A Beginner's Guide To The 2016 Oscar Nominees
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A Beginner's Guide To The 2016 Oscar Nominees

Because who's even heard of half of these nominees anyways?

A Beginner's Guide To The 2016 Oscar Nominees

It’s that time of year again—the Oscars are almost upon us, and once again, the general public is looking at the list of nominees and saying: “What are these movies? I haven’t seen any of these!” If this sounds like you, never fear. I’ve seen all of the Best Picture nominees for 2016, and summarized them so that you can understand what the old white men who make up most of the Oscar voting committee deemed to be of cinematic value this year!

In all seriousness, despite the deeply problematic racial issues behind the Academy Awards, most of the movies that got nominated this year are actually pretty good (although I will be forever mad that “Carol” and “Creed” weren’t nominated). Here they are, boiled down to their simplest summarization (plus my opinion, because it’s impossible for me to write about movies without giving my opinion of them). Enjoy!

1. The One Where Leo Gets Attacked By a Bear, Finally (Probably) Wins an Oscar

(a.k.a “The Revenant”)

The movie in one sentence: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition (Leonardo DiCaprio) is mauled by a bear and left for dead by the members of his hunting team, and has to fight for his survival in order to get revenge on the man who killed his son.

If Leo doesn’t win his Oscar for this movie, I think we can officially say that the Oscar committee has something against him. He went 110% for this, going as far as to eat raw bison liver despite being a vegetarian. Beyond Leo’s incredible performance, this movie is one of the most visceral I’ve seen in years — between the bear attack and all of the other man vs. man fights, this movie might have even more gruesome deaths than Game of Thrones. While it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, it is an amazing feat of cinema.

2. The One That’s Quite Literally a 2-hour Car Chase

(a.k.a “Mad Max: Fury Road”)

The movie in one sentence: In a post-apocalyptic desert world, a wanderer named Max (Tom Hardy) inadvertently joins up with a group of women led by Furiousa (Charlize Theron) who are on the run from a cruel cult leader.

Ok, so maybe the movie’s not quite literally a 2-hour car chase — there’s, like, a 10-minute stretch somewhere in the middle where they take a breather. But for the vast majority of this movie, you’re watching what usually makes up the final 10-15 of your average action flick. And. It’s. Awesome. Admittedly, plot-wise it’s a little thin, but in terms of world-building, character-building, special effects, and cinematography, it is absolutely top-notch, show-don’t-tell storytelling. "Fury Road" is a movie unlike anything I’ve seen before, and although I fully believe that it should win, I’m honestly just glad it managed to get nominated.

3. The One That Would Have Had To Try Not Get Nominated

(a.k.a “Bridge of Spies”)

The movie in one sentence: During the Cold War, a lawyer (Tom Hanks) is recruited by the CIA to help negotiate for the release of a spy-plane pilot who was shot down by the Soviet Union.

Look, this movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, stars Tom Hanks, and it’s a historical drama centering around the Cold War. There’s simply no way it wasn’t going to get nominated, Spielberg and Hanks being two of the Academy’s darlings. That being said, it’s definitely a well-made movie (after all, it is Spielberg), and despite the fact that I was extremely irritated at the complete lack of female characters in this film, I will begrudgingly admit that it probably deserves to be nominated.

4. The One Where An 8-Year Puts Most Fully Grown Actors To Shame

(a.k.a “Room”)

The movie in one sentence: 5-year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is raised by his mother (Brie Larson) in "Room," a 10x10 shed they are are confined to by his mother’s kidnapper.

Brie Larson is likely going to win Best Actress for this movie, and rightly so, but the fact that Jacob Tremblay wasn’t nominated for his work in this film is a travesty. This kid gave the best child actor performance since Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, and on top of that he’s ridiculously adorable in real life (seriously, look up his acceptance speech at the SAG Awards and then try to tell me you don’t want to adopt him). Beyond the amazing performances, it’s a well-written, beautifully directed movie, and probably my 2nd place pick for the top prize.

5. The One That Has a Ton of Irish Accents, Which Automatically Makes It Great

(a.k.a “Brooklyn”)

The movie in one sentence: Eilis, an Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) moves to Brooklyn, and subsequently must make the difficult decision between remaining in her new home with the love she has found there, or returning to her homeland.

I would easily vote this movie “Most Likely to Make Your Grandmother Happy.” It’s a cute, sweet romance story, and the immigration-centered premise means that the movie is actually a bit deeper than it appears to be on the surface. While it likely won’t blow you away, it’s a perfectly enjoyable watch, with a great performance by Saoirse Ronan and gorgeous scenery.

6. The One Where We Have To Save Matt Damon, Again

(a.k.a “The Martian”)

The movie in one sentence: During a manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left for dead after a storm forces the crew to abandon the planet, and must find a way to survive alone on Mars until he can be rescued.

According to an article on E!, it would cost around $900 billion in 2015 dollars to save all of Matt Damon’s variously lost, stranded, and abandoned characters throughout all of his movies. “The Martian” is an addition to this group, and a worthy one at that. A movie that could have been quite existential and depressing is actually surprisingly funny, with Matt Damon at the top of his game. Out of all the nominees, this and Fury Road are probably the most fun to watch.

7. The One That Makes Journalism Look Wicked Cool

(a.k.a “Spotlight”)

The movie in one sentence: When the Boston Globe’s prestigious “Spotlight” team (Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Liev Schrieber) starts looking into allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, they end up uncovering a decades-long cover-up that goes to the highest levels of the Church.

This movie is a stark reminder that journalism isn’t always the gossipy, "which celebrities are dating," clickbait garbage we’ve come to see it as. Despite being totally aware of the Catholic Church abuse scandal before seeing this film, I couldn’t help but be completely horrified as the characters discovered just how deep this scandal went. And while most movies that deal with a topic this intense and this distressing are movies that I don’t usually want to watch more than once, the fascinating way they portray the journalism process makes me want to rewatch it just to revel in the incredible feat these journalists accomplished.

8. And Last But Not Least, The One That’s About The Financial Crisis

(a.k.a "The Big Short")

The movie in one sentence: Four men (Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt) who are high-up in the financial world accurately predict the housing bubble collapse of the mid 00’s, and attempt to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight.

So I may have lied a little—I actually haven’t seen this movie. The list of things that I know about is 2 items long: 1. it’s about the big financial crash of the mid 2000s, and 2. people who have seen it either think it somehow succeeds at making the economics behind this crash interesting, engaging, and even funny, or that all of the economic lingo just made it confusing as all hell. Either way, it stars Ryan Gosling, so how bad can it be?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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