DIGITAL IMAGERY SPECIALIST
Oscars season is upon on us. It’s a time when every film lover with a Twitter account becomes a film critic, and nominations are cheered or reviled. But what if you just want to watch some movies? Where does one go to watch the Oscar nominees and judge for oneself how worthy they are of the golden statuette? Here are our recommendations for the best ways to watch Oscar-nominated films and shorts.
Film Streams is a special favorite of this writer. At the nonprofit cinema, you won’t find blockbusters. Instead, you’ll find independent and artistic films that probably would never find a place on the silver screen in Omaha. You can watch Oscar nominees such as “Little Women,” Greta Gerwig’s adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s story of young women growing up in the years after the Civil War; “Parasite,” South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s incisive exploration of class and privilege that will have you gripping the armrests until the very last frame; and “Les Miserables,” a French drama film from first-time director Ladj Ly who based the film off police violence, racial and ethnic tension and violence he witnessed and filmed in an effort to hold brutal police officers accountable.
Film Streams is also one of the few places you can watch all of the Oscar-nominated shorts. You can watch all of the shorts in the live action, animated and documentary categories. There’s something delightful about being able to enjoy so many stories in one sitting.
This streaming service is shaking up the world of movies. Viewers are trading in the ritual of going to the theater for the comfort of watching movies at home. Some might call this a great loss. How does one replace the smell of buttered popcorn, the thrill of watching trailers, the hush as the trailers end, sharing the experience of a good film with a crowd and the dazed exit into reality as one leaves the theater? And yet, now movies that never would have been called blockbusters can garner an international audience. You can watch “The Irishman,” a Martin Scorcese crime film based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. “The Irishman” is a doozy, not only in terms of its special effects which make the film Scorcese’s most expensive to date, but also in terms of its length. It’s three whole hours and a half! There are even blogs that help you plan your breaks. The fact that it’s on Netflix is a blessing in this case.
The other two Netflix-released Oscar nominees are “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes.” I’d like to think that it’d be devastatingly witty to call “The Two Popes” a film of “Catholic insider baseball set against the glory of Vatican hallowed halls and Michaelangelo’s frescoes” but that wouldn’t give enough credit to the heart, gravitas and nuance of the film which explores the tension and friendship between the two men we know as Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI (played by Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, respectively).
“Marriage Story,” directed by Noah Baumbach, is also about friendship, one that’s set within the frame of divorce and a fraying marriage. Baumbach is so intent on harnessing the emotive power of every one of Scarlett Johanssen and Adam Driver’s movements and reactions, that the film is set in a close 1.66 aspect ratio that frames and humanizes a film so interested in the dehumanizing and soulless system and industry of divorce.
Other Oscar nominees that are not Netflix-released but can be watched on Netflix include “The Edge of Democracy,” a riveting personal and political narrative about a Brazil that aspires towards democracy but is torn by chaos; “American Factory,” a documentary about an Ohio factory re-opened by a Chinese billionaire and the cultural clashes and friendships that grew there; “I Lost My Body,” a poetic and visually dazzling animated film about a severed hand that embarks on an adventure to return to its owner; and “Klaus,” a feel-good animated Christmas film that will reignite your nostalgia for the days before 3D animation.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
At Alamo, they take movie watching seriously. They have a strict no latecomers, no talking, no texting and no cell phones policy. They have comfy seats, which is more than can be said for most local theaters (I’m looking at you, AMC Oakview). They have a bar, a fun in-theater menu and boozy smoothies. The Midtown location has a $5 College Wednesday deal on top of Alamo’s general $5 Tuesday.
Disney+ is the entertainment empire’s latest grab for an even bigger slice of the entertainment pie and a bid to weaken Netflix’s hold on the “parents with children” audience. Currently, many Disney properties are still locked up in licensing hell with other platforms but you can watch “Toy Story 4” (available Feb. 5, 2020), Disney short animated film “Kitbull,” the resurrected “The Lion King” that proves that just because you now have the CGI power to make animals lifelike, doesn’t mean you shouldand of course, the Marvel and Disney juggernaut that made every kid dressed in an Iron Man costume in theaters scream, “Avengers Endgame.”
Hulu may be more well-known for being the de facto platform to keep up with your favorite TV shows, thanks to their excellent $4.99 a month student bundle with Spotify, but it’s host to Oscar Nominees like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” which brings the touching boy-meets-dragon series to an end;“Missing Link,” an exquisitely crafted stop-motion animated film from Laika (the studio that created “Kubo and the Two Strings”); “Honeyland,” a documentary that follows Hatidze, a beekeeper in the mountains of Macedonia and her rowdy new neighbors; “The Cave,” a documentary from Feras Fayyad about a secret hospital in war-stricken Syria staffed by an all-female team defying oppressive gender roles and the risk of death to save lives; and “Breakthrough,” an unlikely Oscar nominee (for Original Song) as it’s a Christian film about a white couple who adopted a Guatemalan boy, a near death experience and belief.