Even a serious publication like The Interpreter is not immune to the Oscars buzz. A quick run-through the Best Picture nominees and it’s clear that there are foreign policy implications for each film. But maybe we are reading too much into this…

  • Brooklyn follows a young Irish immigrant moving to New York and finding a job and a boyfriend. As the Lowy Institute's Jiyoung Song has pointed out, a prosperous nation needs immigration and the immigrant story is largely one of successful integration
  • Bridge of Spies revolves around a tense exchange of prisoners during the height of the Cold War. It’s a good reminder about the hysteria during that period and the on-going need for cool-headed negotiation.  More concerning is that the Cold War mentality may have never really left Russia.
  • The Big Short is a film adaptation of the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. I won’t spoil the ending but the message seems to be that the problems that caused the crisis have not necessarily gone away. Leon Berkelmans has reflected on how the crisis 'shattered the perception of a near-perfect financial market'.
  • While the noise and costumes may have tricked you into thinking that Mad Max: Fury Road is just a high-octane action film, there is a point to be made about water. The whole film is set in a desert wasteland, a reminder of the importance of water supply for Australia and our region.
  • As for The Martian and the question of colonising Mars, Morris Jones reflected on the film last year and concluded 'spaceflight appeals to higher goals and some of the bigger questions about life itself'.
  • The themes of abuse explored in Room are yet another reminder of the chronic issue of domestic violence against women. Annmaree O’Keeffe has pointed out that 'despite the good intentions, the global campaigns, the international days and UN-sponsored meetings, this appalling human reality persists'.
  • Spotlight follows a newspaper investigation à la All the President’s Men on child sex abuse Boston area perpetrated by Roman Catholic priests. This raises the question - why does the Vatican City still have sovereignty? Provocateur Christopher Hitchens wrote about this at length.
  • Finally, there's The Revenant, a film where Leonardo di Caprio fights a bear and escapes death numerous times. Carole Cadwalladr has already made a comparison of gratuitous violence in the film and the propaganda of Islamic State. A more nuanced understanding of the relationship between Islamic State and violence in the media can be found in the new Lowy Institute analysis paper released today.

Happy #Oscars2016 viewing! 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Disney ABC Television Group