Oscars Awards Season Recap: 2021

Every year Katie and I have a super fun challenge where we try to see all of the best picture nominated movies before the night of the Oscars and then watch The Academy Awards together.

We tend to start watching the potentially nominated movies well before the actual nominee list comes out and this year the awards show was delayed much later than it usually is so we had WAY more time than we typically do to watch them all.

Part of the challenge is guessing what films will end up being nominated, sometimes we see movies that we didn’t really “need” to see but sometimes we are bitter that ones we love end up not being nominated (while others we’re like dangit whhhhhy did we watcccch that).

Anyway I enjoy recapping the movies as we watch them via my Instagram Stories (be sure to come hang out with me there if you’re not already!).

I also like to do a big round-up of all the movies we watched and my thoughts on the films as well as on the awards show as a whole.

If you’re on the hunt for a good movie to watch these recap posts are a great way to find some watch-worthy movies! I’ll link the past years posts at the end πŸ™‚

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

We watched this way back in NOVEMBER. It was like the pre-pre Oscar season and had some buzz and it’s one of the few ones this year that Zach actually watched with us and I feel like I still owe him more apologies for that experience.

I am a BIG Charlie Kaufman fan. Adaptation was one of my top favorite movies. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind was fantastic. Being John Malkovich – duh so trippy awesome.

I LOVE weird movies. I love trippy movies. I love different movies. I especially love deep movies with lots of layers and depth that stick with you and push you and make you think and change you.

But this was awful. It was trying so hard to be all of those things and instead, it was just terrible. Terrible, terrible. Terrible. Stop trying so hard. That’s the takeaway from this movie.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is available to stream via Netflix

The Trial of the Chicago 7

I went into this with low expectations. The vibe the last several years with movies has become more and more political agenda bases and less and less storytelling based. But this one was a pleasant surprise!!!

I do not know anything about the real-life events that the movie is based on but it wasn’t boring at all and the film did a fantastic job of telling the story in an engaging way that wasn’t overly political and felt just like a movie SHOULD feel. Told a story with phenomenal acting too!

My only real negative critique of it is that there weren’t helpful labels that movies often have. Like on The Bachelor when they put the person’s name and occupation on the screen when they are being interviewed, I needed that haha. Because I am not familiar with the real-life story I needed to be reminded of who was who (it’s a heavily casted movie).

The scene that was intended to be the climax of the film fell flat for both Katie and I because we couldn’t remember who the character was or how they were connected to the storyline. Oops!

The Trial of the Chicago 7 was nominated in several categories, including Best Picture. While Katie and I enjoyed the movie, neither of us felt it was “Best Picture Winner” worthy although we didn’t mind the nomination! Sascha Baron Cohen was deserving of his nom for Best Supporting Actor as well!

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available to steam via Netflix.

Da 5 Bloods

Ugh. By far the least favorite of my movies of this Oscar season. I’d rather watch I’m Thinking of Ending Things 5 times over rather than watch this one again.

I really, really cannot stand movies that are obviously based on a political agenda rather than telling a STORY. I try very hard to always watch a movie with an open mind and it helps that usually with the Oscar contenders I don’t even know what they are about when we start watching them.

But this one was just SO bad with the agenda! Like the basic storyline had SO much potential and instead of telling THAT story the aim of the movie was more about making political statements that are current for today and not even try to stay relevant on what was going on when the movie was actually supposed to be based.

On top of the shoving politics in our faces it also just wasn’t a good movie at all. It had WAY too much going on. WAY TOO MUCH. All the characters were one dimensional and the acting was awful and the plot and and main storyline weren’t even interesting. It had NO HEART.

I was SO thankful when it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture! Seeing this one early on in our movie watching had me so nervous for the films to come but yall it was an outlier this season as SO MANY of the movies ended up being amazing and telling STORIES that were moving and powerful without making obvious, overtly intentional statements.

Thankfully the academy must have agreed with us on some level as Da 5 Bloods did NOT end up with any nominations!

Da 5 Bloods is available for steaming via Netflix

One Night in Miami…

I have a special spot in my heart for Muhammad Ali because he visited my middle school back in the day so I was looking forward to seeing this one!

I am clearly not much of a history buff because I didn’t know anything about this situation either and I do think this movie failed in giving enough background info. Like why were all these dudes together? How did they come together? Let’s see some flashbacks of their friendship development ya know?

It did a fantastic job of discussing very heavy topics from multiple perspectives and gave great insight into the tensions of the times and differing thoughts and opinions without being pushy for the audience. The characters shared their views and the audience was left to interrupt and consider and apply to their own lives which I appreciate so much!

Overall though it was pretty dang boring especially because it was shot mostly in a single room and was VERY heavy on the dialog. I also didn’t love the Muhammad Ali character so that probably didn’t help my opinion on it haha

One Night in Miami did not end up being nominated in the Best Picture category.

One Night in Miami is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Hillbilly Elegy

I’ve always had a pretty positive opinion of Ron Howard movies but went into this one with pretty low expectations because the commercials for it seemed a little too cheesy in the acting.

I did NOT know it’s based on a true story and if you watch to the end the acting isn’t actually cheesy or overly dramatized at ALL and is actually dead-on for the real life people!

Hillbilly Elegy had a VERY 90s feel which Katie and I both LOVED. It was like watching a movie from childhood. It was fantastic casting, acting, and dead-on wardrobe.

It was very, very good but also very raw and emotional and very difficult to watch in several scenes. I do wish I’d known it was a book and would have read it first!

If you have personal struggles with boundary setting this movie MAY really give you some anxiety. I spent a lot of the movie feeling frustrated and anxious and like this inner urgency that sometimes made it hard to appreciate a scene.

I’m glad it was nominated for Best Picture! I would NOT have minded if it had won, although it was not my top pick for the winner. I thought Glenn Close was also really great in her role but I also agreed with her not winning for Best Supporting Actress.

I highly recommend streaming Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix!

Promising Young Woman

I saw ads for this last year at some point and I believe they pulled all the ads and then did a whole different marketing campaign for this movie because when I saw the ads originally it seemed like a totally different movie than the movie we actually watched!

I was very surprised that it was getting Oscar buzz and didn’t have much desire to see it based on the ads I’d seen for it. Then we looked at the newer released trailers and it seemed more like a comedy and when we saw that Bo Burnham was in it we were sold and Zach even wanted to watch it with us.

This may not seem like a must-see movie. BUT IT IS.

It’s one that literally everyone should watch. And one that once my kids are teenagers I think they should also watch (although it’s zero percent appropriate, which is also kinda the point).

It’s an important movie told in a SUPER entertaining way. Literally kept us all interested and invested the entire time. Awesome acting by everyone in it and SO many important life lessons and takeaways from it.

This is how deeper messaging should be presented in movies! Stop being so glaringly obvious with the political agenda and instead think of a creative, FUN, imaginative way to tell a story that sticks with the audience, makes them think, and sparks a desire for change.

I was THRILLED to see it nominated for Best Picture and so glad it won for the best original screenplay as it was VERY well deserved. It was tied for my favorite movie of this Oscar season. It’s a must-see and a must-watch with your husband too.

Multiple times during the movie we had to pause it to discuss and it was eye opening for us all on the perspective differences we bring to the table from our own unique experiences.

Promising Young Woman is available for rent via Amazon Prime (and it’s worth paying to watch it, promise!)

Judas and the Black Messiah

This was one of only two movies Katie and I were able to see in theaters this movie season! It was our first chance to get back in the theater in over a year and it felt SO GOOD to be BACK!!!

Hopefully next movie season we’ll be doing a lot more theater outings…although not spending the money on movie tickets was nice too πŸ˜‰

A frustrating across the board issue for me with movies based on true events or based on actual people is that SO OFTEN the people making the movie just assume that the movie watcher already has a base knowledge about the person or event.

I know VERY little about the black panthers so I didn’t have a lot of base knowledge to build from and I wish the movie had given more background to understand. Several of the movies this year were based around the same time period which was helpful because I feel like other movies helped me understand others haha!

Out of the movies based around the Vitnam time period, Trial of the Chicago 7 was my favorite and this one was my second favorite.

While I am fine with the Best Picture nomination for the film, I do not think Daniel Kaluuya deserved the best supporting actor win. He was SO MUMBLED. We realized when watching the Oscars that it’s just how he talks but during the movie it was SO distracting and hard to understand what he was saying. I mean same goes for his acceptance speech, we struggled to understand because he was so muffled in the way he speaks. It’s not an accent it’s more like he gets really soft spoken while talking quickly and it’s just impossible to know what he’s saying.

It really took away from the strong message I’m sure his character was trying to make in the film. Based on the clips at the end of the movie it seemed like Daniel’s portrayal of Fred Hamilton was also majorly lacking in the charisma the real-life man seems to have had.

I enjoyed the story perspective but also wish it went more in-depth into Bill’s perspective. Like give us some backstory there and a WHY behind some of his decision making and also more into his thought process.

Judas and the Black Messiah is available on HBO Max

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Oh man this movie had SO MUCH POTENTIAL. It was beautiful. The sets. The costumes. The makeup. GORGEOUS.

I understand it’s based off of a play so they probably tried their best to be true to that production but dang I wish they’d just tossed the play out the window and just focused on MAKING A MOVIE. We wanted to see MORE of Ma Rainey!

She seems like an AWESOME person and FANTASTIC film character and I feel bad for her that she lived this crazy interesting life and had a movie named after her but then was basically a side story in her own life movie. The focus of the film wasn’t on HER and that was a HUGELY missed opportunity.

We enjoyed reading about her via Google more than we enjoyed seeing her in the movie which is really sad and her story got highjacked!

Viola was fabulous (very deserving of the Best Actress nod although she really seemed more like a Supporting Actress in the movie). Sidenote but Viola also looked STUNNING on awards night! Favorite look of the night I think.

I think Chadwick was great but, gasp, I agree that he was not deserving of the Best Actor Win. I know it’s an unpopular opinion but to me he was overly acting. It was too much. Too obvious of acting. It seemed like a person playing a character rather than just a character ya know?

Of course it’s all SO sad about his death and I understand the desire to want to honor that but that still doesn’t make the acting role the BEST of the year.

It was a much shorter running time than most movies are now and Katie and I both agreed that we would have loved for it to be longer if the longer running time would have included more about Ma!

Overall though even with the shorter run time the character development was excellent. Even side characters you felt like you KNEW them and the film overall had a lot of depth too! We enjoyed it!

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom can be streamed via Netflix.

The Sound of Metal

Based on the name I went into this one NERVOUS. I’m not really into heavy metal music. And by “not really” I mean I zero percent have any desire to ever listen to heavy metal music.

Thankfully there is literally like 1-2 scenes of music and they are brief and not all that loud or “heavy” sounding. It’s really not a movie about music at ALL and is instead a movie about SO much more.

Excellent acting. Riz Ahmed was beyond deserving of the Best Actor nomination and had he won he’d have also been deserving of the title. He was amazing!!!

It was super refreshing to have a movie that was JUST A MOVIE. Not political at ALL. Not based on true events. Not based on an actual person. It was just a story and it was beautifully told.

It was not “just a story” either – it was a great story. The film did an excellent job of letting the viewer understand a bit of what being deaf is like while also not being overboard in that perspective. It was a perfect balance and really left you thinking a lot about life choices.

For me personally, it brought up a lot of thoughts about my inability to smell and my own debate as to if I’d rather have had it and lost it or never have it at all.

Super great movie – we were both so glad it was nominated and would have been perfectly happy if it won best picture! It wasn’t my personal favorite of the season but had there been different nominees it COULD have been a favorite. As a stand alone movie I’d say it’s a must-see for sure!

Sound of Metal is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Nomadland

Frances McDormand is always a treat to watch in anything I’ve seen her in. I had VERY high hopes for Nomadland. We actually did a double feature day of Sound of Metal and then Nomadland and we watched Sound of Metal first because we assumed we’d like Nomadland better, but that actually wasn’t the case for me.

I had very, very high hopes and it ended up disappointing me. It was GOOD but not great.

My personal issue with it wasn’t the story being told but instead the order in which they told it. If the ending had been in the beginning and the beginning had been the ending then the entire mood and vibe of the film would have been shifted. It could have been a movie of hope and inspiration and instead it was depressing and just sad.

I was frustrated too that the main character (McDormand’s role) had SO MANY opportunities for personal growth and she never took any of them. Total pet-peeve of mine!

It did give Katie and I a lot to talk about after especially about #vanlife as it’s something I’ve never personally looked into (and noooo thankssss for meeee).

Katie did change her thoughts on it after we watched it and she sat with it longer and read more about it. It’s about the walk of grief and very accurately portrays that walk. It’s not something I have personal experience with on that level yet but hearing Katie’s change of perspective on Nomadland makes me want to watch it again…plus I mean it did end up WINNING for Best Picture AND Best Actress so that always deserves a second viewing πŸ™‚

It was not my personal pick to win. I “get” the win and I’m just glad that one that did win wasn’t a political agenda pushing movie!

The Father

This was our second theater experience and I knew absolutely nothing about this movie going into it. Which I kinda love. Most of the time Katie does some of the ground work research and then I just see whatever she says we need to see and I don’t even know a single thing about many of the films. It’s always a fun surprise.

For this one I assumed b/c it was Anthony Hopkins AND that it’s called The Father that it would be about the Catholic Church. I was WAY OFF.

Oh. My. Word.

It deserved the Best Picture win. It’s okay that it didn’t get it because at least Anthony Hopkins got the Best Actor because above and beyond he deserved that. HARDCORE deserved it.

It is THE most amazingly awful movie ever. Truly. I can’t even personally relate to the storyline at all and I was UGLY crying. The kinda crying where I felt like I needed to go home and cry more.

It’s a movie that I also think everyone should see. I have encouraged Zach to watch it as now we are going through some of these things with Big Daddy and having seen the movie helps so much in understanding more and to be able to have a shift in perspective for people nearing the end of life.

I do not know how Anthony Hopkins handled that role. It was so incredible and just insane that he is his age and handled this heavy of a role so beautifully. I also thought that Olivia Colman was perfection too.

The acting was just above and beyond phenomenal across the board and the WAY the story was told was perfection. I am glad I didn’t know the plot ahead of time so I don’t want to give a lot away here either.

Katie and I also both had the same scenes hit us super hard which I think says a LOT about the story itself as well as the directing. They nailed it.

You can currently rent The Father on Amazon Prime and it’s worth it!

Minari

When Katie put together the list of movies we needed to see Zach looked over it and picked out the ones he’d like to watch. We try to include him when we can but the “Zach watch” list was pretty slim this Oscar season!

Minari was one of the ones that he said he’d like to see so we saved it to watch on a night that worked with his schedule to be able to watch with us.

I was pretty excited to see Glenn from The Walking Dead in something. Yall. If you were/are a Walking Deadd fan then you know what I’m talking about. THAT SCENE. It stuck with me in a horrible, horrible way. Like nightmares and a vision I can’t ever erase from my brain. So to have the opportunity to see him again and in something different was SO helpful to me to move past that!

This movie was simply beautiful. Again, just a GREAT movie. I love the way the story was told. No overt political statements but still very strong messaging. It was a good one to watch with Zach as the conversations we had with him were interesting about our differing point of views as a man’s perspective and woman’s perspective.

We could each relate to different elements and it did an excellent job of making the characters realistic and relatable. The acting was fantastic!

The character development was probably among the best out of all the movies this year. The children were precious and we all totally agreed with Yuh-Jung Youn winning for Best Supporting Actress. Pretty sure we will all always think of Mountain Dew in a new way too πŸ˜‰

Super great movie from start to finish. Precious children and a family that sticks with you long after it ends. It wasn’t my pick for Best Picture but was probably my third favorite I think? 1. The Father 2. Promising Young Woman 3. Tie between Minari and Sound of Metal

Minari is currently available to rent on Amazon Prime – and worth the cost to rent it!

Mank

Let’s just pretend we ended on Minari πŸ˜‰

Every season it seems like there is at least one movie that the Academy loves just because it’s made for the Academy. That was this movie.

I’ve honestly never seen Citizen Cane and this movie didn’t make me want to either. We struggled through it and didn’t finish it either. It was SO BORING.

I know reading this post you probably think my least favorite type of movie is one with a strong political agenda…but honestly? My least favorite movie is a true story that is based on someone’s life or a certain moment in history and the filmmakers feel the need to be OVERLY ACCURATE.

I think, from what little I did pay attention to, that this was that sort of movie. The whole thing was shot in black and white for goodness sake. No. Thanks.

I can’t really comment on the acting or the actual storyline. Just that it was a super snooze fest!

You shouldn’t bother seeing it but if you do want to torture yourself Mank is available to stream on Netflix.

Oscar Season 2021 Recap

It was a weird year. The awards show was pushed back SO much later than usual so we had way more time but majority of the movies were also only available via streaming.

SUPER thankful we were able to be back in the theater for a couple! Overall it was a FANTASTIC film season. It started off rocky and I was nervous it’d be a struggle of a year to get through them but in the end we ended up loving so many and struggled to decide which one we even wanted to win for Best Picture!

We also decided that this yearly challenge is more about the journey than the destination as the actual awards show? Is. Terrible.

Usually I say it’s awful because all the speeches are so politically based but this year it was just SO BORING. So. SO. SOOOO boring.

But we still achieved our goal AND had fun in the process AND we weren’t bitter about ANY of the wins this season either! So that’s a win in itself! There is nothing worse than investing all that time in seeing all the movies to then have a non-deserving one win.

This tradition started several years ago and I love that Katie and I have so many traditions together! We have “our things” and we love them hard and this is totally something I know we’ll do forever. The Oscars are our Super Bowl…even if we forgot to wear our hats πŸ˜‰

Past Year Recaps

Looking for more movies to add to your watch list? Here’s a rundown of all the previous Oscar Season Recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

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