This may be the best pre-Oscar season of all time for movie fans, because never before have so many nominated films been available to stream on major platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu and Paramount+ before the awards show in March. We’ve rounded up a stunning 21 nominated films streaming now (or coming no later than March 2). So make sure your subscriptions are up to date (or grab some new ones!) and enjoy this new bounty of Oscar gold. You can link to streaming platforms from our alphabetical list, below.
In a documentary without narration, view 51 scenes from the new China, where workers aspire to make the Chinese Dream come true with jobs that pay $2.99 and sometimes even offer a place to sit down instead of standing up all day. They vie to make pencils, vape pens, Keep America Great merch and eerie sex dolls, or learn to be British butlers (“No matter how he humiliates you, pretend to be obedient”). But don’t bother to apply if you’re over 38, warns one employer.
Watch it: Ascension, on Paramount+
Being the Ricardos
3 nominations, including Best Actress and Best Actor
Nicole Kidman, 54, plays a brittle Lucille Ball, whose I Love Lucy ruled 1950s TV. Writer-director Aaron Sorkin, 60 (The West Wing), makes the love-and-loathe story between Ball and her on-screen and real-life Cuban American husband, Desi Arnaz (a loose and engaged Javier Bardem, 52), a workplace dramedy unfolding in a single crisis-plagued week. The controlling leading lady’s alleged communist past and Arnaz’s infidelity threaten both the sitcom and their marriage. J.K. Simmons, 67, steals the show as William Frawley, the sardonic, hard-drinking actor who played the Ricardos’ neighbor Fred.
Watch it: Being the Ricardos, on Amazon Prime
7 nominations, including Best Picture
This semi-autobiographical masterpiece from Kenneth Branagh (61) focuses on a sensitive kid (Jude Hill) playing war with a wooden sword and a trash-can-lid shield as grownup Protestants and Catholics battle in the streets for real. Ciarán Hinds (69) and Judi Dench (87) are radiant as the hero’s warmly waggish grandparents. It evokes a time and place through a child’s eyes, and makes you feel part of the torn town and the unbreakable family.
Watch it: Belfast, on Amazon Prime
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3 nominations, including Best Picture
In this irresistible coming-of-age tale of a CODA, or child of deaf adults, Ruby (Emilia Jones) helps her irascible hearing-impaired folks (Marlee Matlin, 56, and The Mandalorian’s Troy Kotsur, 53) and brother (Daniel Durant) with the family fishing business in a salty Massachusetts town. She joins the school choir — there’s a cute boy — and proves to be a Glee-level singer with a shot at Berklee College of Music. When Ruby sings “Both Sides Now,” her parents can’t hear it, but they can feel it, bridging both the generation and hearing gaps.
Watch it: CODA, on Apple TV+
Coming 2 America
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy, 60, who also plays multiple supporting characters) ascends the Zamundan throne after the death of King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones, 91). The rules of succession demand a male heir, which leads him and wingman Semmi (Arsenio Hall, 65) back to Queens — and the illegitimate son (Jermaine Fowler) he unwittingly left behind. Does comic chaos ensue? Definitely. The cast — charismatic Wesley Snipes, 59, as the evil general from Nextdoria; Leslie Jones, 54, as the brassy baby mama; and funky Tracy Morgan, 53, as the lad’s uncle, to name a few — is delicious.
Watch it: Coming 2 America, on Amazon Prime
Don’t Look Up
4 nominations, including Best Picture
In an amazingly star-studded comedy, nerdy Leonardo DiCaprio and punky, nose-ringed Jennifer Lawrence are astronomers who warn America that a comet is about to pulverize Earth. The president (Meryl Streep, 72) and her horrid son and adviser (Jonah Hill) fear the news will hurt their polling numbers. She lets a tech zillionaire nut (superbly weird Mark Rylance, 62) and a Dr. Strangelove–ish general (Ron Perlman, 71) run the calamitous U.S. comet response for the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (which really exists).
Watch it: Don’t Look Up, on Netflix
Drive My Car
In a brilliant adaptation of a story by Japanese literary giant Haruki Murakami, a traumatically widowed man directs a Hiroshima stage production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, starring an actor who may have loved his late wife, and gradually opens his heart to his young chauffeur. It’s an intergenerational classic.
10 nominations, including Best Picture
Few movies justify the word “spectacular” as amply as this 155-minute sci-fi epic set on Arrakis, a more impressive desert world than Luke Skywalker ever saw. Its massive dunes look like Lawrence of Arabia’s, only patrolled by giant, lamprey-like sand worms, with eight-winged dragonfly-like helicopters buzzing overhead. There’s a nice vibe between the planet’s steward, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), and his son Paul (Timothée Chalamet), who is ambiguously blessed with supernatural gifts.
In the mountains of Colombia, the magical Madrigal family is losing its mojo, so their teenage daughter goes on a quest to save them all. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s soundtrack beat Adele on the Billboard charts, and the movie’s hit tune, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” is the “Let It Go” of our time.
Watch it: Encanto, on Disney+
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Jessica Chastain plays bubbly Tammy Faye Bakker, who fell for her Bible school classmate Jim (Andrew Garfield), a natural-born evangelist inclined to crime, sexual peccadilloes and illegal payoffs to accusers. Watch them build their religious puppet show for kids into a multimillion-dollar TV empire, and a vast Disneyland for Christians that was both sincere and a scam. Chastain’s Tammy Faye is a grifter with a heart of gold under that mink.
The Hand of God
Paolo Sorrentino won the foreign-film Oscar for The Great Beauty, and Italy hopes his charming autobiographical coming-of-age-in-Naples movie will repeat the feat.
Watch it: The Hand of God, on Netflix
The Lost Daughter
3 nominations, including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress
Leda (a glorious Olivia Colman), an academic pushing 50, travels solo to a Greek island for summer sun and gets entangled in the traumas of glistening young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson). As Leda becomes obsessed with Nina, her clingy young daughter and the extended family swirling around them, the encounter triggers sharp, undigested personal memories. Enter the brilliant Jessie Buckley in flashback as the younger Leda, raising daughters while pursuing an ambitious career, struggling with domesticity’s crushing demands and being seduced at an academic conference by Professor Hardy (director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s husband, Peter Sarsgaard, 50).
Watch it: The Lost Daughter, on Netflix
4 nominations, including Best Picture
A grifter (Bradley Cooper) flees his fiery past into a lurid carnival and learns the art of the con from a clairvoyant (Toni Collette) and her drunk, broken mentalist husband (David Strathairn, 72). Will he find true magic with a circus girl (Rooney Mara) who’s as radiant as the heroine in Fellini’s La Strada? Or will he go bad, helping a terrifying psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett, 52) fleece a sinister plutocrat (Richard Jenkins, 74)?
The Power of the Dog
12 nominations, including Best Picture
Jane Campion’s glorious, sweeping and intimate Western is set at the volatile crossroads of horse culture and the horseless carriage in 1925 Montana, on the ranch of the bachelor Burbank brothers: menacing Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and temperate George (rock-solid Jesse Plemons). Phil, rangy of build and cunning of eye, is a charismatic and cutting alpha dog. But beneath his bullying hide, he has repressed his authentic, vulnerable self. His secrets erupt when George weds the widow Rose Gordon (a finely wrought performance by Kirsten Dunst), who triangulates their relationship, threatening Phil’s fierce frontier facade.
Watch it: The Power of the Dog, on Netflix
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Even if you don’t like Marvel movies, try this one. Besides the eye-popping Oscar-nominated visual effects, it’s got the wonderful Awkwafina as a car parker swept up in a martial-arts struggle with an ancient warrior (legendary Tony Leung, 59). There’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon–like aerial combat and that film’s star Michelle Yeoh (59) as a kung fu mentor.
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Cinema’s archaeological find of the year is Questlove’s documentary boasting long-forgotten footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the Woodstock-sized event where 300,000 watched superstar acts, including Nina Simone, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Sly and the Family Stone, the 5th Dimension, the Staples Singers and Stevie Wonder the year they quit calling him “Little Stevie.” The winner of Sundance’s Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize is as riveting as The Beatles: Get Back.
Tick, Tick ... Boom!
Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Hamilton was inspired by Jonathan Larson’s smash hit Rent, creates a heartwarming cinematic love letter to Larson in his days of struggle as a Moondance Diner waiter trying to launch his first musical, living in terror that he’ll reach 30 without getting it staged. (He died at 35, just before Rent premiered and conquered the world.)
Watch it: Tick, Tick ... Boom!, on Netflix
The Tragedy of Macbeth
Denzel Washington (67), a longtime master of Shakespeare onstage and on-screen, and three-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (64) play the king-killing duo not as young and hungry — the typical take — but as an older couple seizing their last chance at soul-destroying power. Kathryn Hunt is scarier still as all three of the Weird Sisters who give Macbeth his fatal marching orders.
Watch it: The Tragedy of Macbeth, on Apple TV+
West Side Story
7 nominations, including Best Picture
Steven Spielberg, 75, directs a thundering adaptation of the classic musical with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, 65. Like the 1961 original, it’s set in 1957. As the wrecking ball levels a Manhattan slum, rival ethnic gangs the Jets and the Sharks rumble. Meanwhile, Jet Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Shark little-sister Maria (Rachel Zegler) fall in love at first sight, catalyzing the turf wars. Elgort hits the right notes but doesn’t sizzle. Shiny newcomer Zegler sings angelically. Rita Moreno, 90, who won an Oscar for playing the spunky Anita in 1962, still twinkles.
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.