Best Picture 2018: The Final Five


We have reached 2018 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-16, they are linked at the bottom of the post.

2018 is a tricky year to winnow down. In fact, all 8 nominees have strong cases to make the final five. Only one thing is for sure. Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is one of the five considering it won Best Picture. It stands as one of the more surprising (and derided) victors in recent years. The race relations drama went an impressive 3/5 on its nominations – taking Picture, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Original Screenplay and missing Actor (Viggo Mortensen) and Film Editing.

So what of the other seven hopefuls? Here’s my speculation:

Black Panther

The only MCU flick (and for that matter comic book adaptation) to score a BP nom was Ryan Coogler’s phenomenon with Chadwick Boseman as the title character. Its seven nominations included three wins for Score, Production Design, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Besides BP, the other six mentions were all technical. It missed directing, any acting inclusions, screenplay, and even editing. It’s hard to leave this out though that’s the case with everything here.

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee received his first and only Oscar for his adapted screenplay. That’s the only victory of the night among its six total nods as Lee did make the quintet for direction. The others were Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), Score, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Had this not taken Adapted Screenplay, I’d leave this off. Yet that win has me (somewhat reluctantly) leaving it in.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek was crowned Best Actor for his performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic. Despite mixed reviews, Rhapsody was successful in four of its five noms. Picture is the only race it didn’t win as it took Actor, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. That 80% ratio solidifies it even without attention for the direction or screenplay.

The Favourite

The period piece from Yorgos Lanthimos tied all nominees with 10. The lone victory was an unexpected one as Olivia Colman took Best Actress over the favored Glenn Close (The Wife).

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 10% ratio, it still led all contenders with key placements in Director, two Supporting Actress bids (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), Original Screenplay, and Editing.

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron was your Best Director in the Mexican drama that was the other picture with 10 nods. It also won Foreign Language Film and Cinematography while contending in Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Original Screenplay, both Sound competitions, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and easily. The Netflix property was supposed to be the streamer’s first BP (they’re still waiting) and was favored before that Book upset.

A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper’s version of the frequently remade melodrama achieved 8 nominations and one win for the director’s duet with costar Lady Gaga “Shallow” in Original Song. Both Cooper and Gaga were up for their acting as was Sam Elliot in Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but another tough call. Star‘s shine with voters seemed to dim as the season wore on. This is evidenced by it missing directing and editing.

Vice

This is a good time to point out that all 8 BP hopefuls won at least one statue. Adam McKay’s biopic of former Vice President Cheney (played by Christian Bale) took home the Makeup and Hairstyling award. Other noms were for the direction, Bale, Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Original Screenplay, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and I really struggled here. Vice landed mentions everywhere it needed to. The so-so critical reaction made it a tad easier to leave it out. Simply put, this could’ve been in over BlacKkKlansman or Bohemian, but I had to make the judgment call.

So that means my 2018 final five is:

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

I’ll have my post for 2019 up soon! The 2009-17 write-ups are here:

Best Picture 2017: The Final Five

We have reached 2017 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-16, they are linked at the bottom of the post.

There were nine nominees for 2017’s competition. If there were 5, we know Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water would have made the quintet. It won BP along with Director, Original Score, and Production Design and received 13 nods total (easily the most of all).

Of the 8 remaining movies, here’s my thoughts on which half is in and which half and is out.

Call Me by Your Name

Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age romance was a critical darling that won Adapted Screenplay. It was also up for Actor (Timothee Chalamet) and Original Song. The Academy likely almost nominated Armie Hammer for Supporting Actor and are probably glad they snubbed him.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I struggled with this call. An argument could be made with the Adapted Screenplay victory. However, none of the other four nominees in this category were BP nominees (extraordinarily rare). Call could’ve heard its name up, but I have it sixth or seventh.

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill was a recipe for a Best Actor win and it was up for Production Design, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling (another victory), and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Despite its admirable turn in the tech derbies, this was all about Oldman. The lack of directing, screenplay, and editing noms leave this out. This is the rare occurrence where I’m saying the Best Actor winner’s movie doesn’t get in the BP race.

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s epic WWII tale earned 8 mentions (2nd behind Shape) and won 3 – both Sound races and Film Editing. Nolan also scored his first and only directing nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. I don’t think it’s 100% considering other contenders, but this probably had enough support and was generally considered Nolan’s strongest awards pic in his filmography.

Get Out

Jordan Peele’s heralded horror flick was a box office smash. Its other three nominations were Director, Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), and Original Screenplay where it beat out Shape of Water.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Like Dunkirk, not a guarantee but that screenplay statue (over the BP recipient and two other contenders) make me think so.

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age dramedy nabbed 5 inclusions with Director, Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalf), and Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Broken record… not a slam dunk considering it went 0 for 5. Yet it took the Golden Globe for Musical/Comedy (over Get Out) and was highly acclaimed.

Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson’s sartorial drama was an overachiever on nomination morning with six including Director, Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville), Score, and Costume Design (the sole win).

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I was tempted. It really did perform better than anticipated. I could also see it just missing considering the competition. It might have been sixth.

The Post

Steven Spielberg’s Watergate era drama received only one other nom for Meryl Streep in Actress.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and this is by far the easiest projection. Spielberg’s magic probably got it in the mix, but I suspect it was ninth.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A player in 7 categories, Martin McDonagh’s pic took home Actress (Frances McDormand) and Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell). Woody Harrelson was also up for Supporting Actor in addition to Original Screenplay, Score, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, even with McDonagh missing Director. If for no other reason, I can’t imagine the four acting winners having none of their movies up. That would be the case if you left this off considering Oldman’s Darkest Hour and I, Tonya (where Allison Janney took Supporting Actress) not being in the nine.

If you weren’t keeping score, here’s my projected 2017 five:

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ll have my thoughts on 2018 up soon!

Previous Posts:

Best Picture 2016: The Final Five


We have reached 2016 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-15, you can peruse them here:

We know one thing for sure – Moonlight from Barry Jenkins is in. As you may recall, it had to wait a tad longer to win Best Picture when an envelope mishap caused Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to wrongly proclaim La La Land as the voters choice.

As for the 8 other hopefuls (including La La), here’s my take on which half of them would have made the dance.

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama tied Moonlight for the second most nods at 8. In addition to BP, the director and adapted screenplay were nominated along with tech mentions in Sound Editing (where it won), Sound Mixing, Production Design, Cinematography, and Editing. On the flip side, star Amy Adams was omitted in Best Actress. It stands as one of the most surprising acting snubs of the past decade.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I’ll admit I went back and forth here. There’s certainly an argument to be made that it gets in due to the high number of nominations. However, the Actress snub and it not making the Golden Globe five for Drama make me more comfortable leaving it out. **As a side note – I didn’t let my personal take on it interfere as it’s probably my favorite picture of 2016.

Fences

Denzel Washington starred and directed this adaptation of the August Wilson play. Washington landed an Actor nom while costar Viola Davis won Supporting Actress. The Adapted Screenplay was also up.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Had it materialized in Director, I might think twice but this was probably 7th at best of the nine contenders.

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson made a filmmaking comeback in the World War II drama. He was up for his direction and Andrew Garfield earned a Best Actor spot. It won Sound Mixing and Film Editing and was up for Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite its screenplay not being mentioned, the Editing victory puts it in for me. In the 21st century, the winner of the race has missed BP exactly once (2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Hell or High Water

Taylor Sheridan is best known these days for co-creating TV’s hit Yellowstone. He earned an Original Screenplay nod for this neo-Western that was also up for Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges) and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Director David Mackenzie wasn’t up and the 0 for 4 showing is a sign the final five wasn’t reachable.

Hidden Figures

Theodore Melfi’s true life look at African-American female mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s was a gigantic hit – blasting off to $170 million domestically. Besides BP, Octavia Spencer was up for Supporting Actress as was the Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No in spite of its box office. Of the nine nominees, it got the smallest number of noms and took home zero. It was also missed the Golden Globe and Critics Choice lists.

La La Land

Damien Chazelle won Best Director for his musical and Emma Stone was crowned Best Actress. The total number of nominations was 14 – which tied All About Eve and Titanic for the most ever. Other victories were Score, Song, Cinematography, and Production Design. The other mentions were Actor (Ryan Gosling), Original Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Costume Design, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

A big and obvious yes. When Dunaway accidentally proclaimed it BP, no one was surprised since it was the frontrunner. It was very likely the runner-up in votes.

Lion

Garth Davis’s drama finds Dev Patel searching for his birth parents and it found its way to five other nods for Patel in Supporting Actor, Nicole Kidman for Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Cinematography. It did not win any of them.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. I will admit that this could be a stretch and Arrival might be the pick of others. I just think that there would have been enough sentiment for this one to make the final cut even without directing and editing mentions.

Manchster by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan got a directing nod for this grief filled drama and Casey Affleck won Best Actor. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams were up for the supporting derbies while Lonergan won Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay and Actor wins solidify this and it was probably third of the five behind Moonlight and La La Land.

Therefore my projected 2016 five is:

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

2017 is next!

Best Picture 2015: The Final Five

We have reached 2015 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-14, you can peruse them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

Best Picture 2013: The Final Five

Best Picture 2014: The Final Five

There is one certainty when it comes to 2015 and that’s Spotlight earning a spot in the final five. After all, it won the big prize. It was also the rare BP recipient that emerged victorious in only one other category (Original Screenplay).

For 2015, eight movies were nominated. Time to put a spotlight on which ones get in and which ones are left on the cutting room floor:

The Big Short

Adam McKay’s satirical take on the 2008 financial crisis is the first of 3 Best Picture nominees in a row for the filmmaker. It earned a total of five nods with a win for its Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. With nods for the director, the win for the script, and an editing nom – a quintet inclusion is highly likely.

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg’s Cold War set drama starred Tom Hanks and his costar Mark Rylance won a surprise Supporting Actor trophy over the favored Sylvester Stallone for Creed. There were six nominations total.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Despite the considerable pedigree, the misses in directing and editing are significant.

Brooklyn

John Crowley’s 50s set period drama was the first of three eventual Best Actress mentions for Saoirse Ronan. With an Adapted Screenplay nod, its own. three tries at gold are the least among the 8 BP hopefuls.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No – primarily for the last sentence above. Brooklyn probably just snuck in the top 8.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s long in development fourth entry in his wild action franchise received 10 nominations and took home 6 (all technical in nature). That’s easily the most victories of the evening.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. With Miller in Director and a Film Editing win, I don’t see how it would have missed.

The Martian

Ridley Scott’s outer space tale with Matt Damon garnered 7 mentions but came up empty-handed on the night.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I’d rank it sixth. I couldn’t make the call, however, since Scott was omitted in Director and it failed to make the Editing group.

The Revenant

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made it two directing wins in a row after Birdman for his survival pic. Leonardo DiCaprio, after several close but no cigar tries, was finally crowned Best Actor. Overall, this was the most nominated film at 12 with 3 wins.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and I suspect it was the runner-up to Spotlight.

Room

Brie Larson was the Best Actress for the abduction drama where Lenny Abrahamson was also an unexpected directing contender. With an Adapted Screenplay nom, it managed 4 mentions.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes though I’d put in fifth and in a close race with The Martian. Abrahamson getting in made the difference.

And that means my five BP contenders match the Best Director contestants. That’s a rare thing before the race expanded in 2009. Yet it seems appropriate for this particular year.

The whittled down five would be:

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

I’ll cover 2016 in short order!

Best Picture 2013: The Final Five

My blog series continues with speculation on what a Best Picture lineup of five would have looked like in the years since the format changed to up to 10 nominees. That began in 2009 and if you missed my previous posts covering 2009-2012, you can peruse them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

In our year of 2013, the magic number was 9 contenders. We know that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave would have been included since a win in Best Picture was among its nine nominations. It also took Director, Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), and Adapted Screenplay. So what else would’ve made the cut? Let’s speculate, shall we?

American Hustle

David O. Russell’s disco era crime pic tied for the most nods with 10, including Director and four acting mentions for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence. Despite the double digit nomination haul, it ended the night with zero victories.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Even with the goose egg, the sheer number of nods indicates making the quintet.

Captain Phillips

With Tom Hanks as the title character in the true life Somali pirate drama, Paul Greengrass’s tense thriller scored 6 overall nods. In addition to Pic, Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi), Adapted Screenplay, both Sound races, and Film Editing were in the mix. Like Hustle, there were no wins.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. With no nods for directing or Hanks’s performance (which was a huge snub), I think this would’ve been on the outside looking in.

Dallas Buyers Club

While our first two selections went 0 for 16, this mid 80s set AIDS drama won half of its six nominations – Actor (Matthew McConaughey), Supporting Actor (Jared Leto), and Makeup and Hairstyling. The other two mentions were Original Screenplay and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, but it’s a close call. The three gold statues put it over the edge in my opinion despite not landing a directing slot for the late Jean-Marc Vallee.

Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller tied Hustle with 10 nominations. Unlike Hustle, it won 70% of its possibilities: Director, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Visual Effects. Sandra Bullock was nominated for Best Actress and it got a Production Design nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Even without a screenplay nom, this would’ve been in contention and it was probably the runner-up to Slave considering the Cuaron win.

Her

Spike Jonze’s quirky romantic drama won Original Screenplay and was up for Score, Song, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No because it missed out on key precursors including Director, Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), and Film Editing.

Nebraska

Alexander Payne’s B&W road dramedy nabbed five other nods for direction, Actor (Bruce Dern), Supporting Actress (June Squibb), Original Screenplay, and Cinematography. It didn’t emerge victorious for any.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I struggled with this one (it’s sixth). Film Editing is often the biggest indicator of a BP nom and that’s part of the reason I gave Dallas Buyers Club a slight edge.

Philomena

Judi Dench received a Best Actress nod for this adoption drama. Adapted Screenplay and Score were the other mentions as its four overall are the least of the BP hopefuls.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The Academy loves Dench. However, that wouldn’t have been enough for this to survive a cut to five.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s raunchy tale of 80s excess landed Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill acting spots. The direction and Adapted Screenplay were up as well. It won none.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes though I will say I don’t think it’s automatic. Wolf‘s complete lack of nominations in the tech categories is a bit of a surprise, but ultimately I don’t think the voters would’ve ignored this.

So my quintet for 2013 would be:

12 Years a Slave

American Hustle

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

The Wolf of Wall Street

2014 is up next and will be on the blog soon!

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

My latest Final Five post brings us to 2012 and the Oscars that occurred nearly a decade ago. If you’re reading this series for the first time, this is where I whittle the 8-10 Best Picture nominees from every year since 2009 to five. As you may know, it was in 2009 that the Academy stopped listing a quintet of movies for the big prize and expanded it upwards. If you missed my write-ups about 2009, 2010, and 2011 – you can access them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

As we do with each year, we start with the obvious. Ben Affleck’s Argo certainly would have made the cut since it won BP. 2012 was a strange year with the Academy’s voters. Argo emerged as the first film since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy where the BP recipient’s director wasn’t nominated in that category. It’s happened twice since with 2018’s Green Book and last year’s CODA. I will admit that picking a fifth entry was challenging. The other 3 besides Argo seem pretty clear. Let’s get into it!

Amour

Michael Haneke’s French drama was the easy winner of Foreign Language Film and nabbed 3 other nods: Director, Actress (Emmanuelle Riva), and Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can certainly be made. I would venture that with only five, the narrative would’ve been that it had no trouble in the foreign race and that would be the reward.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This micro-budgeted indie fantasy from Benh Zeitlin scored a surprise directing nod as well as Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis) and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It received the least amount of nominations of the nine nominees and won none of its four mentions. That said, it’s not entirely out of the question that it could have snuck in.

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino scored the biggest hit of his career with this Western which won Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz). It also received nods for Cinematography and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can be made yet again (especially with the Original Screenplay victory). That said, misses for directing and editing are indications that it might have just missed.

Les Miserables

With 8 nominations and wins for Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway), Sound Mixing, and Makeup and Hairstyling, the adaptation of the famed musical was one of the biggest box office performers of the bunch.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No… and stop me if you’ve heard this before… but an argument could be made. Like Django, the directing and editing omissions prevent me from saying it is top five.

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s visually striking adaptation of a bestseller tied with most nominations (11). Lee would win for his behind the camera work and it would pick up gold statues for Score, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. Unlike our last two contenders, it did receive an editing nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Furthermore, it was probably the runner-up for the win.

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s historical tale was the other movie to receive 11 nominations. The sole win was for Daniel Day-Lewis’s embodiment of the 16th POTUS in Best Actor.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 1 for 11 showing, the sheer number of nods strongly suggest its inclusion.

Silver Linings Playbook

With 8 nominations and Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Actress, this was the rare pic that scored nominations in all 4 acting derbies. Unlike Lawrence – Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver didn’t win their respective races. This was also up for David O. Russell’s direction, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes – based on where else it landed attention.

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker won Sound Editing. Jessica Chastain was up for Actress with Original Screenplay and Editing nods making it five overall. Bigelow’s snub in the directing race was unexpected.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, but this is the one I’m most unsure about. One could easily make the case for Amour or Beasts or Django or Les Miserables. The fact that this had the screenplay nod and editing made me pick it.

So in my view your abbreviated 2012 BP lineup would be:

Argo

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty 

2013 is up next!

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

My third write-up in my Best Picture: Final Five series brings us to 2011. As a reminder, the concept is fairly simple. After 2008, the Academy wanted to broaden the amount of nominees in the big race beyond a set five. For 2009 and 2010, that number was a firm 10.

However, in 2011, the rules changed so that there could be anywhere from 5-10 BP contenders. Until the Academy reverted back to 10 definite hopefuls last year, that number fluctuated between 8-9. For the inaugural year with the changeup, it was 9.

This post series engages in revisionist and speculative history. What if the rule of five BP nominees had never been altered? What would’ve made the cut? What would wind up on the cutting room floor? In 2011, we know it would’ve included the winner – Michel Havanavicius’s French black and white silent dramedy The Artist. 

What else? Let’s consider the other eight one by one…

The Descendants 

Alexander Payne’s works had received Academy attention before with 2002’s About Schmidt and 2004’s Sideways. This George Clooney led dramedy nabbed four additional mentions for its star, director, editing, and adapted screenplay – where it won.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay victory and inclusion in key races such as directing and editing seal the deal.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The rare BP nominee that received only one other nod – Max Von Sydow in Supporting Actor. This was, to be kind, a unique and unexpected nod as Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 themed drama with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock managed just a 45% Rotten Tomatoes rating as well as subpar box office.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The fact that it made the final 9 is still pretty shocking and is widely considered an underserving inclusion.

The Help

Based on a huge bestseller, Tate Taylor’s The Help was beloved by audiences to the tune of $169 million at the box office. Beyond Picture, it received three other nods: Actress (Viola Davis), Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), and another Supporting Actress nod and win for Octavia Spencer.

Does It Make the Final Five?

It’s awfully tempting to say yes given its popularity, but no. I’d feel more comfortable putting it in the final five had it nabbed a screenplay or editing or directing nod (even just one of them).

Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s family adventure garnered the most nominations on Oscar night (11), one more than The Artist. That includes Director, Adapted Screenplay, Score, Costume Design, Editing, and wins for its Sound Editing and Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and quite easily with that impressive haul.

Midnight in Paris

This was a critical and commercial comeback for Woody Allen and it won Original Screenplay with additional nods for Allen’s direction and the art direction.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. While he’s basically blackballed from Hollywood in 2022, it was a different story 11 years ago for Allen and the Academy would’ve rewarded him for this return to form.

Moneyball

Bennett Miller followed up Capote with this acclaimed baseball drama that received five additional nominations – Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Editing. It ended up going 0 for 6.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. As I’ve explained before, Picture and Director rarely matched 5/5 before 2009. This is my pick for the BP nominee where the filmmaker didn’t make the cut.

The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s arty and ambitious saga served as a comeback for the legendary auteur. In addition to BP, Malick was in the quintet for his direction as was the cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It’s not out of the question that it might’ve, but its minimal two other nods cause doubt.

War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s equine related battle flick is one of his least discussed BP contenders, but it did gallop into contention with five other mentions for Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Even with the pedigree, missing Editing and Screenplay is a typically dependable telltale sign.

So that means my final five from 2011 consists of:

The Artist

The Descendants

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball 

My take on 2012 will be available in short order!

My entries for 2009 and 2010 can be found here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

After the 2008 Oscars, the Academy decided to expand the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. This rule would hold for 2009 and 2010 and then it shifted from anywhere between 5 and 10 (where it was typically 8 or 9). As of 2021, we’re back to a set 10.

Yet what if that had never happened? What if only five nominees from the last decade plus made the cut? My initial writeup where I predicted which five from 2009 would have done so can be found here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Now we move to 2010. It was a year in which Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech led the evening with 11 nominations. It would win four – Director, Colin Firth for Best Actor, Original Screenplay, and the big prize Picture. So there’s 20% of our theoretical lineup.

As for the others, let’s take them one by one and I’ll give my thoughts on whether each would’ve made that other 80% of the quintet.

127 Hours

In 2010, Danny Boyle was coming off 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. That little film that could cleaned up on Oscar night with 8 trophies including Picture. This survival drama with James Franco landed six nods. It won zero, but earned recognition in the Best Pic prerequisites that count like screenplay and editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. This is a tough one. As you’ll see below, there are more than five pics that check important boxes. My hunch is that it would’ve nabbed the fifth slot (though you may feel differently when you read on and I tell you what doesn’t make my cut).

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s intense balletic drama earned Natalie Portman an Actress statue and four other nods: Director, Cinematography, and Film Editing. Certainly the director and editing mentions are notable as is Portman’s victory.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. When Picture and Director were both set at five, they rarely matched. 4 out of 5 directors matching the BP nominations was most common. Here’s an example where I don’t think a match would’ve occurred. The biggest reason? Of the 10 BP nominees, Swan is the only one that didn’t land a screenplay nod. That’s significant.

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg’s passion project didn’t land him a nod, but it did for three of his costars. Christian Bale took home Supporting Actor while onscreen mother Melissa Leo won Supporting Actress (with Amy Adams also nominated). The direction, screenplay, and editing also were up for a total of 7 nominations.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The wins in the two acting races and the fact that it hit in all the key precursors give the relevant tale of the tape.

Inception

There’s speculation that the reason the Academy switched to 10 nominees is because Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was omitted from the five in 2008. His follow-up two years later did not miss the expanded cut. It won Oscars for half of its 8 nominations – Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The other three nods besides Picture were Original Screenplay, Score, and Art Direction.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. And here’s where some readers may disagree. I’m giving 127 Hours an ever so slight edge over this. Why? The 8 nods don’t mean much to me because the bulk of them are in tech races. By the way, The Dark Knight also received 8 nominations. Its misses are what make me skeptical as Nolan didn’t get in for his direction and it also wasn’t up for editing.

The Kids Are All Right 

The family drama received acting mentions for Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo and for its original screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Too many heavy hitters this year and it was probably toward the bottom of the ten that got in.

The Social Network

David Fincher’s saga about the founding of Facebook won three of its 8 nods in Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes… easily. It was probably #2 behind King’s Speech in terms of winning Picture and Director.

Toy Story 3

The Pixar threequel holds the distinction of being the second animated title to make the BP list after Beauty and the Beast. On Oscar night, it won Animated Feature as well as Original Song and received an Adapted Screenplay nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The Academy probably would’ve been OK with it being a slam dunk Animated Feature winner if only five pics were in contention.

True Grit

The Coen Brothers Western remake was behind only King’s Speech in terms of nominations with 10. Beside Picture – you had Director(s), Actor (Jeff Bridges), Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld), Adapted Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design. It went 0 for 10.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the batting average, the sheer volume of nods indicates it would have still been included.

Winter’s Bone

This indie drama introduced the Academy and many moviegoers to Jennifer Lawrence. She received a nomination as did her costar John Hawkes in Supporting Actor. Adapted Screenplay was in the mix too.

Does It Make the Final Five? 

No but here is a prime example of a smaller film that received attention due to the broadening of the BP base.

So that means if there had been just five Best Picture nominees in 2010, I believe they would have been:

The King’s Speech

127 Hours

The Fighter

The Social Network

True Grit

I will be back soon with my final five take on 2011!

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

And now for a new category on my blog that will update itself yearly after 13 initial posts covering 2009-21. It’s a simple concept. In 2009 – the Academy shifted their rules from a set amount of five Best Picture nominees to 10. That lasted for 2 years. In 2011, the number could fluctuate anywhere from 5-10. In most years, the magic number was 8 or 9 (it was never less than 8). Last year, the big race reverted back to a definite 10.

So… what if it hadn’t? What if 5 nominees was never altered? Well, Oscar speculators like yours truly would have to write posts predicting what would’ve been the final five. So that’s what this is all about.

Naturally it begins with 2009. Before that, something from 2008 might’ve contributed to the shift when The Dark Knight famously missed BP even though it was a critical darling and box office smash. A shift to 10 allowed popcorn favorites and smaller titles to make the cut. And they did.

When it comes to whittling down from 10 (or later 8 or 9) to five, there’s plenty of factors in play. What else did the movie get nominated for or win? Some races are more important than others like Director and Editing or the Screenplay derbies.

Yet it’s far from an exact science. This is educated guesswork based on Oscar history. I’ll walk through each title and give an ultimate Yes or No on whether it makes the five. The first is automatic and that’s whatever won. In 2009 that honor belonged to…

The Hurt Locker

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes because it won Best Picture.

The other 9? That’s where it gets interesting. Let’s take them alphabetically, shall we?

Avatar

When Oscar nominations rolled out near the beginning of 2010, James Cameron’s 3D sensation was basking in the glow of becoming the biggest movie ever. That meant he was breaking his own record from 13 years earlier with Titanic. Cameron was nominated for Director – losing to ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for Locker. The film also didn’t manage a Screenplay nod though Cameron is known more for his technical prowess than writing skills. On the tech side it managed 7 nods and won three (Art Direction, Cinematography, Visual Effects). So…

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Though it lost a number of its nods to Locker, the gargantuan grosses would’ve been enough for it to advance.

The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock’s crowd pleasing football drama made her an Oscar winner. Yet those are the only two nominations it received as it couldn’t make the Adapted Screenplay shortlist. In fact, Avatar and this are the only two BP nominees not to see their scripts mentioned.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. This is a perfect example of a blockbuster getting in due to the expansion that wouldn’t have with just five.

District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s acclaimed sci-fi tale was a surprise summer hit and he’s yet to replicate its mix of audience and critical appreciation. It was nominated in three other races – Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, and Film Editing. No wins.

Does It Make the Final Five?

This one is actually close for me. The screenplay and editing nods certainly make it doable. If it had landed Director, I’d probably say yes. A bit of a coin flip, but I’ll land on No.

An Education

The coming-of-age pic scored Carey Mulligan an Actress nod as well as Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that it could’ve snuck in, but gotta go No. It missed a Golden Globe nod for example and a lot of the focus was on Mulligan’s work.

Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino’s WWII opus was his return to significant awards attention 15 years following Pulp Fiction. In addition to the Pic nod, he was nominated for his direction and screenplay (losing both to Locker). Other nominations: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing, and a Supporting Actor victory for Christoph Waltz.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The 8 nominations are enough to indicate as much.

Precious

The breakthrough drama from Lee Daniels scored five other mentions for Directing, Gabourey Sidibe in Actress, Mo’Nique in Supporting Actress (a victory), Adapted Screenplay (another win), and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay win puts it over the top.

A Serious Man

The Coen Brothers dark comedy received just one other nod for their screenplay with acclaimed lead Michael Stuhlbarg missing the Best Actor cut.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Even with the love for its brotherly makers – No.

Up

As far as I’m concerned, the Pixar masterpiece’s first few minutes should win Best Picture every year. The tearjerker was a rare animated Best Picture contender and it contended for four others. It obviously won Animated Feature as well as Original Score in addition to mentions in Original Screenplay and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

I’m saying No, but I’m not sure of that. I’d probably put it sixth.

Up in the Air

Our other Up contender is Jason Reitman’s workplace dramedy which received six nods. The others were Director, Actor (George Clooney), Supporting Actress (both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick), and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. While it retrieved no statues, I think it would’ve just edged other hopefuls such as Up or District 9.

So that means if 2009 had just five Best Picture nominees, I believe they would’ve been:

The Hurt Locker (winner)

Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

Up in the Air 

An important note – the movies here match the five Best Director nominees. That’s rare and that will be rare in subsequent postings on years that follow. From 2000-2008 that only occurred twice (2005 and 2008). So don’t get used to it.

I shall return soon with my rumblings and final five for 2010!

Oscar History: 2014

Six years ago in Oscar history began an impressive two year run for filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Birdman emerging as the big winner of the evening. The film took Best Picture and Director over its major competitor – Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. This was a ceremony in which the largest category did have some suspense. Birdman took the prize over the aforementioned Boyhood and six other pics: American Sniper (the year’s top grosser), The Grand Budapest Hotel (marking Wes Anderson’s first and only Picture nominee), The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. 

In this blogger’s perfect world, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler would have been recognized. It was my favorite movie of that year so get used to seeing it pop up in this post. Other notable selections from 2014 left on the cutting room floor: David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. 

Mr. Miller did have the notable distinction of being nominated for Best Director despite his work not showing up in Best Picture (very rare these days). As mentioned, Inarritu took the gold over Miller as well as Linklater, Anderson, and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). Gilroy, Fincher, and Joon-ho might have warranted consideration in my view as well as Chazelle’s bravura debut in Whiplash. 

One could argue that Nightcrawler isn’t your prototypical Picture contender. However, Jake Gyllenhaal being left out of the five Actor contenders stands as one of the noteworthy snubs in recent history. It was Eddie Redmayne emerging victorious for The Theory of Everything over his closest competitor Michael Keaton (Birdman). Other nominees: the three C’s of Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, picking up his third nomination in a row), and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game).

There is a voluminous list of solid performances beyond just Gyllenhaal’s that were left wanting. It includes Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), David Oyelowo (Selma), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), and Miles Teller (Whiplash).

In Best Actress, Julianne Moore triumphed for Still Alice after four previous nominations without a win. She took the honor over Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Moore’s selection was one of the easiest to project as she’d been a sturdy frontrunner all season.

Looking back, how about Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow? Its action genre trappings probably prevented consideration, but she might have made my quintet. Amy Adams won the Golden Globe for Actress in Musical/Comedy, but missed here.

Another easy (and absolutely deserved) winner was J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor for Whiplash over Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher).

I will yet again mention Nightcrawler as I might have considered Riz Ahmed. There’s also Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice.

Boyhood nabbed its major race victory in Supporting Actress with Patricia Arquette. Other nominees were Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), and the always in contention Meryl Streep for Into the Woods.

As for others, I’ll start with (surprise) Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Others include both Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent in addition to Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice).

My Oscar History will continue soon with 2015 as Mr. Inarritu will dominate the director race yet again while the Academy chose to spotlight something in Best Picture!