationships. Or if the general romanticism of "Licorice Pizza" is more your thing, why not partner it with the innovative rom-com "(500) Days of Summer" or the great walk-and-talk romance of "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset."
- WHERE TO WATCH: In theaters
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 3
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: The Graduate / 500 Days of Summer / Before Sunrise / Before Sunset
Nightmare Alley (in theaters; streaming on Hulu and HBO Max)
Bradley Cooper in 'Nightmare Alley'
The premise: "When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society. With the virtuous Molly (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet."
The recommendations: With its romantic story of side show trickery, "Nightmare Alley" has a lot in common with "The Illusionist," the Edward Norton magician mystery that came out the same year as "The Prestige." You could also lean into the noir angle of "Nightmare Alley" with the classic Alfred Hitchcock thrillers "Dial M For Murder" and "Notorious." Or what about the schlocky 1960s circus horror of "Circus of Horrors" and "Circus of Fear"? We’re pretty sure director Guillermo del Toro and his cabinet of curiosities would approve.
- WHERE TO WATCH: In theaters or streaming on Hulu and HBO Max
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 4
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: The Illusionist / Dial M For Murder / Notorious / Circus of Horrors / Circus of Fear
The Power of the Dog (streaming on Netflix)
THE POWER OF THE DOG BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK in THE POWER OF THE DOG. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix
The premise: "The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, revelling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?"
The recommendations: Jane Campion’s sumptuous revisionist Western would pair nicely with any of Hollywood’s revered classics in the genre, from John Wayne’s "Stagecoach" to James Stewart’s "Broken Arrow" to Kevin Costner’s ‘90s epic "Dances with Wolves." For something more outside the box, however, there’s the patient filmmaking and queer theming of Todd Haynes’ "Carol." Or what about the classic American story of brotherhood and tragedy, "Of Mice and Men"?
- WHERE TO WATCH: Streaming on Netflix
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 12
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Stagecoach / Broken Arrow / Dances with Wolves / Carol / Of Mice and Men
West Side Story (in theaters; streaming on Disney+ and HBO Max starting March 2)
Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo in 20th Century Studios' WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
The premise: "Directed by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tony Kushner, "West Side Story" tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City."
The recommendations: Naturally, the perfect complement to "West Side Story" is its original Shakespearean source material. And few adaptations are more striking than Baz Luhrmann’s modern day dress interpretation, "William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet." Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes set a generation on fire with their passionate portrayal of the eponoymous lovers. And that’s not even mentioning Harold Perrineau’s scene-stealing turn as Mercutio. But if you’ve seen that version too many times (is that even possible?), there’s also a period-set version starring Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth and 2022 Oscar nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee ("The Power of the Dog") from 2013. And Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad also starred in a Broadway production that was filmed live on stage.
- WHERE TO WATCH: In theaters; streaming on Disney+ and HBO Max starting March 2
- TOTAL NOMINATIONS: 7
- WATCH FREE ON TUBI: William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) / Romeo & Juliet (2013) / Romeo & Juliet (live on Broadway)
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she lovingly dissects the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her ongoing column When Romance Met Comedy at The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
More awards-worthy entertainment streaming (for free!) on Tubi
Nine (2009): After reviving the modern day movie musical with "Chicago," director Rob Marshall attempted to bring the same flair to "Nine." Based on a semi-autobiographical Federico Fellini classic, "Nine" stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a 1960s Italian filmmaker suffering from writer's block. But the real reason to watch is the star-studded female ensemble, who helped lead the film to four Oscar nominations and five Golden Globes nods. Rated PG-13. 118 minutes. Dir: Rob Marshall. Also featuring: Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren.
Lion (2016): Dev Patel transformed his career (and his public image) with this critically acclaimed true story of a young Indian-Australian man who becomes determined to find his lost birth family. With four Golden Globe nominations, six Oscar nods and two BAFTA wins, it’s a cross-cultural story that resonated around the world. Rated PG-13. 118 minutes. Dir: Garth Davis. Also featuring: Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, Priyanka Bose, David Wenham.
Lilies of the Field (1963): The great Sidney Poitier made history when he won a well-deserved Oscar for this comedic drama, an adaptation of William Edmund Barrett’s 1962 novel. Poitier plays Homer, a nomad with long-dormant dreams of becoming an architect. When he meets a group of nuns trying to make a life in the harsh Arizona desert, however, he’s persuaded to stay on and help with a number of small jobs, then some medium-sized jobs and finally a whole church-sized job. It’s a charming film anchored by Poitier’s warm presence and thoughtful performance — a turn that will appeal to believers and non-believers alike. Rated TV-PG. 94 minutes. Dir: Ralph Nelson. Featuring: Sidney Poitier, Stanley Adams, Lilia Skala.
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