Oscar Films that Belong on your Watchlist

By Nina Franco

Last Sunday, February 27th, a lot of us tuned in on our dorm room televisions, streamed off our laptops, or caught up in common rooms to the 89th Academy Awards, better known as “The Oscars”. You probably watched just because it is a quintessential American thing; I mean who doesn’t love a good three-hour award show?

In reality, you probably listened to three hours of winners from various categories whose films you have never heard of. La La Land was the only movie that probably rang a bell. Why? Because—A. Ryan Gosling, B. It’s advertisements interrupted your Spotify jam session, or C. Please refer to “A”. Nevertheless, you probably just went on with your life figuring you didn’t need to watch any “Oscar worthy” movies because Netflix released Finding Dory. However, just remember some of your favorite movies, The Titanic, Gone with the Wind, Good Will Hunting, Footloose, have won an Oscar. So, who knows, maybe one of the best movies of 2016 will be your favorite…

(Note: All winners are not featured, these are just some of my top picks)

 1.  Fences

IMDb ranks this film a 7.4 out of 10 and the film led actress, Viola Davis to receive an Oscar for “Best Supporting Actress”. The film, set in the 1950s, follows Troy Maxson, a working-class African American, as he struggles with deep inter-personal conflict while, trying to support his family at the same time. “What is most remarkable about this film is how thoroughly — how painfully, how honestly, how beautifully — it answers the question ‘What about my life?’,” said A.O. Scott of The New York Times. Fences was originally a play by August Wilson adapted for the big screen; Viola Davis played the same character, Rose Maxson, in the 2010 Broadway production as she played on-screen in 2016. It is easy to see Davis’ deep connection with her character throughout the movie and to that she gave credit to her father, Dan Davis, “the original Troy”, whose story she said on-stage Sunday, “…deserved to be told—and August Wilson told it.”

Courtesy of The A.V. Club

 2.  Zootopia

 If you are looking for something more light-hearted and funny ,and are a fan of animated classics like, Finding Nemo and Up, Zootopia is the movie for you. This Walt Disney film scored an 8.1 out of 10 on IMDb and took home “Best Animated Feature Film” at the Oscars. According to Rolling Stone, “The last thing you’d expect from a new Disney animated marshmallow is balls. But, hot damn, Zootopia comes ready to party hard.” This movie isn’t strictly reserved for children under twelve like the kid’s menu at your favorite restaurant, it has a storyline for all ages with a tribute to feminism along the way. “Zootopia” is a city reserved for animals only, from elephants to shrews. Ginnifer Goodwin voices the lead rabbit, Judy Hopps, who struggles to prove herself as being the only rabbit on the police force with one brave mission. Zootopia is easy to find because it was recently added to Netflix so, take a study break this week and give it a go.

Courtesy of CBR Trailers

3. Manchester by the Sea

 Despite being the most depressing movie of the year, this was most definitely Casey Affleck’s breakout role. Matt Damon gave up his role in this film to childhood friend, Casey and boy did he make the right decision in doing so. Affleck takes the role of a loner janitor from Quincy and despite, the wrongs he has committed in the past, humanizes him kind of like a Sean Penn gig in Dead Man Walking. The film is sad, but you won’t be bored as the film tackles complex issues such as, alcoholism, death, relationships, and tragedy. In my personal opinion, this film deserves way more than the 8 stars IMDb gave it. It is mysterious, real, and “truly superb” according to, 500 Days of Film. Highly recommend putting this one at the top of your watchlist.

Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post

4. La La Land

 “Best Motion Picture of the Year”, just kidding, that was reserved for Moonlight. While, Moonlight was deserving of the award, La La Land was certainly a tough competitor. This film was so good, I saw and twice, and the second time I forced my dad to see it with me despite not being a big fan of musicals. The film was a light compared to the dark films that accompanied it in its category. The film dared to challenge dreamers to get out and accomplish their goals instead, of tackling something heavy like, same-sex relationships, immigration, or poverty. Not to say none of those things matter, it was just like La La Land was a glimmer of hope in our ever-changing world. It is so much more than a jazz pianist falling for an aspiring actress, it is two people deciding between their aspirations and their love for each other. Emma Stone’s performance of the song “Audition” (check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWBPGgaTxx4) might as well be the whole reason you tune into this film in the first place.

Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes 

5. Moonlight

 The actual “Best Motion Picture of the Year”! Moonlight did more than spur a series of memes of celebrities shocking expressions at the Academy Awards when it was announced the real winner, it touched hearts. The plotline is described as gritty, but it is on point in depicting poverty in Miami, Florida during the infamous “War on Drugs”. We have seen a young cowboy come out as gay in Brokeback Mountain, but Moonlight gives viewers insight on growing up black and gay in a time period known for notoriously attacking the African American community. Black-American Chiron struggles with so much in his personal life that 98% of students on this campus couldn’t comprehend at all and as viewers are taken through his life journey, they are guided in his shoes through the bullying, poverty, and at-home abuse, and soon realize that Chiron is not alone in this, there are so many other children in today’s society dealing with the same issues.

Courtesy of The Fader

6. Lion

The next film on my IMDb watchlist about a man trying to find his way back home from Australia all the way to the streets of Calcutta. Dev Patel is said to have given a stunning performance of Saroo Brierly whose life story actually shaped the film. While the movie did not win any Oscars it was nominated for six and Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Hollywood’s newest Jacob Trembley, Sunny Pawar all gave compelling performances. Now, if you excuse me I am off to watch “…this wonderfully casted tearjerker about a man who searched for his birth family across a continent…” (Common Sense Media).


Courtesy of The Pulse 88.7