Before we begin, a confession. Even The A.V. Club’s film staff has not seen every single film that’s been nominated for an Oscar this year, so don’t feel too guilty if you haven’t either. And if you do want to catch up on every Oscar film, you’ll have to drop some cash, as digital purchases—the only streaming option for three of this year’s eight Best Picture nominees—generally cost $14.99 on the low end, and $19.99 on the high end. That’s not including all the Oscar nominees that won’t hit digital platforms at all until after the ceremony, necessitating a trip to the movies, with all its attendant expenses, to see them.
Thankfully, however, the streaming wars have trickled down a few benefits to the less liquid among us. The obvious example is Roma, an honest to goodness piece of art available to anyone who can access Netflix. (How you access Netflix, we don’t need to know, but the company has historically been indifferent on the subject of password sharing.) Black Panther, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, and Avengers: Infinity War are also currently streaming on Netflix, and Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime have a smattering of Oscar contenders in their streaming catalogs as well. Then there are our old friends at the public library, keepers of a robust catalog of DVDs and Blu-rays they’ll let you borrow for free. (Assuming you don’t already owe them a bunch of money in late fees, of course.) With that in mind, Oscar nominees that have already been released on DVD and Blu-ray are noted in individual entries below.
If you watch any of the films nominated for Academy Awards this year, these are the ones to watch. All seven of the films listed here are nominated for Best Picture, and between them they account for 51 of this year’s nominations. Vice, the sole Best Picture nominee whose digital release is still TBD, brings that total up to 59.
Black Panther reigned in theaters for a solid six months last year, and you bet that Disney and Marvel Studios are making sure that the No. 1 film of 2018 is widely available for home viewing as well. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, and is available for digital purchase or digital rental on all your major platforms—iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon Prime, FandangoNOW, and Walmart’s Vudu—if you’re a Netflix naysayer with $2.99 to spend. (There’s always DVD and Blu-ray as well.) Plus, Disney is re-releasing the film in theaters this week for free at 250 AMC locations across the U.S. You can reserve a seat at one of those screenings at this link.
Like Black Panther, BlackKklansman is currently experiencing a second life in theaters thanks to its six Oscar nominations, but home viewing options for Spike Lee’s politically charged crowd-pleaser are also plentiful. It’s not streaming on any of the major services as of yet, but you can rent it on the big six digital rental platforms mentioned above for $5.99, or buy a DVD or Blu-ray pretty much wherever.
At this particular moment, there are only two ways to check out Rami Malek’s much-awarded performance as Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody: Go to a movie theater and see it, or pay $19.99 to buy a digital copy on any of the eight digital platforms currently hosting it. Personally, we don’t feel great about the idea of spending money on a Bryan Singer production given the multiple sexual assault allegations that have been leveled against the director, but hey, you do you; $833 million worth of ticket buyers already have, so clearly we’re in the minority.
Although you’d have to go to a movie theater to hear Olivia Colman delivering bon mots about cunnilingus this weekend, this coming Tuesday sees The Favourite debut for digital purchase for the queenly sum of $14.99. A Blu-ray release is also forthcoming, but not until March 5. I have spoken!
The window to watch Green Book at home before the Oscars telecast on February 24 is a narrow one: The Peter Farrelly comedy/social-media lightning rod won’t be available digitally until February 19. Even then, it will only be available for a $14.99 digital purchase, not digital rental, with a Blu-ray due out on March 5. Perhaps your mom will want to watch it with you, and you can split the cost?
Great news, cord-cutters: One of the year’s most masterful and emotionally impactful dramas is currently streaming on Netflix, alongside its limited theatrical run. What a time to be alive. All we ask is that you don’t watch it on your phone, and instead seek out the biggest screen possible. And turn out the lights, would you?
Whether torrenting and streaming are actually responsible for the radical changes in music distribution over the past two decades is debatable, but you can’t deny that the level of success attained by Lady Gaga’s Ally in A Star Is Born is both more attainable and less sustainable than ever in the age of Spotify. Anyway, you can buy A Star Is Born on iTunes or Vudu for $19.99, with a Blu-ray release scheduled for February 19.
The Supporting Players
Although these films were left out of the Best Picture race, as Brian Tyree Henry proves in everything he does, sometimes the supporting players are the most memorable part of the show.
Glenn Close’s Golden Globes win for Best Actress for The Wife was a surprise for many viewers, because not that many people had seen the film. Now that the Oscars have doubled down on accolades for Close’s performance, perhaps it’s time to catch up with a digital rental of the film ($4.99 on Amazon, $5.99 everywhere else)—although you should know going in that, without Close’s performance, this movie wouldn’t have hit the awards circuit at all.
If you’ve been waiting to get to know the greatest filmic duo of the year—that’s Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, of course—until you can do so from your own couch, today’s your lucky day: Can You Ever Forgive Me? went on sale for $14.99 yesterday on Amazon and iTunes, with a DVD/Blu-ray release set for the 19. Accept no substitutes, not even exceptionally skilled ones.
Do we recommend you spend $14.99, the going rate for a digital purchase of Julian Schnabel’s Vincent Van Gogh biopic At Eternity’s Gate? Only if you truly love Willem Dafoe, who received his first Best Actor nomination for the role. (All of his other nominations were for Best Supporting Actor.) Then again, you could also just read this interview about how much he loves doing laundry, and wait for the Blu-ray to come out next week. It’s your choice.
Netflix knew what it was doing when it hired Joel and Ethan Coen to produce a Western series. And even though that series eventually morphed into a feature film, the bet nevertheless paid off with The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs’ three Oscar nominations. (That’s Best Original Song, Best Costume Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay, for those of you keeping score.) If this paragraph did not make this point clear, it’s currently streaming on Netflix.
It’s absurd that Paul Schrader, an icon of both the ’70s New Hollywood revolution and screenwriting in general, was never nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar until this year. And yet, here we are. Starring Ethan Hawke—who really should have been nominated for Best Actor—this profoundly wise film is streaming on Amazon Prime, and came out on DVD and Blu-ray back in August of last year.
The Animated Films
Established as its own category in 2001—that’s right, after the celebrated ’90s run that Disney is currently busy remaking in live-action form—Best Animated Film has long been a two-horse race, and those horses are Disney and Pixar. This year, those twin titans of animation have some serious competition with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. But that movie’s not streaming yet, so you’ll have to round out your streaming animation catchup with an underdog (pun intended) pick.
If you’re like this writer and all you really know about Incredibles 2 is that it’s supposed to be good and that there’s at least one critic out there who’s incredibly horny for Elastigirl, you can correct that oversight before the Oscars with a little help from Netflix. It’s also out on DVD and Blu-ray, if you’d like to keep data on how many times you’ve watched it to yourself.
Wes Anderson’s latest (and punniest) stop-motion animated film came out back in March of 2018, giving it plenty of time to hit streaming platforms before it was honored with a pair of Oscar nominations. (The other is a Best Original Score nod for composer Alexandre Desplat.) It’s currently available on HBO Go/HBO Now. Alternately, you could buy it on Blu-ray or rent it digitally on Amazon for $4.99 if don’t know anyone whose password you can borrow.
As of this writing, Walt Disney Animation’s entry into this year’s Oscar race, Ralph Breaks The Internet, is exclusively playing in theaters. But it will be available to purchase digitally for the not-so-low price of $19.99 on February 12.
Hey, good for you! You’re watching documentaries, something that many Academy members don’t even bother to do. Of this year’s class of nonfiction Oscar nominees, The A.V. Club’s highest grade went to Minding The Gap, currently streaming on Hulu.
Of Minding The Gap, Vikram Murthi said in his review, “It’s a sight to behold, the way Minding The Gap organically evolves from a meditative portrait of skateboarding—complete with gorgeously fluid Steadicam shots of boarders ripping down city streets—into a nuanced character study of repressed trauma.” Delving into Bing Liu’s Rockford, Illinois-set skateboarding documentary (and maybe some of your own baggage in the process) is easy, as it was produced by Hulu and is currently streaming on that particular service.
RaMell Ross’ impressionistic portrait of black Southern life is is booked through May on the arthouse and festival circuit, so the Oscars are really only one chapter in its story. Another chapter is its broadcast on PBS this coming Monday, February 11, as part of the channel’s ongoing Independent Lens series—or you can buy it on iTunes, where it premiered just two days ago.
Of Fathers And Sons
Of Fathers And Sons, an intimate look at two years in the life of a radical Islamist family, is one of two Oscar-nominated films that did not receive a review from The A.V. Club. Its theatrical run has already wrapped up, but—assuming your local public or university library is a member of its network—you can stream for free it on the Kanopy app. Barring that, it’s available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon, and $3.99 on Vudu.
Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s biographical documentary about Supreme Court justice/pop culture icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg is currently streaming on Hulu. Or, if your feminism happens to intersect with a love of physical media, it’s also out on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Foreign Films
As with Oscar-nominated documentaries, if you watch any of the films nominated in the Best Foreign Film category, you’re already ahead of most Academy voters. This year’s race is especially interesting, as two of the nominees, Roma and Cold War, are nominated in several other major categories as well. (Unsurprisingly, those are also the two easiest Best Foreign Film nominees to track down, given that they’ve both got major streaming services behind them.)
Luckily, the non-Roma Best Foreign Film nominee hitting streaming before the Oscars is one we can wholeheartedly endorse: Shoplifters, Japanese master Kore-eda Hirokazu’s gently anti-establishment drama about chosen family and the ethical limitations of the law. (It’s also got the most badass grandma of 2018 in Kirin Kiki.) The film’s been in American theaters since November, steadily expanding to a high of 139 screens last weekend. If none of those screens are near you, it’s also coming to DVD and digital for both rental and purchase on February 12.
The Technical Categories
Black Panther broke the mold this year as the first superhero film ever nominated for Best Picture, but its blockbuster brethren are, by and large, still confined to the Oscars’ technical categories. Their popularity means that you’re more likely to have already seen them, but if you haven’t, films nominated in technical categories are optional for all but the most dogged Oscars completists. That being said, the skilled professionals whose career-high moments won’t even be shown on TV this year would presumably appreciate the effort.
Coming in second only to Black Panther on the 2018 domestic box office charts, Avengers: Infinity War was the definition of a pop culture event when it premiered last summer. Now it’s on Netflix and Blu-ray, where the more erudite among us can catch up with the latest chapter in the Avengers saga in light of its Best Visual Effects nomination.
Weep for your lost innocence—and marvel at the seamless, Oscar-nominated insertion of digital stuffed creatures into the natural splendor of the English countryside—in the privacy of your own home with Disney’s Christopher Robin, which came out on DVD and Blu-ray back in November of last year. It’s also available for rent on all your major digital platforms for either $4.99 (YouTube, Vudu, Google Play) or $5.99 (Amazon).
The irritation factor of Ready Player One’s pop culture references was slightly (but not completely) oversold upon its release last March, but it’s still entirely optional for Oscars catch-up purposes. If you’re really invested in the Best Visual Effects race, however, you can stream the film on HBO’s various online platforms, or watch it on DVD/Blu-ray.
We would have loved to have seen First Man nominated for Best Picture, but four below-the-line nominations (Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Sound Mixing) for Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling’s latest collaboration will have to do. Read up on the blend of old-school and contemporary effects used in the film before renting it in digital 4k ($5.99 on Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube) or buying the 4k Ultra HD release.
The latest in the Star Wars family of blockbuster films/merchandising opportunities was disqualified for a Best Original Score Oscar on a technicality—namely, someone over at Lucasfilm forgot to submit it in time for the deadline. Oops. That’s fitting for this rushed-out adventure film, whose Oscar-nominated visual effects (and excellent capes) are now streaming on Netflix, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Get Out revolution is still forthcoming, apparently: A Quiet Place was the only horror film to be nominated for an Oscar this year, and in a technical category, to boot. That being said, its Best Sound Editing nomination is well-deserved, and we recommend watching with the best sound system at your disposal should you choose to buy it digitally for $14.99. (It’s also out, and cheaper, on Blu-ray.)
For the rest of this year’s Oscar crop, you’ll have to actually get dressed and leave the house, as Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk, Cold War, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Mirai, Capernaum, Never Look Away, Mary Queen Of Scots, and Border are all still playing in theaters, most of those in limited release. Digital releases for those films are either planned for sometime after the ceremony (like Cold War, which hits Amazon Prime on March 22) or yet to be announced. And, as they do every year, this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts are touring theaters across the U.S., with theaters listed here.
Incidentally, several of The A.V. Club’s pet Oscars snubs are currently available on streaming, including Hereditary (Amazon Prime), Support The Girls (Hulu), and Paddington 2 (HBO’s various streaming services). Our No. 1 film of last year, Burning—also cruelly ignored by the Academy—isn’t on any of the major streaming services as of yet, but you can rent it digitally on Amazon for $4.99.