A couple years ago I achieved something I'd never done before: I saw every single best picture oscar nominated film prior to the Oscars. I know, it's a random bucket list item but it's actually a lot more difficult to achieve than you'd think, especially living in a small town with one movie theater that has more people interested in watching Deadpool than Brooklyn. You can read about my achievement that year here!
I haven't really tried to make it happen again since that year. Pregnancy and new babies will do that to you ;) This year I kinda thought it might be potentially possible. The challenge is that the nominations aren't announced until mid Jan. And the Oscars are end of Feb. So you have a very limited time window to see them all. AND a lot of the times the movies nominated may be tough to find. Either they are in theaters that show actual good movies (which ours typically doesn't) or they are in that weird limbo period between leaving the theater and being released for rental. Making it legit impossible to see in time! Sometimes, like in the year I achieved my goal, they re-relase the movies to theaters and if they are big ticket enough our local theater will actually show them. Again though it's for like a week time period so I have to be actually available to go see it!
The best way to attack this mission is to try to see some movies prior to the nominations being announced. I try to do a little research into the "oscar buzz" and the Golden Globes can be helpful in this. Often what's nominated for a globe (especially if it wins) gets nominated for an Oscar. But not always! And the globes have WAY more "best picture" nominees because it's divided into two categories. So it's no easy task deciding what films are worth seeing!
Casey planned a trip to Tally for the two of us for my birthday in November and it included seeing an I-Max movie. This was the first moment I had that "maybe I can do this this year" thought. Since I got to pick the movie I started my "research" into what could potentially be a best picture nominee. I debated between seeing Bridge of Spies or The Martian and The Martian ended up being the only one in I-Max which was our goal so it was meant to be! And I lucked out and it got nominated!!!
1. The Martian: I did not know it was a book prior to seeing it! I bet it is a good, but probably very big-word filled, read. We saw it in an IMax which was my first IMax experience and it was awesome. I really enjoyed the story as well. I expected it to get boring, but it never did. It was very interesting, realistic, and Matt Damon was awesome. Casey and I both really enjoyed it although we did agree that we wished it would have shown more of his personal life. We would have been more emotionally invested in his character had we known something, anything, about his family missing him back on Earth!
My prediction: It was great and it won a golden globe for both best picture and best actor. So it has a shot. I'd consider it in my personal Top 3.
2. The Big Short: I shared with Katie about my love of Oscar nominated movies and she said she'd be down to try to see them all with me. We love a challenge :) We went and saw a double feature prior to the nominations coming out. We both felt like there was a good bit of buzz about The Big Short and Joy to make them worthwhile seeing. Joy ended up not being nominated but The Big Short was!
Katie didn't really love The Big Short and I agreed that it was much too long. However, the storyline itself was VERY interesting to me personally. When the housing market crashed in 2008 a LOT of people I care about were MEGA affected by it. It was really insightful into what happened and I thought a lot of the actors were great. I did not think that Christian Bale made sense at all in this role though. He was supposed to be a nerdy type guy yet he was SO BUFF and it just didn't fit who he was supposed to be portraying. I also didn't even recognize Brad Pitt AT ALL at first. I didn't know that he was in it and it's crazy how different he looked! My favorite character was a side character (real name is Rafe Spall) b/c OMG he reminded me SO MUCH of Jordan!!! Even the role he played was straight Jordan. Really positive, overly nice. Just JORDAN! I texted Jordan between movies and he said he and Casey had seen it and didn't notice the similarities. I have no clue how they missed it!!!
My Prediction: I really liked it on a personal level. But as an overall film it's def not in my top 3 and I for sure would be VERY surprised to see it win. I'm really surprised Christian Bale is nominated. I don't see it winning a single oscar at all actually based on the 5 noms it has!
Joy: It's not nominated for best picture. So it's one of the three movies I took a gamble on and it didn't pay off. BUT I still wanted to mention it. I think it should have been nominated. I will get to more on why when I discuss other movies. But I REALLY liked it. I think it didn't get the nomination because it was another Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper pairing with the same director that directed them both in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle and both were previously nominated in the category. I think the academy wanted to give them a year off ;) I don't think it's gotten enough credit, Katie and I both really enjoyed it. I think the story is awesome and it's a true story without being a boring true story. It was entertaining and had emotion in it too. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing, as always.
My prediction: It's only nominated for one and that's best actress for Jennifer Lawrence. She won the golden globe and if she wins the oscar I won't disagree. She's deserving and I love her and so does everyone else :)
3. The Revenant: A lot of the times Zach says the best picture nominees are boring movies that no one actually wants to see. I have seen that trend changing over the years and they really are choosing films that have been box office successes. When we saw ads for The Revenant Zach wanted to see it. He really wanted to see it more than I did, but with Leo being nominated (and predicted heavily to win) I knew I needed to see it although I was nervous about my ability to stay awake through it.
Zach and I had a CRAZY night where we actually had to have the fire department come out to our house to do a carbon monoxide check. Long story short we took the kids to Mr. Rusty's and Mrs. Charlotte's house for the night. I was on my way home and it was 8:50 and I was thinking about how rare it was for us to have a night without the kids. And a lightbulb went on! I called Zach, ran in the door and changed into halfway presentable clothing and then we left and grabbed a HUGE iced coffee from MCD and went and saw the 9:30 showing of The Revenant. And I stayed awake for the whole thing...all2 hours and 36 min of it!
The graphics were AMAZING. I agree with Mrs. Charlotte who made the point that they could have cut out a lot and instead added in more of a back story. Like we didn't really have a clear vision of when this all took place or where? Maybe she and I just both missed some info in the beginning or something but it needed MORE. Yes, a 2 hour and 36 min movie needed more! But I feel like a lot of the time was spent showing off the beautiful images and they really could have been cut down some.
As far as Leo is concerned. Let's be real. He should have won for What's Eating Gilbert Grape way back then. He was SO deserving. I don't feel like this is his personal best work. Sure, it was great, but I do think if he gets the oscar (which it appears he will) it's more of an "we owe you" thing than it is truly deserving. He was great, don't get me wrong, but it just wasn't Oscar-worthy in my opinion.
The overall story itself wasn't all that interesting. I wouldn't call the movie boring but I told Zach it really reminded me of Inside Out (yes, a Disney movie). When we saw Inside Out Zach made the point that the whole thing was just one negative thing happening to the characters after another and the final conclusion of the movie was that everything turned out sorta okay in the end. This was EXACTLY the same way. Negative thing, pretty scenery, negative thing, pretty scenery, negative thing, ending where it's kinda positive but not all that amazingly positive.
My prediction: Leo will win, because it's overdue. Tom Hardy was also phenomenal (I personally thought he was better than Leo as his character had more depth) and I can see him winning. I also think it'll take home all the visual effects/makeup ones. I don't see it winning best picture though. I for sure don't think it's worthy of a best picture win!
4. Spotlight: Zach and I saw The Revenant on a Friday then Katie and I saw Spotlight the next night and Brooklyn the day after that. Our theater brought Brooklyn and Spotlight back due to the Oscar nominations so we knew we had a LIMITED amount of time to see them! The movie theater loved me :) I had NO CLUE going into Spotlight what it was about. None. It's about the whole priest molesting children scandal thing and it was SO well done. Katie did some research into it after we saw it and she said that it was extremely accurate and that if you look up the real people who handled the story that the cast in the movie portrayed them exactly how they really were. It's a very true story and it grabbed you from start to finish. I was left wanting more when it ended which I think always says a lot about a movie. It really made me think and opened my eyes to things I didn't really understand when it all first came to light. The ending was powerful and stuck with you. It's one of the movies I saw without Zach that I came home busting at the seams to tell him all about. Every single person on the cast was great. We kept seeing even random side characters who we recognized and they were also great. Can I also just say that I'm SO HAPPY Michael Keaton is BACK?!?! Loved him in Birdman and he was awesome in this as well!
My prediction: Best picture win! I think it stands out as THE clear winner with only one other film really in the running in my eyes. I can see Mark Ruffalo taking best supporting actor. I thought Rachel McAdams was great too but I dunno if she was oscar worthy? I for sure think it's best screenplay!
5. Brooklyn: I went into this one also having NO CLUE as to what it was about. I LOVE Nick Hornby but this just straight sucked. The first half was AMAZING. I loved it. I cried like 4 times. Legit. Cried. And they were HAPPY tears which when does that even happen during a movie, right?!?! I was ALL IN. I loved it and I especially LOVED Tony. Emory Cohen deserves some credit b/c he did an amazing job. Katie and I both loved him and wished there was more of him and less of everyone else. The second half made me SO ANGRY. Like livid. Like I don't even want to talk about it I'm so ticked. I remember how MAD Zach got in Hawaii when I begged him to go see Gone Girl b/c he hattttted it. That's how I felt about this movie. I hated it so much I was angry about it. It just started so strong and so beautifully then took this ugly twist that ruined it all for me and it never could come back from it. I get what they were going for and they could have gone for it in a way where you didn't leave it hating it.
My prediction: It better not win a single thing! IF Emory Cohen was nominated then I'd be rooting for him, but that's it!
6. Bridge of Spies: We lucked out and Bridge of Spies came available to rent in early Feb. If it hadn't come available then it would have been an "in limbo" movie and impossible to see so I'm thankful it did! We rented it and had a double feature rental night with it and Mad Max. I knew Zach would also want to see it so he, Katie and I all watched both movies that night together. I do think we should have watched them on separate nights b/c the awfulness of Mad Max kinda tainted my memory of Bridge of Spies!
It was MUCH better than I had expected it to be. I think the title is awful. I'm not sure why they didn't go with "Standing Man" as I thought focusing the title on Tom Hanks would be more fitting since really it's a movie about his character who is NOT a spy! I was prepared to be bored. I was expecting a war drama with lots of action scenes but that wasn't what it was at all. It was VERY well done. All the acting was great. They did a good job of really making you wrestle with what you think is right when it comes to the law and our country. I love legal type stuff and this was more of that kind of movie than anything else. None of us got bored and none of us fell asleep and all of us liked it! Tom Hanks can basically do no wrong, right? And I've always been a Spielberg Fan!
My Prediction: I don't see it winning anything. It's REALLY good but I don't think there is enough to set it apart to really make it Oscar worthy!
7. Mad Max: Fury Road: When we saw that this had Oscar buzz we practically were on our knees praying to the Lord that it wouldn't get nominated because neither of us wanted to have to sit through it. We were rooting for Joy to take the 8th spot but, nope, Max Mad: Fury Road is nominated for an OSCAR. What?!?!
It was out to rent (thank you Lord for at least not making us sit through it in a theater haha!) so we all three stayed up after Bridge of Spies and suffered through the entire thing. When you see the title and the posters and the ads you think: typical action flick. But then you see it's nominated for best picture of the year and you think: well, it must be something special? Nope. It's not. It's just a straight action movie. With not great acting (Tom Hardy in The Revenant: AMAZING same Tom Hardy in Mad Max: he should change his name) with no real story line, with really not even that great of graphics or anything. I didn't see anything original about it and none of us can figure out why in the world it's nominated. We even researched it and it still doesn't make sense to us!
My prediction: Not only is this movie nominated for best picture...it's nominated for 10 oscars total. TEN. I just don't get it! Please, please don't win anything!
8. Room: Katie came over last week and we watched the last of our movies! Room was an in limbo movie. Our local theater NEVER showed it. Not when it was originally released and they didn't bring it once it was nominated either. It was showing in Tallahassee but it was at the same theater where Casey and I had ALL that drama (remember? scared. for. our. lives.) so I didn't really want to go back there if I didn't have to. We got lucky and got the hook up to be able to see it at home! She came over early and ate with me and the kids while Z worked late (if you've never been to my house while I'm doing solo duty I wouldn't recommend it: it's INSANE haha) and then we got to watch it!
Both Katie and I read the book. I read it more recently than Katie so I was constantly comparing the book to the movie since it was fresh on my mind. I was warned that the book is VERY deep and heavy so I was expecting it to really push my emotions. It was not as raw as I was expecting. I really liked the book but I was also able to put it down and didn't have that "omg I can't stop reading this" feeling about it. It was VERY good but I actually think seeing the movie after reading it helped make it even better for me and helped it to leave a longer lasting impression.
Room isn't a true story but it is a mixture of many of the same type of stories about kidnappings. It was very interesting because it was told from the child's point of view (his mom was kidnapped so he was born in the confines of one small room where his father/capture kept his mother). The movie did a phenomenal job sticking to the book. It was still told from his viewpoint but not in an obnoxious way. It had TONS of small details from the book which I really appreciated. A few things were changed, locations of events were altered, some characters were cut completely. But that happens in movies. And it worked fine in this one.
I was left in the book very angry at the mother role and I think they did a fantastic job of making sure you felt those same emotions towards her in the movie. Which is tricky to do. I think it's hard to say I loved Brie Larson b/c I didn't like the character she played so it made me not really want to like her either, but that's proof of good acting!
It was also very good in that Zach didn't read the book and EVERY question he had was answered in the movie. So I know it wasn't just a good book to movie, but it was a legit good movie standing on its own as well. We all three loved it. Zach has continually brought it up and talked about it after the fact. It really, really sticks with you.
We all agreed that the little boy in the film was AMAZING. I can't believe he's not nominated for anything! He did an incredible job with what is a difficult role. We also couldn't get over how much he reminded us of Britt!!!
My Prediction: It just might take the spot over Spotlight. I think it's a close second if not the winner. FOR SURE best adaptation. I also think it's well deserving of best directing. And I think Brie Larson could take Jennifer Lawrence's gold statue out of her hands for best actress. I will be shocked if it doesn't walk away with at least a couple of the big oscar wins.
It was SO MUCH FUN seeing all these movies! It's even more fun having a good friend to achieve it with and it made this typically low-key more boring time of the year more fun for sure! It really helped remind me just how much I LOVE movies. I wish more GOOD movies came out throughout the year instead of all just around oscar season! I do hope to stay more in tune to new releases and make the movie theater a more regular outing :) I can see us making this a yearly ritual and Katie and I are excited to watch The Oscars this Sunday! Hoping some of our favorites win...and rooting for Mad Max to walk home empty handed :)
What are your Oscar picks?