My Picks for Oscar Nominated Family Films 2016

Jonas Rivera Pixar Producer of Inside Out. CIFF 2016

Jonas Rivera Pixar Producer of Inside Out. Photo S. Valle

From this year’s list of Oscar nominated movies, I picked a couple I think will transcend and become family films worth watching over and over again.

As a staunch cinephile, (heck, I even wrote a film guide,”101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up,” to help you get your kids started on loving movies!) I’m glad to report I’ve watched every film nominated by the Academy for Best Picture this year.

From this year’s lot of films, I chose the movies that would fit the demographic “101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up” targets: 8 to 15 year olds. Keep in mind, the movies in the book are not simply for kids. My hope is that these new films will also earn a spot on many lists, not just mine.

Of the Best Picture selections, I’ll start by saying this, I did not LOVE “The Revenant.” (Gasp!) This is by no means a family film, but I’ll make a quick comment about it. I absolutely admire director Alejandro Inarritu’s visual and visceral masterpiece. It is a film recounting a true story that grabbed me, made me feel I was freezing to death (when it was 70 degrees in sunny SoCal!), and it made me raging mad, too. But it was a bit much at the same time; too much cold and snow was exhausting to watch for 2 hours and 36 minutes. But I LOVED Leonardo DiCaprio’s intense performance as the 1893 frontiersman Hugh Glass. In fact, I’ve loved practically every single role he’s had since “Titanic,” which made my list, of course!

However, this is not about whether DiCaprio finally deserves to win the Oscar for Best Actor — which he does.

I’m glad Hollywood is producing films worth watching. More importantly, I believe Hollywood is making films that will transcend the money grab, and maybe even make it into one of my future books about movies!

Out of the Best Picture category I selected “Bridge of Spies” (PG-13) as one film I’d add to my list. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg team up again to create a gripping film based on a true story about how an insurance lawyer became the unlikely negotiator in a legendary spy swap between countries — a story I didn’t know about until I saw the film.

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies

Something that always pulls me into a film like this one, is to know amazingly courageous people existed, and still do, that are willing to put their lives on the line even against their better judgment or will. These are the types of films families can watch together and later talk about the inspirational characters, learn about diplomacy, and how the world can often be a dark place before the light at the end of the tunnel shines like a beacon of hope.

This movie has incredible sets and costumes that will transport you back into 1940’s and 1950’s New York and Berlin, when the infamous wall was being built. Accordingly, there are scenes where people get shot in cold blood, the hated Nazis, a few curse words, and the threat of nuclear war. Adding to the authenticity of the time, Spielberg splices in footage of the original duck-and-cover reels shown to school children in the 50’s in case of an atomic explosion.

Besides getting a Best Picture nod, “Bridge of Spies” was nominated in a few more categories: Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screen Play, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Original Score.

I suspect we’ll hear “Bridge of Spies” called up to the podium more than once — at least I hope it does.

In the Best Animated Movie category I have to select “Inside Out.” I recently met Jonas Rivera, the Pixar/Disney producer of this movie, so you may think I’m biased. I could be, but since this film already won the Golden Globe I think it has a pretty good chance of winning an Oscar, too.

Leaving aside these things, “Inside Out” is a superb piece of animation by one of the premier animation studios of our time: Pixar. The concept of this film is also very unique. It’s set inside 11 year-old Riley’s mind, a hockey-playing girl devastated by having to move away. The movie (don’t you love that these aren’t called cartoons anymore?) features emotions as the main characters: Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Joy (Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kailing).

“Inside Out” has two Academy Award nominations: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay.

I hope I don’t jinx this, but if this movie wins, it will Pixar’s 10th Oscar in the Best Animated Film category.

The 88th Academy Awards are this Sunday, February 28, 5:30 p.m. PST on ABC.

See you on the televised red carpet!

What Oscar-nominated movies do you think will become timeless family films?





  1. Lisa says:

    I’ve been wanting to see Bridge of Sports! Is it fabulous? Over loved everything Hanks has ever done.i love Leo too… But that much snow, even on the screen, is more than I can handle!!

  2. Morgan says:

    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve really only seen Inside Out! Definitely need to catch up on these films, but excited to see the outfits Sunday night!

    • Suzette Valle says:

      Morgan, at least you’ve seen an Oscar-nominated movie! I’d recommend watching Brooklyn, The Martian, and Trumbo. These are on the lighter side of the list. if you like heavy drama, then watch Spotlight, Room, and The Big Short. I’d leave The Revenant for a time when you can mentally prepare for this one.

  3. I am ashamed to say I have not seen Bridge of Spies – must do that asap!

    • Suzette Valle says:

      If you only see one movie from the list, I’d watch this one and then The Martian. These were my favorite ones from this year’s lot.

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