Roma to Wakanda: Ranking The 2019 Best Picture Nominees

It goes without saying that’s it’s a bad, weird year for the Oscars, with some truly terrible films being amongst the most nominated, and many of the year’s most prestigious and best being shut out entirely. But, ever the valiant soldier, I have watched all the films nominated in major categories to bring you ranking such as this one. Read on…


Dir: Bryan Singer

Chances of Winning: 20%

Surely one of the weakest nominees in the history of the category. A flat, lazy film about moderately-talented singer Freddie Mercury that ignores almost all the most appealing quirks of his character, as Rami Malek delivers an embarrassing caricature through a pair of false teeth. Feels like an unironic Wayne’s World until Mike Myers actually shows up. Somehow he seems above the material.


Dir: Adam McKay

Chances of Winning: 1%

Clumsily-directed and condescendingly-scripted, McKay tells the story of Dick Cheney as smugly and arrogantly as he taught us about the financial crisis in The Big Short. At least this time the performances are good — Christian Bale is a really strong Cheney — and the Nicholas Britell score is nothing short of magnificent.


Dir: Peter Farrelly

Chances of Winning: 60%

Green Book is not a racist movie, but it’s a supremely tone-deaf one, aimed at a middle-class white audience who secretly believe racial tension in American would disappear if the black community were more knowledgeable about white culture. Viggo Mortensen makes a fool of himself shouting “Eyyy I’m walkin’ here”, but the reliably-sensitive Mahershala Ali facilitates a handful of genuinely affecting scenes. Just don’t mention the fried chicken.


Dir: Ryan Coogler

Chances of Winning: 10%

Black Panther is a middle-of-the-road effort in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has, thanks to the greatest PR scam in recent memory, been catapulted to the Oscars by the cynical efforts of the white men who run the Disney corporation. It’s a deeply unimaginative blockbuster with horrific cinematography and VFX. But none of this should take away from the obvious, and very real, importance of normalising an all-black cast in a billion-dollar superhero movie. That’s not enough to justify awards attention.


Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

Chances of Winning: 5%

Lanthimos’ least irritating film to date is a curious study of toxic femininity (imagine if more movies like Vice focused on powerful women instead of men) with sufficient doses of animal absurdity and overt lesbianism to satisfy the most weary period drama cynic. Emma Stone is great. Rachel Weisz is fine. Olivia Colman is very, very difficult to like.


Dir: Spike Lee

Chances of Winning: 10%

What begins as a rudimentary tribute to 70s blaxploitation movies warps into something more intensely urgent and thoughtful as Lee contrasts D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation with Klan rallies from 40 years ago, and ultimately footage of neo-Nazi marches from just last year. The comedy asides with Adam Driver are a frustrating distraction from an otherwise effective commentary on the urgent horrors of racism in America.


Dir: Alfonso Cuaron

Chances of Winning: 30%

Roma tries a little too hard to be a masterpiece — at times it feels more Tom Hooper than Francois Truffaut — but hits its stride in its final act with two particularly devastating sequences, flawlessly directed, that put at least six of the other nominated films to shame.


Dir: Bradley Cooper

Chances of Winning: 10%

You can almost bathe in the fluid direction of Cooper’s debut feature, a glamorous yet sincere throwback to a forgotten Hollywood favourite: the star-led romantic drama. Lady Gaga is sensational as a young cabaret singer catapulted to pop royalty with the aid of partner Jackson Maine (the gorgeously scruffy Cooper) until heartbreak and tragedy strike. A bombastic, bold new (but old) brand of blockbuster.