New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Ranking the 2021 Oscars Best Picture Nominees

The Oscars are finally here! After a chaotic, unorthodox cinematic year in which we were unsure even if there were going to be Oscars given out this year, we are finally getting our annual ceremony. 2020 was an incredible year for movies, pandemic or not, and this year’s Best Picture showcases that. This is the first Best Picture lineup since 2017 that I’ve liked every nominee. I don’t necessarily love every nominee, but over half of them made my personal top ten movies of 2020 and the rest are really good. Here is my ranking of the 2021 Best Picture nominees.

 

 

 

 

MINARI (A24)

1 – MINARI

  • Minari was my number one movie of 2020 and I could not be happier that it received six nominations, including Best Picture. Writer/director Lee Isaac Chung’s stunning, beautiful, quiet masterpiece is perfect in every way. From the terrific ensemble, led by Oscar nominees Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn, to the gorgeous cinematography and score, to the powerful messages that loom strong today, Minari is top-notch filmmaking that will stay with you long after the credits roll. It’s been over a year since the first time I saw Minari and it is a movie I have not stopped thinking about since. Minari is my personal pick to win Best Picture this year.

(Available to rent on-demand)

 

MANK (Netflix)

2 – MANK

  • Some people found David Fincher’s latest to leave them cold and ranking it as one of the great director’s lesser films. Not this critic. Mank gives us a behind-the-curtain look at screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Oscar nominee Gary Oldman) and how he wrote the cinematic classic Citizen Kane and all the trouble that came along with it. Technically masterful with Fincher’s usual visual flare, a gripping, thorough screenplay, and a great cast, Mank is Fincher at his best.

(Available on Netflix)

 

THE FATHER (Sony Picture Classics)

3 – THE FATHER

  • Anthony Hopkins is a cinematic icon who has turned in a number of great performances. But his performance in Florian Zeller’s feature film debut is the best performance of Hopkins career since he won his Best Actor Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs. But even with such a towering performance, The Father features incredible production design, tricky editing, and a Best Supporting Actress nominated performace in Olivia Colman, who is every bit as good as Hopkins. This is an incredibly impressive debut for Zeller and an all-time performance for one of the greats to ever do it.

(Available to rent on-demand)

 

NOMADLAND (Searchlight Pictures)

4 – NOMADLAND

  • Nomadland is the frontrunner to win Best Picture this year and it is a very deserving frontrunner. Writer/director/editor Chloé Zhao’s sublime look at a woman (Oscar nominee Frances McDormand) who explores the American West in a van after losing everything in the Great Recession will pull at the heartstrings and make you think about a lost America. Zhao’s masterful direction lies in her merging of fictional narrative and documentary filmmaking, using real nomads as characters and putting our main character in the thick of Western America. If this is indeed our next Best Picture winner, it will be a great winner.

(Available on Hulu)

 

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH (Warner Bros.)

5 – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

  • A late-comer to the Oscar party, but nonetheless a worthy of a nomination, Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true story of how the F.B.I used Bill O’Neal (Oscar nominee Lakeith Stanfield) to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and its leader Fred Hampton (Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya) and O’Neal’s struggle with helping the F.B.I and his own personal beliefs. Stanfield is great in the film, but it’s Kaluuya’s soaring, rousing, powerhouse turn as Hampton that carries the film and will likely land Kaluuya a Best Supporting Actor win. Judas and the Black Messiah is an insightful look Fred Hampton’s short life and a powerful morality tale.

(Available to rent on-demand)

 

SOUND OF METAL (Amazon)

6 – SOUND OF METAL

  • Darius Marder’s feature film debut might be small in scale, but is huge in power. Riz Ahmed gives the performance of his career as a heavy metal drummer who is quickly losing his hearing and must adjust to a new life. Ahmed commands every moment that he’s on screen and Paul Raci, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, gives a performance of calming dominance and confidence. Sound of Metal is a movie that will make you want to take a moment to appreciate the world around you. Sound of Metal isn’t at the top of this list, but it might be the film I am most happy got a Best Picture nomination.

(Available on Amazon Prime Video)

 

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (Focus Features)

7 – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

  • Writer/director Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut is a scorching, socially-relevant movie about Cassie (Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan), a women hell-bent on revenge after a tragic incident in college, is arguably the most divisive film amongst this year’s Best Picture nominees. Mulligan is extraordinary in one of the best performances of her career and she very well could walk away with the Best Actress Oscar. It’s a dark film, but Fennell adds biting humor and a colorful pallet to balance it, making for one hell of an experience you won’t forget.

(Available to rent on-demand)

 

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (Netflix)

8 – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 might be at the bottom of the list, but this is still like a lot. This is a riveting court room drama about a group of activists on trial for an uprising in Chicago in 1968. It features loads of crackling, spitfire dialog, and a strong ensemble, including Oscar nominee Sacha Baron Cohen. It doesn’t rank as one of Aaron Sorkin’s best films, but it features a lot of things that we from a Sorkin movie.

(Available on Netflix)

 

 

 

 

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