So it took until JUST NOW for me to finish out the last of the Oscars 9 Best Picture nominees, and I’m ready to quickly rank them from what I feels is least good to best! I have never watched all of the Best Picture nominees before, so I’ve never been able to do this! I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, because most years I just DO NOT want to see all of the Best Picture nominees. However, this year I did it, so here we go!
#9 – Manchester By The Sea
While many people thoroughly enjoyed this film, I absolutely did not like it. Great acting performances, but the movie altogether was just so off-putting. It felt like the intentions were good, but the execution was very weird. Maybe I just missed the point, but either way, I didn’t like it. In particular, I hated the badly timed attempts at dark humor that just came off as wrong. Like the gag where they’re loading the wife up in the ambulance and the legs won’t go up so they can’t slide her in. Three children just died in a fucking fire and someone decided to insert levity with a non-funny gag??? It was distasteful and took away from the most emotionally connected part of the movie, the tragic back story. I just didn’t like this movie. It felt like a poor execution of a good idea.
#8 – Fences
I appreciate this as an ambitious film, because turning a stage play into a movie is not easy. I think that’s what went wrong. It still feels 100% like a play. The entire time you’re watching it, it’s like a play. I’m a theatre lover who has acted in many plays, so I do appreciate this story and the way it’s told, I just don’t think it is very successful as a FILM. It wasn’t adapted for film as much as just filmed on a location rather than on a stage. That’s the only change it underwent. I don’t think that, as a movie, it works very well. Viola Davis is amazing in it, but it’s just not a well done movie.
#7 – La La Land
This is where I’m really losing some of you guys, I know, but I thought La La Land was okay. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing, it was just okay. I think that they had really high intentions and failed to deliver what we’re promised. The musical aspect is patchy at best. The movie feels like three very distinct thirds and the first third, which is to me the weakest, is the musical and the rest is the story. I enjoyed the STORY. If the whole first third of the film was removed, I would’ve liked it a lot better. It was an overly-long movie, and of the films I saw in cinemas, this was the one film where other people at the viewing with me actually walked out. I’ve never seen that before, so clearly I enjoyed it more than a lot of people did. I think the strongest part of this film was the end. I loved the end. But, a great end doesn’t get this movie moved further up the list, so sadly, this is as high as I can take it.
#6 – Hacksaw Ridge
This is where it starts getting tougher, because all of the films from here up I liked. This was a good film. I was expecting something else, since a lot of negative reviews went on about how it glorifies violence, but honestly, I don’t know how anybody can watch this and not think it’s meant to make us horrified by violence and advocate for our non-violent protagonist. I was shocked by Andrew Garfield’s performance here. I would probably say I think he deserves best actor for this role. I don’t think he’ll get it, but I think he deserves it. Mel Gibson also had a really great comeback with this film. This was a genuinely solid film for him. This was a good, solid war film, and I’m a big fan of war films. I would have liked to move this movie higher, but it’s just a mark of how good the rest of the films are.
#5 – Hidden Figures
Please don’t think for a second that I didn’t really love Hidden Figures. This movie was one of my favorite movies I’ve seen. However, when it comes to the quality of the film-making, the rest just have some artistic quality that edge this one out. This movie tells my favorite story of the bunch, but the script isn’t as intricate as some of the ones higher and the directing, acting, and cinematography is more standard than some of the ones coming higher than it. However, I love space, I love women, I love women of color having their voices heard, and this movie was practically aimed directly at me. I am a fan of every single part of this movie. I love it so much.
#4 – Lion
I’ve seen a lot of people who either didn’t like this film or just weren’t that moved by it, but as everybody who follows me on twitter knows, this movie wrecked me. I ugly-sobbed myself to shame in the cinema that day. This movie was moving and touching and human and I loved it. Not only was the story incredible, but the cinematography was beautiful and I would say this is my second-favorite looking film of all 9. The acting was also top notch. The little boy in the first half was incredible, and I really think Dev Patel was amazing in his half. The real acting winner for me in this one was Nicole Kidman. She made me believe she was a mother who loves her sons. I felt it. I didn’t see Nicole Kidman, I saw Sue, and to me, that kind of natural performance is what really is the mark of good acting. I just genuinely adored this movie. I’ve never been more invested in a ‘based on a true story’ film as much as I was this one.
#3 – Moonlight
This is such a good movie. I cannot stress enough how good this movie is. I’m a fan of more artsy stories than necessarily narrative stories, and this is definitely the former. I feel like this movie is more about themes and impressions than telling a story, and I love that. This movie is about more than the character it surrounds, this movie is about the cultural attitudes about masculinity and sexuality in the black community, especially in a rough neighborhood like this. This is a movie that I think maybe makes more sense or appeals better if you understand this world.
Like I said in my review, I’m a white lady, so obviously I don’t live Chiron’s life, but Chiron is the kids I went to school with in my poor, mostly black town. One of my friends in high school killed himself afterwards because he got busted for dealing and nobody respected him anymore after he took a deal and snitched on his supplier. My friend who is a lesbian has literally said, “It’s okay for girls and white people, but black men being gay is just wrong,” so the attitudes are so specific in this community. So to me, watching Chiron’s struggles as a black man who is gay living in a town like mine was something I could feel in a way I couldn’t really feel almost any other movie this year. I love this movie. I wish I could put it at #1, but that’s just a mark of how good these last two films really were.
#2 – Arrival
The beauty of this film is that every aspect is moving. The cinematography is breathtaking, the directing is incredible, the acting is gut-wrenching, and the story is one that is mindbogglingly special. This entire film is one that I wish I could unsee and experience for the first time over again. It’s profound, it’s inventive, it’s creative, it’s so special that I might even say this is a life-changing film. This movie changed the way I look at all movies after it. What Villenueve managed to do here is something so magical that it raised my actual standards for what film-making can be. I thought about this film for days after seeing it and I genuinely can’t even believe this movie isn’t my #1, that’s how beautiful this story and film were. Also, Amy Adams was robbed.
#1 – Hell or High Water
I think the reason that this movie beat Arrival for me is because whereas Arrival takes human nature and puts it to the test against something outlandish and unreal, this movie is so powerfully real. Just like Moonlight, this was a film that I think I loved so much because it’s relatable. It isn’t necessarily just something Americans can understand, but I would say this movie is about as American as you can get, and not in some superficial “‘MURICA, YEAH!” way, but in a way that shows how twisted the American story is.
Hell or High Water tells a story a lot of us can identify with. I know my family isn’t the only one that, when the housing market collapsed, lost the home that had been in the family for generations. And like my favorite quote in this film says, poverty is like a genetic disease that passes down through the generations, so my family lost everything, and this is a story that millions of Americans can identify with. Chris Pine’s character in this movie is somebody we can understand. We get it. We understand his anger and his frustration and his determination to get revenge on the banks and sacrifice everything to make sure his children don’t ever know what it’s like to be him.
And in doing so, what’s more American than the ‘Robin Hood’-esque story of outlaws who don’t hurt people in their robberies? We’re a country built on the underdog outlaw story. All our Great American Heroes were outlaws, weren’t they? So this movie resonates in a way that it’s personal to so many and thematically understandable to most everybody else. Add in that it’s beautifully shot and incredibly acted, and this movie is unbeatable. The script is really good, the direction is impeccable, and I genuinely would put Jeff Bridges winning Best Supporting Actor if I could have my way.
I just really think that, of the nine, this is the best film all around and the one that I enjoyed watching the most. Of all of them, this is the only one I’ve seen twice so far, and that says a lot.
There we have it! There are my Oscars picks. I doubt maybe half of the things I think should win will win awards tonight, but you know what? I’m used to it. Here’s hoping your guys picks win since we know mine wont!
For further reading, here are the films above that I’ve written reviews for:
What about you guys? How outraged are you by my list? Did you agree with anything at all? Let me know!