10 Oscar-winning movies to binge on this weekend

A scene in Moonlight. (Dos Hermanas LLC)
A scene in Moonlight. (Dos Hermanas LLC)

Cape Town - On Sunday, 4 March, the great and the good of Tinseltown will arrive at the Dolby Theatre in LA in all their finery to attend the 90th Academy Awards.

The Oscars marks the end of the awards season in Hollywood, which means we can hazard a guess as to which films, crews and staff have won the judges over, based on how they’ve fared at other awards (Get Out is tipped as having the edge in the Best Picture category) - but let’s be honest, when it comes to the Oscars, every nominee in every category is fair game.

Watch the awards live if you feel like waking up early on M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104), at 03:30 on Monday, 5 March, or on M-Net (DStv 101) on the same day at 21:30. Or you’ll be able to stream it on DStv Catch Up afterwards. 

In the meantime, stream these movies on Showmax, DStv Now, Netflix and Amazon Prime this weekend - and if you’re after more Oscar winners and nominees, check out the Showmax Oscar Movie Collection, which is packed with 40 titles.

1. HBO’s A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015) (Showmax)

1 Oscar: Best Documentary, Short Subject

This HBO 38-minute film about Saba, a 19-year-old Pakistani woman who survived an attempted “honour killing” by her father and uncle after she married the man she loved against their wishes, makes for tough but necessary viewing. They shot her in the face and the hand, put her in a bag and threw her in a river, leaving her for dead - but will they get the justice they deserve?


2. The Godfather Part II (1974) (Showmax)

6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert de Niro), Best Writing, Best Director, Best Music, Best Art Direction

The sequel to the blockbuster that became a classic in its own right (and the only sequel to ever win the Best Picture Oscar), this film continues the story of Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) as a Mafia boss in the late 1950s. It also gives us an insight into the early life of his late father, Vito (with Robert De Niro playing him as a young man), and his journey to becoming the original Don Corleone, so it is considered both a sequel and a prequel to the first film. At 200 minutes long, it is a gangster extravaganza.

3. Forrest Gump (1994) (Showmax)

6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks), Best Director, Best Writing, Best Film Editing, Best Effects

The slow-witted Forrest may seem disadvantaged, but his life story, full of triumphs and friends, will inspire you, in this much-loved masterpiece with an incredible cast, including Tom Hanks (who won the Oscar for his role), Sally Field as his mother and Robin Wright as his childhood sweetheart Jenny.

4. Fargo (1996) (Showmax)

2 Oscars: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Frances McDormand), Best Writing

This is the Coen Brothers film that inspired the dark comedy Fargo, Season 1 to 3, also on Showmax. Frances McDormand, who took the Oscar for her role as police chief Marge Gunderson, has again been nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role this year for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which is her fifth nomination in total. She is widely considered to be a shoo-in for the award, and if she takes it, she’ll tie with Hollywood greats Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Taylor, Jodie Foster and Ingrid Bergman, who all won the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar twice.

5. Out of Africa (1985) (Showmax)

7 Oscars: Best Sound, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Music

Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Danish baroness Karen Blixen who establishes a plantation in Kenya and falls in love with Denys (Robert Redford), a hunter who lives in a very different world. Streep has been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for another 16 movies, including 2008’s Doubt (also on Showmax) and last year’s The Post. Will she be adding a fourth statuette to her collection on Sunday? 

6. La La Land (2016) (DStv Now)

6 Oscars: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone), Best Directing, Best Music (Original Score), Best Music (Original Song), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design

Cynics, look away - this one’s not for you. Unless the idea of Ryan Gosling singing, dancing and playing the piano would be your cup of tea. And why wouldn’t it? Gosling learned to play the piano for his role by practising for two hours a day for months before filming began, so that he didn’t need a “hand double” or CGI to perform the movie’s many piano solos. It’s really him, really playing the piano, for real. We’re still in denial about the fact that he didn’t win the Oscar for Best Actor - can you tell? Here’s some more trivia for you: The director Damien Chazelle was only 32 when we won the Oscar, making him the youngest director to ever do so. 

7. Moonlight (2016) (DStv Now)

3 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali), Best Adapted Screenplay

Chiron is young, black and gay, growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Miami. This is the story of his struggles with his drug addicted mother and his sexuality during his adolescence and young adult years. One of Moonlight’s many groundbreaking achievements includes the fact that it had the lowest budget of any Best Picture winner in history, having cost only $1.5 million to make. (Rocky, which won in 1976, had a budget of $1.1 million in its day, which sounds pretty low now, but when you adjust for inflation it cost significantly more to make than Moonlight did.) Did you know that Mahershala Ali, who plays Chiron’s mentor Juan, was the first Muslim person to ever win an Academy Award for acting?

8. Argo (2012) (DStv Now)

3 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Writing, Best Film Editing

Ben Affleck’s movie about an undercover CIA agent trying to rescue six Americans caught in the hostage crisis in Iran in 1979 under the guise of being a Hollywood producer is the one of only four films to ever win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. (The others are Wings from 1929, Grand Hotel from 1932 and Driving Miss Daisy from 1989.)  It also has the somewhat tragic distinction of having been well loved film critic Roger Ebert’s last pick for Best Picture before he died in 2013. 

9. Pulp Fiction (1994) (Netflix)

1 Oscar: Best Writing

Tarantino brings his motley crew of moral degenerates - small-time crooks, hit men, a crime boss, his drug-addict wife, a professional boxer and his French girlfriend - together in four violent mini-films. Despite having only won a single Academy Award (John Travolta lost out on the Best Actor in a Leading Role award to Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump in the same year), this cult classic is number 7 on IMDB’s list of Top Rated Movies list, so you know it’s one for the bucket list if you haven’t seen it.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) (Amazon Prime)

1 Oscar: Best Writing

It may have won the Oscar for its screenplay, but much of the dialogue and even the action in this romantic sci-fi drama was improvised on the spot. Jim Carrey, who plays Joel Barish, a man whose girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) opts to have him erased from her memory after their relationship goes south, was reportedly genuinely surprised by two moments when he was acting alongside Winslet. One, in the train scene, when Clementine punches Joel (Winslet really did punch him, quite hard; he really wasn’t expecting it), and two, when she disappears suddenly while they’re watching the circus in the street - he had no idea where she had gone, or that she was going to disappear at all. This movie is worth watching for those two moments alone, and also for the incredible ensemble cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood.