Best in Show
The Oscar-nominated movies you need to see
OK, people, it’s exactly one month before the biggest night of the year. We’re talking about the Oscars, that glorious night when Hollywood’s top brass honor the best movies of the year, and we get to watch Neil Patrick Harris announce presenters via sing-along. The nominations came out last week, and we’ve narrowed down the flicks you’ve got to see before February 22. Consider yourself the winner of that office pool.
Best Actress: Julianne Moore in "Still Alice"
A latecomer to the race, this film (which opened on Friday) about a college professor battling early-onset Alzheimer’s is both devastating and magnificent, thanks to Julianne Moore’s Best Actress-worthy performance. Moore has been nominated for an Oscar four times but has yet to take home the statue. This is her year.
Best Actor: Michael Keaton in "Birdman"
This dark satire about an aging actor struggling with his superhero past received a whopping nine nominations, including Emma Stone’s first ever (for Best Supporting Actress). Michael Keaton, who plays a washed-up movie star trying to reinvent himself as a serious stage actor, is favored to nab Best Actor.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern in "Wild"
If you still haven’t seen Wild, get thee to the movie theater ASAP. Both Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern scooped up nominations (for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively), and director Jean-Marc Vallée seems to have the golden touch: He also directed Dallas Buyers Club, which earned Oscars for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto last year.
Best Foreign Film: "Ida" (Poland)
Poland’s '60s-era drama about a novice nun who discovers a dark family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation is our favorite nomination in the Best Foreign Film category. At just 84 minutes, Ida doesn’t dabble in a ton of talk but gets straight to the point with chilling scenes shot entirely in black and white. Don’t worry if you can’t find it in theaters: It’s currently streaming on Amazon.
Best Picture: "Selma"
Though Ava DuVernay’s masterpiece about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s epic march from Selma to Montgomery was snubbed in the Best Director and Best Actor categories, Selma still received a nomination for Best Picture. It takes place 50 years ago but feels hauntingly relevant in 2015. We love that the film is being screened for free at the Selma Walton Theater in Selma, Alabama.
Best Documentary: "Citizen Four"
This covertly shot movie about whistleblower Edward Snowden is a shoo-in for Best Documentary. In June 2013, filmmaker/journalist Laura Poitras traveled to Hong Kong after receiving a series of bizarre emails from someone claiming to have proof that the American government was spying on citizens. Shot when Snowden was still an unknown, Citizen Four is a cross between All the President’s Men and The Fugitive--and somehow crazier than both.
Best Director: Wes Anderson for "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Wes Anderson’s wistful film about a 1930s European ski resort and its wildly absurd staff is tied with Birdman for most Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay among them). After opening in the U.S. this spring, The Grand Budapest Hotel is returning to select theaters through the end of February. See it for no other reason than all the ritzy details: magenta bellhop uniforms, old ladies dripping in diamonds and a concierge who caters to guests’, um, every need.
Best Director: Richard Linklater for "Boyhood"
Best Director nominee Richard Linklater shot Boyhood over 12 years, which alone is an award-worthy feat. The film follows Mason, an adorable 6-year-old who morphs into an 18-year-old leaving for college right before our eyes. Boyhood’s simple premise--chronicling an ordinary childhood in real time--is what makes it so touching, not to mention the stellar performances by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (who both received Best Supporting nominations for their work).