Four Oscar Buzz Films to Watch Over J-Term

Tara Coughlin ’19, Staff Writer
Catherine Ellsberg ’16, Staff Writer

“Brooklyn”

Saoirse Ronan shines in John Crowley’s nostalgic “Brooklyn,” based on Colm Tóibín’s acclaimed novel of the same name. Ronan stars as Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant who comes to Brooklyn in the 1950s. However, Crowley’s movie is not so much a period piece as it is a glowing reverie; the meticulous costuming and sets evoke a very particular time and place. As Eilis, Ronan carefully conveys the first months of brutal homesickness – having arrived in Brooklyn without friends or family – before meeting Tony (Emory Cohen). Tony and Eilis’s budding relationship unfolds with the slow and dazzling rhythm of an old bedtime or family story – familiar and timeless. Ronan dazzles throughout; if for nothing else, see the film for her performance.

“The Revenant”

Rarely has a film held such promise for its lead actor to receive what is now dubbed an “overdue” Oscar. Nominated four times over his 26 year career, Leonardo DiCaprio still remains trophy-less: his continued losses inspiring countless Tumblr memes in the process. Coasting after the success of “Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance,” Alejandro Iñárritu’s ambitious American epic is based on the true story of Hugh Glass. A frontiersman in the 1800s, Glass was left for dead after a brutal bear attack, and the film details his survival and quest for vengeance against those who abandoned him. Despite the hellish, nearly yearlong shoot, multiple filming locations and a ballooning budget that reached $95 million, this film certainly looks like it will be one of the best films of the year. With stunning cinematography, a stark atmosphere and the promise of some truly outstanding performances, this may not only be a Best Actor winner for DiCaprio, but a Best Picture winner.

“Spotlight”

Thomas McCarthy’s drama “Spotlight” has hit the festival circuit with incredible success and has already been vetted as a Best Picture contender.  The ensemble cast features, among others, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber and Michael Keaton, all of whom portray Boston Globe reporters uncovering the child molestation scandal within the Catholic Church. As many critics have noted, “Spotlight” carefully and effectively creates the atmosphere of a newsroom – often drab and awash in overhead lighting. The film also succeeds in capturing both the excitement and horror of uncovering the case, which turns out to be far bigger than any of the journalists initially expected.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Every trailer and featurette for the upcoming “Star Wars” film seems to flash an invisible tagline, “Not directed by George Lucas.” The seventh installment in the space opera saga rides on astronomically high hopes and expectations considering the mass disappointment of the series’ prequels. I would not blame J.J. Abrams if he retired from directing after taking on this project. However, precautions for success have been taken! With a cast both of talented unknowns and veterans, such as Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, plus practical effects, authentic locations and a strong sense of reverence for the original trilogy, we are looking at one of the biggest resuscitations of a film franchise ever seen. For better or for worse, it will certainly be a landmark in film history.

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