By Ryan C. Showers
I began my Oscars and awards season journey in 2007-2008. I’ve lived through film and everything awards-wise in this decade in real-time. I’ve grown into the person I am through this journey. My tastes have evolved as the decade has gone on, and I’ve found a happy medium of how I like to look at films, analyze them, and learn to appreciate various aspects of them. When I think about this past decade in film and their concurrent awards seasons, 2010-2019 was an arc of personal growth for me. My trademark on Next Best Picture is the passion I have in my analysis or even advocacy for films that move me. It’s a blessing and a curse because, like many of us who invest so much into Oscar season, when things within awards season don’t go my way, it can lead to vast disappointment.
I’ve lived through some bitter letdowns this decade…
- After “Black Swan” led the BAFTA and Critics’ Choice with more nominations than any other film, the technical masterpiece only managed to be rewarded by the Academy with five nominations.
- My favorite film of the decade, “American Hustle,” went into the 2014 ceremony with the most nominations and left without a single win, after winning three Golden Globes, three BAFTA awards, and the SAG ensemble award.
- “Gone Girl” was unforgivably overlooked in Picture and Adapted Screenplay in 2015 in favor of “American Sniper.” To a lesser extent, “Wild” was also a victim in the same categories. In a year where no Best Picture nominated film had a female protagonist, this felt like the patriarchal power of the Academy was towering over people like me who had so much naïve faith in justice and fairness.
- David O. Russell’s most recent film, “Joy,” was a hit with me yet was met with relatively negative reviews and instantly went from an Oscar frontrunner to a defanged lone-nomination flop. “Carol,” my second favorite film of 2015, was also snubbed in Best Picture and Best Director.
- My favorite film of 2017, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” was dragged through the mud in a smear campaign. It won an iron-clad set of precursors that should have handed it a Best Picture win from the Academy, with sweeps at the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA awards.
- The regressive and white-washing of minority experience in “Green Book” and LGBTQ+ experience in “Bohemian Rhapsody” were legitimized in an unbelievable Oscar race in 2019.
- Nicole Kidman’s phenomenal performance in “Destroyer” wasn’t given a proper release last year to feasibly compete for Best Actress, which objectively should have been her second Best Actress Oscar.
These were brutal blows to me. However, I’ve learned something over this past decade. In particular, the lesson I learned was illuminated with my practice of the awards season this year: I discovered how to love the films I love without becoming invested in their rise or fall at the Oscars. Recently, the Oscar nominations were announced and they left many outraged. Many were upset at Jennifer Lopez’s snub for “Hustlers.” I was very disappointed Lopez was skipped over, as I was at Greta Gerwig’s Best Director omission for my favorite film of the year, “Little Women,” and “Frozen II” not being honored with a Best Animated Feature nomination. “Frozen II” is a movie that is deeply effective and personally important to me. I was disappointed in the absence of its nomination, sure, but unlike in years past, the feeling was fleeting. I didn’t feel weakened like in years past. For instance, when Next Best Picture’s own Matt Neglia called me on nomination morning, shortly after the nominees were announced, he asked me, “Are you okay? I’m calling to check on you.” I responded with confusion; I was unaffected by whether the Academy chose to align their chips with mine.
It felt so liberating to feel like a neutral third party to the Oscars, not emotionally wrecked by the Academy not delivering on my personal investment. I saw this as a decades-long of change for me, someone whose love for movies can reach the most passionate highs. Let’s be real, this is probably a result of 2019 just being the God-awful worst, between the last two items on my list. Those developments deadened me. I write that sarcastically, yet, the experience made me a better predictor. I predicted 97 out of the 124 nominations correctly.
In the end, I don’t understand why “Joker” received eleven nominations, but I’m not joining the outrage; I’m simply moving on and enjoying the rest of the season. Thus, if there’s anything I can leave you on, it would be to find a way of rooting for your favorite films and performances without becoming emotionally invested in the awards shows. It makes you a better predictor and enhances the experience you have living through season after season.
(NOTE: The systemic inequalities regarding the lack of representation for nominees with regards to race, gender, and sexual orientation/gender identity needs to be addressed. That outrage is fully deserved, and the disappointment with nominations I reference above is addressing something different. Justice for representation is still something the Academy desperately needs to confront and embrace.)
This has been a momentous decade for me. Below is my “end of the decade” lineup – treating all ten years of the 2010s as though it was one singular year and creating normal Oscar categories out of my personal awards. I enjoy seeing films most of us have studied so intimately through each Oscar season compared with films of other years. It creates a large picture of clarity and re-contextualization. Some of my selections don’t flow according to the wave of consensus thinking (for instance, the placement of “Joy” will probably raise eyebrows), but that is the spice of life and what makes the subjective awards season such a diverse club of which to be a part. The films I list below represent some of my most profound cinematic experiences of the decade. Unfortunately, not all of them performed excellently with nominations this season, and that’s part of the fun.
TOP TEN BEST FILMS OF THE DECADE
- “American Hustle”
- “Black Swan”
- “The Tree of Life”
- “Gone Girl”
- “Little Women”
- “The Favourite”
- “The Irishman”
- Amy Adams – “American Hustle”
- Cate Blanchett – “Blue Jasmine”
- Nicole Kidman – “Destroyer”
- Renée Zellweger – “Judy”
- Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
- Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
- Matthew McConaughey – “Dallas Buyers Club”
- Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour”
- Michael Fassbender – “Steve Jobs”
- Chiwetel Ejiofor – “12 Years a Slave”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Viola Davis – “Fences”
- Anne Hathaway – “Les Miserables”
- Octavia Spencer – “Luce”
- Jennifer Lawrence – “American Hustle”
- Rachel Weisz – “The Favourite”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Christian Bale – “The Fighter”
- Ethan Hawke – “Boyhood”
- Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
- Josh Hamilton – “Eighth Grade”
- Sam Rockwell – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
- George Miller – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
- Kathryn Bigelow – “Zero Dark Thirty”
- Denis Villeneuve – “Blade Runner 2049”
- Alfonso Cuarón – “Gravity”
- Steve McQueen – “Widows”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
- “Gone Girl”
- “The Social Network”
- “Little Women”
- “Silver Linings Playbook”
- “If Beale Street Could Talk”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST SOUND MIXING
BEST SOUND EDITING
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
- “Life of Pi”
- “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
- “The Irishman”
Thank you for a wild decade. What are your thoughts on my rankings? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account. Also be sure to check out my Top 10 films of 2019 here and be on the look out for our NBP Film Community Award Nominations celebrating the end of the decade. ballots are going out soon!
You can follow Ryan and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @rc818