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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Pop CultureMarch 2, 2024

Where to stream all the big Oscar nominated films in New Zealand 

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Now you can do almost all your Oscars homework without getting off the couch. 

Remember the old days when, if you missed a big movie in cinemas, you would have an agonising months-long wait for it to arrive at the video shop? Remember new releases costing $7 a pop, and the brutal overnight deadline? Thankfully, in 2024 we are blessed with an abundance of streaming services and a breakneck turnaround – sometimes even simultaneous – release schedule. With the 94th Academy Awards taking place on Monday, March 11 (you can watch the awards ceremony itself live on Disney+ from around midday), now is the perfect time to catch up on all the big nominated movies you probably didn’t make it to IRL. Here’s where to find them.

American Fiction (Prime Video)

Nominated for: Best film; Best adapted screenplay; Best actor; Best supporting actor.

There’s a lot of buzz and near-universal acclaim for American Fiction, a withering satire about what happens when a Black author gives into the industry’s endless appetite for narratives of trauma and poverty from his community. It’s been heralded as “a cagey, cerebral dramedy” by The New York Times and a “satisfyingly prickly satire on race and hypocrisy” by The Guardian, received five Oscar nominations earlier in the month and won a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay just last week. And if that’s not enough to get you interested, Barack Obama even put it on his hallowed Best of the Year list in 2023. / Alex Casey

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon)

Nominated for: Best picture; Best actress; Best director; Best original screenplay; Best editing.

This was the only film festival movie I made it to last year, but by god was it a good one. While I won’t be rewatching it this weekend, or for at least a decade now that I’ve finally shaken the skin-crawling dread, I can highly recommend catching this slow burning courtroom procedural (four bad words, but stay with me) in cinemas. Following the shock death of her husband outside their family home, Sandra is put on trial for his alleged murder. The only other witness who was present on the day of his death? Her blind son. That’s probably all you need to know. / AC

Barbie (Apple TV

Nominated for: Best picture; Best supporting actor; Best supporting actress; Best adapted screenplay; Best costume design; Best production design.

From our 2023 review: “Not only is Barbie incredibly funny but it looks beautiful, packed with cinematic glimmers from everything including the Wizard of Oz to Singing in the Rain, Jaws to Grease. Perhaps this is because I had already seen so much of the film in the extensive marketing rollout, but at times it did feel slightly disjointed, closer to a hodgepodge of high production Funny Girls sketches and songs. Spoiler alert: ‘I’m Just Ken’ is not even the best musical moment in the film. 

Whenever my brain itched, I chanted the mantra “This is Toy Story 3, This is Toy Story 3, This is Toy Story 3”. Barbie is a movie made for broken internet brain mushy millennial adult babies like me. Barbie is a movie that thinks it is holding up a mirror to the patriarchy and misogyny, but there’s no glass. Barbie is a movie made by a toy company about a doll. In the words of the modern day Barbies walking stiffly back and forth on Love Island: don’t deep it.

Just wink, put on your sunglasses, put on another pair of sunglasses, and have a good time. / AC

The Holdovers (Neon

Nominated for: Best picture; Best actor; Best supporting actress; Best original screenplay; Best film editing.

The Holdovers couldn’t be further away from Barbie. It is an exquisite piece of 70s-style craft, reuniting the director and star of Sideways. It’s set in a boarding school during a chilly New England winter, where a skeleton staff and a few awkward boys bunker down for the holidays. Truly, not a lot happens, except that everyone involved discovers something quite profound about themselves, something they hold tight and suffer for as a result. Thanks to exquisitely deft writing, directing and beautifully modulated performances it’s very emotionally resonant, and despite being out of time it’s just right for this time – a quiet but searing film. / Duncan Greive

Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple TV)

Nominated for: Best picture; Best actress; Best supporting actor; Best director; Best original score; Best cinematography; Best production design; best costume design; Best film editing.

Martin Scorsese’s latest film, set in the 1920s, explores the murders of members of the Osage Nation in their Oklahoma reservation by white Americans seeking to steal their oil wealth. Compared to its novel source material, Scorsese’s adaptation better centres the experiences and perspectives of the Osage. Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone (Blackfeet Nation) shines in her role as protagonist Mollie Kyle Burkhart, who uncovers the truth behind the murders. No matter the Oscars’ outcome, the Osage News, referring to the film’s 10 Academy Award nominations, wrote, “The Osage Nation and its people have already won.” / Tommy De Silva

Maestro (Netflix)

Nominated for: Best picture; Best actor; Best actress; Best original screenplay; Best makeup and hairstyling; Best cinematography; Best sound.

While the film is titled Maestro, it’s actually dominated by the Maestro’s wife, played by Carey Mulligan. Directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, it’s a sliver of the story of composer Leonard Bernstein and his somewhat tortured relationship with himself, his work and his wife, Felicia. Mulligan flips effortlessly between portraying a woman standing in the wings and something far more luminous. Once you tune your ear to Mulligan’s (very good) mid-Atlantic accent, sit back and enjoy her scene-stealing performance. Naturally, the soundtrack is fantastic, and while I’ve listened to the recording of Bernstein conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (the full title is too long to type) many times, I recommend plugging in the finest sound system you can find and cranking the volume on that scene. Fair warning, Maestro isn’t a bright, comfortable, chronologically ordered biopic. It’s bitsy, arty and, at times, ostentatious. It feels like something of an incomplete picture of Bernstein himself, fragmented and torn, but perhaps that’s the story Cooper was trying to tell. / Anna Rawhiti-Connell

Oppenheimer (Apple TV

Nominated for: Best picture; Best director; Best actor; Best supporting actor; Best supporting actress; Best original score; Best cinematography; Best adapted screenplay; Best production design; Best costume design; Best makeup and hairstyling; Best film editing; Best sound.

From our 2023 review: “Oppenheimer also offers a worthy reminder that while Nolan is arguably best remembered for his work in the science fiction and action genres, he’s a master of the dramatic as well – think 2017’s Dunkirk. The largely practical visuals are thrilling, and the soundscape is dark and immersive. Then there’s the extensive ensemble, probably the only thing Oppenheimer really does have in common with Barbie. Robert Downey Jr will likely crop up across awards season for a performance that will remind a lot of people he’s more than just Iron Man. But there’s also Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Florence Pugh – all of whom have more limited screentime, but are excellent.

There should also be honorary Oscars for Best Hat and Best Use of a Prop Cigarette, both of which Oppenheimer would surely win. / Stewart Sowman-Lund

Past Lives (Apple TV)

Nominated for: Best picture; Best original screenplay.

I saw this months ago during the NZ Film Festival and I still don’t think I’ve properly recovered. Past Lives is emotionally devastating, but in the best way possible. That’s because while it’s undoubtedly heart wrenching, it feels… almost optimistic. You’ll walk away from it grappling with why/how you’re feeling both incredibly sad and happy. It’s very unlikely Past Lives can knock the Oppenheimer juggernaut out of the Best picture race, but it’s the best film on the nominee list. It’s a real world story told by a first time filmmaker that, no matter the outcome of these silly awards, has a very bright career ahead. See it now, tell your friends, bring tissues. / SSL

Poor Things (in cinemas now) 

Nominated for: Best picture; Best actress; Best supporting actor; Best director; Best original score; Best cinematography; Best adapted screenplay; Best production design; Best costume design; Best makeup and hairstyling; Best film editing.

I was excited for this film because of Yorgos Lanthimos’ previous film, The Favourite, which I loved for its weirdness and exploration of sadness and madness and badness. My high expectations were quickly deflated about halfway through Poor Things, however, when I found myself bored and irritated. Yes it’s beautiful, the costumes, the world building all mesmerising. It was good and weird, and the acting was top notch (particularly by Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo), but the storyline was linear and predictable and I couldn’t shake the feeling that Poor Things was a male fantasy trying very hard not to be a male fantasy. For me the emotional depth wasn’t there and for all the fuss made of the dialogue, I didn’t find anything spectacularly memorable within it. But that’s just me. Definitely watch it for the performances alone, and given the resounding praise from elsewhere, it’s worth judging for yourself. / Claire Mabey

The Zone of Interest (in cinemas now)

Nominated for: Best picture; Best international feature film; Best director; Best adapted screenplay; Best sound.

Sometimes movies aren’t meant to be at all enjoyable and Zone of Interest is one of those movies. Rudolph Höss was the  Nazi commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He and his wife Hedwig live next door to the camp, growing vegetables, raising their children and hosting parties as thousands of Jews are executed over the fence. Their home home lives and concerns are as mundane as any one else’s, which is the whole point. Early in the film there is a scene where Hedwig tries on a fur coat that was confiscated from a Jewish woman, posing in the mirror and frowning at her slightly protruding stomach. It’s a quiet and horrifying scene. After the movie, I opened up a social media app on my phone and watched an IDF soldier standing in a home in Gaza, holding up “gifts” for his wife that he’d found among the Palestinian owners’ belongings. Zone of Interest is a must-see movie, if only to remind us of what is currently happening over our own fences. / Madeleine Chapman

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