OPINION- “And the Oscar goes to”: Sac State students weigh in on the best movies of 2021


This year, there are 10 movies nominated for the Best Picture award. The Best Picture is known to be the highest honor at the Oscars.

Alexis Hunt, Visuals Staffer

With the 94th annual Academy Awards only a few days away, Sacramento State students weighed in on their favorite movies from 2021 and shared their opinions on which movies deserve an Oscar.

One of the most highly anticipated award categories presented at the Oscars is Best Picture.

The Best Picture award is given to the film that has gone above and beyond in terms of film quality and has excelled at box office sales. The winner is chosen by the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts.

This year, the nominees for Best Picture are: “Belfast”, “Coda”, “Don’t Look Up”, “Drive My Car”, “Dune”, “King Richard”, “Licorice Pizza”, “Nightmare Alley”, “The Power of the Dog”, and “Westside Story”.

All the nominees for Best Picture category have unique and relevant storylines along with diverse and representative casts.

The most notable Best Picture nominees include “Coda” for featuring deaf actor Troy Kotsur, along with “Drive my Car”, “King Richard”, and “Westside Story” for bringing more diversity and representation to the big screen.

Out of the Best Picture nominees, students chose “Don’t Look Up” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as their favorite.

“Don’t Look Up” tells the story of two astronomers warning people through the media about an asteroid that is set to destroy Earth.

Featured as one of the best Picture nominees, “Don’t Look Up” was a favorite among students. The film was nominated for an Oscar due to its persuasive satire and relevance to modern day events.

“It was funny, but also encapsulated a lot of the things that go on in today’s society that a lot of people put to the side,” Monika Mazer, a criminal justice major said. “They did it in a more neutral way to where everyone can understand it, and it’s appealing to younger and older generations.”

This movie perfectly depicts how modern day culture can be oblivious to important and impactful things that can drastically alter our lives.

“Don’t Look Up” is an allegory for how the government has reacted to the climate crisis, and will undoubtedly be an influential film of this time period.

Another movie some students wish to see win an Oscar is Disney and Pixar’s “Encanto”.

Disney’s Encanto | Official Trailer

“Encanto” tells the story of a Colombian girl who must save the magic that surrounds her family’s home and traditions. The film has been nominated for Best Original Song, Original Score, and Animated Feature Film awards.

“‘Encanto’ has a lot of trauma and is very representative of the Hispanic community,” biology student Alexis Tarula said.

Tarula also mentioned how he liked the movie’s portrayal of certain thematic elements and how they were very accurate to certain standards and ideals that are common in the Hispanic community.

Maria Santiago, a childhood development major, said she also connected to the authentic storyline of “Encanto”.

“For us Latino people, we have gone through similar situations and we felt what they went through,” Santiago said.

The strong representation and accuracy of culture really sets “Encanto” apart from other films. Growing up Colombian, political science major Gabriela Cuellar shares that “Encanto” resonated with her.

“For me personally, growing up with all the stigma around being Colombian, the movie kinda broke that, which I really liked,” Cuellar said.

Cuellar also mentioned how the filmmakers for “Encanto” had an anthropologist travel to Colombia to study the culture and mannerisms of the people.

“For people who are Colombian, we really noticed the little mannerisms and the little accents they put on the words so I thought it was really cool the amount of effort they put into that movie,” Cuellar said.

The Visual Effect award category highlights the films that feature unique and stunning graphics that help bring the story to life. As a part of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is visually stunning and appeals to many Marvel fans thanks to its groundbreaking special effects and computer-generated imagery.

Personally, I’m most excited to see the awards for Visual Effects.

The nominees for Visual Effects include: “Dune”, “Free Guy”, “No Time to Die”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

My personal favorite from those nominees is “Spider-Man: No Way Home”. As a big Marvel fan, the effects and graphics in this movie really helped to immerse me into the story.

On top of great visual effects, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” gave the audience character crossovers and villain fight scenes that many fans have wanted for a long time.

Johnny Nicholson, a computer science major, said he believes the film deserves the award for Best Visual Effects.

“I loved the nostalgia of it and seeing all the different Spider-Men get together,” Nicholson said. “I love Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin.”

The Oscars also allow movies and independent short films to gain recognition and acknowledgement. This year, a short film called “The Windshield Wiper” was nominated for the Animated Short Film Category.

Thought-provoking, triggering, and extraordinarily poetic, this short film ponders the question “What is love?”. I strongly recommend everyone to support independent filmmakers and to give “The Windshield Wiper” a watch.

As we transition into an era of increased inclusiveness and diversity, it is my hope that the nominated movies that live up to this standard earn the awards and recognition they deserve.

Be sure to tune in to The Oscars airing on March 27th, hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes.

Also check out The State Hornet Sac State Says on Oscar Predictions.