Netflix provides a number of “Oscar movies” to pick from if you want to add a little status to your viewing experience. It might be difficult to discover precisely what you’re searching for, so we’ve put together a list of the finest Oscar movies available on Netflix right now.
We limited this list to films that have won at least one Academy Award, so while Gangs of New York had a bevy of nominations, it went home empty-handed. However, there is still a wide range of films that have won Academy Awards to pick from, including classic Best Picture winners, contemporary successes, and even forgettable but still pleasant films that have won on the big night. Without further ado, have a look at our selection of the top Oscar movies now available on Netflix.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Les Misérables, Silver Linings Playbook, The Artist, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were added to this list on February 9th.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Steven Zaillian
Cast: Rooney Mara, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Yorick van Wageningen, Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgård and Joely Richardson
Oscars Won: Film Editing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a neo-noir thriller based on Stieg Larsson’s novel of the same name. It is one of the most successful films in its genre. Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a discredited journalist who teams up with a hacker called Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to investigate a crime that dates back 40 years. It goes like this: a 16-year-old girl from an affluent family vanished forty years ago. Every year since then, she has sent her grandfather Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) a framed and pressed flower. Henrik enlists Lisbeth’s help in doing a background check on Blomkvist, who is still hurting from the aftermath of a libel lawsuit. In exchange for solving the crime, the old man delivers Blomkvist proof against the guy who wrecked him. As Blomkvist and Lisbeth investigate the disappearance, they find horrifying truths dating back to the Second World War.
Director / Writer: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Penelope Ann Miller, Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Joel Murray, Ken Davitian, James Cromwell, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle, Ed Lauter, Beth Grant and John Goodman
Oscars Won: Best Picture, Director, And Actor, Original Score, Costume Design
The Artist is one of the most praised and awarded films of the 2010s. It is the first French-produced film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, as well as the first primarily silent film to do so since the Academy Awards’ inception in 1929. This historical comedy-drama was nominated in 10 categories and won in five of them. The Artist takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932, during the silent film era’s last years. It centers on George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a silent cinema star who is on the rise. We watch the fall of the silent film business and the development of the “talkies” throughout their lifetimes. It’s a wonderfully constructed black-and-white picture that pays homage to silent films from the past.
Silver Linings Playbook
Director / Writer: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Chris Tucker and Jennifer Lawrence.
Oscars Won: Actress
Silver Linings Playbook, which has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, is essentially a rom-com. The story revolves around a man with bipolar disease who returns home to his parents after being released from a psychiatric facility. Patrizio “Pat” Solitano Jr., played by Bradley Cooper, is a former teacher who suffered a nervous breakdown after seeing his wife in the shower with another guy. Pat was taken to a mental health hospital after she divorced him and obtained a restraining order against him. He returns home and starts out to reclaim his ex-wife. After that, he meets Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow who promises to help him out if he joins her in a dancing competition. What follows is a life-changing adventure that enables Pat to re-evaluate his relationships and, ultimately, find a method to live with his situation. Lawrence won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal as Tiffany, earning her the second-youngest Best Actress winner of all time.
The Social Network
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara, Andrew Garfield, and Rashida Jones
Oscars Won: Original Score, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network is a work of art. It’s also one of the most rewatchable films ever created. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin elevate each other’s greatest instincts while suppressing each other’s worst. This cool, insightful drama is considerably more than a “Facebook” film, as it exploits Mark Zuckerberg’s dramatic “birth story” of Facebook to convey a far bigger tale about what happens when the individuals in charge of the world’s most powerful corporations are just out of college. The rise and fall of Zuckerberg has a legendary feel to it, with philosophical concerns like “was it worth it in the end?”. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ Oscar-winning soundtrack is a classic, the performances are outstanding, the writing is flawless, and the director is flawless. The King’s Speech won Best Picture and Director, which is a travesty, but it doesn’t take away from the film’s brilliance.
Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, William Nicholson, and Claude-Michel Schönberg
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Sacha Baron Cohen
Oscars Won: Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Mixing, Supporting Actress
Les Misérables is an epic period musical and perhaps one of the finest films ever made in its genre, based on Victor Hugo’s iconic novel of the same name. It portrays the narrative of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a criminal who seeks to live in God’s favor and breaks free from his miserable life. The music, acting, and plot are all near-perfect, with a well-crafted tale that amplifies an already fantastic experience. All of the performers in the film are fantastic, but Anne Hathaway gives the best performance. Despite only appearing in a few moments, Hathaway’s stunning performance in Les Misérables earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as a slew of other awards.
There Will Be Blood
Director/Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kevin J. Connor
Oscars Won: Actor, Cinematography
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors of all time, and Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the greatest performers of all time, and their debut picture together was one of the best ever created. There Will Be Blood is a drama set at the start of the twentieth century that follows Daniel Plainview, a ruthless oilman played by Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar-winning performance. Daniel’s insatiable desire for power comes at the expense of everything, even his little son H.W. and a neighborly pastor played by Paul Dano. It competed with No Country for Old Men for Best Picture and Director at the 2008 Academy Awards, and while it lost, Day-Lewis won a well-deserved Best Actor award. This is a philosophically complex, character-driven drama, so you’ll need to be in the correct frame of mind to enjoy it. If you are, though, you are in for a real treat.
Director/Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and James Remar
Oscars Won: Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Waltz)
Django Unchained Director/Writer: Quentin Tarantino Cast: Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and James Remar Oscars Won: Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Waltz) Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s most financially successful film to date, is set in 1858 and revolves around the story of a freed slave’s (Jamie Foxx) quest to save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the hands of a brutal plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) – all with the assistance of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz).
Director / Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Lesley Manville, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Vicky Krieps.
Oscars Won: Costume Design
Phantom Thread is a historical drama featuring Daniel Day-Lewis as an obsessive high-end seamstress (in his final film role before retirement). He falls in love with a young waitress who becomes his model and muse due to a sequence of events. It’s an odd story with complicated people that use unforeseen actions to achieve their goals. The film received six Oscar nominations, including one for Costume Design, and is largely regarded as one of the greatest films of the decade.
Director/Writer: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta
Oscars Won: Supporting Actress (Dern)
Warning: Marriage Story will ruin your life. But it’s not simply one of the finest pictures of the year; it’s also Noah Baumbach’s best film. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and follows Adam Driver’s renowned theater director husband and Scarlett Johansson’s successful actress wife through the process of divorce from separation to finalization. The fact that the couple has a kid complicates matters, but Baumbach’s film is brilliant in that it presents the narrative from both perspectives, so no matter which side you end up on, you have tremendous empathy for both people. As Baumbach creates full-bodied, multifaceted individuals—you know, like actual human beings—Driver and Johansson produce career-best performances. This film by Baumbach brilliantly portrays how a couple’s voices—and the love they previously shared—are faded away throughout the divorce process. In Marriage Story, a film that is both painful and extremely honest, you may find yourself tearing up.
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Anthony McCarten
Cast: Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Charles Dance, Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried
Oscars Won: Actor, Makeup, and Hairstyling
Darkest Hour, a historical war film, awarded Gary Oldman his first Academy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. The film depicts Churchill’s early days as Prime Minister, as he negotiated the political environment of the period, refusing to sign a peace accord with the Nazis despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Essentially, the narrative starts with one speech (“Blood, toil, tears, and sweat”) and concludes with another, “we shall battle on the beaches.” It’s a well-made, well-acted film, and while the premise isn’t very revolutionary, it’s a joy to witness Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Winston Churchill.
Director/ Writer: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira,and Marco Graf
Oscars Won: Director, Cinematography, Foreign Language Film
Roma is a work of art. Alfonso Cuarón, who won an Academy Award for Gravity and has pushed the boundaries of cinema with films like Children of Men and even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, delves deep into his soul for this new drama, which tells the story of his childhood through the eyes of a domestic worker named Cleo. Cuarón’s unusual cinematography frames the audience as an objective observer as this middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City breaks apart. As you, the spectator, get more emotionally immersed in the lives of these people, that position becomes increasingly tragic. Roma is Netflix’s greatest original picture to date and their most successful at the Oscars, and it works on every screen size. The film earned Cuaron his second Best Director award, as well as an Oscar for Best Cinematography when he took over DP responsibilities himself.
The Hateful Eight
Director/ Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, James Parks, Zoe Bell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Samuel L. Jackson and Channing Tatum
Oscars Won: Best Original Score
Even Quentin Tarantino aficionados would acknowledge that the filmmaker enjoys hearing his own words spoken, therefore The Hateful Eight is, in some ways, the most Quentin Tarantino picture ever produced. Eight interesting folks are locked up in a stagecoach cabin as a winter storm comes through in this Western riff set years after the Civil War. No one is who they seem to be, and for the greater part of two and a half hours, these diverse personalities speak, squabble, flirt, fight, and shout in these cramped surroundings. Even if you aren’t a big admirer of the picture, Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-winning soundtrack is worth viewing on its own.
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Jack Fincher
Cast: Lily Collins, Amanda Seyfried, Arliss Howard, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Charles Dance
Oscars Won: Production Design, Cinematography
This film, which tells the tale of how Herman J. Mankiewicz wrote the script for Citizen Kane, garnered 10 Academy Award nominations. Mank is a black-and-white film that pays homage to 1930s cinema while painting a complex portrait of the scriptwriter and the era in which he lived. David Fincher’s father, Jack Fincher, wrote the screenplay for the film in the 1990s, but it wasn’t released until years after his death. Mank is a great film that cinephiles must-see, with a crisp tale and some outstanding performances, notably by Gary Oldman as the primary character.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Director: George C. Wolfe
Writer: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Cast: Viola Davis, Glynn Turman, Chadwick Boseman, and Michael Potts
Oscars Won: Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design
The year is 1927, and Ma Rainey, the mother of the blues, has been hired by white producers to record a session. What follows is a detailed depiction of a tumultuous period in history. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a strong musical biography based on August Wilson’s play of the same name. At the 93rd Academy Awards, it was nominated in five categories and won two of them. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is not only a poignant homage given via a well-crafted screenplay, but it is also Chadwick Boseman’s final film before his untimely death in August 2020. As artists caught in a war of egos with a recording studio as their battleground, both Boseman and Viola Davis are just great. It’s perhaps Boseman’s greatest performance, and it’s terrible that it also happened to be his last.
Director: Barry Levinson
Writers: Barry Levinson and Donald Bass
Cast: Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, and Valeria Golino
Oscars Won: Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Hoffman), Best Picture and Director
Rain Man was anticipated to be the picture that finally got Tom Cruise his Oscar, but he didn’t even get nominated. The film itself was a hit—it won Best Picture, Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Dustin Hoffman—but in retrospect, while Hoffman’s character is more flashy, Cruise’s performance here is quite stunning. Cruise portrays an arrogant and aggressive younger brother who finds that his estranged father has died and left everything to his elder, mentally challenged sibling in this picture, which in the 1980s, he takes a fresh look at yuppie greed (Hoffman). Cruise’s character breaks Hoffman out of a mental institution and plans to use him to get the money, but along the way, he grows to love and care for his brother. To be sure, this is a road movie, but it’s grounded in a complex plot that deals with complex emotions.