Oscars’ “Best Picture” nominees ranked


Photos via Warner Bros. Pictures, ZDF, Orion Pictures, Focus Features, A24, Searchlight Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures

“Women Talking,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Fabelmans,” “Elvis,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Tár” were each nominated for “Best Picture” of the 95th Academy Awards. The winner will be announced March 12 at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Since I developed a hyperfixation turned long-term love for film at the beginning of high school, I have looked forward to the annual Academy Awards year after year. Now, as a senior about to graduate, I’d like to say that while my spare time to watch movies has become more limited, my taste in film has evolved. That being said, I am not a critic, but rather a general viewer who rates her movies based on her own entertainment, and nothing deeper. Here is my ranking of the six most talked about nominees for the 95th Academy Awards “Best Picture” category, ranked from best to worst without spoilers, so the average viewer will know what to prepare for. The winners will be announced during the Oscars ceremony on March 12 at 7 p.m. on ABC. 

Not ranked: “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Triangle of Sadness” and “Women Talking.”

6. “Top Gun: Maverick”

After seeing the original “Top Gun” the week prior, and having heard of the fame it had been receiving, I decided to watch “Top Gun: Maverick” once it was already on streaming platforms in the fall of 2022. People had been calling it the movie of the year, so, my hopes were high. As you might be able to guess from its ranking, I set the bar too high. 

The film follows Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) 30 years after the original “Top Gun” film, as he continues to work as one of the Navy’s top aviators and is assigned to a rather nonspecific mission. Before even watching the movie, I kept asking myself, “What is the necessity for this movie?” Sure, “Top Gun” was successful, but there was nothing else I felt I was missing from it. I still somewhat feel the same way. At the end of the day, there are no weak nominees for the category. My expectations were simply too high, and there wasn’t anything that particularly blew me away. The movie has some technical aspects that had me raising my eyebrows a bit, but at the end of the day, I came out of it thinking, “So… what else?” 

Among the aspects I enjoyed is the “beach scene.” That’s all I need to say to get heads turning. The scene has gained loads of popularity among teenagers on social media, and rightfully so. What a fun couple of minutes to perfectly grasp the feeling of a “summer movie.” The ending intensity also had me close to the edge of my seat. But the rest of it seemed like a classic action movie, a genre I don’t particularly fall for as is. 

Legacy sequels often don’t do it for me. The romance here was forced and just made me uncomfortable. I would guess most of the popularity surrounding the movie came from 80s and 90s adults who grew up with the original film. It’s an iconic summer movie, but nothing more and nothing less. 

5. “The Banshees of Inisherin”

This movie takes place on a small island off the coast of Ireland, where middle-aged man Pádraic (Colin Farrell) is trying to mend a suddenly broken friendship with his best friend Colm (Brendan Gleesen). Pádraic is faced with an out-of-pocket ultimatum that turns the movie upside down… and that’s about it. 

This film has gotten an extreme amount of critics talking, and it seems they all have positive things to say. I agree with their points that the film digests friendship, love and the conflicts that come with each, but I ended the movie just depressed and bored, and not in a meaningful way. After watching the trailer with my mom and considering watching it together one night, before I ended up watching it alone the next day, we both slowly turned our heads to look at each other with blank expressions. It seemed like there wasn’t much of a point to this one either. 

I will say, the acting was incredible. Both Farrell and Gleesen were rightfully nominated in their respective acting categories. And the filming location was gorgeous. Whenever I started to zone out, I could stare out at imaginary coastal Ireland and have some sort of enjoyment. Sure, it discusses friendship and love and deep issues that the average human faces, but I don’t think “Banshees” did anything incredibly “Best Picture” worthy.

4. “Tár”

This film follows Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), a renowned musician and orchestral conductor, through her role as the first female conductor of a major German orchestra. 

“Tár” tackled so much but did little at the same time. The movie was long, and no actual conflict was really handled until 80% of the way through the movie, at which point I was invested. The music and sound carried the movie on its back, as the orchestral sounds and depictions of Tár’s conduction were beautiful. I got so excited every time the large symphony hall was shown as I knew a beautiful scene of events was about to show. Blanchett was nominated for “Best Actress,” a category for which there are many nominees deserving of the award, but I can say Blanchett is one of the three who deserves it. 

The trailer reminded me of “Whiplash,” and I was hoping it would be more similar to that masterpiece than it was. Tár crafted personalities and relationships well, but did it too slowly to get me properly invested.  Essentially, I have no clue why my eyes were glued to the screen, but I am blaming Blanchett for her incredible performance. 

3. “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Any slight film fan could tell you the obvious prediction for the winner of the award is “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” And, don’t get me wrong, the film 100% explores technical aspects never before seen in such a well-run Hollywood movie, but it just wasn’t my favorite of the contenders. 

It is an action sci-fi film starring a middle-aged Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) who is faced with the opportunity of saving the existence of the multiverse by exploring other universes. 

The editing deserves an award in and of itself. The movie is a visual masterpiece, but I feel like I have seen a similar storyline in multiple other blockbusters, the first one coming to mind being “The Matrix.” The acting performances in this movie were Oscar-worthy, though. Both Yeoh’s and Ke Huy Quan’s performances are some I am rooting for. I predict this movie will win the “Best Picture” award, but a part of my heart will sink if it is announced on March 12. With seven total nominations, the movie will 100% be the attention of the night. 

2. “Elvis”

The debate of the summer of 2022 seems to have been what the movie of the summer was: between “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis,” and I am an “Elvis” apologist all the way.  

The film is a biopic revolving around the life of rock ‘n’ roll star Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) and his relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). I am not typically a fan of biopics, but this one had me obsessed with the star I didn’t devote my time and energy to previously. Butler has also, rightfully, received extreme recognition for his depiction of Presley, which he is almost still depicting in his life a year after the film was released through his use of method acting for the role. The film does a great job showing Presley at his highs and lows, something biopics often fail to accomplish. It did not praise nor douse him, rather showing Presley in his truest form.

The only negative feedback this film has gotten has to do with Hanks’ acting and depiction of Parker, but I will defend Hanks any day. The character is simply a strange one and extremely difficult to depict in an enjoyable way. The accent, I will admit, was hard to listen to, and maybe I am biased because of my love for Hanks in movies from my childhood, but his performance did not distract from my love for the film. 

Though it was a long movie, I was engrossed from beginning to end. The beauty of just the title card, and the first note Presley hits when the screen went black after the previews made my heart race. And the concept and editing of the final scene was perfect, and I could feel the emotions surrounding the theater. Though it’s not a popular pick for 2023 movies among film lovers, the movie is one I will fight for come the ceremony.

1. “The Fabelmans”

This was one movie I had no clue would have the impact on me it did. And, ironically, it perfectly depicts how film can impact its viewers. 

“The Fabelmans” follows a young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) from his first time in a theater to his teenage years, when he made his own short films. Inspired by Steven Spielburg’s childhood, the story is an emotional masterpiece, coming from someone with a similar childhood and obsession with film. I immediately connected to this movie upon first watch. It did a perfect job of encapsulating how film transforms a person. 

The film genuinely gave me hope for the film industry again, and reminded me of Spielburg’s greatness. While I am not expecting a win for “The Fabelmans,” as it had an OK box office run and has a lack of award wins so far, I am hoping and praying I get to witness Spielburg give a speech about following his childhood dreams on the Oscars stage.