2016 Oscar Previews: Part 1

There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. Here is your guide to the nominees of this year’s Academy Awards. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game.


Best Picture Nominees 


 The Big Shortthe big shortDirected by: Adam McKay

Starring: Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale 

Story: In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting. Burry bets against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors’ money into credit default swaps. His actions attract the attention of banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men make a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

AFI – Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Christian Bale

Best Achievement in Directing – Adam McKay

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“The Big Short is the most educational, big budget film to come out of Hollywood in a long time. It is real, unapologetic, and upsetting in the best ways.”

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 81/100

IMDB: 7.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Cinelinx: 4.7/5.0

Interesting Facts: Christian Bale does not share any screen time with any of the other top-billed cast members. 


Bridge of Spies

bridge of spies

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan

Story: During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers’ only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man’s freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

AFI – Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Mark Rylance

Best Writing, Original Screenplay

Best Achievement Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Production Design

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“Bridge of Spies is simply Spielberg doing what Spielberg does best.”

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 81/100

IMDB: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Cinelinx: 4.3/5.0

Interesting Facts: The first Spielberg film not to be scored by John Williams since The Color Purple in 1985. 


Brooklyn Brooklyn

Directed by: John Crowley

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emery Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson

Story: An Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) in 1950s New York falls for a tough Italian plumber (Emory Cohen), but faces temptation from another man (Domhnall Gleeson) when she returns to her homeland for a visit.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

None

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Saoirse Ronan

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

What The Critics Said:

“Brooklyn is easily the year’s best and most beguiling love story.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone 

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 87/100

IMDB: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Interesting Facts: The city of Brooklyn in the film was actually shot in Montreal for budgeting reasons, as the production was unable to turn 2015 Brooklyn back to 1950’s Brooklyn.  


Mad Max: Fury Road mad max fury road 71527

Directed by: George Miller

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz 

Story: Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the despot’s five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a loner and former captive. Fortified in the massive, armored truck the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

SAG – Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

AFI – Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Achievement in Directing – George Miller

Best Achievement in Cinematography – John Seale

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Best Achievement in Production Design

What Our Critic Said: (read out review here)

“It’s a movie-going experience unlike anything you’ve seen in a long time that will both enthrall you and keep you thinking on its message long after you’ve left the theater.” 

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 89/100

IMDB: 8.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Cinelinx: 4.9/5.0

Interesting Facts: The guitar weighed 132lbs and shot real gas-powered flames, which were controlled using the whammy bar. 


The Martian the martian

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain

Story: When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globe – Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical 

Golden Globe – Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical

AFI – Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Matt Damon

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Best Achievement in Production Design

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“It’s a wonderful story with a lot of heart, great characters, stunning visuals and a lot to love.” 

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 80/100

IMDB: 8.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Cinelinx: 5.0/5.0

Interesting Facts: A real potato farm was installed on the studio lot with potatoes in all stages of growth so that they could be used for filming. 


The Revenant

the revenant fn01

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

Story: While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture, Drama

Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Drama

Golden Globes – Best Director, Motion Picture

SAG – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Tom Hardy

Best Achievement in Directing – Alejandro González Iñárritu

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Achievement in Sound Design

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Best Achievement in Production Design

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“The Revenant is a simultaneously harrowing and beautiful tale of revenge set against the theme of man versus nature.” 

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 76/100

IMDB: 8.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Cinelinx: 4.3/5.0

Interesting Facts: Chan-Wook Park was interested in directing an adaptation of the novel, and he wanted Samuel L. Jackson to star. 


Room 

room

Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen

Story: Held captive for years in an enclosed space, a woman (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

Golden Globe – Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

SAG – Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

AFI – Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Brie Larson

Best Achievement in Directing – Lenny Abrahamson 

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

What The Critics Said:

“It’s hard to think of a movie adaptation of a book that feels truer and more loyal to its source than Room.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic 

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 86/100

IMDB: 8.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Interesting Facts: Brie Larson claimed that she avoided washing her face while filming to really make clear on camera that she wasn’t wearing makeup. 


Spotlight Spotlight

Directed by: Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery 

Story: In 2001, editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

Biggest Awards Won so Far: 

SAG – Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

AFI – Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Mark Ruffalo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Rachel McAdams

Best Achievement in Directing – Tom McCarthy

Best Writing, Original Screenplay

Best Achievement in Film Editing

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“A great film gives us something to talk about besides just the actors or the scenery. A great film changes the way we approach our own lives, and Spotlight is one of those films.”  

Overall Critic Consensus: 

Metacritic: 93/100

IMDB: 8.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Cinelinx: 4.8/5.0

Interesting Facts: The real Michael Rezendes said, “Watching Mark Ruffalo reenact 5 months of my life was like looking into a funhouse mirror.” 


Check back Wednesday, February 10th for Part 2 of our Oscar Preview. 

For more Oscar-nominees, check out last year’s Oscars Previews here