This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on February 25, 2017.
It wasn’t easy to catch all of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture before the category expanded beyond just 5 selections in 2009. This year there are a total of 9 movies nominated to win the biggest award in Hollywood, which would be a commitment for just about anyone to see in theaters. Luckily, we have you covered. After having seen all of the nominees for Best Picture this year, we’re prepared to give our thoughts on the entire set before we all find out who wins on Sunday.
The following represents the definitive ComicBook.Com ranking of all 9 films nominated for Best Picture. It really is an honor for these movies just to be nominated and they’re all good representations of what cinema can accomplish. This ranking is how we see the “best of the best” stacking up in comparison to one another, noting which ones are most likely to win and which we really think deserve to be honored before the rest.
Directed by Garth Davis
Odds to Win: 75:1
Lion is the story of a young Indian boy who becomes lost on a train and is adopted by a Tasmanian family, unaware of what happened to his mother and siblings. The film traces both his journey away from his homeland and struggle to rediscover where he’s from. It’s heartwarming and offers a stellar performance from the always-stellar Nicole Kidman. However, as a Best Picture nominee it doesn’t really hold together. The second half of the film is not nearly as strong as the first, and many of the film’s true story elements don’t contribute to the experience in an effective. Lion is worth a watch, but not a major award.
- Hacksaw Ridge
Directed by Mel Brooks
Odds to Win: 80:1
Mel Gibson’s controversial return to directing tells the truly remarkable story of a pacifist who earned the Medal of Honor in World War II by saving dozens of lives in the Pacific theater. It’s a remarkable tale with impeccably shot violence and sound design that rival the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. Despite the accomplishments in the best aspects of the film, much of the script is cliched and the human elements become lost outside of the war. Gibson still has a long way to go before he deserves an Oscar, even if you ignore his extracurricular activities.
- Hidden Figures
Directed by Theodore Melfi
Odds to Win: 15:1
Hidden Figures is one of the true feel good picks of the nominees this year. The true story of three black women’s integral roles in early NASA history is a narrative of social justice filled with humor and great results. It’s also a story that has been told many times before with similar true stories, and feels like a very “safe” movie. There’s nothing about Hidden Figures that makes it truly exceptional. The history is important and everything about it is well executed, but it lacks that special spark or innovation that sets a deserving Best Picture winner apart.
Directed by Denzel Washington
Odds to Win: 100:1
This film adaptation of a renowned play serves its source material well. The characters all come to life and their struggles are well-defined. No element of this is better than Viola Davis’ performance as Rose, which absolutely deserves to win the award for Best Supporting Actress. Yet the commitment to the original play makes much of Fences stand still and the film fails to become a unique piece of its own medium. It’s a great movie, but still plainly sits in the shadow of a greater play.
- Hell or High Water
Directed by David Mackenzie
Odds to Win: 100:1
This story of two brothers seeking justice in Texas by robbing the banks aiming to take their family’s land is as American of a film as you’ll find from 2016. It’s packed with imagery, attitudes, and themes that are pure Texas and presents them with equal parts pathos and comedy. The two leading pairs of actors bounce off one another wonderfully, and make the conclusion all the more tragic because of it. This may not be the best film of 2016, but it’s one of the most overlooked and one well worth seeking out.
- La La Land
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Odds to Win: 1:6
La La Land is a musical about two dreamers in Los Angeles who are drawn together by their ambitions before being torn apart by them. The songs are great and the performers natural style of singing and dancing more charming than distracting. It’s all a callback to Golden Age Hollywood, and a celebration of the big productions from that time. Ultimately, it’s no Singing In The Rain and it doesn’t have the same ambition as Chazelle’s previous film Whiplash. La La Land is beautifully produced, but it never quite becomes more than an ode to truly great films.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Odds to Win: 100:1
This science fiction story about the nature of communication and discovering hope in the face of certain doom could not have come at a better time. It’s not quite the home run that Mad Max: Fury Road was, but it does hold that film’s place as the genre long shot of this year’s Oscars. Much of the beauty in Arrival can be found in its simplicity. It only keeps what is necessary to tell its tale and impart its themes. The result is nothing short of stunning though with a conclusion that loses none of its incredible impact upon repeat viewings. Arrival isn’t likely to win, but it would be a pleasant surprise if it did so.
Directed by Barry Jenkins
Odds to Win: 6:1
Moonlight is a film told in three parts, moving between periods in the life of a young, gay, black man with little support. It is a journey of discovery, self-acceptance, and endurance that invites audiences to contemplate the humanity found everywhere in this world, not just in the familiar. The film is beautifully acted throughout, including some great moment from very young performers. What is most impressive though is how a quiet scene at a diner or a small conversation on a beach can seem like the most important thing in the world. Moonlight is a gift to cinema and would be absolutely deserving of the honor of Best Picture.
- Manchester By The Sea
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Odds to Win: 20:1
Manchester By The Sea does the seemingly impossible, it captures the experience of losing a family member flawlessly. The grief, pain, and anger are all present and shown in a beautifully understated and true manner. Yet the movie truly discovers itself when it makes you laugh and makes you laugh regularly. Director Kenneth Lonergan casts off the obvious to discover the true, delving into the strange and surreal process of grieving. It’s a very difficult journey and one with no clear endings, but it’s one that is true to life. Manchester By The Sea is a film that captures what it means to be human and offers us an experience that is more than lifelike, it is life. Nothing more could be asked of a film than that, and that’s why Manchester By The Sea should win Best Picture.