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Oscars: 5 Contenders You Need to Watch on the Bigscreen

The holidays are upon us, which means one thing: Time to watch screeners.

Since many awards voters are busy working people, they may have a lot of films to catch up on. Every year, awards-giving organizations such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences urge voters to see contenders in theaters. But it’s an open secret in Hollywood that screeners are often the method of choice.

Many of the films in contention will play well on a home screen, but even better in a theater. So if you are a voter with limited time — or simply a consumer with a preference for VOD — try to get to the multiplex for at least a handful of films. If you can’t do that, feel free to see them on small screen; just make sure you see them.

Here are 5 bigscreen priorities:

“The Wolf of Wall Street”: The lead character, Jordan Belfort, lived on an epic scale, and that’s how Martin Scorsese tells his story. Plus, it’s fun to hear the audience reaction to the many shocking-funny moments.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”: Whether you see it in 3D, 48fps or good ol’ 2D, few filmmakers know how to fill a bigscreen like Peter Jackson. And all BTL work pops even more from the bigscreen, including VFX, sound, makeup, you name it.

Gravity”: From the mammoth debris in space to a single teardrop, this offers knockout proof of 3D’s potential. I’ve seen portions on a 40-inch home screen, and it’s still effective. But to be immersed in the film, aim for 3D Imax. As people used to say in the 1960s, it is a trip.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”: Stuart Dryburgh’s cinematography is reason enough to see the film on the bigscreen, but director-star Ben Stiller also offers little comedy touches that will be noticed more in theaters.

“The Past”: All foreign-language films deserve undivided attention and there are always distractions at home. Asghar Farhadi’s film works on the smallscreen, but the nuances and the atmosphere work even better in a plex.

Honorable mention:

“12 Years a Slave”: The film’s scope and beauty work better in a multiplex. However, screeners are OK; just don’t avoid the film. Some people still haven’t seen it and talk about the film as if it’s a homework assignment. Try it, you’ll like it.

“Nebraska”: It’s a comedy-drama about people, so will play well on a smaller screen. But the bigscreen offers viewers a chance to savor the cinematography, production design, costumes and casting in rich B&W Cinemascope.

“Captain Phillips” and “Lone Survivor”: Everyone describes the films as “intense,” and a theater experience will underline that intensity.

“Prisoners”: The film is now available on iTunes, so a bigscreen viewing may be unlikely. But all of the film’s major assets play better on a bigger scale.

“Rush”: After noms from SAG and the Globes, it’s back in the race. And the visuals and sound in a good theater will throw the viewer into the middle of the action.

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