Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Martian - 7 nominations

Best Picture - Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers
Actor in a Leading Role, Matt Damon
Visual Effects, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
Sound Editing, Oliver Tarney
Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Drew Goddard
Sound Mixing, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
Production Design, Arthur Max (Production Design); Celia Bobak (Set Decoration)

Another of our Best Picture nominees is The Martian.  In it, Matt Damon plays a botanist, Mark Watney, who is part of a NASA team exploring Mars. Presumed dead and left behind by his team escaping an emergency while on planet, Watney realizes he has been left behind.  He gets to work setting up systems that will keep him alive long enough to figure out how to let the world back on Earth know that he is there and that he needs to be rescued.  As he says, he needs to "science the sh*t" out of the situation.  Without adding too many spoilers, there are plenty of detractors on the ground questioning whether the effort and money should be expended to bring Watney home.

The film has taken a lot of ribbing for having won the Best Musical or Comedy Golden Globe (being neither a comedy nor a musical), but that doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve recognition.  The writing is smart but not alienating, the tension is clear but not pandering to the lowest common denominator.  I don't know what Neil Degrasse Tyson would say, but to the common movie goer, the science certainly seems plausible.

I loved The Martian.  It's not quite the 2015 version of Apollo 13, but it has all the elements to keep the viewer engaged throughout.  Candidly, while I loved Damon's acting, there are a handful of performances I would have chosen to put in the top 5 lead actors category over this role (Will Smith, Michael Keaton, among others).  Certainly top 10, but that's not how the Oscars work.  Hard to imagine that Ridley Scott didn't make it into the top 5 for Directing, but one never knows how these things will shake out - I was indeed disappointed that Scott didn't make it to the top 5.  He deserved it for this film and certainly for his body of work.

As I've explained, movies with lots of amazing visual effects are usually shoe-ins for sound categories, and this film is no exception.  There are lots of layers in every scene, and all of the technical execution of the film was outstanding.

Overall, a great movie filled with edge of your seat scenes and some great jokes about disco.  All of the actors in the film were outstanding and credible, with a special shout out to Donald Glover who plays a mean nerd.  I highly recommend it.

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