2016 Oscars: Tom’s Best Picture Round-Up

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By and large, I don’t put much personal stock in the Academy Awards.  They strike me as an excuse for Hollywood to pat itself on the back for all the good work it says it does.  If I watch the show at all, it’ll be the last few minutes to find out who won Best Picture, and that’ll be it.  The humor is rather lame, the musical numbers dull, and the low-burning outrage over what did and didn’t win can linger for decades.

Case in point:  Forrest Gump beat out both Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption for Best Picture.  I don’t care how much you like Gump, there’s no way anyone can justify it is a better movie than both of those other two.

But then this year, I actually saw most of the Best Picture nominees.  Thoughts after the cut.  No predictions, though.  If you want predictions, try Watson’s article.

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Bridge of Spies:

OK, I haven’t seen this one, and wasn’t planning on it.  Yeah, everyone loves Tom Hanks, and here he is defending that guy from the PBS version of Wolf Hall, but I get the impression Spielberg makes this movie every three years or so anyway, that serious historical drama thing.  He could probably sleep through it.  Pass.

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The Big Short:

I actually did see this one and enjoyed it for what it was:  a movie to inform you on just how mad you should be about the 2008 financial meltdown.  Featuring lots of name actors who don’t even share a scene together, bad wigs, and explanations for how finance works for laypeople, the movie works really, really well.  Academy voters also love what this sort of movie is.  See, the Academy likes to at least nominate movies about the power of movies.  Sometimes they even win.  See above on Hollywood patting itself on the back.  So, this one does that in a more meta way by having a movie trying to use the power to inform and entertain to try and change the way money flows in bad ways in the American economy.  That’s some deep stuff right there.  Oscar could go its way.

Emory Cohen as "Tony" and Saoirse Ronan as "Eilis" in BROOKLYN. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Brooklyn:

Ah, this is nice.  A sweet little romance about the power of, er, one of the five boroughs. I haven’t seen it.

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Mad Max:  Fury Road:

Seriously, this may have been the best movie of the year.  Sure, it’s a genre film that is not only the fourth in a film series but also essentially just a really long car chase, but who cares?  It’s freakin’ awesome!  Which means, of course, that it can’t possible win…

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The Martian:

Speaking of awesome things that can’t possibly win…

I preferred Mad Max myself, but I doubt the stuffy old guys of the Academy vote for this one any more than they vote for Mad Max.  We’re probably lucky Return of the King got any love at all.

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The Revenant:

I finally saw this one last night.  Well, it sure was pretty to look at.  I kept noticing how blue Leo’s eyes were and thinking he was a White Walker.  I’ll have more to say about this Monday, but for now, this one appears to be a frontrunner aside from maybe The Big Short or another one I haven’t mentioned yet.

But really, really pretty to look at.

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Room:

This is that movie I keep meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

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Spotlight:

I saw this movie, then the next day Ryan told me it was being talked up as a Best Picture winner.  I had no idea.  A well-crafted mystery about real-life events from the director of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler (no lie, look it up), the movie shows a group of reporters finding corruption in a trusted institution.  The twist, if you can call it that, is that the exposure didn’t really fix the problem.  Like The Big Short, the movie highlights a real problem, this time sexual abuse from Catholic priests and how the Church hides it, and invites the audience to, uh, I dunno, get mad?  I’d say its between this and The Revenant at this point.

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