Oscar season is here! The 88th Academy Awards nominations were announced Jan. 14.
Being the movie and pop culture buff I am, I was greatly looking forward to this announcement and the very entertaining Oscar season that follows.
So here is the list of the top-10 movies I think you should see before the special night on Sunday, Feb. 28, aired on ABC.
10. “Inside Out” (Best Animated Feature, Best Writing/Screenplay)
Yes, this is an animated “kids’” movie, but, seriously, I dare you to watch this movie and not thoroughly enjoy it. You might even cry.
It is pretty much guaranteed to win Best Animated Feature Film due to its incredibly clever and emotionally thoughtful plot and storyline. Even though it is not one of the huge movies battling for Best Picture right now, it must be watched at least once.
9. “Carol” (Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Previous Work, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Original Score)
One of the biggest “snubs” of the Oscar nominations was the lack of Best Picture nomination for “Carol,” the story of a 1950s lesbian affair between a department-store clerk and a self-assured suburban housewife.
Both Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett received acting nods for their roles and three other nominations, including acting and cinematography, but nothing for Best Picture.
This snub was even more evidence of a lack of diversity in the Academy and nominations, not only racially but also the underrepresented minority of homosexual women. Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have both boycotted the awards this year because of a lack of racial diversity in the nominations.
8. “Joy” (Best Leading Actress)
The third movie in a row from director David O. Russell starring Jennifer Lawrence, this, although not as good as the previous two (“Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle”), was one of Lawrence’s greatest performances and definitely Oscar-worthy.
Lawrence is the entire movie, which depicts the true life story of Joy Mangano, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business and dynasty by creating a mop that sold on QVC.
Although the movie is slightly dull and confusing in some parts, I urge you to watch purely because of Lawrence’s fantastic performance.
7. “Room” (Best Picture, Best Leading Actress, Best Director, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Previous Material)
Adapted from a book of the same name by Emma Donoghue, “Room” is the dark story of a woman who is held captive for five years along with her young son. The boy, upon release, is experiencing the world for the first time.
Brie Larson’s role as the mother has been greatly acclaimed, and she even won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, so definitely watch out for her to win the category again.
6. “Brooklyn” (Best Picture, Best Leading Actress, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Previous Material)
Also adapted from a book of the same name by Colm Toibin, “Brooklyn” is the story of a young Irish immigrant who moves to Brooklyn, New York, in search of employment and career opportunities during the 1950s.
The combination of a magnificent plot and acting makes this a wonderful movie and great Oscar contender.
“Brooklyn” is a very small film that originally opened at Sundance Film Festival but is still definitely worth seeing despite the lack of publicity and commercial hype.
5. “The Big Short” (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Previous Material, Best Editing)
This “dramedy” about the 2008 financial collapse and banking crisis is successful because of its witty humor and extremely talented cast including Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.
It is definitely one of the bigger contenders for the Best Picture Award and has been receiving lots of buzz in recent weeks.
4. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design. Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects)
It is surprising that such a large-budget commercial action movie, meant almost entirely for the demographic of middle-aged white men, would be a Best Picture nominee, but here we are. I was happy to see it succeed both in the box office and during award season, since the movie was named one of the most feminist movies of 2015 by Entertainment Weekly.
Because “Max” was one of the most talked-about movies of 2015, it would be surprising if you haven’t seen it yet, but for those of you who haven’t, definitely do.
3. “The Martian” (Best Picture, Best Leading Actor, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Previous Material, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects)
“The Martian” has been another one of those greatly buzzed movies of 2015 (there was even a review of it in the online Octagon).
Even though it tells the suspenseful story of an astronaut stranded on Mars, the film remains light and very humorous with lots of disco music to set the mood.
Matt Damon won the Golden Globe for his role, so once again watch out for him to win.
2. “Spotlight” (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Writing/Screenplay, Best Editing)
This is definitely my favorite movie I’ve seen on this list. The extremely revealing film tells the story of the Boston Globe “Spotlight” reporters who research and write a story exposing the Catholic Church’s cover-up of more than 130 children who were molested by over 70 priests in Boston alone.
The movie bared every side of the issue without appearing biased. Both Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams received acting nominations. This is what I will personally be rooting for come Oscar night.
1. “The Revenant” (Best Picture, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects)
I haven’t seen (and will not see) this movie because of its gory and gruesome nature; however, it is undoubtedly the biggest front runner for most of the awards.
Garnering 12 nominations and winning three Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, it has definitely had the most buzz in recent months since its Christmas release.
This movie is not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle it, then this is the must-see movie of the Oscar season.
Also, hopefully DiCaprio will finally win his first, much-deserved Oscar.
—By Alexa Mathisen