It’s little surprise that the most-awaited film awards of the year have postponed their proceedings owing to the ongoing pandemic. But the 93rd Academy Awards, now slated to take place on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in LA, will be a fierce faceoff between films that reached and connected with audiences through various platforms. The front-runners this year include Chloé Zhao’s road movie Nomadland, David Fincher’s Mank (a biography of Citizen Cane writer Herman J. Mankiewicz), among others. This year has also seen a spike in the releases on streamers which are being pegged as hot Oscar contenders. This list includes Regina King’s compelling retelling of Kemp Power’s play, One Night in Miami, Sacha Baron Cohen’s hilarious mockumentary Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and the Riz Ahmed-starer Sound of Metal, which is a heartbreaking story of a metal drummer struggling to accept his hearing impairment (all three are available on Amazon Prime Video).
Can’t wait for all the Oscar action? Here are a few Academy winners from previous years that you can stream right away on Amazon Prime Video:
Those familiar with Spike Jonze’s ability to suspend reality in films such as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation have surely heard of this critically-acclaimed sci-fi hit starring Joaquin Phoenix. Nominated for five Oscars, Her bagged the one for Best writing (original screenplay) for its story about a man (Phoenix) in the not-so-distant future who gets inexplicably entangled in a relationship with the voice emitted from an AI device. The popularity of smart devices that respond when spoken to, keeping us forever entertained, informed and educated makes this story only more credible. After all, we can actually imagine a future where our unbridled reliance on these programmed persons could translate in an attachment that would be difficult to articulate, let alone accept. Her furnishes a visceral, heart-rending experience of a lonely man who falls for an AI entity voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
This release around the turn of the century impressed Russel Crowe fans and critics alike. So it was hardly a surprise when the Ron Howard film swept the Oscars, bagging four trophies (Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director and Best Writing). As the lead, Crowe slips into the idiosyncrasies of Dr John Forbes Nash Jr, a gifted mathematician who happened to be inflicted with schizophrenia. The film follows a typical three-arc construct — a promising career threatened to extinction by mental illness and later, redeemed through the man’s indomitable spirit. Howard elevates this exceptional story with his cinematic flourishes while consistently ensuring that it remains accessible for one to empathise with the film’s damaged genius.
Based on the disturbing novel by Emma Donoghue, this one features an emotional story of a five-year-old who’s born in captivity and his ‘Ma’ has him believe that the world is confined to the four walls that he’s never left. The construct is sort-of similar to Life is Beautiful where a parent fabricates a comforting tale to shield the child from the dangerous reality. Despite being a story of imprisonment and abuse, it hits the spot for depicting a mother’s unbridled devotion to her son, as she strives to protect him. Brie Larson, who plays the mother, picked up the Academy Award for Best Actress while the film received three other nominations.
Interconnected stories about racial discrimination and harassment are packed in this Paul Haggis directorial which won three Oscars (Best Picture, Writing and Editing).
This happens to be one of the few films that highlight the muted racial undertones that punctuate American society, which is otherwise known for its uber inclusivity. And since the narrative strives to place audiences in the shoes of its characters, one is almost privy to a visceral experience just as it’s endured by those on the screen. It’s a film that compels you to consider the marginalised position that some are confined to and the prejudices that force them to behave a certain way. Despite being essentially an indie film, it boasts a cast that includes the likes of Thandie Newton, Sandra Bullocks and Matt Dillon (each packing powerhouse performances).
Recommendations in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video.