Awards contenders you can stream right now

Hollywood's annual awards season madness is in full swing — and now that the Academy Award Nominations have been announced, it's about to hit fever pitch. Even as many of this year's biggest winners are still making rounds at your local cineplex, streaming services have already brought a number of "for your consideration" campaigns into the living rooms of film lovers across the globe. Grab some popcorn and study up for your awards season office pools by streaming these contenders right now.

Blade Runner 2049 (iTunes, Amazon)

With its lavish production design, jaw-dropping cinematography, and A-list talent, Blade Runner 2049 had the makings of a 2017 box office champion. Only that didn't happen: Despite receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews, 2049 failed to connect with the moviegoing public. Though it would eventually pull in almost $260 million at the worldwide box office, the film still feels like one of the bigger busts of the year.

While Blade Runner's underperformance likely led to a general awards season snubbing, Denis Villeneuve's dazzling follow-up to the classic 1982 original seemed destined to score some of Oscar's less-coveted awards. It should come as no surprise, then, that Blade Runner 2049 very quietly entered the Oscar race this year by landing five Academy Award nominations in technical categories.

Among them is an astonishing 14th nomination for legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who's shockingly never taken home a statue. This might just be his year — and if it isn't, well, the Academy should probably stop nominating him altogether.

Good Time (iTunes, Amazon)

Sometimes even a great movie is just a little too small to be noticed in the chaos of awards season. With its frenzied, hyper-kinetic energy and unflinching realism, the Safdie brothers' gritty, neon-drenched crime drama may be the best little movie of 2017 — and it also happens to feature a towering performance from a nearly unrecognizable Robert Pattinson. The actor's international appeal helped Good Time score big at last year's Cannes Film Fest (where it was nominated for the Palm d'Or and took home the Best Composer statue for Oneohtrix Point Never's propulsive original score).    

Still, with the film's studio, A24, pushing the brilliant Lady Bird and The Florida Project heavily this awards season, Good Time has sadly been lost in the mix. Luckily, there's a place where little movies still have a chance to collect a trophy or two: The Film Independent Spirit Awards, where Good Time is competing in a handful of categories at this years' ceremony, including nominations for Pattinson as Best Male Lead and The Safdies themselves as Best Director.

Get Out (iTunes, Amazon, HBO Go)

Sometimes what appears to be a really small movie can rise to unimaginable heights. Brought to you by writer-director Jordan Peele — here making his feature debut — a little known lead in Daniel Kaluuya, and boasting the dreaded "genre film" tag, Get Out immediately proved itself one of the biggest surprises of 2017 when it premiered almost a year ago.

Peele's incisive, racially charged tale of a young black man meeting his white girlfriend's family ultimately proved to be a movie very much of its moment: Get Out earned nearly universal critical acclaim and transcended demographic barriers to become one of the year's box-office champs. It has not so quietly become an awards season darling as well, contending in major categories across multiple races — and that includes the Academy Awards, where Peele made history by becoming the first African-American nominated for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture in the same year.

Dunkirk (iTunes, Amazon)

Of course, Get Out has some serious competition in the Best Picture and Best Director categories this year. High on that list is Christopher Nolan and his narratively audacious WWII drama Dunkirk. Following the incredible true story of the Allied Forces' attempts to escape the German army via the titular beach in France, Dunkirk initially pits itself as a classically drawn war story.

If you've seen the film, then you know there's nothing classic about Nolan's approach. As Dukirk unfolds (by land, sea and air, and over separate timeframes, no less) Nolan turns the concept of a war movie on its head, crafting a visceral, immersive, wholly original experience in the process.

With Dunkirk's impressive eight Oscar nominations, Nolan's army is out to prove their film's "survival is victory" mentality can pay off in awards season. If the Academy has proven anything over the years it's that they're suckers for a good WWII flick. The only question is whether they'll embrace one as unconventional as Nolan's.

Loving Vincent (iTunes, Amazon)

Traditional wisdom would tell you that the Best Animated Feature category in any awards season is pretty much decided the moment Pixar schedules a film for release, so it should come as no surprise that even before the Oscars, Pixar's Coco cleaned up on the 2018 awards circuit. What may surprise you is the film that's been contending with Coco every step of the way: Loving Vincent. It recounts the tragic life and mysterious death of artist Vincent Van Gogh, and unlike Coco's eye-popping CGI confections, Loving Vincent's animation is entirely hand-painted.

You read that correctly. Loving Vincent was painstakingly assembled from 65,000 hand-painted oil on canvas frames crafted in the beloved artist's iconic style — only these frames move. To watch Loving Vincent is to spend 94 minutes actually walking through Van Gogh's paintings. It's as exhilarating as it sounds and with all due respect to Team Pixar, if there ever was a year when one of their films should take second place, this is it. Loving Vincent may just be the film to do it.

Mudbound (Netflix)

Netflix has released a number of acclaimed original features, but 2017 really felt like the streaming giant's breakout year — so it's only appropriate that one of its most well-reviewed releases would garner a little love during awards season. Mudbound has gotten more than a little bit, too: Writer-director Dee Rees' uncompromising tale of two families — one white, one black — struggling to survive in the Jim Crow South has earned the film a trip to every major awards show from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards.

Still, given Hollywood's overall icy view of Netflix's release model, many wondered whether a trip down Oscar's red carpet would become a reality for Rees and her team, but the film landed four nominations — including nods for Mary J. Blige (Supporting Actor and for Best Original Song), Rees and her Mudbound co-writer Virgil Williams (Best Adapted Screenplay), and Director of Photography Rachel Morrison, who becomes the first woman ever nominated in the Best Cinematography category. Look out, Oscar — Netflix has officially arrived.

Wonder Woman (iTunes, Amazon)

Of all the 2017 films that ended up vying for awards season glory, Wonder Woman might be the most surprising. Not because it isn't a great film. It is. No, Wonder Woman's awards season run has been a surprise because it's a superhero movie, it was directed by a woman, it features a strong female lead, and none of those facts exactly scream "prestige picture" — at least not the sort of prestige that gets attention from awards voters.

Yet here we are. After swooping into theaters to save the summer movie season (and reframing the superhero movie conversation in the process) Wonder Woman also changed the awards contender conversation by scoring nods from the SAG and Producers Guild awards. While it was surprisingly snubbed by Oscar, Wonder Woman's awards season run was still plenty exciting to watch.  

Logan (iTunes, Amazon, HBO Go)

Wonder Woman wasn't the only superhero movie released in 2017 to end up chasing awards season glory. After scoring a surprise Best Adapted Screenplay nod from the Writers Guild of America, James Mangold, Scott Frank and Michael Green dropped a few more jaws across Hollywood when the Academy followed suit by nominating their screenplay for Logan in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

Seems that after years of all but ignoring the superhero set while handing out serious awards, the establishment has finally acknowledged that there's a bit more going on in the genre than just silly costumes and big-budget bombast, and it's hard to argue that Mangold and Co.'s soulful, brutal goodbye to The Wolverine isn't worthy of the attention. That Oscar nomination makes Logan — the first superhero film ever nominated for its screenplay — worthy of a place in history as well.  

Battle of the Sexes (iTunes, Amazon)

It's a bit of a shock that Battle of the Sexes was shut completely out of the Oscars conversation. After all, this engrossing, entertaining dramatization of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs' real-life battle on the tennis court definitely captured the zeitgeist: Their on-court matchup and off-court sparring was a cultural touchstone for the women's lib movement and sparked genuine debate about the need for gender equality, a conversation that feels more relevant than ever today.

Did we mention that Battle of the Sexes also features stellar performances from Oscar faves Emma Stone and Steve Carell? Though the film never quite found its audience in theaters (which likely hindered its chances with the Academy), the duo still managed to find their way into several awards conversations this year with strong showings at the Golden Globes and the SAG awards.

The Big Sick (iTunes, Amazon)

After its early 2016 festival debut, indie comedy The Big Sick was lauded as one of the best films at that year's Sundance Film Festival, and its writers — real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon — were hailed as breakout stars. That sort of attention typically either vaults a film into the national spotlight or pegs it as a cult classic. After dropping a reported $12 million for distribution rights, Amazon Studios had no intention of letting The Big Sick waste away in the latter category, promoting the film heavily and ensuring it got in front of as many eyes as possible.

The Big Sick did not disappoint. The film — based on Nanjiani's and Gordon's complicated and hilarious courtship — might boast more drama, romance and laugh-out-loud comedy than any other film released in 2017. It also scored raves from critics and audiences alike.

Fittingly, it ended up being a continual presence on the awards circuit, with the film's pitch-perfect screenplay and Holly Hunter's scene-stealing performance landing it invites to almost every major awards show. That includes a trip to the Academy Awards, where Nanjiani and Gordon's script competed in the Best Original Screenplay category.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (iTunes, Amazon)

After Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing of a Sacred Deer made some noise at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, it seemed a lock to make even more on the awards circuit. After all, the film re-teamed Lanthimos with his The Lobster star Colin Farrell, featured yet another fearless performance from Nicole Kidman (who's been on a serious roll of late), and it had the full power of A24 — the studio that made awards season magic with last year's Moonlight — behind it.

If you haven't seen The Killing of a Sacred Deer, it's a deliciously detestable and stylishly sobering study in nihilistic justice, but the polarizing nature of Lanthimos' narrative proved a turnoff for American filmgoers. Still, a little bit of Cannes love goes a long way on the awards circuit, and even if Lanthimos' film never found its audience, it remains a stunning if divisive piece of work — one that played well with the more discriminating crowd at the Independent Spirit Awards, where it scored two nominations, including a Best Supporting Actor nod for 2017 breakout star Barry Keoghan.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (iTunes, Amazon)

Of all the films on this list, Dan Gilroy's Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the one that came and went with the least fanfare in its theatrical run. Considering the film stars perennial awards fave Denzel Washington, we're not quite sure why. It's possible that the title failed to inspire intrigue in audiences, or that a lukewarm critical reception and tepid word of mouth spoiled the film's big-screen run. Either way, not many people actually saw this film in theaters.

That's a shame, because even if Gilroy's tale of an idealistic defense attorney struggling to maintain his ethical core amid the overcrowded Los Angeles court system never quite finds its legs as a thriller, it features yet another powerful performance from Washington — one that put him in the mix for virtually every major acting prize, including the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, and a staggering ninth Oscar nomination.

The Square (iTunes, Amazon)

Ruben Östlund was more than a little upset when his acerbic deconstruction of masculinity Force Majeur failed to land an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2017, the Swedish auteur/provocateur returned with a slightly less caustic skewering of the art world elite (not to mention humanity itself). The Square made its premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it took home the Palme d'Or, and it went on to become one of the most critically revered foreign films of the year and a major presence on the awards circuit.

Here's hoping the Academy gives the Best Foreign Language Film award to The Square, because it probably is the Best Foreign Language Film of the year — and we don't want to see Östlund break down in the middle of the ceremony. Still, they really missed the mark by not nominating Claes Bang for Best Actor.

The Florida Project (iTunes, Amazon)

The thing about awards season is that the actual awards almost never go the the "best" anything in any given year. The winners tend to be forgotten by the time the next year's awards are presented. Meanwhile, it's the barely recognized and overlooked films that often stick in our collective consciousness.  

Sean Baker's acutely observed tearjerker The Florida Project didn't make a major immediate mark on the 2017 awards circuit, though the film was recognized (mostly for Willem Dafoe's magnificent supporting turn) by virtually every ceremony, including a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. The gorgeously filmed indie seemed a far more natural fit, however, for the Independent Spirit Awards.

In another five years you may not remember which 2017 movie won "best this" or "best that," but if you spend some time in The Florida Project's colorful, tragi-magical little world, you won't forget it — and no amount of awards season praise will change that.