http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/an-oscar-statue-is-seen-as-preparations-continue-for-the-news-photo/512547106 And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to……
To me the winner of Best Picture should be an intriguing story that is beautifully written with characters that stay with you long after the movie has ended. Previous Best Picture winners like The Departed, Casablanca, The Godfather, Annie Hall, American Beauty, Forrest Gump, Million Dollar Baby, and Titanic are all perfect examples of this. For the past few years I have tried to see every movie nominated for Best Picture and this year was the first year I succeeded. Among the nominees for 2016 there is only one movie that has stuck with me long after we finished watching it. Keep reading to find out which one I picked.
The Big Short -- This movie stuck out to me the most initially. The subject intrigued me, as I only had a slight grasp on what caused the 2008 crash, and I knew I would love watching the performances of each member of the cast. While I increased my knowledge (thanks in part to a few celebrities explaining financial phrases in layman's terms), and I did enjoy each actors’ performance (Steve Carell was the standout), I was underwhelmed by the rest of the film. I wanted to see more inner turmoil from each character as they realized on deeper levels how many lives would be ruined by the platform that would make them rich. I think though what turned me off to The Big Short was the choice of editing style. Some parts felt choppy, and the loud music they played in between scenes jolted my mind away from the movie which made it hard for me to concentrate. Nevertheless I recommend it, especially if you want a little more insight into the 2008 crash.
The Martian -- For the first time in my life, I liked the movie as much as I liked the book it was based on. Matt Damon nailed the sarcastic, witty, light hearted, and selfless main character, and the special effects impressed me. I enjoyed the book for its humor and unapologetic assumption that we are all good at math and know a lot about space and the movie did not stray from any of that. I was entertained, but not moved by this nominee.
Brooklyn -- I am a sucker for a good love story and Brooklyn delivered that. The costumes, characters and scenery of Brooklyn, NY in the 50s drew me in and let me escape the real world around me. Unfortunately, that euphoric feeling didn’t stay with me. I felt parts of the movie dragged on and I was disappointed when the main characters big life decisions came down to, seemingly, a choice between two men. I was moved, and entertained but it didn’t stick with me.
Bridge of Spies -- An American insurance lawyer, sent to East Berlin to negotiate an exchange of a spies sounded riveting. But the movie lacked a bit of intensity and had a bit too much predictability. I was never nervous for Tom Hanks’ character, even as he traversed the lawless streets of East Berlin during the Cold War. They didn’t make me believe that what he was doing was that dangerous. The plot also felt formulaic. Both Rob and I predicted correctly what the character would do in multiple scenes of the movie and were correct. I like a movie to surprise me. Of course, this movie was based on true events so they couldn’t shock us too much without deviating from the real story, but there could have been fewer “by the book” plot points and more edge-of-your-seat twists. All that being said, it was an impressive bit of negotiation and perseverance by an ordinary US citizen, and I am a sucker for Tom Hanks and always enjoy watching his performances.
Room -- As we began Room I was filled with anxiety. From the little I knew about this film, I assumed there would be a lot of sexual assault and (naturally) I have a hard time watching anything that contains violence against women. But to my surprise, Room is actually a beautiful story of a boy and his world. Jacob Tremblay (who plays five-year-old Jack), in my opinion, got snubbed for a best actor nomination. He was brilliant as a boy who only knows the world as one room, and brilliant when that boy discovers there is much more world out there to discover. Together with Brie Larsen (who played Jack’s Ma), a riveting story was told of survival through the innocent eyes of someone who didn’t know they were trying to survive anything.
Mad Max: Fury Road -- I love post-apocalyptic stories, but am not usually a fan of action movies so I was pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed Mad Max. I was on the edge of my seat from the very beginning and was especially drawn to the theme of women empowering and taking care of each other. I loved watching Charlize Theron as a badass heroine, and Tom Hardy nailed his performance as a rough around the edges rebel with a heart of gold. I never saw the original movie, but I find myself interested in watching it now that I have seen this new one.
Spotlight -- I wasn’t convinced that a movie about journalists uncovering a scandal would be able to grab and hold my attention, but it did and I think it did because of the show-stopping performances each member of the cast gave. They were each completely believable as their faith (in humanity and the Catholic church) wavered the deeper they got into the investigation. Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes managed to stick out to me above the rest, even when the rest were incredible. I don’t know what it was about his performance but I thought about it, more than the movie as a whole, long after we had finished watching. In fact we watched it twice because I was so moved by his performance.
The Revenant -- Off the bat I will say that there was a bit too much gore for my liking, however the captivating and beautiful story made up for it. The time period that The Revenant takes place in is a period of time in the history of The United States that I know virtually nothing about. It lit a fire in me to learn more about the 1800s, and our treatment of the people who were here first. And of course I have to mention Leo. I love Leo and I loved Leo in this. His portrayal of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman and fur trapper, was moving and even if he had won an Oscar for every other performance he was nominated for in the past, I would still think he deserved the Oscar for this performance.
When I had the idea to write this post, I had a clear vision of who I thought should win Best Picture--Spotlight. But as I wrote it, my mind changed. I loved Spotlight so much that it was the only movie in the list of nominees that we watched twice. However, I realized that the movie as a whole hadn’t stuck with me as much as Mark Ruffalo’s performance did and that wasn’t enough in my book to win Best Picture. And while I can’t say without a doubt who should win Best Supporting Actor (because I haven’t seen all of the movies that the nominees are in) I do hope that Mark Ruffalo wins.
There was only one movie as a whole that truly stuck with me long after the screen went dark. So the Oscar for Best Picture according to Mrs. goes to…..Room! Crossing my fingers that the Academy feels the same way!
What were your favorite nominated movies? Was your favorite movie/actor/actress snubbed this year?