We’ve got nine excellent films vying for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards – making it one of the strongest fields in a long time, with quality everywhere you look.
So, here’s my personal ranking of the 2020 Oscars Best Picture nominees.
9. Little Women
A gorgeous film characterised by beautiful costume and production design and a heart of gold, not only has director Greta Gerwig’s Little Women been a critical success, but has also taken $165m at the worldwide box office.
It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that looks at the ever-diverging paths of four sisters, although for me, it’s just a little too light to prove really special.
Despite an engaging tale and a whole host of excellent performances, Little Women doesn’t quite deliver the passion to really hit home, instead proving an often disappointingly one-note watch.
8. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Legendary director Quentin Tarantino is an absolute titan of the movie world, and with an all-star cast and a tale about a love for old Hollywood, it’s not surprise that his latest film is up for Best Picture.
The director’s enormous passion and eye for detail notwithstanding, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is more of an exercise in self-indulgence for Tarantino than a genuinely gripping tale. Despite mature themes about ageing, nostalgia and more, the director puts far too much focus into recreating the air of classic Hollywood throughout.
As a result, it’s a near-three hour movie that takes a good two hours to start, and spends the rest of the time mimicking the atmosphere of the late 1960s in every way possible. It’s a gorgeous and beautifully detailed watch, but far from the most enthralling film you’ll ever see.
7. Le Mans ’66
Le Mans ’66 (or Ford v Ferrari) is the old-school nominee in this year’s Best Picture roster.
The thrilling tale of Ford’s battle against Ferrari to win the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race is enormously entertaining, backed up by powerhouse lead performances from Matt Damon and Christian Bale, along with gripping emotional depth right the way through.
Its visual effects are spectacular, and its attention to detail is delightful. However, it’s far from the year’s most original or challenging nominee, and while it’s certainly a brilliant old-school biopic, it comes off as a little simpler than many of the year’s stronger entries.
6. Jojo Rabbit
A vehemently anti-Nazi film that has bizarrely stirred up controversy, I find it difficult to believe there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love Jojo Rabbit.
From typically quirky director Taika Watiti, the film is a near pitch-perfect black comedy that looks at the nature of propaganda and the impact of totalitarianism and sensationalist politics on the everyday person, turning an innocent young boy of all people into a fervent Nazi supporter.
Couple those themes with a heartwarming coming-of-age story and big laughs throughout, and you have a film that’s an absolute delight from start to finish, featuring brilliant performances across the board from Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin Mackenzie, Scarlett Johansson and even Taika Watiti as an imaginary Adolf Hitler.
The black sheep of this year’s nominees, Joker‘s $1bn box office run certainly proves its popularity, but does that necessarily translate to worthiness when up for the Best Picture Oscar?
For me, what really makes the film a surprising and worthy nominee is its sheer boldness. It certainly crosses the line at times, but it gives a harrowing and unrelentingly dark account of the real troubles that people face in an increasingly heartless modern society.
Bolstered by an electrifying lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix, eye-catching direction from Todd Phillips and a standout score from Hildur Guðnadóttir, it’s a spectacular and deeply unsettling watch through and through, but certainly a deserving and immensely audacious Best Picture nominee.
A spectacular portrayal of the First World War in a way that’s never been seen before on the big screen, director Sam Mendes’ 1917 is a heart-stopping watch at every second.
Defined by its incredible cinematography that makes the film look as if it’s shot in one single take, 1917 is an exceptional technical feat that uses staggering stylistic choices to great effect, creating a powerfully immersive experience of life on the battlefield.
Its plot may not be quite as spectacular, nor as unrelenting as the similar war thriller Dunkirk, but its intensity and spectacle are second to none throughout, breaking new ground in the portrayal of a war that’s often left to the sidelines in Hollywood.
3. Marriage Story
The very definition of heartbreaking, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is as emotionally affecting as they come this year, giving a powerfully honest and bittersweet account of the breakdown of a marriage.
Led by two Oscar-worthy performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, the film uses its dialogue-heavy script to brilliant effect, creating staggering emotional power without ever resorting to generic melodrama or aggressive, hyperbolic storytelling.
Much like the Best Picture-winning Kramer vs. Kramer, this is an enormously relatable tale of divorce that uses a frank approach to a sensitive topic to tell an honest and genuinely heartbreaking story. And with Randy Newman’s beautifully bittersweet score, it’s a stunning piece of work that you won’t forget in a hurry.
A psychotic, crazed thriller in every sense of the word, Bong Joon-ho’s deliriously entertaining Parasite is simpy unforgettable cinema.
Twisting and turning over the course of two and a bit exhilarating hours, the film delivers a heart-racing thriller story alongside riveting and passionate themes about the class and wealth divide. Just as fun as it is thought-provoking, Parasite is an undeniably deserving contender for the biggest prize in the movie world.
Bolstered by an incredible ensemble cast, sleek production design, powerful editing and enormously energetic direction, the film is a non-stop rollercoaster that will leave you wheezing come the finish.
1. The Irishman
The magnum opus from legendary director Martin Scorsese, The Irishman is an exceptional piece of work, delivering a breathless yet powerfully patient tale over the course of three and a half mesmerising hours.
Touching on familiar themes of the mafia and power dynamics, Scorsese takes The Irishman in a unique direction, as he provides a striking meditation on the ageing process through the story of Frank Sheeran as he rises through the ranks of the mob.
Blending his most beloved gangster tropes with groundbreaking ideas and filmmaking techniques (from an incredible narrative structure to stunning de-ageing visual effects), Scorsese knocks it out of the park with what is certain to become an all-time classic of cinema – a three-hour epic that is utterly enthralling, deeply powerful and enormously memorable from beginning to end.