Oscar Best Picture nominees from worst to really good 2
From left: Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley, Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up, Timothée Chalamet in Dune. Photos from IMDB
Culture

Oscars 2022: The Best Picture nominees ranked from least to most deserving

If you ask film critic Andrew Paredes, not all of the Academy’s 10 best picture choices this year deserve the nomination
ANDREW PAREDES | Feb 25 2022

The writer and film critic Andrew Paredes allowed us to share his takes on the 10 Best Picture nominees in the upcoming 94th Academy Awards. Paredes has recently completed watching all nominees and has ranked them from least to most deserving of being in the Academy’s roster this year—or of getting that coveted golden statue. 

The awards ceremonies will take place in late March at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, and will be hosted by Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. Meanwhile, here’s the honest truth about this year’s Best Picture contenders, according to Andrew Paredes.

 

10. Don't Look Up

Defenders of this latest exercise in self-importance from Adam McKay call it a "documentary.” And therein lies its weakness: Satires are supposed to mine more trenchant observations from its subject matter, not document what we already see and know. (Yes, people aren't doing anything. No, politicians and billionaires aren't helping.) Which means the jokes are obvious, shrill and totally unfunny.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and Jennifer Lawrence in Don't Look Up (2021)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and Jennifer Lawrence in Don't Look Up

 

9. Belfast

Unlike Alfonso Cuaron's “Roma,” this memory piece from Kenneth Branagh about his childhood during the Troubles in Northern Ireland is saccharine and superficial. The black-and-white photography just heightens its shiny, plastic sentiment.

Belfast
Judi Dench, Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Caitriona Balfe, and Jamie Dornan in Belfast 
 

8. Nightmare Alley

This remake of a 40s thriller about a con man-turned-carny-turned-mentalist (which is itself based on a book) is a good film noir. Until you remember it was directed by Guillermo del Toro. And then you realize it should have been so much more.

Bradley Cooper and Rooney Mara
Bradley Cooper and Rooney Mara in Nightmare Alley

 

7. King Richard

This biopic about the take-no-prisoners father of Serena and Venus Williams is also just okay. Those tennis sequences could have used more oomph.

Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, and Demi Singleton in King Richard (2021)
Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, and Demi Singleton in King Richard 

 

6. West Side Story

This remake is brilliantly directed. The script painstakingly provides context to the conflict and the characters. Ariana DeBose and Mike Faist deliver show-stopping performances. I'm just not convinced it's essential, especially when an equally vital and less problematic portrayal of Latinx life, “In the Heights,” went unheralded earlier this year.

Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort
Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort in West Side Story

 

5. CODA

Sometimes all you need from a movie is a good tug on the heart strings. Have I seen this movie before? Yes. Are its ambitions low-key? Absolutely. But it delivers, shouting its sincere heart out to the last-row seats up in the balcony.

Emilia Jones
Emilia Jones in CODA

 

4. Dune

Again, the technicals are breathtaking. Some people might knock its icy remoteness, but then Frank Herbert's saga was always more about ideas than feelings. I'm just not sure it should qualify as a best picture contender because it can't get over feeling like half a picture.

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya
Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Dune

 

3. Licorice Pizza

This is Paul Thomas Anderson at his most charming. A warm evocation of a specific time and place. Which is why those two sequences involving real-life restaurateur Jerry Frick (John Michael Higgins) screeching pidgin English in a mock Asian accent at his two Japanese wives are so frustrating: It's like smearing turd on a Norman Rockwell print.

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in Licorice Pizza
Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in Licorice Pizza

 

2. The Power of the Dog

Sheer artistry. Jane Campion deconstructs the Western to examine toxic masculinity, and she never sets a foot wrong on the way to a jaw-dropping climax.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog (2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog 

 

1. Drive My Car

It's three hours long and entrancing all the way. Ryusuke Hamaguchi achieves the nearly impossible: chronicle life as it is being lived, as it grapples with grief, as it explores the impenetrable mystery of other people. 

Drive
Hidetoshi Nishijima and Tôko Miura in Drive My Car

Photos from IMDB