CHICAGO - Despite the usual snubs, flubs and surprises, the Academy Award nominations were actually pretty solid this year. In addition to honoring great performances like Penelope Cruz in "Parallel Mothers," Andrew Garfield in "Tick, Tick … Boom!" and Denzel Washington in "The Tragedy of Macbeth," the Academy also rounded up an appreciably diverse list of Best Picture nominees.
All this week we’ll be spotlighting the 10 films nominated for the big prize. And since we could all use more stuff to watch these days, we’ve also rounded up recommendations for movies (and TV shows) that echo or influence them in some way — all of which are streaming (for free!) on Tubi. Next up: Jane Campion’s hypnotic "The Power of the Dog."
About "The Power of the Dog"
The premise: "The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, revelling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?"
The details: Rated R. 126 minutes. Written and directed by Jane Campion.
The nominations: "The Power of the Dog" is the leader of the pack with 12 nominations — the most of any movie this year, and not far off from the record for most Oscar nominations for a single film ("All About Eve," "Titanic" and "La La Land" are tied with 14).
In addition to its Best Picture nomination, "The Power of the Dog" also earned nods for Best Director (Jane Campion — a likely winner), Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actor (Jesse Plemons), Best Supporting Actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Best Supporting Actress (Kirsten Dunst), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jane Campion), Best Cinematography (Ari Wegner), Best Film Editing (Peter Sciberras), Best Original Score (Jonny Greenwood), Best Production Design (Grant Major and Amber Richards) and Best Sound (Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie, Tara Webb).
And here’s some Oscar trivia: "The Power of the Dig" is the first film directed by a woman to receive more than 10 Academy Award nominations. And Campion is the first woman to receive more than one Oscar nomination for Best Director. (Her first was for 1993’s "The Piano.")
Our critic’s take: A tense, elegant Western with teeth
Forgive the pun, but "The Power of the Dog" is a film with teeth. In 1920s Montana, Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) ostensibly shares the running of a cattle ranch with softspoken brother George (Jesse Plemons), but it’s clear to all who really stands atop the summit. Yet George manages to temporarily disrupt the fetid little world ruled by his cruel and charismatic brother when he falls in love with the widowed Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), who moves into the Burbanks’ mansion and thus directly into Phil’s splatter zone.
This tense, elegant Western from New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion ("The Piano," "Top of the Lake") peels back the skin and sinews of its characters with the director’s typically penetrating insight. [Allison Shoemaker]
RELATED: The must-see movies of 2021
How to watch "The Power of the Dog"
Streaming: "The Power of the Dog" is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Rent or own: As of yet, there’s no way to buy a copy of "The Power of the Dog." But you can buy the screenplay and read it instead, if that appeals!
On the big screen: If you mosey on over to one of the select theaters screening it, there’s still a chance to see "The Power of the Dog" on the big screen.
About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.
What to watch next
Jane Campion’s sumptuous revisionist Western would pair nicely with any of Hollywood’s revered classics in the genre, from John Wayne’s "Stagecoach" to James Stewart’s "Broken Arrow" to Kevin Costner’s ‘90s epic "Dances with Wolves." For something more outside the box, however, there’s the patient filmmaking and queer themes of Todd Haynes’ "Carol." Or what about the classic American story of brotherhood and tragedy, "Of Mice and Men"?
- Benedict Cumberbatch in "Third Star"
- Kodi Smit-McPhee in "The Road"
- Jesse Plemons in "Black Mass"
- Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia"
About Tubi: Tubi has more than 35,000 movies and television series from over 250 content partners, including every major studio, in addition to the largest offering of free live local and national news channels in streaming. The platform gives fans of entertainment, news and sports an easy way to discover new content that is available completely free.
Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at http://www.tubi.tv/.
Tubi and this television station are both owned by the FOX Corporation.
Caroline Siede contributed to this report.