During this time of isolating ourselves to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we’re all spending a lot more time at home than normal. You may find yourself living with a child under the age of 13, whether it be your own or one otherwise related to you. Regardless, should you find yourself incapable of watching one more episode of a children’s series or animated show, it may be time to explore some Oscar-nominated features. And while PG-rated films rarely take home the Best Picture award, they’re often nominated within the category. With that in mind, we’re including three titles below that everyone can enjoy during self-quarantine. With notable performances in each, you might just find yourself getting a MasterClass in acting out of them, no subscription required.
The family film based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret was directed by none other than Martin Scorsese. The story follows Hugo, an orphan in 1931 Paris who lives at a train station and works to complete an automaton left unfinished by his late father. He eventually shares the project with Isabelle, another young inhabitant of the station, albeit one who is better looked after than Hugo. Isabelle lives with her godfather Georges Méliès, the station’s toy store owner, who also happens to be the French film pioneer known for A Trip to the Moon. We won’t spoil the ending in case you haven’t yet seen Scorsese’s family-friendly picture, but it’s safe to say that the film delivers an overall artistic take on its genre. In his review of the project, Roger Ebert noted, “Hugo celebrates the birth of the cinema and dramatizes Scorsese’s personal pet cause, the preservation of old films.” So if you’re looking for something with a little more depth than Dora the Explorer that can still be viewed with children present, Hugo might just be the one for you. It won a number of Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards and garnered Scorsese a Best Director nod along with the nomination for Best Picture. And while no acting performances were nominated, there are a number of powerful ones to take in with the film. Ben Kingsley gives a poignant take on Méliès, and both Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz deliver strong performances as the film’s young leads. Keep an eye out for Jude Law as Hugo’s late father and Sacha Baron Cohen as the station inspector, as well.
Ang Lee’s film adaptation of the popular Jane Austen novel generated a number of nominations at the 1996 Academy Awards. And while Mel Gibson’s Braveheart won Best Picture that year, this nominee may be better suited for children. Plus, it still offers a grown-up storyline for adult viewers who can most likely relate to its themes of love and repressed feelings. Sense and Sensibility centers on Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, two very different sisters whose family is left poor after their wealthy father dies, due to the rules of inheritance. Emma Thompson stars as the elder, more reserved Elinor, and Kate Winslet shines as her vivacious younger sister Marianne. Thompson and Winslet were respectively nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, and while neither won, Thompson took home Best Adapted Screenplay for the same film in which she starred. You can also keep an eye out for other strong performances in Sense and Sensibility from the likes of Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.
The first film in George Lucas’ groundbreaking original trilogy did quite well at the 1978 Academy Awards, winning a number of Oscars in categories such as sound, editing, and visual effects. Woody Allen’s Annie Hall ended up snagging Best Picture that year, but George Lucas didn’t let that stop him from moving forward with the Star Wars series. You might be familiar with the plethora of films that have come since, and maybe you’ve even visited Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. But now is the time to go back to where it all began, and it’s never too early to start the next generation of Star Wars fans. So you can kick back and immerse yourself in a galaxy far, far away no matter what age your fellow film-screeners may be. You can take in the iconic performances of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. But it was Alec Guinness’ performance in the supporting role of Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi that received an Oscar nomination within the acting categories.
These three Best Picture nominees may just be the perfect antidote for the doldrums you might be experiencing after what feels like the one-thousandth day of staying at home. You can immerse yourself in Scorsese’s artful take on 1931 Paris or experience the dichotomy of Elinor’s sense and Marianne’s sensibility in the on-screen adaptation of the Jane Austen tale. It may even be time to revisit the film that introduced us to the Star Wars franchise. Since they can all be viewed with any children residing in your quarantine quarters, the three films offer a watch party that’s a win for everyone. And for all the cinephiles out there, let us know in the comments below your favorite performances from these films!