‘And the nominees are…’

Academy Award longshots ‘Argentina, 1985’ and ‘Causeway’ remind us what the Oscars are good for

Courtesy: Amazon Studios

The nominees for the 95th Academy Awards are in: 54 movies competing in 23 categories. The headlines already belong to the genre-smashing Everything Everywhere All at Once — 11 nominations in total, including Best Picture, Best Director and four acting noms — and the surprise inclusion of Andrea Riseborough in the Actress in a Leading Role category for her turn as Leslie, a small-town lottery winner who blows it all on booze and bottoms out, in To Leslie. Riseborough’s performance is good, even if To Leslie feels a lot like poverty porn, but the nomination highlights that even the little movies that come and go offer something to discover. In that vein, here are two you can stream tonight.

First, Argentina, 1985, which was nominated in the International Feature category and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. The latest from director Santiago Mitre dramatizes the Trial of the Juntas, the heads of the fascistic military government that ruled Argentina from 1976–83. During that time, thousands were “disappeared,” held captive and tortured, making the proceedings to bring justice to the perpetrators on par with the Nuremberg trials.

Ricardo Darín plays the lead prosecutor Julio César Strassera as a man exhausted by work but emboldened by family. Family plays a sizeable role in Argentina, 1985 as many relatives find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide of the highly publicized trial. That is, until the testimonies pour in and those who back the police state realize the cost incurred.

Argentina, 1985 might not win the statue on Oscar night, but for a nearly two-and-a-half-hour courtroom drama, it’s an engaging piece of storytelling with more than a few unsavory parallels to modern-day abuses of power and cruelty. Some histories don’t feel like history at all.

Courtesy: A24

Those long-shot odds probably hold for Causeway, nominated in the Actor in a Supporting Role category and streaming on Apple TV+, but it would be a shame to overlook this quiet drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and the nominated Brian Tyree Henry. Lawrence plays Lynsey, a soldier returning from Afghanistan after a traumatic experience. Henry plays James, a mechanic drifting through life trying to put his own trauma behind him. Yes, they come together and help each other, but not in the way you might expect.

Directed by Lila Neugebauer, Causeway is a movie where the drama exists between the pauses. It’s a somewhat dour affair, one thankfully leavened by the setting, a hot, muggy and lush New Orleans, and the casualness of Henry’s performance. His sheer candor brings Lynsey out of her reserved shell, and his ability to toggle back and forth between jovial and serious — often with those same piercing eyes — makes his performance feel like no performance at all.

It would be a surprise to see Henry hoist the statue on March 12 — he’s up against Barry Keoghan and Brendan Gleeson, both for The Banshees of Inisherin, Ke Huy Quan for his multi-faceted performance in Everything Everywhere and Judd Hirsch’s scene stealer in The Fabelmans. But Henry’s nomination is an acknowledgment of good work, which will hopefully spur movie lovers to seek out this small and rewarding film. If nothing else, that’s what the Oscars are good for.

ON SCREEN: Stream Argentina, 1985 on Amazon Prime, Causeway on Apple TV+ and watch the 95th Academy Awards Sunday, March 12, on ABC.


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