Where to Stream the Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees

Like 2020, 2021 was a strange year for movies. Long-awaited films that had been delayed for months were finally released. Movies that had been planned for theatrical release ended up premiering exclusively on streaming services or in theaters simultaneously.

However strange 2021 and its movies have been, though, there have still been plenty of entertaining movies that audiences enjoyed seeing in theaters or from the comfort of their own home. Many of these films have gone on to achieve significant critical acclaim overall, earning nominations from various international award organizations, including, most recently, the Academy Awards.

On February 8, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their nominations for the 94th Oscar ceremony, with many buzzing about all the movies that have been nominated in the prestigious Best Picture category.

To help you prepare for the Oscars on March 27, we thought we’d take a moment to highlight every film nominated for Best Picture, as well as provide information about where they are currently streaming.

Belfast

belfast at the movies
Courtesy of Focus Features

Director Kenneth Branagh is best known for his adaptations of various well-known plays and novels over the years, including his many Shakespeare films and his more recent Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot movies.

In 2021, Branagh embarked on a mission to create his most personal film yet, based on his own childhood experiences growing up in Belfast in the late 1960s.

Set in Northern Ireland, a nine-year-old boy (Jude Hill) and his family observe the changing political and increasingly dangerous landscape of Belfast during The Troubles, a period of prolonged hostility between Irish Catholic nationalists and Protestants loyal to the British Crown.

Belfast has secured a total of seven Academy Award nominations along with its Best Picture nomination, including Best Director (Branagh), Best Supporting Actor (Ciarán Hinds), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Best Original Screenplay (Branagh), and Best Original Song (Van Morrison’s “Down to Joy”), and Best Sound.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online

Coda

CODA scaled
Courtesy of Apple

A unique coming-of-age drama film like no other, CODA explores the intricacies of either pursuing your dream or staying and supporting your family through turbulent times. As the eponymous CODA (a child of deaf adult parents), Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole member of her family who is able to hear.

Though she loves her parents dearly, Ruby becomes torn between following her newfound passion in music, or staying and helping her family’s struggling fishing business get off the ground. The first film from Apple to have earned a Best Picture nomination, CODA has also been nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Sian Heder).

It’s also the first movie starring non-hearing actors in main roles (Kotsur, Daniel Durant, and Marlee Matlin) to be nominated in the Best Picture category.

Streaming on Apple TV+

Don’t Look Up

Dont Look Up
Courtesy of Netflix

An apocalyptic satirical film with a first-rate cast, Don’t Look Up lampoons the growing divide over critical issues like climate change, focusing on people’s denial and politicians’ lack of response on said issue. Leonardo DiCaprio Jennifer Lawrence play two astronomers who discover that a massive comet is hurtling towards Earth that will destroy all life when it hits in six months.

As they try to organize some kind of worldwide plan to stop the comet from impacting, the astronomers are shocked to find American politicians—including the President (Meryl Streep)—and the media surprisingly indifferent, and attempting to use the comet for their own personal gain.

The critical response to Don’t Look Up was a tad mixed overall, with some believing the satirical elements of the film was too heavy-handed. Despite the mixed reception, Don’t Look Up has gone on to garner significant award nominations.

Along with its Best Picture nomination, it’s been nominated for Best Original Screenplay (Adam McKay and David Sirota), Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score (Nicholas Britell).

Streaming on Netflix

Drive My Car

drive my car
Courtesy of Culture Entertainment

One of the most well-received international movies of the year, Drive My Car has won or earned nominations from numerous award institutions across the globe. Based on a short story by the award-winning writer Haruki Murakami, Drive My Car follows a theater actor and director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) overseeing a production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya after losing his wife (Reika Kirishima).

Universally acclaimed upon release, Drive My Car has gathered an endless amount of accolades in various countries and from several prestigious film organizations, including Cannes. Along with its Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, it’s been nominated for Best Director (Ryusuke Hamaguchi), Best Adapted Screenplay (Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe), and Best International Feature Film (Japan).

It’s also the latest movie to win Best Picture from all three major US critic organizations (LAFCA, NSFC, and NYFCC), alongside Goodfellas, L.A. Confidential, The Hurt Locker, Schindler's List, and The Social Network. (It’s the first non-English film to achieve this honor as well.)

Currently playing in select theaters

Dune

Dune
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

An epic space opera on the grand scale, Dune was one of the 2021’s most noteworthy releases, as well as one of the most widely-anticipated movies released after significant COVID-related delays.

Adapted from the Frank Herbert genre-defining sci-fi novel, Dune follows the members of the noble House Atreides, tasked with overseeing the production of a rare spice on the hostile, desert planet of Arrakis.

Starring a huge ensemble cast that includes notable Hollywood talents like Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem, Dune was praised for its faithfulness to the source material and its ability to translate the novel onto film.

The first of a planned two-part movie (the second part is scheduled for release in October, 2023), Dune has been nominated for numerous highly sought-after awards.

In addition to its Best Picture nomination, it's also been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, and Denis Villeneuve), Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer), Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Visual Effects.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online

King Richard

King Richard
Courtesy of Warner Bros./Chiabella James

No matter the year, biopics are almost always included as a Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards. At this point, it's almost an annual tradition, with many of the most interesting biopics featuring fascinating subjects or historical personages—12 Years a Slave, Schlinder’s List, A Beautiful Mind—going on to win the coveted award for Best Picture.

This year’s biopic entry into the Academy Award is King Richard, the story of tennis coach Richard Williams (Will Smith) whose daughters, Serena (Demi Singleton) and Venus (Saniyya Sidney), grow up to become two of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Prior to this movie, Smith had been in what was considered a stagnant point in his career, having appeared in many movies that were either critical or commercial failures.  In the title role of this movie, however, Smith turns in a performance that has been hailed as a career highlight, containing easily one of his best acting jobs in years.

King Richard has been nominated for several Academy Awards in addition to its Best Picture nomination, including Best Actor (Smith), Best Supporting Actress (Aunjanue Ellis), Best Original Screenplay (Zach Baylin), Best Film Editing, and Best Original Song (Dixson and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s “Be Alive”).

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online

Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza 1
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

From acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson comes Anderson’s ninth film, Licorice Pizza, a heartfelt coming of age story set in the sunny 1970s San Fernando Valley.

Gary (Cooper Hoffman) is a precocious 15-year-old actor who falls for the 25-year-old Alana (Alana Haim), a young woman initially uncomfortable by Gary’s advances, but charmed by his forwardness and likable personality.

The movie lacks a linear plot, instead of moving from multiple snapshots of Gary and Alana’s changing relationship over time, as well as the various careers Gary tries his hand at, including the head of a waterbed company and later the founder of an arcade. Like all of Anderson’s previous films, Licorice Pizza was a huge critical success, earning various nominations from notable academies and institutions.

It has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Anderson), and Best Original Screenplay (also Anderson).

Currently playing in select theaters

Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley
Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Guillermo Del Toro’s last film, The Shape of Water, ended up securing Del Toro the Best Picture award at the 90th Academy Awards. Given how well-received his latest film, Nightmare Alley, has been, it’s worth wondering if Del Toro will take home the Best Picture once again this year.

Based on the pulp novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, Stan (Bradley Cooper) is a young man trying to find his place in the world after his father’s death. Eventually, he joins a local carnival, first as a manual worker, then as an aspiring illusionist/psychic, before moving to New York, using his trade to con a wealthy businessman (Richard Jenkins) with the help of a mysterious psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett).

Nightmare Alley may have bombed at the box office—grossing less than half of its overall budget—but has been very warmly received by fans, critics, and even fellow filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, who penned a positive review of the movie in the Los Angeles Times.

Alongside its Best Picture nomination, Nightmare Alley has been nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design (Tamara Deverell and Shane Vieau).

Streaming on Hulu and HBO Max

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog
Courtesy of Netflix

Like many directors mentioned on this list, Jane Campion is no stranger to the Oscars. Several of her films have earned nominations or won an Academy Award in varying categories (especially her most popular film, 1993’s The Piano), and it seems like her latest, The Power of the Dog, is no different.

George Burbank (Jesse Plemons) is a wealthy yet miserable rancher alongside his far rougher and more masculine brother, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), in 1920s Montana.

Looking for a change in his life, George marries the widowed Rose (Kirsten Dunst), bringing her and her teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to live on the ranch. Hostilities soon begin to rise when Phil begins constantly antagonizing Rose and Peter, though things soon become far more complicated when Phil and Peter develop a mutual attraction to one another.

A complicated study of human nature, isolation, jealousy, and sexuality, The Power of the Dog was one of the most accomplished movies of the year, having earned nominations and winning awards from virtually every award institution there is.

Having only recently won the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama), The Power of the Dog commands the Academy Award ceremony with a total of 12 nominations across the board, which includes Best Director (Campion), Best Actor (Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actor (Plemons and Smit-McPhee), Best Supporting Actress (Dunst), Best Adapted Screenplay (Campion), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score (Jonny Greenwood), Best Production Design, and Best Sound.

Streaming on Netflix

West Side Story

West Side Story
Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

It’s never easy following up on a classic, but if there’s one person on Earth who’s able to produce a remake as good as the original, it’s Steven Spielberg.

Based on the hit musical by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents, West Side Story offers a reimagined version of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York, substituting the feuding Montagues and Capulets for rival street gangs.

Tony (Ansel Elgort) is a former member of the working class white gang, the Jets, trying to stay out of trouble after a short stint in jail. As the Jets’ escalating conflict with a gang of Puerto Rican immigrants, the Sharks, worsens, Tony is pressured to rejoin the Jets, even as he secretly begins a relationship with Maria, the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo (David Alvarez).

Adapted by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Tony Kushner, West Side Story significantly underperformed at the box office, but many critics proclaimed it as one of the best movies of the year, with several even believing it surpassed the quality of the original 1961 adaptation.

Hot off of winning the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), West Side Story has also been nominated for Best Director (Spielberg), Best Supporting Actress (Ariana DeBose), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, and Best Sound.

Currently playing in select theaters; will begin streaming on Disney+ and HBO Max on March 2

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Image Credit: Maggie Lovitt. 


Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).