And the Oscar goes to…

Posted on February 3, 2016

by Jessica H

The 88th annual Academy Awards are fast approaching and the 2016 nominations are in, so let the great debate begin!

Check out this year’s nominations for Best Picture and see how they stack up in the great Oscar tradition. Time to make the decision!

The Big ShortTitle: “The Big Short
Director: Adam McKay
Screenplay: Charles Randolph & Adam McKay
MPAA Rating: R
Genres: Biography Drama
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling, this film based upon a novel features the antics of makeshift financial gurus playing for fortune by hedging bets against the big banking institutions during the 2005 U.S housing crisis. Check out the novel The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
Bridge of SpiesTitle: “Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Matt Charman & Ethan Coen
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genres: Biography Drama Thriller
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Based upon true events, starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, and Alan Alda, this cold war film chronicles an American lawyer’s involvement in the negotiation of a prisoner-of-war exchange.
BrooklynTitle: “Brooklyn
Director: John Crowley
Screenplay: Nick Hornby (screenplay) & Colin Tobin (novel)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genres: Romance Drama
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Synopsis: Based on a novel by Colin Tobin, this film stars Saoirse Ronan as an Irish-immigrant in 1950’s Brooklyn who must reconcile her old world and new world while finding her niche. Check out the novel Brooklyn by Colin Tobin.
Mad Max: Fury RoadTitle: “Mad Max: Fury Road
Director: George Miller
Screenplay: George Miller & Brendan McCarthy
MPAA Rating: R
Genres: Sci-fi Action & Adventure
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Synopsis: Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and Nicholas Hoult in a post-apocalyptic world of chaos, this film traces a journey to restore order against the odds.
The MartianTitle: “The Martian
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Drew Goddard (screenplay) & Andy Weir (novel)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genres: Sci-fi Adventure & Drama
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Synopsis: Starring Matt Damon as an astronaut left behind on Mars after a mission gone array, this film tracks one man’s resilience as he vies for survival in the fight against time. Check out the novel “The Martian” by Andy Weir.
Title: “The Revenant
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith & Alejandro González Iñárritu
Genres: Adventure Drama & Thriller
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray.
Synopsis: Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman in the 1820′s who is left behind in the great American wilderness, this films portrays one man’s lone strife against nature and fierce elements for his own survival. Based partly upon Michael Punke’s novel “The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge.”
The RoomTitle: Room
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Screenplay: Based upon the novel by Emma Donoghue
MPAA Rating: R Genres: Drama
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Synopsis: Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, this film tells the story of a mother and son’s life-altering journey unlike any before as they venture into the real world together for the first time. Check out the novel “Room” by Emma Donoghue.
SpotlightTitle: “Spotlight
Director: Tom McCarthy
Screenplay: Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
MPAA Rating: R
Genres: Biography Drama & History
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Synopsis: Based on the true story of the Boston Globe’s investigative reporter team, “Spotlight,” as they dig deep into a cover-up that rattles the halls of the Archdioceses, this film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams.

The 88th annual Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, February 28, 2016 on ABC starting at 7 pm (Eastern Time). Who’s going to take home the Oscar? Your guess is as good as mine.

Let’s check out how this year’s nominees stack up next to the winners of the last five years …


In 2015, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” won the Oscar for best picture at the 87th Academy Awards. It also won for director, original screenplay and cinematography.

“Challenges, surprises and dazzles while still working at the edges of a frazzled mind.” – Detroit News

“A jaw-dropping stylistic wow that spins, pirouettes, turns inside out, and miraculously stays aloft for two hours.” – Boston Globe

If you’d like to check out Birdman, directed by Alejandro G. In̋árritu, it is available at your local library in the following formats: DVD and Blu-ray.

12 Years a SlaveIn 2014, “12 Years a Slave” took top honors at the 86th Academy Awards and Lupita Nyong’o took home an Oscar for her supporting role in the film.

“The film is both brutal to watch and stunning to contemplate, powerfully challenging audiences – particularly white audiences – to examine their consciences.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“One of the best and most courageous films of the year.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If you’d like to check out 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, it is available at your local library in the following formats: DVD and Blu-ray.

ArgoIn 2013, at the 85th Academy Awards, “Argo” took the best picture Oscar.

“It’s a well-told story that’s timely, topical and thoroughly entertaining.” – Toronto Star

“It’s serious and substantive, an ingeniously written and executed drama fashioned from a fascinating, little-known chapter of recent history.” – Washington Post

If you’d like to check out Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, it is available at your local library in the following formats: DVD and Blu-ray.

The ArtistIn 2012, Christopher Plummer’s “The Artist” takes the Best Picture Oscar at the 84th Academy Awards and also generates the winning Best Actor and Best Director.

“It isn’t arty or intellectual, though it is artful and ingenious, and it’s the rare crowd-pleaser that never feels obvious or pandering.”– Newsday

“The Artist is the most surprising and delightful film of 2011.”– Detroit News

If you’d like to check out The Artist, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, it is available at your local library in the following formats: DVD and Blu-ray.

The King's SpeechIn 2011, “The King’s Speech” wins out at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. The film gave rise to the year’s Best Actor and Best Director winners as well.

“The King’s Speech is the rare work of art that’s also an immense crowd pleaser.”– New York Post

“The King’s Speech is the epitome of prestige cinema, an impeccably crafted and emotionally compelling drama that deserves the many laurels it surely will receive.”– St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If you’d like to check out “The King’s Speech,” directed by Tom Hooper, it is available at your local library in the following formats: DVD and Blu-ray.

Interested in Cinematic History?

Be on the lookout for these informative books on the history of motion pictures …

Bright boulevards, bold dreams - the story of Black Hollywood by Donald Bogle The Story of Film by mark Cousins We've Gotta Have It - Twenty Years of Seeing Black at the Movies, 1986-2006 by Esther Iverem
The Big Screen - The Story of the Movies by David Thomson Movies as History - Scenes of America, 1930-1970 by Marie L. Aquila Not To Be Missed - Fifty-Four Favorites From a Lifetime of Film by Kenneth Turan A Hidden History of Film Style - Cinematographers, Directors, and the Collaborative Process by Christopher Beach

What about World Cinema?

Directory of world cinema. American Hollywood. 2 / edited by Lincoln Geraghty
Directory of world cinema. India / edited by Adam Bingham
Directory of world cinema. China 2 / edited by Gary Bettinson
Directory of world cinema. Australia & New Zealand 2 / edited by Ben Goldsmith, Mark David Ryan and Geoff Lealand
Directory of world cinema. Latin America / edited by Isabel Maurer Queipo
Directory of world cinema. Germany 2 / edited by Michelle Langford
Directory of world cinema. Volume 15, France / [edited by] Tim Palmer and Charlie Michael
Directory of world cinema. South Korea / edited by Colette Balmain

What about the National Film Registry?

These Amazing Shadows (PBS) - directed by Paul Mariano and Kurt NortonHow about a documentary on the subject? PBS’s 2011 documentary These Amazing Shadows explains the history and importance of the National Film Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and the American experience itself.

“American film really transformed the way in which a young nation learned to express itself, express its exuberance, expose its problems, and reflect its hopes. It wasn’t simply a form of entertainment; it was living history — audio-visual history of the 20th century.”– James Billington, the Librarian of Congress

If you’d like to check out These Amazing Shadows, directed by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton, it’s available at your local library in the following formats: DVD and Blu-ray. And don’t forget to take a look at the National Film Registry website for some fascinating info!

Featured Image Credit: Getting set for the Academy Awards on Hollywood Boulevard by Loren Javier via Flickr, published under the terms of a Creative Commons License.

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