Who knew "The Revenant" could be described as super-cute?
Maggie Storino and her daughters' annual photography series, Don't Call Me Oscar, returned Friday with takes on this year's Academy Award nominees for best picture — and the results, as expected, were equal parts adorable and impressive.
In addition to star turns by daughters Sophia, 5, and Sadie, 3, the 2016 edition marked the debut of Maggie's 8-month-old daughter, Sloane. The young trio teamed up with their mom to deliver gripping interpretations of "The Big Short," "Bridge of Spies," "Brooklyn," "The Revenant," "Room," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian" and "Spotlight." (Check out Sophia and Sadie's inspired takes on last year's nominees, while you're at it.)
"Between creating sets and discussing the photos, we spend a lot of thought on each photo," Storino told TODAY.com via email Tuesday. "So when it comes time to take the actual picture everyone is excited. Even if someone isn't in the picture, they’re in the background trying to get a laugh or, in the case of my husband in 'Big Short,' keeping Sloane from eating Jenga blocks."
Although that nutrition lesson isn't captured in this year's set of aww-inspiring outtakes, the ones that made that cut are charming nonetheless.
Storino said she was inspired to launch the Don't Call Me Oscar project a few years ago, when her sister, Marnie Hanel, was contributing to Vanity Fair's Academy Awards coverage. "I decided to send her photos of Sophia dressed as the best-picture nominees," Storino wrote. "These were forwarded along so many times, I threw them on a Tumblr to keep them organized."
She's since added an Instagram account to post her incredibly detailed masterpieces, which take "about a month" to pull off. "We start when the best-picture nominees are announced and finish a week before the Oscars," she wrote. "It only takes a few minutes to take the actual photo but it can take a while to put together the sets. I try to pick pictures based on props we already own. So when I saw that the doorknob in 'Brooklyn' matched our doorknobs, I knew we had to do that film still. It didn't matter that we didn't have anything else for the set, including the blue door, floral wallpaper or window. I knew we'd figure it out."
Sadie, according to her mom, especially enjoyed how that one turned out. "I showed Sadie the 'Brooklyn' photo and said, 'You look just like this movie star,'" Storino wrote. "She beamed and said 'No mom, I look just like Sophia.' She idolizes her big sister and this was a very proud moment for her."
The young sisters also make a point to research their parts (to a degree) and showcase their budding improv skills. "Sadie asked for the entire backstory of the film stills," Storino added. "Then she reenacted her version of the movie during each picture. At several points in 'Bridge of Spies,' we stopped everything so Sadie could answer a phone call from the 'bad guys.' She also wondered why the map didn’t have an 'X' on it for hidden treasure."
The photo series, however, does come with its share of challenges.
"Outer space is always hard," noted Storino, whose Sloane-starring photo for "The Martian" required interstellar gear. "If I knew these photos would be such a hit, I would've invested in a pint-sized spacesuit five years ago. Now every year, I scramble to find a tiny astronaut helmet."
Storino's personal favorite from this year's series is the hilariously cute reinterpretation "Mad Max: Fury Road," whose small fleet of toy cars is surprisingly imposing.
"When I planned the photo, renting a Penske to haul the neighborhood's riding toys seemed tame in comparison to shaving Sophia’s hair like Charlize Theron," she wrote. "Now, I'm not so sure."
The most fulfilling part of this creative outlet, Storino added, has been "spending time with family." Getting positive feedback from friends, family and international fans has a bonus.
"Every year it’s surprising how many people want to see these photos from TODAY.com to Telemundo," she wrote. "It's incredible to me that so many people around the world want to join in the fun. … Getting a thumbs-up from parents I admire is so validating. Last year, [Natalie Morales] complimented the Tumblr on the TODAY Show and it still makes me happy when I think about it."
Storino hopes her next celebrity shout-out comes from another NBC personality: "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon. "I would be over the moon if he liked our photos," she wrote. "He is so funny and I love pretty much everything he does from 'Fever Pitch' to late-night. The girls often have dance parties to his classroom instrument videos. Our favorite is 'Call Me Maybe,' because Sadie thinks Carly Rae Jepsen is singing 'Call Me Sadie.'"
The mom recently told Vanity Fair she plans to keep the Don't Call Me Oscar series going as long as it's fun. "This year, Sophia kept asking to see my 'Oscar photos' from when I was a kid," Storino told TODAY.com. "Until now, she thought this is how everyone spent their January weekends."
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