Reviewing Best Picture Nominations
The 94th Academy Awards Ceremony, also known as The Oscars, will take place on Sunday, March 27. After watching all 10 of the movies nominated and researching their histories, I have narrowed down my top two and bottom three contenders for the Best Picture award.
Most Likely to Win
CODA provides a fresh take of how coming-of-age stories can be told. The film focuses on Ruby, the only hearing person in a family of four who is trying to balance her familial responsibilities and pursuing her love of music. Portrayals of deaf people in the media are rare. This film provides representation with all three deaf characters being played by deaf actors. The movie has been well received by critics and has won two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, one of them for Best Picture. The reception of the movie is similar to Boyhood (2014), another coming-of-age film that filmed with the same cast over 12 years and won an Oscar for Best Picture.
The Power of the Dog
The drama’s new take on the American West is reminiscent of No Country for Old Men (2007) in that it transcends the typical western plots. Only four western films have ever won Best Picture. The development of Phil and Peter’s relationship is captivating, giving this movie the potential to be the fifth western Best Picture. In addition to an all-star cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), the movie’s plot does a great job of storytelling through actions rather than dialogue. The film also won the 2022 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture.
Least Likely to Win
Dune was an enjoyable futuristic remake of the 1984 original based on a book series by Frank Herbertt. However, the main reasons Dune’s chances of winning Best Picture are low is because of its status as a reboot and the science fiction genre. Martin Scorsese's The Departed (2006) is the only remake to ever win an Oscar. Additionally, dystopian science fiction rarely wins Oscars, especially for Best Picture. Films like Avatar (2009) and Star Wars (1977) received nominations after rave reviews, but weren’t able to secure a win.
This movie has faced significant criticism for the age gap between the characters Gary, 15, and Alana, 25. The stories of Alana and Gary, respectively were realistic for their stages in life. When they overlapped, the character and plot development was lost. While the film has been nominated for major awards this season, it has yet to win any for Best Picture (their only SAG nomination and win was for Bradley Cooper as a supporting male actor—he was only in the film for two scenes). If not for the age gap, the movie could have a higher chance of winning.
West Side Story
Similar to Dune, this film being a remake takes it out of being a top contender. But in addition to this, the movie itself was very underwhelming. The movie did poorly in the box office, bringing in less than it cost to produce it. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture for a Musical or Comedy, but has yet to take home any overall Best Picture award. With the film being Steven Spielberg’s 12th Best Picture nomination, this nomination feels more like a formality than a merit-based one.
By Aminah Jenkins, Associate Editor