Worried you’re ill-prepared for Sunday’s Academy Awards? Troubled by how many nominated films you’ve yet to see? Happily, eight of the 10 best picture nominees are available on one or more home entertainment platforms. The other two, Hidden Figures and La La Land are widely available at local theaters.
But there’s so much more to the Oscars than the best picture nominees. Here’s a guide to where you can catch some of the more interesting titles, many of which are being released today
A classically-constructed throwback to the lush studio productions Hollywood produced in its golden era in the 1940s and 1950s, Allied stars Brad Pitt as a Canadian spy and Marion Cotillard as a French resistance fighter who team up for a deadly mission in Casablanca.
Yep, that Casablanca.
“Well Robert Zemeckis is a brilliant director and a student of film, of course,” said costar Jared Harris of the film’s many allusions to the beloved 1942 romantic thriller starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Harris plays Frank Heslop, a senior British Army officer.
“He’s an intelligence officer working for the SOE [the Special Operations Executive], which was a different division than the one that handled intelligence” such as MI6, Harris said in a phone interview from London.
“The SOE was created by [Winston] Churchill to cause as much havoc and trouble as it could [for the Nazis] behind enemy lines and my character was in charge of operations in certain French territories.”
Harris’ character isn’t seen much in the first part of the film but becomes crucial to the latter half when he’s forced to investigate whether his two operatives, who fell in love during their Casablanca mission, might be double agents working for the Nazis.
Allied is currently available on VOD, Amazon Video and iTunes. It's due Feb. 28 on Vudu and on DVD/Blu-ray. Information on the film’s official website.
A selection of other Oscar nominees
Arrival. Filled as much with smarts as it is with excitement, this brilliant sci-fi saga from Canadian wunderkind Denis Villeneuve was blessed with eight Oscar nods including best picture, best director for Villeneuve and best adapted screenplay. Available on all platforms.
Captain Fantastic. A sweet Oscar surprise, director Matt Ross’ offbeat drama about a father’s very unconventional method of raising his family earned star Viggo Mortensen a best actor nod. It’s available on all platforms.
Elle. The incomparable Isabelle Huppert picked up her first Oscar nomination for best actress for her stunning role in Paul Verhoeven’s shocking drama about a powerful corporate executive who tracks down the man who raped her so she can understand how he sees the world. Due March 14 on all platforms.
Fences. Denzel Washington’s stunning adaptation of the August Wilson play was nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture, best adapted screenplay for the late Wilson, best actress for Viola Davis and best actor for Washington. Available on Amazon Video on Thursday Feb. 23, all other digital platforms on Friday, Feb. 24, and on DVD/Blu-ray on March 14.
Florence Foster Jenkins. Meryl Streep landed her 20th best acting nomination for her role in this fact-based music comedy as a Wilkes-Barre-born heiress who so loved opera that she couldn't stop herself from treating friends, employees - and eventually all of Manhattan - to the cacophonous, shrieking soprano she used to tear the soul out of classical music. The film also has a nod for costume design. Available on all platforms.
Hacksaw Ridge. Director Mel Gibson and star Andrew Garfield were each nominated for Oscars for this brutally violent, thrilling and awe-inspiring true WWII story about a conscientious objector who became one of the most cited and recognized heroes of the Pacific theater. It’s been nominated for a total of six Oscars, including best picture and best editing. Available on all platforms.
Hell or High Water. Four nods went to this exciting, tense Western starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster, including best picture and a best-supporting-actor for Jeff Bridges. Available on all platforms.
La La Land. Here’s the bad news: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s bittersweet musical romantic comedy, which picked up a leading 14 Oscar nods including best picture and lead acting nods for Gosling and Stone is still only available at theaters. But the film’s two Oscar-nominated songs are available for download via most music outlets. The songs, "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars” were written by Justin Hurwitz (music) with lyrics by Ardmore native Benj Pasek and his longtime collaborator Justin Paul.
Lion. Best supporting actor nominee Dev Patel turns in an extraordinary performance in this international drama as an Indian-born Australian businessman who tracks down his birth mother in India whom he hasn’t seen since he was five. Its six nominations include best picture and best supporting actress for Nicole Kidman. It’s due March 21 on VOD and digital. A release date has yet to be announced for DVD/Blu-ray.
The Lobster. Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ seriously weird dystopian love story is set in a creepy future where it’s not acceptable to be single. Those who are not married, are taken to a hotel and given 45 days to find a suitable mate. The film features a remarkable cast, including Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell and John C. Reilly, but it didn’t pick up any acting nods. It has one nomination, for best original screenplay co-written by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou. Available on all platforms.
Loving. Director Jeff Nichols focuses on the love story at the heart of the Civil Rights legal battle to decriminalize mixed marriages in this tender, moving drama starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving. It has been nominated for one Oscar for Negga as best actress. Available on all platforms.
Manchester By The Sea. Nominated for six statuettes, including best picture, best directing for Kenneth Lonergan, best actor for Casey Affleck, and two supporting acting nods for Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges. A deeply moving drama about ordinary men and women dealing with unbearable tragedy, Lonergan’s masterwork features Affleck as a Boston Janitor who has to return to his small hometown to care for his recently deceased brother’s teenage son. It’s available on all platforms.
Moonlight. Nominated for eight awards, incuding best picture, best director for Barry Jenkins, best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and best supporting actress for Naomie Harris. Jenkins’ extraordinary coming-of-age story about a gay African American son from Miami's inner city is structured as a triptych charting three stages in the young man’s life. It’s available now on VOD and all digital platforms, due Feb. 28 on DVD/Blu-ray.
Nocturnal Animals. Director Tom Ford’s psychological thriller is about an unhappily married woman (Amy Adams) who receives a manuscript from her ex-husband which forces her to reexamine her choices. The film’s one nomination goes to Michael Shannon fopr best supporting actor. His costars include Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Armie Hammer. Available on all platforms.
Passengers. Romantic space opera starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt has picked up a nod for best original score and best production design. It’s due March 7 on digital platforms and March 14 on DVD/Blu-ray.
Fire At Sea. Shot during the European migrant crisis in 2015, this Italian documentary traces the dangerous sea journey taken by refugees arriving at the Sicilian island of Lampedusa and offers portraits of the island’s ordinary residents. Available on all platforms.
Life Animated. Best documentary nominee is a stunning exploration of the life of Owen Suskind, an autistic man who communicates with the world using Disney movies. Available on all platforms.
O.J.: Made in America. Director Ezra Edelman’s stunning, controversial 467-minute ESPN documentary series surprised some fans when it was deemed eligible for award considerations and went on to pick up a nod for best documentary feature. It’s available on all platforms.
Kubo and the Two Strings. Using CGI to mimic the effects of Origami and other paper-folding and paper-cutting arts, this gorgeous animated feature nominee is about a young boy who faces down evil using the power of storytelling and song. Available on all platforms.
Zootopia. This best animated feature nominee from Walt Disney Animation Studios about a police officer in a modern mammal metropolis itching to do her duty, has a lot of heart and a powerful social conscience. It’s available on all platforms.
Where to watch:
A selection of the most popular online video providers:
iTunes: at www.apple.com/itunes/
Amazon Video: www.amazon.com/video/
Most TV providers have their own On Demand and Pay-Per-View services. Here are some of the major providers:
Xfinity On Demand: www.xfinity.com/xod.html
DirecTV On Demand: www.directv.com/technology/on_demand
Dish TV On Demand: www.mydish.com/perks/on-demand