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2016 Best Picture Oscar Nominees Ranked From Worst To Best

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

4. Room

It may be easy to consider Lenny Abrahamson’s film as a number of easy-to-pin labels. You can call “Room” an adaptation of a novel of the same name (written by Emma Donoghue, who also tackled the screenplay).

You can declare that it is a star vehicle for Brie Larson (who ultimately swept the awards season for every Best Actress nomination under the sun). You can also peg it down as a Canadian co-production. In the end, “Room” seemingly surpasses all of these digestible notions, because it is so thorough with how it treats all of its aspects.

First of all, we cannot continue without giving “Room” thanks for introducing the world to Jacob Tremblay: the living proof that we have a new generation of talent coming our way. It’s also stunning how involved the life after one’s escape from isolation is in this film, because these portions are usually left as an afterthought or epilogue of a story.

“Room” is a harrowing tale of suffering both within confinement and outside of it, through the eyes of the innocent and the tainted. “Room” was heavily promoted because of its source material and its triumphant leads, but it has already been redefined by its lasting impact caused by all of its other factors.


3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road movie

In 2014, anyone saying that an action film, let alone the fourth Mad Max film (and the third sequel), is worthy of the top prize would have seemed insane, especially in the new millennium. Now, it would have been stupid to have not included George Miller’s post-apocalyptic masterwork “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The film is similar to two other Mad Max films in terms of theme (“Mad Max”) and style (“The Road Warrior”), but its take on politics is extremely current.

After experiencing “Mad Max: Fury Road” a multitude of times in the two years since its release, it is hard to ignore how relevant it truly was to make a new film in the series. Tom Hardy is quiet and stoic as the anchoring lead, but we can all agree that Charlize Theron was revolutionary as both the film’s driving force and cinematic heroine. The action is high octane, yet each and every piece of combat has a purpose in this film (which is hard to say for most action films).

It is a miraculous feat that each and every scene is choreographed and edited so well that you can actually follow each and every trace of action in this film (which is sadly an anomaly with most current action films). “Mad Max: Fury Road” is one of the very few current films that almost everyone can agree on.


2. The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Okay, I know this will be a controversial placement. “The Revenant” was the most polarizing film of this list of nominees. It was either a torturous challenge that bored from start to finish, or it was a breathtaking landscape of turmoil exemplified by the will for revenge.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s direction is pitch perfect when it comes to choreography, tension, and capturing emotion; this was either exhausting or triumphant depending on what kind of cinephile you are. Emmanuel Lubezki won his third consecutive Oscar for his cinematography here that can only be described as gorgeous, no matter what brutalities are featured on screen. Leonardo DiCaprio won his eventual Oscar for this performance, which has also been heavily debated: is it actually his best performance, or was it not a good performance at all?

In my humble opinion, it is easily one of his best works, because of how much he does with so little (including limited movements, the inability to talk for a good chunk of the film, and the amount he has to depict through eye reactions and grunts alone). “The Revenant” is a cinematic opportunity to agree to disagree with all of your loved ones, because it will either leave you hateful for the day or captivated for years.


1. Spotlight


The Academy doesn’t always get it right, but 2016 was one of the few times when they did. “Spotlight” is actually one of the more quiet films to be nominated, yet it begs for repeat viewings because of how much it gets by on its basis alone.

Tom McCarthy’s directing and script (co-written by Josh Singer) does not oversaturate or complicate what already is displayed with the story about the unveiling of the acts of pedophilia hidden within the Catholic church in Boston (and all over the world, it seems).

The shots are tasteful, the music is reserved, and the performances are purely humanistic. You really don’t have to make a story like this more theatrical and dramatic, because the concept does all of that work for you. McCarthy and co. worked smartly with “Spotlight,” and it pays off greatly.

I’ve seen this film be condescendingly compared to a TV movie, but I feel like that comparison is missing the depths “Spotlight” gradually unveils. It is the first Best Picture winner to only win one other award since “The Greatest Show on Earth” (which was a catastrophically awful film that only won due to the blacklisting of another film, but we will get there eventually), as its powerful screenplay was its only other award.

Don’t let that distract you: this movie is a complete package. It can already join the ranks, along with “All The King’s Men,” “All The President’s Men,” “Reds,” and “Network” when it comes to the great films about journalism.

Author Bio: Andreas Babiolakis has a Bachelor’s degree in Cinema Studies, and is currently undergoing his Master’s in Film Preservation. He is stationed in Toronto, where he devotes every year to saving money to celebrate his favourite holiday: TIFF. Catch him @andreasbabs.



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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.