Before most of the Oscar Best Picture nominees came out, most of 2010 was consumed by disappointing mediocrity. The best pictures of 2010 can’t make up for that, but it puts a glossy shine on the year anyway. Whether it’s due to their quality, or the lack of strong competition, few debate that these are the 10 best Oscar Best Picture nominees possible. Therefore, ranking them in order is harder than just putting The Social Network and The King’s Speech at 1-2.
1. The Social Network
While The King’s Speech may overtake The Social Network, it best defines 2010 anyway. Aaron Sorkin’s jam packed script, David Fincher’s latest leap forward, and the story of our online generation made The Social Network “liked” by nearly everyone. At least two dozen lines and exchanges are bound to be quoted for some time by Sorkin-philes, and many more movie fans.Yet some Social Network fans may be less witty with their disappointment if it loses next week.
2. The Fighter
This followed a more conventional formula, both in boxing and in the Massachusetts subgenre. But The Fighter’s compelling family drama lands harder than the bouts in the ring, thanks to one of the year’s best casts. Even weeks after seeing it, the explosive moments from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Mark Wahlberg linger as long as a big right hook does.
3. The King’s Speech
The now-likely Oscar winner may not be the Best Picture to everyone. However, the unlikely true story of King George VI, and the award-winning chemistry of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush should hold back potential backlash. But if it becomes another Crash or Shakespeare in Love, it won’t be because of the movie itself. However, The King’s Speech still can’t quite match The Social Network’s impact, or The Fighter’s emotional connection – though that won’t make it’s potential victory a crime.
4. True Grit
The Coens are conventional and inventive all at once, with their new take on the famed Western. By making just a few tweeks to the tone and focus of True Grit, it works on a far different level than the original. But the most radical and brilliant change is how Hailee Steinfeld dominates this True Grit as much John Wayne did in the first one.
5. Toy Story 3
Only Pixar could turn a threequel into this generation’s Bambi and Old Yeller, and make adults everywhere cry into 3D glasses. Even before the big finale, Toy Story 3 is nearly a grim capper to the trilogy, as it doesn’t flinch when it comes to the toys uncertain future. But that only makes the final two sucker punches all the more tear-jerking.
The pop culture phenomenon of 2010 is bound to have many nitpickers. But that’s because it inspired so much passion to analyze it over and over again, in typical Christopher Nolan fashion. Yet for all of the totums and dream levels, Inception falls a level short of Nolan’s most powerful dream lands. However, only Nolan could come so close in spite of overwhelming hype – and sure to be overwhelming backlash later.
7. Black Swan
In anyone else’s hands, this horror melodrama/meta movie commentary might collapse. But fortunately, Black Swan has Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky’s hands at the helm. Portman earns all of the certain Oscar winning credit, yet Aronofsky really makes her descent into madness, and the lurid world around her, stick the landing.
8. Winter’s Bone
Jennifer Lawrence brings a new kind of heroine to life in the Ozarks, though fellow Oscar nominee John Hawkes is not to be ignored either. The rest of their backwoods world, as shown by director Debra Granik, also helps make the movie live up to its chilling title.
9. The Kids Are All Right
Many Oscar nominees transcended their old formulas, but The Kids Are All Right puts a few extra twists on its family dynamic. Yet the formula is still evident, although Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska hide it for as long as they can.
Unranked – 127 Hours
This is the only Best Picture nominee I didn’t see – although not because I was afraid to faint at the end, like much of America was.