When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 94th Oscars, it simultaneously ended months of speculation and kicked off a new frenzy of predictions. Debates about Oscar nominees may be over, but the final sprint of campaigning has just begun, with nominees are turning on the charm as voters begin to make tough decisions about which films to honor.Charles Banner, 41, and his family, including two chi

For many cinephiles, the lull between nominations and the show is a great time to get caught up on movies they may have missed. You probably saw some of the biggest titles, but the Academy nominated a very eclectic group of films. With nominees ranging from indie darlings to foreign documentaries to blockbusters in the crafts categories, odds are good that you missed something important.

For many, the Oscar nominations can serve as a cheat sheet to plug any gaps in your film viewing résumé from the past year. While plenty of great films were left out of contention, movie buffs looking for a primer on the best films of 2021 could do a lot worse than watching the 37 movies that received nominations. Keep reading for a roundup of every feature film nominated for an Oscar this year, as well as our thoughts about why you need to know about them.

Photo : Rob Youngson / © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Belfast”

After years of directing franchise films on a massive scale, Kenneth Branagh took the pandemic as an opportunity for introspection, making his most personal film to date. Jaime Dornan stars in the semi-autobiographical tribute to Branagh’s working class upbringing in Belfast against the tumult of Ireland in the 1960s. The film picked up seven Oscar nominations:r Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Original Score.

Photo : Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection
“Dune”

Denis Villenueve turned Frank Herbert’s seemingly unfilmable novel (yes, David Lynch made a movie of it in 1984, but “Dune” fans would rather not talk about that) into one of the most epic films in recent memory. Combining technical prowess with a passion for the source material that comes through in every frame, the film is a spectacle that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides, the heir to a powerful dynasty in a future where humans have returned to a feudal economic system while traveling between planets. His understated performance subverts the typical hero narrative, and all-star supporting cast and breathaking score by Hans Zimmer make it the rare blockbuster that can seriously contend at the Oscars. With 10 nominations, many expect it to dominate the crafts categories, but don’t count it out for Best Picture.

Photo : Janus Films / courtesy Everett Collection
“Drive My Car”

With “Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi pulled off two difficult feats: succesfully adapting a Haruki Murakami story for the big screen, and breaking into the biggest Oscar categories as an international director. Hidetoshi Nishijima stars as a widowed theatre director whose life takes an unexpected turn after he accepts an offer to drect a production of “Uncle Vanya” in Hiroshima, prompting introspection about his late wife’s life. The Japanese drama scored nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Foreign Language Film.

Photo : Niko Tavernise / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Don’t Look Up”

Adam McKay’s climate change satire is nothing if not polarizing. Some critics viewed the film as heavy handed with mixed metaphors and a tendency to prioritize patting itself on the back over nuanced social commentary. But the star-studded comedy was a ratings juggernaut for Netflix, and some of those fans are apparently Academy voters. The film picked up four nominations, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and it’s a must watch for anyone currently trying to participate in film discourse.

Photo : Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection
“CODA”

A groundbreaking film for deaf representation, “CODA” was a bona fide hit for Apple TV+ in 2021. In a touching performance, Emilia Jones stars as a child of deaf adults (or CODA), who is forced to choose between pursuing her love of music or upholding her bond with her deaf parents. Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf male actor to be nominated for an Academy Award, and the film also picked up nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also the first Apple film to be nominated for Best Picture, and represents a major test of the tech giant’s awards season power.

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