5 Oscar Nominees You Haven't Seen (But Should)

At every Oscar party, there is usually that head-scratcher, the category in which you haven't heard of a single nominee.


Correction appended.

At every Oscar party, there is usually that head-scratcher, the "Who Is Bonnie Bear?" moment, the category in which you haven't heard of a single nominee. This year, there's a Belgian film noir about bovine growth hormone (Bullhead), a story about the civil rights movement that isn't The Help (The Barber of Birmingham), and a 3D movie whose visual effects are engineered by a company of modern dancers (Pina). Among the many worthy contenders that have floated underneath the collective radar, here are five I haven't seen yet that now have leapfrogged to the top of my cinematic priorities. What's on your list?

1. Albert Nobbs — Best Actress (Glenn Close)

Glenn Close is no stranger to Oscar, but this film, a late-year entry, has been somewhat of a secret—not unlike the true identity of film's main character. Close plays a woman who, at 14, began to dress like a man to work as a servant in a manor house. She lives that life uninterrupted for decades until she is accidentally revealed. Imaging if Downton Abbey had a transgender character.

2. A Better Life — Best Actor (Demián Bichir)

You've heard of Twilight, yes? Director Chris Weitz's last directing gig was for the "New Moon" chapter of that franchise. Suffice it to say that A Better Life didn't make as big a box-office splash. But Mexican movie star Demián Bichir (Che, Weeds) is nominated for his role as a gardener living illegally in Los Angeles who attempts to ensure financial security for his family by buying a truck for his business. When the truck is stolen, Bichir's character must figure out how to get it back without getting "help" from the police.

3. Chico and Rita — Best Animated Feature

Looking more sensual and less esoteric than last year's adult-themed animated nominee, The Illusionist, this Spanish-language feature is a love song to Latin jazz. The filmmakers spent weeks shooting on location in Havana and sought out Cuban music greats Bebo Valdés and Estrella Morente to help bring the sound of that era alive.

4. The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom — Best Documentary Short

Documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker, who was nominated for an Academy Award last year for her feature Waste Land, had been planning a trip to Japan to film the ritual cherry blossom festival when the horrifying earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck. When she arrived, Walker collected harrowing witness footage and testimony of the disaster. But she also found that many survivors were able to meditate on the loss through the beautiful ephemery of the falling blossoms.

5. God is the Bigger Elvis — Best Documentary Short

An appealing Hollywood ingenue in the 1950s, Dolores Hart went from smooching Elvis in his first on-screen kiss to following her true heart and devoting her life to her faith as a Catholic in a convent in Connecticut. Hart is a member of the Academy; she'll be attending the ceremony and walking the red carpet. Maybe, like Tim Tebow, she'll pull out a win.

An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Waste Land won an Academy Award last year. Though nominated for Best Documentary Feature, the film did not win.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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