Ranking the 2019 Oscar nominees

“Roma” is the best of this year’s nominated features. (Image copyright Netflix.)

Exclusive to MeierMovies, February 24, 2019

The hostless and classless Academy Awards air tonight, and a discussion of which nominated films are the best seems rather pointless, considering that the eight best-picture nominees aren’t representative of the eight top films of 2018. Still, let’s take a stab at ranking them, shall we? (And don’t forget to check out my Year in Review article from December 2018 and my initial analysis of the nomination announcement last month.)

1. Roma FL – 4 ½ stars
2. Green Book – 4 stars
3. A Star Is Born – 3 ½ stars
4. The Favourite – 3 ½ stars
5. Black Panther – 3 ¼ stars
6. Bohemian Rhapsody – 3 stars
7. BlacKkKlansman – 1 ¾ stars
8. Vice – 1 ½ stars

So I’ll be rooting for Roma, which would be the first foreign-language film to ever win best picture. And though I pick winners based on quality, not politics, a Roma victory would be a nice slap in the face to Trump and his “Mexican emergency.” (Conversely, a victory for Alfonso Cuarón’s film would spell even more trouble for traditional cinematic distribution, as Roma was primarily a Netflix-streaming product.)

And, now, compare the eight nominated films to my list of the actual eight best films of 2018:

1. Ready Player One– 4 ½ stars
2. Roma FL – 4 ½ stars
3. First Man – 4 ½ stars
4. Mary Poppins Returns – 4 ½ stars
5. They Shall Not Grow Old (3-D version) – 4 ¼ stars
6. First Reformed – 4 ¼ stars
7. Hereditary – 4 ¼ stars
8. The Guilty FL – 4 stars

Unsurprisingly, the nominated short films are also not the best of the year, owing mostly to the weird method of their selection via limited theatrical runs and/or winning grand-jury prizes at Oscar-qualifying festivals. But they too deserve respect, and a ranking. Here are the five nominated live-action shorts, listed from best to worst:

1. Detainment – 4 stars
2. Fauve FL – 4 stars
3. Marguerite FL – 4 stars
4. Madre (Mother) FL – 4 stars
5. Skin – 4 stars

And the five nominated animated shorts:

1. Bao – 5 stars
2. Weekends – 3 stars
3. One Small Step – 3 stars
4. Late Afternoon – 3 stars
5. Animal Behaviour – 2 stars

If the above list were truly reflective of the five best animated films of 2018, it would include Lynn Tomlinson’s The Elephants Song (5 stars), Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe’s Lost & Found (5 stars) and Phil Brough’s Fire in Cardboard City (4 stars).

I’ve seen just two of the Oscar-nominated short documentaries – A Night at the Garden (3 stars) and Black Sheep (4 stars) – and neither seems likely to win. The former, though chilling and historically important, is essentially just a repackaging of documentary footage shot by someone else decades ago, while the latter, though powerful, is an unusual, genre-blurring mix of docudrama and documentary interview.

As for actors, I’m still grieving over the lack of nominations for Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Ethan Hawke (First Reformed). In the lead-performance category, I suppose I’ll be rooting for Glenn Close (The Wife) and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), who give arguably the best female and male performances, respectfully, of the nominees.

I wish you all happy Academy Awards viewing! As for me, I’ll be watching reluctantly. Just call me Oscar the Grouch.

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