Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Oscar Project 2016: The Martian

Movie: The Martian

As I said yesterday about Steve Jobs, I loved this because of course I loved this. Space! Math! Brilliant women! Government bureaucracies! An ensemble full of actors I like! Based on a novel I enjoyed! Moreover, this and Spotlight are the two movies this year that most strongly fall into my favorite genre of anything: smart, imperfect people working really hard together to do something important. And they're probably my top two movies in the Best Picture category, and I just made that connection as I was writing this. At least I'm predictable?

Availability: Back in some theaters! Available to rent or buy physically or digitally! It's pretty much everywhere!

Nominated in:

Best Picture: Sure. Technically ambitious, philosophically interesting, well-written, well-acted. And fun to watch, which certainly isn't a requirement but is sometimes a nice change.

Actor in a Leading Role: Sure. A movie that spends so much time with one character barely interacting with anyone else could easily get dreadfully boring, but Matt Damon pulled it off.

Production Design: Yes. THEY MADE MARS. And also lots of office and work spaces that helped give real flavor to the parts of the movie set on Earth.

Sound Editing: Sure. Spaceship sounds! Science sounds!

Sound Mixing: Yes. They walked a nice line between playing with the "no sound in space" idea - which adds to the general feelings of alienation - while still making sure we could hear what we needed to hear, and without making those transitions jarring.

Visual Effects: Yes. Again, THEY MADE MARS. And space travel and that rescue scene at the end that almost seems plausible. Which is saying a lot.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Yes. I really liked the novel, and I thought Drew Goddard did an admirable job of turning a somewhat idiosyncratic narrative (long diary entries about science, etc.) into a screenplay that retained the things that made the book interesting while also working as a movie on its own. (I did not like that one thing they added at the very end.)

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