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How to watch the 2021 Oscar nominees right now

Oscar statue
Posted at 8:28 AM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 12:57:03-04

The 93rd Academy Awards are Sunday night, April 25, 2021, but millions of people have not seen a single one of the nominated films.

We spoke with a half dozen shoppers three days before the ceremony, and none of them said they had seen any of the major nominees.

Ryan Melford said "the only movie I saw last year with any buzz was Coming 2 America," which has two nominations, for makeup and costumes.

The good news is that you don't have to venture out to a movie theater to get ready for the big night.

Almost all of the nominees were released to streaming platforms, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means you may be able to stream them free of charge.

Others, including best picture favorite "Nomadland," are now available for purchase via Amazon Prime or YouTube.

Netflix will get you the most for your buck. Movies released via this streaming service are nominated for 35 awards, more than any other studio this year.

Netflix nominees

Netflix's top nominees, free for subscribers, include:

  • "Mank," which tells the story of how a grudge against billionaire William Randolph Hearst inspired old-Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz to write "Citizen Kane," a classic condemnation of a rich man's empty life. This is a Best Picture favorite, directed by David Fincher, whose other Oscar-nominated films include "The Social Network" and "Gone Girl."
  • "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," a 1920s music-industry drama featuring nominated performances by Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman in his last film role before his death.
  • "Hillbilly Elegy," starring Glenn Close in a much-talked-about Best Supporting Actress-nominated performance. (How talked-about? She's up for a Razzie — essentially a reverse-Oscar awarded to especially terrible movies and performances — for the exact same role.)
  • "The Trial of the Chicago 7," a historical drama depicting the trial of prominent Vietnam War protesters who were charged with incitement and conspiracy after participating in protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Sacha Baron Cohen — yes, "Borat" — has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as real-life anti-war activist Abbie Hoffman.

Hulu nominees

Hulu has several nominated films, with its top contenders including:

  • "Nomadland," a drama about a widow who sells her house and travels around the United States in a van after the Great Recession, is considered a Best Picture favorite. Star Frances McDormand is nominated for Best Actress — a trophy she's already won twice before for her performances in "Fargo" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
  • "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," a biopic about the famous jazz musician's struggle with drug abuse and the government's attempts to censor her anti-lynching ballad "Strange Fruit."

Want to see Nomadland without a Hulu subscription? It is now available to purchase via Amazon Prime and several other services for $15. There is no cheap rental option available yet, however.

Amazon Prime Nominees

Amazon Prime has three big nominees:

  • "The Sound of Metal," about a rock musician who loses his hearing, is nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture.
  • "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," with no further description needed, is nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Adaptive Screenplay.
  • "One Night in Miami," which imagines a meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke in 1964, is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Adaptive Screenplay and Best Original Song. First-time director Regina King won a Best Supporting Oscar in 2019 for "If Beale Street Could Talk."

Disney Plus

Disney Plus features two Best Animated Features nominees this year and one live-action remake of an animated classic.

  • "Soul," Pixar's exploration of the afterlife, the meaning of existence and the things we lose when we focus too much on pie-in-the-sky goals. It's a comedy, we promise.
  • "Onward," another Pixar movie that uses a tongue-in-cheek fantasy setting to tell a story about grief, magic and unicorns.
  • "Mulan," a live-action adaptation of a classic Chinese folktale and a Disney renaissance hit. This one's not a musical, but the stunts and colorful costumes are a new kind of spectacle.

Apple TV

Apple TV Plus does not have many nominees, the only one up for a major award being:

  • "Wolfwalkers," an Irish fantasy film, which is up for Best Animated Feature.

Movies on Demand

Several other top nominees, including Anthony Hopkins' "The Father," "Minari," "Promising Young Woman," "Judas and the Black Messiah," and "News of the World" are available on demand for a fee, usually ranging from, $4 to $18. You can now watch "Nomadland" this way, if you do not have a paid Hulu subscription.

Check Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, or YouTube.

So grab the popcorn, hunker down on the couch and don't waste your money.
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