Well, it’s safe to say this month’s set of films have been fairly excellent. It’s Oscar season, of course, and with that comes a plethora of movies hitting our shores that are all vying for awards and our collective attention. There have been a lot of great films, some garnering mass attention, others not so much – and that’s what this feature piece is for. While most of us have been encapsulated by Inarritu’s brilliant film The Revenant and Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, other films worthy of your time have been releasing almost week by week.

Here are three exceptional pieces of filmmaking that you should absolutely check out before the Academy Awards begin.

Steve Jobs

I saw this back in October when I was over in the United States. I had a choice between the Goosebumps movie or Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic. Fascinated by a man well known for his profound attitude and effort to bring Apple to the forefront of mainstream technology, I chose the latter. I’ll never regret that decision.

Steve Jobs stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, and Seth Rogen, and takes place almost entirely before a selection of Jobs’ major press conferences. It depicts a man vying to push his company to the forefront of technology and computing, all the while trying to balance family, friends, and work. It’s a fascinating film because, above all else, it shows a true-to-life depiction of how Steve Jobs was perceived. He’s snarky and he makes bad choices, but in the end he’s made Apple what it is today. I felt enlightened having walked out of the cinema after the credits rolled, and only a very minute amount of films manage to have that effect. Truly brilliant, and highly recommended.

 

Spotlight

Oh man, just a warning – this one’s fairly intense.

Spotlight, directed by Tom McCarthy and starring an all-star cast comprised of Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Stanley Tucci, focuses on the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the gargantuan scandal revolving around the local Catholic Archdiocese and the child molestation going on there.

It’s a powerful rollercoaster of a film, and one I believe everyone should take the time to watch. It’s not a fun ride, as you’d expect, but like other recent thought-provoking films, it will shock you. Walking out of Steve Jobs, I felt happy, intrigued, fascinated. Walking out of Spotlight, it was entirely the opposite, obviously. I was shocked, and there’s no other way to really put it. Even so, in the angst you may feel of watching something of this nature, I still recommend checking it out.

 

Room

Perhaps my pick of the bunch when it comes to Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Room is an emotional tale focusing on a girl and her son who find themselves locked up in the confines of a room for years, without ever venturing out. Her son, Jack, has never known and experienced the outside world. All he knows is what’s in front of him – and that’s pretty much just a small, dark room.

The most remarkable thing about Room is how it manages to connect with you emotionally. Brie Larson is fantastic in her role, and young Jacob Tremblay is also excellent. You truly feel for these characters, you want them to get out, and to experience the beautiful world we’re lucky enough to find ourselves in. It makes you care for what you’re given, and the almost endless potential set in front of you.

If anything, Room is one of those films that makes you feel reflective of your life, of the world you find yourself in, and of the friends and family that surround you. It makes you really care. Lenny Abrahamson’s film is one that I will cherish for years to come. And hey, it’s based on a novel, too – but I’m yet to read it, so I’ve got nothing when it comes to how well the adaptation stacks up. But when scouring forums, I’ve read that it’s a pretty excellent adaptation, so there you go.

So go ahead, do yourself a favour, check this film out. It’s two hours of very intense, thought-provoking drama that will certainly leave a mark on you. I still think about it almost every day, and I don’t think that will change for quite some time. I also consistently recommend it to my friends, and I only do that for films I truly love. So you really don’t have too much to lose, maybe around $15 and two hours of your time, but in the end it’s worth the admission price.

One of my favourite things about film is polarising they can be and the conversations that ensues. Just that look you give your friend, family member, or significant other as the lights slowly come back on in the cinema can ultimately lead the conversation that follows.

Unlike video games, films are a collective experience – you follow the same path and find yourself at the same ending, but opinions usually widely differ. It’s an enlightening experience to chat with one of your friends after you’ve seen a film, as you divulge into opinions, conjure up excuses for story progression, character motives, and so forth. It’s something I almost always look forward to. So in short, films are damn great.

I hope this list helps you if you find yourself bored on a dreary morning or afternoon looking for something to do, because I think this month’s film releases have collectively been some of the strongest yet.