January 14, 2016

Top 10 at Oscars 2016

The Oscar nominations were announced a little while ago. Like 2013, 2014, and 2015, I'm presenting my list of top ten movies you must watch to understand what is happening at the Oscar stage on 28th February (morning of 29th for India). The ten movies that featured in my 2013 list shared 68 nominations among themselves. The number has kept decreasing in the successive years to 64 and 62. This year, the top ten movies I list here account for only 59 nominations. This clearly shows there is a greater variety at the awards this year. None of the movies have managed the Big Five nomination again this year. So no repeat of the rare feat can be expected.

Following are the ten movies in alphabetic order:

'The Big Short' by Adam McKay (5 nominations, including Best Picture and Directing): I have not seen any film directed or written by 47-year old McKay who seems to be quite a name on TV. 'The Big Short' must be his shot to the major league with directing and adapted screenplay nominations. The film also earns Brad Pitt his third producing nomination after 'Moneyball' and '12 Years a Slave', and Christian Bale his second supporting-actor nomination after 'The Fighter'. There is no new yet on when 'The Big Short' is releasing in India.

'Bridge of Spies' by Steven Spielberg (6 nominations, including Best Picture): It is good to see this film in the list of the eight Best Picture nominees. I totally loved it. Although Spielberg has been left out from the Directors list, this his ninth nomination as a producer. The film also earns the Coen Brothers their sixth screenplay nomination. The film has already had its run in India.

'Brooklyn' by John Crowley (3 nominations, including Best Picture): I chose 'Brooklyn' over 'The Danish Girl', which has four nominations, because all its three nominations are big: Picture, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay. Saoirse Ronan has won her second Oscar nomination after the Supporting Actress nomination for 'Atonement' (2007). John Crowley is again a new name for me and this is the film that brings him to the big league despite not earning a directing nomination. I wonder if it will be released in India.

'Carol' by Todd Haynes (6 nominations): Despite six nominations, including one for Cate Blanchett (her seventh, fourth in a Leading Role), 'Carol' could not make it to the Best Picture short-list. Rooney Mara has won her second nomination after 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (2011). It is the sixth film by director Todd Haynes and I have seen only one of his previous works - 'I'm Not There.' (2007). The PVR website says 'Carol' will be released in India on the 26th of February.

'Mad Max: Fury Road' by George Miller (10 nominations, including Best Picture): Despite loving the film when it came out last summer I had no idea that it will be such a favourite among the Academy voters. The second highest score among the nominees, the film should also win quite a handful. George Miller had won the Animated Feature award for 'Happy Feet' nine years ago. He would love to go back on the stage for this indulgent genre feast. If it is re-released in India, I'm going to watch it again. At Imax. For sure.

'The Martian' by Ridley Scott (7 nominations, including Best Picture): Scott not making it to the Directing shortlist must be one of the biggest surprises of today's announcement. He is yet to win an Oscar despite an illustrious career and he will hope to win it for this one as one of its producers. Matt Damon has won his fourth acting nomination, although he has won as a writer eighteen years ago for 'Good Will Hunting'. The film has played in India already.

'The Revenant' by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (12 nominations, including Best Picture): Inarritu won three Oscars last year for 'Birdman', as its producer, director, and writer. And over the last few days he has emerged as a front-runner for the second consecutive year. With most nominations this year, 'The Revenant' can also end Leonardo DiCaprio's dry run - this is his fifth acting nomination without a win yet. The film will probably release in India on the 26th of February. Eagerly waiting for it.

'Room' by Lenny Abrahamson (4 nominations, including Best Picture): When I missed watching this film at MAMI2015, I had no idea it would be so big at the Oscar stage. This is such a triumph for small films! Brie Larson is one of the biggest contenders for the Best Actress trophy and I hope this will make people discover 'Short Term 12', one of my favourite films of recent time. Lenny Abrahamson is another new name for me and his Directing nomination has come as a big surprise to a lot of people. They say this film will be released in India on 26th Feb.

'Spotlight' by Tom McCarthy (6 nominations, including Best Picture): Of McCarthy's works I have only seen 'Up' (2009) that was co-written by him. With 'Spotlight' he has earned a writing as well as a directing nomination. Mark Ruffalo has earned his third Supporting Actor nomination, although it will be tough to beat Stallone ('Creed') and Rylance ('Bridge of Spies'). Waiting for its India release.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' by JJ Abrams (5 nominations): Nominated for film editing, sound editing, sound mixing, original score and VFX, the latest Star Wars film, and my favourite in the series, should pick an award or two. It is playing in India since its Christmas release and I would recommend it to you. If you can, watch Star Wars IV, V, and VI before you go for it. The emotional connection will be ten times more.

I have to watch six of these ten movies in the next 45 days or so. I will soon write more posts on the Oscar race. Stay tuned.

P.S. 'The Danish Girl' (4), 'The Hateful Eight' (3), 'Sicario' (3) and 'Steve Jobs' (2) are four more movies you may want to watch apart from the top ten. The first two of these release in India tomorrow. 'Sicario' has already played and 'Steve Jobs' should be released on 5th Feb.

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