The awards season is already well underway and several films are already carving out a place for themselves. If you’re looking to get a head start on which movies are most likely to land Oscar nominations, here are a few worth checking out.
The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
“The Power of the Dog,” won multiple Golden Globes earlier this month, including Best Picture Drama, and has multiple Screen Actors Guild nominations to its name. Much of the commotion comes from the performances, especially from Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch. Smit-McPhee in particular has already snagged a Golden Globe for his sickly son work, and he’s the movie’s best stealth weapon.
The other best surprise of the film is at the end. For most of its runtime, “The Power of the Dog” feels like a sweltering family drama that just happens to be set in the Wild West. A deeply satisfying final twist, however, transforms the film into a completely different genre. You might even want to watch everything again, just to catch any bits you might have missed.
West Side Story (in theaters)
Although it wasn’t a box office success, Steven Spielberg’s take on the classic story was cleaned up at the Golden Globes. It landed the big win for Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture, as well as the awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture. .
It’s the ladies who snagged the last two awards, Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose, who are the main reason award watchers see the film. Zegler, a complete stranger, is both luminous and heartbreakingly youthful as Maria. DeBose is even more of a revelation as Anita, the role pioneered by Rita Moreno. She absolutely lives up to her legendary predecessor, and it’s impossible to look away from every moment she’s on screen.
Being the Ricardos (Amazon Prime)
Although it received other nominations, the main reason to catch “Being the Ricardos” is Nicole Kidman’s performance as Lucille Ball. Interpretation rather than imitation, Kidman successfully evokes the comedic genius and savvy businesswomen who managed to co-run an entertainment empire. It’s a darker vibe than Ball’s on-screen persona, but it’s one of the most interesting parts of the film.
She also has a captivating dynamic with Javier Bardem, who plays Ricky Ricardo. The two add layers to their depiction of a historic power couple, evoking the rhythm of two people who form a team even when they can’t stand each other. Bardem has yet to win, but her performance is another major source of nominations for the film.
Also discover: “Tick, Tick… Boom!” (Netflix), “CODA” (Apple TV+), “Encanto” (Disney+), “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) and “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple TV+).
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning film critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or email her at [email protected].