Streampix Watch: Your Oscar Nominations Edition

by | January 22, 2014 at 12:32 PM | XFINITY Streampix

John Cusack in Spike Jonze's "Being John Malkovich" (Universal Home Entertainment)

Last week’s Oscar nominations offered few surprises—with the possible exception of Tom Hanks and Robert Redford both being absent from the Best Oscar race—with David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” resembling last year’s race, in which Ben Affleck’s entertaining “Argo” edged the earnest history lesson of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” To celebrate this year’s Oscars, with the winners to be determined at the 86th Academy Awards telecast, March 2 on ABC, here’s a curated selection of Streampix movies that feature selected nominees.

Christian Bale, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2010 for his role in Russell’s “The Fighter,” is now up in the Best Actor category for another movie from the director, “American Hustle.” A child actor originally cast in Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun,” Bale’s breakthrough role came in Mary Harron’s 2000 adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’ controversial novel “American Psycho,” available on Streampix. Bale played Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker who doubled as a designer brand serial killer in a dark comedy that also featured fellow Oscar nominee Jared Leto, the odds-on favorite to cop the Best Supporting Actor nod for his role as the transvestite Rayon in the Best Picture nominated AIDS saga, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Cate Blanchett is luminous, heartwrenching and the probable winner of a Best Actress Oscar for her role as “A Streetcar Named Desire”’s Blanche Dubois living in a post-Bernie Madoff world in Woody Allen’s sly recession era fable, “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett has been nominated for a total of six Oscars, winning in 2004 a Best Supporting Actress nod for her role in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” playing Katharine Hepburn. She earned her first Best Actress nomination in 1998 for her role in the 1998 Streampix selection, “Elizabeth,” as Queen Elizabeth I, a role she reprised in the 2007 sequel, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” earning her yet another Best Actress nomination.

Director Richard Linklater along with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) for the third film in their trilogy, “Before Midnight.” Streampix now has the two previous iterations, following the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-marries-girl story of Celine and Jesse in both 1995’s “Before Sunrise” and 2004’s “Before Sunset,” which received a nomination in the same category.

Spike Jonze’s “Her” has received a total of five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Best Original Score, Best Original Song and Best Production Design. Check out the director’s 1999 feature debut, “Being John Malkovich,” for a foreshadowing of his distinctive futuristic world view, a movie for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Director.

Meryl Streep’s name has become almost synonymous with awards season, and this year is no different, as she’s nominated once again for Best Actress for her role in “August: Osage County.” The nomination is Streep’s 18th overall, with three wins, including two Best Actress nods for “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady” and a Supporting Actress nod for “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Although they didn’t earn her any nominations, Streep’s performances in a pair of Streampix selections are worth watching. In 1999’s “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” written by and starring Alan Alda, a married politician who falls in love with Streep’s attorney, threatening his political career. Streep received Best Supporting Actress honors from the L.A. and New York Film Critics, the National Board of Review and National Society of Film Critics. In Robert Zemeckis’ 1992 dark satire, “Death Becomes Her,” Streep plays a Broadway musical performer who becomes the object of a revengeful Goldie Hawn’s wrath when she sweeps her plastic surgeon fiancée, plastic surgeon (Bruce Willis) off his feet, gets her neck broken in an accident, then returns to life with a beautiful young body.  Streep received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy/Musical, while the movie won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

Chinese director Kar Wai Wong’s martial arts epic “The Grandmaster” is up for Oscars in the categories of Cinematography and Costume Design, though it inexplicably failed to score a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.  In the director’s 2000 Streampix feature, “In the Mood for Love,” Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung play a man and woman who suspect their respective spouses are lovers, and consider embarking on an affair of their own. The film earned nods from the New York and National Society of Film Critics as Best Foreign Language Film and for Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle, Lee Pin-bing).

The Coen brothers’ marvelous “Inside Llewyn Davis” didn’t earn any nods in the major categories, but did pick up Oscar nominations for both Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing. Neither did the brothers’ 2003 screwball farce “Intolerable Cruelty,” about a fast-talking divorce lawyer smitten with an irresistible gold-digger, but at least it stars George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Or you can sample the siblings’ 2001 black-and-white film noir, “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”

Finally, Juliette Lewis isn’t nominated for her role in the film version of Tracy LettsPulitzer- and Tony-winning play, “August: Osage County,” but she is certainly an important part of the ensemble which earned nominations for both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Look for her as a vampish teen who falls in love with a hood in writer/director Craig Bolotin’s 1993 movie, “That Night,” a romance that captures the interest of 10-year-old Eliza Dushku in the ‘60s suburb where they all live.