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All 8 Best Picture Oscar Nominees From 2014 Ranked From Worst To Best

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

This Best Picture nominees list is likely to be one of the harder groups to sift through (the only other one off the top of my head that may be this tricky in the near future is the 2011 year that features the films of 2010). In all honesty, the films between 5 and 1 are borderline interchangeable, to the point that this can easily change in time (maybe even next year, I will feel differently).

The films in 6 and 7 are also debatable, and I will try my best to explain my reasoning for each and every film. In all honesty, the only film I could easily place in any spot is the film that came in dead last (simply because it’s garbage).

I can already see the slew of comments questioning this particular list, and I am warning you from now that I can easily see why most of these films can be questioned and/or championed. I will do my utmost best to give each film their due. Nonetheless, this is mostly about celebration, so let’s get down to it. Here are the Best Picture nominees of the 2015 Oscars ranked in order from worst to best.

 

8. American Sniper

American Sniper

This is without question the weakest film of the Best Picture nominees. When this film was selected above other films that should have been here (“Nightcrawler,” “Gone Girl,” even the Best Director nominee “Foxcatcher” failed to appear here, then you have the foreign films “Two Days, One Night” and “Leviathan”), I had to see why this last minute film sniveled its way in. I love many Clint Eastwood works, and “American Sniper” was a 2015 film that made it on the list with 2014 films; surely it was one of his better works in years. In short, it wasn’t.

There is some good here. Eastwood’s direction, especially of the war scenes, are extremely well choreographed. Bradley Cooper pulls off a stellar performance that showed more range than even his biggest fans expected from him; he essentially bolstered himself as one of the go-to actors for anything around this time.

Now, let’s review the laundry list of the bad. The focus on the mental illnesses the main character suffers from is so half-assed, it’s inexcusable. One or two scenes are tossed in to imply he has signs of being shell shocked, but they zoom by without much of a follow up. The lack of depth makes Chris Kyle, and the film, look very lopsided, to a point that angered many for how the film sidestepped any of his faults. Lastly, the ending of the film is unforgivably atrocious. Kyle leaves home to go to a shooting range with another veteran, with his wife looking out to him.

The film ends with a title card stating that Kyle was killed. The memorial service has credits placed on top. This is an abrupt end that is lazy, bizarre, and even unflattering of its subject, of which it held to such a high regard the rest of the film. In short, “American Sniper” is far from one of Eastwood’s best, and is far from a worthy Best Picture nominee.

 

7. The Imitation Game

THE IMITATION GAME

“The Imitation Game” is a giant leap ahead from “American Sniper,” and it feels awful to place it next in line. Morten Tyldum’s war game of wits (which is much better than the follow-up creepfest known as “Passengers”) is only this low because it is marginally tampered by the Oscar Bait bug (it is far from being the guiltiest film with this condition, however).

When the film does not feel a little too overly sentimental, it is thrilling. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a terrific Alan Turing, and Keira Knightley showed the world a thing or two with her understated performance as Joan Clarke (Turing’s strongest ally). The solving of the encryption codes the Germans used to discuss war plans is quite in depth, and highly understandable; Graham Moore’s Oscar-winning screenplay for the film explains its complex subject matter through great dialogue and huge emphases in the right places.

The film doubles as a look at Turing’s past, where his homosexuality was unfortunately condemned. This bigotry chases up to his present, where his success is sadly undermined due to his sexual preferences. The film is passionate both for what Turing stood for, and who he was as a person. Consider this film and the next on the list somewhat of a tie, but the next contender wins just barely.

 

6. The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything

In some ways, “The Imitation Game” is actually much stronger than “The Theory of Everything.” “The Imitation Game” has a stronger story and a greater balance of the genius of its main character and their personal life. “The Theory of Everything” shows the early years of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, and his gradual loss of physical capability due to Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This film also is heavily centered around the relationship with his then-wife Jane Hawking (played strongly by Felicity Jones), and how both his work and his ailments affected their bond. The reason why this film succeeds is based on the emotions that are yanked out of every possible source that just resonate so strongly. Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Hawking is so damn powerful, it is impossible to not notice each and every detail he absolutely nails with every scene (you can actually note the ways his body breaks down in even the smallest of ways).

James Marsh, formerly known for his expert documentary work (notably “Man on Wire”), examines on the most interesting of aspects to make “The Theory of Everything” all the more unique, including extreme close ups on Hawking’s eye, fixations on how nature exhibits science as artwork, and interesting combinations of shots. Jóhann Jóhannson’s score is simply gorgeous, and will wring the tears from your eyes if nothing else will. “The Theory of Everything” isn’t perfect, but it is a stunning portrait of the couple it is centered around in so many ways.

 

5. Selma

Selma (2014)

Ava DuVernay’s film “Selma” was nominated for Best Picture; its lack of nominations elsewhere, aside from Best Original Song, is a big reason why many started to discuss race at the Oscars. Rightfully so; “Selma” was so underrepresented in many other ways that it essentially left it destined to fail for the top prize whilst ignoring all of the aspects that made it so good (Common and John Legend’s song “Glory” is sensational, but far from the only reason why “Selma” is a top notch film).

How David Oyelowo was snubbed for his work as Martin Luther King Jr. will likely stump those who pay too much attention to the Oscars (like myself) for years, because Oyelowo’s portrayal of the late activist is dignified and powerful. The editing work is pulled off tremendously, as the film (which runs more than two hours) feels incredibly short despite the severe subject matter. DuVernay’s direction is absolutely worthy of being discussed, especially since she was neglected for that award; this is how you make a historical film and/or biopic without drenching the film in a way that feels synthetic.

The cinematography utilizes a strong pallette to make the film feel seem as though it is from yesteryear (through sepias and browns) whilst enhancing the skin colours of all of those within the film, thus celebrating the equality Dr. King fought for. “Selma” was overlooked by the Academy (despite being a Best Picture nominee), yet the world did not allow it to remain understated (this article included, hopefully).

 

 

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  • diegossss

    iñarritu is soooooo overrated

  • colonelkurtz

    I know we’ve pretty much run out of “all of x director’s films ranked worst to best,” but we really don’t need to read some guy’s opinion on past Oscar nominations. Not only is the list already made for you, but it’s literally composed of the most popular—to some extent—films of that year. Give us something interesting that took more than five minutes to create

    • THANK YOU!!!!!!

    • Mortimer

      Unfortunately, I think in the next four months ToC will be bombarded with the useless “Oscar” articles. For me personally, these are the most pointless and boring lists on this site. And they are all basically the same every year.
      It will get worse – especially in the January and February.

      • colonelkurtz

        Brace yourselves, the Oscars are coming. I still have enough catch-up on some interesting movies to do that I might be able to ignore the whole Oscar blabla for the next couple months.

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      We are far from running out of direcors

  • giorgio palmas

    I could never watch that gimmicky Birdman ever again, once was torturous. Emma Stone without her gorgeous tangerine tresses didn’t help.

  • Lucas Corsi

    Birdman is overrated,Whiplash much better.

    • Mortimer

      Whiplash is overrated too.

      • Lucas Corsi

        But nota like Birdman

      • Lucas Corsi

        Not*

  • This is how I would rank them, at least the Top 4 — I am not a fan of the pure Oscar bait flicks: historical/docudrama/biopics

  • Hal Jordan

    Boyhood is easily the most overrated film of this century

  • brothernamederised

    I really don’t get the “Boyhood” love at all. I wanted to like it, because I’m a big Richard Linklater fan, and the Before Sunset / Sunrise / Midnight films are among my all-time favourites, but I think I might have watched a different movie than everyone else.

    It was a by-the-numbers look at the life of a teenage boy, dutifully checking off events from a list with none of the sense of wonder or discovery that even those ordinary moments can hold in great filmmaking. And then we also got that random stepdad arc thrown in straight out of Lifetime. It’s undeniably impressive from a technical standpoint, but I wasn’t especially moved by any of it. Maybe a repeat viewing is in order.

    • Mortimer

      When Arquette says “i thought there’d be more” it sums up my exact opinion on this movie.

  • nicoal

    Other than the novelty of the technique, is there anything else memorable about Boyhood? I feel as if I’ve seen similar but more interesting stories before.

  • lamarkeith

    Eh, could honestly care less about any of these aside from Boyhood and Grand Budapest. Of all the Best Picture years to rank, 2014 is definitely on the blander end of the spectrum for me (again, aside from the 2 aforementioned picks).

    I know buzzing about the Oscars in prep for the ceremony’s hype season brings in views, but I wouldn’t mind seeing ranked lists of things like “[insert year] Un Certain Regard/Silver Lion/Special Jury/Grand Prix/Silver Bear films” etc… Actually, I don’t think I’ve even seen a Golden Lion or Golden Bear list in the 2 years I’ve been a regular visitor here. This site has worn out the Oscars and Palme d’Or lists.

    Do you realize how many “Films You Might’ve Missed” lists you could create out of the annual competition entries for the all the awards I named above? Give us more things that carry chances of new discovery — not recycled to death articles where the order is more or less predictable based on the headline alone.

    • Kosta Jovanovic

      Working on sone of these

  • Francisco Pacho Javier Alvarez

    boyhood is extremely overated, picture the same movie, but with different actors per age, and you will see how mehh is it

  • deathspell⛧Ω

    from which movie is the first picture of the article? the one below headline!?!