Nine 2019 Oscar Contenders You Can Stream Right Now

Before Oscar Season Gets Completely Underway...

By Sam Eichner ·

As one horse race ends, so another one begins—although, admittedly, with way, way less at stake.

Yes, those nerve-wracking midterms are finally over (and, thankfully, democracy may live to see another election cycle). But Oscar season is just heating up. In the next few weeks, we'll get the premieres of a few of this year's most quote-unquote "serious" contenders: Peter Farrelly's Green Book, starring Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali; Steve McQueen's thriller, Widows; Barry Jenkins' follow-up to Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel; and The Favourite, oft-deranged Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos's aristocratic dark comedy, with Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Meanwhile, the fourth (fourth!) iteration of A Star Is Born has already announced itself as the frontrunner, buoyed by endless memes, Bradley Cooper's gravely voice and Lady Gaga's triumphant shout-singing. There are even murmurings of Cooper becoming the first person to win five awards in a single year, for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Song. 

Given you'll have more than your fill of Oscar contenders to see in theaters over the next few months—we didn't even mention Alfonso Cuarón's extremely personal black-and-white Spanish-language film, Roma, Adam McKay's Dick Cheney biopic and the Nicole Kidman-Lucas Hedges conversion therapy drama, Boy Erased—we thought you might use this time to catch up on nine films in the Oscars conversation you can stream at home right now.

Or over Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving works, too. 

Black Panther

If you haven't heard of it...: Well, we're sure you've heard of it. Ryan Coogler's Marvel movie is widely considered the apotheosis of the form, with lush cinematography from Rachel Morrison, music from Kendrick Lamar and star turns from Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o and hipster villain, Michael B. Jordan. Watching the invigoratingly fresh Black Panther had the effect of making one realize just how stale (and how white) so many installments were that came before it. 
Its Oscar prospects: Many presumed (and probably rightly so) that the Academy's plans to establish the Best Popular Movie award were conceived as an insurance policy designed to guarantee Black Panther an Oscar nomination. Those plans have since been abandoned. And they needn't have been worried. It seems highly likely at this point that Black Panther will receive a Best Picture nom, while Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan have an outside chance at Best Director and Best Supporting Actor nods, respectively. 
Where to streamNetflix

Leave No Trace

If you haven't heard of it...: It's a quiet film about a father (Ben Foster) and his 13-year-old daughter (Thomasin Mackenzie) who live Thoreau-like existence off-the-grid, until a mistake forces them to confront the strictures of modern civilization. This was director Debra Granik's first film since Winter's Bone, which starred a young(er) Jennifer Lawrence in a breakout role that garnered the actress her first Oscar nomination. 
Its Oscar prospects: It's a long shot for Best Picture and Best Director. But with issues of representation at the fore, particularly with regards to female directors, don't be surprised if Granik sneaks in for a (much-deserved) nomination. 
Where to stream: Amazon Prime

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

If you haven't heard of it...: This is Morgan Neville's heartwarming documentary of Mr. Rogers, who's fundamental belief in the power of kindness can serve as a much-needed balm for our politically caustic times. Case in point: it's the highest-grossing documentary of the year, and the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all-time.
Its Oscar prospects: Won't You Be My Neighbor? is all but guaranteed a Best Documentary Feature nomination, and will likely take home the prize.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime

Minding the Gap

If you haven't heard of it...: That's likely because the skate movie you've been hearing about is Jonah Hill's directorial debut, Mid '90s. Hill's film is perceptive about the ramshackle community skateboarding provide for boys, as well as what those boys feel like they have to go through to be accepted—as both skaters and men. It's far better than Crystal Moselle's needlessly overwrought Skate Kitchen, which deals with similar issues from a female perspective. But Minding the Gap effortlessly captures the authenticity of adolescent yearning Hill and Moselle try so desperately to recreate. It's a deeply personal documentary of three friends growing up in broken homes in Rockford, Illinois, and it's about skating—insofar as skating is a way to escape their home life, and an activity during which they're free to be themselves. But it's also about what it means to become an adult under the constant fog of childhood trauma. Minding the Gap is a truly one-of-a-kind movie.
Its Oscar prospects: Too few people have seen Minding the Gap for it to be a serious contender in the Best Documentary Feature category. But given its Hulu's best chance to break into the Academy Awards, I would expect them to make a push. 
Where to stream: Hulu

A Quiet Place

If you haven't heard of it...: It's Office-alum John Krasinski's competently directed high-concept horror movie, about a family living in a post-apocalyptic world where making too much sound results in monsters with ginormous ears tearing you limb from limb. 
Its Oscar prospects: It's a long shot in both the Best Picture and Best Director categories, but it does have a few things going for it—namely, the fact that its done over $180 million at the box office. 
Where to stream: Amazon Prime

Eighth Grade

If you haven't heard of it...: It's comedian Bo Burnham's beloved directorial debut, a coming-of-age dramedy with a breakout performance from Elsie Fisher that tugs at the heartstrings while ably portraying what it's like to be a middle-schooler in the Instagram era. (Umm..it's terrifying.)
Its Oscar prospects: Expect Burnham's sweetly funny, true-to-life script to be rewarded with a Best Original Screenplay nomination.
Where to streamAmazon Prime 

The Death of Stalin

If you haven't heard of it...: It's a deliciously dark comedy of errors about the events following the death of Stalin in Soviet Russia, directed by the sharp-tongued creator of Veep, Armando Iannucci.
Its Oscar prospects: It's got a chance in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, particularly, if the Academy's older voters managed to have seen it. Iannucci has been nominated in this category before, for 2009's In the Loop
Where to stream: Amazon Prime


If you haven't heard of it...: That's probably because you were too afraid to watch the trailer. Ari Aster's directorial debut is as much a psychological family drama as it is a horror flick, but it's widely considered the scariest (and most disturbing) movie of the year.
Its Oscar prospects: The best chance for some Oscar love here is a Best Actress nomination for Toni Collette, who, with a face seemingly sculpted by the Hollywood gods for horror, gives an indelibly real and terrifying performance as a grief-stricken matriarch. 
Where to stream: Amazon Prime

First Reformed

If you haven't heard of it...: It's Paul Schrader's career-culminating meditation on faith and sex and violence (and the environment), which is at times painfully still, at times ecstatic, and, during its electrifying conclusion, unsparingly raw. In it, a taciturn pastor (Ethan Hawke) becomes radicalized following the death of a local environmental activist.
Its Oscar prospects: Schrader could very well score a Best Original Screenplay nom for his reflective, writerly script here, while Ethan Hawke, in what's easily best performance of his career, should nab a Best Actor nomination. 
Where to stream: Amazon Prime

Sam Eichner

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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