Why You Should Watch The (Other) 2024 Oscar-Nominated Movies

Michael Springthorpe
13 min readJan 28, 2024


2023 was a banner year for movie quality. Silver screen sweeties Bradley Cooper, Jeffrey Wright, Ayo Edibiri, and Jason Schwartzmann each appeared in three movies. Emma Stone, Margot Robbie, and Natalie Portman all produced incredible movies they starred in. New additions to the Spider-Verse and Mission: Impossible series outshined their already impressive predecessors. A three-hour biopic about congressional hearings and quantum physics became one of the highest-grossing films of the year. And Barry Keoghan slurped up Jacob Elordi’s bathwater.

Now, though, with the Oscar nominations finally out, a grumpy cloud has come over the previously joyful movie experience. The big story has been the snubs of both Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig in Actress and Director, respectively (I am the first person to say that, technically, they are both nominated this year, for producing and writing Barbie, but I still understand the disappointment), with even former Secretaries of State weighing in on the matter.

In witnessing the reaction to these snubs and others (Justice for Charles Melton), as well as talking to friends and coworkers, I get why plenty of people are upset Barbie didn’t get into certain categories. Part of it, I think, comes from the fact that people actually watched Barbie! Personally, I don’t mind the Best Actress lineup, but that’s because I’m a freak who saw all the movies instead of hanging out with friends, calling aging family members, or witnessing the majesty of nature.

(Everyone also saw Oppenheimer, but with its near-record-breaking 13 nominations, understandably no one is upset or calling “snub”. [So then why was it left on the Visual Effects shortli- Sorry, too much.])

So with this Oscars shaping up to be one of the best in terms of overall quality in years, I feel I must proselytize others into seeing some of these gems. So here you go, this is why I think you should watch each of the major Oscar-nominated movies (besides those two):

(Note: AMC Theaters are actually playing all the Best Picture nominees, except Maestro right now. They aren’t necessarily playing at every AMC Theater, but it’s worth a look to see any of these movies in a theater if you can.)

American Fiction

The Story: Fed up with how he feels the only Black literature that makes money fetishizes Black trauma or comes off as minstrel-y, a Black author writes a novel parodying it all…and it becomes a bestseller.

Where To Watch It: Theaters & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Score

Why You Should Watch It: Jeffrey Wright, long overdue for a star role like this, perfectly plays the grumpily erudite Monk, as he gets caught in a lie so big and twisted, it’s fit for a sitcom. Meanwhile, his personal life is thrown into chaos after a family tragedy. Wright perfectly balances the biting satire and family drama of this movie, and he gets to spar with the likes of both Erika Alexander and Issa Rae. Also, Sterling K. Brown plays A Big Gay Mess. What more could you want!

Anatomy of a Fall

The Story: A man falls to his death while working upstairs in the French Alps chalet he lives in with his wife and daughter. Was it an accident? Did she push him? Was it a suicide?

Where To Watch It: Theaters & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Screenplay, Editing

Why You Should Watch It: What the conceit of this Palme d’Or-winning movie hides is how funny, how thrilling, how beautiful this movie is. Sandra Hüller centers it in a purposefully mysterious (did she do it??) role as a writer who outshined her writer husband (and maybe even plagiarized from him). Despite being French, a significant amount of the movie is in English, and the courtroom scenes are on par with the Oppenheimer interrogations. I’m not familiar with what French court actually looks like, but in this movie, it plays more like a Real Housewives dinner (with less wine).

The Color Purple

The Story: A filmic remake of the musical, itself a musicalization of the 1985 film, which was based on the 1982 novel, it follows Celie as she grows up and tries to make a happy living for herself in the Jim Crow South.

Where To Watch It: VOD (February 16 on Max)

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actress

Why You Should Watch It: A few months ago, this movie was headed toward Best Picture and a slew of technical awards. After a disappointing box office, however, it was only left with a Best Supporting Actress nod for Danielle Brooks. Her performance alone is enough to justify a trip to the movies to see this, but Danielle is far from the only great thing about this movie. Beyond Danielle, Fantasia (in her film debut) shines reprising her role from the musical, Colman Domingo reminds us why he’s the best at playing abusive villains, Taraji P. Henson stuns in a performance only she could do, and a whole cavalcade of other incredible Black performers (Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Jon Batiste, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylot, Louis Gossett, Jr., etc etc etc) light up the screen. Plus — it’s a musical with bright colors, great costumes, and real sets!

The Holdovers

The Story: At a Massachusetts boarding school in the 70s, a curmudgeonly teacher must stay over Christmas break to supervise the one boy who can’t go home for the holidays.

Where To Watch It: Peacock & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Editing

Why You Should Watch It: Look I’ll just say it: this is THEE feel-good, they-don’t-make-em-like-this-anymore movie of the year. Paul Giamatti is doing his career best, Da’Vine Joy Randolph has an incredible level-up as the cafeteria manager who recently lost her son in Vietnam, and Dominic Sess EXPLODES in his first film role ever. Beyond the fact that this movie will win Supporting Actress, probably will win Actor, and has the best chance at taking Picture from Oppenheimer, it’s just so warm and fuzzy and funny and sweet.

Killers of the Flower Moon

The Story: A gut-punching true story of the murder of scores of Osage people in Oklahoma by the white settlers living alongside (and sometimes with) them.

Where To Watch It: Apple TV+ & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Score, Original Song, Costumes

Why You Should Watch It: While the book the movie is based on focuses more on how the events led to the creation of the FBI, Marty reworked the original script himself to focus more on the Native victims and the heinous men who committed the genocide. Here’s the thing, this is not a movie that you leave feeling happy, and it very much is 3.5 hours long, but it feels like a 90-minute thriller. Lily Gladstone anchors the entire story, with Leo and DeNiro making transformatively vile turns (Bobby has been quick to compare his character to Trump, of course). A movie with maybe the best final scene of the year, Killers has a strong case for a few technical awards, and Lily is neck-and-neck for Best Actress.


The Story: Following up his smash A Star is Born remake, Bradley Cooper wrote, directed, and stars in this biopic of Leonard Bernstein, focused on his relationship with his wife, Felicia, and his queer identity.

Where To Watch It: Netflix

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actress, Actor, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound, Makeup & Hairstyling

Why You Should Watch It: Bradley’s directorial debut (along with everything about his personality) showed that he was serious about being the next actor-director auteur. While he hasn’t had his Reds moment yet, Bradley’s certainly proved he means business. It’s been much talked about that he spent 6 years studying Bernstein & conducting for 6 minutes of conducting in the movie. But here’s the thing — he is really good at it! I am personally not familiar with a lot of the Bernstein story (the movie notably skips over a lot of significant parts of Bernstein’s life, like making West Side Story, in favor of domestic drama), but I still found Bradley and Carey’s performances entrancing, and so locked in, even for the multiple long-take argument scenes.

May December

The Story: Inspired by the story of Mary Kay Letourneau, this pitch-black satire tells the story of an actress visiting the real-life subjects of an upcoming movie she’s making. Now together for over a decade as consenting adults, cracks in the marriage emerge as a relationship built on statutory rape is hyper-analyzed.

Where To Watch It: Netflix

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Screenplay

Why You Should Watch It: I know I’m describing the story of a victim of an underage relationship as a comedy, but it is! The movie satirizes the way the media’s sensationalism exacerbates crimes and further ruins the lives of those involved. Also, Julianne Moore opens a fridge, a melodramatic piano sting hits, and she says “I don’t think we have enough hot dogth”, and it cuts to approximately fifty hot dogs on a grill. (And yes, I spelled that right: as part of developing her psychologically vile Gracie, Julianne Moore gave her a lisp!) Natalie Portman shines as the secretly demented actress who definitely thinks she’s Daniel Day-Lewis. But the biggest story is probably Charles Melton, whose subdued performance conveys a man who has been vaulted into being a middle-aged dad, while simultaneously arrested in mental adolescence.


The Story: Based on the true story of Diana Nyad, this extremely classic sports flick follows a competitive endurance swimmer who, at the age of 60, decides she still wants to complete her athletic white whale: swimming from Cuba to Key West unassisted.

Where To Watch It: Netflix

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress, Supporting Actress

Why You Should Watch It: This movie surprised everyone by showing up at all. Admittedly, it’s only in two acting categories, but a week ago this was a mostly unseen Netflix biopic. The thing about its nominations — Annette Bening and Jodie Foster for the titular character and her best friend/coach — is that they are extremely deserving! As a whole, the movie isn’t Citizen Kane by any definition, but the performances (including Rhys Ifans as the grizzled boat captain/navigator) truly are incredible. Plus, Annette actually did a bunch of the swimming — and it’s a LOT of swimming! It’s a nice easy movie to watch on a lazy weekend or a plane. And those movies deserve love, too.

Past Lives

The Story: A Korean-American writer — who moved to the States as a preteen — reconnects with an old crush from Seoul online. When the friend visits New York, old feelings reemerge as she thinks about what could have been, and what she has now with her husband.

Where To Watch It: Paramount+ & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Original Screenplay

Why You Should Watch It: While not as flashy as, say, Oppenheimer, or even Killers of the Flower Moon, every single element of this movie is perfectly made, which makes it even more shocking that it is Celine Song’s directorial and screenwriting debut. A heartbreaking story of regret, mixed with a heartwarming story of realizing what you already have, it’s a kind of rom-dram that we rarely get anymore. Beyond Celine — which is hard to do with this movie — the movie is further bolstered by just beautiful performances by three beautiful people, with Greta Lee at the top.

Poor Things

The story: In a steampunk vision of Victorian London, a woman with the brain of a baby “grows up” under the care of her Victor Frankenstein-esque father. Eventually, she sets off to discover the world: cruise ships, Paris, sex, pastries, dancing, and the evil that makes men hate any woman they can’t control.

Where To Watch It: Theaters & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Score, Costumes, Makeup & Hairstyling

Why You Should Watch It: I’m not the first person to say this is R-rated Barbie. It is! It’s also absurdist Frankenstein, with more sex scenes and quasi-pedophiles per capita of any film this year. In other words, it’s a hilariously dark, ridiculous piece of feminism. Director Yorgos Lanthimos creates a fantastical, science-fictiony world that spotlights the over-sexualization of women in society and how they find their way. Producer Emma Stone also stars in an incredibly layered and detailed performance — she starts very much playing an infant, then rapidly ages through childhood, her teen years, then adulthood, perfectly embodying the physicality, psychology, and manner of speaking of each stage. Maybe don’t watch it with your parents, but it’s an incredible satire that still has fart jokes and boobs.


The Story: Bayard Rustin is often considered the architect of the March on Washington, but as he prepares for the historic event, he keeps hitting roadblocks, often in the form of his fellow Civil Rights Leaders feeling that being Black and gay is too much to handle.

Where To Watch It: Netflix

Oscar Nominations: Best Actor

Why You Should Watch It: Without a doubt, this is the “worst” movie on this list. Art is subjective, but most people would agree with me. Personally, I would say that that doesn’t mean this is an objectively bad movie. The script is basic, and it’s filmed in the Netflix house style (i.e. super bright, no excitement). But the story is one I’m sure many people, myself included, weren’t that familiar with, and the acting is great. It’s led by its sole nominee, Colman Domingo (only the second out gay man to be nominated for Best Actor), as the titular Rustin. I’ll say this about Colman’s performance: while I liked this movie less than any other movie on this list, I’ve thought about rewatching more than at least a few others, and that’s all because of his performance.

The Zone of Interest

The Story: The story follows the life of a German family going through struggles every family can relate to — balancing work and life, making your home beautiful, and living up to the expectations of your parents. The only difference is that this family lives on the other side of the wall from Auschwitz, where the father is commandant during the Holocaust.

Where To Watch It: Theaters & VOD

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Sound, International Feature

Why You Should Watch It: I’m aware that the “pitch” of this movie may not sound very appealing. The director, Jonathan Glazer, is aware of that, too, and that’s kind of his goal. Without a doubt, this is one of the most visually and audibly stunning movies of the year — it’s shot in a bright & slow cinema verité style that makes it feel like a documentary at times. Possibly the movie’s greatest masterstroke is its sound design, though. You never step foot in the concentration camp in this movie. You stay in the beautiful gardens, or the well-kept house. The only sign of the horrors happening tens of feet away is the sight of the wall, the rooves of the barracks, and the steady stream of smoke coming from chimneys. And the sound. While children laugh and play in a pool, the background is always tainted with the faint sounds of train engines, barking dogs, gunshots, and the anguished cries of human beings being sent to slaughter. Seeing this movie is like eating your vegetables, yes, but at least Jonathan Glazer puts a balsamic glaze and fresh rosemary in there.

That’s the story and I’m stickin’ to it! I hope you found this guide helpful. This Oscars is one of the best lineups we’ve had in years. From Best Picture to Best Production Design, the nominees are almost all high-quality work.

But these movies aren’t the only “good movies” from 2023. Like any year, there were movies that got completely snubbed or only showed up in the “below the line” categories. I won’t give full reviews, but here are some of other special, funny, beautiful, and just plain great movies from 2023 that are worth your time:

  • All of us Strangers (Theaters, Hulu February 22)
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (Starz, VOD)
  • Asteroid City (Amazon Prime)
  • Beau is Afraid (Paramount+)
  • BlackBerry (AMC+, VOD)
  • Bottoms (Amazon Prime)
  • Boy and the Heron (Theaters, Max eventually)
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Amazon Prime, Paramount+)
  • El Conde (Netflix)
  • Fallen Leaves (Muni, VOD)
  • Ferrari (Theaters)
  • Godzilla Minus One (Theaters)
  • The Iron Claw (Theaters)
  • John Wick: Chapter 4 (Starz, VOD)
  • The Killer (Netflix)
  • Knock at the Cabin (Amazon Prime)
  • Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning (Paramount+)
  • Napoleon (VOD)
  • No Hard Feelings (Netflix)
  • Perfect Days (Theaters)
  • Polite Society (Amazon Prime)
  • Priscilla (VOD)
  • Society of the Snow (Netflix)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Netflix)
  • The Taste of Things (Theaters)
  • The Teacher’s Lounge (Theaters)
  • A Thousand and One (Amazon Prime)
  • You Hurt My Feelings (Paramount+)



Michael Springthorpe

Camp Director, Teacher, Performer, and Writer who moved to New York City, then realized there's no woods here. @springthorpeman on Twitter and Instagram.