Oscars 2024: All 10 Best Picture Nominees, Ranked from Worst to Best

So much political gamesmanship goes into an Oscar campaign that the notion of a “best” picture at all has been nearly emptied of meaning. Though, with nearly 10,000 voting members, the Academy is the one sampling reflective of the industry to get closest to what its artists and talent believe the best to be. That is, after plenty of other worthy contenders are eliminated in the nominations process.

Seven of this year’s 10 Best Picture nominees showed up in IndieWire’s ranking of the best films of 2023, which suggests that critics and audiences are more aligned than ever in terms of the year’s finest films. Many of which, here, were championed by critics, from “Past Lives” all the way back to Sundance 2023 to “Anatomy of a Fall,” beloved since winning the Palme d’Or (Neon’s fourth consecutively) at Cannes 2023. The teams behind titles like “Past Lives” (though unlikely to win this year) deserve their own prize for such resilience over another long-haul slog of an awards season, refreshing the same talking points at Q&A after Q&A. “The Zone of Interest,” meanwhile, is a movie that went quiet after winning the Grand Prix at Cannes and playing the top-tier fall fests, only to surge impressively toward the end of last year and into January.

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Anyone who’s been on this side of the awards race knows that a movie you loved back at the fall festivals threatens to be ground into a pulp by the Oscar machine — is anyone who loved “The Power of the Dog” at Telluride 2021 still replaying that movie on Netflix now? Even if you’ve seen a nominated movie once, watching its life cycle across awards season inevitably leaves you feeling like you’ve seen it a dozen times by the time the final envelope is read on the Academy Awards stage.

As of February 27, voting has closed for this year’s Academy Awards. The race is, for all intents and purposes, over. The winners are just hours from being announced. The statuettes? They’re ready! So, before these films and their creators are forever transformed by whatever unfolds on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, we’ve decided to look at each of them head-on for one last time; not as winners or also-rans, but as a study of the films that enthralled audiences, fans, cinephiles, critics, prognosticators, and more over the last few months. 

If you’re waging bets this Oscar season — and now’s the time, as it’s certainly the most predictable in recent memory — you’ll be on a lonely island of losing big time if you stack your odds against “Oppenheimer.” It’s winning Best Picture, full stop, unless, by some remarkable course of events, the split votes for other films cancel it out (they won’t). There was a time when a movie like “Barbie,” its main opponent initially in the summer of 2023 before turning out to be its greatest accomplice in a box office coup that reignited theaters, threatened to overturn Christopher Nolan’s massive IMAX epic. Or even a moment when Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” seemed like the safe choice to serenade voters’ hearts with its familiar comforts. But no — Nolan is unstoppable, and long-beloved after many Oscar disappointments over the years. 

And we don’t rank it too low on our list, either, which is, of course, topped by the very IndieWire pick of a certain Celine Song movie about the roads not taken — a film that has left us haunted since Sundance 2023. We’re not feeling extra generous toward movies like “American Fiction” and “Maestro,” though there is no truly terrible movie here that feels like a WTF-this-doesn’t-belong-here swing from the Academy. There are, of course, the films missing that we hoped would be Best Picture-included (see IndieWire’s critics’ survey of the 50 best films of the year for more on that) 

Let’s pour one out for these movies that will now live in Oscar annals and on streaming services, largely forgotten at least for the next year or so. Maybe longer, maybe less. Time will tell. From the spectacular to the bizarre (and everything, everywhere, in between), here are all of the Best Picture nominees this year, ranked from worst to best. 

With editorial contributions from Kate Erbland and Ben Croll.

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