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Best Picture Oscars ranked

All 10 films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, definitively ranked from worst to best

Maestro, what are you even doing here?

This Sunday, the 96th Academy Awards is finally happening – and with Oscars hype at fever pitch all of 2024 so far my nerves will finally be put to bed and we’ll all have some peace seeing what takes home the biggest prize of the night. I always vow to watch every film nominated for Best Picture, but this is the first year I’ve got them all seen and after much deliberation, I’ve come to my conclusion. Here are all the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, definitively ranked from worst to best.

10. Maestro

Out of all 10 films on this list, the only one I’d deem as bad is Bradley Cooper’s Maestro – a Leonard Bernstein biopic that tries so hard. Too hard. Cooper in both his performance as Leonard and as director is doing the most – operating at level 10 at all times. Every trick, every bell, every whistle and no skill to just rein it in a bit and let the amazing Carey Mulligan shine like she deserves. You can feel the desperation and perspiration bouncing off him as he practically begs for an Oscar. Avoid.

9. American Fiction

Cord Jefferson succeeds with American Fiction on multiple levels. It works as a great comedy and a great drama, genuinely funny and a family full of warmth and interesting writing that keeps you with them through all the trials and tribulations. The general premise is excellent – a writer tries to satirise stereotypically “Black” books and finds huge success with it when he wasn’t trying to. Jeffrey Wright gives his best ever performance, in my opinion.

8. Oppenheimer

I’m expecting knives and pitchforks at my door for ranking this at eight and not at the top spot like I imagine many have it – I’m pretty sure it’s the favourite to win. I absolutely loved Oppenheimer and thought it was incredible on all fronts, especially when it comes to the performances and the truly mind-blowing sound design. Where I’m less keen on it is how Hollywood it feels… I just don’t like seeing Josh Peck press a very important button. It takes me out of it! And too much wise-cracking. Time and place, guys.

7. Barbie

Best Picture Oscars ranked

Probably the film out of all the Best Picture Oscars nominees ranked here I was least hyped for, least looking forward to and most expecting to dislike. Hated the trailer, and the runtime exhausted me before I even began. And yet, I was blown away. The performance from Lily Gladstone is my favourite of all the Best Actress nominees this year and she simply needs to win. Scorsese is truly a master at the helm of this one and the script, the powerful true story and exhilarating soundtrack solidify it a classic in the making.

5. The Holdovers

Best Picture Oscars ranked

Done dirty in the UK by being released way after Christmas, because whilst The Holdovers is more than simply a Christmas film it is clearly one in which viewing it is amplified more by the festive period outside the screen matching the one in the story. A dedicated, 70s soaked period piece that feels like a classic you might stumble upon in your dad’s VHS cabinet. Amazing performances across the board, a hilarious script that will also break you in two and a soon-to-be Best Supporting Actress turn from Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Amazing, warming, can’t wait to rewatch in December.

4. Anatomy of a Fall

One of those films that just sits back and lets its script speak for itself, across three languages and a lot of words that you hang on every one of. Sandra Hüller, in her first of two films nominated for Best Picture, is a revelation. Anatomy is a simple film done perfectly – a death, an investigation, a trial. It unfolds beautifully and despite the fact the dialogue moves fast you never miss a word of it. Masterful, truly. And THE DOG!?

3. The Zone of Interest

Best Picture Oscars ranked

Jonathan Glazer is an astonishing filmmaker, and with The Zone of Interest he takes a premise so horrific that it poses all kinds of moral questions on how one should depict such atrocities on screen. I don’t consider myself an authority on that decision in any way, shape or form – but my opinion would be that the handling of Nazi crimes and the horror of Auschwitz has never been done more successfully than this. You see nothing and nothing feels exploitative – just quiet suburban life happening with a shared wall of mass genocide. It is so quiet in its terror and horror that it will creep under your skin and leave you thinking on its trauma for hours.

2. Poor Things

Best Picture Oscars ranked

I will be a Yorgos Lanthimos fanboy til death. And Poor Things is an absolute feast. His world building here is sensational, and so is Emma Stone’s much acclaimed central performance as Bella Baxter – one that instantly went down in history on first watch, it seems. Mark Ruffalo is a revelation, just hilarious. The visuals, the script, the heart and the pure weirdness make it unmissable.

1. Past Lives

Taking the top spot is Past Lives, an easy ranked number one amongst a year of amazing Best Picture nominees for this year’s Oscars. In her directorial debut, Celine Song made a masterpiece. I first started crying in the first 10 minutes of Past Lives and didn’t really have another 10 mins without a tear or two til I was out of the cinema. A truly intelligently written and thoughtful musing on love, culture and what ifs, nothing even sad happens in Poor Things – but the potential of love lost and how things could have worked out differently are so overwhelming and moving you feel broken in two. I could talk about my love for it for days, honestly. My winner.


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