It’s that time again — with the new year off to a great start, we can finally take a look back on 2015 as a whole, and for movie fans, that means Oscar season is upon us! With the list of nominated films fresh in our minds, here are our top picks for movies you definitely need to check out before the Academy Awards!
A gripping and heart-wrenching tale that’s sure to pick up some awards not only from the Academy, “Spotlight” examines the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The movie hits home on an emotional level, putting the audience into the shoes of reporters and showcasing the moral dilemmas faced when covering a story as rife with drama and uncomfortable revelation as this one. “Spotlight” is packed to the brim with top-notch performances, an incredible script, and outstanding direction. If you haven’t seen it, you need to.
On a lighter note, you’ll be able to get in touch with your emotions with Best Animated Picture hopeful “Inside Out.” The film, spearheaded masterfully by the talents at Disney and Pixar, takes us on a journey through the complex emotions of 12-year-old Riley (portrayed literally as characters that embody her Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust), as she struggles to cope with her family’s recent cross-country move. The film’s got something for viewers of all ages, using a very accessible format to convey a big message about owning your emotions.
I’ve got a good feeling that this could finally be the year that Leo brings home an Oscar! DiCaprio, often overlooked by the Academy in the past, really hits it out of the park as Hugh Glass in “The Revenant,” a film that pits him against nature, his fellow man, and even himself as he struggles to survive after being mauled by a bear, betrayed, and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. Glass’ journey highlights on a grander scale many of the struggles we all may deal with on a day-to-day basis as we long to make things right and search for redemption.
“Bridge of Spies”
Stars Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance shine in Steven Spielberg’s latest film “Bridge of Spies.” Set during the Cold War, “Bridge of Spies” adapts the true story of American lawyer James B. Donovan (Hanks) and his quest to uphold justice when Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Rylance) is arrested. Donovan, despite public outcry, stands up for the justice system he believes in and not only defends Abel in court, but also negotiates his return to the Soviet Union in exchange for American U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Powers. The chemistry between Hanks and Rylance is a high point of the film, and the bond that their characters share showcases that kindness and friendship can trump prejudice and an “us vs. them” attitude, a lesson that can surely be taken to heart in this day and age.
“The Big Short”
Offering a comedic spin on a financial nightmare, “The Big Short” tackles the mid-2000s housing bubble collapse with fresh vigor and aplomb. Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, it tells the story of four cynical Wall Street businessmen who see the writing on the wall and decide to capitalize on their peers’ greed and lack of foresight. The adage “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” certainly applies to this film, which uses a dose of comedy as the vehicle to help us understand the financial crisis and re-examine the things that our society assumes as norms. At first sight, “The Big Short” may not seem as heavy-hitting as some of the other films on this list, but it certainly packs a punch.
Click here for a list of all of this year’s Oscar nominees, and don’t miss the 88th Academy Awards ceremony February 28!