5 Things: Best Picture Edition.

Lots of my favorite bloggers do a variation on "5 Things Friday," or "Friday's 5." I think it's such a fun little capsule into whatever they're talking about, so I thought I'd give it a try. I know you're simply dying to hear my opinions about film, so all I can say is, you're welcome.  

This Friday's topic: Best Picture nominated films - See It or Skip It? 

1. The Big Short

Trailer: Here

Who's in it? The cast alone is kind of unbeatable: Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale. Wanna see it yet? Thought so.

What's it about? This movie is based on Michael Lewis' book of the same name. It takes a detailed look into the housing crisis of 2007, and follows a few guys in the financial field who actually predicted and profited from the ultimate demise of the American economy. 

See it or skip it? See it. Absolutely. This is such a smart, sometimes hilarious movie that doesn't assume you know anything about the housing crash. Every detail that's necessary for your understanding is explained in layman's terms (sometimes by actual celebrities who have cameos, like Selena Gomez and Margot Robbie). It is extremely entertaining and will probably melt your brain. You'll walk out of the movie feeling overwhelmed by how bad things were allowed to get, but you'll also feel very in-the-know.  

2. Bridge of Spies

Trailer: Here


Who's in it? Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, and a whole bunch of folks you've never heard of. 

What's it about? WHOA. Okay. So. Tom Hanks plays a real guy, James Donovan, who was an insurance lawyer in New York. In the heart of the Cold War, Donovan is tapped to negotiate the prisoner exchange between a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel (Rylance) and a young American pilot who was captured in Soviet territory overseas. The CIA wants Donovan to do a sub-par job defending Abel, but Donovan is loyal to the Constitution and has a moral compass that points due north. The movie follows his attempts to do right by his client as he's hated by the American public for doing so and follows his journey to the belly of the beast - East Berlin - in hopes of a successful negotiation. 

See it or skip it? See it. This is an extremely compelling movie that will have you on the edge of your seat, then make you want to get up on your seat, fist pump, and scream, "AMERICA!!!" by the end. The scenes in East Berlin are especially gripping. 

3. Steve Jobs

Trailer: Here

Who's in it? Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels. 

What's it about? Anyone with a brain stem has heard of Steve Jobs, and probably has also heard of his reputation for being a relatively terrible person. The film is divided into thirds, and the action in each third takes places in the hours before Steve Jobs takes the stage to reveal the newest Apple toy. You get a glimpse into his professional life and relationships, and into his personal life and relationship with his estranged daughter and ex-wife. 

See it or skip it? Skip it. I was so excited to see this movie, and left feeling really disappointed. Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels are both masterful in their portrayals, and Michael Fassbender is solid as well, but the story is not terribly compelling, and the end of the movie really serves to absolve Steve Jobs of all his personal failures. The man was a genius, but I don't think he also needs to be deified for being a good person when he wasn't one. And I know I'm in the minority here, but I can't deal with Aaron Sorkin dialogue. It gives me a headache. Save your popcorn money, but keep your fingers crossed that Kate Winslet gets that Oscar. Girlfriend deserves it. 

4. Spotlight

Trailer: Here

Who's in it?  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James.

What's it about? The Boston Globe has a special section, Spotlight, for long-term investigative reporting. When the paper comes under new leadership in 2001, the Spotlight team is charged with investigating a story about a priest who was more or less let off the hook for molesting a child. In Boston, where the readership is largely Catholic, this team starts quietly digging around and uncovers a scandal that rocked the worldwide Catholic Church in a major way.  

See it or skip it? See it. This movie deals with subject matter that, if they'd handled it in a different way, could have been lewd and extremely unsavory. Though there are definitely some cringe-worthy stories told by victims of molestation, they're all told for the sake of good reporting, and that's what the movie is about: good reporting. Fine acting by all involved, but particularly by Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, and Rachel McAdams, who totally holds her own among a pack of older, seasoned actors.  

5. The Martian

Trailer: Here

Who's in it? Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, 

What's it about? Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut who is accidentally left behind on Mars - his crew thinks he's dead. He has supplies to survive about a month, and has to survive for four years on a barren planet. The movie follows his attempts to feed and take care of himself, but also his attempts to make contact with Earth and design a rescue mission. 

See it or skip it? See it, and see it with your whole family. This movie is fun, smart, brave, and exciting, down to the very last seconds. In the kind of holy Trinity of space movies in the last few years (Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian), The Martian is the only one that I would see again. I loved Interstellar deeply, but watching it took years off my life. The Martian added them back. It's delightful, it's gripping, it's science-y (Jordan LOVED. IT.), it's a great story of the power of the human spirit. And I've heard the book is even better. Killer cinematography and special effects. It shouldn't win Best Picture, but it is a fantastic watch. And another triumph this year for Jeff Daniels, noted badass. 

Academy award nominated movies I haven't seen but intend to: Room, The Revenant, Brooklyn, The Danish Girl, Carol, Trumbo. 
AAN Movies I have seen, didn't review, and recommend: Joy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Cinderella, Ex Machina, Inside Out. 

Dying to know your thoughts. Have you seen these? Do you agree? Have you seen any of the ones I haven't seen? Any I should skip? Tell me tell me tell me. 

Have a wonderful weekend, people! Hope you do lots of movie-watching, especially if you're due to have weather like we are.