Ranking the 2016 Best Picture Nominees
2016 proved out to be an exceptionally strong year and that can even be seen in the Best Picture slate. The Academy nominated nine movies for their most prestigious award and seven of them really deserved their nominations. That is a rare feat and it is certainly infinitely better than that dismal slate from last year. So here is my ranking of all nine Best Picture nominees of 2016.
9. Hell or High Water
This is the only truly mediocre movie nominated this year. It is certainly okay and has nice scenes and performances, but even the acting is overrated and the entire film is one of the most overrated indie flicks in recent memory. The entire plot and feel of the movie is obviously influenced by the late 60s and early 70s crime thrillers and that lack of originality is baffling to me. And it is even boring and thoroughly forgettable. Needless to say, it is by far the worst Best Picture nominee of 2016.
8. Hidden Figures
Another one of the two undeserved nominees, Hidden Figures is probably the most cliched film of the entire year. It certainly benefits from three strong performances and extremely likable characters, but even though its story is important, it is executed in the most predictable and standard manner possible. An even worse offender is the dialogue which is at times borderline ridiculous in its thoroughly unsubtle approach. It is a charming, but ultimately tiresome film.
7. Manchester by the Sea
From here on, all of the movies are either very good or excellent. This one is a terrific showcase for acting and such a strong, emotional and realistic drama with a couple of sequences that are very poignant and even heartbreaking. However, it still features an overly depressing tone and the protagonist’s backstory is needlessly tragic. It is a very good, strong film, but the one movie here which disappointed me the most as I expected much greater things from it.
Another movie that had great potential, but ultimately ended up being just quite good and never great, Moonlight is certainly very well acted, realistic and featuring such fantastic, emotionally powerful third act, but everything that came before it was overly familiar in terms of storytelling and it is again a movie that is more important than truly great. Of all the nominees this year, it is the one movie that felt the most like an Oscar film and surely it ended up taking the trophy and becoming the first gay film to do so which is admirable, but not entirely deserved.
5. Hacksaw Ridge
This is probably the nominee that surprised me the most as I did not expect the level of quality that this anti-war film possesses. It does feel pretty typical in its first half, but it has such a great, really interesting spin on the usual war picture with the pacifism and spiritual angle being very well explored and leading to many emotional scenes. Overly brutal, but realistic, its action is also highly memorable. But the heart of the movie lies in Andrew Garfield’s truly great turn which is the year’s finest male performance and excellent, truly accomplished direction from Mel Gibson who here marks a welcome return to the directing chair after a long absence.
4. La La Land
La La Land ended up being a giant loser in that shocking turn of events at the end of the ceremony and it certainly divided a lot of movie goers. It definitely features a muddled tone plus Mia is frustratingly unlikable. But apart from that, it truly is a very good musical romance that benefits from the year’s best score and a couple of very catchy musical numbers. But the romance is memorable as well and that beautiful ending is certainly one of the most unforgettable and original endings of the entire decade. It is an uneven, but highly rewatchable, charming and ultimately satisfactory film that I hope will lead to a return of the musical genre in the future.
This is the best acted film of 2016 as Viola Davis is just so powerful in it. But everyone knows and talks about that. What is even more admirable is its dialogue which is very realistic and always fascinating along with the screenplay which is stellar and filled with many relatable and very well explored issues. It does feel a bit too much like a stage play as it is obviously based on it, but I love these highly realistic and dialogue heavy dramas and it wonderfully reminded me of the 1950s dramas. It did receive strong critical reception, but it is still a bit underapprecitated in my book.
I love hard science fiction and I love strong storytelling. That is why I ended up loving Arrival. It is the best alien invasion movie that we’ve got in film history and probably the only one that felt real and truly scientific. Amy Adams is phenomenal and the film’s sound and visuals are superb too, but it is the twist that is the most unique thing about it along with its clever and very intriguing mix of sci-fi and drama elements. Arrival is such a wonderful mix of science and linguistics and that is why I enjoyed it immensely as I love those two areas.
And of course Lion is my pick for the best nominee of the year as it is the finest film of 2016 as a whole. And the fact that it is basically forgotten even now goes to show how the general movie going public and critics cannot appreciate real human dramas. This is a fantastically acted, edited, directed and shot film, but it is above all imbued by such a beautiful real life story almost flawlessly executed. It is one of the rare movies that made me cry as its ending is unbelieavably beautiful and moving. But it is so raw and honest in its thought-provoking and relevant issues. It is the movie that affected me the most on a purely emotional level alone and it is by far the best and most underrated film of the year.