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2016 Best Picture Oscar Nominees Ranked From Worst To Best

01 November 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Andreas Babiolakis

An experiment that was done here on Taste of Cinema was seeing how our staff would order the Best Picture nominees of the latest Oscars ceremony (check it out if you have not already). This poses an interesting study that can be fulfilled: why don’t we take this approach to every year of the Oscars? It would be intriguing to see how spot-on or way-off the Academy has been.

Another aspect that can be tossed in to make things even more interesting is to work backwards; this allows us to work with the fresh and familiar films, and slowly work our way into older territory, which 1) will introduce works to those who are wanting to open up more with their film collection, and 2) will let us see how well films have aged (even ones from not too long ago).

Starting with the 2016 Oscars (which pertains to films from 2015), we have eight nominees that rank from decent to exemplary. We were lucky with this year, because all eight films are at least watchable (we will get into worse territory as we continue this experiment).

While not every great film that year was featured (some that come to mind include “Anomalisa,” “Carol,” “Ex Machina,” “Inside Out,” and then some), we do have a great range of films in terms of genre and style; everything from comedy and action to thriller and as close to arthouse as we can get with a Best Picture nominee (not very, but we can’t be too picky). Here are the eight Best Picture nominees of 2016 ranked.


8. The Martian

The Martian movie

Out of all of the no brainers that came from the selection of films here, this one was the most obvious: “The Martian” simply is the lowest film on this list. Do not get me wrong: Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi is not a bad film. In fact, parts of “The Martian” are greatly entertaining; you have a larger amount of comedy than I think all of us bargained for, and you have very likeable leads (commanded by Matt Damon’s optimistic botanist straggler).

I have watched every nominee here more than once aside from “The Martian,” and part of that is because there really is not much to revisit with this one. Since the film is light in tone the entire time, you really don’t feel any form of threat for Mark Watney. You will honestly believe he can make it out alive.

For a two-and-a-half hour film, being entertained is great to move things along; having a lack of danger, however, will make the trip only triumphant once. “The Martian” is smart and fun, but it’s one of those kinds of films that get lost in time after the campaign for awards season is finished.


7. Bridge of Spies

We can always expect Steven Spielberg to work his way into any Best Picture category, and sometimes the featured film feels completely out of place. “Bridge of Spies” is not one of those cases, but it also isn’t quite one of the strongest films of the year.

However, Spielberg’s direction works so well with the screenplay that Matt Charman and the Coen brothers put together. Spielberg’s enchantment blends together with the wit of the script, which results in the more magical moments of the film, including Mark Rylance’s magnetic take on Rudolf Abel.

Some parts of “Bridge of Spies” feel stronger than others (I personally found the film was a pair of bookends in terms of exhilaration: a terrific start and conclusion, but a slowed down middle core), and those moments will likely depend on the viewer.

These moments are anchored by the always-commanding Tom Hanks, and part of the appeal comes from you following his lead. Overall, “Bridge of Spies” has solid moments, a thirst for discovery, and an unpredictable charm to drive this story home.


6. Brooklyn

Brooklyn (2015)

From here on out, I personally feel that the nominees are well deserved, and should not have been replaced by other films. “Brooklyn” is a loving film that has finely crafted what a romance story can be. John Crowley’s period piece is simple in story (an Irish immigrant is torn between her homeland and New York, as well as the two men who live in either place), yet so textured in how it is told.

Saoirse Ronan’s performance is highly likeable, as well as layered enough to seem authentic without having to constantly bowl you over with emotion. The colours on screen start off muddy, but start to get more rich with life when Ellis (Ronan’s character) starts to truly see the world around her; she garners an appreciation once she explores the world, for both places of old and of new.

The film is funny, candid, sweet, and heartwarming. The opposite can be said as well, as “Brooklyn” dives into some chilling territory whilst being tasteful with the darker moments. “Brooklyn” is love done right, because love was clearly a large part of the production (and from every angle).


5. The Big Short

The older this film gets, the more I enjoy it. “The Big Short” is risky in so many ways. First, it’s a drastic first for Adam McKay (well known for his sillier works like “Anchorman”), as the film tackles much more serious subject matters. That leads to the second point, where the screenwriters (McKay and Charles Randolph) decided to showcase a difficult subject matter (both in terms of traumatic viewing and a discussion that is hard to get across in a simple way): the economic crash of 2007.

There are three interwoven stories that focus on the very few people who saw the recession’s inevitable path heading straight toward the 99 percent. The beautifully concocted screenplay balances between so many feuding notions: the humour helps you up after you get knocked down by the dramatic parts, and the simplifying of the dense concepts gets you through the industry jargon with ease.

McKay utilizes clever notions (including celebrity cameos, the constant shattering of the fourth wall, and collages of pop culture sounds and images to paint the years being featured) to pull you in, and these moments never feel like niches that overstay their welcome. “The Big Short” is inventive, clever, and as tragic as it is hilarious.



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  • AmazingAmy

    Mad Max >>>>>>> Revenant
    Brooklyn >>>>>>>> Room

    • Mortimer

      I agree, Room is overrated.

      • AmazingAmy

        Ronan or Rampling should won that year and Tremblay was robbed !!

        • Mortimer

          Rampling, Mara (in the right category) and Ronan !
          Saoirse was great but Rooney and Charlotte had more complex performances and characters (don’t forget Mara won in Cannes).

          • AmazingAmy

            And Rampling in Berlin. She only needs Cannes right now to secure Slam Dunk.

            It always amuse me when someone said Leo was Robbed or Amy is robbed. Bit*h please Rampling only got her first Nom after 40 years her career and Oldman only has one ( soon he will win this year )

          • Mortimer

            Oh yes, I forgot about Berlin. Yep, Oldman and Rampling are capital A actors, not some overrated movie stars…

  • Bergkamp

    Guys, so far what are your favorites movies of the year?
    Like a top 5 or something like that.

    • Lucas Corsi

      From this year?

      • Bergkamp

        Yeap, from 2017 (so far)

        • Lucas Corsi

          For me…
          2-Blade Runner 2049
          3-Baby Driver
          5-Get Out

          I not from EUA,so some movies i didn’t se yet,like A Ghost Story,The Square,Happy End…

          • Bergkamp

            Thanks for sharing!

        • Mortimer

          So far:
          1. A Ghost Story (Lowery)
          2. The Beguiled (Coppola)
          3. Song to Song (Malick)
          4. Blade Runner 2049 (Villeneuve)
          5. Get Out (Peele)

          But better ask me this in a few months. I have yet to see so many of them.

          • Bergkamp

            I’m curious with song to song. In your opinion, is That a better movie than knight of cups?

          • Mortimer

            Hard to say. It worked for me better than Knight of Cups and it was certainly more accessible (It helps if you are fan of the entire cast, like me). But then again, this is Terrence Malick territory so who knows. Next time, maybe Knight will work better, depends on the mood.
            I consider both films to be (minor) masterpieces in their own right. Sure, they have flaws but they create beautiful, poetical scenes and images, with many allegories. I think critics opinion is totally irrelevant when it comes to Malick films (I mean, they are allegedly tired of his style and call it a “self-parody” and yet, they aren’t tired of giving five star reviews to countless superhero blockbusters which all look the same. Blah…)
            I didn’t like To the Wonder very much btw…

          • Hao Nguyen

            My list would be
            1. A ghost story
            2. A fantastic woman
            3. Blade runner

    • Alan

      1) Blade Runner 2049
      2) Dunkirk
      3) Get Out
      4) mother!
      5) Personal Shopper

    • Samantha

      I haven’t seen enough movies this year. I’m so behind but I did love Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. I’ve been meaning to go see The Florida Project and waiting on Goodbye Christopher Robin to expand to my area.

      • Bergkamp

        I’ve seen great reviews of professor martson. Can’t wait to see that one. Also killing of a sacred deer. That one looks great.

    • Wind River is near tops of my list – hope more people see it.

    • Sean

      I haven’t seen as many indies as I’d have liked having switched back to running a theatre myself earlier in the year, but I’d go with…
      1- Blade Runner 2049
      2- Get Out
      3- Dunkirk
      4- Okja
      5- The Big Sick

      Also loved “A Ghost Story” and “Lady Macbeth”, think they’ll both get better on subsequent viewings.

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      Still waiting fr the cannes and berlin lineup to shiw in Serbia, but so far

  • Lucas Corsi

    The first page of the list was perfect,but when i turn the page…
    Spotlight is boring and doesn’t give the spectator the enough suspense that deserve It.
    And The Revenant is a two and hours of pieces of crap,Inãrritu failed hard with Misel’n Scene from the mobile,showing us 1 hour of florest images with nothing to explores, nothing behind this and Dicarpio’s performance is terrible,don’t give any emotion for the character and Tom Hardy just keep talking about his skins and skins, first and final scene saves the movie.
    Room and Mad Max is three times better.

  • Zwei

    Spotlight is crap

    • Mortimer

      I wouldn’t call it crap but yeah, nothing special or memorable about it. It’s a kind of movie which usually wins big mainstream awards.

  • Mortimer

    When it comes to 2015, for me it’s:

    1. Carol
    2. Son of Saul
    3. Mad Max: Fury Road

    and then everything else…

    • Lucas Corsi

      I didn’t see Carol yet,but i agree with you,Mad Max is f***ing great and Son Of Saul is so deep and is one of the movies from this decade that representes the independent cinema.
      Sorry for the english,not from this country.

    • Jasper Sapien.


    • Kosta Jovanovic

      Add in mustang and amonalisa and we have all the great movies of 2015

  • Hal Jordan

    Mad Max was my favorite, but Spotlight was a very worthy winner

  • Samantha

    Brooklyn was my personal favorite. That movie hit me so hard on a personal level, I even had someone tell me I look like Saoirse Ronan. But I knew it had no chance at winning so I was rooting for Mad Max or Room.

    • People tell me I look like Jacob Tremblay so I was rooting for Room

  • Miroslav Maric

    Bridge of spies is amazing movie! Loved it. Great cinema. Should be ranked much higher!

  • Hmmm, my list for the films of 2015 is very different.

  • Ricardo Correia

    Of all the nominees Room was probably the best

  • Mad Max is the only film I’ve revisited (too many times).
    Never gave Revenant a rewatch, and doubt I ever will – although it was a beautifully shot film, and I dug Tom Hardy – as per usual.
    Saw Room in theater blind after hearing hype. Some very good, not great, performances. Spotlight was a boring procedural for me that did not shed any “spotlight” on issues not already well-known.
    In the near future we will relegate The Martian next to Slumdog Millionaire in the DVD discount bin of Best Picture nominees.

  • Ted Wolf

    Pesonally, I’m lost on the love for MMFR. Tom Hardy is a very good actor, but lacks the presence to carry a franchise film. The result was it felt like a tale full of sound and fury, ultimately signifying nothing. Also, I realize it’s popular to hate The Greatest Show on Earth and it plainly did not deserve a best picture oscar, but it’s far from a bad movie.

  • David

    The Revenant is a self-indulgent piece of shit which aged badly despite oscar wins.

  • sirnaber

    I’d change the places of revenant with martian

  • Dimitrije Stojanovic

    There are several American movies from 2015 that I find more interesting than those nominated:
    The Hateful Eight
    Inherent Vice
    Man from Reno
    + maybe a couple of more, I can’t quite remember right now.

    Of course there are some non-american great movies from that year:
    El Club
    Под электрическими облаками


  • David Johnson

    Spotlight is one of the most standard movies of the past few years and one of the most undeserving Best Picture winners of all time.