With the Grammy Awards just behind us, many film and entertainment addicts are turning an eye toward the upcoming Academy Awards, which will be hosted on March 2nd by the notoriously funny comedienne, Ellen DeGeneres. Dozens of high-profile nominations are on the table, with Judi Dench, Sandra Bullock, and Meryl Streep all competing for the Best Actress title this year. As always, there are a few films that have secured places within multiple Oscar nomination categories. Watching these five movies will be integral to your Academy Awards experience, so make sure to hit up your local theater and catch up!
12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Soloman Northrup’s 1853 memoir captures the American slave narrative with stunning accuracy and detail. The film crew consulted with Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Research to make sure that they could honor Northrup’s experience within the film and its marketing materials. “12 Years a Slave” is in the running for nine different Oscar categories, including best picture, best director (Steve McQueen), best actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o). Viewers will get an honest and hard look at an extremely cruel period in United State history, painting a picture that we don’t typically see within traditional textbooks.
This science fiction thriller will totally creep you out, even if you don’t choose to watch it in 3D. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play the lead roles as Dr. Ryan Stone and Lt. Matt Kowalski respectively. This flick will have you on the edge of your seat, with its stunning and isolating shots of outer space, and the eerie silence that punctuates it. “Gravity” is on the table for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, best music, and best cinematography. Make sure to get your dose of heart-pounding space exploration action before the ceremony.
This comedic drama will boost your spirits, as you follow con artists Irving Rosenfield (played by Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (played by Amy Adams) through their exploits in 1970’s New Jersey. Jennifer Lawrence fans will be pleased to see the actress appear on screen as Rosenfield’s wild and volatile wife. Those who enjoyed the mischievous style of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2002 role as Frank Abignale in “Catch Me If You Can” might find the same thrills in “American Hustle.” Like “Gravity,” this film has also been nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best original screenplay, best actor, best actress, and best costume design.
Dallas Buyers Club
This film tackles the struggle of a marginalized demographic during the 1980s – those diagnosed as HIV positive. This film is based on the experiences of Ron Woodroof, a Dallas-based electrician who began a smuggling operation between Texas and Mexico, providing non-FDA regulated drugs to patients desperate for an effective treatment. At the time of his diagnosis, Woodroof discovered that the current approved HIV treatments could do very little to extend patients’ lives. This film has been nominated for 6 awards, including best actor, best picture, best film editing, and best makeup and hairstyling.
Joaquin Phoenix surprised moviegoers and tech fanatics in this surprisingly emotional tale of a man who falls in love with an operating system. While this premise might initially seem ridiculous, it does raise questions about human interaction, emotion, and individuality, especially as artificial intelligence becomes more complex. This Spike Jonze film has been nominated for five Oscars, including best picture and best screenplay. Her is also a critic favorite, receiving multiple ballot votes from film writers at The New York Times.
Once you’ve caught up on these must-see films, start prepping for an Academy Awards party. Plan out your snacks, party tricks, and games to keep you occupied during the commentary and commercial breaks. These festivities will be sure to keep you and your guests amped as the Oscar winners are announced.