When last year’s best international film, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite won Best Picture, the affable director encouraged Oscar viewers to transcend the barrier of subtitled films. Many of the most compelling stories and inventive films come from outside the United States, Canada and Britain. Thanks to streaming services (especially Hulu) and video on demand, international films are more accessible than ever, especially for watching the 2021 Oscar nominees.
Another round (Denmark)
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg (also nominated) and starring Mads Mikkelsen, another round is favorite to win. Four middle-aged teachers and friends, disillusioned with their enviable but mundane lives, decide to drink alcohol around the clock to maintain a constant buzz. They suspect their experience will resolve their mundane midlife crises and leave them more relaxed, open and courageous. another round is endearing even if his beats are a bit predictable. Of course, alcoholism won’t improve their parenting, marital, or job performance, but the film is more entertaining and thoughtful than its plot suggests.
another round is streaming on Hulu.
Better Days (China)
Better days demonstrates that bullying is a problem in schools around the world, with many deep-rooted causes that cannot simply be addressed with anti-bullying platitudes. It skews more young adults than most Oscar nominees, largely because it’s adapted from a YA novel. The film follows a teenage girl, Chen Nian, who, along with other students, is subjected to brutal harassment, including over her socio-economic status. When school administrators seem uninterested or unable to help, Chen Nian strikes up a relationship with Xiao Bei, a street kid with worries of his own. Together they care for each other in a world that doesn’t care for them, with engaging melodramatic results.
Better days is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube and most other streaming platforms.
This heartbreaking film is a double nominee. It earned a spot in the competitive list for Best Documentary Film. Collective tells of the devastating fire at a nightclub in Bucharest that killed dozens and injured hundreds of innocent spectators. This tragic event might be familiar to viewers; it made headlines in 2015. But this gripping documentary goes far beyond the front page, as brave survivors, families of victims, and investigative journalists expose a shocking amount of government and corporate corruption. which was not known to the public elsewhere in the world. The film is a clear call for accountability from the systems that are meant to protect the public, and it shows the role the public must play in demanding such action.
Collective is streaming on Hulu.
The man who sold his skin (Tunisia)
One would assume the title of this movie is metaphorical, but it’s inspired by a true story in which a man volunteers (or at least his back) as the canvas for the work of a provocative artist called “Tim “. Tim now spends his time posing in museums. This fictionalized version adds a humanitarian crisis to what were already pretty heady questions about the commodification of human beings. Sam has to flee Syria and ends up separating from the woman he loves. In order to make things better, he sells his body to a wealthy, attention-seeking tattoo artist. He gets the money and the passport he needs but realizes he has lost his autonomy in the transaction.
The man who sold his skin is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube and most other streaming platforms.
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Often, the nominees in what was once the Best Foreign Language Film category were a litany of depressingly significant, full of masterfully rendered suffering. Quo Vadis, Aida? is such a movie, but it’s good and effective, and probably another roundthe greatest competition. The film is set during the war that rocked Eastern Europe only a quarter of a century ago. General Mladic and his forces have taken over the town of Aida, Srebrenica, and she becomes a translator between the cruel invading forces and the indifferent UN. Aida’s family seeks refuge in the UN camp, and from her perspective, the audience comes to see the conflict from a societal and family perspective. Quo Vadis, Aida? is a moving but disturbing reminder and warning that hate is all too common.
Quo Vadis, Aida? is streaming on Hulu.
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