Ranking the 9 Best Picture Oscar nominees from worst to best
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The best of the best, and also the worst of the best.
The 2020 Academy Awards takes place late on Sunday evening (if you're in LA, but first thing Monday morning here), and some of the best ("best") movies of the year will be rewarded with some shiny trophies.
While the Academy has sometimes had accusations of being out of touch with the public levelled at it - no real love for Avengers: Endgame? - or of being out of touch with, y'know, society - where are the women and people of colour? - by and large, they do tend to get the most-talked about, generally-quite-good, almost universally American-made movies of the last 12 months and bestow them with attention.
So, to that end, before the winners have actually been announced, here are the nine Best Picture nominees, ranked in quality, starting with...
9. JOJO RABBIT
Far and away the least substantial movie on here and obviously only made the cut because it has something to do with World War II and Nazis, and it feels like a legal obligation to have at least one World War II and/or Nazi movie nominated every single year. Don't get us wrong, it isn't a bad movie by any means, but considering the other movies on this list, it feels bizarrely out of place.
8. FORD V FERRARI
Your Dad's new favourite movie. Matt Damon and Christian Bale are fantastic in this, which really smacks of what you might call "old school cinema", or the even older chestnut of "they just don't make them like this anymore". They do. They absolutely do. You just don't go to see them unless they star Jason Bourne and Batman. A very watchable movie, but destined to be forgotten as an also-ran, ironically.
7. THE IRISHMAN
Remember a few months back when this was coming out and everyone was tripping over themselves, calling it the best movie of Scorsese's career? Or the best movie of the decade? An immediate and instant classic? And yet here we are, barely three months on, and it has been almost entirely forgotten about. Despite the stellar performances and magnetic storytelling, give it a year and all anyone will remember this movie for is bad de-aging effects and it being so, so, so, so, so long.
6. LITTLE WOMEN
The genuine surprise of the bunch, although in hindsight, it had no reason to be. Putting together Greta Gerwig (who blew us all away with Lady Bird) with THIS cast was never not going to be amazing, but the idea of yet another adaptation of a book from 1868 just doesn't sound terribly exciting. The fact that it was this funny, intelligent and heartbreaking just proves that Gerwig is a talent that should be allowed to do absolutely whatever she wants, but unfortunately she dropped this particular movie in a particularly decent year. But just you watch. This will be a grower, as the love for it will grow while other, louder movies will fade from memory (cough The Irishman cough, cough),
As we said in our review, Joker was an incredible movie... but one that we never, ever want to watch again. Taking a character that movie audiences now know all too well and giving him shading and a tangible backstory was never going to be an easy gig, especially when you somehow have to take that level of realism and tie it in with a man who fights crime in a bat costume. But between writer/director Todd Phillips and a searing turn from Jaoquin Phoenix, it became a masterfully dark drama that you couldn't take your eyes off. Just the once, though, because there is little-to-no chance you'll purposefully ever be in the mood to watch it again.
4. ONCE UPON A TIME IN... HOLLYWOOD
Much like Little Women, time will be kind to Tarantino's Hollywood. Sure, upon first watch it seems a little hazy and meandering, only really snapping into focus during the cult's home visit and the ultra-violent finale. We imagine that given a decade or so, Hollywood will be viewed alongside Inglorious Basterds as Tarantino's most fun, most easy-to-rewatch epics. DiCaprio and Pitt are fantastic together, both given ample room to test the boundaries of types of characters they've never really played before. A bloody, gorey, drug-fuelled cosy jumper of a movie.
You can't not be impressed by 1917. An absolute technical marvel, from Roger Deakins' continuously peerless cinematography, to Thomas Newman's ticking clock score, to Sam Mendes' propulsive direction. We imagine it will soon be added to masterclasses on How To Make A Movie, all the while being more entertaining than Dunkirk and more impressive that Saving Private Ryan.
If this wins Best Picture at the Oscars, we sincerely couldn't be happier. If anything, we'd prefer this to win, as it would finally mean that the Academy has opened its mind to greater possibilities. It's a Hitchcockian comedy-drama-thriller, and one that looks at the not-so-silent war between modern economic classes. It is at once a perfect pick for the Oscars to be the overall winner, as it tackles the hottest of hot topics right now, while simultaneously being almost too intelligent to stand any real chance of winning. Either way, it will still go down as one of the greatest movies of our generation.
1. MARRIAGE STORY
World Wars. Supervillains. Epic biopics. Huge scale gangster tales. Iconic literary tales. And yet this story of a marriage crumbling to pieces stands tall. Adam Driver and Scar-Jo are incendiary in their roles as an imperfect husband and wife, both turned into monsters by the divorce process. Love, and falling out of love, isn't going away any time soon. And Marriage Story so perfectly captures that feeling of having love, and not fully understanding why it is going away, while also being fully aware that it absolutely needs to. Painfully funny, and at times just plain painful, it is difficult to imagine a more relatable movie than this.
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