The Best Picture Nominees
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
Bridge of Spies
Even when the Oscar nominations were announced I still felt confident that Spotlight would win. It has all the makings of a Best Picture winner: it was well made, had a slew of talented actors giving great performances, and the story was understated yet powerful. I remember seeing the movie and being unable to move as the credits silently rolled. It is a movie that stuck with me, and I felt like it was the best overall made movie of the year.
But then the Golden Globes and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) happened, and now it looks like The Revenant is the film to beat. Which is crazy to me. Don’t get me wrong; The Revenant is a good movie. But it wasn’t the best movie of the year. Take a look for example at Leonardo DiCaprio, the unanimous lock for Best Actor. There is no doubt that Leo can look like he is in pain, growl, and drool with the best of them, but years from now this movie won’t come to mind when I think of Leonardo DiCaprio. Director Alejandro Iñárritu has every reason to be proud of this movie—it is visually stunning as all of his movies have been—but long, cinematic shots of the wilderness is not enough to make this the best movie. In fact, I don’t know if The Revenant would make my top five movies of the year.
In term of visual wonder Mad Max: Fury Road is the most visually stunning movie of the bunch. Doing 80% of his stunts live, and risking many of his actors’ lives to get the shots he wanted, George Miller leaves it all on the screen. His shots of the setting’s barren wasteland are bright and colorful, which makes the action sequences stand out. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat as I watched this movie; from the amazing action sequences to the man playing a guitar that shoots fire, this movie was utter madness and I loved it. Not only that, but Miller took the Mad Max concept and made into a story about female empowerment—stand aside Max; Furiosa can handle this. This story was a surprise, and deserves all the praise it is getting and more.
The other movie that deserves serious consideration is The Big Short. It’s just as good as Spotlight but it handles catastrophe in a different manner. The collapse of the housing market and its connection to the failure of the U.S. economy is a complex issue which I still don’t 100% understand, despite having seen the movie twice. But the film explains it in a humorous way that I can begin to grasp. This movie is peppered with dark humor, which is needed because the result of the real-life events depicted in the movie led to millions of people losing their homes and jobs. It’s also filled with outstanding actors who don’t mind breaking the fourth wall to get their points across. Hopefully this movie has people thinking about their financial futures, and any movie that has the ability to change the way you think is a good movie.
Anyone of these movies could win the Best Picture. Mad Max is definitely the longest shot to win, but it also racked up the most guild nominations, which is what makes up the Academy’s voting bloc. The Revenant is the odds-on favorite to win. But I will be rooting for Spotlight which was haunting and terrifying and beautiful. It’s in their favor that Spotlight won the Screen Actors’ Guild award for Best Ensemble, and the SAG happens to make up the largest voting group in the Academy. Who do you think will win? Let me know, and enjoy the Academy Awards.