The 2024 Oscars Best Picture Nominees: From Worst to Best

Let’s be real. The Oscars are pretty stupid. Winning an Oscar isn’t about β€œwho made the best movie”–it’s more along the lines of β€œwho has the most friends in the academy?” Not to mention it is a little odd how we always feel the need for an objective β€œbest” at everything while movies are completely subjective. However, it’s still fun to get hyped (and especially angry) about the Oscars.

This year I decided to watch every Best Picture nominee and rank them from my favorite to least favorite. This should be very obvious, but as previously stated, movies and all art are completely subjective so this is just my opinion. Not even a β€œprofessional opinion” or anything like that. The only difference is I’m in a position where I can force you to hear me yap about it. 

Before we go, I think it’s important to shout out some films that seriously got snubbed and deserved a Best Picture nominee. These would include Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse (we all know the academy doesn’t care about animation), Asteroid City (at least Wes Anderson got a short film nominee), Saltburn (Not even the Best Cinematography nominee for this one is an insane decision), and even though this would never be nominated in a million years it would be so cool if Godzilla: Minus One got nominated for best picture. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

10. Maestro

When I decided to write this, there was no worse feeling than the sudden realization I needed to watch 2 hours and 9 minutes of Bradley Cooper begging for an Oscar. You know it’s bad because he starred in, wrote, produced, and directed this corny snoozefest. 

Okay, but why is this movie bad? It shows everything you don’t do when making a biopic. You take someone with a life as eventful as Leonard Bernstein and make him the most uninteresting mid-20th century upper-class guy with this unbearable β€œaw shucks” attitude he maintains throughout the entire movie. However, all the interviews have clarified that this isn’t even a biopic, but a “love story.” Okay, Bradley. You know that in a love story, the story needs to be about both love interests, right? Leonard’s wife Felicia Montealegre is even more poorly written and less interesting than he is. They rarely show anything from her perspective or let us truly explore her as a person. I think the fact that when Leonard Bernstein ages, they give him tons and tons of wrinkle makeup while she gets little to none just sums up how male-gaze-y this film is. 

There are some nice shots here and there, but it suffers heavily from several problems. It feels the need to constantly show off with an artsy square aspect ratio that just limits it and all these stupidly long takes that did not need to be there. Long takes can be amazing if you’re doing it for a reason. This is just Bradley Cooper trying to say β€œGuys, look how good of a director I am because I didn’t cut away that entire scene! Aren’t you proud of me?.” 

9. Oppenheimer

Now first, I want to make it clear. Maestro is the only movie on here that I think is bad. Everything else is LEAGUES better, and all are pretty good movies, just with varying degrees of good. I do think Oppenheimer is a good movie, but it still is flawed and one of the most overhyped movies of the past few years. 

First off, it did not need to be 3 hours long. Near the last hour, it just became a chore to get through. Robert Downey Jr.’s performance and character are boring and the movie constantly takes us out of this cool story and interrupts it with this lame politician. 

However,. There are some amazing scenes in the movie, such as when they test the atom bomb or when Oppenheimer visits Truman. The real standout to me was when he gave the speech in the gymnasium after the bombs were dropped. The film shows regret and trauma with these flashes of disturbing imagery and even though everyone in the room is so joyous and proud, there’s this terrifying soundtrack screeching in the background.  

That’s another great thing about this movie. The soundtrack always gives it this intensity no matter what’s going on which, as impressive and cool as that is,  still gets tiring after a while. I think this movie is nothing new for Nolan. He’s still being just as over-indulgent as always and I think people just got a little caught up in the Barbenheimer hype. Still a good movie, but not β€œthe greatest spectacle of the 21st century.” If I had to predict who’d win, it’d unfortunately be this.

8. The Killers of the Flower Moon

Marty’s back again and still doesn’t value our free time one bit. But to be completely honest, I don’t have a problem with the length. It’s well-paced and feels shorter than Oppenheimer. It’s weird that a movie this long doesn’t feel much like an epic at all. It’s pretty lowkey for most of it.

Lily Gladstone easily steals the show performance-wise. She just has such a great and unmatched presence in every scene she’s in. I didn’t care for Leonardo DiCaprio that much. I could easily put on that same frowny face. Every time we were with him, I just wished we spent more time with Gladstone or DeNiro.

The ending is one of the best things Martin Scorsese has ever done. It’s honestly worth watching the whole movie just for it. I don’t want to give anything else away. Overall, it was a pretty good movie, it just didn’t stay with me as much as it feels like it should.

7. Anatomy of a Fall

From now on the Oscars should have a β€œBest Dog Actor” award solely because of this movie. Seriously, how did they get them to act like that? I can’t even get my lazy dog to get off the couch without a treat. Oh yeah, I forgot there’s an actual movie here outside of the dog. 

This is just a well-done courtroom drama. Something that makes it work well is that we are constantly stuck in the perspective of Sandra and her attorney. It takes its time and withholds information from us for long periods to constantly keep us guessing. 

The scenes in the courtroom were pretty interesting as a dumb American because I know nothing about the French court system. Why are they reviewing books? I’m confused.

I think my main problem with this movie is just it just didn’t stick with me that much. It feels like something you should be thinking about for days after, but that simply did not happen with me. 

6. Past Lives

Man, this was a surprise. I was dreading watching this because all of the promotion honestly made it look kind of boring, but this was much better than expected. It starts with one of the best ways I’ve seen a movie hook an audience this year. It feels like it could so easily be a generic romantic drama, but it flips almost every one of these stereotypes on their heads. It just feels so realistic and human in the way it presents these people’s relationships. 

However, it still has such a dreamy atmosphere. This mostly boils down to the lush cinematography and the majestic ambient soundtrack by the guys from Grizzly Bear.

The movie is kind of slow, but that’s not much of a problem, because I don’t think you can truly tell this kind of story unless we sit with these characters for a long time. It hurts that I couldn’t put in the top 5 because the more I think about it the better I realize it is, but I think that’s just a testament to how good these next five are.

5. Barbie

This easily had the biggest cultural impact out of any movie this year. Whether or not you like Barbie or Oppenheimer, Barbenheimer was crazy and one of the most important things for cinema in years bringing people back to theaters.

With all that aside, is Barbie worth the hype? I’d say yes, for sure. This feels like everything a modern comedy should be and more. Only Greta Gerwig could’ve made something quite like this (though I don’t think it is on quite the same level as Lady Bird.) 

One great thing about this movie is that even though most brand movies would just be made to sell toys, this seems like this movie’s last concern. It boggles my mind that Hasbro approved this because it constantly deals out sharp and hard-hitting criticism towards them, their product, and its effect on the world. Though, at the same time it isn’t just all cynical. You can tell Greta has a love and passion for the material, and being able to balance both of those while not getting in trouble with Hasbro deserves its own award.

4. The Holdovers

Speaking of modern comedies! This is one of the funniest and sweetest movies to come out in a while. It’s a bit of a slow burn for a comedy, but when the jokes hit they hit hard. Paul Giamatti is so perfect in this and Dominic Sessa is a great newcomer. I really hope he has a great career ahead of him. 

Da’ Vine Joy Randolph is also amazing. Something she (and this whole movie) does well is her ability to still be fun and charming for the comedic parts of this, but also bring this amazing sense of emotion to the film. It is one of the best examples of all these dramedies that have popped up over the last decade. 

Something else impressive about this movie is how it just brings you back to the 1970s. Now, I never lived in the 70s, but I watched Dazed & Confused once and listened to some Pink Floyd, so I basically experienced the entire decade and am an expert. So, in my professional opinion, this movie perfectly replicates the feeling of old movies from that time with the sound design, the fades, and the score. 

3. American Fiction

Okay, this is a hard movie to talk about. This film definitely had the most to say out of any movie last year. Now, I’m not very well suited to talk about the problems this movie deals with due to being whiter than a Cracker Barrel in Siberia, so take everything I say with itty bitty teeny tiny grain of salt. American Fiction explores the topics of racism and how it should and shouldn’t be present in fiction. It asks a lot of questions and doesn’t answer all of them leaving the audience something to think about. It’s able to get that message across really well without pandering or coming off as β€œpreachy” one bit.

The screenplay for this movie is so well done, with some of the wittiest dialogue of the year. For a movie with such a serious subject matter, it is hilarious. Also, if anyone nominated for Best Actor deserves it, it’s Jeffrey Wright. He really outdid himself with this one, which is saying a lot. 

Something I have experienced that this movie perfectly replicates is the terrible feeling of writer’s block. In fact, I can’t think of anything else to say.

2. The Zone of Interest

First, I just want to say it amazes me that this even exists. Who let Johnathan Glazer make this? It’s an extremely slow and plotless movie about a family of Nazis who live in a home right next to the concentration camp. Massive bummer. Left me in a bad mood this whole week, but in a good way!

There are a few things in particular that make this movie work as well as it does. First off, the cinematography is really neat. Even though we’re always stuck with this family in what would seem to appear mundane moments, we’re always just a bit further away from them than we’d usually be. The wide shots in this are crazy and it’s the second-best movie this year to even use a fisheye lens.

The real star of this movie is the sound design. There are some disgusting sounds that come from this movie and that I will immediately sample in my crappy Bandlab beats I make when I’m bored. When the family is doing these basic and mundane tasks, there’s this hideous and deep drone lurking in the background. A constant reminder that even though these may seem like normal people doing normal things, there’s something horrific going on. 

Most of it is presented in this slow, realistic, β€œslice of life” sort of way, which perfectly shows the desensitization the Nazi society had towards what’s happening. But every once in a while there will be these incredibly surreal and unworldly moments that challenge the norms of what can and can’t be done in movies. These are all awful people. The only person who rivals the father of the family in despicability is his barber. I’m sorry, his haircut is too funny. 

1. Poor Things

Yorgos Lanthimos is weird. He can either make one of the best movies of all time or absolute garbage. But after watching his latest movie, I can confidently say that Poor Things is on the β€œone of best movies of all time” side of things and his best one yet. 

Where do I even start? This is one of the most unique movies that has ever been made. It has this surreal and even sometimes gothic steampunk aesthetic that I don’t think I can think any other movie has ever come close to. It has these insane costumes and sets captured in these stupidly wide shots that even sometimes use a fisheye (I love this new trend so much) that distorts the background and even the people sometimes in this very β€œexpressionist” sort of way. The cinematographer said they did this so it would feel like you’re β€œlooking in a portal to another world,” and I think they accomplished that perfectly.

Emma Stone gives the best performance of the year as Bella Baxter. Seeing her use her body movement to show her slowly learning and growing up. She really is one of the best of her generation and needs to get the recognition she deserves for doing a role this dangerous so well. I did not expect Mark Ruffolo to be as good as he was. He’s just so sleazy it’s so much fun. Also, Willem Dafoe can do no wrong. 

This movie is hard to talk about because if I even slightly went into detail about half the stuff that happens in this movie, I’d never be allowed to write for The Blake Beat again. All I’m gonna say is that I seriously regret watching this with my parents. Would not recommend. 

This is just a perfect movie, and it’s easily my favorite movie of the decade so far. I could yap about it for hours, and it was honestly partly why I wrote this piece. Great watch. Fun for the whole family!