Ranking the Best Picture Nominees of the 2015 Oscars

Now that we know which films the Academy thinks are most worthy of its prestigious honors, we can start to make some predictions. But we like to first do something a little different here at the Filtered Lens. With so many films getting nominated these days, it’s fun to rank them and discuss which are the best and worst of the group. Here’s out ranking of this year’s Best Picture nominees from worst to best.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2179136/8. American Sniper

The worst of the Best Picture noms gets off to a decent enough start. American Sniper initially looks to be a staunch profile of the modern “American hero” and the type of people we celebrate, in the same vein as The Hurt Locker. Instead, Clint Eastwood takes it in a direction that turns the film into little more than propaganda. Bradley Cooper is surely phenomenal, but the whole piece feels a few decades behind on how we tell stories about war heroes.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2278388/7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Of all the auteurs on the scene right now, Wes Anderson makes the least sense to me. The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t my least favorite film of his, but it’s no Moonrise Kingdom. It has some funny moments, some solid performances, and a stellar climax. But as a whole, Anderson’s hollow style strikes again, creating an emotionless saga that sacrifices a lot to be tongue-in-cheek.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/?ref_=nv_sr_16. The Imitation Game

There are a lot of good things about this Alan Turing biopic. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance, for example. But the film doesn’t balance all the periods of Turing’s life as well as it hopes to. Losing sight of the actual code-cracking to focus on Turing’s personal life, the whole project feels divided on what it wants its subject to be.

 

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2562232/?ref_=nv_sr_15. Birdman

Birdman might be the most interesting film nominated, its ambitions even rivaling that of Boyhood. Michael Keaton delivers the performance of his career. So why so low on the list? While the film’s style is admirable, it’s often distracting. This is a movie that wants you to think about how good its shots are and how long its been since they’ve cut. But when you’re thinking about all that, you lose something narratively.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2562232/?ref_=nv_sr_14. Selma

Okay, now we’re getting into the really good stuff. Selma isn’t meant to stir up white guilt, it’s meant to get a rise out of humanity in general for the way people were treated due to the color of their skin. Unlike last year’s 12 Years a Slave, a masterclass in “look how horrible this is”, Selma shows you horrible things, but also promotes a species undivided by race fighting for what’s right. That was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, and this snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement perfectly captures it.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1065073/?ref_=fn_al_tt_13. Boyhood

Probably the most ambitious film of the decade, Richard Linklater took 12 years of footage and compiled it into something truly beautiful. It’s not perfect, of course, but neither is life, and that’s kind of the point. The fact is, Boyhood is a marvel of cinema, encapsulating the early parts of our lives in a way that has never been done before. This is the favorite to win, and is certainly deserving.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2980516/?ref_=nv_sr_12. The Theory of Everything

I wanted to hate this movie. Eddie Redmayne is not my favorite actor and the trailers made this look like a hokey biopic that demanded Oscar attention. But I couldn’t help but get swept up in a surprisingly honest portrait of love that spans decades of misery and struggling. Redmayne proved me wrong by delivering an iconic performance. But it’s Felicity Jones as Stephen Hawking’s wife Jane who steals the show. The examination of true love and what that actually means, if it exists, is what propels The Theory of Everything near the top of this list.

 

Photo Credit:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2582802/?ref_=nv_sr_11. Whiplash

Whiplash is simply on of the most rewarding and exciting films of the decade. It’s portrait of the negatives of being talented is as haunting as it is inspiring. Miles Teller makes for a brilliant lead, but it’s J.K. Simmons’ scenery chewing turn as a terrifying professor that makes Whiplash a masterclass in building tension. But the questions it raises about the cost of becoming “one of the greats” are fully explored, leaving the ending just open-ended enough that Andrew’s future isn’t exactly certain but you feel wholly inspired. This is a movie that will create tension within you for reasons you probably never thought of. It’s the best film of 2014 and an inevitable snub at the Oscars.

 

How would you rank the Best Picture nominees? Let us know in the comments below!

 

By Matt Dougherty

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