Too cold outside? Let the glow of the silver screen keep you warm with these recommendations and thoughts about some of this year’s biggest names in film.
If you’re looking for something to keep you busy while you’re stuck inside this winter or to distract you from the fact that the sun sets by 5 pm, watching some of the year’s best films might be just what you need. What to watch, you might ask? May we suggest asking the experts? And by experts, we mean the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who just last week, released its nominations for this year’s Oscars. The award show will air Sunday, February 24th, so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up on the films vying for one of the industry’s highest honors.
The Foreign Film Surprise
“Bohemian Rhapsody", which accrued $798 million at the box office, was no shock when it appeared several times on the nomination list, but perhaps a much bigger surprise to viewers across the board was the success of the film, “Roma". Despite premiering on Netflix last year during the month of November, ,any had not heard of the foreign film until it generated buzz by winning an Academy Award a few weeks ago.
It was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who you might remember as directing the 2013 film, “Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock. His most recent nomination is for a film starkly different from the CGI-filled sci-fi epic, instead playing heavily on his childhood experiences and focusing on the day-to-day moments of Cleo, a housemaid in the title suburb of Mexico City. The black and white film received an impressive 10 nominations, including the coveted Best Picture award, tying it for first place with “The Favourite" for most nominations this year. Roma’s other nominations: Best Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Best Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Production Design.
Snubs you Should Still Watch
Of course, the Oscar nominations are not and end-all, be-all of good movies, and sometimes the academy misses out on some of the films we find incredibly heartwarming. One such film this year was “Eighth Grade", directed by Bo Burnham. The comedian-turned-director leaned heavily into his own experiences as a super-awkward and socially anxious eighth grader to create this film, concerning a 13-year-old girl who vlogs her way through surviving her early teenage years. The relevant and relatable part here, regardless of how distant a memory middle school might be, is how honestly the film portrays anxiety in day-to-day interactions. This unease is largely related to the pressures of presenting a perfect life on social media, but the film avoids regressively pointing fingers at the technology itself.
On a more lighthearted note, many fans of Britain’s favorite talking teddy were wondering why the popular and cheerful “Paddington 2" was left without a single Oscar nod. Many were expecting a bit more for the film, especially since it already received three BAFTA nominations and is Rotten Tomatoes’ best reviewed film. This is just one piece of the larger conversation about the role of popular films – and if they have a place at the Oscars. After all, fan favorites are left off the list every single year in favor of perhaps more obscure and less accessible pieces.
Although most fan favorites didn’t make the cut, a notable exception was the inclusion of “Black Panther" among the nominees for Best Picture, widely considered the most prestigious award given out at the ceremony. The inclusion of “Black Panther" is notable for several reasons – first off, it’s the first ever superhero movie to be included as a nominee in the category, but perhaps more importantly, it was part of the group of five (or eight) Best Picture nominees that star people of color. It is joined by “BlacKkKlansman", “Bohemian Rhapsody", “Green Book", and “Roma", meaning that this year marks the largest number of nominees starring non-white actors in Oscar history (there were only five nominees per year prior to 2010).
Representation among Oscar nominees has been a subject of much discussion, especially after the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite" began trending in 2016. Many also expressed discontent at the lack of female representation in the film industry, and this year, women represent only a quarter of nominees in non-gender specific categories. There is still room for improvement, but it is encouraging to see a much more diverse group honored in this year’s nominations list.