Oscar Standouts from Last Year
The Big Short (2016)
Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Charles Randolph (screenplay), Adam McKay (screenplay), Michael Lewis (book)
Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt
Winner for best adapted screenplay, based on the book by Michael Lewis. How do you make a movie about financiers and the mid-2000’s housing bubble? 1.) Pick some characters and tell their stories. The four leads in The Big Short are all great. 2.) Don’t fear the occasional educational digression. (That link? NSFW due to a little language.)
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writers: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Based on the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the molestation scandal within the Catholic church, this movie was obvious Oscar bait. It won best picture and best original screenplay. It is a solidly written and acted movie, fairly compelling, but I thought The Big Short was probably more inventive in its storytelling.
Weren’t Oscar Contenders in Any Year
Black Sea (2014)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Writer: Dennis Kelly (screenplay)
Stars: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn
A submarine captain gathers a crew to plunder Nazi gold from a lost WWII sub. Man, this story, an undersea heist, had so much potential. Alas, this movie is the opposite of competence porn. From the very beginning, dumb decisions are made. The rest of the movie’s narrative is watching those dumb decisions play out.
Green Room (2015)
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, oh, and Patrick Stewart
I’ll admit, this is probably my favorite of these four films. A punk band ends up witnessing a crime at backwoods neo-Nazi club. This is pretty much a straight-up non-supernatural horror flick, but it’s well written and really well shot. A good deal of the film takes place in the club’s green room, a locale that is infinitely more claustrophobic than Black Sea’s submarines.