Though this year’s crop of Best Picture nominations—Spotlight, The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max, The Martian, Room and The Revenant—do include some great films worthy of recognition, they missed some our of favorite movies of 2015.
This year’s Oscar nominated films featured a noticeable lack of racial diversity. And of the movies that were nominated (Room, The Martian, The Revenant, Mad Max) many were even thematically similar, focusing on against-all-the-odds survival narratives.
Here’s a look at five of our favorite movies of 2015 that should have been nominated for Best Picture.
Inside Out represents everything Pixar does best: Stunning visuals; funny, lovable characters, and surprisingly deep emotional range. It’s a film that will literally make both children and adults laugh and cry. And, with it’s plot based on the internal emotional workings of the brain, it’s also arguably Pixar’s most high-concept and narratively complex film. Considering that both Up and Toy Story 3 (both incredible films) received Best Picture nominations, it seems odd that this masterpiece (it’s an instant classic) didn’t also receive the same recognition.
Actor Michael B. Jordan and filmmaker Ryan Coogler are on their way to becoming two of Hollywood’s most important young stars. In their second collaboration (Coogler directed Jordan in 2013’s stunning Fruitvale Station), the duo not only managed to reinvigorate a franchise many viewed as dated and campy, but they also reinvented it, giving it a new face (Jordan) while still honoring the legacy of its original star. As great as the first Rocky (and a couple of its six sequels) are, some of the franchise’s entries simply don’t hold up well. Instead of attempting to just recapture the spirit of the underdog boxing story (which it does well), Creed also faces big ideas like growing old, legacy, mentorship and redemption head on.
Beasts of No Nation
The story of a child soldier who faces unimaginable tragedy, violence and victimization, Beasts of No Nation is not an easy watch. It’s a look at senseless war through the eyes of a child, much like those who have been forced to fight real-life wars in conflict zones throughout Africa. The movie’s two main stars, Idris Elba and Abraham Attach, both deliver performances that are arguably the most unforgettable of any last year.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
We’re going to go out on the limb here: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a better sci-fi movie than the Oscar nominated The Martian. Though Matt Damon’s epic space survival adaptation (it’s based on a novel) is a surprisingly funny, thoroughly entertaining blockbuster, the latest Star Wars managed to tap into the dramatic adventure elements that has made the series so iconic. The franchise is both a drama—filled with family tension and betrayal—and fantasy adventure, that manages to tap into the best elements of storytelling, without ever becoming overly pretentious. Star Wars knows what it is, that’s why it works: It’s exciting, dramatic filmmaking, that’s both culturally important but also just a lot of fun.
Even though the film was a commercial disappointment, the Aaron Sorkin-written, Danny Boyle-directed biopic is still a stirring look at one of modern pop culture’s most interesting figures. Sure, the film took some liberties with Jobs’ actual life and story, but what it gets right is its universally relatable look at attempting to overcome one’s own flaws to achieve something great.