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From 'Past Lives' to 'Poor Things,' here's your must-watch film list for the ultimate Oscars prep.

| By Erin Elizabeth | Journal

16 Movies You Might Have Missed to Watch This Weekend

From 'Past Lives' to 'Poor Things,' here's your must-watch film list for the ultimate Oscars prep.

Hollywood’s night of nights is almost upon us, with the 96th Academy Awards set to hand out its golden statues on March 11. That leaves you with just enough time to get your viewing history up to date so you can follow along from home and judge the winning films just as intently as the red carpet lewks.

2023 was the year audiences came back to the movies (thank you Barbenheimer) so there's much to celebrate at the upcoming awards show.

From Past Lives to Poor Things, here’s every movie you need to watch before tuning in to the 2024 Oscars.

1. American Fiction

Racking up five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, American Fiction is a comedic drama confronting our culture's compulsion to reduce people to shocking stereotypes. Based on the 2001 novel, Erasure, by Percival Everett, the film follows a frustrated Black novelist who pens an offensive book full of racial stereotypes under an alias to prove a point to white executives. Think Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled meets R.F. Kuang’s novel Yellowface, with an all-star cast including Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown.

2. Anatomy of a Fall

Also coming in with five noms – including Best Picture and Best Actress for Sandra Hüller’s incredible performance as Sandra Voyter – Anatomy of a Fall is reminiscent of true crime docuseries The Staircase. A brewing legal drama set in a remote town in the French Alps, it follows Sandra, an author on trial over the suspicious death of her husband, and the ramifications it has on their 11-year-old son, Daniel. Armchair detectives, assemble!

3. Barbie

What is there left to say about Barbie? The most talked about film in decades, Barbie brought pink, Birkenstocks, and feminism to the fore this year and has eight Oscar nominations to show for it. But is that Kenough? Joining the patriarchal protest here to add our support – Margot and Greta were robbed!

4. The Holdovers

Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor, this heartfelt comedy celebrates the unlikely bond between a grumpy New England prep school teacher (Paul Giamatti), a troubled student (Dominic Sessa), and a high school cook (Da'Vine Joy Randolph). Fun fact – although the film is set in 1970, Dominic Sessa, who plays Angus, was born in 2002. As such, he had to be taught how to use the rotary phone featured in a pivotal scene because he didn’t know how to dial it. Wait till he sees a floppy disk!

5. Killers of the Flower Moon

Another year, another Martin Scorsese Oscar nomination. Actually, make that ten, this time for his latest epic, Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro. Set in 1920s Oklahoma, the film has been dubbed “a sobering appraisal of America's relationship with Indigenous peoples and yet another artistic zenith for Martin Scorsese and his collaborators.” With a running time of 3 hours and 26 mins, you’re going to want to get comfy for this one.

6. Maestro

Up for seven statues, including three for director and lead actor Bradley Cooper, Netflix’s biopic, Maestro, follows the trials and triumphs of the lifelong relationship between American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (Cooper) and actress Felicia Bernstein (Carey Mulligan.) A towering tale of love and betrayal, scored by a stirring soundtrack of Bernstein’s own compositions.

7. Oppenheimer

Also known as “that other movie that came out the same week as Barbie”, Oppenheimer tells the explosive story of American scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his role in the development of the atomic bomb. Written, directed, and co-produced by Christopher Nolan and starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Alden Ehrenreich, it’s up for a whopping 13 Oscars nominations – making it one of the most nominated films in the history of the Academy Awards.

8. Past Lives

Director Celine Song poses the ultimate ‘What If…?’ in Past Lives, a film about two childhood friends whose relationship traverses continents, decades, and countless Skype calls. This generation’s Sliding Doors, this twice Oscar-nominated film muses on love, loss, chance, and fate. Starring Greta Lee and Teo Yoo as Nora and Hae Sung, tissues are strongly advised while viewing.

9. Poor Things

To say Poor Things is an unconventional movie is like saying a meal would be better with cheese. A surrealist film set both in the past and future, Director Yorgos Lanthimos takes the story of Frankenstein and twists it into something truly bizarre. If you’re looking for plot don’t press play, but if you’re happy to be whisked away into a wild world of Portuguese tarts, Parisian brothels and a Mediterranean cruise ship, you’re in for a real trip.

10. The Zone of Interest

Loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis, The Zone of Interest is a confronting drama about the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife, Hedwig, who live in a house with a garden next to the camp. Directed by Jonathan Glazer and ten years in the making, the A24 film is nominated for five Academy Awards including picture, director, adapted screenplay, sound, and international feature film.

11. The Colour Purple

Reviving the age-old debate over whether some iconic films should be left alone, this remake of Steven Spielberg’s 1985 classic stirred the pot upon release. Regardless, Danielle Brooks shines as Sofia in this musical period drama – so much so that she’s earnt the film its only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

12. Society of the Snow

Directed by J. A. Bayona and nominated for two Oscars, Society of the Snow tells the incredible true story of how the young survivors of a 1972 Uruguayan plane crash in the Andes endured 72 days in one of the world’s harshest environments. Harrowing and at times hard to watch, it is a gripping tale of survival against the odds, with a powerful message about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of sacrifice and friendship. A story that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

13. The Boy and the Heron

Up for Best Animated Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards, Hayao Miyazaki's The Boy and the Heron follows a 12-year-old named Mahito Maki amidst the backdrop of the Pacific War. After his mother’s death, Mahito discovers an abandoned tower near his new home and enters a fantastical world with a talking grey heron. Adventure and escapism at its finest.

14. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Nominated for Best Sound and Best Achievement in Visual Effects is the seventh and latest instalment of Tom Cruise’s action anthology which is the Mission: Impossible film franchise.

Strap yourself in for 2hrs and 43 minutes of Ethan Hunt and IMF doing what they do best, with Part Two promised in 2025.

15. The Creator

Thought the worst AI could do was steal a few creative jobs? The sci-fi action film The Creator serves us the ultimate worst-case scenario as a future war rages between the human race and artificial intelligence, with lead hero Joshua (played by David Washington) tasked with destroying ‘The Creator’ of AI. Sounds chill. Directed by Gareth Edwards, its nominated for two awards – Best Sound and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

16. Nyad

Is there any greater proof that you nailed your casting process than Oscar nominations for both your lead and supporting actress? Annette Bening and Jodie Foster shine as Diana and Bonnie in Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s biopic about open water swimmer Diana Nyad, a 64-year-old marathon swimmer who attempted to become the first person ever to swim from Cuba to Florida.

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