A few days ago, I finally popped in that Letters from Iwo Jima DVD that had been waiting in my desk drawer for over two and a half years, which means that I've now seen all the Best Picture Oscar nominees from 2000 onwards. And what better time to rank the lineups from those years than one day before the new nominees are announced? So, from worst to best:
12) 2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Frost/Nixon - Milk - The Reader - Slumdog Millionaire
The only one of these that's anywhere close to the best films of 2008 is Milk. The Reader took a lot of flak for (presumably) denying The Dark Knight or WALL·E a nomination, but it's actually my second choice, just ahead of Benjamin Button, which, I have to admit, kind of moved me in the last 30 minutes or so. There's still the problem of the first two hours, though.
11) 2011: The Artist - The Descendants - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - The Help - Hugo - Midnight in Paris - Moneyball - The Tree of Life - War Horse
One of those rare years when my favorite nominee won, and yet The Artist might not even be in my top 20 of 2011. It's a shame that the voters couldn't resist year-end bait like War Horse and Extremely Loud in favor of much better films which were probably just outside the top nine: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridesmaids and maybe, just maybe, even Drive (it did well at the BAFTAs). I prefer each of those four to any of the nominees.
10) 2009: Avatar - The Blind Side - District 9 - An Education - The Hurt Locker - Inglourious Basterds - Precious - A Serious Man - Up - Up in the Air
The second time in the last 12 years when the Academy chose the best nominee, and the second time when it's a film that I appreciate, but don't love. A very diverse lineup, for sure, but most of these movies are problematic/very problematic. Too bad that Pixar's first nomination in the Best Picture category came for Up, which becomes quite a mess after a promising start. 2009 was a dismal year for English-language films in general, though, and at least the Academy gave the cold shoulder to the year-end prestige pics Invictus, The Lovely Bones and Nine, which all turned out terrible.