As finals approach, take some time to relax by viewing some of this year’s Oscar nominees for best picture.
None of us could see the hit movies in theaters because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year’s Academy Award nominees are worth renting from home. Here’s a rundown of each of the films nominated for best picture that you can squeeze in a few before the awards ceremony Sunday.
A moving in-depth look at the pains of dementia, “The Father” tells the story of a father suffering from the rapidly worsening effects of dementia and his daughter who must care for her increasingly forgetful father. Be warned, the film is a tearjerker filled with emotional moments, as Anthony Hopkins’ mesmerizing performance captures a man struggling to come to terms with his dying brain. If you enjoy films that tell an intimate story with critically acclaimed acting and writing, this film is for you.
‘Judas and the Black Messiah’
Shaka King’s “Judas and the Black Messiah” is the powerful true story of former Chicago Black Panther Party chairperson Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and undercover FBI informant Bill O’Neal, played by Lakeith Stanfield. O’Neal is tasked by the FBI with infiltrating the Panthers to find information on Hampton to relay back to the bureau. The more O’Neal attempts to break free from his role as an informant, the deeper entangled he finds himself in the situation. The film is a compelling tale of a point in history often neglected by Hollywood.
“Mank” offers an inside look into the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he writes the script for what would be considered one of the greatest movies ever made, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” Presenting elements of comedy, drama and political intrigue, “Mank” is a scalding reveal of the corruption of the Hollywood Studio System in its early years. The story of Mankiewicz’s fall from grace and subsequent decision to take on William Randolph Hearst to put said story on the screen isn’t one to miss.
Director Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical film follows a Korean American family as they move away from urban life in California to a remote farm in Arkansas. As the father, Jacob – played by Steven Yeun – sets out to claim his piece of the American dream and forge something that is irrefutably his own, his wife Monica – portrayed by Han Ye-ri – is appalled by her husband’s financial risk. The film’s namesake, a popular Asian plant known for its ability to grow anywhere, is an underlying metaphor that parallels the family’s tumultuous yet beguiling journey to belonging.
Emotionally raw, thought-provoking and beautifully simplistic, “Nomadland” depicts the journey of Fern, played by Frances McDormand, who travels across the country in a minimally equipped van as a modern-day nomad after losing her husband and job. Fern’s journey through the depths of humanity and self-discovery is a poignant revelation as to the question of what makes a home a home when the world around you is falling apart. The film’s message will stick with you after your first viewing.
‘Promising Young Woman’
Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut, “Promising Young Woman,” is a chilling thriller that takes the audience on a revenge trip. After a heinous crime is committed against her best friend, the main character, Cassie, is willing to do anything to make the perpetrators, and men with similar intentions, pay. The dark sense of female empowerment paired with the relevance to the #MeToo movement makes “Promising Young Woman” a pertinent and thought-provoking film that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
‘Sound of Metal’
Darius Marder’s “Sound of Metal” follows the story of Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed, who is a recovered addict and heavy metal drummer who rapidly loses his hearing due to his constant exposure to loud noises. He begins to panic, slowly unraveling as his hearing loss threatens his sobriety and his relationship with his girlfriend Lou. As Ruben is unable to accept the permanence of his hearing loss, cracks begin to appear in his “I can fix this” mindset. The film is a portrayal of a man at odds with his own reality, fighting against his body to salvage a life he is not ready to lose.
‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” depicts the titular 1969 trial in which eight initial defendants were charged with conspiracy and intent to incite a riot in the aftermath of the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The film tells the story of the infamous trial that sparked a conversation about whether it was the police or the protestors that started the riots. Though the film portrays a clash of philosophies between the activists, what is even more compelling to watch is their realization that they share one common goal and that they need each other if they want to succeed in this fight.