Crafty Cinema: 3 Movies Spotlighting the Maker Spirit

From The Revenant to The Martian, DIY is all over the place at this year's Oscars.

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Is Hollywood finally catching up with the maker movement? It sure felt like it in this year’s slate of Oscar nominees, a veritable banquet of cinematic craftiness and DIY spirit. In anticipation of the awards, we rounded up the Academy Award contenders that best typify the maker spirit.

the martian

The Martian Film

Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded and alone on Mars, in The Martian.

Photo by: Courtesy of Twentieth-Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth-Century Fox

The Martian: Homesteading in Space

What can you say about an enterprising hero who found a way to grow plants even in the nutrient-scarce soil, thin atmosphere and inhospitable temperatures of Mars? 

Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is a botanist left for dead in outer space, who survives by crafting a greenhouse out of plastic sheeting and “makes” his own fertilizer to feed his crops in order to grow enough potatoes to sustain him. Though it would be very hard to garden on Mars, The Martian isn’t total science fiction: astronauts are already growing their own lettuce at the International Space Station.

We loved the maker spirit of The Martian: Ridley Scott’s space drama was a triumph of science-y, botanical brains over brawn, and an unintentional salute to all the smart makers out there creating things of joy and beauty from the tools at hand.

Mad Max: Fury Road: Postapocalyptic Upcycling

mad max

Charlize Theron stars in Mad Max: Fury Road

Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is a heroine living in a very upcycled world in the maker-centric action film, Mad Max: Fury Road.

Photo by: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The Mad Max franchise is the ultimate maker movement film series, whose villains and heroes upcycle industrial parts, supercharged monster trucks, motorcycles and whatever else they can find to survive a desolate, resource-scarce world. Director George Miller (at 70, proving you’re never too old to create) took that repurposing energy to the next level in his heralded, super-fun sequel, injecting a dose of wit into his madcapped steampunk-esque inventions, like those unbelievable “pole cat” cars and a flame-throwing guitar so righteous, it inspired the creative minds at Make Zine, to craft their own fiery instrument: a flame-throwing ukulele!

Like The Martian, Mad Max also had a homesteading message, with heroine Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and a legion of motorcycle-driving grannies trying to reverse the earth’s grim, water-depleted course by hoarding heritage seeds and yearning to grow a garden as an antidote to the world's problems.

The Revenant: DIY Style on a Pioneer Budget

the revenant

The Revenant Film

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in The Revenant about a man who has to use his wits and some DIY skills to navigate the wilderness.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Draped in the kind of cozy-chic bear hides that would do both a frontiersman and an apres-ski hipster proud, real life 19th century pioneer and survivalist Hugh Glass (played with great mettle by Leonardo DiCaprio), demonstrated the ultimate DIY mantra in The Revenant. With very little at his disposal, and horrifically injured from a violent bear attack, Glass crawled his way across South Dakota’s frozen tundra to seek revenge on the fellow woodsman John Fitzgerland (Tom Hardy) who done him wrong. In the process, Glass built countless fires with little more than straw and gunpowder, survived attack by bears and American Indians and demonstrated some of the survival skills the real life Glass learned early on from his contact with the Pawnee tribe.

Whether you’re just doing some back country camping, or looking for some tips in the eventuality your next hike takes a turn for the worse, The Revenant is inspiration galore, from the special dam Glass builds to catch fish to his on-fleek fur poncho. Though we probably won’t be road-testing some of The Revenant's more extreme ideas (horse hide sleeping bag, anyone?) we're just glad to see Hollywood finally giving the DIY mantra of better living through grit and ingenuity some play.   

Oscar and Academy Award is ©Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® or ©A.M.P.A.S.®

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