Fancy getting in on the Oscar race this year, but don’t know which film is genuinely best? Then this is the list for you, so find out which to pick as we get all of this year’s best picture nominees RANKED.
Fences is based on the Broadway play and is the third feature directorial effort from Denzel Washington. As a result, it’s a very theatrical and highly dramatic film, most of which takes place in the same location throughout.
Whilst undoubtedly an engaging and often emotionally powerful film, featuring two very strong central performances, Fences isn’t the strongest big screen adaptation of a play we’ve ever seen. The high theatrics come off as a little distracting from what should be a very realistic and down-to-earth story, and mixed with the singular setting, it often feels like this story would still work far better on the stage than on the silver screen.
8. Hidden Figures
The one thing that Hidden Figures really has going for it is that almost nobody has ever heard of the true-life story. For people that played a role in such an important and celebrated event, it’s amazing that we don’t know more about them, but this film does their story justice.
As a result, it’s a historically fascinating film, and with a good sense of humour, a genuinely enjoyable one too. It also impresses by focusing more on the story of the women’s work at NASA than a bog-standard Civil Rights drama, giving it a refreshing feel, and its central performances are all very good. The only place that the film falls down is that it doesn’t have much strong passion to it. Although interesting, this doesn’t have the powerful and truly enthralling sense of drama that could make it so much stronger.
7. Hell Or High Water
Hell Or High Water is a film that came from completely off the radar last August, and has managed to maintain momentum all the way to becoming one of the most unorthodox Best Picture nominees of recent times.
Fantastically simple and solid in its story, centring on a cat and mouse chase between two hare-brained bank robbers and a pair of police officers, the film is a hugely entertaining watch. Expertly directed and full of great action, Hell Or High Water isn’t your normal Oscar fare, and although it doesn’t always stick in the mind because of its relatively simple structure, it’s an undoubtedly great watch.
The film that critics across the world have been swooning over, Moonlight has been one of the big players this awards season. A moving tale of three stages of a black man’s life, as he grows up feeling completely isolated from those around him, it’s the sort of film that always stands a strong chance at taking top awards.
But it’s not just the story that has stunned so many people, because it’s also a beautifully-directed film. Whilst it captures the dark and gritty side of the story, director Barry Jenkins gives it this incredibly elegant and powerfully moving atmosphere that a lot of similar dramas just don’t have. It’s not the easiest watch in the world, both due to its hard-hitting story and its very slow-moving pace, and it’s not my personal favourite of the season, but it still deserves a lot of the praise it’s been receiving.
If there’s one film that general audiences seem to have really overlooked, it’s Lion. Although not really a typical sort of Best Picture nominee, the film is actually a wonderfully touching story about family, and one that will enthral you, make you smile, and even bring a tear to your eye.
Expertly directed by Garth Davis, the film is split into two very distinct sections, one focusing on a young Indian boy completely lost in the city of Calcutta, and the second centring on his desire to go back and find his lost family 25 years later. It’s an incredibly elegant and intimate film, and one with some excellent performances across the board, and it’s a shame to see that so many haven’t sought it out, but if you get the chance, I highly recommend Lion.
4. Hacksaw Ridge
Second World War movies are always a favourite of the Academy, and Hacksaw Ridge is pretty much the perfect formula to please them. Its uplifting and immensely patriotic story may seem like Oscar bait at first, but it’s actually an astounding piece of war cinema.
Stunningly directed by Mel Gibson, the film centres on the true story of a pacifist man who served in the war, going into battle without a weapon to defend himself. Its first act is reminiscent of the likes of Forrest Gump, whilst the second act, set in Okinawa, harks back to modern war classics like Saving Private Ryan, with its jaw-dropping battle sequences. As far as war movies go, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best, with excellent action and a fascinating and uplifting story.
If Lion is the movie that audiences have overlooked, then Arrival is the film that the Academy seems to be forgetting about. With Amy Adams being unacceptably snubbed for Best Actress, and a seeming lack of passion for the film in awards season, it looks like this sci-fi masterpiece is going to be ignored on Sunday.
However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s one of the most popular movies of the last year. A fiercely intelligent and cerebral drama that adapts true scientific theory to a first contact scenario, Arrival is exactly what we look for from the genre. Denis Villeneuve’s directing is astonishing, its screenplay is beyond incredible, and the lead performance from Amy Adams is exceptional. You’ve probably already seen Arrival, but if not, this is the one that people really love.
2. Manchester By The Sea
Depressing isn’t a strong enough word to describe Manchester By The Sea. A purely sad and shattering drama about a man struggling with the aftermath of his brother’s death, it’s an incredibly powerful film that turns small, personal events into something that anyone can become utterly engrossed in.
Although it moves along at a snail’s pace, and features some of the quietest dialogue of last year, Manchester By The Sea is a masterclass in making a film as realistic as possible. The film is strung together with a series of long and uncomfortable conversations that feel as if they’re happening right in front of you on the street, as well as some devastating flashbacks, all of which makes for a truly heartbreaking experience. It’s stunningly directed and acted everywhere you look, but remember, this isn’t a film for the faint-hearted.
1. La La Land
You may call it overrated, cheesy and clichéd, but I call La La Land perfect. An amazingly passionate and detailed revival of the classic Hollywood musical, it’s a spellbinding watch, complete with some of cinema’s greatest musical and dance sequences of all time.
Colourful, happy, upbeat and very snappy, it’s a film that will make even the biggest grinch smile from ear to ear. Even though its story is by no means totally original or even incredibly deep, it’s the best we’ve ever seen such a story shown on screen, and that’s something Hollywood definitely doesn’t achieve too often nowadays. Beautifully and passionately directed by Damien Chazelle, wonderfully acted by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and stunningly scored by Justin Hurwitz, La La Land will have you tap-dancing and humming your way home from the cinema, and that alone is what makes it the very best of this year’s Best Picture nominees.