Best Picture Winners of the 2010s Ranked

We are almost close to the 92nd Academy Awards. This means either of the nine recent Best Picture nominees will join the ranks of the past winners and will, hopefully, be remembered. This year is by far the toughest when it’s a three-horse race between 1917Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Parasite. Who do I think will win? Well, all of my predictions will be up soon.

Last weekend, I thought it would be a cool idea to rank all the Best Picture winners from 2010 to 2018, which means from The King’s Speech to Green Book, I rank them from least favorite to favorite, in my opinion.

These nine movies differ from one another from their respective genre, and they stood out from my perspective. I’ve seen all of them. I knew six of these were going to win by a long shot, but I’ll also mention the movies that could’ve won. I would’ve done every single winner over the past 92 years, but I haven’t seen everything that won. But because a movie won Best Picture, that honestly doesn’t mean it’s the greatest thing in the world. There have been some stupid wins in the past, including Shakespeare in Love won over Saving Private Ryan or Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain. Most of the winners have had their detractors and they aren’t always right.

Here is my ranking of the Best Picture winners for the movies that came out in the 2010s.

9. 2011: ‘The Artist’

Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin in The Artist (2011)

Total Nominations: 10/ Total Wins: 5 (Best Picture, Director, Actor for Jean Dujardin, Costume Design, Original Score)

Also Nominated:

  • The Descendants
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

Does anybody remember Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist? Probably not. Everybody talked about highly this flashback to the silent film era of Hollywood highly when it came out, and I never understood why? It wasn’t that inventive for a black-and-white movie about old Hollywood to come out in 2011 with very little dialogue. As I was watching it, it was getting to me at first, but then the gimmick wore off on me very quickly feeling bored from its storytelling.

In a year where Martin Scorsese’s underrated fantasy Hugo came out, where that was a much better love letter of cinema and the setting of Paris feeling like a character, that should’ve won hands down. Some might also say The Tree of Life, but I want nothing that pretentious to win. It’s carried through its musical score and having this sense of an understanding of being left out in the spotlight years after hitting it out of the park. I don’t enjoy using the word that’s the opposite of “underrated,” but The Artist truly that.

8. 2010: ‘The King’s Speech’

Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech (2010)

Total Nominations: 12/ Total Wins: 4 (Best Picture, Director, Actor for Colin Firth, Original Screenplay)

Also Nominated:

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

After the release of The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper has made anything greater than his Best Picture winner. The Academy typically chooses a period piece to beat everything else, so this wasn’t a real surprise. The story of King George VI going to his speech therapist to help him overcome his stuttering is inspirational, especially those who are afraid of public speaking. When this expanded to more theaters when I was in eighth grade, I had to buy a ticket to another movie because of the R-rating. Pretty sure I was the only person in my grade to know about it.

I saw this a week before the Oscars and thought it was great. But as time went on, there’s no way of calling this the best movie of 2010. This was a predictable win. There was nothing wrong with the performances when Colin Firth gave the best performance of the year, but in a year that also gave us The Social Network, Inception, Black Swan, etc., they could’ve let some more talked-about films that stood out the most.

7. 2015: ‘Spotlight’

Michael Keaton, Brian d'Arcy James, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams in Spotlight (2015)

Total Nominations: 6 / Total Wins: 2 (Best Picture and Original Screenplay)

Also Nominated:

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian 
  • The Revenant
  • Room

I know a ton of people love Spotlight, and it was one nearly everybody’s best list of the year it came out, but I felt underwhelmed by it just thinking it would be the next All the President’s Men. It was, but even though this was a story that needed to be told about this “Spotlight” team at The Boston Globe uncovering the scandal of the allegations of child abuse in the Catholic Church, it was just too slowly paced for me to grasp onto for a drama surrounding a distributing subject.

Yes, it’s well-acted from everybody, especially Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton, and Tom McCarthy’s direction never skips a beat in making journalism important. Personally, I didn’t think it deserved to win Best Picture when it only won one other award that night. To me, it should’ve given it to The Revenant or Mad Max: Fury Road since that got the most wins that night. The first winner to only win two awards since 1952’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Spotlight wasn’t all that memorable after its year, in my opinion. It’s good, not great.

6. 2018: ‘Green Book

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018)

Total Nominations: 6 / Total Wins: 3 (Best Picture, Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, Orignal Screenplay)

Also Nominated:

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite 
  • Roma
  • A Star Is Born
  • Vice

Green Book‘s recent win for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards wasn’t too much of a shocker, but the Peter Farrelly comedy-drama has suffered more controversy winning over the favorite Roma. Some have labeled this as a “safe” choice for a story that has been accused of providing that “white savior narrative” and taking different liberties with what really happened between Italian-American bouncer Tony “Lip” Vallelonga and Black pianist Dr. Don Shirley when driving around the Deep South.

For me, I didn’t love Green Book, and I knew this wasn’t to solve the problems of racism in the world, but I’m not a part of the bandwagon of people hating on it when there are those out there who loved it. Sure, it’s a reserve Driving Miss Daisy, but what we got was a crowd-pleasing buddy movie with two great performances from Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, and the chemistry they shared didn’t feel fake. I seriously thought last year’s Oscar season was annoying for those constantly complaining about this and Bohemian Rhapsody, and to them I say with the utmost respect, “Shut up and move on.”

5. 2017: ‘The Shape of Water

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

Total Nominations: 13 / Total Wins: 4 (Best Picture, Director, Production Design, Original Score)

Also Nominated:

  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

We rarely see the Academy give this award to fantasy movies. But it also took them long enough to show appreciation to what Guillermo del Toro can put to screen with his creative mind. Known as “The Fish Love Story,” there’s more under the surface when dealing with The Shape of Water. This original drama kind of harkens back to the classic monster movies, particularly Creature from the Black Lagoon, with a romantic touch. We’ve seen what he can do when delving into fantasy, but it’s probably on the same wavelength as Pan’s Labyrinth.

When we have this large than life story about how we, as humans, are capable of feeling love to uncommon things we grow attached to, even sea creatures. In this case, there’s this understanding Elisa (an outstanding Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaning woman, and an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) the government is keeping. Thinking back to what could’ve won instead of this, Dunkirk was my #1 of the year, so that was probably the runner-up. If they went with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, everybody would’ve been complaining. But besides del Toro’s direction, Michael Shannon gets overlooked as the villain, and the production design is flawless. And though The Shape of Water didn’t make it in my best list of 2017, it deserved its win.

4. 2016: ‘Moonlight

Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight (2016)

Total Nominations: 8 / Total Wins: 3 (Best Picture, Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, Adapted Screenplay)

Also Nominated:

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures 
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By The Sea

In a moment that will live on in television history, Moonlight ended up winning, but in a controversial mistake, they announced the wrong winner that night, thinking La La Land won. Truth, if they announced this was the winner it the first place, I wouldn’t be upset but accepted it. Barry Jenkins’ sophomore effort set in Miami about Chron’s journey through his life from a child to an adult and his own sexuality never delves into being cliché as we’re witnessing a moving about how we feel about ourselves when we get older. It was an awards season in which the eyes were on La La Land and Moonlight to take home the top prize. While I feel Damien Chazelle’s masterpiece of a musical won in my heart. there’s no denying the actual winner is impactful, becoming the first LGBTQ film to win.

Since this was my introduction to Jenkins, Moonlight is sire beautiful in his camera work and storytelling in three-act structures that could be relatable to anyone out there. Not a lot of coming-of-age movies can do this. This was the very last Best Picture nominee I needed to watch before the ceremony because it was playing near me when it came out, unfortunately. But like I said in my review, it’s a perfect combination of Boyhood, Precious, and The Place Beyond the Pines that even more memorable. How do we want to be treated in an unfair world? What makes us who we are? Are we still loved despite what we do? These are the type of questions we should think about throughout living our lives.

3. 2014: ‘Birdman’

Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Total Nominations: 9 / Total Wins: 4 (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography)

Also Nominated:

  • American Sniper
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything 
  • Selma
  • Whiplash

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman might’ve gotten some flack over the years, but not me. I didn’t know what to expect from this comedy-drama, but it was an experience that couldn’t be outmatched by any other film in 2014. Even though it might be seen as a gimmick to have it look like it’s all in one-shot, you’re just mesmerized by how it’s all done in following Michael Keaton’s Riggins Tompson, a washed-up actor starring in a Broadway play in hopes of a comeback, which is the kind of role that Keaton was born to play.

An intriguing story about being wanting to feel relevant in today’s entertainment time doesn’t mean what it used to mean. There’s one scene that’s too perfect where Keaton’s character is talking to this critic who trashes his show without seeing it yet. He just goes out on her in the most honest way. That’s why I can’t stand most movie critics that hate everything entertaining. If there was anything that could’ve beaten it, Whiplash wouldn’t be a problem. Inarritu took my breath away with his style of directing, to where it’s so phenomenal to make it all look like one continuous take and the way it’s edited, it accomplished most definitely. From every single performance (Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, etc.), Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography, and its structure of each scene was a graceful imaginative without making it seem clumsy it didn’t let me down. Birdman is ambitious, and I will not listen to any negativity towards it. 

2. 2012: ‘Argo’

Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman in Argo (2012)

Total Nominations: 7 / Total Wins: 3 (Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Editing)

Also Nominated:

  • Amour
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Miserables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

The Academy must’ve felt terrible after not nominating Ben Affleck for Best Director for Argo when they know it would win Best Picture. Probably one of the biggest snubs of the decade when we all thought he would win. Many people hate this thriller now thinking it’s a propaganda film and thought something like Zero Dark Thirty should’ve won. I respectfully disagree even though it’s a great movie. Argo had these blend genres, ranging from drama, comedy, and thriller that was used to perfection throughout. Affleck’s direction, along with Chris Terrio’s screenplay, about the CIA getting these American hostages out of Iran by creating this fake sci-fi movie is fascinating for someone who knew nothing about it beforehand.

Affleck’s third time directing after Gone Baby Gone and The Town, the latter of which should’ve gotten a Best Picture nod, he has proven himself to be a capable director tacking something like this. Honestly, Argo is his best effort. While it’s not exactly accurate, it felt realistic with the facts that got right. Just the third act is nail-biting and rewarding. As soon as it was over, I immediately knew this was going to win. This was also one of the few movies that got shown to us during high school that was actually good for us to watch.

1. 2013: ’12 Years a Slave’

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Total Nominations: 9 / Total Wins: 3 (Best Picture, Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, Adapted Screenplay)

Also Nominated:

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska 
  • Philomena 
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

12 Years a Slave surely isn’t one of the most re-watchable Best Picture winners out there, but director Steve McQueen’s will make you not forget a single moment of tragedy in the form of a courageous drama. Calling this the next Schindler’s List isn’t a bad comparison, as looking back at the tragic true story of free man Solomon Northup (a phenomenal Chiwetel Ejiofor) being taken away from his family and being sold into slavery for far too long.

Slavery is a subject that’s been done before in entertainment, but not like this. This makes you think about the world that was back then and how some were able to treat human beings this way. 12 Years a Slave captures the depths of horror and survival through the perspective of its protagonist. Besides Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps is one of the most-hated villains of all-time, without this, the world wouldn’t have given us the lovely and talented Lupita Nyong’o in the year’s biggest breakout performance as Patsy. Brutal, yet deeply profound, it’s nothing short of brilliance. Even when it won against Gravity and The Wolf of Wall Street, this was the clear frontrunner to win and it 100% deserved to win.


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