When Oscar nominations were announced last week, the Documentary Feature category was among the most surprising; acclaimed docs like Dick Johnson Is Dead, All In, and Boys State were all shut out, in favor of five diverse films, ranging from terrific to a disappointing and ineffective. Here are my reviews of the nominees, in order from best to worst.
There are more vegans in the ‘biz than you’d think, and more and more celebrities — and everyday folks — are opting for a cruelty-free lifestyle.
How to Watch the 2021 Oscar Nominated Films
Here is a list of all of the nominated films, in order of nominations, and where to watch them. Most feature-length films are available to rent, if you don’t have any of the main streaming services, and some of are in limited theatres (as always, follow COVID protocols).
2021 Oscar Predictions
I’ve used some fancy, schmancy math — based on nominees’ previous wins and total nominations thus far — as well as my knowledge of what the Academy tends to like, in order to predict the nominees. Hopefully, the nominees will be more diverse and representative of what America looks like now.
Review: I Care A Lot (2021)
The dark comedy I Care A Lot from writer-director J Blakeson is based in reality, and points viewers to the sad fact that people are often taking advantage of elderly individuals with no real heirs, by posing as their legal guardians. Blakeson’s film certainly takes things to the extreme, and is a pitch-black comedy with no truly likable characters.
Review: The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)
It’s disappointing that a movie featuring such important, relevant material — drug use, lynching, among others — can be so, well, disappointingly bad. I certainly hope Lee Daniels redeems himself after this atrocity, and that Andra Day is able to find another script and filmmaker worthy of her talent; however, she has said that this role took so much out of her that she may never act again.
Review: The Mauritanian (2021)
I was fortunate to get to watch a screening (through The Hollywood Reporter) of The Mauritanian, one of the last movies to be released during this incredibly long awards season. It’s a very powerful story, directed by veteran filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, featuring a couple of solid performances but is inconsistent in its story and execution.
Review: The Prom (2020)
Apparently, queer-centric films can be as disappointing as heterosexual ones. That said, I still appreciated The Prom’s message of love and acceptance; I just wish it’d been executed better.
Review: Hillbilly Elegy (2020)
I could probably write a whole book about everything that’s wrong with this movie. What keeps me from assigning it the lowest grade imaginable is Close’s performance, but I don’t think it’s enough to win her the Oscar, nor is it enough to make me recommend that anyone watch this.
Review: Minari (2020)
Who’d have thought that Minari, a film that centers on an Korean immigrant family that tries to start a farm in Arkansas during the 1980s, would end up being the quintessential American film? It represents the American dream in ways both subtle and overt, and it irks me to no end that it has received numerous foreign film nominations, simply because a great deal of the dialogue is in Korean.