Did the Oscars Get it Right?

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We’re in the dead-period of movies right now, just before the Summer blockbusters burst their way onto the big screen. After that, it’s Oscar season, baby. But before we get there, let’s take a moment to look back on the 10 most recent Best Picture winners.

Of course, the Oscars are meaningless but so fun to discuss (at least for me). They also do at least give recognition to smaller films that deserve credit, such as Room last year. For the sake of my brain, our “Should Have Won” category only involves films that were nominated. For instance, I thought Ex Machina was the best film of 2015, but it was not nominated for Best Picture, so it would be ineligible for this discussion.

With that, let’s get it:

2007 Winner: THE DEPARTED / Should Have Won: THE DEPARTED

Martin Scorsese finally won Best Director as well for his crime-thriller. This was an interesting race as indie darling Little Miss Sunshine gave the mobster movie a run for its money, but ultimately it was the right call. This was also the first year Alejandro G. Inarritu was nominated for his Brad Pitt-starring Babel. The Departed was slightly the underdog heading into the night’s awards due to its violent content that was controversial to the Academy voters.

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2008 Winner: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN / Should Have Won: THERE WILL BE BLOOD

2007 was the best movie year of the 2000s. Period. There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Juno, and Michael Clayton were the nominees. Into the Wild, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Gone Baby Gone, I’m Not There, Lars and the Real Girl, and Ratatouille were also released. Looking back, the year was even better than realized because all of these films have aged so well. I would argue There Will Be Blood has aged better than No Country for Old Men, and it is also the greatest film of its decade. In all likelihood, Blood would have captured Best Picture had the Coen Brothers rightly won for Fargo.

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2009 Winner: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE / Should Have Won: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

This was the year that changed the Academy Awards as fans were tragically upset that The Dark Knight did not receive a nomination, which it should have. Even then though, Slumdog Millionaire deserved the Oscar and was the best film that year.

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2010 Winner: THE HURT LOCKER / Should Have Won: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

I never understood the hype for The Hurt Locker. I still don’t. It’s a fine movie, but even Zero Dark Thirty is better. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds should have won Best Picture. It remains to be my favorite Tarantino picture, even ahead of Pulp Fiction. 

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2011 Winner: THE KING’S SPEECH / Should Have Won: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

This was a heated battle all year long. Five years later, there is no doubt The Social Network is a more memorable and meaningful film. It defines the entire digital revolution and is perfectly written, directed, and edited. It’s a masterpiece and one of the top films of the decade. That Trent Reznor score too…

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2012 Winner: THE ARTIST / Should Have Won: THE TREE OF LIFE

The Tree of Life was never going to win Best Picture. The fact it was even nominated is somewhat of a miracle. But it was not only the best film of 2011, but the best film of the new millennium. It’s a masterpiece that will never be replicated, not even by Terrence Malick himself.

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2013 Winner: ARGO / Should Have Won: LIFE OF PI

This was an extremely interesting year because Argo, Life of Pi, Les Miserable, Amour, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty were all very evenly reviewed. Argo emerged as the front-runner and ended up taking home the prize after Ben Affleck was somehow snubbed by not getting a nominee for his fantastic direction. Life of Pi was deemed unfilmable by many, but Ang Lee’s masterful direction earned him another Best Director Oscars. Moonrise Kingdom, Cloud Atlas, and The Master should be mentioned here as well. Most critics would argue Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master as the best film released in 2012.

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2014 Winner: 12 YEARS A SLAVE / Should Have Won: HER

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Her upon its release, and I’m actually still not obsessed with it now, but it was the most important film of 2013. Man’s relationship with technology was wonderful scripted and directed by Spike Jonze. It should be mentioned that 2013 was a vastly underrated year. The Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, American Hustle, and Dallas Buyers Club would have all been wonderful selections.

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2015 Winner: BIRDMAN / Should Have Won: BIRDMAN

I was #TeamBoyhood all year long, but, looking back, I was wrong. I love, love, love Birdman. It never gets old. Tracking shots rock. Black comedy is the best genre. Birdman is perfect.

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2016 Winner: SPOTLIGHT / Should Have Won: ROOM

Room never had a chance but it was the best of the nominees. Flawless acting earned Brie Larson an Oscar. This film will be remembered for a long, long time. I look forward to when it is more universally known.

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And, for what it’s worth, here is how I would rank my picks:

  1. The Tree of Life (Malick, 2011)
  2. There Will Be Blood (P.T. Anderson, 2007)
  3. The Social Network (Fincher, 2010)
  4. Birdman (Inarritu, 2014)
  5. Room (Abrahamson, 2015)
  6. The Departed (Scorsese, 2006)
  7. Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)
  8. Slumdog Millionaire (Boyle, 2008)
  9. Her (Jonze, 2013)
  10. Life of Pi (Lee, 2012)

It’s not worth getting worked-up over the Academy Awards.

-B the Eagle

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