The Movie Guru: ‘The Power of the Dog,’ ‘West Side Story’ and other awards-season frontrunners |

The Movie Guru: ‘The Power of the Dog,’ ‘West Side Story’ and other awards-season frontrunners

“The Power of the Dog,” picked up several Golden Globes earlier this month.
Netflix/Courtesy photo

Awards season is already well underway, and several movies are already carving out a place for themselves. If you’re looking to get a leg up on the most likely movies to snag Oscar nominations, here are a few worth checking out.

The Power of the Dog (Netflix)

“The Power of the Dog,” picked up several Golden Globes earlier this month, including Best Motion Picture-Drama, and has several Screen Actors Guild nominations to its name. A big part of the fuss comes from the performances, particularly Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch. Smit-McPhee in particular has already picked up a Golden Globe for his work as a sickly son, and he’s the movie’s best stealth weapon.

The movie’s other best surprise comes at the end. For most of its run time, “The Power of the Dog” seems like a stifling family drama that just happens to be set in the Old West. A deeply satisfying final twist, however, transforms the movie into a completely different genre. You may even want to watch it all again, just to catch the pieces you might have missed.

West Side Story (in theaters)

Though it hasn’t been a box office smash, Steven Spielberg’s take on the classic story cleaned up at the Golden Globes. It snagged the big win for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy, as well as wins for both Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture.

It’s the ladies who snagged the last two awards, Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose, who are the big reason for awards watchers to see the movie. Zegler, a complete unknown, is both luminous and heartbreakingly young as Maria. DeBose is even more of a revelation as Anita, the role pioneered by Rita Moreno. She absolutely lives up to her legendary predecessor, and it’s impossible to look away every moment she’s onscreen.

Being the Ricardos (Amazon Prime)

Though it’s received other nominations, the big reason to catch “Being the Ricardos” is Nicole Kidman’s performance as Lucille Ball. An interpretation rather than an imitation, Kidman successfully evokes the comic genius and shrewd businesswomen who managed to co-head an entertainment empire. It’s a darker vibe than Ball’s onscreen persona, but it’s one of the more interesting parts of the movie.

She also has an engrossing dynamic with Javier Bardem, who plays Ricky Ricardo. The two add layers to their portrayal of a historic power couple, evoking the rhythm of two people who are a team even when they can’t stand each other. Bardem doesn’t have a win yet, but his performance is another major source of the movie’s nominations.

Also check out: “Tick, Tick… Boom!” (Netflix), “CODA” (Apple TV+), “Encanto” (Disney+), “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) and “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple TV+).

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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