films reviews

Best Picture Winners, 2022-2011

I’ve been trying to catch up on Oscar Best Picture winners over the years for a while now, and thought I’d do a lil blog with brief reviews and thoughts, organized by decade. I review movies I watch on Letterboxd if you want to follow me there.

There will be spoilers in this! You’ve been warned. It also won’t be every 11 years, I’m just getting to 2011 on this installment so the next one will be 10 years, 2010-2000. Capiche?

2022 – Everything Everywhere All at Once

This is what I wrote before EEAAO won:

I’ve watched all the nominees except for Avatar 2. I will not be watching Avatar 2.

Out of all the nominees I think it’ll be a close race between Everything Everywhere All at Once and Banshees of Inisherin. Which is fun because they are very different films. I would be happy if either one won. The other films were all pretty good, except for The Fabelmans, which was kind of a disappointment.

What I’m writing now: GLAD EEAAO WON. Great film, great performances. 4.5/5

2021 – CODA

I think this film suffers a bit by being released on AppleTV, only because it feels like a Hallmark movie at many points. But in the end I really enjoyed it, and while it’s certainly formulaic, sometimes formula is good because it creates a frame from which you can explore character, and I think this film does a great job of giving us interesting characters who must fend for themselves in the unique world of being deaf. I may not be deaf, but I understand what it feels like to be alone in a crowded room. Lots of great scenes, especially in the 2nd and 3rd acts, even if the ending part is a little contrived and probably shouldn’t have ended the way it did. 4/5

2020 – Nomadland

I had no idea what this film was going be about, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a type of people I’ve seen and talked to numerous times in my life growing up in southwest Idaho: poor, destitute, forgotten by middle-class America. People who hate the government and shit in buckets. Another film about being alone among people. Excellent performance by Francis McDormand and all the supporting cast, many of whom are actual van living nomads. I’ll always have a place in my heart for these folks, even if I spent much of my adulthood trying desperately to get away from that life.

Also, the fact that Chloe Zhao made this AND the Eternals is very weird. 4.5/5

2019 – Parasite

I honestly don’t have much to say about this film other than I enjoyed it very much. Such an interesting premise with some wild twists and turns. I watched the black and white version which was cool, and one day I’ll watch it in color to see if it feels any different. Seeing the entire family immediately go in on the con in the beginning was great too. I love films where the characters are gung ho for anything, even if it means their own downfall. Great film. 4.5/5

2018 – Green Book

A lot of controversy around this film due to a variety of things that you can google on your own. That said, I liked it. Yes it has problems and is a little tropey, but Viggo and Mahershala give such great and opposing performances that it feels like an alternate version of The Odd Couple. Juxtaposing that with the utter lunacy of the Jim Crow south made for a film with some obvious plot points and characterizations, but one that I still liked sitting through. Plus, Tony folds an entire pizza in half to eat it at one point and that’s what I aspire my life to be like from now on. 3.5/5

2017 – The Shape of Water

This was also enjoyable to watch. I liked the spin on the classic monster movies of the 50s. I don’t really think it was Best Picture worthy though, it honestly felt a little hollow to me. Like a fable that didn’t really have a moral at the end besides it’s okay to fuck fish people. But the fish guy was cool looking and the leading lady is like Amelie if Amelie jerked off every morning in the bathtub. You go, girl. 3.5/5

2016 – Moonlight

This is probably the best film I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, touching, kind, this film has it all AND is beautifully shot and lit. I appreciate so much about this film. It is a film about so many things, but most of all it’s a film about men supporting men. You think about the Chiron/Kevin stuff, but Juan from the start was so supportive of Chiron. And then to find out almost in passing in the second act that he’s dead is just such a brilliant movement in the film. That relationship could’ve been its own film!

Ah I could talk about this film for hours. I had already seen it before writing this but I’m glad I watched it again, I think I found new things in it that I hadn’t before. 5/5

2015 – Spotlight

Another movie I knew nothing about going into it. A very important story to be told, for sure, and some good, subdued acting, except for John Slattery, who was basically playing Roger Sterling with a hint of a Boston dialect. Again, not sure if it was Best Picture worthy, but I appreciated the “just the facts” style of storytelling on these types of movies, where the plot is just getting the thing done with bits and pieces of character development thrown in. 3.5/5

2014 – Birdman

I’m still trying to decide if I liked this film. I think I did. It was a little hard to watch as someone who used to do theatre (not Broadway-level, but still). I think Michael Keaton did a great job and everyone else did well, but I also kind of felt afterward that I was taken for a ride. Which is what movies do, but I’m looking back and wondering what it was I watched. Slightly bamboozled, if you will.

That said, there were some truly enjoyable moments, like the above framed clip plus almost everything Zach Galifianakis did. 3.5/5

2013 – 12 Years a Slave

I couldn’t watch this film. I started it but the brutality was too much and I don’t think I can sit and watch a Black man get whipped and tortured and be enslaved for two whole hours. (I was also honestly kind of confused by the opening, which didn’t help.) I want to watch more films with Black people now, in modern times, experiencing life now, with all the trials and tribulations that follow. We shouldn’t forget slavery, of course, but we don’t need to keep visualizing it like this. Let’s celebrate Black people and not watch them get whipped all the time!

I’ll come back to it some other time.

2012 – Argo

In a lot of ways, I think this film is pitch perfect. Great cast, a LOT of tension throughout the film, from start to finish. Everything that happens on screen is serving the plot and there were numerous times when I felt actually nervous about what was going to happen, or not happen. That’s not a common thing for me. Most of the criticism I see about the film is how it doesn’t explore the deeper issues of the Iran hostage crisis, which is a salient point, but also, I don’t think this film is as much a political thriller as it is an “escape from prison” type film. Which is reductive, sure, but it has to be to serve its point. I’m sure there are plenty of other films and media that explore the complexity of the Iran hostage crisis with sufficient depth and nuance. Argo is a movie about getting people out of Iran. 4/5

2011 – The Artist

This film was a delight to watch. I truly had a blast watching it. I’m not a big “silent era” movie fan but I think they did a great service to the genre and time. Lots of great cinematography, shots you just don’t see anymore because they’re out of style (I guess). I think Uggie the dog deserved an Oscar nomination. Berenice Bejo is … the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen? In my life? Jean Dujardin did some excellent mugging and even though the plot was thin, it was supplanted by a certain joie de vivre (France!) that other films lack. 4/5

If I had to pick a “winner” of these winners, I’d probably pick Moonlight, with EEAAO second and Argo third.

I’ll be back soon with 2012-2002, yeah? A lot of those films I’ve already seen but some of them I think I need to or want to see again. No Country for Old Men? Don’t mind if I do!