Newsflash: We still have awhile before the Oscars. It's like a month away. But we can prepare anyway by revisiting the greatest hits of our leading nominees in the acting categories. Put on your angriest Annette Bening face and join us for this trip into prestige pictures currently streaming on Netflix.
“The Kids are All Right” (Julianne Moore)
Julianne Moore didn't pick up a nomination, but costars Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo did in this family drama (with funny moments) about a lesbian couple attempting to embrace the new-found presence of their kids' sperm donor. “The Kids are All Right” feels like a lost James L. Brooks gem set in 2010, and every performance has endearing and (intentionally) maddening moments. Julianne might play the most conflicted character at all, and she wears that indecision and personal guilt well.
“My Week With Marilyn” (Eddie Redmayne)
Is this a great movie? No. In fact, “My Week With Marilyn” is memorable because it's about a chapter in Marilyn Monroe's life that almost certainly meant nothing to her. On the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl,” Monroe feuded with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and cheated on Arthur Miller with a young filmmaker who worked on the set of the movie (Eddie Redmayne). Michelle Williams is just right as the likable but difficult Marilyn, and my girl Julia Ormond plays a very convincing Vivien Leigh.
“The Cider House Rules” (J.K. Simmons)
Um, did you know J.K. Simmons was in “The Cider House Rules”? I sure didn't. Check out this John Irving adaptation if you want to see an Oscar-winning Michael Caine address his “princes of Maine” at the most adorable orphanage ever. Tobey Maguire is technically the star, but your eyes will pop when you lay eyes on young Charlize Theron and a post-“Clueless” Paul Rudd.
“Ethan Frome” (Patricia Arquette)
There was a time when we gave adaptations of Edith Wharton novellas to Patricia Arquette and Liam Neeson. It was a magical land called 1993, which is basically indescribable to citizens of today. You say words like “Liz Phair” at teenagers and they just shrug and go back to sexting their parole officers. Even weirder about this movie: It costars Katharine Houghton, the niece of Katharine Hepburn who costarred in “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?” Please remember to also enjoy sexy young Tate Donovan.
“Batman Returns” (Michael Keaton)
Blah, blah, blah, Michael Keaton, Michael Keaton, Michael Keaton. Let's talk about how delicious Michelle Pfeiffer is here as she claws through every scene with that saucy, lickety-split delivery that would scare the hell out of Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway. Julie Newmar agrees that her performance as Catwoman is definitive, so let's not even begin to argue this.
“The Immigrant” (Marion Cotillard)
I'm liking Marion Cotillard's dark horse chances in this Oscar race, so why not revisit her other excellent performance of the year in “The Immigrant”? Watch and revel as she tangles with a meeeean Joaquin Phoenix and suffers through a bunch of unthinkable indignities.