COLUMBUS, Ohio – So here we are. The 88th annual Academy Awards just days away. As with any year, it is another fantastic group of movies and nominees. But before I get into my picks and Best Picture rankings, let me address the elephant in the room: the lack of diversity.
It is a bit disconcerting that in 2016, there is not one single non-White actor or actress nominated. That is a fact. But what is also a fact is that there were not a ton of performances that warranted a nomination as well. Yes, there were some (Michael B. Jordan in Creed, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Benicio Del Toro in Sicario to name a few) but not enough. And that brings up a bigger point of that there are not enough roles being written for non-White actors or actresses. So instead of blaming the Academy for not recognizing the few performances that may have deserved a nomination, I’d rather blame the movie industry or not opening enough opportunities.
And with that, let’s get to ranking the 8 Best Picture nominees, from least favorite to most favorite.
8. The Martian
I had such high hopes for this movie. Seems like every movie about space lately has been outstanding. This one was not though. Matt Damon saves this movie from just being okay. Every great scene involves him and he’s the perfect guy to play the role. This movie misses though on other points.
For one, I can never tell if this is supposed to be a drama or comedy. Maybe it’s supposed to be both but for me, it didn’t work. Secondly, casting mistakes. I love Kristen Wiig but this role wasn’t right for her. Donald Glover is also a great actor, but not in this. Both had somewhat major roles too which is too bad. And finally, the movie had this weird rhythm of presenting a potential problem and instantly, it would happen. It became incredibly predictable. In fact, at one point, I audibly groaned in the theater. Kudos to Matt Damon for his performance. But that’s it.
7. Bridge of Spies
Had low expectations for this movie but it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Was it spectacular? No. But it was entertaining. Tom Hanks is solid as usual, playing a role he’s very good at playing — the everyman with the moral compass but the willingness to get his hands dirty for the common good. Mark Rylance was a revelation for me, playing a Soviet spy. It’s an understated performance but when he’s on the screen, he commands your attention.
There’s a good amount of action and suspense and the story moves without any lull. So it’s a fine movie. Is it Oscar worthy? That’s up for debate. I have a feeling the Hanks-Spielberg names may have propelled it to this point. But I know a couple of other movies that were more deserving.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
This is not a movie I would normally see. In fact, when I saw the preview, I knew I would never see it. But then the Oscars nomination forced my hand to see it…and I’m glad it did. George Miller directed quite the movie here. Action-packed from start to finish. There is a never a dull moment and the acting is superb. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are two of the best around these days.
If there is a negative, it’s just that’s it’s a bit crazy and weird. But this movie takes you on a wild ride and never lets you go. That’s my kind of movie. It’s a real spectacle.
I would have never guessed I would like a romantic movie this much but as I thought about it, I realized this movie is about much more than a love story. It’s about the pain of moving away from home, the difficulty in fitting in among a new culture, and personal growth. It’s a movie that you find yourself emotionally invested in, even though it takes place 60 years ago.
Saoirse Ronan is simply outstanding in the lead role. She’s just 21 years old and this is her second nomination. She is supremely talented. And the rest of the cast is top notch as well, especially Emory Cohen as the love interest. This movie won’t win any awards and won’t be remembered as one of the best ever — but do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
4. The Revenant
There are not enough words to describe the amount of respect I have for director Alejandro Inarritu, his cinematographer and the entire cast and crew for the way they shot this movie. Extremely cold temperatures. Waiting for the exact right shot because the whole movie was filmed in natural light. That is real dedication to the craft and part of what makes the movie so compelling to watch.
The movie was a bit slow in parts (especially as Leo’s character was in the crawling only phase) but when there was action, there was action. Leonardo DiCaprio was amazing as usual. Seirously, the guy hasn’t had a bad performance. he commands the screen in this movie and might only say 100 words in the entire film. Tom Hardy might be even better though in his supporting role.
3. The Big Short
So you want to make a movie about the bank’s failing back in 2008? Good luck making that an entertaining watch. Thankfully, Anchorman director Adam McKay took the challenge and succeeded with flying colors. With hilarious but insightful cameos that explain the most complicated of banking terms and a script that keeps the action moving, you find yourself being educated, entertained and enraged all at the same time.
The acting in this movie is top notch. Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt all have great turns. The pace of this movie is fast too, so it keeps you interested. And above all, this movie finds a way to make you laugh at a topic that is all too sobering. Kudos.
A movie about newspaper writers. Sounds boring huh? Except when it’s all about how those writers hunt for answers to a huge story. and huge probably isn’t a strong enough word. This movie about how the Boston Globe broke the story of how catholic priests had been abusing children for years. It’s a story that shook not just a religion, but a nation and world. And to see how it all came together from conception to completion was truly fascinating.
Of course, it’s not just the story that is captivating. It’s the acting as well. Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams are wonderful in their roles. But the star of this movie is Mark Ruffalo. He is the one who really stirs the drink, so to speak. This is another movie that will make you angry but also give you hope. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
I’ll be honest. I did not read one word about this movie before I went to see it so I had not one idea of what is was about. I’m glad I did because right form the start, I was immersed into this new world that is Room. This is not a comfortable movie to be watch. That’s just the truth. But my mark of a great movie is that it affected me in some way. This movie did that. I left the theater thinking about this film for hours. I felt emotionally invested in the story and the characters. I wanted to know more about them. I was satisfied with the ending but I could have sat in that seat watching this film for another hour easily.
The story is amazing but the real star of this movie is the acting. Brie Larson does everything right in displaying the emotions of a young mother in a toxic and trapped environment. You could read every emotion on her face. Jacob Tremblay is the heart and soul of this movie. The 9-year-old actor plays the role with the perfect amount of innocence, naivete, and joy/sorrow. You root for him and you cry with him throughout the film. He’s that good.
So that’s a wrap (pun very much intended). I’ll be tweeting all night long Sunday. Follow me at @Matt_NBC4. Enjoy the show!