Five Oscar movies to watch on Amazon Prime in March

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem in “Being the Ricardos”

Our focus on the upcoming Academy Awards and Oscars past continues with an overview of Amazon Prime’s offerings. However, the streaming giant doesn’t have any of the Best Picture nominees included in its subscription service without paying an additional rental or purchase fee. Therefore, let’s focus our attention on a movie that’s received top-level acting nominations:

“Being the Ricardos” (2021): Lucille Ball became one of the biggest stars in entertainment and a pioneer in television through her sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” so it’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long for the actress to receive the cinematic biography treatment. But after watching “Being the Ricardos,” you begin to see why it’s perilous to capture one of the most iconic and recognizable figures of the 20th century.

Nicole Kidman plays Ball while Javier Bardem is Desi Arnez, Lucy’s real-life husband and co-star on the show. Despite the formative challenge, both actors are impressive in bringing Lucy and Desi’s sitcom personas and behind-the-scenes demeanor to life. It can take some getting used to, especially as Ball’s backstage personality is much more confident and determined than the movie’s audience may have expected.

Director and writer Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay, is more of an issue. It commits the typical biofilm sin of having the subject’s most important life moments all happening in a short amount of time, along with the now-tired Sorkin dialogue. He’s terrible at writing comedy, choosing to self-identify every spoken joke so another character can verbally confirm that joke was indeed funny. Still, literally nobody in the scene cracks so much as a giggle or snort. Sorkin falls to his own worst instincts repeatedly while distracting from the storytelling.

Instead of “Being the Ricardos,” check out the new Amazon Prime documentary “Lucy and Ricky” that details the lives and careers of the famous couple. As directed by Amy Poehler, the documentary is far more insightful about Lucille Ball than the Oscar-nominated film.

TL;DR Verdict: Skip this, watch the documentary “Lucy and Ricky” instead

“Being the Ricardos” is not the modern Academy Award nominee film I wish I could recommend, but Amazon Prime has several Oscar winners available to stream that remain engaging classics.

  1. “Forrest Gump” (1994): If you’re nostalgic for that time in the 90s when everybody was nostalgic for the past, do I have the movie for you. Tom Hanks won his second Oscar for Best Actor as the developmentally-challenged title character whose life intersects with the major events of the back half of the 20th century. “Forrest Gump” is a fable of the American identity, and while there’s been much debate as to whether it’s a worthy Best Picture winner, the movie itself is still an entertainment melodrama.
  2. “Talk to Her” (2002): A few weeks back, I praised director Pedro Almodóvar’s latest, “Parallel Mothers,” so the availability of his widely-praised drama from 20 years ago lept out at me like a slasher movie villain in the final reel. Two men form a bond through tragedy as they connect while visiting their comatose female partners in the hospital. Almodóvar was nominated for Best Director and won Best Original Screenplay for “Talk to Her.” Generally, it’s worth watching whenever a foreign movie breaks into the major categories because it lacks the standard Oscar-bait cliches.
  3. “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946): I’m not sure how much of an aversion there is to classic Hollywood films, but this Best Picture winner is one of the old school films that feel positively modern. “The Best Years of Our Lives” is one of the first films to examine the trauma of war, as three WWII veterans return to their communities emotionally and physically scarred from their call of duty. Director William Wyler doesn’t shy away from the pain and awkwardness as the men struggle to find a way to live the life they once knew.
  4. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991): FBI student Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is pulled into the case of a serial killer and is tasked with working with the brilliant murderer Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins). Taut, tense, and thrilling, “Silence” is not only one of the premiere Oscar winners (taking Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actresses for the leads), but likely to land on everybody’s lists as one of the greatest films ever made. If you’ve never seen “Silence,” you’re in for an incredible time. You’ll know watching it again is time well spent if you have.



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