Lionsgate/NFP/RoadsideWith every fresh crop of Oscar nominations come the inevitable resolutions to catch up with the unseen top contenders. That may be an even more common impulse this year, as the Best Picture nominees have, to this point, drawn far fewer moviegoers into theaters than usual.
But, as every year, catch-up viewing just as rewarding can be found on the edges of the bigger categories and in those less closely watched. Looking to the fringes might also give you a leg up in that annual office pool. It's always helpful to know the territory of, say, Documentary Feature—even just a little bit, since such purportedly unsexy categories are often home to the least reasoned guesswork on a would-be prognosticator's ballot.
Below are some of these well-received nominees that remain comparatively under the radar. Excluded are the blockbusters cited for their technical achievements (for example, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), the recognized-as-if-by-default period pieces that met with little to no audience interest or critical approbation (W.E., Anonymous), and films that have been in various awards conversations all season long, only to wind up with stray nominations (The Ides of March, Drive), as well as the features (chiefly in the animation, documentary, and foreign-film categories) that haven't yet been released commercially in the U.S. The emphasis is on what's available, and what also might well be worth taking a look at.
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