Monday, January 18, 2016

Weekend of Oscar Nominated Films

When the Oscar nominations came out, I knew I needed to get to the movies to catch up as it's not that much fun to watch if you have no one to cheer for. So this weekend, I caught three of the Best Picture nominations; all of which definitely stick to my theme of adversity...though not really DIVERSITY.

Spotlight has the feel of an indie film with a much larger budget. An amazing ensemble of actors telling a true story that will definitely cause a reaction from viewers. It doesn't matter if you are Catholic or not, we've all heard the horrible stories told in this film where the Boston newspaper writers brought it out in the open in 2002. 

Next I watched The Martian and even though the Golden Globes put it in the wrong category, it is a highly entertaining film. Moments where you hold your breath, you cheer for Matt Damon while stuck on Mars, and it pulls at heartstrings in the way that Hollywood knows how to do.

And then there was The Revenant. I have waited since What's Eating Gilbert Grape to see Leonardo DiCaprio rise to that same kind of acting. I know, I know - he's been in a million films and people want him to win an Oscar every year, but for me - nothing has matched his earlier performance. Until now. He throws his entire being into the role of Hugh Glass - many times acting with nothing more than his eyes. I was enthralled by every choice he made and how he acted the heck out of the role.

The film, however - not as engaging as I had hoped. It was entirely too long at 2.5 hours with very little story. I don't want to give things away there - but google the real story and you will see what all director Alejandro F. Inarritu has added to beef up the story (and the mysticism). Unfortunately, an entire film built around revenge doesn't pull me into the character and cause me to care in the same way a movie with more substance does. I also am not sure the amount of time that goes into creating the long single-shots, steeped with so much realism that blood and Leo's breath ends up on the camera lens makes up for what is lacking in story telling. This poor man goes through everything that by the time I saw an avalanche in the distance...I was done.

This really got me to thinking about how films get made. Does it take an all-star cast to cause audiences to flock to a movie or do movie-goers want story and substance? I'm not saying you can't have both. Spotlight definitely is packed with big names and plenty of substance. I'm just not sure if The Revenant would have been made without such a star (who I do believe deserves the Oscar) attached.

I still have plenty of others to see, but currently - my favorite is The Martian. Though I do hope others on the list will offer more diversity since I felt I saw three white male driven films...back-to-back.

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