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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 02/28/2011

Oscar-honored movies may have a long wait to download

By Rob Pegoraro

This happens every winter: The Academy Awards air, reminding me of the movies I'd meant to see but somehow didn't get around to. But this time around, the Oscar effect was worse than usual, as my ongoing adventure in parenthood has prevented me from doing my part to prop up the movie-theater industry.

Can I catch up on what I missed online? Yes -- if you're patient and shop around. When I checked Amazon's Instant Video store, Apple's iTunes Store and Netflix's Watch Instantly catalogue for the 10 movies nominated for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture award, I found a more consistent selection of movies open to download or stream from a legitimate site than I did when I last checked the Internet availability of a top-10 list of movies.

Once again, I was happy not to find any titles only available for home viewing on DVD or Blu-ray discs, and every movie offered for home Internet viewing could be rented from at least two stores. But if you subscribe to Netflix's Web-only viewing plan, you may not be so happy with your choices.

And now, the digital envelope, please ...

* "Black Swan": Unavailable on Amazon and Netflix, but iTunes has it available for pre-order without an arrival date listed
* "The Fighter": Available for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes, expected March 15; DVD only at Netflix
* "Inception": For rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "The Kids Are All Right": For rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "The King's Speech": Unavailable anywhere
* "127 Hours": available for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes, expected March 1; unavailable at Netflix
* "The Social Network": For rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only on Netflix
* "Toy Story 3": For rent on Amazon, for rent or purchase on iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "True Grit": available for pre-order on iTunes, expected June 7; unavailable at Amazon and Netflix
* "Winter's Bone": For rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix

Then I thought I'd revisit last year's Best Picture nominees, and a considerably different picture emerged, courtesy of Hollywood's self-defeating "release window" business model:

* "Avatar": Unavailable on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "The Blind Side": Unavailable on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "District 9": For purchase on Amazon and iTunes, streaming at Netflix,
* "An Education": For purchase on Amazon and iTunes, streaming at Netflix,
* "The Hurt Locker": For purchase on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "Inglourious Basterds": For purchase on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire": For purchase on Amazon and iTunes, streaming at Netflix
* "A Serious Man": Unavailable on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix
* "Up": Unavailable on Amazon, for purchase at iTunes, streaming at Netflix
* "Up in the Air": Unavailable on Amazon and iTunes, DVD only at Netflix

I look forward to reading your theories for the marketing logic behind this pattern in the comments.

(This, incidentally, is the first year I didn't see any of the nominated movies in a regular theater. I watched "The Kids Are All Right" on Amazon, saw "The Social Network" first in edited form on a United Airlines flight and then uncut on Amazon, and caught "Black Swan" at a screening at the Motion Picture Association of America's own in-house theater. Which, I might add, is a fair bit nicer than the average multiplex, even if the screen is on the small side.)

By Rob Pegoraro  | February 28, 2011; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  DRM, Video  
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Comments

I like iTunes but usually back away from purchase because of their miserly number of HD movies. With the new Apple TV, I'd like to watch a movie on the big screen...but only in HD.

Posted by: scubatankman | February 28, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Facebook should offer users a free streamed viewing of "The Social Network" on their site to compensate us for all the hassle we have had to put up with this year.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | February 28, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

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