Best Picture Oscar nominees provide diverse plots

Daniel Morgan, Advertising Manager

It is awards show season, and, with the exception of the People’s Choice Awards on Jan. 6, a lot of us have neither seen nor heard of some of the films nominated since they are relatively new. That was the case with much of the Golden Globe Awards, which was broadcasted on Jan. 12. With that said, the Academy Award (Oscar) nominations were released on Jan. 14. Here is a quick rundown of each film nominated, in alphabetical order, for Best Picture.

            The Big Short stars Best Supporting Actor nominee Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt as they predict the financial collapse of big banks and the housing market in the mid-2000s while joining forces to expose large institution corruption. Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal said, “Scathing wit, joyous irreverence and brilliant boisterousness make ‘The Big Short’ an improbable triumph.”

            Bridge of Spies stars Tom Hanks as a New York insurance lawyer who must defend a Russian spy during the Cold War in 1957. Then, he is sent to Berlin, Germany to exchange the spy for a captured American pilot. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times commented that “‘Bridge of Spies’ is a gravely moody, perfectly directed thriller.”

            Brooklyn stars Best Actress nominee Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant who falls in love with an American. However, when she has to return to Europe, she is forced to choose between the two countries and the men whom she has fallen for in each. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called it “the year’s best and most beguiling love story.”

            Mad Max: Fury Road takes place in post-apocalyptic Australia ruled by outlaws. Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, the characters plan an escape from the tyrants to protect smuggled cargo in a search for homeland. Justin Chang of Variety referred to it as “the sort of exhilarating gonzo entertainment that makes even the nuttier Fast and Furious movies look like Autopia test drives.”

            The Martian stars Best Actor nominee Matt Damon as an astronaut that is presumed dead in a storm on Mars and gets left behind after an aborted mission. As he finds himself stranded in the harsh environment, he documents his journey of attempting to grow food, communicate with NASA, and find a way to be rescued. Christopher Orr wrote in The Atlantic that “Excellence in cinema is sometimes a singular achievement: a remarkable lead performance, a dazzling display of directorial panache, a script of sublime wit or clarity.” 

            The Revenant stars Best Actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman on a fur trading journey in the early 1800s who gets mauled by a bear and abandoned by his own hunting team. The film chronicles his journey of survival and revenge. Variety’s Justin Chang said, “It’s an imposing vision, to be sure, but also an inflated and emotionally stunted one, despite an anchoring performance of ferocious 200% commitment from Leonardo DiCaprio.”

            Room stars Best Actress Nominee Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay as a mother and five-year-old son who have been held captive in a small shed for the child’s whole life. After they escape, the duo must cope with the outside world as the son discovers for the first time. Time’s Nolan Feeney said, “It’s the rare film to shine a light on the aftermath kidnapping survivors face once their ordeal is over.”

            Spotlight tells the true story of the journalists of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team as they uncover the huge molestation scandal surrounding a local archdiocese and the Catholic Church. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote, “It’s not a stretch to suggest that Spotlight is the finest newspaper movie of its era, joining ‘Citizen Kane’ and All the President’s Men in the pantheon of classics of the genre.” The ensemble cast includes Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominees Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams.

            The Oscars will be hosted by Chris Rock on Feb. 28, 2016, and televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. Now that you know about each of the Best Picture nominees, make your predictions and see if you can guess the most winners. You can also make random guesses for fun and see if you get lucky.