Surrender 72: The Martian

It’s time…post Academy Awards…to watch each of the Best Picture nominated films. There were eight movies up for this top award in the film industry. I haven’t seen any of them. With great anticipation, I selected The Martian as my first 2016 Best Picture nominated movie. 

The Martian stars Matt Damon, Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kristen Wiig. Ridley Scott directed this drama/adventure/sci-fi, which is based on the novel by the same name, by Andy Weir. The movie has a run time of 2 hours and 24 minutes and has a PG-13 rating for strong language, injury scenes and brief nudity. 

The Martian was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Damon. It did not win in any category. 

During a severe storm on Mars, the crew aborts its mission, leaving behind astronaut Mark Watney (Damon), who is presumed dead.  Mission Commander Lewis (Chastain) is devastated by her decision to leave a crewman behind, but she must protect the rest of her crew. 

After the spacecraft Hermes has departed, Mark awakens, injured and abandoned, the sole inhabitant of the planet Mars. To survive, he must use all of the knowledge he has, plus ingenuity and strength of will. He is initially unable to communicate with Earth. He must come up with his own survival plan. 

Back on Earth, NASA realizes that Mark is alive, after studying satellite pictures that show the Mars Rover moved from its last known position. An international team comprised of Teddy Sanders (Daniels), Mitch Henderson (Bean), Annie Montrose (Wiig) and Vincent Kapoor (Ejiofor) must come up with a way to keep Watney alive until he can be rescued. 

From rationing supplies, to growing food on a hostile planet, to learning how to communicate, to running possible rescue scenarios, Watney and NASA discover that it takes a world united to bring a man home from Mars. 


This was a great, edge of my seat movie. The nerd within me loved all the science in the film. Watney is a botanist. And I enjoyed the use-the-resources-on-hand-to-survive plot that showcased brains and logic and creativity.  
Matt Damon gave an excellent performance as a man faced with impossible odds. The majority of his scenes were acted alone. He played the character with the right blend of seriousness over his situation, and humor in facing the inevitable and making the most of life anyway. Matt deserved his Best Actor nomination. 

Having had a year of firsts, I appreciated Watney’s remarks about how everything in his  Mars experience was a first. How true when you are the only person on an entire planet. True as well, for anyone who desires to move beyond his or her comfort zone and experience life in fresh ways. 

I also loved the reference to The Lord of the Rings, especially since Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the Fellowship of the Ring, was not only in this movie, but in the scene when it was mentioned. I tried to catch a smirk on his face. 

I have to admit that I was very on edge watching this movie. I deliberately avoided learning much about the storyline before viewing, and I didn’t know how it ended. I could see several possible outcomes. I really only wanted one. I won’t spoil the movie for those who have not seen it by revealing the ending. 

I can, however, highly recommend The Martian to anyone who enjoys a great mix of science and sci-fi or appreciates Matt Damon and the directorial skill of Ridley Scott.  Can they bring him home? Find out!