EW's film critic breaks down the best movies of this chaotic awards season

Oscar voters are not critics, it bears repeating; this is the body who, two years ago, chose Green Book over Roma. But their tastes occasionally overlap with those finicky reviewers; this is also the body who, just last year, declared Parasite 2019's Best Picture.

In 2021, while so much else is different, that hasn't changed. Several critical darlings are taking up frontrunner-sized spaces in the Oscar conversation, from Nomadland to Minari, as are some broader-skewing hits that left critics a bit more divided, including Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7. Of course, with several contenders long remaining unseen by general audiences for so long, public opinion has, in many cases, remained unknown. Finally, that's starting to shift.

February has marked the release month for a boatload of major players. Last week, Judas and the Black Messiah hit HBO Max, while A24's Minari received a "virtual" theatrical release. Friday will see the drops for Hulu's Nomadland and Netflix's I Care a Lot (starring a Golden Globe-nominated Rosamund Pike). And we'll see a steady stream of... erm, streaming premieres continue into mid-March.

This may leave the average viewer anxious: What Oscar movies are must watches this season? To help break it down (along with, conveniently, last week's Critics' Choice Award nominations), critic Leah Greenblatt joined hosts David Canfield and Clarissa Cruz on the latest episode of EW's The Awardist podcast. Below, you can listen to her thoughts on the best, the Academy-friendly less-than-best, and those small little gems that deserve a larger place in the conversation than they're getting.

Also joining The Awardist this week is Steven Yeun, star of one such critical favorite, Minari. He speaks about the film, his nuanced performance, and how it changed him as an actor.

Listen to the full episode below. The Awardist podcast drops new installments every Monday.

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

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