by Sarah Halfpenny
It’s time to pop the popcorn and do some serious movie viewing! The 94th Academy Awards ceremony is just a couple of weeks away. You can watch it for free on Channel 7 on Monday 28 March, with red carpet coverage in the morning and the awards starting at noon (AEDT). In the meantime, here are five of the films nominated for Best Picture that you can catch before the big event.
The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
This Western psychological drama was written and directed by New Zealander, Jane Campion. It’s the first film directed by a woman to receive more than ten Oscar nominations, and Jane is the first woman to receive more than one Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (all of whom received nominations for their performances) it tells the story of charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who inspires fear and awe in those around him and torments his brother, his brother’s new wife and her son until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Shot mostly across rural New Zealand, it covers themes of love, grief, resentment, jealousy, and sexuality.
Drive My Car (in cinemas)
Be prepared for a long one – this drama/road film has a 3-hour run time, but has received so much critical acclaim and is reportedly a favourite of former US President Barack Obama. It is the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture Academy Award. Based on a short story by acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami, it follows the life of Yūsuke Kafuku – a renowned stage actor and director – as he directs a multilingual production of ‘Uncle Vanya’ in Hiroshima and grapples with the death of his wife and the secrets she left behind.
CODA (Apple TV+)
A coming-of-age comedy-drama, CODA (which stands for Child of Deaf Adults) is an English-language remake of a 2014 French film, and the first production from Apple Original Films. It’s also the first movie nominated for Best Picture that stars a predominantly deaf cast in leading roles. As a CODA, Ruby (played by Emilia Jones) is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music by wanting to go to Berklee College of Music, and her fear of abandoning her parents (played by Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur).
West Side Story (Disney+)
The second film adaptation of the popular 1957 musical, this version of West Side Story was directed by Steven Spielberg who held fast to the importance of representation and authenticity in the new remake. It explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The film features music composed by Leonard Bernstein, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
A mix of black comedy, drama and sci-fi, this brilliant film tells the story of two low-level astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) who must go on an extensive media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth, and convince the American President (Meryl Streep) of the urgency. The impact event is an allegory for climate change, and the film is a satire of government, political, celebrity, and media indifference to the climate crisis. It also stars Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who is the first actress in history to have credited roles in nine Best Picture nominees, surpassing Olivia de Havilland’s record of eight.