Your 2017 Oscars Cheat Sheet

We watched the most buzzed about films of the 2017 Oscars season for you. Time is precious. Read our cheat sheet and you’ll only have to see the ones that appeal to you before the big show.

Related Content: This History of the Oscar

Arrival

Nominations: 8 (Including: Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Runtime: 116 mins.
Synopsis: When alien spacecrafts appear around the world, the U.S. government charges linguistics professor Louise Banks (Adams) with interpreting their language and determining their purpose on Earth.
Why Watch: The audience is naturally drawn into the mystery with Professor Banks. Every step of the way you’ll be rooting for her to find the answers she needs so desperately.
Where to Watch: Available to buy in digital HD on digital platforms. Available to own on Blu-Ray & DVD Feb. 14.

Fences

Nominations: 4 (Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Director: Denzel Washington
Stars: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 139 mins.
Synopsis: A black sanitation worker struggles to raise his family in 1950s Pittsburgh. He must reconcile his current choices with events of his past. Based on the August Wilson play of the same name.
Why Watch: A must-see for theater lovers. It is an authentic adaptation of the play onto the big screen. Davis and Washington won SAG awards for their individual roles. It was Washington’s first win, though he’s been nominated four times previously. Davis also won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for her role as Rose Maxson.
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters.

Hacksaw Ridge

Nominations: 6 (Including: Best Picture, Best Achievement in Directing and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role)
Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
Genre: Drama, History, War
Runtime: 139 mins.
Synopsis: Based on true events, the film tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscience objector who served as a medic in World War II, but refused to carry a rifle or fire a single shot. It focuses on the battle at Hacksaw Ridge, where Doss brought 75 men to safety.
Why Watch: It has all of the graphic violence you’d expect of a war film mixed with a touch of romance. The hero of the story makes the film unique. Whether you agree with his morals or not, it’s worth watching to the end to see if he survives.
Where to Watch: Available to buy in digital HD on digital platforms. Buy on Blu-Ray/DVD Feb. 21.

Hell or High Water

Nominations: 4 (Including: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Original Screenplay)
Director: David Mackenzie
Stars: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham
Genre: Drama, Western, Crime
Runtime: 102 mins.
Synopsis: An ex-con and his divorced brother rob banks in order to save their family ranch. A sheriff makes it his mission to find them before he retires.
Why Watch: Bridges shines as role of Sheriff Marcus Hamilton. He’s the only actor in the film to be recognized in an individual performance category.
Where to Watch: Available to buy or rent in digital HD on digital platforms. Available with Netflix DVD subscription. Available to purchase DVD/ Blu-Ray.

Hidden Figures

Nominations: 3 (Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Director: Theodore Melfi
Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe
Genre: Drama, History, Biography
Runtime: 127 mins.
Synopsis: Three black women working for NASA during the Space Race provide important mathematical data that is integral to mission success.
Why Watch: This empowering historical film puts three women in the spotlight who had remained in the shadows until recently. History like this should be celebrated, not hidden. The ensemble has already won a SAG award this year, and the Academy’s failure to nominate Henson for her leading role is one of the biggest Oscars snubs this year.
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters.

La La Land

Nominations: 14 (Including: Best Picture, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Original Screenplay)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Genres: Musical, Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 128 mins
Synopsis: Follow two struggling artists trying to make it big in L.A. while falling in love with each other…and occasionally singing songs about it all.
Why Watch: If you believe the hype, this is the must-watch film of the year. It’s already won six Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture- Musical or Comedy, Best Director and both of the lead acting awards in the “Musical or Comedy” category. Stone also won a SAG award for her role. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood. It has a nostalgic quality reminiscent of simpler times, perhaps adding to its popularity. We expect it will do well with the Academy.
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters.

Lion

Nominations: 6 (Including: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Director: Garth Davis
Stars: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 178 mins
Synopsis: A 5-year-old boy gets lost on a train in India and ends up miles away from home, separated from his family. He is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, his journey back home begins with Google Earth. Based on true events.
Why Watch: Lion is the powerful story of Saroo Brierley (played in the film by Patel and Sunny Pawar) about what it’s like to get lost…and come home again.
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters. Available to by on Itunes Digital HD March 7.

Manchester by The Sea

Nominations: 6 (Including: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Original Screenplay)
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 137 mins
Synopsis: After his brother dies, a man must return to his hometown to care for his nephew and face his past.
Why Watch: This story about family, loss and sacrifice is sure to bring you to tears at least once. What is Oscars season without a good cry?
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters and available to purchase in digital HD on iTunes & Amazon. Expected DVD release date is Feb. 21.

Moonlight

Nominations: 8 (Including: Best Picture, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay)
Director: Barry Jenkins
Stars: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 171 mins.
Synopsis: Follow a boy through three stages of his life from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find himself and survive on the streets of Miami.
Why Watch: A deeply honest character study. It’s already won the Golden Globe for Best Drama. Ali won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his supporting role as Juan.
Where to Watch: Currently in in theaters. Available for Purchase on Itunes Digital HD Feb. 14.

Captain Fantastic

Nominations: 1 (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role)
Director: Matt Ross
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 118 mins.
Synopsis: A father begins to question his unorthodox parenting style when he and his family must suddenly leave their home in the forest of the Pacific Northwest and join modern society.
Why Watch: This dark comedy will challenge your views on everything from capitalism to religion, and give you a couple of laughs in between.
Where to Watch: Rent or own on digital platforms. Available to purchase on DVD/Blu-Ray or on Netflix with a DVD subscription.

Elle

Nominations: 1 (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 130 mins.
Synopsis: A businesswoman who is haunted by events in her past becomes obsessed with her attacker after she is raped, beginning a dangerous game. A French film based on the novel by Philippe Djian.
Why Watch: If you’re in the mood for intense, this title fits the bill. Huppert has already won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the title character, Michéle Leblanc.
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Nominations: 2 (Including Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role)
Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Biography
Runtime: 111 mins.
Synopsis: Based on true events. Set in Manhattan in the 1940s, an heiress with a horrible singing voice won’t let go of her dream to become an opera singer.
Why Watch: Meryl Streep…. And the biggest laughs of any of the films nominated in the major categories.
Where to Watch: Rent or buy on digital platforms. Own on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Jackie

Nominations: 3 (Including Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role)
Director: Pablo Larraín
Stars: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig
Genre: Drama, Biography
Runtime: 100 mins.
Synopsis: First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy relives the moments immediately following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and leading up to his funeral for a Life magazine journalist in this biographical film.
Why Watch: Long Island native Portman is wonderful as Kennedy. The film brings a new depth to the woman America has idolized largely for her fashion choices. John Hurt plays a priest in the film. It is the last film released before his death.
Where to Watch: Currently in theaters. Available for purchase on iTunes Feb. 21.

Loving

Nominations: 1 (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role)
Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton
Genre: Drama, Biography History, Romance
Runtime: 123 mins.
Synopsis: The love story behind the historic Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage nationwide.
Why Watch: The film chronicles an important milestone in the civil rights movement, and the ending is more sweet than bitter. It feels slow at times, but true to real-life legal proceedings. Negga stands out in the role of Mildred Loving.
Where to Watch: In limited theaters. Rent or buy on digital platforms. Own on DVD or Blu-Ray.

esme mazzeo

Esme Mazzeo is a freelance writer and T.V. junkie who enjoys writing arts, culture, and lifestyle pieces. Follow her on Twitter @EsmeMazzeo