Netflix seemed to get a little bit closer every year to winning the big Oscar prize. With Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white heavyweight Roma in 2019, The Irishman and Marriage Story by Martin Scorsese in 2020, Mank by David Fincher in 2021, The Trial of the Chicago 7 by Aaron Sorkin in 2022, and The Power of the Dog by Jane Campion in 2019.
The newly released, seven-time BAFTA-winning All Quiet on the Western Front, which is rapidly gaining ground in the best-picture race, is the streaming giant’s latest ace in the hole.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
The blockbuster from Joel and Ethan Coen features six tales of the American frontier, including shootouts, unsuccessful robberies, and a gold-digging expedition. It received nominations for the melancholy melody “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” its amusing storyline, and its elaborate costumes.
The Edge of Democracy (2019)
The collapse of two Brazilian presidents and the rise of populism are chronicled in Petra Costa’s operatic Oscar-nominated documentary with ominous overhead vistas, shocking historical video, and poetic narration. It is a frantic and unsettling viewing that jumps between corruption probes and recorded calls.
American Factory (2019)
A Chinese billionaire creates new jobs in Ohio years after a GM plant their shutters. Cultures clash, friendships are formed, and the future is uncertain in Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s insightful examination of what happens, for which they won the best documentary Oscar.
The Marriage Story (2019)
Noah Baumbach’s touching portrayal of a relationship in crisis, which was expertly written and utterly meme-able, earned Laura Dern an Oscar and nominations in five other categories, including for the heart-stopping performances by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as well as Randy Newman’s serene score.
What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Liz Garbus discovered a musical talent who was fiercely political and purposefully provocative when researching Nina Simone’s life and legacy. As a result, her work received an Oscar nomination for best documentary. It’s tough to resist becoming enthralled by the impact of her songs and the tenacity of her persona.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Spike Lee’s surreal war epic had just one nomination, thanks to Terence Blanchard’s sweeping score, but it’s still worth seeing for a number of other reasons, including the subtle nods to current events, the truly stunning turns, and Delroy Lindo’s career-defining performance.
The Power of the Dog (2021)
Aside from Jane Campion’s masterful direction, which received one of the film’s 12 nominations, other deserving contributors included Ari Wegner’s stunning cinematography, Jonny Greenwood’s tense score, and a quartet of outstanding performances from Kirsten Dunst, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
Pieces of Women (2020)
In Kornél Mundruczó’s tragic drama, Vanessa Kirby’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of a woman grieving the loss of her kid is a tour de force. You’ll be in awe of the breathtaking 24-minute birth scenario, in which her fearful joy gives way to uncertainty and horror.
The Lost Daughter (2021)
This intimate drama offers a compelling examination of disappointment, desire, and maternal ambivalence. It received nominations for director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sensitive screenplay, which she wrote after reading Elena Ferrante’s haunting novel, and Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley’s richly layered performances (as older and younger iterations of the same dissatisfied academic).
The Trail of the Chicago (2020)
The true story about a gathering of anti-war demonstrators by Aaron Sorkin is a riot. Sacha Baron Cohen’s scene-stealing supporting part, the snappy writing, the slick editing, the emotional “Hear My Voice” by Celeste, and the film’s dark photography all contributed to its nomination for best picture.