The Oscars are about a month away, and nobody likes it when they ask you who you think should win and you say something like, “Well I haven’t seen all the nominations, but I really liked Iron Man 3… wait, was Django this year or last?”
I hate to get tough with you like this, but we’re trying to have an artistically informed civilization here, so if you could start holding up your end that’d be terrific.
The bad news on this front is that most of the nominees aren’t yet out on DVD or streaming, and some are not playing in theaters anymore.
The Carmike 12 has Philomena, Her, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle still playing. For the presumptive frontrunner and an all-around heavy night out, The Darkside Cinema still has 12 Years a Slave. Dallas Buyers Club is the only one out on DVD for rental, with Gravity getting its DVD release on February 25th.
If you want to get caught up on some animated fare, Frozen is still at the Carmike obliterating all competition. The Croods, a surprise nominee over Monsters University, is already available for streaming on Netflix, and features the voice of lunatic genius Nicolas Cage. Despicable Me 2, the lazy but likable by-the-numbers nominee is available on DVD. Unfortunately the two clear frontrunners in the category, Miyazaki’s swan song The Wind Rises, and French charmer Ernest & Celestine, are not stateside yet, with the former hitting theaters this month and the latter on DVD in April.
Here’s where things get very interesting, especially for you couch potatoes; four of the five nominees for best documentary are already available on Netflix. The Square, a historic Netflix produced doc about the struggle for democracy in Egypt, Dirty Wars, about the US war on terror, Cutie and the Boxer, about an eccentric couple of aging Japanese artists, and the revelatory, brilliant and unforgettable The Act of Killing, about Indonesian genocide (and so much more) are all readily available for your streaming pleasure. The lone unavailable nominee is 20 Feet from Stardom, about the trials and triumphs of backup singers, but you saw that when it was at the Darkside a few months ago, right?
The Great Beauty and Broken Circle Breakdown both played at the Darkside Cinema, and will soon be available on DVD and streaming services. Omar, a sure to be controversial thriller about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by the same director as previous nominee and controversy courter, Paradise Now, doesn’t get a US release until February 21. The Missing Picture is a Cambodian documentary about the Khmer Rouge and doesn’t get released in the US until after the Academy Awards, so no luck there either. The good news is The Hunt, a fabulous and stirring Danish drama starring the incomparable Mads Mikkelsen (TV’s Hannibal), is already available for streaming on Netflix.
This is a lot of homework for you, I understand, so let me point you in the right direction: The Act of Killing, available on Netflix, is the best film of this year or possibly any other. It deserves attention and discussion.
Get to work.
by Ygal Kaufman