Silver (Screen) Linings | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Silver (Screen) Linings 

It's never been easier to watch award-winning films.

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After the handing out of the Oscars this past April, movie award season has officially come and gone and with it, an eclectic cohort of films designated as the "best" of 2020. You'd be forgiven for being unfamiliar with many—if not most— of the prestigious titles in this year's nomination club, since the most commercially successful of the bunch (Promising Young Woman) earned a scant $6 million at the domestic box office.

With theaters closed for the bulk of the past year, most of the major, anticipated blockbusters were bumped, opening up a cinema vacuum that was filled by considerably smaller-budget, intimate dramas with the aid of streaming services. The upside is that many of the relatively obscure titles that might have run for a couple of weeks at your local arthouse theater before disappearing into oblivion are ready to be viewed at any time for the price of a subscription you might be paying already.

If you have Netflix ...

... make sure to work your way through Best Picture nominees Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7. But don't stop there! The godfather of streaming platforms is also home to several of the short films that generated acclaim—and which typically struggle to reach mainstream audiences. Check out If Anything Happens I Love You, a wrenching and poetic meditation on gun violence that took home the Oscar in the animated-short category. And if you have the stomach, make it a double-header with Two Distant Strangers, the winner of the Oscar's live-action short category that applies a Groundhog Day-esque plot device to the ongoing conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.

After that, make sure to add The White Tiger and Pieces of a Woman to your queue. The former was nominated for its adapted screenplay, which follows a member of India's low caste working to climb his country's strict social and economic ladder, while the latter showcases Vanessa Kirby's go-for-broke performance as a grieving mother.

If you have Hulu ...

... then you should obviously watch Nomadland, this year's big winner, if you haven't already. But you'll also be able to find incredible documentary and/or foreign films like Collective, a searing expose on government negligence that shows how even airtight investigative journalism is powerless against a culture that embraces convenient falsehoods. And it's worth going out of your way for Quo Vadis, Aida? and The Man Who Sold His Skin, two very different films that explore real-world events with varying degrees of artistic license. Aida uses a fictional family to dramatize the very-much-historical Bosnian genocide of the early 1990s, while Skin uses the inspiration of an actual piece of artwork tattooed onto a person's back to contemplate the experience of refugees and the commodification of human life.

If you have Amazon Prime ...

... stop what you're doing and watch Sound of Metal, which scored a nomination for Best Picture and multiple acting and editing nominations for its spot-on performances and audio wizardry. And, if you've been reluctant to watch Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, don't be. Edgy as it may be, it's also the most revealing piece of political satire to come our way in quite some time.

After that, enjoy One Night in Miami, which conjures up a fictional series of conversations between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke and carries the mood of a stage play—probably because it originally was a stage play. And make a point to catch the alternately devastating and rapturous Another Round, which scored Thomas Vinterberg a surprise best director nomination and won the Oscar's international feature category.

If you have Apple TV ... Wolfwalkers, a gorgeous family-friendly fantasy that many fans hoped might shake Pixar loose of its enduring dominance of the Oscar's animated feature category.

If you have Paramount+ ...

... why do you? I'm kidding, I actually subscribe myself. When you get tired of rewatching Star Trek and old seasons of Survivor, check out Hunger Ward, a 40-minute documentary that takes an unflinching look inside Yemeni hospital starvation wards and the devastating humanitarian crises threatening people—and particularly children—in that part of the world.

If you don't subscribe to a streaming service ...

... you're in luck, too! YouTube is home to Colette, winner of the Oscar's documentary short category, as well as fellow-nominee A Concerto Is a Conversation, a production of The New York Times that finds optimism and creativity breaking through the barriers of generational, institutional racism.

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Benjamin Wood

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