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Where to watch this year's top Academy Award nominations on your next flight

March 5 2022
10 min read
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Somehow, it is already March 2022, meaning Oscars season is officially upon us. Cue the last-minute scramble to Google this year’s nominees, binge a few of the buzzier films and wonder to yourself if Olivia Colman has been stranded inside AAA (Academy Award International Airport) for the last four years. (If so, we have some airline miles you can borrow, Ms. Colman!)

If you’re like me, this scramble usually involves watching a year’s worth of trailers and reading a few self-important reviews so you can formulate approximately one minute of intelligent monologue for each potential winner. But thanks to a third year of being mostly at home due to the pandemic, I've actually seen most of these distinguished films, documentaries and shorts.

Should you find yourself needing to catch up on the Academy Award nominees, you're in luck: You can watch most of the contenders on your next flight via inflight entertainment libraries and streaming services.

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Here are my nine nominees for the best films to watch on your next flight — and which viewing platforms to use.

'Dune'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

At the risk of immediately diminishing all of my credibility, I'll admit that this is the only film on the list I haven’t actually seen. However, as a vaguely conscious millennial, I do know a few things about it.

The latest iteration, which is nominated for best picture and best visual effects, plus eight other awards, is the first installment of a two-part adaptation from the prolific science fiction novel of the same name. It follows Timothée Chalamet (who plays protagonist Paul Atreides) as he fights an intergalactic system of feudalism, tastefully small weapon and sharply chiseled jawline in tow. And if you are tuning in for Queen Z (aka Zendaya), you'll be sorely disappointed, as she only appears on screen as character Chani Kynes for seven minutes.

Sound bites aside, "Dune" the novel paved the way for iconic franchises like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek." Even though I haven't seen this most recent film adaptation, its mere presence alone makes "Dune" well worth the high-altitude watch.

Where to watch: on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines and via Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

'No Time to Die'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Move over, Daniel Craig. There’s a new 007 on our screens.

Lashana Lynch stars as Nomi, the lethally talented agent who took over the 007 alias following the conclusion of "Spectre." Lynch made history as the first black woman to hold this emblematic title. In classic fashion, Craig’s character doesn’t stay retired for long, as a new threat to the world with a mysterious connection to James Bond’s past sends the 007's of yesterday and today on an epic mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist.

The Bond movies are famous for their ominous and artful title sequences, and "No Time to Die" is no exception. This new version begins with a haunting original song from Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell, earning the sibling duo their first nomination for best music (original song) from the Academy. The film is also nominated in the best sound and best visual effects categories.

Where to watch: on American Airlines and Southwest Airlines and via Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

'Spencer'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

"Spencer" is not a biopic. I repeat: "Spencer" is not a biopic. Instead, the film hones in on the royal family’s 1991 Christmas celebration in Norfolk, England, when Princess Diana has reached her breaking point.

Alternating between dizzying vignettes of the princess of Wales' spiral out of Buckingham Palace’s good graces and gut wrenchingly heartfelt scenes with Princes William and Harry, "Spencer" emboldens its audience to take a fresh, empathetic look at a beloved figure from history.

Anchored by a beautifully nuanced and career-making performance by Kristen Stewart, who is nominated in the best actress in a leading role category, "Spencer" leaves us with many things to love. Stewart haters, do yourselves a favor and sit this one out.

Where to watch: on Delta Air Lines and United Airlines and via Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

'Luca'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

The most streamed movie of 2021, according to audience insights firm Nielsen, best animated feature film-nominated "Luca" is a pure delight. The latest coming-of-age tale from Pixar Animation Studios follows a shy but curious sea monster, Luca, as he explores life above the water’s surface.

I will be honest about my affinity for this animated gem — this is an LGBTQI+ movie, no questions about it. For starters, it was released in June 2021 (aka Pride Month) and chronicles the friendship between two boys (ahem, sea monsters) who realize they share an alienating difference that both bonds the boys to one another and garners disapproval from their communities. They quite literally turn into rainbow creatures when they are presenting as their truest, most authentic selves.

Metaphors aside, Luca is a must-watch movie due to its nostalgic stop-motion style, fantastic voice acting and important universal message.

Where to watch: on Southwest Airlines and via Disney+.

'Cruella'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Is Disney's focus on live-action movies getting a bit tired? Yes, it sure is. Well, at least that’s what I thought until last summer when I saw "Cruella," which features Emma Stone as the young up-and-coming fashion talent Estella who evolves from orphan prodigy to diabolically iconic Disney villain Cruella.

Throughout the film, you'll notice a few deviations from the animated classic. To start, Disney finally reveals the story behind Cruella’s deep-running hatred of Dalmatians. There are also the absence of the character’s signature cigarette holder and the addition of a dress with a 40-foot train made entirely of garbage. In fact, "Cruella" clinched a much-deserved Oscar nod for best costume design (in addition to a nomination for best makeup and hairstyling) thanks to the work of wildly talented Jenny Beavan.

Feeling territorial over Glenn Close’s 1996 portrayal in "101 Dalmatians"? Never fear — she served as an executive producer for this 2021 remake, ensuring the villain remained “perfectly wretched” and just a bit more humanized.

Where to watch: on Southwest Airlines and via Disney+.

'King Richard'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

How could you possibly father, raise and train not one but two of the most decorated athletes of a generation, maybe even of all time? "King Richard" takes a peek at how Richard Williams, a man from Compton, California, did just that while raising tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams.

Played by the ever-lovable Will Smith, Richard Williams is just one of many incredible characters in this part-biopic, part-sports movie flick, but there's more to "King Richard" than its cast.

The film's flawless tennis sequences enhance the plot and heighten the emotional intensity felt throughout, standing out in a genre that's often dominated by action scenes that seem stunted and ostentatious. At its core, it shows the powerful desire by a father to provide a better life for his children — a classic American dream tale many viewers can relate to. It's no wonder, then, that it scored a slew of nominations for everything from best original screenplay to best picture.

Where to watch: via HBO Max and Apple TV+.

'Don't Look Up'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

To put it bluntly: The critics got this one wrong. Prominent reviews have used all kinds of creative phrases to express dissatisfaction with "Don’t Look Up," but that's not what you'll get from me, an everyday viewer with no authority on the matter. Fortunately, enough folks at the Academy share my sentiment to have nominated it for categories like best picture and best original screenplay.

"Don’t Look Up" is satire in its highest form and incredibly campy in its approach. It parodies the inevitable demise of our planet and our “leaders” selfish inaction through the story of two scientists who are propelled into mainstream politics when they realize a giant meteor is on a catastrophic collision course with Earth. If its thought-provoking complexities are not enough to persuade you to watch, its amazingly talented cast — including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Timothée Chalamet, among others — will.

This film is a lightning rod and a skewer. It’s the artistic adaptation of the real-world concern many of us have about the state of our planet and the lack of progress by our leaders to protect it. The less you know about it going in, the more you will enjoy it. Trust me; you won't regret watching it.

Where to watch: via Netflix.

'The Power of the Dog'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

It’s Kirsten Dunst’s world, and we are all simply living in it. That’s the easy part. Describing "The Power of the Dog" (which has been nominated for a mind-boggling 12 awards, including best picture and best directing) is a bit more difficult.

This film tests the confines of its genre, depicting the psychologically complex dynamic of a family against the tried-and-true backdrop of the Wild West. Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Phil Burbank) delivers a scathingly visceral performance that serves as a cautionary tale of the far-reaching impacts of toxic masculinity. Jesse Plemons and Dunst (a real-life married couple who portray newlyweds George Burbank and Rose Gordon) also deliver in a big way, making a relationship in the era of straw mattresses somehow seem quite enviable.

"The Power of the Dog" is the type of film that will have you initially thinking it's going in one direction before ultimately tossing aside any predictions for where the story will go, as you'll be proven wrong 10 times over by the time the credits are rolling.

Where to watch: via Netflix.

'The French Dispatch'

(Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Although this most recent offering from director Wes Anderson didn't receive any nominations, making it by far the biggest snub of the 94th Academy Awards, it is a love letter to print journalism that you won't want to miss.

"The French Dispatch" may well be the perfect movie choice for a flight, as it is constructed episodically as three stories told in a fictional magazine’s final issue. While it may lack some of the narrative earnestness and mass appeal of Anderson’s early works, it possesses everything else you could possibly want and expect from the acclaimed director. The set design and color palette are a five-course meal. The plots are both absurdly dramatic and hilariously quirky. And the cast boasts so many stars (think: Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Frances McDormand and Benicio del Toro, among others) that it could be an Academy nomination meeting in and of itself.

It is truly criminal that "The French Dispatch" was shut out of all Oscars categories, especially best cinematography and best production design.

Where to watch: on United Airlines and via HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

Featured photo by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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