Streaming

15 top Oscars contenders and how to watch them

From a Northern Ireland dramedy to a slew of Best Picture contenders on Netflix, here's how to catch up on the year's best films.

Will Smith in "King Richard."
Will Smith in "King Richard." Warner Bros.

With the Golden Globes skipping a televised ceremony this year, it may come as a surprise to some that movie awards season is already in full swing. Nominations for the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and other major voting bodies have all come out in the past month, and nominations for the 2022 Oscars are set to be announced Tuesday, Feb. 8.

While the Globes have always grabbed the headlines (for better or worse), the award ceremonies of the various guilds — including the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Directors Guild of America (DGA), and Producers Guild of America (PGA) — are much better at predicting which movies will be top contenders for the 2022 Oscars, which will be held this year on March 27.

Advertisement:

Unless you’ve been paying close attention to awards season chatter, you may be wondering: What are the top Oscar contenders for 2022? And can I watch any of these likely Oscar-nominated movies streaming at home?

Though many Oscar prognosticators have developed complex algorithms to predict who will earn Academy Award nominations, the simplest way to think about awards season is to look at what the various branches of the Academy Awards voters who are also part of another awards-voting body are doing. SAG, for example, is comprised of working actors, many of whom also vote on the Oscars. The SAG nominees are historically highly predictive of the Oscar nominations for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Ditto the DGA for predicting Best Director nominations, and the PGA for picking Best Picture.

To help make sense of awards season and to give you some top-notch weekend viewing options, we took a look at the various guild nominations and crunched the numbers from awards predictions site Gold Derby.

Here are some of the top Oscar contenders for 2022, including several you can stream at home right now.

The Best Picture Favorites

“Belfast”

Kenneth Branagh’s black-and-white feel-good dramedy is a deeply personal one, with the director setting his semi-autobiographical movie in the 1960s Northern Ireland capital he grew up in. We see the difficulty of growing up in an era known as “The Troubles” through the eyes of nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), an unassuming boy thrust into a world of religious hate and neighborhood brinksmanship. “Belfast” has the second-best odds to land a Best Picture Oscars nod, per Gold Derby, and has scored perquisite nominations like Best Picture from the PGA, Best Director from the DGA, and a SAG nod for Outstanding Cast and Best Supporting Actress (Caitriona Balfe).

Advertisement:

How to watch: “Belfast” is currently showing in theaters, but is also available to rent and stream on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and various other on-demand platforms.

“The Power of the Dog”

Jane Campion’s Western drama has been named the best movie of the year on an overwhelming number of critics’ top 10 lists, and currently has the best odds to land a Best Picture nomination, according to Gold Derby. Set in 1925 Montana, the film centers around two ranch-owning brothers, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch, “Dr. Strange”) and George (Jesse Plemons, “The Irishman”). When George marries innkeeper Rose (Kirsten Dunst, “Bring It On”), Phil makes life difficult for her and her son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Road”). Likely to also land Oscar nods for Best Director and acting nominations for Cumberbatch, Dunst, and Smit-McPhee, Campion’s film is dark, foreboding, depressing, and utterly unmissable.

How to watch: “The Power of the Dog” is streaming on Netflix.

“Dune”

Apologies to Marvel fans hoping that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” might swing into the Best Picture conversation: The only big-budget action movie likely to get any Oscars attention is “Dune,” the gorgeous, sprawling, hypnotic dreamscape from Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”). The adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi masterpiece not only scored a requisite PGA nod, it also added a DGA nod for Villeneuve, another strong indicator for Best Picture chances. Even if “Dune” defies the odds and is shut out in the top category, Gold Derby lists it as the favorite or second favorite for a gaggle of technical awards, including cinematography, costume design, film editing, sound, score, production design, and makeup and hairstyling.

Advertisement:

How to watch: “Dune” is available to rent and stream on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and various other on-demand platforms.

“Licorice Pizza”

Director Paul Thomas Anderson first gained wide attention with 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” a sprawling portrait of the rise and fall of a young porn star (Mark Wahlberg) in 1970s Los Angeles. His newest, “Licorice Pizza,” returns to the same time and place, but instead focuses on a striving child actor (Cooper Seymour Hoffman) and a directionless 20-something (Alana Haim) who form a bond that defies labels and expectations. Beyond Best Picture, expect Oscar nods for Best Director for Anderson and an outside shot at Supporting Actor for Bradley Cooper and Haim for Best Actress.

How to watch: “Licorice Pizza” is playing only in theaters.

“West Side Story”

It’s the movie that launched a million thinkpieces: What does it say about the future of cinema, writers wondered, if a critically acclaimed remake of a beloved musical directed by one of the most popular filmmakers of all time (Steven Spielberg) is a box office flop? Hopefully executives at 20th Century Studios chalk up the struggles of “West Side Story” to the pandemic, and audiences will find a way to watch it over the next six weeks because it’s a film well worth your time. Consider “West Side Story” a near-lock for Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress (Ariana DeBose), with a shot at many more down-ballot awards as well.

How to watch: “West Side Story” is playing only in theaters.

A Good Chance for Gold

“Being the Ricardos”

In the last 12 years, 89% of movies to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination were also nominated for the top award by the Producers Guild. Before the PGA list was unveiled Thursday, Aaron Sorkin’s Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz biopic “Being the Ricardos” was seen as an edge case, with Gold Derby listing it as having the 11th best odds for a Best Picture field that maxes out at 10. That said, given that the SAG Awards also nominated the performances of Nicole Kidman as Ball and Javier Bardem as Arnaz, “Being the Ricardos” appears to be picking up steam.

Advertisement:

How to watch: “Being the Ricardos” is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

“CODA”

A Sundance smash subject to a fierce bidding war earlier this year, “CODA” stars Emilia Jones (“Locke and Key”) as a 17-year-old CODA (child of deaf adults) living in Gloucester. When her choir director suggests she pursue music school for college, she must decide between pursuing her dreams and helping her deaf parents and brother run the family fishing business. Filmed in Massachusetts in 2019, “CODA” has been the little indie underdog of the awards season thus far. It now has a PGA nod, a WGA nod for Adapted Screenplay (Sian Heder), and SAG nominations for Outstanding Cast and Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur).

How to watch: “CODA” is streaming on Apple TV+.

“Don’t Look Up”

With more than 600 people involved in the big-budget production of “Don’t Look Up” in Boston, the running joke is that as long as the entire cast and crew votes for it, “Don’t Look Up” could land a Best Picture nomination. The disaster satire didn’t exactly wow critics (it currently has a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but director Adam McKay landed a WGA original screenplay nod, a Best Picture nomination from the PGA, and a SAG nod for Outstanding Cast.

How to watch: “Don’t Look Up” is streaming on Netflix.

“King Richard”

The Williams sisters get the biopic treatment — or more specifically, their dad does, with Will Smith playing Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis legends Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton). Smith is a Best Actor shoo-in, and Gold Derby gives “King Richard” sixth-best odds for a Best Picture nod, which is backed up by its PGA nomination.

Advertisement:

How to watch: “King Richard” is available to rent and stream on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and various other on-demand platforms.

“tick, tick… BOOM!”

With “tick, tick… BOOM!,” “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has found a story he can easily tell onscreen: the tale of a struggling creative who is unwittingly on the precipice of writing a great musical. As the late playwright Jonathan Larson, Andrew Garfield is likely to score a Best Actor nomination. The film itself is right on the edge in terms of Best Picture, with Gold Derby giving it the ninth-best odds. If the Academy nominates a full field of 10, Miranda’s musical could make it.

How to watch: “tick, tick… BOOM!” is streaming on Netflix.

Other Possible Nominees

“The Lost Daughter”

Based on the Elena Ferrante novel of the same name, “The Lost Daughter” is yet another masterful performance from Olivia Colman, who won a Best Actress Oscar in 2019 for “The Favourite” and could have easily won a Supporting Actress award last year for “The Father.” In this psychological drama from actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colman plays a prickly college professor on vacation in Greece who inserts herself in the lives of a young mother (Dakota Johnson) and her three-year-old daughter. “The Lost Daughter” may not win much else, but Colman seems like a near-lock for another Best Actress nomination.

How to watch: “The Lost Daughter” is streaming on Netflix.

“Passing”

Actress Rebecca Hall (“The Town”) produced an impressive directorial and screenwriting debut with “Passing.” The drama follows two Black women who grew up together. After losing touch, they reconnect by chance in a shop, where Irene (Tessa Thompson, “Creed”) discovers that Clare (Ruth Negga, “Loving”) is living as a white woman. “Passing” doesn’t seem to be getting quite as much awards traction as it deserves, but Negga stands a good shot at a Supporting Actress nomination.

Advertisement:

How to watch: “Passing” is streaming on Netflix.

“The Tender Bar”

“The Tender Bar” isn’t getting a ton of awards buzz, but it did land a wholly deserved Supporting Actor SAG nod for Ben Affleck. Based on J.R. Moehringer’s memoir of the same name (and filmed in the Boston area in 2021), Affleck steals the show as Uncle Charlie, a father figure who dispenses wisdom from behind the bar to protagonist J.R. (played as a child by Daniel Ranieri and as a 20-something by Tye Sheridan). Director George Clooney won’t likely see much Oscar love for his film, but based on the SAG nod for Affleck, the Cambridge native might be in luck.

How to watch: “The Tender Bar” is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth”

By nature, the works of Shakespeare are beloved for their elegant words, verses, and turns of phrase. In “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Joel Coen’s first directorial effort without his brother, Ethan, it’s the visuals that take center stage, even as The Bard’s syllable-perfect lines are largely kept intact. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” missed out on a PGA nod for Best Picture, but Denzel Washington is a strong candidate for Best Actor as the murderous Macbeth.

How to watch: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is streaming on Apple TV.

“House of Gucci”

Director Ridley Scott didn’t have much luck with his other 2021 film, the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck medieval drama “The Last Duel.” But he might be able to get at least a couple of nominations for “House of Gucci,” his biopic/crime drama about the murder, romance, and intrigue that enveloped the Gucci family in the 70s and 80s. Lady Gaga (Best Actress) and Jared Leto (Supporting Actor) earned SAG nods for their performances, both of which are deeply committed and larger than life.

How to watch: “House of Gucci” is playing only in theaters.

This survey has ended.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com