A searing and intelligent drama packed with engaging performances from an all-star cast–among them Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber–this probable Best Picture frontrunner follows the team of Boston Globe investigative journalists who first exposed widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
Though it’s tempting to dismiss this movie as three hours of Leonardo DiCaprio wandering around a forest searching for an Oscar, it’s a gripping and gruelling western about a man (DiCaprio) who sets out on a vengeance mission after being left for dead by his friends. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who just triumphed at last year’s Oscars with Birdman, The Revenant is one of this year’s strongest contenders.
It’s official–the Academy loves space. Or at least they love movies about people trying to survive in space. Two years on from Gravity, The Martian features a similarly remarkable performance from Matt Damon, who plays a plucky botanist stranded on Mars after his team leaves him for dead. Thrilling, witty and heartfelt, it’s a near-perfect blockbuster.
Bridge of Spies
Steven Spielberg’s gripping Cold War-era historical thriller reunites him with Tom Hanks–the duo have previously found Oscar success together with Saving Private Ryan and Catch Me If You Can. Hanks stars as a lawyer who’s tasked with negotiating a prisoner exchange between the US and the Soviet Union.
The Big Short
Putting a blackly comic spin on the 2007 financial crisis, The Big Short follows four people–among them a hedge fund manager played by Christian Bale and a trader played by Ryan Gosling–who all see the crash coming. Their various reactions make for a fascinating and scathing portrait of the financial industry.
Though its premise may sound bleak–a woman raising her young son inside the shed where she’s been held captive for years–Room is as life-affirming as it is harrowing. Led by powerhouse performances from Brie Larsen and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay, it’s a gripping survival story, a fascinating exploration of trauma and the love between mother and son.
Saoirse Ronan stars in this rich period drama as a young Irish woman who immigrates to 1950s Brooklyn in search of a better life, and becomes torn between her past and her future. One of the most critically acclaimed films of last year, Brooklyn earned a standing ovation at Sundance to foreshadow its Oscar glory.
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Academy are well known for largely ignoring action movies, but Mad Max is a startling exception this year. Hailed as the most unexpectedly feminist movie of the year, it’s an adrenalin-laced thrill ride following apocalypse survivor Max (Tom Hardy) who joins forces with a gang of women led by certified badass Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who are fleeing a sadistic cult leader.