10 excellent Oscar–winning movies you can watch on Netflix
Few nights in Hollywood’s calendar year come close to the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards. An Oscar statuette is a crowning achievement for anyone involved in the production of film, and those that garner one or more of the little gold boys win the right to label themselves an Academy Award–winning “insert title here” for the rest of history, not to mention the career-boosting potential that comes with it.
As the race heats up for the 93rd Academy Awards, taking place on February 28, let’s take a look at some of the more memorable past winners in various categories, or at least the ones currently streaming on Netflix.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth
Won: Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, Best Cinematography at the 79th Academy Awards
Guillermo Del Toro’s dark fairy tale from 2014 is a Spanish language masterpiece that juxtaposes the innocence of childhood with the horror of Spain’s fascism in the 1940s. Its imaginative visuals have become iconic in pop culture, from the wide-eyed Faun to the Pale Man — a consumptive monster with long, bony fingers and eyes in the palms of its hands.The movie twists the fantasy of storybook tropes to generate a real life coming-of-age in its young protagonist Ofelia and leaves a lasting impression with its imagination and gut-punch ending. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
Watch Pan’s Labyrinth on Netflix.
2. There Will Be Blood
Won: Best Cinematography, Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) at the 80th Academy Awards
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, this film from 2007 follows a greedy psychopath at the turn of the 20th century. As Plainview seeks riches in the West, first in prospecting and then in oil drilling and distribution, he places money and power above everything else, especially the well-being of others. It’s a dark, dusty, and relentless commentary on capitalism and the way a society built on competitive greed brings out the absolute worst in those who succeed in it. As Plainview’s wealth piles up, so do the bodies around him, both literally and figuratively. It would be difficult to watch if it weren’t for the incredible, gripping performances and the wide, almost poignant landscapes in which the whole ordeal is set. — Kellen Beck, Science Reporter
Watch There Will Be Blood on Netflix
Won: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects at the 83rd Academy Awards
Whether the ending haunts or delights you, Inception is always an experience to watch. From Hans Zimmer’s transcendent score (BWAAHHHH) to the rotating hallways and city streets of the dream world, Inception kept us gawking and guessing throughout — without the confusion of director Christopher Nolan’s more recent work (cough, Tenet). It’s a thriller, a VFX smorgasbord, and a high-stakes heist that always has us riveted. Points off for fridging Marion Cotillard, though. — Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter
Watch Inception on Netflix
4. The Social Network
Won: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score at the 83rd Academy Awards
The thought of watching a movie in any way related to Facebook dot com might make your jaw clench in the year 2021, but The Social Network remains a compulsively watchable product of its time. Even in its more sympathetic portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg from 2010 we see the seeds of the site and its creator as we’ve now come to know them. Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin’s film thrums with youthful restlessness, amplified beautifully by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross in their cinematic score. “SORRY, my Prada’s at the dry cleaners” remains iconic, and we’ll be smarting from this Best Picture snub forever. — P.K.
Watch The Social Network on Netflix
Won: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing at the 84th Academy Awards
Hugo stars Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret, a young boy who finds himself living alone in a 1930s Paris train station after his father dies and his adoptive uncle, who manages the station’s clocks, goes missing. It’s not long after that he’s drawn into a mystery involving his departed dad, a nonfunctional automaton of unknown origins, and Georges Méliès, a French pioneer of early film.
Oh, yeah, it’s also directed by legendary director and lover of film, Martin Scorsese. Hugo is a kid-friendly movie delivered by a master craftsman, with a compelling story and artfully shot delivery that makes it an unforgettable celebration of the fantastical appeal of film. It also stars Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, and Jude Law. — Adam Rosenberg, Weekend Editor*
Watch Hugo on Netflix
6. The Hateful Eight
Won: Best Original Score at the 88th Academy Awards
The Hateful Eight stands alone among Quentin Tarantino movies in feeling more like a stage play than a story for the silver screen. Most of this bloody Western unfolds in the tight, claustrophobic confines of an empty way station as a group of seeming strangers huddles together to wait out a nasty blizzard. The truths that emerge during their forced captivity weave into a surprising murder mystery propelled by Robert Richardson’s lush cinematography and an Oscar-winning score from Ennio Morricone. — A.R.
Watch The Hateful Eight on Netflix
Won: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Adapted Screenplay at the 89th Academy Awards
Moonlight‘s memorable Academy Award win for Best Picture was an interesting coda to the film’s overwhelmingly positive reception. The movie focuses on the inflection points of growing up, taking place over a handful of days in a man named Chiron’s childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Each time period features a different actor as Chiron, and each version of him learns a little more about the social and personal truths that inform who he is and will become. The film is tragic, romantic, and intimate — zeroing in on the realities of Chiron’s fractured home environment and budding queer sexuality while quietly highlighting the humanity of the characters who have impacted his life for better and worse. — A.N.*
Watch Moonlight on Netflix
Won: Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography at the 91st Academy Awards
Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning drama follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a housekeeper working for a wealthy family in Mexico City. Thanks to Cuarón’s writing, direction, and cinematography (each of which garnered its own respective Oscar), the film is remarkably immersive, enveloping us in Cleo’s world in a way most movies strive for and can never even touch. We feel the comfort in her mundane day-to-day, the sting of her boyfriend’s betrayal, and blinding panic and trauma in the film’s final act. It’s a stunning piece of cinema that should be talked about for decades to come. — P.K.
Watch Roma on Netflix
9. American Factory
Won: Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards
This 2020 Best Documentary Feature winner takes viewers inside a shuttered General Motors factory in Ohio, recently purchased and re-staffed by a Chinese billionaire, for a stunning look at worker exploitation in the modern age. A complex presentation of multiculturalism and its impacts on the global economy, American Factory is an uncomfortable watch that remains steadfastly objective from start to end but still manages to make its point. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
Watch American Factory on Netflix
10. Marriage Story
Won: Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern) at the 92nd Academy Awards
Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s tense tale of a couple ending their marriage divided audiences, with some viewers reporting they were surprised by whose “side” they ended up on. But critical reception for the film was almost universal in its praise of the story’s execution and impact, with leads Scarlett Johannson and Adam Driver singled out for their magnetic scene work.
At the 92nd Academy Awards, Marriage Story took home only one Oscar from the six categories in which it was nominated. Still, this artful depiction of intimacy remains a triumph of romantic storytelling, venturing far beyond the Happily Ever After audiences know so well. — A.F.
Watch Marriage Story on Netflix
*This movie blurb appeared on a previous Mashable list