December has been a busy month for Netflix, with it releasing a number of films that house Oscar contenders for various acting categories. We may be gearing up for an Academy Awards like none before it, but thanks to the streamer’s roster of new films, you can view performances that are in the running for the 2021 Oscars from the safety of your own home. We’ve aggregated some of the top Netflix titles you can see this month in preparation for the upcoming awards show, as well as the actors to watch.
1. Mank (Release Date: December 4)
This period piece featuring old Hollywood follows the story of screenwriter Herman J. “Mank” Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he pushes to complete the script for Citizen Kane. David Fincher directs the film written by his late father Jack Fincher, and it centers on Mank’s race to turn out his final script as a way to settle his score with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance). There’s buzz that Oldman could receive a best actor nod for his performance in the titular role, and Amanda Seyfried may be a best supporting actress contender for her work as Marion Davies, a thespian and mistress of Hearst. Lily Collins and Tuppence Middleton also turn out strong performances as Mank’s respective assistant and wife.
2. The Prom (Release Date: December 11)
Ryan Murphy’s on-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical features a star-studded cast that includes names like Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, and James Corden. It centers on a group of Broadway stars who flock to a conservative small town in Indiana to support a high school teen named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) who wants to go to prom with her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose). Variety prognosticates that Streep and Kidman could garner acting nominations for their respective roles as Broadway thespians Dee Dee Allen and Angie Dickinson.
3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Release Date: December 18)
George C. Wolfe directs this film version of August Wilson’s 1982 Broadway play, which follows the titular character during her 1927 recording session at a Chicago music studio. The period piece stars Viola Davis as the groundbreaking singer known as the “Mother of Blues,” and the late Chadwick Boseman as her horn player Levee. Both are in the running for acting nominations, and if Davis receives one, she’ll break her tie with Octavia Spencer to become the most nominated Black female actor in the history of the Academy Awards. If Boseman garners a nod, it will make him only the eighth person to have ever received a posthumous Oscar acting nomination.
4. The Midnight Sky (Release Date: December 23)
George Clooney directs and stars in this on-screen adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel Good Morning, Midnight. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a lonely scientist in the Arctic named Augustine (Clooney) works against the clock to try and prevent a crew of astronauts from returning to the global catastrophe happening on Earth. There’s buzz that Clooney could earn a best actor nomination for his work, and other performances to watch in the film come from names like Kyle Chandler, Felicity Jones, and David Oyelowo.
You can watch Mank, The Prom, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and The Midnight Sky on Netflix this month to decide for yourself if you think they host performances worthy of Oscar nods. And if you missed earlier releases on Netflix that also house contenders for acting nominations, check out Delroy Lindo and Chadwick Boseman in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, as well as Glenn Close and Amy Adams in Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy. Thanks to the streaming giant, you can see a number of the frontrunners before March 15 when the 2021 Oscar nominees are announced.