Ranking the 2016 Oscar’s Best Picture Nominees

Photo Credit:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/movie-news/oscars-2016-academy-awards-nominations/

With the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards officially announced, all the snubs have been snubbed and the finger-pointing hashtags been tweeted. Unlike most years, there’s not a bad film in the bunch for the Best Picture nominees. But there also aren’t that many great ones. Here’s my ranking of the eight films vying for the trophy next month.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2381111/8. Brooklyn

Don’t get me wrong, Brooklyn is incredibly well made. It has all the power and nuance a movie nominated for Best Picture should. But there has to be a worst movie nominated. For its gorgeous period aesthetic, Brooklyn is unfortunately ordinary in terms of plot. It’s an immigrant love story and little more.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3170832/?ref_=nv_sr_17. Room

If we were going on first acts alone, Room would be far closer to the top of the list. The setup and first act climax are some of the best scenes of any movie from 2015. Unfortunately, everything that comes after feels disjointed. One of the main character arcs gets a cheat into victory, flattening the entire film’s impact.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3682448/?ref_=nv_sr_16. Bridge of Spies

You can’t go wrong with Steven Spielberg. Even when one of the best working directors in Hollywood sort of phones it in, the results are cinematic, engaging, and endlessly charming. Moving from a courtroom drama to a international espionage thriller, Bridge of Spies exercises an artist as he’s settled into an era of goodness rather than greatness.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1596363/?ref_=nv_sr_15. The Big Short

Easily the funniest movie about the financial crisis that will probably ever be made, The Big Short blends creative comedy with cold, hard facts in an unpredictable and endlessly entertaining manner. Featuring great performances all around, the only thing detracting from the film is its oppressive style. Otherwise, this thing is surprisingly emotional in the end. There’s no question why this is one of the current frontrunners.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3659388/?ref_=nv_sr_14. The Martian

Ridley Scott returned to critical acclaim after a few notable duds with an oddly optimistic sci fi survival story. While not nearly the comedy the Hollywood Foreign Press would tell you it is, there’s a lightness to The Martian that made it refreshing in light of more dramatic fare like Gravity. With some excellent tension building, especially toward the climax, it ends up being an extremely emotionally satisfying film.

 

Photo Credit:3. Spotlight

While I found the film initially a bit underwhelming, Spotlight has grown on me immensely since its release. This quiet journalism saga gets off to a slow start but eventually will take you by surprise with its brutal realism. It’s the rare big awards film where Hollywood feels almost completely absent. This story works on its own without all the pomp and frills, something Tom McCarthy is thankfully well aware of.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1663202/2. The Revenant

Epics are hard to make. Based on the press surrounding it, you’d think The Revenant was the most difficult ever for the genre. But what folks seem to be missing is this film really works. Start to finish, The Revenant is beautiful, intimate, and grand. Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best, most committed performances in an already legendary career. Alejandro G. Inarritu not only challenges his success with Birdman last year, but surpasses it in every way. This bombastic, relentless tale of revenge is one for the ages.

 
Photo Credit:http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/news/428175-madness-these-are-more-mad-max-fury-road-posters#/slide/11. Mad Max: Fury Road

Yes, the movie that should win Best Picture in 2016 is a summer blockbuster. But what a film! George Miller returns to the classic Mad Max franchise and seems to make the film he always imagined the series would be. This is a beautifully filmed action movie that ranks among the most dynamic and imaginative of the genre. It’s also a highly successful feminist call to action. Was there a more iconic character in cinema this year than Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa? Everything clicks here to make a raging, explosive masterpiece. Now’s the time for the Academy and the masses to join in sheer awe of this work of art.

 

How would you rank 2016’s Best Picture nominees? Which films do you wish had gotten nominated? Let us know in the comments below!

 

By Matt Dougherty

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