22 Early Oscar Contenders You Can Stream Right Now

·17 min read

It's now fall, which means that awards season is upon us!

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Technically they won't be giving out any awards until November, but the film festivals are up and swinging, so it's basically awards season.

And while there are of course lots of great films playing in theaters, we've already got plenty of this year's Oscar hopefuls streaming.

ABC / Via giphy.com

Yes, Spike. That is super exciting.

So get hyped (like Meryl) because here are 22 of this year's Oscar contenders that you can watch at home right now.

ABC / Via giphy.com

1.Annette

Marion Cotillard holding flower prepares to kiss Adam Driver in a motorcycle helmet

What It's About: An opera-inspired musical about a comedian who falls in love with an opera singer, serenades her while eating her out, and becomes the father to a puppet. (Yes, it is a strange film.)

Why It Has Buzz: The film from French auteur Leos Carax made a splashy debut at the Cannes Film Festival, where critics were enamored by the Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard performances at its center. Modern musicals like A Star Is Born and La La Land have done well in recent years, so there is precedent, and Adam Driver is hot off of BlacKkKlansman, Marriage Story, and that horse photo.

Potential Nominations: While there is an outside shot that it could nab a Best Picture or Director nom, it's much more likely to grab a Best Actor nomination for Driver (although he's competing with himself in father, son, and House of Gucci), Best Original Screenplay, or Best Score. Its best bet is for Best Original Song for the jaunty opener "So May We Start."

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Black Widow

Florence Pugh and Scarlett Johansson ride a motercycle

What It's About: In a prequel to Avengers: Endgame, Natasha Romanov, aka Black Widow, reunites with her fake Russian family to take down a ring of female assassins being controlled through brain chips.

Why It Has Buzz: Eleven of the past Marvel Cinematic Universe films have landed Oscar noms totaling up to 19 nominations and three wins (all for Black Panther). There is certainly reason to think it could squeeze out some love from the Academy, especially in this shortened Oscar year.

Potential Noms: Best Visual Effects is the primary target here, but there's a chance that if voters like the film, they'll throw it a Best Sound nomination as well. Too bad Best Popular Film never got off the ground.

Where to Stream: Watch it now with Premier Access on Disney+.

Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Coda

Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Emilia Jones lean on a log in the water together

What It's About: A hearing teenage girl in an all-deaf family is torn between following her passion for music, which her family doesn't understand, and helping them keep their struggling fishing business afloat as their translator and connection to the outside world.

Why It Has Buzz: After earning rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival last winter, it was acquired by Apple in a festival record-breaking deal for $25M, and achieved a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score at its release. It's an easy, feel-good film with great performances, an interesting story, and a massive corporation backing it. It's also the frontrunner heading into the fall festivals.

Potential Noms: If the tiny film continues to build steam, it could snag a Best Picture nomination. Others that look likely are Best Supporting Actress for previous winner Marlee Matlin, Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Sound of Metal, another hearing-focused film, was the late dark horse of last year's Oscars, taking home trophies for Film Editing and Sound, so while Coda is less impressive on those fronts, it could also break through.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on AppleTV+.

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Cruella

Emma Stone looks at the camera seated across the desk

What It's About: Before Cruella de Vil was skinning puppies to make coats, she was a low-level fashion intern trying to give her boss a mental breakdown by ruining her business and becoming London's premiere designer.

Why It Has Buzz: Even poorly regarded Disney remakes like Mulan and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil have managed to claw their way into below-the-line Oscar categories. These are big-budget films that everyone watches and have the backing of a powerful studio, so you can never count them out. Cruella itself got respectable reviews on top of that.

Potential Noms: If it doesn't get a Best Costume Design nomination, I'd be shocked. Both Mulan and Mary Poppins Returns got them, and this is a whole movie ABOUT FASHION. The newly expanded Best Hair & Makeup category also bodes well for Emma Stone's many black and white wigs. There is technically an original song, so it could find a spot in that chaotic category, but beyond that, it's hard to find other entry points.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Disney+.

Laurie Sparham/Disney+/Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Cry Macho

What It's About: A VERY OLD Clint Eastwood (he's 91) is hired to drive to Mexico, kidnap a kid, and bring him back to the US in this film he directed. Why It Has Buzz: Just look at the numbers: 16 films that Eastwood directed earned a total of 41 nominations and 13 wins, including Best Picture wins for both Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. His most recent film, Richard Jewell, landed Kathy Bates a surprise nom, and the Academy loves rewarding an industry veteran — even, in some cases, a polarizing one — with a career-topping honor. Who knows how many more chances they'll have to nominate Mr. Eastwood. Potential Noms: A Best Actor nom for Eastwood seems like the obvious choice, but if the Academy appreciates the film (and they love a Western) we could see Best Picture, Director, or Adapted Screenplay as well. Where to Stream: Watch it now on HBO Max. 

What It's About: A VERY OLD Clint Eastwood (he's 91) is hired to drive to Mexico, kidnap a kid, and bring him back to the US in this film he directed.

Why It Has Buzz: Just look at the numbers: 16 films that Eastwood directed earned a total of 41 nominations and 13 wins, including Best Picture wins for both Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. His most recent film, Richard Jewell, landed Kathy Bates a surprise nom, and the Academy loves rewarding an industry veteran — even, in some cases, a polarizing one — with a career-topping honor. Who knows how many more chances they'll have to nominate Mr. Eastwood.

Potential Noms: A Best Actor nom for Eastwood seems like the obvious choice, but if the Academy appreciates the film (and they love a Western) we could see Best Picture, Director, or Adapted Screenplay as well.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on HBO Max.

Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Max Harwood poses at the end of a runway

What It's About: A teenage British boy dreams of being a drag queen and sings his way through a musical toward that end.

Why It Has Buzz: Never count out a musical, especially one based on a highly popular West End smash. It also stars recent Oscar nominee and social media icon Richard E. Grant as Jamie's drag mentor, a juicy supporting role ripe for awards season.

Potential Noms: Well, we'd love to see Richard E. Grant on the awards circuit again, so let's get that campaign going. And as with most movie musicals, the team was smart enough to inject an original song to the mix, so watch out for Jamie in that category too. If the film builds steam, it could also make a play for Hair & Makeup or Costume Design.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Amazon Prime Video.

John Rogers/20th Century Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla and King Kong prepare to clash above a smoking battle ship

What It's About: So there's this giant dragon thing called Godzilla and this giant monkey called King Kong, and they sort of, like, fight a bunch while Millie Bobby Brown runs around and tries to stop them.

Why It Has Buzz: All in all, there isn't much, but its predecessor Kong: Skull Island, which is arguably a worse movie, earned a Visual Effects nomination — so if the Academy is watching King Kong movies, they could vote to give the sequel some love too. After all, both Kong and Godzilla are visual effects.

Potential Noms: Best Visual Effects. That's it.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on HBO Max.

Warner Bros. Pictures

8.The Green Knight

Dev Patel stands by a horse

What It's About: One of King Arthur's knights has to endure a bunch of trippy tasks on a journey to get his head chopped off after he's lost a bet.

Why It Has Buzz: There's a lot of buzz here. First we've got former Oscar nominee and charmer Dev Patel acting his ass off in the leading role. Then we've got the fact that it's a period drama based on an enduring classical epic (something the Academy often gets behind). It's been racking up nice reviews for several months and is backed by A24, the studio behind Lady Bird, Moonlight, and last year's Minari.

Potential Noms: Costume Design seems like the strongest bet here, with Hair & Makeup close behind. If critics bolster it with their awards and Academy members aren't put off by its weirdness, it could also scoop up Visual Effects, Cinematography, and even top prizes like Picture, Director, and Best Actor.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Eric Zachanowich/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

9.In the Heights

Stephanie Beatriz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Dascha Polanco sit amid posing sunbathers near a pool

What It's About: There's a heatwave and blackout in Washington Heights, New York, and all the inhabitants sing about it while they try to fall in love and figure out who won the lottery.

Why It Has Buzz: It's a big-budget, high-production-value musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the mind behind the awards juggernaut Hamilton. Although it underperformed at the box office, it got amazing reviews from the critics and boasts some of the most impressive set pieces of the year so far. The fall films had better watch their backs because this is breathing down their necks.

Potential Noms: Truly nearly everything. Picture, Director, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Song, Production Design, and Sound could all be up for grabs. In the acting categories, Anthony Ramos in lead seems like a bit of a reach, but Olga Merediz as Abuela Claudia could easily earn a Supporting Actress nomination. It really all depends on how much this film from July is on people's minds in January.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Luca

Alberto Scorfano and Luca Paguro hide in the water under seagulls

What It's About: A pair of sea monsters who turn into humans on land, run away from home, and live in a tiny town that hates sea monsters.

Why It Has Buzz: It's Pixar. Of it's 23 eligible films, only 5 have not been nominated for an Oscar, and of those only The Good Dinosaur was an original (and even that was a bit of an anomaly because Inside Out, another Pixar film, won the Best Animated Feature Oscar that year, so there was intense competition in house). Luca is the only Pixar offering this year and should sail to a nomination.

Potential Noms: Best Animated Feature is a shoo-in. Beyond that a possible score nomination is it's only hope.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Disney+.

Disney+/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Pig

A bloodied Nicolas Cage holds two plates

What It's About: When a truffle-hunting pig is stolen from Nic Cage, he, a socially awkward recluse, goes on a rampage through Portland, Oregon, trying to find her.

Why It Has Buzz: Nic Cage is due for a comeback. He hasn't been nominated for an Oscar since 2003, and he's been working hard ever since. The world (and Nic himself) are leaning into his bizarre acting choices, and it's only a matter of time before he lands the right role to catch Oscar's attention. Is this that role? Perhaps.

Potential Noms: Sadly, I think it starts and ends with Cage. If he's not getting a nom, no one is. (Unless that is, they add an award for sensuous cooking montages.)

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

David Reamer/Neon/Courtesy Everett Collection

12.A Quiet Place Part II

Emily Blunt carries a baby and leads Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe through some weeds

What It's About: A now-fatherless family flee their farm in search of safety from creepy monsters that hunt and kill humans based on hearing alone.

Why It Has Buzz: Well, the original film snagged a Sound Editing nomination and with sound playing such a massive role in the sequel as well, it wouldn't be shocking to see it show up in that category. We've also got the fact that Emily Blunt, despite being a well-respected six-time Golden Globe nominee, has never been nominated for an Oscar. Perhaps this is her time to shine?

Potential Noms: Best Sound is the most obvious, but with the monsters playing a larger onscreen role in the sequel, I wouldn't rule out a Visual Effects nomination. And then, of course, there is Best (Supporting) Actress for Blunt. While she is top billed, you could argue that she's really only in one-third of the film's plotlines and run her in a perhaps weaker supporting field.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Paramount+.

Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

13.Raya and the Last Dragon

Sisu and Raya sit side by side

What It's About: A girl named Raya (duh) who is looking for the last dragon (duh) so she can banish some evil spirits from her world.

Why It Has Buzz: Basically the same as with Pixar. Disney is a behemoth in the animated category, and on the off years when Pixar isn't taking home the top prize, it's going to Disney Animation films like Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia. While Disney does have Encanto coming out this fall and might have to settle for one or the other, Raya has earned great reviews and is sitting pretty among a weak field at the moment.

Potential Noms: Well, Best Animated Film for sure is the best bet. Jhené Aiko did record an original song for the film, so there's a possibility there and in score, but it will probably just be Best Animated.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Disney+.

Walt Disney Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Respect

Jennifer Hudson prepares in her dressing room while Mary J. Blige looks on

What It's About: It's Aretha Franklin's life story.

Why It Has Buzz: It's a famous Oscar-winning actress in a buzzy biopic about an iconic singer in which the actress does her own singing. Need I say more?

Potential Noms: Of course, the main play here is a Best Actress nomination for Jennifer Hudson (who won the Supporting Oscar for Dreamgirls). Unfortunately the so-so reviews from critics makes this more of a Judy situation than an A Star Is Born. As every good musical biopic delivers, however, there is one original song (sung by Hudson) on the track list, so keep an eye out for this in Best Original Song, even if Hudson is overshadowed.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Apple TV.

Quantrell D. Colbert/MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

Rita Moreno speaks while wearing a pink hat

What It's About: A documentary about Oscar-winning actress and singer Rita Moreno.

Why It Has Buzz: In recent years documentaries focused on single iconic subjects (Mr. Rogers, RBG, James Baldwin, O.J. Simpson) have done well at the box office and with the Oscars. This is another in that vein, and the subject matter will be familiar to film buffs. Plus with West Side Story also coming out this year, Moreno will be top of mind all season long.

Potential Noms: Best Documentary is it, I'm afraid.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Roadside Attractions/Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain eats ice cream

What It's About: A documentary about celebrity chef, author, and host Anthony Bourdain.

Why It Has Buzz: Anthony Bourdain (RIP) is beloved by foodies everywhere, and this documentary follows his life and career. What better way to honor the legacy of this man than to nominate the documentary for an Oscar?

Potential Noms: Again, just Best Documentary.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Shiva Baby

Rachel Sennott scoops food onto a plate

What It's About: A bisexual Jewish girl arrives at a Shiva to find her ex-girlfriend, her parents, her sugar daddy, and his wife all present and ready for awkward encounters.

Why It Has Buzz: While comedies don't often fare well at the Oscars generally, there is usually a spot or two in the screenplay category for especially well-written, poignant, funny films. Also, this one has the added plus of getting up close and personal with the Jewish community, not often presented on the big screen.

Potential Noms: Its best bet would be in Best Adapted Screenplay. It seems like it would take a big swing to land any other nominations. Molly Gordon, however, steals scenes in every single movie she's in (even when the movies themselves aren't great). Mark my words: She will be receiving an Oscar nomination before long, and I'd love for her to get one here.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on HBO Max.

Utopia/Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Stillwater

Matt Damon wears flannel and looks off into the distance

What It's About: It's basically what would have happened if Amanda Knox had a folksy dad who worked on an oil rig who flew to Europe to try and exonerate her.

Why It Has Buzz: Well, we've got previous Oscar winner Matt Damon in a big performance (complete with accent) starring opposite Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin in a film directed by Tom McCarthy, who most recently directed Best Picture winner Spotlight.

Potential Noms: It's tough to say because while the film got generally positive reviews, it didn't find success at the box office, and its early release means it's got a lot of competition following it this fall. Best Actor for Damon seems most obvious (although he potentially shot himself in the foot with comments he made on the press tour) with potential Original Screenplay and Picture nominations on the outside.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Jessica Forde/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

19.Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Big Bird leads a marching band

What It's About: A documentary detailing the history of the beloved children's show Sesame Street.

Why It Has Buzz: We love a nostalgic documentary, and this one seems to be hitting the right spot. Also, if last year's victory by My Octopus Teacher over four more important, well-constructed, deeper films tells us anything, it is that voters may be looking for something that leans harder on accessibility and pathos than anything else.

Potential Noms: Just Best Documentary Feature.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

20.Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Gladys Knight and the Pips performing at the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969

What It's About: Questlove's documentary detailing the 1696 Harlem Cultural Festival, which despite lasting weeks and drawing massive crowds was overshadowed in history by Woodstock.

Why It Has Buzz: It's an important documentary unearthing a vital piece of cultural history that got buried. It's got a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and was championed and directed by Questlove, who certainly has a much higher profile than most documentarians.

Potential Noms: Again, it's hard to break out of the Documentary Feature category for docs.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Hulu.

Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

21.Together, Together

Ed Helms and Patti Harrison practice at a birthing class together

What It's About: A lonely single man bonds with his surrogate as they spend the nine months of pregnancy together.

Why It Has Buzz: The film made history earlier this year for being one of the first to cast a transgender woman in a leading role as a cisgender character. The comedy is witty, the performances spot on, and its reviews from critics were glowing.

Potential Noms: The obvious choices here would be Best Original Screenplay or Best Actress for Patti Harrison (who it should be noted would be the first openly transgender person to be nominated in an acting category). If the film does well, Ed Helms could nab a Best Actor slot, and then Best Picture would also be in reach.

Where to Stream: Watch it now on Hulu.

Bleecker Street Media/Courtesy Everett Collection

22.Zola

Riley Keough and Taylour Paige look at each other

What It's About: A story about "why she and this bitch fell out," while they were in Florida on an ill-fated stripping trip.

Why It Has Buzz: It's another A24 release with much-hyped performances and an exciting visual style. Also, it's got Cousin Greg in it, and with Succession coming back soon, all projects involving Roy family members get a boost.

Potential Noms: Riley Keough in Best Supporting Actress for playing a wildly manipulative call girl with an insane accent seems like the obvious choice. Cinematography, Editing, and Adapted Screenplay could also be plays.

Where to Stream: Rent it now on Amazon Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection