Opinion: Who Should Win the Best Picture Oscar?

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By: Dan Buser

Actor Adam Driver, left, actress Daisy Ridley, second from left, actor John Boyega, second from right, and director J.J. Abrams pose for the media during a press conference for their new movie "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. The movie is to be released in South Korea on Dec. 17. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Actor Adam Driver, left, actress Daisy Ridley, second from left, actor John Boyega, second from right, and director J.J. Abrams pose for the media during a press conference for their new movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. The movie is to be released in South Korea on Dec. 17. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

2015 has come and gone. With it another year of movies from blockbuster hits like Star Wars and The Avengers to intensely emotional stories like Spotlight and Room. Now the awards season is upon us but still the question remains: who will win the Oscar for best picture? In the eyes of most, it’s a 3 horse race, giving a slight edge to Spotlight, The Revenant, and the The Big Short. Now this is the part where you, the reader, get to read my humble opinion on all eight nominees and where they fall in the race.

Brooklyn comes in at number eight. Brooklyn tells a effective but simple story about a young Irish immigrant learning how to live in America. There’s really not a lot to say about Brooklyn; other than that I’m surprised it got nominated at all. Brooklyn is by no means a bad movie. It has a simple but entertaining story, great acting, and stellar direction. However it never escapes the feeling that we’ve been here and done this a few too many times before. Ultimately making perhaps one of the best made but ultimately forgettable movies ever.

At number seven we have Room. Room was one of the most gripping movies I have seen all year. The story of a mom and her child having to live in one room since he was born provided unparalleled emotional tension.  It has an amazing breakthrough performance from Brie Larson as “Ma” and a talented young new director in Lenny Abrahamson. Room’s only shortcoming is that it lacks the size and scope of its fellow competitors. It’s not a flaw but it does keep it from ranking higher.

With Steven Spielberg behind the camera and Tom Hanks headlining as the star, it would have been hard for Bridge of Spies not to get the academy’s attention. It tells an incredible true story set during the cold war that manages to excite the viewer throughout its entire run time. It has great performances from both Hanks and Mark Rylance. Bridge of Spies is terrific the whole way through; however, it does not have the lasting impact like the other films.

Director, Ridley Scott was due for another good movie. Luckily, The Martian is far better than good due to a great performance by Matt Damon. The Robinson Crusoe in space story came off perfectly. Additionally, the special effects were some of the most impressive this year. The dialogue is funny, emotional, and gripping and was rounded out by a great supporting cast. That consist of old Hollywood names and new rising stars including Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Peña.

In this Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 photo, actor Michael Keaton, left, and writer/director Thomas McCarthy pose for a portrait during press day for "Spotlight" at The Four Seasons, in Los Angeles. The movie opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

In this Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 photo, actor Michael Keaton, left, and writer/director Thomas McCarthy pose for a portrait during press day for “Spotlight” at The Four Seasons, in Los Angeles. The movie opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

Spotlight was the most difficult film I watched all year. It took an unflinching look at the sexual abuse scandal in the archdiocese of Boston and the people who helped uncover it. Not everyone is going to be able to enjoy Spotlight. In fact at times it was almost unejoyable. However no one can deny that Spotlight is a tight movie the whole way through from the direction to a brilliant ensemble cast and the unnerving realism that it portrays.

Leonardo Dicaprio may finally get his oscar in the third ranked movie, The Revenant. The Revenant is far from a one trick pony, with Dicaprio giving a stand up performance as a father looking to avenge his son and Tom Hardy delivering one of his most grounded performances yet as the main antagonist of the film. Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer, deserves a special mention, for the third year in the row he has made the best looking film of the year. Finally, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu needs mentioned for his commitment to excellence. Filming with all natural light and blizzard-like conditions gave this movie an added sense of realism, which is rarely seen in such an ambitious project. The Revenant gambled big, and it hit the jackpot.                

The Big Short was a tragedy about the 2007 stock market collapse that turned into a comedy. It was one of the most genuinely funny movies all year. Great performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carell gave the characters personalities and issues worth caring about. The Big Short goes to great lengths to be accurate and easy to understand. It openly admits that the technical terms used in the movie are not known to the everyday man. Therefore director Adam Mckay simply stops the movie and explains what the audience need to know about the 2007 financial crisis. The Big Short is the most approachable movie nominated this year and is an incredibly enjoyable watch, which is ultimately what pushes The Big Short to number two.       

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron pose for photographers during a photo call for the film Mad Max : Fury Road, at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron pose for photographers during a photo call for the film Mad Max : Fury Road, at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

In the age of superhero and watered downed over CG’d action movies, Mad Max: Fury Road was a breath of fresh air. The Mad Max franchise came roaring back with Tom Hardy taking over the reins as the titular character, Max. This movie does so much right. Director George Miller used over 80% practical effects with real cars, stuntman, and explosions that gave this movie a real sense of grit. It would also be criminal not to bring up Charlize Theron’s role as the female heroine. Fury Road understands that females can be action heroes but the script is smart enough to show us that she is a hero. At no part does she have to prove she’s an action hero, she’s just something almost unheard of in the action genre. Fury Road is a smart action movie that understands its audience. There is a strong case to be made that Fury Road is the best action movie ever made, and in my humble opinion, the best picture of the year.     

So there you have it. It was a great year for movies of all shapes and sizes. It’s important to note that this list is not predictions of who will win the Oscars rather simply what I personally thought about this year’s nominees. One can only hope that 2016 will have such an impressive lineup of movies.