Most years, in the weeks following the Oscars, I found myself in the movie theater, trying to catch up on the best movies of the year. This year, my rush to see movies has looked vastly different, consisting of opening my laptop and typing Amazon Prime video into my search box. Though the movie watching experience right now can’t compete with the one we’ve all experienced before, just like any other year, there are many Oscar nominated films worth watching, and many that are not. Here are my top four films nominated for an Oscar that I actually think you’ll enjoy watching:
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Best Picture-nominated)(amazon prime video)
A brilliantly made film documenting the infiltration of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party by William O’Neil, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a movie I recommend everyone watch. In addition to Daniel Kaluuya’s Oscar winning portrayal of Fred Hampton, the leader of the Illinois Chapter at the time, the costume and set design kept me engaged throughout the entire movie. While I can easily watch an entire season of a TV show in one evening, I usually have a hard time watching a full movie in one sitting. “Judas and the Black Messiah” was the first movie I have watched in a long time where I didn’t want to pause the movie to quickly watch a free episode of “The Office” on Peacock before resuming.
“Better Days” (International Feature Film-nominated)(hulu)
My amazing Chinese teacher, 杨老师 (Yáng lǎoshī), recommended this movie to my class, and I’m so glad I took the time to watch it. “Better Days,” a movie made in Hong Kong, details the suffocating high school experience many students in China face right before the state Gaokao exam. Better Days was haunting, but gave an incredible glimpse into the mind of a high school student.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Best Picture-nominated)(Netflix)
Exciting, unique, and unforgettable are words that come to mind when reviewing “The Trial of the Chicago 7”. Like watching an intense football game, the film keeps you on your toes and evokes a strong connection between you and one “team”. Abbie Hoffman, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, becomes your best friend, and Julius Hoffman, played by Frank Angella, becomes your very worst enemy. I may have yelled at my computer a few times during the movie, but it’s two hours and ten minutes of my life that I wouldn’t trade back.
“Two Distant Strangers” (Short Film – Live Action-winner)(Netflix)
I’m not usually a short-film watcher, but when I saw the trailer on Netflix, I knew it was a must-watch. “Two Distant Strangers” depicts a recurring day experienced by a Black man in America. He wakes up every morning in the same girl’s apartment, watches his adorable dog from his own apartment’s puppy cam, and as he’s heading home, is killed by a police officer. The 32 minute movie packs more emotion than many three hour films do, and while the plot may be painful, it is also painfully accurate as 1 in every 1,000 Black men can expect to be killed by police in the course of their life. It can be hard to make time in our busy lives to watch a movie, but if you have 32 minutes, take the time to watch this incredibly made film.