I love watching the Oscars, and in the countdown to the big night, I have been thinking a lot about movies. It is true that this year's nominees have a common topic, but also, when you think about it, a few of the candidates over the years tend to share a few traits between each other.
And not every dog jumps through the same ring, so I m going to separate them in 7 types of movies, taking into account nominees from the past 10 years. And just to keep things personal, they are organized starting to my least favorite to my favorite types.
7. The obscure indie/foreign film that could: You probably didn't see it; maybe it wasn't released in your nearest cinema, maybe it's in French or maybe it was made on a budget that would equal the one for the extra's sandwiches in other films. But somehow, it did it, it got nominated, and now everyone says they want to watch it (or pretend they did). If it's lucky enough to win, it will automatically leave the category.
The nominees: Whiplash (2014), Nebraska (2013), Amour (2012), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011), Winter's Bone (2010), An Education (2009), Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
The winner: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011). I haven't met a person in real life that can tell me they watched this.
6. The modern day issues dark tale: After watching this, you will want to move to a farm and forage for
Well, at least keep it a bit more simple, I guess.
The point is that this movie shows a darker side of contemporary life; how lonely, fake, dangerous, tense and superficial it can be.
The nominees: Birdman (2014), Her (2013), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), The Social Network (2010), Up in the Air (2009), Babel (2006).
The winner: The Social Network (2010). Rivalry, betrayal, lies, money, resentfulness... and now we are all part of it! (please share).
5. The intense man biopic: Centered in a specific part of his life, maybe it's about his rise to power, about how he dealt with a very important decision that made history, or maybe it's about how he overcame all difficulties to follow his dream.
The thing is that it's about a real man, and it's safe to expect intensity, and a Best Actor nomination.
The nominees: The Theory of Everything (2014) [well, nearly half movies this year to be honest], The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Lincoln (2012), The Fighter (2011), Milk (2008), Capote (2005).
The winner: The Fighter (2011), but only because it's level of intensity.
4. The isolation survival: This is a movie that manages to upset agoraphobic and claustrophobic people at the same time: one person, alone in the immensity of the ocean/space/desert but at the same time, confined to a little space risking death if they make the wrong move.
If the modern day dark tale makes you want to move to a tropical island, this film will make you want to be in a big city with a smart phone on each hand, and surrounded by people.
And with insurance, don't forget insurance.
The nominees: Gravity (2013), Life of Pi (2012), 127 Hours (2011).
The winner: Life of Pi (2012), although Castaway deserves a special mention, just because of Wilson.
3. The american black history drama: A very particular type of historical drama, usually set in the mid-20th Century or late XIX America.
Expect a touching speech, very racist villains, and a victory with a there's-still-so-much-to-do-about-this feeling to it.
Not to be confused with modern day stories with black main characters, such as Precious or Crash, they also tend to score a nomination, but I prefer the historic ones.
The nominees: Selma (2014), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Django Unchained (2012), The Help (2011).
The winner: 12 Years a Slave (2013).
2. The 3 hour war drama: Well, at least 2 hours and then some more.
This movie is long, makes you feel sad, and shows the worst of people. And yet, you keep watching. Probably this is the biggest and most universal source of drama, so it makes sense that there is almost always one war film in the run.
The nominees: American Sniper (2014, 132 min.), Zero Dark Thirty (2012, 157 min.), War Horse (2011, 146 min.), Inglorious Basterds (2010, 152 min.), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006, 141 min.).
The winner: Inglorious Basterds (2010, 152 min.), unique, to say the least.
1. The quirky drama-comedy: The one I like the most; it's funny enough to make you laugh, but sad enough not to be snubbed by critics (do they hate happiness?).
Just add an unexpected main character with an unusual problem, and a best friend/parent/love interest that will help him/her overcome stuff.
The nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), American Hustle (2013), The King's Speech (2010), Up (2009), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Juno (2007), Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
The winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), there is something about Wes Anderson's movies that makes me want to smile and go to a farmers' market.
There are other "categories" out there such as "The Big Blockbuster that got included so people who only watch summer films can root for something, but everyone knows it has no real chance to win Best Movie and it's going to get all the technical awards" (ie. Avatar), the "Action thriller with a twist" (ie. The Departed), "The one where wealthy people just talk for 2 hours" (ie. The Descendants), and the "Terrorist/Guerrilla drama" (ie. Captain Phillips). I just didn't include them in the top because they are not within my favorites, but they can be fun to watch too (except for the one about people just having conversations and realizing stuff).