Some may wonder why I only focus on just the Best Picture nominees. Well, it’s simple really; between just the eight films nominated for Best Picture, they carry 54 nominations across most of the categories, accounting for 45 percent of all nominations. That’s impressive, when you figure there are only 120 nominations among all 56 films nominated. Numbers do speak louder than words and here they only support my notion that it’s these eight films holding all the cards come Oscar Sunday. And keep in mind, these films weren’t even eligible for categories featuring documentaries and shorts. Erase those nominations from the equation and that percentage would go from 45 percent to 54 percent in a hurry. So, it’s fairly clear to see why these films matter the most in the grand scheme of things and why I will be showcasing them over the next four weeks. And to help get this Oscar train moving is a film that most people reading this never saw, “Brooklyn.”
I know what you’re thinking, why start with a film no one watched? Well, back when this famed ceremony only had a total of five films nominated for Best Picture, this was exactly the kind of film that would be nominated. So, I figure, this is perfect to get us started and talking about those things we never talk about until this time of year. Fact is, before 2009, we would see more films like a “Brooklyn” or “Bridge of Spies” nominated, so in a sense, I’m glad we still do. It’s just now, we have additional films like “Up,” “Inception” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” getting nominated. So for all the changes, this category has become more diverse over the past six years. But if you pay attention, the same kind of films continue to win. Just within the past three years, we have watched “Birdman,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “Argo” go home victorious; films that would win no matter the decade it was released within. And while this years “Brooklyn” also fits that mold, it will fall short next to far superior choices. So in way, just the nomination is a win for a film that only cost $10 million to make.
“Brooklyn” might be a low budget drama, but the talent involved is virtually big budget. And it starts with Saoirse Ronan, a 21-years-old sensation that has already starred in nearly 20 films, including the likes of “Atonement,” “The Lovely Bones,” “Hanna” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” If you haven’t seen those, then you probably won’t watch this film either despite the nomination. Truth is though, you should watch it for her. Ronan might not be a household name, but she will be if she continues to take on challenging roles that show off her amazing grace. I have maintained that any actor or actress that is able to tell a story without speaking is unique. Naomi Watts can do this and I’m starting to realize that Saoirse Ronan can too, as several times in this role she was able to say a lot with little to no sound coming from her mouth. Whether it was her eyes or just subtle facial expressions, I was hooked and believed everything she did here. So kudos to her and everything she did to earn her now second Academy Award nomination. Sadly the success will stop there though as Brie Larson already owns this category for 2015.
People like stories have a way of impressing you when you least expect it and I think that holds true for “Brooklyn.” But, after watching it, I wondered why it was nominated for Best Picture. Listen, not all films deserve that praise. A nomination is a nomination, but the more I thought about it, it probably deserves to be here more than say “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Yeah, it wasn’t some big production, but it was never going to be. Instead, what you have is just a good old fashioned historical drama; nothing more, nothing less, which use to be the mantra for a Best Picture nominee 10 years ago. So I guess in some ways, “Brooklyn” is this year’s period piece, which is fine given the overall enjoyment it brings to the table. And a lot of that was through the well-written script by Nick Hornby who adapted the story from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name. For those wondering, this is the second writing nomination for Hornby, who previously was nominated for his work with 2009’s “An Education.” And I think he actually has a fighting chance at it too, as Adapted Screenplay typically is one of the hardest races to predict.