Searching for Sugar Man
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Academy Award nominations were announced last week, kicking off Oscar Catch-up Season: the few weeks before the big ceremony, when procrastinating moviegoers finally make time for acclaimed films they missed during the previous 12 months.
As usual, many of this year’s nominated pictures are still in theaters. But some of them—especially the less high-profile contenders—are already available on home-viewing platforms. Whether you’re a completist or an agoraphobic cinephile, here are a few of the Oscar blind spots you can fill from the comfort of your living room. (Unless otherwise noted, the films are available on cable VOD; others are on streaming services like Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes and Netflix.)
Remember when knocking off the entire Best Picture slate meant watching a measly five movies? This year’s lineup, like last year’s, consists of nine films—eight of which can be seen only on the big screen. The ninth, available widely on demand, is Beasts of the Southern Wild. We’re no fans of this revered Sundance winner—our review described it as a Republican fantasy—but such a small film might benefit from the more intimate viewing arrangement of your home theater. And to the oddsmakers counting Beasts out: Remember, affection for the movie was widespread enough to secure first-time filmmaker Benh Zeitlin a Best Director nomination—most likely at the expense of Zero Dark Thirty helmer Kathryn Bigelow.
While catching every Best Picture nominee will require multiple multiplex visits, cartoon connoisseurs can blow through nearly all of the Animated Feature contenders on a Saturday at home with the family. Chase Pixar’s less-than-stellar Brave with a trio of stop-motion creations: Tim Burton’s black-and-white Frankenweenie, Aardman Animations’s manic The Pirates! Band of Misfits (streaming only) and—the best of the bunch—Laika’s wondrously weird ParaNorman. This kids-friendly marathon is missing only Wreck-It Ralph, the fifth nominee, which is still collecting theatergoers’ hard-earned coins.
What’s up, doc?
For those trying to win their annual office Oscar pool, Best Documentary is one of those categories where it actually helps to see the nominated films. As three out of five of them are just a mouse click away, why not sit down for a nonfiction triple feature? Just make sure to end it with Searching for Sugar Man, which arrives on demand Tuesday 22. You’ll be grateful for its crowd-pleasing tricks after braving the heavier subject matter of The Invisible War (about rape in the military) and How to Survive a Plague (about the fight against AIDS), both streaming.
Who’s the fairest of them all?
Costume Design will almost surely come down to a three-way wardrobe war, pitting Lincoln’s presidential attire against the Russian rags of Anna Karenina and the French fashion of Les Misérables. Still, we’re more interested in the phantom showdown between the other two candidates, both of which are available to stream. Two spins on the same classic fairy tale—one serious, the other goofy— Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror could be competitive in this category. The latter boasts designer duds from past winner Eiko Ishioka, who died of cancer last year. A posthumous victory would be the sentimental surprise of the evening.