Ranked: All Ten 95th Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Ranked: All Ten 95th Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees

By Daniel Rester

The 95th Academy Awards are approaching quickly, with the ceremony taking place on March 12th. Like last year, this year will have a set of ten nominees for Best Picture – since the Academy changed it from the five-to-ten nominees procedure that was in place for about a decade. Opinions always vary on the Best Picture nominees, but I must say that I think 2022 has arguably the best set of nominees of the decade so far. How do they stack up against each other though? Here is how I rank this year’s ten nominees from worst to best; this is not a prediction list for winners but rather my opinion on the films’ qualities.

10.  Elvis

Elvis is a crowd-pleasing biopic from Baz Luhrmann. It has plenty of flashy style but plays out its plot rather routinely. Tom Hanks’ supporting performance as Tom Parker is cartoonish and distracting but Austin Butler is a revelation as Elvis Presley. The costumes and makeup are also top-notch. Elvis is a solid and entertaining biopic but not much more beyond that – except for being a star-making vehicle for Butler. Grade: B (7.5/10)

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once

9.  Everything Everywhere All at Once 

I’m a bit surprised by the awards love for Everything Everywhere All at Once because it seems like something that would typically be too strange for the Academy. And yet it leads in nomination totals with eleven. Michelle Yeoh is terrific in the lead, with a diverse cast of characters surrounding her. She is the glue that holds the film together as it gets more and more frenetic as a laundromat owner enters a multiverse. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s picture is well made on a technical level and has its heart in the right place, but it is also too long and a bit of a mess. Grade: B+ (8/10)

8.  Triangle of Sadness

Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is a savage takedown of the rich and privileged. The film is often smart and funny, and it features an excellent supporting turn by Dolly de Leon as a cleaning lady with survival skills. The film is overlong and episodic, but Östlund’s cynical approach to the characters is often amusing. Grade: B+ (8/10)  

7.  Women Talking 

Sarah Polley’s dialogue-driven, play-like Women Talking features a strong ensemble cast. The film is thought-provoking as a group of female Mennonites decide what to do after they discover the men in the colony have been tranquilizing and raping them. Women Talking hits some lulls at points, but it’s beautifully made and has no weak links in the cast. Claire Foy is particularly good as Salome. Grade: A- (8.3/10)

Lo'ak and Payakan in Avatar: The Way of Water

6.  Avatar: The Way of Water 

It took thirteen years, but James Cameron finally delivered the first of many sequels to come for his mega-hit Avatar (2009). Avatar: The Way of Water is an epic, visually stunning return to Pandora that features a family-driven story and breathtaking action sequences. The first act can be clunky as Cameron reintroduces this world to audiences, but once the Sully family joins the water clan the film finds its footing. The climax is especially impressive. Grade: A- (8.3/10)

All Quiet on the Western Front

5.  All Quiet on the Western Front

The 1929 book All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the best anti-war stories ever and the 1930 film adaptation is a masterful take on the material that won the Best Picture Oscar. This new version isn’t as powerful as the novel or 1930 film; it includes some new armistice meeting scenes that hurt the focus and pacing at times. The message still shines through though and director Edward Berger stages the chaos of WWI expertly in this adaptation. It joins 1917 (2019) as being one of the better WWI films in recent years. Grade: A- (8.5/10)

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

4.  Top Gun: Maverick 

Top Gun: Maverick is not only superior to its 1986 predecessor, it’s one of the best action films of the last decade. Tom Cruise shines as he returns as “Maverick,” who leads a group of younger pilots as they train for a dangerous aerial mission. From the opening Mach 10 scene to the gripping final mission sequence, Top Gun: Maverick provides eye-opening thrills that beat anything provided by the superhero films of the past few years. The cast is a lot of fun too, with Glen Powell a standout as the new character “Hangman.” Sure, the plot is simple and predictable, but the technical craftsmanship displayed in Top Gun: Maverick is undeniable. Grade: A- (8.7/10)  

Cate Blanchett in TÁR

3.  Tár

Cate Blanchett gives the best performance of her career as the title character in Todd Field’s Tár. Seriously, her work is at a “Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood (2007)” level of greatness. The film is a brilliant display of a talented person (in this case, a music conductor) causing her own downfall due to terrible decisions. Field’s film is full of tense moments, with the one-take Julliard scene particularly masterful. While Blanchett navigates all of the material with aplomb, the supporting cast around her steps up too; Nina Hoss should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress but wasn’t. If Blanchett doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Actress it will be one of the biggest mistakes in Oscar history. Grade: A (9/10)

2.  The Banshees of Inisherin 

With The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh proves once again that he is a master of blending bittersweet tragedy and silly comedy. On the surface, his fourth film is a basic tale of one man deciding he doesn’t want to be friends with another man anymore as the two live on an Irish isle circa 1923. McDonagh’s sharp writing and brilliant acting from Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan make the story much more than basic though as the characters become layered and memorable. The Banshees of Inisherin manages to be darkly hilarious, sad, and warm all at once. Grade: A (9/10)

1. The Fabelmans 

Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical The Fabelmans is a beautiful coming-of-age film about a boy finding his love for filmmaking while also navigating his parents’ turbulent relationship – and eventual divorce. Even at 76, Spielberg is still making films full of emotion and surprise, with this particular film being one of his most personal and insightful. The cast is perfect from top to bottom and Spielberg’s usual players in the tech departments deliver ace work too; John Williams’ subtle piano score is fitting for the material. If I were voting for the Best Picture Oscar, my vote would certainly be for The Fabelmans. It’s my choice for the best film of the 2020s so far as well. Grade: A (9.5/10) 

Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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