13 Netflix Movies That Could Win An Oscar This Year

“Hillbilly Elegy” might win an Oscar after all, despite being one of Netflix’s worst movies of 2020.

The Academy Awards released a shortlist of Oscar contenders for nine categories last week, including Documentary Feature, Visual Effects and music-related categories, among others. For what it’s worth, the Academy did not announce major categories such as Best Picture or the awards associated with acting, directing and writing.

Netflix earned 20 spots on these lists with 13 films featured.

A few movies made sense as official Oscar contenders such as “Mank,” “Crip Camp” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” More surprising was the inclusion of the aforementioned “Hillbilly Elegy” and “Eurovision Song Contest.” I loved the latter movie as a fun break from the pandemic last summer and would love to see the Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams film win an Oscar. But I can’t say I expected “Eurovision Song Contest” ― which features numerous Ferrell pratfalls and Demi Lovato playing an unhelpful ghost ― to compete at the Academy Awards.

"Eurovision Song Contest" on Netflix.

“Eurovision Song Contest” on Netflix.

I’ve compiled all the Netflix films that made the shortlist below along with their shortlist category.

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Premise: Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions produced this documentary about a summer camp in New York named Camp Jened. The documentary focuses on the camp in the 1970s as it welcomed people with disabilities and served as an incubator for the disability rights movement.

Shortlist category: Documentary Feature

Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Premise: The daughter of a man with dementia films her father in different ridiculous scenarios to celebrate his life in this documentary. The father indulges his daughter by acting and dressing up for these involved scenes, while the family embraces the inevitable end.

Shortlist category: Documentary Feature

Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Premise: A South African freediver and documentarian befriends an octopus. He realizes he can make a much more deep connection with this creature than he expected, changing his overall view of life on earth.

Shortlist category: Documentary Feature

Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Premise: Ron Howard directed this drama based on the 2016 book of the same name. In the movie, a Yale student returns to Appalachia to visit his hometown but finds the people he grew up with struggling to survive.

Shortlist category: Makeup and Hairstyling

Runtime: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Premise: In this children’s movie, a jaded toymaker gains a new sense of joy when his granddaughter visits. When his longtime nemesis steals his greatest creation, the granddaughter and grandfather team up to get it back.

Shortlist categories: Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score) and Music (Original Song)

Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minutes

Premise: George C. Wolfe directed this adaptation of a 1982 August Wilson play about the blues singer Ma Rainey. The story mostly takes place during a heated recording session in Chicago during 1927, as Ma Rainey and an upstart trumpeter talk about their dreams and how America continues to hold them back for being Black.

Shortlist category: Makeup and Hairstyling

Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Premise: David Fincher directed this biographical drama based on a script written by his father, who took the story’s broad strokes from a 1971 New Yorker article called “Raising Kane.” The movie focuses on the 1930s and 1940s Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who ultimately co-wrote the screenplay to “Citizen Kane” while hoping to create a scorched earth screed about the American political and economic system.

Shortlist categories: Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score) and Visual Effects

Runtime: 2 hours, 11 minutes

Premise: Spike Lee directed and co-wrote this action drama about Black Vietnam War veterans returning to Vietnam to find a treasure they buried during the war. They encounter Vietnamese people who embrace them and despise them, while the veterans all still struggle with their own guilt while knowing they had little agency given how America treated Black soldiers.

Shortlist category: Music (Original Score)

Runtime: 2 hours, 34 minutes

Premise: This drama takes place in Italy and focuses on a Holocaust survivor who looks after particularly in-need children. A young Senegalese refugee robs her in the street, but in a coincidence, gets brought to her for care ― creating a testy situation at first but ultimately a deep bond between survivors of different backgrounds.

Shortlist categories: Music (Original Score) and Music (Original Song)

Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Premise: George Clooney directed this science fiction film about a scientist who attempts to get a message to astronauts in space about a global catastrophe on Earth. He must make a treacherous journey to a station with a powerful enough signal boost ― a trek that may take all he has left to give.

Shortlist categories: Music (Original Score) and Visual Effects

Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Premise: Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed this historical drama based on the infamous late 1960s trial colloquially known by the same name. The movie tells the story of the anti-War protests leading up to the trial, the violent clash with a Chicago police force intent on beating up the protesters and how members of the government tried to force a conviction on the perceived leaders of the movement.

Setting: Chicago, 1968 to 1970

Shortlist categories: Music (Original Score) and Music (Original Song)

Runtime: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Premise: This documentary focuses on the August Wilson Monologue Competition, which allows high school students from diverse backgrounds to try and win a spot to perform on Broadway. A group of students win mentorship in the program and subsequently gain new confidence in their abilities on and off the stage.

Shortlist category: Music (Original Song)

Runtime: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Premise: Will Ferrell co-wrote the comedy about an Icelandic best friend duo who dreams of competing in the Eurovision Song Contest despite questionable taste and talent. In a series of unlikely events, the pair gets their wish, only to find challenges they didn’t expect at the global competition.

Shortlist category: Music (Original Song)

Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

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