‘CODA’ and the best of the rest: Five Oscar movies to watch on streaming in March

Emilia Jones considers a life beyond her family in ‘CODA.’ (Courtesy of Apple TV Plus)

These days it feels like there are as many streaming platforms as cable networks. It’s overwhelming to figure out what you’re in the mood for, much less whether it’s available to watch, so read on to discover which other streamers have Academy Award recognition ready to go.

“CODA” (2021) on Apple TV Plus: This small town family film started as a surprise Sundance favorite to become the Best Picture winner. Is the hype real or just a late surge award campaign that masked its quality?

“CODA” (or Child of Deaf Parents) brings us into the world of Ruby, a teenage girl (Emilia Jones) who’s the only member of her family who can hear. She helps her father (Tony Kotsur) and older brother (Daniel Durant) with their fishing business off the shores of Massacuttes. She also has a temperamental relationship with her mom (Marlee Matlin). Ruby feels isolated at school because of her background but works up the courage to audition for the choir. Her director (Eugenio Derbez) sees incredible potential in her as a singer, encouraging Ruby to apply to the Berklee College of Music. However, her family’s fishing business is struggling, and must adapt to survive, pulling her away from her dreams to help them transition.

Directed by Sian Heder, “CODA” lacks the masterclass craftsmanship that highlighted other Best Picture nominees like “West Side Story,” “The Power of the Dog,” and “Dune,” but its aesthetic is more than competent. The movie’s true power is how this family drama engages audiences more than almost anything else I saw last year. The performances are all uniformly excellent, particularly in the scenes featuring Jones and Kostur, who won Best Supporting Actor. “CODA” is the kind of movie where you’ll spend the first half-hour wondering what the big deal is, then the last half hour reaching for tissue after tissue.

TL;DR Verdict: Watch ASAP

Ready for more Oscar-winning movies? Here are a handful of movies available on other streaming platforms to help you finish out the month.

  1. “Almost Famous” (2000) on Hulu: Director Cameron Crowe won his first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his semi-autobiographical look back at the 70s music scene. William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a precocious 15-year-old aspiring writer, lands a gig for Rolling Stone to write a story on the rising band Stillwater. As he’s swept into the revelry and rush of a rock tour, he falls in love with one of the band’s young groupies, Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). “Almost Famous” is an easy watch, filled with classic music, wry humor, and compelling drama as William sorts out the fantasy and reality of fame.
  2. “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) on Peacock: Director Ang Lee earned high acclaim for his film exploring homosexual desire amongst men in the frontier 16 years before “The Power of the Dog.” Cowboys Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves unable to resist their attractions for each other while alone on the prairie, but they struggle under the weight of their private love while in the “real world.” “Brokeback Mountain” brought LGBTQ perspectives to mainstream audiences with acclaim and controversy. The movie was a favorite to win Best Picture but lost to “Crash,” which is often considered one of Oscar’s biggest misses. However, Lee still won Best Director for his work here.
  3. “The Lives of Others” (2006) on Criterion Channel: This German drama places us in the Cold War era of East Berlin in the 80s, as a surveillance expert (Ulrich Muhe) monitors the daily activities of a rebellious playwright (Sebastian Koch) and his girlfriend (Martina Gedeck). Writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck weighs the morality of advanced technology and authoritative rule against humanity, a question that remains relevant today with the proliferation of voice-activated home devices. “Others” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Once you’re done with that, check out Criterion’s extensive catalog of other category winners.
  4. “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018) on Hulu: Director Barry Jenkins is quickly becoming one of the skilled filmmakers of his generation, memorably winning Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for his second movie, “Moonlight.” His follow-up was “Beale Street,” a drama about a young pregnant woman (KiKi Layne) working to prove the innocence of her lover (Stephan James) so they can begin their lives together as a family. The cast also includes Regina King, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Jenkins has a strong sense of style and a focus on underrepresented stories in cinema that will likely continue to make his work a must-see.

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Mark Ciemcioch

Mark Ciemcioch

Movie enthusiast. Follow and subscribe for exclusive content!

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