Written By: Hayden Claborn, Writer.
The 95th Academy Awards are upon us! As usual, the biggest award of the night is Best Picture and this year we have 10 nominees. While I might not love every film here I appreciate the wide swath of nominees from blockbusters to indies. I don’t even dislike any of them, which is a rare occasion for me. Here is my ranking of which films deserve to win Best Picture, in descending order:
10. Triangle of Sadness (3 Nominations)
I’ve been a fan of Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund in the past, but his newest effort, Triangle of Sadness, which won Östlund’s second Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is mildly amusing. The film’s social commentary is obvious, which would be less of an issue if its characters felt like real people. The performances are good; the actors do their best with the script at hand. Maybe I would’ve liked it more if I wasn’t thinking about all the other movies that deserved a nomination.
9. Women Talking (2 Nominations)
Sarah Polley’s film seemingly snuck into Best Picture with only one other nomination under its belt for Best Adapted Screenplay. Women Talking is a powerful film despite its faults; it could’ve used a tighter edit and the concrete looking color pallet is borderline disastrous. However, the performances are universally excellent and Polley’s script is cleverly written.
8. Elvis (8 Nominations)
Baz Lurhman has called his film “The Apocalypse Now of musicals” and he’s right. But is Elvis good? I don’t know. It’s too long and the depiction of Elvis as a civil rights icon is historically questionable. At the same time though, the film is seductive in its fever-dream chaos and Austin Butler is spectacular as the King of Rock.
7. The Banshees of Inisherin (9 Nominations)
British-Irish playwright turned writer-director Martin McDonagh returns with one of the most acclaimed films of the season: The Banshees of Inisherin. Colin Farrel and Brendan Gleeson turn in two first-class performances, anchored by an emotionally astute screenplay by McDonagh. I don’t know if it totally lives up to the hype, but nevertheless, this is a really good movie and I could see it improving on rewatches.
6. Top Gun Maverick (6 Nominations)
If the Academy felt the need to nominate some bonafide blockbusters, at least their picks are inspired. Top Gun Maverick is less propaganda for the United States Military and more a feature length campaign video for Tom Cruise. Every single moment is cliche and yet you don’t care. A thrilling piece that never fails to engage.
5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (11 Nominations)
The current front runner for Best Picture has a scene with hot dog fingers. I genuinely didn’t see Everything Everywhere All at Once making it this far, but this is a testament to what directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have accomplished. Despite the weirdness and hyperactive storyline, there is genuine emotion throughout the whole film. A worthy winner.
4. All Quiet on the Western Front (9 Nominations)
Edward Berger’s adaptation of the seminal 1928’s German anti-war novel is staggering. Breaking from the novel’s singular POV, Berger showcases the horror of war, from reusing the uniforms of dead soldiers to the final tragic moments of World War I. This a deeply upsetting piece of filmmaking; we watch young men suffer pointless and often horrific deaths. Ignore the phrase “War is Hell”; the film’s ultimate thesis is “Humanity is Evil.”
3. The Fabelmans (7 Nominations)
If there is any filmmaker who is allowed to self mythologize it’s Steven Spielberg, one of the great masters of American cinema. And while there is some mythmaking in The Fabelmans, it’s also a deeply sad and complicated work of art. It’s a stunning portrait of how we relate to and understand our parents– we can both love and hate them.
2. Avatar: The Way of Water (4 Nominations)
James Cameron showing that he’s still the king of Hollywood is an utter joy. He’s a con man where the scheme is real. Avatar: The Way of Water is like nothing else in film canon. Its virtuoso technological filmmaking turns the impossible into the possible while somehow still feeling impossible. It’s the kind of cinematic vision that you only ever thought would exist in our imaginations. I’ve seen it three times so far and that barely feels like enough.
1. Tár (6 Nominations)
After my first viewing, I knew Todd Field’s Tár was a great film, but after my second, I knew it was a masterpiece. Rarely is it so hard to pin a film down; it’s an examination of ego while also being a dark comedy and dipping its toe into the realm of gothic horror. This is a titanic achievement of the cinematic form and Cate Blanchette gives a performance of a lifetime.
If I had to nominate ten movies for Best Picture these are the titles I would’ve chosen in alphabetical order:
All The Beauty and the Bloodshed
Avatar The Way of Water
Bardo, False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths
Bones and All