The 91st Academy Awards Ceremony is broadcasting on Feb. 24 and several of the year’s most incredible creators in film are up for the award of a prestigious Oscar trophy. As opposed to recounting this year’s nominees, The Texan is shining a spotlight on some of this year’s best films that were not recognized by the Academy.
Ari Aster’s debut feature film follows a seemingly innocent family as they travel down a path of death, despair and severed heads. The film’s execution of dread and nail-biting tension is extremely impressive. The excellent behind-the-scenes work is evenly matched by phenomenal performances in front of the camera. Toni Collette steals the show with her horrifying portrayal of a grieving mother. Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro bring a wonderful dose of terror to the film’s youngest characters.
Alex Garland’s sci-fi adventure follows a group of female scientists’ journey into a strange environmental bubble that bends the laws of time and space. While the film could’ve easily been another generic sci-fi flick, it completely subverts expectations by presenting a wildly unique and strange experience. The use of nature and otherworldly elements to create the atmosphere of the fictional environment is nothing short of spectacular. The film features some incredible creature design which includes an enormous bear that screams like a human. The film really earns its merit with an ending that features some of the most powerful use of sound design in recent cinema. All of these elements, complete with a strongly-acted lead cast, make for an impressive sci-fi experience.
Michael B. Jordan returned to his role of Adonis Johnson, son of Apollo, in the second installment of “Creed.” Followed by an incredible supporting cast, “Creed II” tells the story of Creed’s struggle between family, fame and thirst for vengeance. The intimidating Ivan Drago returns with a well-trained son, ready to take back the title stolen by Rocky all of those years ago in “Rocky IV.” The film is exceptionally shot, capturing intense fight sequences with brisk elegance. The acting is finely tuned and characters almost feel as if they are bleeding off the screen in believability. The trajectory of the film is all tied together through wonderful character arcs and a conclusive storyline.
Another feature film debut, from Aneesh Chaganty, set its sights on a missing person’s case told entirely through computers and other electronics. The film, headlined by John Cho, depicts a worrying single father as he frantically uses technology to figure out where his daughter has went. The story keeps you on your toes and dishes out new and interesting clues throughout its runtime. The “computer screen” medium gives off a personal environment that invites the audience to feel more connected with the events on screen. On the forefront it’s a chilling mystery, but underneath it’s a shocking commentary on the capabilities of technology.
First-time feature film director Bo Burnham reunited audiences worldwide with his superbly relatable coming-of-age story about a kid growing up in the digital age. Newcomer Elsie Fisher leads the show with a wonderful portrayal of the awkward tween-age student we all were. The film depicts the modern youth in hilarious and shockingly accurate ways. The story dabbles with memes, romance and even raises an eye to the recent influx of school shootings. It emulates everything that is so wrong and so right with today’s youth culture. Middle school has never been so horrifying and entertaining all at once.