Streampix Oscar Watch: 10 Flicks to Pick

by | October 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM | Academy Awards, XFINITY Streampix

“Training Day.” (Village Roadshow Pictures)

The autumn leaves are falling and the Oscar races are heating up in theaters, now that the likes of Alfonso Cuaron’s masterful “Gravity” and, this week, Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips,” have opened to rave reviews, following recent contenders such as Ron Howard’s “Rush and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Why not settle in this weekend for a Streampix feature? Here are 10 of our personal favorites available for your viewing pleasure.

Training Day”: Denzel Washington earned a Best Actor Academy Award in 2001 for his role as the corrupt cop in this police drama from director Antoine Fuqua which followed a pair of narcotics detectives (Ethan Hawke was his less experienced partner) making the rounds in a 24-hour period in South Central L.A. Washington beat out Will Smith, who was nominated for his role in Michael Mann’s “Ali,” the first time as many as two African-Americans were up for the honor in one year.  There hasn’t been more than one African-American nominee for Best Actor Oscar since 2006, when Forest Whitaker took home the big prize for playing the tyrant Idi Amin in  “The Last King of Scotland” and Will Smith was up for his role in “The Pursuit of Happyness.”  This year, there could well be up to four African American actors up for Oscar honors, including front-runner Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”), Whitaker (“The Butler”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) and Idris Elba (“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”). [Watch here]

The Color Purple”: Three different performers earned Oscar nominations from the all-star cast of Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning Alice Walker novel, including Whoopi Goldberg as Best Actress, along with both Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey for Best Supporting Actress. Although the film itself received 11 nominations in total, including Best Picture, it got shut out on the big night. Oprah, by the way, is being touted for another nomination in the same category for her performance this year in “The Butler.” [Watch here]

Syriana”: A hirsute George Clooney won his first-ever Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as a CIA hit man stationed in the Middle East who gets wrapped up in the region’s oil politics after noticing one of the anti-tank missiles used in an attack was stolen and diverted to Egypt.  The 2005 thriller was directed by Stephen Gaughan, the Oscar-winning Best Adapted Screenplay writer of “Traffic.” [Watch here]

Amadeus”: Milos Forman’s 1984 biopic about Mozart’s battle with his chief nemesis, starring the Oscar-nominated Tom Hulce in the title role, earned a total of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and a Best Actor nod to F. Murray Abraham in the role of rival composer Antonio Salieri. Abraham is currently starring in Showtime’s “Homeland” as a CIA chief. [Watch here]

Brokeback Mountain”: The late Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams all earned Academy Award nominations in Oscar winner Ang Lee’s controversial 2005 adaptation of Annie Proulx’s short story about a pair of cowboys in love. Lee won for Best Director, while Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry earned Best Adapted Screenplay honors, and Gustavo Santaolalla took home his for Best Original Score. [Watch here]

The Constant Gardener”: Fernando Merrelles’ 2005 adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel earned four Oscar nominations (including Jeffrey Caine for Best Adapted Screenplay) , with Rachel Weisz winning Best Supporting Actress honors for her role as an outspoken humanitarian and human rights activist is found mysteriously murdered on the veld in Kenya, where her diplomat husband (Ralph Fiennes) is stationed. [Watch here]

Ben Hur”: William Wyler’s 1959 epic about the birth of Christianity in Roman-occupied Judea was one of Oscar’s most honored movies ever, taking home a then-record 11, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Charlton Heston) and Best Director.  The climactic chariot race was considered state of the art in moviemaking in its day. [Watch here]

Driving Miss Daisy”: Bruce Beresford’s 1989 comedt-drama adaption of Alfred Uhry’s play about a wealthy southern Jewish woman (Jessica Tandy) and her chauffeur (Morgan Freeman) scored nine Academy Award nominations, winning four, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Tandy) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Uhry). The movie was a controversial winner over “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Field of Dreams,” “Dead Poets Society” and “My Left Foot.” Freeman (Actor) and SNL veteran Dan Aykroyd (Supporting Actor) also picked up nominations. [Watch here]

The Bridges of Madison County”: The legendary Meryl Streep received her eighth Best Actress nomination for her role in Clint Eastwood’s 1995 adaptation of Robert James Waller’s best-selling novel about a brief encounter between a lonely farmer’s wife and a photographer. Streep has a total of 17 Oscar nominations, 14 for Best Actress and the other three for Best Supporting Actress. She has won three, including two for Best Actress (“Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady”) and one for Best Supporting Actress (“Kramer vs. Kramer”). [Watch here]

Midnight Express”: Alan Parker’s 1978 film based on the real-life story of Billy Hayes, a college student played by Brad Davis, who gets caught trying to smuggle hash, only to end up in a Turkish prison, received a total of six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Hurt), winning four—Best Original Score (Giorgio Moroder) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Oliver Stone). [Watch here]