Best Picture 2023: My Oscar Thoughts & Ranking

I don’t have a great track record of watching all the Oscar nominated films in a year. I have friends who make it a mission to see every nominated film, but I usually only manage to see a couple here and there. For reference, I’ve seen six of last year’s 10 Best Picture nominees (and Nightmare Alley I only saw recently, rather than when it was in its nomination period), three of 2020’s seven, six of nine in 2019, and five of 2018’s eight (six if you count half-watching Green Book on someone else’s screen on a flight, which is probably the maximum amount of attention you really need to pay to Green Book). The most recent year for which I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees was 2008 (which is also the year before they expanded the maximum from five to 10).

But this year, when I realized that just in the course of general moviegoing, I had seen six of the 10 Best Picture nominees, I decided to try and watch the whole slate. As of last night I’ve seen all 10 nominees, and although I won’t be watching the ceremony tonight (because staying up until four a.m. for what will inevitably be many cringeworthy jokes about The SlapTM isn’t my idea of a good time), here is my ranking and thoughts on the list:

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The Best Pictures of the year… and I haven’t seen a single one

Yesterday, the 2012 Academy Award nominations were announced, and for the first time in at least ten years, I haven’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees. I’m planning to see The Artist this week, but at the moment I’m 0 for 9, so at first I didn’t think I’d have much to say about which films are deserving and which were snubbed. Then I realized: this is the internet! I don’t need to be knowledgeable to have an opinion. So here are my thoughts on this year’s options for Best Picture, based on their trailers:

The Artist (Trailer)

The reason I’m determined to see this one in theatres is because I know I don’t have the patience for watching silent films on dvd. However, I also think it looks like a really great film. Much as I love dialogue, I also love the importance of conveying emotion through action and facial expression. And just from the trailer, I can tell they do it well. Plus, how cute is that dog?!

The Descendants (Trailer)

This one doesn’t look very exciting. From what I can tell, George Clooney’s wife left him for some guy, and George and his kids stalk him in a humourous and heartwarming way. Also starring the girl from that pregnant teenager show on ABC Family. I’ll probably watch it in a few years on television.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Trailer)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is one of my favourite books, but even with Tom Hanks, I somehow doubt that the film is as good as the novel. However, everything about the trailer, from the voiceovers by the little boy, to the use of a U2 song, to the super close ups and super wide shots, screams Oscar bait, so if the film is the same I can see why it was nominated.

The Help (Trailer)

I am so unbelievably uninterested in this film. It has been criticized for not focusing enough on black voices during the civil rights movement in which it is set, and in the trailer the first African American character doesn’t show up until almost 30 seconds in. I can tell from the trailer that the acting is excellent, so I would be glad to see Viola Davis or Octavia Spencer recognized, but the film itself looks like nothing special.

Hugo (Trailer)

This film looks like a whimsical mix between The Polar Express and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Visually beautiful films often do well at the Oscars, but I can’t tell enough about the film to decide if it could be deserving of Best Picture or just Best Cinematography.

Midnight in Paris (Trailer)

Didn’t Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams play love interests in Wedding Crashers? This movie is probably nothing like that one. Either way, I like both of them, as well as Kurt Fuller and Michael Sheen, who also appear in the trailer (and who I didn’t know were in the film until right now). I thought the film took place in the 1920s, so I’m a little confused, but I think I would like to see it.

Moneyball (Trailer)

I feel a little biased against this film because Jonah Hill was nominated for it while all of the supporting actors in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, etc.) were snubbed, but even if I don’t love sports, I love sports films (and Brad Pitt), so I’m willing to give this one a try. The trailer has some very inspirational-sounding music that I’m sure reflects the tone of the film.

The Tree of Life (Trailer)

I’m going to be honest: I don’t really know what was happening in this trailer. However, from what I’ve heard, that is a pretty good representation of the movie itself. I usually find Terrance Malik’s films beautiful and well-acted, but very slow moving and often odd. The Tree of Life looks like it’s no exception. However, it’s also the kind of film that Oscar voters love, so it definitely has a shot.

War Horse (Trailer)

I have some friends who saw this in play form at the National Theatre in London and I wish that I had gotten the chance, because they all loved it and I’ve heard mixed reviews about the film version. However, the cinematography in the trailer looks beautiful, and it has a strong cast of actors.

In Conclusion…

Who Will Win: The Tree of Life or The Artist
Who Should Win:  The Artist

P.s. Gary Oldman finally got an Oscar nomination and it was well-deserved because his role as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was some of the best acting I’ve seen in a long time and also I think he is just brilliant.