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Can you feel it? There has a been a disturbance in the force. It’s the pre-awards show season where all the dramatic, oscar-bait movies are released. I’ve been reeled in with their bait, and have been spending ALL my extra time at the movies, which is even more of an issue because I work at a movie theatre. My co-workers probably think I’m nuts. Oh well.

I’ve always been a bit wary of astronaut movies. It isn’t that I have a fear of outer space in the science fiction sense (I’m as big a trekkie as they come), but when it comes to reality? Well, that usually scares the crap out of me. I blame movies like SpaceCamp and You Only Live Twice for that, as fictitious as they may be. As a kid, I could barely get through Apollo 13 without continually asking my mom if they would be okay, and it took me years to properly appreciate that film. That being said, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy The MartianI refused to see it in the theater, worried that I might have a panic attack. But after it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won numerous other accolades, I decided I should give it a try. I’m happy to report that this is one of those movies I was completely wrong about.

Based on Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian tells the story of that one time your friends drove off and forgot you were still in the Taco Bell bathroom; okay not exactly, but take that situation and escalate it times a million and set it in outer space. During a manned mission to Mars, a violent dust storm forces the Ares III crew to abandon their research and go back to their orbiting ship. During the evacuation, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris and separated from the group. Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) attempts to find him before the emergency take off, but is forced to leave him behind. The storm worsens, and they presume him dead since the signal from his suit doesn’t show signs of life. The next sol (Martian solar day), Mark wakes up to find that he’s alone and injured. He’s able to tend to his wound at the Hab (the crew’s base of operations/habitation), but that’s the least of his worries. Aside from the fact that the machines that provide water and oxygen could malfunction, the mission was only supposed to last a certain number of days. As a result, the Hab is a temporary shelter, and there’s only so much food. On top of everything, Mark has no way to contact NASA.

The Collective’s foray into the 2016 Oscars continues with Bridge of Spies, nominated for six Academy Awards. Based on the true events surrounding the U-2 Incident in 1960, the film stars Tom Hanks as American lawyer James Donovan and Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy.

When Abel is captured due to espionage-linked evidence, Donovan is asked by his firm to represent him. While the case against Abel is substantial, it is important that the American justice system be seen as fair by the rest of the world; though he knows that he will lose the case and likely be reviled by many for representing a communist, Donovan takes the job as part of his patriotic duty. He tells his wife that the bar chose him because “they want to show that even a spy gets a capable advocate.”

Before the film has even truly began, we are already wondering what it means to represent one’s country, and the implications of being a betrayer.

“You can’t accuse Abel of being a traitor; he’s not an American.”

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Hello again, lovely Collective readers. I am back once again to go over one of the Best Picture nominees; this time, it’s Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the story of Eilis Lacey (Saiorse Ronan), a young woman who is unable to find work in Ireland in the 1950s. Her sister Rose arranges for her to emigrate to Brooklyn, New York where she will live in a boarding house and work in a department store. Despite her homesickness at the beginning, Eilis falls in love with Tony (Emory Cohen) and starts to feel at home in America. But when a family tragedy strikes, she returns home to Ireland and catches the eye of Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). Who will she choose in the end? Which country will she choose? While it has the makings of a dramatic love triangle story, Brooklyn is actually a very sweet and happy film, which is why it is one of my favorite nominees of the season.