Sunday’s 89th Academy Awards (also known as “The Oscars” or “Hollywood Prom”) could well be one of the most politically charged awards shows of all time. 

The tumultuous first month of President Donald Trump’s presidency has seen Meryl Streep and a host of other celebrities using these awards ceremonies as a platform for dissent. In an era where political resistance is led by Saturday Night Live comedians, the National Park Service’s Twitter account, and, of course, actors, events like the Oscars are becoming must-watch television. 

Read more: Here Are the Oscar Nominations We’re Most Excited About in 2017

But the Oscars are also must-watch television this year for another, simpler reason. That’s because of the high quality and wide variety of the films and documentaries that are nominated this year. Many of these films and documentaries address important and relevant global issues — from race relations to the refugee crisis in Syria. 

These must-watch films and documentaries can be streamed online, and many of them are still out in theaters. Check them out before Sunday’s big event! 


1. “Hacksaw Ridge”  

Where to watch? Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNOW

Why to watch? “Hacksaw Ridge” shows us the emotional and human costs of war, but also highlights the brave people who took drastic steps to stop it. 

Global Citizen score: 1/2 of an Emma Watson and Lin-Manuel Miranda rap about feminism

2. “Loving”

Where to watch? Amazon, iTunes, FandangoNOW

Why to watch? At once a history lesson on interracial marriage and a stirring romantic drama, “Loving” takes us back to a time and place that have largely been swept under the rug. 

Global Citizen score: 2 Chris Martin/Eddie Vedder duets

3. “Moonlight” 

Where to watch? Amazon, Vudu

Why to watch? With its real-world reflections on the drug crisis, public education in the United States, LGBTQ identities, the Afro-Cuban community in Miami, and its gripping story of love, friendship, loss, violence, vengeance, and closure, this soft-spoken, at times introspective, film is a story of megalithic proportions that will be relevant well beyond the year 2017. 

Global Citizen score: 1 Rihanna concert. 

4. “Fire at Sea” (Fuocoammare)

Where to watch? Apple iTunes, Vudu

Why to watch? “Fire at Sea” rewrites the refugee narrative, looking at the crisis from the perspective of those who first come into contact with refugee populations — Greek islanders. 

Global Citizen score: 2 minutes of a Leonardo DiCaprio speech on climate change

5. “13th” 

Where to watch? Netflix

Why to watch? “13th” will make its viewer rethink each twist and turn of US history, showing the interconnectedness of centuries of policies meant to degrade and depress black Americans, from slavery to mass incarceration.  

Global Citizen score: 1,000 Russell Simmons retweets.  

6. “OJ: Made in America”

Where to watch? Hulu, WatchESPN

Why to watch? Another powerful reflection on race in America, this documentary moves beyond sports to a realm where wins and losses are not so black and white. 

Global Citizen score: 3 Malala college interviews. 

7. “The White Helmets” 

Where to watch? Netflix

Why to watch? This documentary brings you to the front lines of the Syrian Civil War, highlighting the bravery of the men and women who ran toward the bomb blasts, rather than away from them.  

Global Citizen score: 1 Leonardo DiCaprio running a hand through his windswept hair while filming a climate change documentary

8. “4.1 Miles” 

Where to watch? Vimeo, The New York Times

Why to watch? Human bravery again transcends political policy in this story of disaster and miraculous rescue.  

Global Citizen score: 2-seat bicycle ride with Chelsea Handler and Hugh Jackman

Still in theaters: 

1. “I Am Not Your Negro” 

Where to watch? A theater near you. 

Why to watch? Because you probably didn’t read James Baldwin in high school, and you should learn about him. 

Global Citizen score: 4 Dev Patel lifts of Sunny Pawar at the Golden Globes. 


2. “Watani: My Homeland” 

Where to watch? A theater near you. 

Why to watch? The bravery of this Syrian mother in her endeavor to make a better life for her family is sure to make even the biggest doubter of refugees rethink their perspectives. 

Global Citizen score: 4 Global Citizens of America

3. “Hidden Figures”  

Where to watch? A theater near you. 

Why to watch? This movie will make you cry tears of joy with its endlessly inspirational depiction of three badass African-American NASA scientists. 

Global Citizen score: 1,000,000 Global Citizen actions

4. “Lion” 

Where to watch? A theater near you. 

Why to watch? We’ve raved about “Lion” a lot — here, here, and here; we love it. 

Global Citizen score: 2 Emma Watsons wearing a dress made from recycled ocean plastic

5. “The Salesman”

Where to watch? A theater near you. 

Why to watch? The importance of this movie lies not only within what happens on screen, but in the context of the movie’s reception and the Iranian director’s decision not to attend the Oscars on account of President Trump’s travel ban.  

Global Citizen score: 1 Solange Peace Ball performance. 


Demand Equity

How to Watch 13 Incredible Oscar-Nominated Films Before Sunday

By Phineas Rueckert