Oscar season is genuinely one of my favourite times of the year. And since I have now managed to see all of the Oscar Best Picture nominated films for this year it is once again time for me to go through that list and rank them. Now as always this is a list based upon my personal favourites, rather than what I think is the best, and I would love to hear which of the nominees is your favourite in the comments.
8) A Star Is Born – There is good craft that went into A Star Is Born, Cooper did a good job as a first time director, and Lady Gaga did a fine job for someone with limited acting experience. But the film just felt like it was offering nothing new. There have been several versions of A Star Is Born before and this just retread that old ground, without really adding anything to the conversation at all. It’s a perfectly fine film across the board, but one that just did nothing for me, and didn’t stand out in any way. It is certainly my least favourite of the Best Picture nominees.
7) Bohemian Rhapsody – I don’t think Bohemian Rhapsody is a good film, but there no doubt it’s highly entertaining. Sure it doesn’t stick that closely to the true history of Queen, and instead trots out every music biopic cliche in the book, but honestly that didn’t really bother me. Yes the first half of the film is essentially a montage of different montages, and the finale of the film is a painstaking recreation of the Live Aid performance that is readily available on YouTube. But with great performances throughout, particularly from Rami Malek, and the ability to go through Queen’s incredible catalogue of music, Bohemian Rhapsody was just a good time at the cinema.
6) Roma – Almost the opposite of Bohemian Rhapsody, Roma is a superb technical achievement. Cuarón’s direction, the cinematography, the Screenplay, and the performance of Yalitza Aparicio are all incredible. But it just didn’t connect for me. A big part of that may well have been the fact that it was only available on Netflix, and I didn’t get the opportunity to see it on the big screen. But honestly Roma is one of the few films nominated for Best Picture that I genuinely believe deserves to be. It is an incredible technical achievement, and one with a beautiful personal story for Cuarón, it just wasn’t for me, but is certainly deserving of its place amongst the nominees, which doesn’t go for most of the films as far as I’m concerned.
5) Green Book – Green Book is a lovely film, albeit a safe one, and one that when I heard about some of the behind the scenes stuff went down a little in my estimations. Following the friendship between an Italian American New York bouncer, Tony Vallelonga, and a black concert pianist, Don Shirley, as they tour the deep south during the height of segregation. The film was really about the friendship between these two, but a lot of people made jokes about how this was a film that was trying to solve racism. The behind the scenes issues though are similar to Bohemian Rhapsody, in the fact that it doesn’t do a great job of depicting actual history. It turns out that writer and director Peter Farrelly only consulted Vallelonga’s family, and completely ignored Shirley’s. As I said at the start Green Book is certainly a nice time at the cinema, but past the performances of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, I don’t really see it as an award worthy film.
4) Vice – Vice was an interesting film for me. Adam McKay is clearly not a fan of Dick Cheney, and his policies, and if you are then you will hate Vice. But even if Vice lines up with your political views, then there are still issues with the film that hold it back from being a great film. It is very much in the same style as McKay’s last Oscar nominated film, The Big Short, in that it will frequently cut away for comedic asides, or to explain some of the more complex issues. I wasn’t a big fan of the style in The Big Short, and although I found Vice to be a little more focused because it was following one person, I still don’t love it. And whilst the film was hilarious, that felt at odds with some of the horrible stuff that was happening. There is certainly a lot to enjoy, particularly the performance, and it is worthwhile to learn about these recent events that shaped our current world, but again I’m not sure its a Best Picture film.
3) Black Panther – Black Panther’s inclusion on the list has upset a lot of people, but I am delighted with it. Do I think it is in the 10 best films of the year, probably not, but it is a film that I loved, that brought a lot of social commentary to a massive blockbuster film, and with its inclusion in the Best Picture category is only increasing the legitimacy of Superhero films after Heath Ledger’s nomination for The Dark Knight and Logan securing one for Best Adapted Screenplay. I don’t think that Black Panther transcended the genre in the way that these two did, but it is ridiculous to compare, because Black Panther is following on the heels of these films that laid the groundwork, and is coming out in a completely different year. I loved Black Panther, and am more than happy with its inclusion.
2) BlacKkKlansman – Finally we reach the films that I loved, and would be happy to see winning Best Picture with Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Based on real life, it tells the story of how the first Colorado Springs Policeman, Ron Stallworth, went undercover with the KKK, with the help of white officer Flip Zimmerman. This is a great story, hilariously told by Lee, and bolstered by terrific performances from John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Topher Grace as David Duke. Then right at the end there’s the huge kicker as Lee relates the events of the time to modern day and what happened at Charlottesville in 2017. It’s a powerful ending that leaves you in a state of horror after such a fun ride of a film.
1) The Favourite – My absolute favourite film from all 8 Best Picture nominees is comfortably The Favourite. Based around the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain during the 18th Century. It features the political maneuverings of two members of her court, Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Hill as they seek political position and the Queen’s favouritism. The film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, although it is more accessible than his previous work like The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and this is possibly because it wasn’t actually written by him. The performances are superb across the board, with Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone all deservedly getting Oscar nominations, whilst Nicholas Hoult could easily have garnered one himself. If you haven’t managed to see The Favourite yet I would highly recommend seeking out, you absolutely will not be disappointed. It’s absolutely hilarious, and expertly brought to life by Lanthimos.The Favourite is definitely the pick of the nominees as far as I’m confirmed.