Oscar Nominated Films You Should Know
No matter if you’re a film junkie, indie elitist or you cling onto every review from Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll either watch the Oscars or hear endlessly about who won what. Cinema has been everything from entertainment to an escape for millions of movie-goers for over 100 years. Whether your preference is Hollywood blockbusters, Netflix hits, or film-festival flops (yes there’s a market for that i.e. The Razzies) the Academy Awards will always showcase something for every cinephile.
The short films nominated every year are the most underrated categories at the Oscars. Oddly enough, there are so any good mini-films, that there must be two categories, just like their feature-length counterparts. Shorts are so dynamic in a sense that they can tell and entire story in a fraction of the time and usually with a fraction of the resources the big movies can.
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‘Blind Vaysha‘ – A girl is born with one brown eye and one green eye, yet her aesthetics aren’t the most interesting part. Her right eye sees only the future and her left eye sees only the past. As if she were blessed but cursed at the same time, Vaysha’s split vision keeps her in a time traveling purgatory and out of the present.
Honorable Mention: ‘Pearl‘ follows a young girl and her father driving their small sedan of a home around the country. Chasing dreams and learning about life from childhood through adulthood and into independence, Pearl hits you right in the feels.
‘Silent Nights‘ – While Inger is volunteering at a shelter in Copenhagen, she falls in love with Kwame, an illegal immigrant. Initially, Inger and Kwame are happy for a while, until Kwame’s phone accidentally reveals a devastating secret from his past. Those damn phones!
Honorable Mention: ‘Ennemis Intérieurs’ – A French-Algerian born man sees the fate of another in his hands during an interview at a local police station. That other man is a possible terrorist, of which the interviewee is accused of protecting the identity.
Docs are all the rage these days, and for good reason too! Where else can you be entertained and educated? (Besides porn.)
‘O.J.: Made in America’ – At 467 minutes long you’d think this was a drawn out indie flick but it’s a work of art from ESPN’s 30 for 30 productions. Yes, technically it was a mini-series but it’s also been pieced together as a theatrical format. Chronicling Orenthal James Simpson’s life from poverty to athletic stardom and then taking a stab at the judicial system as a part of one of the most iconic court cases in U.S. history.
Honorable Mention: ‘13th’ – Who would’ve thought that Netflix would’ve been such a big player in the awards game? Well, it’s no surprise with documentaries like 13th. Shedding light on some wild statistics, Netflix delves into ho.w the U.S. houses 25% of the world’s prisoners yet only holds 5% of the world population. Couple that with how one-out-of-four African-American males will serve prison time at one point or another in their lives.
‘My Life as a Zucchini’ – You can’t go wrong with stop motion that starts up emotions. Zucchini is befriended by a police officer, Raymond, after his mother’s sudden death. At first, he struggles to find his place in this at times strange and hostile environment, his new foster home. Filled with other orphans his age he still feels out of place until Raymond helps him find friends more fitting.
Honorable Mention: ‘Zootopia’ is based in an animal metropolis that follows new-to-the-force bunny cop, Judy Hopps. She quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law yet stays determined to prove herself a la jumping at the opportunity (yes, Disney is still adorable like that) to solve a mysterious case. Notably, this case comes partners her with a wily fox who makes her job even harder.
‘The Salesman’ – A young couple living in Tehran, are forced to move into a new apartment after their old one is damaged. Their new place is still linked to an incident from the previous tenant that dramatically changes the couple’s life. It’s a quiet family drama to a low-key tale of revenge.
Honorable Mention: ‘Land of Mine’ tells the tale of a group of German POWs who are forced to dig up millions of landmines with their bare hands. Blurring the lines between justice and vengeance makes this film tight and suspenseful.
‘The Lobster’ – Colin Farrell lives in a future society where single people have 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into “The Woods”. After several romantic misadventures, Farrell makes daring escape to abandon this world, ultimately joining up with a rebel faction known as The Loners.
Honorable Mention: ‘Hell or High Water’ – Jeff Bridges? Sold! Nominated for BOTH Original Screenplay and Best Picture, the plot is pretty darn good too. Two brothers, one straight-living, the other a short-tempered ex-con, come together to rob every branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The goal is to take back a future that forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet.
For the first time in a while, the Best Picture category is full of really good, need-to-be-seen movies. For watercooler talk sake, these choices were based on popularity and reviews. (If you have the time, also definitely check out Arrival, Hidden Figures, Hacksaw Ridge, and Moonlight.)
‘La La Land’ – Aside from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling being super adorable, the script and soundtrack are equally attractive. An aspiring actress and a dedicated jazz musician struggle to get by while pursuing their dreams in a time and place that eats the weak alive; Los Angeles. It’s also a musical about everyday life asking what is more important, the limelight or the love of your life.
Honorable Mention: ‘Fences’ stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. That’s all you need to know. Also, Fences conveys the story of a sanitation worker who once dreamt of a pro baseball career, but is too old when the major leagues started accepting black players. His lost dream of glory eats at him and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart.