Oscars, did you say? Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when everyone scrambles to get through the entire list of Oscar-nominated films so they can have a go at guessing who’ll win the coveted award. As Hollywood’s talented get ready to gather at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the 88th Academy Awards next month, here’s our primer on the Best Picture nominees. So while you’re secretly praying for Leonardo DiCaprio, it doesn’t hurt to distract yourself with some good cinema.
Bridge of Spies
What’s it about? Tom Hanks’ James Donovan plays a Brooklyn insurance lawyer sent to East Germany by the CIA to negotiate the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot, at the height of the Cold War.
Who should watch it? If you love dark, historical dramas. And it has the explosive combination of the Coen Brothers + Steven Spielberg + Tom Hanks.
What’s it about? Adapted from Emma Donogue’s bestselling novel, the deeply emotional plot explores the bond between a brutalised mother and her five-year-old son, confined to a windowless garden shed she calls ‘Room’.
Who should watch it? Everyone. Because it’s a life-affirming story of the human spirit, so what if it’s fiction?
Mad Max: Fury Road
What’s it about? In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a man, seeking solace after the loss of his wife and child, teams up with a group of women escaping a tyrannical cult, on a journey to a utopian land.
Who should watch it? We could say action junkies, but this one ticks all the boxes – art direction, stunts, costumes… spectacular. So basically, anyone seeking unbridled entertainment.
What’s it about? A NASA astronaut, on a manned mission on Mars, is assumed dead when he’s struck by debris during a violent storm, as he and his crew make their way back to the launch vehicle.
Who should watch it? Yes, yes, another space movie. But it’s hilarious, and has Matt Damon. So anyone who’s up for a light-hearted entertainer.
What’s it about? A young Irish woman moves to the States in the early ’50s, and as she navigates her new surroundings, finds herself torn between two lovers, one in her hometown, the other, in Brooklyn.
Who should watch it? Anyone in the mood for an old-fashioned, emotionally raw love story.
What’s it about? A 19th century explorer in the American wilderness, attacked by a bear and left for the dead by his hunting companions, braves a fierce winter to seek revenge.
Who should watch it? Anyone pining for DiCaprio’s Oscar win. Also, the fence-sitters, because his near flawless performance as a hardened Hugh Glass will rid them of any doubts.
What’s it about? The Spotlight investigations team of the Boston Globe uncovers a long-hidden history of child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic church.
Who should watch it? Journalists and non-journalists. Any reporter will tell you that research is tedious and data-gathering is not a spectator sport. A story of paperwork and follow-up is turned into a harrowing tale of cover-ups, depravity and systemic exploitation, without a single scene about the abuse itself.
The Big Short
What’s it about? Four outsiders predict the US mortgage housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s that would eventually lead to the global financial crisis. They decide to do what any shrewd person would: make a profit off the big banks. No less than 489 per cent of it!
Who should watch it? Anyone interested in understanding the dark underbelly of modern banking.
From HT Brunch, January 31, 2016
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