Now that the Academy Award nominations have been announced and scrutinized, the movie buffs can really get to work.
Fox Valley film lovers should be thankful, as many of this year’s most talked-about and critically-acclaimed works are showing daily at Marcus theaters in the Fox Cities, including eight of the nine nominees for Best Picture on Friday. It’s a vast and varied slate of laughs, shrieks, chills and gasps, and many writers and experts are calling it one of the best years for film in quite some time.
So for those looking to do their homework before March 2 — “Hollywood’s biggest night” — here’s a rundown of the Best Picture nominees and how to see them.
• “12 Years a Slave”: Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man in pre-Civil War America who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Directed by Steve McQueen and nominated for nine Academy Awards, the film plays at Marcus Hollywood Cinema beginning Friday.
• “American Hustle”: Director David O. Russell’s con artist tale boasts a cast of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner. The film tied “Gravity” for most Oscar nods with 10 and is still showing at Marcus Hollywood and Appleton East cinemas.
• “Captain Phillips”: Tom Hanks stars in director Paul Greengrass’ story of the 2009 hijacking of a container ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates. Barkhad Abdi is up for Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the leader of the hijackers. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday.
• “Dallas Buyers Club”: The true life tale of Ron Woodruff, an AIDS patient who smuggled drugs into Texas after finding they helped with his symptoms, played by Best Actor nom Matthew McConaughey. Jared Leto is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a transgender woman. The film will return to Marcus Appleton East Cinema Friday and will be out on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 4.
• “Gravity”: A 3-D spectacle starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts trying to get back to Earth after a disaster in space. Among its 10 nominations are Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director and Bullock for Lead Actress. It’s now showing at Marcus Hollywood and Appleton East cinemas.
• “Her”: Joaquin Phoenix stars as a lonely divorced man in the not-so-distant future who falls in love with his soothing operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Spike Jonze, the film is also up for Best Original Screenplay and is playing at Marcus Hollywood Cinema.
• “Nebraska”: Director Alexander Payne tells the story of an elderly father (Bruce Dern, nominated for Best Actor) who receives a sweepstakes letter and embarks on a road trip with his son (Will Forte) to collect his winnings. The black and white film is showing at Marcus Appleton East Cinema and will be out on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 25.
• “Philomena”: Steve Coogan stars as a journalist and Judi Dench a mother in search of long-lost son decades after getting pregnant and being sent to live in a convent. Dench picked up a Best Actress nomination for the role. The film returns to Marcus Appleton East Cinema on Friday.
• “The Wolf of Wall Street”: Martin Scorsese teams up with star Leonardo DiCaprio for the fifth time to chronicle the debauched rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, who ran a fraudulent and corrupt brokerage firm in the early ’90s. Scorsese is nominated for Best Director, DiCaprio for Lead Actor and Jonah Hill for Supporting Actor. The film is still playing at Marcus Hollywood and Appleton East cinemas.
–Shane Nyman, email@example.com or on Twitter @shanenyman