Movie Guru: If you’re looking to brush up on your Oscar knowledge, Netflix is chock-full of past winners |

Movie Guru: If you’re looking to brush up on your Oscar knowledge, Netflix is chock-full of past winners

"Moonlight" is an emotional look at protagonist Chiron's struggle to accept his sexuality in poverty-stricken Atlanta, from boyhood to adulthood.
© A24

Get ready for the 2020 Oscars by brushing up on past winners.

This year’s award nominees available on the fan favorite streaming platform are “Marriage Story,” “The Two Popes,” “The Irishman,” “Klaus” and “American Factory.” But if you’re looking to throw it back a little bit, Netflix has an entire list of Oscar-winning movies available for streaming.

From Best Picture winners like “Moonlight” to Best Documentary Feature Winners such as “Icarus,” hundreds of titles are available. A comprehensive list would take pages to describe and weeks to watch, but what follows is a sampling of some of the best options currently on Netflix. Sit back, enjoy award-winning movies, and see whether you agree with the Academy’s choices.

Best Picture

“Moonlight”: The surprise 2017 Best Picture winner (thanks to a mistake a host made with the cue cards), “Moonlight” is a heartbreaking, quietly poetic look at one man’s life and love. Structured around three stages of Chiron’s life, the movie tackles complicated parental relationships, young love, the struggles growing up LGBTQ in a tough environment and making peace with your past. The movie requires your attention, but it’s worth it in the end.

Other options in this category:

“The King’s Speech” about King George VI and his infamous stutter.

“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” the final installment in the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy story.

“The Departed,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in a crime drama set in Boston.

Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted)

“Her”: Though at first glance the movie seems like an extended metaphor for our overreliance on technology, this 2014 Best Original Screenplay winner about a man falling in love with the AI on his smartphone is much purer and more complicated than that. The AI, who names herself Samantha, is a fully autonomous person struggling with issues of her own place in the universe. She and Theodore, played with beautiful subtlety by Joaquin Phoenix, who’s currently in contention for awards this Oscar season with “Joker,” face a number of issues familiar even to couples who both have corporeal bodies. At its heart, “Her” is simply a love story. That’s what’s so great about it.

Other options in this category:

“Howards End,” which plays like a 1992 movie version of “Downton Abbey.”

“Milk,” detailing the life and assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the state of California and the United States, and a champion for the gay rights movement.

“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.”

Best Documentary

“Icarus”: This 2018 Best Documentary Feature winner is the perfect example of having a camera in the right place at the right time. Director and amateur bike racer Mike Fogel was pursuing his own story when he met Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of Russia’s antidoping laboratory for Olympic athletes. They were in conversation when Rodchenkov and Russia were under investigation for the doping scandal, and Fogel dropped his idea to pursue the new story. The result is a film that feels more like a thriller than a documentary, an eye-opening and unsettling look at politics and ambition.

Other options in this category:

“20 Feet from Stardom,” about backup singers including Darlene Love and Mary Clayton.

“Amy,” about Amy Winehouse.

“Undefeated,” about the Manassas Tigers of Memphis, a high school football team working towards a winning season after years of losses.

Best Animated Feature

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”: Though Disney’s longtime dominance in this category means that there aren’t many winners to choose from on Netflix (thanks, Disney+), you don’t want to miss last year’s big winner. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a love letter to the characters, superheroes in general and the art of animation.

It’s deeply satisfying both for longtime fans and newcomers, beautifully balancing its serious and hilarious moments. The animation is also unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. If you want to get excited about superheroes or animated movies in general, this is the movie you want to watch.

Other options in this category:

“The Breadwinner,” about a young girl’s struggle in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, featuring Angelnia Jolie as an executive producer.

“Klaus,” about a failed postman who travels to the North Pole and discovers Santa Claus’ workshop.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

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