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My Non-Expert Review of Five Oscar Bait Movies

I have an obsession with the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars). I’m not quite sure where this sudden fascination came from, but I remember starting to make prediction sheets all the way back in the seventh grade. I would handwrite each nomination category, the nominations, and then make a key for myself to predict who I wanted to win. When the night came, I kicked my family out of the basement and grabbed a bowl of popcorn before sitting on the couch for nearly three and a half hours, praying for the movies I wanted to win to win. And yes, I still do the same thing today. 

As this year’s Oscars come around, there have been many movies released that are ‘Oscar bait.’ This means that they are well-crafted films made for and expected to be in the running for the nominations at the Oscars. Today I’m going to review five Oscar bait movies and see how they shape up against each other. 

A disclaimer: I am not a movie expert whatsoever. In fact, I just like watching movies and telling people I like watching movies, which is about as far as my expertise goes.

1. “Dune

Premise: Based on the 1965 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, “Dune” follows main character Paul Atreides and his noble family as he travels across the universe to a dangerous planet in order to ensure a future for his people.

My rating: 6.5/10

I hate to admit it but the main reason I came to see this movie was for Timothee Chalamet. Other than that, this movie and I have opposite things going for us. To start off, I didn’t even know that “Dune” was based on a book, so as I watched this movie, I was just wondering how the hell the screenwriter came up with this strange plot. Science fiction isn’t my favorite genre of movie either, so I felt like I had to focus even more on what was going on. It felt excessively long at some times and I didn’t have the background from the book to appreciate it. Along with that, Zendaya’s character popping in and out the entire time was somewhat humorous. That being said, “Dune” was sound mixed incredibly well and the actors did a wonderful job too. I was just the wrong person to see this movie.

Where can I watch?: “Dune” is showing in theaters.

2. “Licorice Pizza

Premise: Loosely based on a true story from director Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza” is a coming-of-age film set in 1973 following a love story between Gary Valentine and Alana Kane.

My rating: 8/10

I came into this movie having no clue what it was about. Sure, I had watched the trailer and saw that it was about two teenagers falling in love, but that was about it. Luckily, the movie offered much more than just a basic love story. Our two main characters, Gary and Alana, were the best part of the movie. Their backgrounds and personalities are so juxtaposed from each other but at the same time, you get exactly why they’re friends. Somehow this movie was both realistic and unrealistic at the same time, as you are watching normal teenagers’ lives but you also can’t imagine it ever happening in your life now. There were some parts, especially near the end, where I got a little confused about the plot or what was next in the story, but that was more my fault than the movie.

Where can I watch?: “Licorice Pizza” is showing in theaters.

3. “Don’t Look Up

Premise: After finding a comet that will end all life on Earth, two astronomers go to different media sources to release the news, only to be met with skepticism and an overall ‘lack of caring.’

My rating: 7.5/10

To say that this movie was depressing is an understatement. It was more than depressing, it had me thinking about the end of humanity for the rest of the week. There’s a point where the social commentary becomes so accurate to today’s time that it feels like you’re watching a movie about an alternate universe. In no way is this movie ‘fun’ to watch, but it’s important and entertaining. This movie has some of the most well-known actors and actresses in the industry, from Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio to Meryl Streep. The movie highlights the most important issues in our world right now relating to COVID and climate change, though there’s been some controversy due to its satirical nature. It’s a good movie, but it’s not for the faint of heart despite being labeled a comedy. 

Where can I watch?: “Don’t Look Up” is showing in theaters and is also streaming on Netflix.

4. “CODA

Premise: Growing up hearing in an all-deaf family, Ruby develops a passion for singing and is torn between going to college and staying at her family’s fishing business.

My rating: 8/10

This was easily the most feel-good movie in the pack and also had the most conventional storyline. A girl in high school has a dream she wants to follow but is held back by external factors in her life, a plot in so many movies. What I loved about this specific movie, however, was the showcase of deaf culture and the issues they face trying to adapt to a hearing world. Since I studied American Sign Language all of high school, I love movies that represent deaf culture in a positive light, and well-known deaf actress Marlee Matlin did an incredible acting job as always. This movie did feel a little overdramatic at times, but that comes with almost every movie based on a high school student. 

Where can I watch?: “CODA” is streaming on Apple TV+.

5. “The Power of the Dog

Premise: Based on the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, intimidating rancher Phil Burbank torments his brother’s new wife and son until information about Phil is realized and acted upon.

My rating: 9.5/10

This movie, so far, has been my favorite out of all the ‘Oscar bait’ movies I’ve watched this season. I was a little scared to watch it since Netflix advertised it as a “western ominous romance”, which seemed like the opposite kind of movie I wanted to watch. However, this movie is truly a masterpiece from the acting, the soundtrack, the cinematography, and most importantly: the story. I was left for an hour dissecting the movie trying to understand the end and how it got there and immediately wanted to watch it again. The whole movie is a slow burn with very little dialogue, so it requires the watcher’s full attention and immersion. I think everyone should watch this movie, then watch it again, just in case you missed the little beautiful details.

Where can I watch?: “The Power of the Dog” is streaming on Netflix.

An Overview

Every Oscar bait movie I have watched this season I have enjoyed immensely, and I have high expectations that all these movies will be nominated for Best Picture this year among many other categories. The nominations for this year’s Oscars come out on February 8th, 2022, and the ceremony will be held on March 27th. Whether you’re obsessed with the Oscars just as much as I am or casually looking for something to watch when you’re bored, watching any (or all!) of these movies will do the trick.


If you’re interested in reading a review I wrote of the critically acclaimed movie “King Richard,” click here!

Anna Bedell

CU Boulder '25

Anna is a freshman at CU Boulder majoring in business marketing with a minor in journalism. She is super excited to be apart of Her Campus and is always looking to improve her writing skills. Anna has been writing creative fiction stories since the age of 7, and hopes to transfer her creativity into article writing. When not writing, she's seen rock climbing, playing various geography games, or watching movies that make her cry.
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