Oscars 2016: Best picture nominees

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A look at the best picture nominees at the 88th Academy Awards, announced on 14 January 2016.

You can also take a look at the nominees for best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress and best director.

THE BIG SHORT

media captionThe Big Short is set during the financial crisis of 2008

Director: Adam McKay

Cast includes: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

What's the story? Four investors make billions betting on the 2008 financial crisis after spotting what big banks, media and government failed to see.

Fact: Celebrities (among them The Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie) make cameo appearances to explain financial jargon to the audience.

What the critics say: "All four stars are smart, fascinating and funny in their respective ways, so much so that their performances - and the script's solid moral structure - sweep away any concerns about asking us to root for people who get unimaginably rich by betting against the health of the American economy." Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

BRIDGE OF SPIES

media captionBridge of Spies is based on the true Cold War story about an American lawyer and the Soviet spy he defends

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast includes: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell

What's the story? Based on a true story and set during the Cold War, the film sees American lawyer James B Donovan (Hanks) recruited to defend arrested Soviet spy Rudolf Abe; (Rylance) and help facilitate his exchange for U2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers (Stowell).

Fact: In real life, when Powers' plane was hit by a Soviet missile barrage, he did not eject as the size of the U2 cockpit would have made this impossible. Instead he climbed out of the aircraft. He was carrying maps, which he later destroyed, and a poisoned suicide pin hidden inside a silver dollar.

What the critics say: "Storytelling this proficient is never something we see every day. Spielberg is so good he makes us forget that Bridge of Spies is basically two separate films, one a courtroom drama, the other a spy thriller, with unexpected dark humour thrown into the bargain courtesy of Joel and Ethan Coen, who did a credited rewrite of Matt Charman's script." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

BROOKLYN

media captionBrooklyn is based on the novel by Irish writer Colm Tobin

Director: John Crowley

Cast includes: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters,

What's the story? Based on the novel by Irish writer Colm Toibin and set in the 1950s, it tells of a young Irish girl who leaves her provincial life for one in Brooklyn, New York. There she embarks on a new life of romance and opportunity despite suffering from homesickness.

Fact: The lead character's story was a poignant one for Ronan. Her parents were migrants to the US and she was later born in New York. She was, however, brought up in rural Ireland and part of Brooklyn was filmed 20 minutes from her home.

What the critics say: "Tapping into a rich seam of emigre cinema, Brooklyn beautifully evokes the sense of being torn between time, place and identity... At the centre of it all is Ronan, who hasn't taken a false step since earning an Oscar nomination for Atonement in 2008." Mark Kermode, The Observer

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

media captionMad Max: Fury Road is an action flick set in a post-apocalyptic world

Director: George Miller

Cast includes: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

What's the story? In a dusty post-apocalyptic world, Imperator Furiosa (Theron) leads the five wives of tyrannical leader Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) across a desert wasteland in a bid to escape his clutches, with the help of escaped captive Max (Hardy).

Fact: After coming up with the original idea, it took Miller 17 years to make the film. Original Mad Max star Mel Gibson was initially set to reprise the title role.

What the critics say: "The film is almost nothing but chase, with each high-octane action sequence shunting into the next at breakneck speed... With its spare dialogue and dazzlingly choreographed and edited stunts, Miller's film often feels like a great silent movie - albeit a very loud one." Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

THE MARTIAN

media captionMatt Damon stars as an astronaut stranded on Mars in The Martian

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast includes: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara

What's the story? Astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is presumed dead on a manned mission to Mars following a fierce storm and is left behind by his crew. Stranded on the planet, he must use all his wits and ingenuity in order to survive.

Fact: The film has a 1970s disco soundtrack featuring hits from Abba, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer and the late David Bowie.

What the critics say: "[The Martian] revels in the down-to-earth details of making a meal out of a potato when you've run out of ketchup, and the sheer absurdist pleasure of watching human beings outwit the universe with Sellotape and string." Mark Kermode, The Observer

THE REVENANT

media captionThe Revenant tells the story of a frontiersman fighting for survival

Director: Alejandro G Inarritu

Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

What's the story? Frontiersman Hugh Glass fights for survival after his hunting team leaves him for dead following a brutal bear attack.

Fact: Only natural light was used for the film, which was largely shot in northern Canada.

What the critics say: "The Revenant must be appreciated first and foremost as a sensory and aesthetic marvel, a brutal hymn to the beauty and terror of the natural world that exerts a hypnotic pull from the opening frame. Its deficiencies as a human drama and a metaphysical meditation will take a bit longer to emerge." Justin Chang, Variety

ROOM

media captionRoom is the tale of a young mum who has had to bring up her five year old son in captivity

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Cast includes: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H Macy

What's the story? Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own novel, it tells the harrowing story of Ma (Larson), a young mother held captive with her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) in a 10-by-10-foot space.

Fact: As well as meeting psychologists to gain insight into the trauma of captivity, Larson wrote three diaries as Ma at the ages of 10, 14 and 17 to help her get into character.

What the critics say: "Room asks an enormous amount of its audience, dragging you further into darkness in the journey to find some distant light. It's a mark of how well Abrahamson has told his story that by the end, which takes you to places once unimaginable, you'll likely be willing to go through it all again." Olly Richards, Empire

SPOTLIGHT

media captionSpotlight tells of the Boston Globe's investigation into child abuse in the Catholic Church

Director: Tom McCarthy

Cast includes: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

What's the story? The true story of how investigative reporters at the Boston Globe uncovered child abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts.

Fact: The Boston Globe's Spotlight team won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for their work.

What the critics say: "Spotlight never hits the heights of passion, but capably and decently tells an important story." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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