It’s no surprise that the Oscar nominations turned out as they did.
I don’t know why I get so hopeful every year when I know I’ll be disappointed.
The Academy of voters are largely made up of rich white men. This is reflected in the lineup, which somehow managed to nominate no women or people of colour in the directing category.
Just as bad, there’s little originality in the films themselves either. They opted for safe, largely conventional pictures that retread old ground.
Do we really need to celebrate another war film, or the gimmick of a movie appearing to be in one continuous take?
Moonlight, which won Best Picture in 2017, now feels like a glitch in The Matrix.
Of course, there are still lots of films that came out this year that are as good (if not better) than the Academy’s selection.
In fact, a lot of them are playing in cinemas over the next few months. After appearing on the awards circuit and testing the waters in the US, they’ve landed in Sheffield.
So, instead of being sucked in to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s winner’s club, try out these five films instead.
1. Uncut Gems
This film isn’t for the faint hearted. Every minute of it is anxiety-inducing.
In between moments of violence, we follow Howard as walks around the diamond district or chills with his family at home.
However, the Safdie brothers inject every scene with tension, no matter what the main character is doing.
If you’re used to seeing Adam Sandler in crap rom coms, this might be a shock to the system. The opening scene sees the camera move through an opal and… into Sandler’s anus.
But this is far from slapstick. You might be laughing, but you’ll be wincing from the tension at the same time.
It’s an action thriller made with style, featuring one of the most interesting character studies of the year.
2. Knives Out
Granted, this was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but it didn’t strike gold in the way many anticipated.
To be fair, it’s not really what the Academy usually goes for.
Their taste is a little more… vanilla.
Knives Out is an Agatha Christie homage. The Oscars rarely go for genre films, so it barely stood a chance against prestige dramas like 1917.
However, it includes some of Daniel Craig’s best work. Plus it’s one of the most fun movies of the year.
It’s been in cinemas for a good month or so, which is proof enough of how popular it’s been. Catch it soon before it leaves theatres.
3. Queen & Slim
Once you’re in, you’re in.
Well, if you’re white that is.
Get nominated early on in your career – á la Saoirsa Ronan – and stay in the Academy’s back pocket for years.
Likewise, pull out a few great performances, like Scarlett Johansson or Margot Robbie, and you might even be nominated twice in the same year.
Sadly, this hasn’t been the case for Daniel Kaluuya, who grabbed the world’s attention with Get Out.
He was nominated for an Oscar in 2017, but hasn’t had any luck since.
He was mesmerising in Widows last year and, if early previews are to go by, he pulls off an equally outstanding performance in Queen & Slim.
Catch this one from the end of Jan.
4. The Lighthouse
Robert Pattinson is yet to have his Oscars moment.
Post-Twilight, he’s bagged some great roles in the likes of High Life, Good Time, and The Lost City of Z.
The Lighthouse has had a little Oscars love for it’s cinematography, but it’ll be tough to compete against Roger Deakins.
This is the exact kind of film that they should be rewarding: daring, experimental, and like nothing you’ve seen before.
5. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Women directors have been completely shut out of this awards season.
Yet films by Mati Diop, Claire Denis, and Greta Gerwig wowed audiences.
The name on everyone’s lips at the minute is Céline Sciamma.
Her previous film, Girlhood, was a beautiful study of gender, race, and adolescence.
Now, she returns with a lesbian romance that will sweep you off your feet.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire will land on UK shores in February.
Support your local independent cinema and catch these exciting films at Showroom.