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Every year, the Academy Awards recognise some of the most talented actors and actresses in Hollywood. And with this year’s nominees having been recently announced, we have a whole new batch of roles to appreciate. Each of the four acting categories – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress – is presenting five figures who thrived in their respective roles in 2016. Here’s a look at those nominations, and where you can get another look at the actors on Netflix.
Best Actor Nominees
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Affleck is one of the favorites for this award, and the popular narrative is that he’s finally stepped out of his brother’s shadow – as well as that of family friend Matt Damon! For that reason, it may be best to catch him in Good Will Hunting.
Affleck is in a few films featured on Netflix, but this is a great picture of where he once was, and where he was always headed. A supporting character largely used for comic relief, he was very much in the shadow in this ultimate coming out party for the Ben Affleck-Matt Damon duo.
Now he may be on the cusp of rising to the ranks of the Hollywood elite – not to mention achieving something his big brother never has! Ben may have won the Academy Award for Best Picture while directing Argo, but he doesn’t have an individual award that would rival a Best Actor Oscar for Casey.
Of course, both brothers are likely more than fine with their relative levels of success, but it’s hard not to think Casey would enjoy the bragging rights.
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Garfield actually is not featured in a single film streaming on Netflix. Though you can catch him in 99 Homes – arguably his best performance before Hacksaw Ridge – on Amazon Prime instant video.
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Gosling has catapulted himself into award-calibre films in just the last few years, and Netflix allows you to revisit another recent award favourite featuring the young actor in The Big Short. You can also enjoy an underrated Gosling performance alongside Kirsten Dunst in the creepy thriller All Good Things.
Viggo Mortensen – Mr. Fantastic
Viggo Mortensen is a curious case in Hollywood, given that he’s arguably the face of a film – The Lord Of the Rings: The Return of the King – that won 11 Oscars. But he’s never been quite in the thick of things for an individual award at the Oscars. That said, he’s nominated this year, and if you want to look at some of his past work, The Road is streaming. Mortensen did receive some smaller Best Actor nominations for his starring turn in this Cormac McCarthy adaptation.
Denzel Washington – Fences
There are surprisingly few Denzel Washington films streaming on Netflix, but if you want a reminder of just how versatile this A-lister is, give He Got Game another watch and compare it to Fences!
Best Actress Nominees
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Huppert is not currently featured in any Netflix films.
Ruth Negga – Loving
Ruth Negga is a relative newcomer to mainstream film but she’s in the running for this award and you can get a look at some of her recent work in Of Mind and Music. This was a heart-warming film that she didn’t star in, but turned in a memorable performance. (She’s also fantastic in Preacher, over on Amazon Instant Video at the moment.)
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Jackie may be Portman’s best performance yet, and Black Swan may be her most famous, but it’s hard to ignore the impact of V For Vendetta, which is currently streaming. Not only was it a tremendous Portman role, but the film, if nothing else, popularised the Guy Fawkes mask that now stands as a sort of universal symbol for revolt. Even the hacker network Anonymous, which just recently launched a massive dark web cyber attack, uses the mask as its icon!
Given all of that, this may just be Portman’s most memorable movie, which is saying quite a lot. Not to mention it’s just a really fun watch, and one that might feel (perhaps slightly disturbingly) culturally relevant given the turbulent nature of geopolitics these days.
Emma Stone – La La Land
Superbad is streaming, which means you can go back and see where it all began for this young actress in the midst of a meteoric rise.
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
You can take your pick of a number of Streep films available on Netflix, but here’s an interesting idea. Instead of watching August: Osage County check out Disneynature: Wings of Life. Wings of Life is a documentary of flying creatures where Streep accomplishes a mesmerising effect with just her narration.
Best Supporting Actor Nominees
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Forget about films-the Netflix original drama House of Cards is the best place to catch Ali on streaming services. His work as a trusted political operative seems to have set the stage for his explosion into film and was most people’s introduction to the talented actor.
Jeff Bridges – Hell Or High Water
Bridges has had a long and distinguished career, but most of his major roles aren’t available for streaming. That said, his work in the adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver probably deserved more attention, and it’s a nice contrast to the no-nonsense sheriff he plays in Hell or High Water.
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By The Sea
Hedges was brand new in Manchester by the Sea – you won’t find him on Netflix, or really anywhere else!
Dev Patel – Lion
Patel may be the favourite here, years after he won over film fans everywhere for his turn in Slumdog Millionaire. That movie was ideally suited to capture an audience that had lived through the early-2000s game show era, and embraced the improbable tale of a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire win intertwined with the character’s exceptional life. The film couldn’t have worked with any other show and Millionaire was somehow perfectly built to sustain the drama. Competitions like Jeopardy! seem old-fashioned and shows like Deal or No Deal are too complex to weave a tale around. The latter actually has mathematical strategies for winning that work for contestants but wouldn’t make for compelling theatre. In comparison, Millionaire simply calls for experience and strategy, and as a result made for a stunningly effective backdrop for the powerful story.
Unfortunately, Slumdog Millionaire isn’t available for streaming – but Patel is just as good in the little-known teen dramedy The Road Within, which is on Netflix.
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Shannon is probably a long shot for this award, but this role emphasised the fact that he’s at his best when he’s a little bit creepy. And if you want to see more of that, The Harvest is the streaming experience for you.
Best Supporting Actress Nominees
Viola Davis – Fences
On the eve of a likely Oscar triumph for Davis, it’s absolutely worthwhile to look back at the first two seasons of How to Get Away with Murder on Netflix.
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
2013’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was an underrated film. Harris, despite the heavy focus on Idris Elba, makes a strong impact as Nelson Mandela’s wife, Winnie.
Nicole Kidman – Lion
There are actually seven films featuring Nicole Kidman that are currently streaming on Netflix, so it’s hard to recommend just one. The best of the bunch may be 2013’s The Railway Man, in which Kidman stars alongside the powerful duo of Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard in a post-World War II soldier drama.
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
It may not be the film she’s personally best known for, but Fruitvale Station has been hailed as one of Netflix’s most underrated movies, and Spencer, as always, is terrific in it.
Incidentally, you may want to find a way to celebrate Taraji P. Henson while you’re checking out Spencer. Henson had the leading role in Hidden Figures and is among the biggest Oscar snubs of the year – particularly after the film itself managed to rake in the Best Cast in a Picture prize at the SAG awards.
Henson was stunningly good as Katherine G. Johnson, a gifted mathematician who winds up playing a key role in safely launching John Glenn into outer space. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a strong presence on Netflix at the moment (you can see a minor role in Larry Crowne), but if you’re interested in getting a better feel for the actress ahead of the Academy Awards, you might just want to find a way to watch Empire. It’s a Fox show, unavailable on Netflix or Amazon Prime, though you can actually access it on Hulu.
Michelle Williams – Manchester By The Sea
Finally, there’s Michelle Williams, who doesn’t have a strong presence on Netflix. If you want to see her in a very different role, check out the indie romance Take This Waltz in which she’s in love with, of all people, Seth Rogen. This film written and directed by Sarah Polley and was a critical darling that is well worth your time.