We get it, you’re so behind on binge-worthy TV that you can’t even fathom fitting this year’s films into your tightly packed viewing schedule. However, we insist that you indulge in at least a few before awards season hits full speed. Here, the 6 Golden Globes–nominated films we recommend you deem worthy of a watch. We promise they’ll be worth the investment of your hard-earned spare time.
Nominations: Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Cate Blanchett); Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Rooney Mara); Best Director, Motion Picture; Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Why You Should Watch: Reviews of the film are overwhelmingly glowing and, judging by its sheer number of nominations, the Hollywood Foreign Press is clearly in agreement. Every element is strong, from the performances by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett to the screenplay (a masterful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt) to the intense score by Carter Burwell and beyond. It's rare these days for a film to feel as wholly satisfying as Carol; if you see only one nominated movie this season, this ought to be it.
The Big Short
Nominations: Best Screenplay, Motion Picture; Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Christian Bale); Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Steve Carell); Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Why You Should Watch: We’re not sure we need to say more than this: Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell. If you're not sold, maybe the fact that reviewers unanimously loved the film—even The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal raved—will bring you onboard with this adaptation of Michael Lewis’ novel. Lewis is best known for his book Liar’s Poker, but you may better recognize his other adapted novels, The Blind Side and Moneyball. If all of that isn't enough to entice you into a viewing, perhaps because you think the subject of Wall Street is a bit tired, The Big Short was co-written and directed by Adam McKay, who's also responsible for bringing us Funny or Die and Anchorman.
Nominations: Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
Why You Should Watch: If you liked The Virgin Suicides, you’ll like Mustang, a story of the demonization of female sexuality in a small Turkish village as experienced by a set of unfairly oppressed sisters. The film is quietly feminist, portraying the girls not as angels but as normal young women with natural instincts and desires that, though misunderstood by their conservative caretakers, are unhealthier repressed than expressed.
Nominations: Best Screenplay, Motion Picture; Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Brie Larson); Best Motion Picture, Drama
Why You Should Watch: If you read the novel on which Room is based, you likely aren't in need of any further incentive to watch the film. Critics unanimously agree on the strength of performances by Brie Larson and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay, both of which will undoubtedly reduce you to tears, and on the overall emotional effect this film has on its viewers. While you may want to palate-cleanse afterward with lighter fare, this is an important film that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival to a standing ovation and has been receiving continued applause ever since.
Nominations: Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Leonardo DiCaprio); Best Director, Motion Picture; Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Why You Should Watch: If we're being completely honest, we're mainly recommending you see this movie because it's Leo’s best chance for an Oscar thus far, and he pulls out all the stops in pursuit of that goal. But our childhood crush isn't the only of this film's merits, as any fan of director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel) might assume. Not for the faint of heart, the story line has much more to do with physical survival than any philosophical considerations, and the movie is quite carnal as a result. Still, there's a poetry that's pure Inarritu, buoyed by the impressive performance of DiCaprio.
Nominations: Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Saoirse Ronan)
Why You Should Watch: Though not as heavily nominated as some of the others on this list, Brooklyn is both a critical darling and a sigh of relief—the most unabashedly romantic film of 2015. The excellent novel of the same name on which this film is based had the good luck of being adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby, best known for About a Boy, last year’s Wild, and the novel High Fidelity (on which the cult classic film was based). Brooklyn isn't popcorn fare by any means—at its core is a sense of nostalgia, that even happy things will at some point feel a little sad—but its old-fashioned sensibility and unapologetic sentimentality make it a joy to watch.