Alright! All the Best Picture nominees have been seen and the formal reviews written. It is time to talk candidly about these films. They’re all good, but which ones are the best of the best? Which one’s should the casual movie goer bother to see before the big day and which one’s can be ignored? No more pretentious review lingo; it’s time to see how they stack up.
9. Manchester By The Sea – The One That Sucked
This is the only film on the list that should not be nominated for Best Picture. It is dull, depressing, and worst of all, boring. A sad movie can still be good if its effective, but I found the characters so unlikable that their plight never tugged at my heartstrings. Instead, I found myself checking the running time and wishing for the horrid thing to just end already. Watch this one at your own risk; it will have you wishing for the sweet embrace of death before the end.
8. Hidden Figures – The One That Played It Safe
There’s nothing really wrong with this one; its only crime is that it isn’t particularly creative. Those who love true stories will enjoy it anyway without caring about the tameness of the technical elements, but the fact remains that the other films on this list simply have more to offer. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for an inspirational true story.
7. Fences – The One With All The Talking
This film is all about Denzel Washington. He stars, self directs, and basically carries the whole thing almost by himself. It was originally a stage play and its origins as such really show. The whole film is set in the same location and there’s not a single action scene to be found (though there’s drama aplenty). If watching a few characters talk in a house for two hours is your thing, Fences is the film for you.
6. Hacksaw Ridge – The One With The Gore
Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair and gives us another movie with his favorite features: religious themes and over the top blood and guts. This movie rides the fine line between action blockbuster and indie drama. It has great character moments and great war scenes too. Some will enjoy the Christian hero, some will enjoy the gore, some will hate the gore, but no one can deny that this is a great movie. Also, Andrew Garfield is wonderful in it.
5. Moonlight – The One With The Gay Stuff
Moonlight isn’t exactly fun viewing, but it deserves the middle spot on the list just for its subject matter. After the Oscars So White controversy last year, this year’s batch of nominees ended up flooded with minority films. Of the lot, this one deals with its subject matter with the most tact and impact. Watching it will be good for you. Trust me. Alternatively, trick a conservative friend into watching it with you, then watch them squirm when all the gay stuff starts happening.
4. Lion – The One That Feels Good
Lion is this years happy-ending-warm-fuzzy-feeling-film. Another incredible true story, Lion outranks Hidden Figures because the music, camerawork, and performances are better. Even if you don’t care about the technical stuff, its hard not to fall in love with this film just for its inspirational story. Those who enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire will feel right at home with this one.
3. Hell Or High Water – The One With Jeff Bridges
In terms of raw fun and entertainment value, you can’t get much better than this one. Yes it has some great themes going on behind the scenes, but this one ranks so high because Jeff Bridges is bloody hilarious in it. His snarky insults and dry wit fill the film with comedy without actually making it a comedy. Quite remarkable really. Its a mostly talky film, but there’s an action packed shoot em’ up finale and we even get an explosion out of it. But really, you should watch this one just for Jeff Bridges. It’s like watching the best parts of True Grit without having to deal with the horse getting killed at the end.
2. Arrival – The One About Language
It is a rare thing when a big budget film has the balls to take an exploration of the power of language and stuff it inside a film about alien invasion. Somehow, Arrival pulls this off splendidly. Its mysterious, its tense, and it manages to be emotional and intellectual at the same time. With a ring narrative structure on top of it all, this is by far the best science fiction film to be made in years; arguably better even then The Martian and Interstellar. My love of sci-fi may make me a bit biased, but rest assured that you owe it to yourself to see this one.
1. La La Land – The One That Is Perfect
With box office success, audience adoration, and critical acclaim to boot, La La Land is the clear standout for the year. This gripping romantic musical has a great story, amazing on screen chemistry between its stars, tunes that will stay stuck in your head for weeks, beautiful set design, creative camerawork, and fun dance numbers on top of it all. Emma Stone gives the best performance of her career, and Ryan Gosling dazzles at the piano. With a record tying 14 Oscar nominations, it will be nothing short of a tragedy if this one doesn’t win Best Picture.