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Image / Living / Culture

THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT (L to R) ANYA TAYLOR as BETH HARMON in THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT. Cr. CHARLIE GRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

5 award season picks you should watch next


by Jennifer McShane
24th Apr 2021

As we await the Acadamy Awards this Sunday, here are some of the recent award-winning contenders to add to your must-watch list next.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (played by the great Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (the late, equally great Chadwick Boseman in one of his final roles who won Best Actor) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives. This is one you must see.

blank Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020): (L to R) Michael Potts as Slow Drag, Chadwick Boseman as Levee and Colman Domingo as Cutler. Cr. David Lee / Netflix

Nomadland

Nomadland made Oscar history as Chloe Zhao made history as this year is the first time ever more than one woman was nominated for Best Director in the same year. She has been nominated alongside Emerald Fennell. And it only took 93 years for this record-breaking feat! Her film about marginalised Americans roaming the West into a frontrunner was always going to be an Oscar contender. The semi-fictional film stars the ever-brilliant Frances McDormand (who is extraordinary in the role) alongside a group of non-actors who live on the open road, working mostly menial jobs to scrape by off the grid.  It’s an incredible watch.

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THE QUEENÕS GAMBIT (L to R) ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON in episode 102 of THE QUEENÕS GAMBIT Cr. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

The Queen’s Gambit

Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, this Netflix limited series drama is a coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius. Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy, who won a Golden Globe for her role) discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquillizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fuelled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess. It’s a brilliant, brilliant watch.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organisers of the protest — including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale — were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history. This has quite a cast, including  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Keaton and is extremely compelling. Aaron Sorkin picked up the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and was nominated in the same category at the Oscars.

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The Crown Season 4

In case you’ve not managed to see this one or are looking for a re-watch, we recommend the current season of The Crown and paying special attention to Gillian Anderson as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher alongside rising star Emma Corrin, who was cast as Lady Diana Spencer and Josh O’Connor who plays a young Prince Charles. All three rightfully were awarded for their performances in the series.  With the start of a new decade, the nation begins to feel the impact of divisive policies introduced by Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The plot kicks off when tensions arise between her and the Queen which only grow worse as Thatcher leads the country into the Falklands War, generating conflict within the Commonwealth. It’s the best season so far.

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