Oscars 2016: The Martian (2015) and Brooklyn (2015)
With the Oscars right around the corner I take a look at The Martian and Brooklyn to see what their chances might be.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Drew Goddard (Screenplay), Andy Weird (Book)
Stars: Matt Damon (Mark Watney), Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig
The Martian opens with one of the most rushed and un-necessary sequences I have ever seen in a film. Disaster strikes these astronauts that you have no emotional connection or care for to set-up the abandoning of Matt Damon‘s character Mark Watney. Starting with his coming back from the dead would have been much more effective in my opinion. Or at least that’s what I thought at first, as my expectations for this film was that it was a serious drama about survival on Mars. It turns out that, while there are some fantastic sci-fi tension-filled scenes, the Golden Globes were right in labelling this a comedy first and foremost. Damon is a snarky, quippy, unlikable hero who we never see struggle or face true danger. This is coupled with a cheesy Hollywood vibe that clashes with the dramatic narrative. I’d much have prefered to have seen events unfold just from Watney’s perspective as we see the pain and isolation that he has to face, with more scenes like the one where he has to perform surgery on himself, which is directed wonderfully and reminds me of Ridley Scott‘s much more stylised and original film Alien (1979). The Martian simply does not compare to this masterpiece, or Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar (2014). I would not recommend you waste your time with this piece of Hollywood guff.
Director: John Crowley
Writers: Nick Hornby (Screenplay), Colm Toibin (Novel)
Stars: Saorise Ronan (Eillis), Emory Cohen (Tony), Domhnall Gleeson (Jim Farrelll)
Brookyn is a simplistic film focused on the growth of Eillis and her move to America. Saorise Ronan embodies her role as we see her start as a confused girl who wants to start somewhere new, away from the small world in which she was born and become her own person in the bustling city of New York. Some may find this to be too small of a story to find compelling, but the heartfelt nature of the film and its honest portrayal of characters impacted me enough to find the runtime fly by. The emotionally charged performance from Ronan is the main draw here though, with there being less of a focus on the men who try to steal her heart, instead showing her struggle to decide to stay in her small hometown where her life would already be laid out or take the plunge into the world. The filmmaking emphasises these emotions and lets them take the forefront, never trying to be too ambitious whilst never feeling understated. A very solid film with a fantastic lead performance, Brooklyn does its job perfectly. It just isn’t for those who expect a Best Picture nominee to be big, bold and brash.
Read my review for the other Best Picture nominees: