Amateur Reviews: The 2015 Oscar Nominees
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Amateur Reviews: The 2015 Oscar Nominees

A non-professional college girl's take on this year's top films.

Amateur Reviews: The 2015 Oscar Nominees

I tried to see every movie nominated for Best Picture this year but I didn’t succeed. From the films that I did see, I found this Oscar season relatively disappointing. I’ve never walked away from so many films in one Oscar year that I genuinely disliked, and even among the films that I did enjoy there aren’t any that stand out as a new all-time favorite. I’ve discussed how much I loved Star Wars more than any of these nominees (you can read about that here, fellow Jedi), but I did want to share my thoughts on the Oscar noms I was able to watch. Here are my quick reviews, in alphabetical order:

The Big Short

Nominations: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Directing (Adam McKay), Film Editing (Hank Corwin), Adapted Screenplay (Charles Randolf and Adam McKay)

One of my favorites. This was a fun movie and a depressing movie. It has a great soundtrack, great actors (it was a heavily male-dominated cast), and the right amount of dark humor for this story about a massive economic tragedy. I especially liked how the complicated concepts in the film were handled — often, characters were discussing economic terms that a regular movie-viewer may have trouble understanding, so the film cut to famous people (Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez, for example) explaining the concepts in simple terms. These scenes were hilarious and actually extremely helpful. Another thing that set this film apart is the way the characters would often turn toward the camera and speak directly to the audience, which gave it an interesting story-telling twist. Overall, however, I walked out of the movie feeling horrified about the housing crisis, which I think shows the film’s success — while these humorous elements were integrated, they didn’t take away from the seriousness of the story.

The Danish Girl

Nominations: Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Costume Design (Paco Delgado), Production Design (Eve Stewart)

This movie was well done but not a wow-er for me. I felt it focused too much on the beauty of pain rather than the rawness of pain, which made for an emotional experience but not one that was as eye-opening as I had hoped. I also understand the criticism that this was a transgender movie created without a transgender actor or actress. Overall, Eddie Redmayne’s performance was admirable, but I thought he was out-acted by Alicia Vikander, who really deserves a best actress nomination.


Nominations: Actress (Jennifer Lawrence)

This movie has the fewest nominations of any on the list (for good reason), and I’m even irritated that it was given one. I had high expectations (despite the fact that I didn’t even like The Silver Lining’s Playbook that much), and this did not live up to any of them. Even Jennifer Lawrence fell extremely flat to me, which is why I’m frustrated that she was nominated (especially while someone like Alicia Vikander really deserves the spot). The movie was boring, it had a strange and confusing message, and it felt like David Russel was attempting to emulate Wes Anderson by telling his actors to deliver their lines in that straight-faced deadpan way, but it didn’t work. I’m a nice person and I usually give films the benefit of the doubt, but I’m still mad that I paid to see this one.

The Martian

Nominations: Best Picture, Actor: (Matt Damon), Production Design (Arthur Max), Sound Editing (Oliver Tarney), Sound Mixing (Paul Massey), Visual Effects (Richard Stammers), Adapted Screenplay (Drew Goddard)

Another disappointment, honestly. While I didn’t have the same viscerally negative reaction that I had to Joy, I spent a large portion of this movie making a “WTF” gesture at the TV. Even though I’m a sucker for space movies, it was impossible for me to put aside my disbelief and just enjoy the ride because the characters did not seem to react in any believable ways. There’s a difference between fantasy and unrealistic space travel.

The Revenant

Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy), Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Costume Design (Jacqueline West), Directing (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Film Editing (Stephen Mirrione), Makeup and Hairstyling (Sian Grigg), Production Design (Jack Fisk), Sound Editing (Martin Hernandez), Sound Mixing (Jon Taylor),Visual Effects (Rich McBride)

Whew! For those counting, that’s twelve nominations.

This year’s epic was — well, epic. I do agree with the criticisms about this being yet another Hollywood story about an incredibly masculine character surviving impossible odds, but I did enjoy the contrast between devastating violence and breathtaking nature. The film itself was a piece of art, and Leo did act his heart out (which apparently includes a lot of grunting). I covered my eyes for a good third of the movie, but I admit that it was an exciting ride, and it’s one that I’m glad I saw for the experience. As an audience member, I was gripped and on the edge of my seat for all two and a half hours, which is, in some ways, a home run in cinema.


Nominations: Best Picture, Actress (Brie Larson), Directing (Lenny Abrahamson), Adapted Screenplay (Emma Donoghue)

Another one of my favorites, this film was intense and somehow understated. The acting from both Brie Larson and her young counterpart Jacob Tremblay was amazing and subtle and emotional and real. This was a story about trauma that was both quiet and immense. I don’t have much to say other than I loved it and it was beautifully done. Another plus: the screenplay was written by the author of the book.


Nominations: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams), Directing (Tom McCarthy), Film Editing (Tom McArdle), Original Screenplay (Josh Singer)

Another expose type film like The Big Short, this movie also featured amazing acting and a great script. While I enjoyed it, for some reason it didn’t hit me as hard as The Big Short — somehow, I felt the whole time like I wasn’t feeling the story as deeply as I should have been. Maybe this comes from its more traditional storytelling aspects. Without the quirkiness of The Big Short, the movie fell a little flat for me. Still, I’m glad I saw it and I recommend it.

Quick Mention: The Good Dinosaur

Nominations: None

Worst Disney/Pixar that’s ever been made. I think they had the interns write this one.

Final Conclusions

My pick for Best Picture: The Big Short

Biggest Regret: Joy

Wish I’d Seen: Carol, Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road

Tune in to see if Leo finally catches the snitch.

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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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