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Best Picture Nominees Offer Something For Everyone

Written by Amanda Baltazar. Published: March 01 2014
Tomorrow evening, the year’s favorite films will battle it out to see who wins the most prestigious of awards. Yep, the Oscars are upon us, and there are quite a few contenders for Best Picture, each one with its own unique qualities as to why it was nominated.
But what is it, nowadays, that the Academy is looking for when they nominate films for Best Picture?
The answer to this question is multifaceted and complicated, but we can all agree that movies that get nominated for the Oscar are pushing the envelope with its content. What I mean is that films are starting to explore topics that have never been addressed in films or even considered taboo in our popular cultures.
Another common element in Oscar-nominated films is a historical context, an exploration of the time. The films that successfully delve into the mindset and on goings of the historic time period of which the film takes place most accurately have also been known to capture those Oscar nominations.
This year, the nominated films for Best Picture all have one of these qualities as well as a unique aspect for a certain demographic. There are nine films nominated, and it’s hard for anyone to try and see all of them, especially before tomorrow's ceremony. So, here’s the low down on all them, in case you missed any!
The Wolf of Wall Street
This Martin Scorsese film tells the story of real-life Wall Street mogul Jordan Belfort and his rise and fall of power. This film is able to push the boundaries of the lives of big-time Wall Street executives and their secrets dealing with corruption, drugs, and sex. Seeing these things on screen brought a reality to the film, which helped earn its nomination. Not to mention Matthew McConaughey and Leo DiCaprio did a phenomenal job portraying their characters. Will Leo be snubbed yet again this year? I guess, we will all find out tomorrow.
Captain Phillips
This film is also based on the true story, of the Maersk Alabama hijacking. In 2009, pirates tried to take over the ship captained by Richard Phillips. This thriller takes its hold on the suspense of the true events of Captain Phillips’s refusal to give up his ship. The original heroic tale is exemplified in this film for action/adventure junkies.
American Hustle
This star-studded film is for those who love the police and crime dramas. It follows Irving Rosenfeld, a con man recruited by the FBI to help them catch more criminals in the late-1970s, in the height of the political corruption and scandal of the times with characters based on figures in the era. The movie is graced by phenomenal performances by its cast including Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner, the first four of which were also honored with acting nominations.
For the science buffs out there, Gravity is a thriller about a scientist-engineer who, on her first outer space mission, is caught in a debris storm, which thrusts her into outer space. Almost positive of her death, she must figure out a way to save herself from na impending space-death. This film captures the raw human emotion of fear and determination. Sandra Bullock has one of her best performances in this film. Entertainment Weekly has this film taking home the big time by the slimmest of margins... Do you think it can pull it off?
This film takes a simple plot of a father-son road trip to Nebraska and it becomes a complicated story about the strained relationship between them and how the close confinements of a truck and time spent together can open the eyes of a man to his father’s struggles. The script is beautifully written, allowing the audience to really connect to the story.
12 Years a Slave
The power and passion behind this film comes from an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. He was a free black man born in New York who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations for twelve years before he was able to escape. This film brings to light the brutality and hatred of racism in the 1800s. The accuracy of the historical content is frightening, and the film pushes the boundaries to which we all should experience and understand.
Dallas Buyers Club
This film, like so many others in this category this year, was inspired by true events and follows the life of Ron Woodroof, who is diagnosed with AIDS and given thirty days to live. Unhappy with the treatment options, he smuggles unapproved drugs from Mexico into the U.S. and sells them to other patients, creating the Dallas Buyers Club. This film brings together the aspects of policing, medical treatment, and activism. It highlights the issues of the social perception of having AIDS and the medical treatment options.
This movie tells (you guessed it) the true story of Philomena Lee. The movie starts with a man who gets laid off from his job and decides he wants to write a book. At a party, he is presented with a human interest piece about a woman who has been searching for her long-lost son for fifty years. The two meet and take a journey together to find him. 
This not-too-distant futuristic drama tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who is going through a divorce. He buys an ultra-advanced computer operating system with artificial intelligence technology named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), which is designed to adapt to the world around her. Theodore and Samantha end up falling in love with each other, and their relationship takes on many of the trials and tribulations experienced between two humans. This film takes an intriguing plot and converts it into a dissection of the development of human relationships. Personally, I think this film speaks for a lot of the mindsets of the millennial generation, of which I am a part.
So many great films are nominated for the Academy Award’s Best Picture, and rightfully so. Find out who wins this Sunday on ABC!
- Amanda Baltazar, YH Staff