Weekend Watchlist | Oscar Nominees

By The Pitt News Staff

It’s Oscar season again, and there are a lot of movies up for awards this year. Here are some of these films the Pitt News Staff thinks you should watch.

Dune (HBO) // Patrick Swain, Staff Writer

Imagine Star Wars had a baby with Game of Thrones, and it grew up to be really annoying at parties. Sign me up. The world’s infatuation with Timothée Chalamet has ventured beyond the Italian Riviera deep into the expanse of space — and the Academy is loving it.

Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of “Dune” has earned Oscar nominations in 10 categories, including Best Picture. Frank Herbert originally penned the sci-fi epic in 1965, and it has become a cult classic persisting through generations. A handful of directors have tried to capture the essence of “Dune” on screen, but Villeneuve has come the closest.

Herbert’s story details the struggle among feudal empires and indigenous peoples for control over scarce natural resources — in space. Sound familiar? Denis Villeneuve preserves Herbert’s metaphors for imperialism, capitalism and environmentalism without sacrificing the 21st century audience’s attention, packing the film with enough spaceships and giant worms to tide us over. A star-studded cast anchors the film, including Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgård and Jason Momoa. “Dune” is worthy of endless rewatches until the inevitable sequel.


Encanto (Disney+) // Diana Velasquez, Contributing Editor

Damn, did I fight the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” craze for a while. The song was all over my For You Page on TikTok, and very hard to miss, especially now that it has hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 List.

“Encanto,” which was nominated for Best Animated Feature, isn’t just another phenomenal Disney musical but a movie that delves deep into familial trauma and Latinx, particularly Colombian, family standards. In truth, this movie is a bit like Pixar’s “Soul” to me, in that I don’t think a young child could fully appreciate all of its nuances. But that is by no means an excuse to deter a child from watching — Encanto is fun, vibrant and it tugs on the heartstrings.

Encanto focuses specifically on Mirabel Madrigal, a daughter of the Madrigal family, the leading family of a town in Colombia whose members all have magical powers that they use to keep their town safe. Only, Mirabel didn’t receive a power when she came of age, and is stuck in the role of the family black sheep.

But Mirabel soon discovers that her family isn’t as perfect as her abuela would like it to seem — particularly concerning her Uncle Bruno. Really, I can’t give this movie enough credit. It’s not one of those epic hero’s journeys like “Mulan” or “Finding Nemo,” but manages to be a story worth telling within the bounds of the magical family house. 


Spider-Man: No Way Home (Amazon Prime) // Anoushka Parnerkar, For The Pitt News

For long-time Marvel and Spider-Man fans, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the culmination of a lifetime of passion and dedication to the character. The movie immediately has viewers on the edge of their seats when Peter Parker’s identity is revealed and his loved ones are launched into a state of turmoil. His naïve attempts to save the world opens up an unexpected can of worms — except this can of worms is actually a slew of super-villains from across the multiverse who pose a threat to the well-being of Parker’s world. As if this movie couldn’t get more high-stakes, viewers are greeted with the familiar faces of Spider-Men past!

Aside from teen heartthrob Tom Holland’s stellar acting, Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna’s dynamic screenplay and Jon Watts’ immaculate directing, the visuals were quite literally out of this universe. The Academy shares a similar sentiment, as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is nominated for Best Visual Effects.

In typical Spider-Man fashion, Holland is pictured slinging himself off bridges, climbing up buildings and diving across New York City. Each super-villain also boasts awe-inspiring VFX depicting extravagant characteristics, such as Dr. Octopus’s gruesome metallic tentacles, Electro’s invigorating power surges that light up the city and Sandman’s rugged tan figure that dissipates in the blink of an eye.

The visuals were such an integral part of the movie that everything, down to the pedestrians on the street, were all CGI. Marvel is always known for their amazing visuals, but the team behind “Spider-Man: No Way Home” truly made the story come alive.


Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney+) // Shreya Singh, Staff Writer

One would think that considering how long Marvel has been releasing films, we would’ve seen more diversity and representation. Still, I suppose we can appreciate that at least Kevin Feige finally gave us something with Black Panther and, more recently, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” gives us a plethora of Asian representation that Hollywood probably hasn’t seen since the highly anticipated release of “Crazy Rich Asians,” and fans, including me, are eating it up. Destin Daniel Cretton’s direction of the movie gave way for Simu Liu to deliver a worthy performance. Shang-Chi struggles with the ghosts of his past, such as his tyrannical father, who gained immortality and great power after discovering the 10 rings, a set of otherworldly bangles.

Showing the beauty of Chinese culture through costume and design, as well as martial art styles such as Hung Ga and Wing Chun, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” set the tone for the inclusivity we can look forward to in Phase Four of the MCU.