Oscars race is always one to generate great buzz and speculation, but when it comes to the Best Picture, the biggest prize of them all, the discussion and debate is tremendously more pronounced. The hunt for the most prestigious golden statuette has had its fair share of controversies and fairytale finishes, but this year this race is turning out to be more fascinating than ever. With eight nominees out of the permitted ten, and no clear frontrunner, it seems to be a free for all this year with all eight movies having a real shot at claiming glory. With the big night not very far away, let’s dive in and have a look at our eight nominees…
MAD MAX : FURY ROAD
One year ago, almost no one would’ve thought that this fourth entry into a 50 year old franchise releasing almost 25 years after the previous movie would become one of the biggest hits of the year, let alone a contender for Best Picture. But that’s exactly what has happened, George Miller’s dystopian action masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road has been nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Director and Picture, talk about comebacks. It also has won the most number of critic’s awards and has been named the Best Film of the Year by the National Board of Review. Carrying some serious momentum, the only thing that holds it back is that the Academy almost rarely nominates movies of this genre, let alone reward them. But hey, almost everyone who has seen the movie agrees that it is quite possibly, the greatest action film ever made, so the Academy might just be ready to break some old stereotypes.
Another critic’s favourite but poles apart from the first movie on this list. A story about the Boston Globe’s investigation into sexual abuse carried out by the Church, Spotlight too, like its predecessor on this list was showered with awards and praise by critics. It is a small movie that makes a huge impact, with one of the best ensemble performances of the year, two of whom, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are in contention for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. As the Oscar season has gone on, some consensus has formed over Spotlight as the front runner this season, as it is the kind of movie the Academy tends to reward coupled with the fact it is a splendidly well made and acted to boot. Will the Academy indeed go for the safe bet or shake things up, we’ll have to wait and watch.
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu is back again this year after his triumph with Birdman in 2015. There was buzz around The Revenant as an Oscar contender but few had predicted major nominations after news of a troubled production and a set that had been labeled a ‘living hell’ broke out. But lo and behold, The Revenant has secured a resounding 12 nominations, the highest of the night, including one for Best Director and Actor. Leonardo Dicaprio is almost certainly going to lift the golden statuette this year for his immensely committed performance of a man left for dead against the forces of nature. The Revenant is also the most violent and visceral movie out of all the nominees with breathtaking cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, who too is a locked on favourite for winning his third Best Cinematography award in a row. Although it is unlikely that the Academy will reward Innaritu just one year after his double whammy with Birdman, but given the level of skill and craft that has been put in to make this movie, they just might.
A crowd pleasing blockbuster that also scored big with the critics, The Martian is the highest grossing movie of all the nominees with a worldwide cume of over $600 million. Ridley Scott’s science fiction survival movie was the source of great controversy when it was nominated for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes (which it quite deservedly won though). How does a movie about surviving alone on Mars be termed a comedy? Well, although by no means a conventional laugh riot, The Martian is quite possibly the most entertaining movie of the year. Filled with wit and humour and bolstered by a charming and effervescent performance by Matt Damon, who himself is in the contention for Best Actor on the night, it is a great comeback for director Ridley Scott, who shockingly was not nominated for Best Director, something many had predicted. But the Academy may want to make amends for the snub, and although sci-fi is not a genre which sits well with the Academy Scott is an old favourite whose movie have won Best Picture in the past. Whether he triumphs this time around, we’ll just have
An indie darling and one of the most daring and original films of the year, Lenny Abrahamson’s, Room is the most unlikely nominee of the night. A movie about a woman and her child trapped inside a single room, it is carried by a powerhouse performance by Brie Larson, who is a favourite to win the Best Actress. What is astonishing about the movie is the human drama it manages to milk out of the confined setting which is in part due to the absolutely wonderful performances by the two leads. Jacob Trembelay as the son might just have given the greatest performance for a child actor, who in another year might as well have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Although it might be termed as the underdog in the race and may not have the mass appeal of Mad Max or The Martian, but if recent history is anything to go by then Best Picture winners have shown that David can indeed slay the Goliath. Room might just be the newest David on the block ready for his big moment on the biggest nights of them all.
THE BIG SHORT
An ensemble comedy about the financial crisis of 2008 that turned out to be an unlikely awards season favourite, The Big Short has the kind of cast that would make jaws hit the floor almost instantly, with Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell along with Marisa Tomei and Margot Robbie. But the movie was never considered a serious Oscar contender, perhaps because it was helmed by Adam Mckay, the man mostly known for comedies like Anchorman and Talladega Nights. However, that very fact has worked in the film’s favour, as its tongue in cheek style along with its semi light-hearted approach to such a serious issue won plaudits from critics and audiences alike. It is the kind of movie people wanted The Wolf of Wall Street to be, raunchy and entertaining, but also showing the moral ramifications of indulging in fraud and crime. It is high on momentum with critics calling it as the closest thing to a frontrunner along with Spotlight for the Oscars crown. Incredibly acted and unconventionally yet superbly well made, The Big Short might just go all the way and strike gold on the night.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
How can a Oscars Best Picture slate be complete without a Steven Spielberg movie? One of the greatest directors of all time, Steven Spielberg has always delighted critics and audiences with his heartfelt and masterful direction, crafting masterpieces and blockbusters alike. This year too he is back, with a movie set in the Cold War, about a lawyer tasked with fighting for a Russian spy, Bridge of Spies is everything one would expect from Spielberg. The movie reunites the director with long time collaborator Tom Hanks, who gives a typically strong performance to anchor the film. It may not be as superlative or everlasting as Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan, but Bridge of Spies is a movie that reminds us of the mastery the director is capable of producing, even when he is not trying very hard. It may not be carrying as much momentum as the others but the Academy tends to reward such films and Spielberg has been showered with awards in the past so why not this time around?
The most conventional awards season movie to be nominated this year, but also one of the best films of the year. Brooklyn may just have the most straightforward story of all the eight nominees at this years Oscars. A film about an Irish immigrant who gets caught between her two lives in America and Ireland, the movie is carried effortlessly by an outstanding performance by Saiorise Ronan, who is in contention for Best Actress for her role in the movie. Brooklyn is a modern age Casablanca, with superb heartfelt performances and a moving story to boot. It may not be the biggest movie of the nominees but as they say ‘big things come in small packages’, Brooklyn has more heart and human drama than all the other nominees combined and might as well have enough in it to make it that next big thing.
What’s Your Bet? Don’t really agree with the official Oscars list. Well, not many did.
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