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Best Picture nominees, ranked

Mar 10, 2024

Here I rank the Oscars nominees for Best Picture, from least favorite to favorite. Honestly this was a very good year for Best Picture nominees so it was hard ranking them. With the exception of my bottom 3 (I really did not care for any of those), I could very easily arrive at an entirely different ranking, depending on the day.

10. Maestro

Everything about Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic just felt so effortful, especially the performances. I have little to say about it because the film was just so uninteresting.

9. The Zone of Interest

While I appreciated some features of Jonathan Glazer’s exploration of the mundane evil of the Holocaust, the film as a whole felt empty. (Maybe that was the idea.)

8. Poor Things

I cannot understand the enthusiasm this film garnered. Yorgos Lanthimos’s riff on Frankenstein, while delightful to look at & entertaining at times, is so singularly interested in Bella’s sexual liberation at the almost utter exclusion of any other aspect of her that the film ends up being tedious & thin. I wanted to like it much more than I did.

7. Anatomy of a Fall

I liked Justine Triet’s courtroom drama; it reminded me, at times, of Albert Camus’s The Stranger. Especially riveting was the incredibly grim but also totally accurate fight between Sandra & her husband.

6. American Fiction

I really enjoyed Cord Jefferson’s satire of the expectations the publishing world (& entertainment culture more broadly) burdens Black artists with. It often felt less like a single story than two different stories spliced together, which unfortunately left the film as a whole a little disjointed. Jeffrey Wright’s performance is amazing. I don’t think he’ll win Best Actor, but I think he should.

5. The Holdovers

Alexander Payne’s holiday film, about a group of misfits stuck together for the Christmas break, is really fun. I can’t remember who said it, but some critic put it well when they said: I’ve seen this movie a thousand times before, but this is the best version of this movie. It’s hard to imagine how the Academy could not award Da’Vine Joy Randolph with Best Supporting Actress.

4. Oppenheimer

While I still stand by my initial feelings—it buckles a bit under its own weight—Christopher Nolan’s biopic of the architect of the atomic bomb still has thrilling & wrenching moments. The two timelines don’t quite hang together & the movie suffers as a result, though the nonlinear approach does allow Nolan to end on the most affecting scene. I think Oppenheimer will win Best Picture (along with most of the awards its received nominations for).

3. Past Lives

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Celine Song’s story of lost & rediscovered love. The final few moments are simultaneously heartbreaking & hopeful. Greta Lee is wonderful, as is John Magaro.

2. Barbie

Greta Gerwig is such an incredible director, finding depths of love & humanity in even the most mundane settings: the bickering between a mother & daughter, the struggles of & pressures felt by a family of women, & now even the “coming-of-age” of a plastic doll. Margot Robbie delivers a wonderfully subtle performance, inviting us to consider the ways we make meaning, in ways both helpful & harmful, in the world. I’d love to see more collaboration between Gerwig & Robbie (but not, please God, in a Barbie sequel).

1. Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese’s crime drama, about prowling wolves devouring the land & its Osage inhabitants, is a brilliant film. Despite the film’s length, Scorsese held my interest the entire time, thanks in no small part to the stunning cinematography & excellent performances. Lily Gladstone’s deserves to be named Best Actress, & this film deserves Best Picture. The final scene, with Martin Scorsese’s cameo, brilliantly reframes the entire film & calls himself—& the audience—to account. No one does violence, evil, & calls to repentance like Scorsese.