Opinion: Why you should watch an Oscar nominated movie

Charlie Needles

There is a collective groan in school when you’re told to take notes during a movie. No one likes to be so focused or high strung when there is a film playing. You want to enjoy it. But just like assigned reading where you’re told to have an essay written on a chapter or you spend days analyzing a single paragraph, there is critical value in movies that must be understood beyond its surface entertainment value.

In all forms of media, there are numerous purposes the author or producer could have intended their work for. With movies, unless it’s a documentary, our first thought is usually entertainment. But behind the glamour of Hollywood, there is usually a deeper meaning that will reflect a part of culture’s problems. There are hidden messages or plain truths laid out in plain sight for a viewer to absorb and ponder.

Some of these movies are so heavily laden with critical content that to the mainstream viewer they are no longer appealing, or they are too strange to be entertaining. These films are generally the focus of the Oscar nominations.

Fox Searchlight.

But the Oscar voters, or panelists, are not the only ones who can see the value in a movie like “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” a film that tells the story of an outraged mother who demands justice for her daughter’s murder.  Many haven’t even heard of this film; let alone seen it, but the movie is fervent and makes subtle attempts at dark comedy. It’s shaking and well performed, and it pushes the audience to see these problems in their own societies. There has been activism inspired by the movie, even copycats of the billboards customized to relevant causes.

Movies like “Three Billboards” make people shift, uncomfortably, and realize these are real problems that need to be solved in our real world. Movies like this deserve attention.

Yes, there is joy and bliss in a movie like Black Panther that can connect so many African-American people to praise producers for using authentic African cultures to make the fictional Wakanda realistic. And yes, movies can be both entertaining and culturally valuable. But, there is critical value in a movie that doesn’t mainly claim to entertain.

There is immense cultural context whether satirical, metaphorical or blatant in critically acclaimed movies that bear the same weight as the assigned reading from your English courses that made you look for SparkNotes.

I recommend that you give the movies nominated this year a chance. You might find that you agree with sentiments you never thought you would. You might find you come away wanting to rant to someone how it upset you or excited you. You might even find the energy to do something about your real word problems.

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