Five Films That Could Have Been the 10th Best Picture Nominee

Five Films That Could Have Been the 10th Best Picture Nominee

The Oscar nominees are in, and this year only nine slots were filled for Best Picture. While we aren’t disputing the other nine choices, some of us here at The Pop Break think that 10th and final spot could’ve been filled. Below are some of those films we think could’ve easily earned a nod for Best Picture.

Deadpool (Bill Bodkin)

Okay, let’s address the foul-mouthed elephant in the room first. Every year we seem to have a franchise movie that is beloved by audiences, lauded by critics, and seems to have a glimmer of hope for an Oscar nom. We saw this with Guardians of the Galaxy, the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek film, and this year with Deadpool. While it’s at 84% at Rotten Tomatoes, let’s not forget this was one of the most talked about, and universally loved movies of 2016. Of course there are some who didn’t like it. There’s also people who don’t the laughter of a child, or an adorable puppy either. People be weird.

In all seriousness though, Deadpool was a transcendent (okay that might be a bit of hyperbole) comic book film. It lovingly and not-so lovingly skewered its own genre, while also embracing it with comedic and sincerely dramatic flair. It was creative, hilarious, and honestly emotional. It’s a rarity within the genre. It deserved recognition, even if it didn’t have a chance in hell to win.

What’s a real kick in the junk is that Deadpool did not receive a single nomination. Yet, the films like Suicide Squad, and Passengers got technical nods. You’re telling me nothing about one of the top movies of the years was worth a nomination? Sad times.

O.J.: Made In America (Dylan Brandsema)

There’s one open space in this year’s Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, with only 9 out of the 10 slots being filled. The films they’ve chosen are fair choices, but perhaps a tad predictable. Here’s a film that could have spiced up the category and made it less obvious: O.J.: Made In America. In almost 9 decades of The Academy Awards, a documentary has never been nominated for Best Picture. But – and correct me if I’m wrong – as far as I can tell, there is no rule stating that it can’t happen. This year would have been a perfect first.

An obvious choice for the Documentary Feature category, and a likely winner, the film is one of the most critically acclaimed docs of recent years. With it’s gigantic run time of almost eight hours, it’s hugely ambitious scope and it’s wide-reaching political and social commentary interwoven with the details of the story of O.J. Simpson, this is a film like no other. The kind of film that changes the landscape for future documentaries. The best of the decade so far, perhaps. Everything about it, from it’s cultural impact, to it’s subject matter and beyond, screams Best Picture.

Personally, I have a theory that it would have been included had it not had such a miniscule theatrical release. Given it’s Doc Feature nomination, the conversation about whether it’s a TV mini-series or a movie seems to be over now, but had it had more of a widespread theatrical release rather than just being sprinkled into a few theaters and playing mostly at festivals (and airing in five parts on ESPN), something in my gut tells it would have made it. Of course, though, most theater chains aren’t willing to put something of this extreme length into regular rotation. Damn shame, too. I thought for sure it was gonna the one.

The Jungle Book (Matt Kelly)

Let me ask a question. Did anyone NOT like the Jungle Book? Was there anyone who walked out of the theater thinking The Jungle Book was a bad movie? 

I didn’t think so. 

The Jungle Book is a fun, exciting, and technically groundbreaking movie on its own merits and when you take into account the fact that it was a remake of a classic film that is easily better than the original, The Jungle Book getting a Best Picture Nomination should be a no brainer. It has thrills, action, drama, and even the death of a father figure that the Academy seems to be in love with this year. What more does it take to get some love from the Academy? What else does Disney have to do?

I honestly don’t know how the Academy missed The Jungle Book. It made a boatload of money. It is currently sitting at a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. For reference, La La Land has a 93%. Most mind-blowingly, this movie is chock-full of Academy Award winning/nominated actors. Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyongo, Christopher Walken, and even Bill goddamn Murray have all been the recipient of some attention from the Academy. I can only assume that the problem came from the effects being so convincing that the Academy just assumed those were actual talking animals that Disney genetically engineered and then taught to act and not real actors giving excellent performances. Those fools. 

Also, the kid was great. Shame on you, Academy.

Sausage Party (Dan Cohen)

First of all, I want to state very clearly that Sausage Party had absolutely 0% chance of getting nominated for Best Picture.  Hell, it didn’t even get a sniff for Best Animated Feature.  This is just my little dream scenario.  My top three films of the year were Arrival, La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.  They all got in.  My #4 film was Sausage Party.  That did not get in.  I’m saddened this got completely pushed aside at Awards season.  It was very well reviewed, and overall well received.  I’ve often been an advocate for more comedies getting in the race.  It’s easier to make someone cry than to make someone laugh, especially when it comes to movies.  At the end of the day, Sausage Party was too risqué to be considered.

While the humor pushes boundaries and lines without an ounce of fear, it truly is an intelligent and thought-provoking film, especially in today’s incessant social media complaining society.  We whine about everything from politics to Oscar nominations.  The protagonist of Sausage Party, Frank, has to unite food for a common goal.  At first they don’t listen to him because he’s ranting and raving.  Frank’s arc is learning how to unite people the right way.  That’s a good lesson in today’s world.

Aside from that, it’s just really funny and consistency brilliant.  I always knew this film had potential to dig deep.  I wasn’t sure if Seth Rogen would be able to pull it off, but he succeeds with flying colors.  It’s one of the best screenplays of the year, and a movie that has stuck with me all year.

Eye in the Sky (Matt Gilbert)

The biggest mistake Eye in the Sky made was in its timing.

Dropping in the middle of April, it came far too early for anyone to remember it by the time nominations rolled around, yet it also came a few years too late after the debate over drone warfare ran cold. No one is thinking about drones anymore so a drone movie doesn’t sound particularly relevant.

But  in the Sky is relevant. This is a movie masterfully directed with hundreds upon hundreds of deliberate choices all designed to ask its audience to truly think about the situation at hand. The story is as effective as it is simple.  A terrorist on the most wanted list resurfaces in Africa, a British colonel oversees the operation desperate to kill her, an American pilot controls the drone flying overhead, an innocent girl puts herself in the crosshairs, and a room full of bureaucrats debate whether or not to strike with the UAV’s missile payload. While the movie may be blunt in its message, its execution is near flawless. The audience can feel the pressure of time on each of thecharacters and while everyone can agree they can’t do nothing no one wants to say that a civilian child should die in the process.

The balancing act director Gavin Hood pulls off here is remarkable as the film cuts between dozens of characters, connecting and sympathizing with each one, exploring the ethics of drone warfare from all sides all while never alleviating any of the gut-wrenching tension from its gripping opening to the emotional close.

Helen Mirren leads a phenomenal cast and though the morals of our respective characters are in some cases dubious at best, all of them add to the experience. This is a film that has everything. Memorable characters, a morally compromising plot, expertly crafted dialogue and razor sharp pacing to the point of actual humor. The film clocks in at barely 90 minutes long but by the time you’re finally allowed to unclench it feels as though you’ve been there for days.

It’s a movie that makes you think about so many aspects of the counterterrorism movement at once and shows you there are never any real winners. This movie held thetop spot on my ranking of the entire year until Manchester by the Sea came out. It is a powerhouse movie with all the directorial and creative prowess that would ordinarily define a Best Picture nominee. The film brings its message home and perfectly caps off the late great Alan Rickman’s career with the most solemn and memorable quote I heard from any movie last year. “Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war.”

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