Rye Ranks: 2020 Best Picture Nominations

Despite my inconsistencies with blogging, one of the few constants have been my annual write-up of the Academy Awards — the only awards show that I care about. Because I freaking love movies, and this is the premiere movie awards ceremony.

This is the 7th year where I’ve watched all the Best Picture nominees, and the 3rd year where I’ve watched them all prior to the awards show. And let me just say this off the bat…

What a year!!! This was BY FAR the best group of nominees since I started doing this. So with that said, here is my ranking of the nine movies nominated for Oscar’s top prize.

*Disclaimer: This is a ranking of my FAVORITE movies, not necessarily the best or the ones with the best chance of winning. There are far better resources if you’re looking for that type of ranking.

9 – Marriage Story
I recognize the acting is superb, but this was excruciating for me to watch. Just because a movie is good doesn’t mean I have to like it. This is one I’ll never watch again. It was emotionally draining, and once was enough.

8 – Joker
It was the most polarizing movie of the year, and if you haven’t figured it out by now, I leaned towards the negative. I understand the movie was supposed to be unsettling. Fine. But here’s my issue with it: This movie never needed to happen. What I loved about Heath Ledger’s portrayal in The Dark Knight is that his character has no motivation for the things he does. That’s what makes the joker great. If Todd Phillips really wanted to do a character study, then he shouldn’t have hid behind the DC Comic Universe to do it.

7 – The Irishman
Despite being #7, I did not mind The Irishman. Any movie from this point forward has a GOOD rating in my book. I actually really liked the first hour of this movie. De Niro and Pesci were terrific. But once Jimmy Hoffa entered the picture, the movie, ironically, really took a step backwards. If a movie is going to be 200 minutes (which this one is) then it needs to hold my attention the whole way through. This did not.

6 – Ford v Ferrari
Despite liking it, this was the most disappointing movie on the list. Perhaps my expectations were too high and I had heard too many good things from people. But at the end of the day, it just didn’t do it for me. At times, it felt like a Disney movie with the underdog needing to overcome insurmountable odds. Other times, it felt boring. However, it is a cool story and one I’m glad was shared with us in 2019. Plus the driving scenes were fantastic.

5 – Little Women
We go from most disappointing movie to most pleasantly surprising movie. I have never had any desire to watch previous iterations of Little Women, so this was not high on my radar. However, I was hopeful because of Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan. (The two teamed up to produce a favorite of mine just a couple years ago: Ladybird.)

Wow did this one surprise me! On paper, I have absolutely no interest in 4 sisters growing up in the 19th century. Yet on screen it worked so well! Even as I’m typing right now, I’m wondering if I have it too low.

3 (tie) – 1917
I’ve gone back and forth on these next two movies all week. Ultimately, it’s my blog and my rules. So I’m calling it a tie. We’ll start with 1917 since I saw it first.

From a technical standpoint, this was a masterpiece. The cinematography was out of this world. The ability to follow these two soldiers on a journey with one continuous camera shot… it doesn’t even sound possible. Yet they did it! It truly felt like I was the third person with them, and that’s not a feeling we often get in cinema.

3 (tie) – Parasite
I saw this a week ago, and I’m still thinking about it. One of the more fascinating movies I saw this past decade. I’m committed to keeping this a spoiler-free blog post, which means I honestly can’t say much about it because of all the plot twists. However, it’s one of the few movies ever that was able to play on each emotion.

For those who don’t know, this movie was in Korean. I watched the subtitled version, which was totally fine. I forgot about it 10 minutes into the movie. Don’t let that keep you from watching this!

Ironically, I think these two movies tied at #3 have the best chances of actually winning the award. I’d be perfectly fine if either one takes it home.

2 – Jojo Rabbit
All I knew going into the theater was this: a young boy living in WWII-era Germany has Adolf Hitler as an imaginary friend. Quite the premise… That aspect of the movie was actually done well and came across as intended. But the film was so much more than that!

It was funny, sad, tense, and heartwarming. All the actors were phenomenal: ScarJo, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Taika Waititi (who also directed)… but the real stars of this movie were the young actors. I was reminded how great a movie can be when young actors can hold their own with adults. I’ll buy as much stock as I can in Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie. In pretty much any other year, this would easily be the #1 movie on my list.

1 – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
In a few weeks, I’ll be posting my favorite movies from the past decade. This will be prominently featured near the top. I freaking loved everything about this movie. Leo. Brad. Margot. LA. 60’s. I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun watching a movie. In my opinion, Tarantino hit a home run.

The bromance between DeCaprio and Pitt was delightful. They were incredible together. But they were also great on their own when given the opportunity. Like others on this list, I could get into spoilers pretty quickly if I’m not careful. So I’ll simply conclude by saying that the final 20 minutes were the most satisfying end to a movie I may have ever watched. It was perfect cinema.

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