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The Academy Awards: Best Picture Reviews and Trailers

When I was younger, I used to watch the Academy Awards without any knowledge about the films nominated. But, as I grew older, I came to appreciate the types of movies typically honored by film academies and festivals. While I don’t always love every Best Picture nominee, I still find that they give me something to think about or reflect on in a new way. For the past few years, I have made it my mission to see all of the films up for Best Picture before the ceremony. But, if you don’t have the time or money to see all eight of the Best Picture nominees, here are the trailers and mini-reviews for the nominated films to help you get a better sense of each movie.

The Big Short

(Paramount Pictures)

This movie focuses on the three different groups of people who bet against the housing market, predicting before anyone else that it would eventually fail. I appreciated that, although this film uses a lot of financial jargon, it made an effort to explain the concepts in a way that the average person could understand. We also see great performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Best Achievement in Film Editing

 

Bridge of Spies

(20th Century Fox)

Set in the Cold War era, this movie focuses on a lawyer who first gets pulled in to represent a suspected Russian spy, then to negotiate a deal to exchange him for two American hostages. This movie proves, once again, that Tom Hanks can do no wrong. And Mark Rylance‘s performance as the convicted Rudolf Abel centers the story around the theme that a common thread of humanity runs through us all, enemies and friends alike.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Rylance), Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score), Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Achievement in Production Design

 

Brooklyn

(Fox Searchlight)

A young woman, seeking a better future, is sponsored to move from Ireland to America during post-war 1950. This movie will resonate with anyone who has experienced homesickness, love, and finding new meaning and purpose in life. We finally get to see Irish actress Saoirse Ronan in an Irish film, and she gives a lovely and heartfelt performance as Eilis. I also love any film that reunites the Harry Potter cast, and in this we get to see Jim Broadbent (Professor Slughorn), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), and Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley), who should be thanking his agent for all of the roles he’s been getting lately.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Saoirse Ronan), Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

This is perhaps the strangest film I’ve ever seen, but I loved it. If you didn’t know, Mad Max is the dystopian story of a lone road vigilante of sorts. The franchise originally starred Mel Gibson, but the new reboot stars Tom Hardy as our hero. This film focuses on Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, and her fight to save a group of young women from becoming lifelong breeding prisoners. Max gets pulled in to help them overtake the greedy and corrupt government, and explosions and road battles ensue.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, and Best Achievement in Production Design

 

The Martian

(20th Century Fox)

Of all the scientific space movies to come out in the last few years, this is definitely my favorite. Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut who get mistakenly abandoned on Mars and must figure out a way to survive for four years until the next Mars mission is to take place. There is suspense, humor, and, even though the events of the film are fictional, the science at least seems plausible, which is more than I can say for many other sci-fi movies.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Matt Damon), Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, and Best Achievement in Production Design

 

The Revenant

(20th Century Fox)

A man gets mauled by a bear, abandoned by his team, and must fight his way to survive in the frozen landscape of frontier America. This movie is full of action and emotion, and is visually stunning from start to finish. Fresh off his Oscar win last year for “Birdman,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu confirms the level of commitment he has to his projects. This movie also received the most nominations of any film this year. And, of course, the question of the year is will Leonardo DiCaprio finally win an Oscar for his portrayal of the protagonist, Hugh Glass?

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Hardy), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Best Achievement in Production Design

 

Room 

(A24)

I knew I was going to love this movie before I saw it. I was a huge fan of the book and I definitely think it is my personal favorite of this year’s Best Picture nominees. Brie Larson plays a woman who has been held captive for over five years. She has a son, played by the marvelous Jacob Tremblay, who grew up thinking that a small garden shed was the whole world. In a plan of extreme courage, the two decide to escape and finally live their lives on the outside. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and experience emotions you didn’t even know you had.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Brie Larson), Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

 

Spotlight

(Open Road Films)

My prediction for the win, this movie surrounds the group of Boston Globe reporters who investigated the child molestation scandals of the Catholic Church.  This movie features an outstanding cast–Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, and Brian d’Arcy James–and is truly an ensemble piece. I left the theater shaken that these events could have taken place without anyone intervening, and reminded of the scope that sin takes in our world.

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Ruffalo), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Rachel McAdams), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing (Original Screenplay), and Best Achievement in Film Editing

 

Which film do you want to see win Best Picture? Tell us in the comments or tweet us at @deliberatemag!

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