Every year, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Television announces the nominees for Best Picture. And every year, at least one of my favorite movies gets left off the list. Last year, that movie was Jackie starring Natalie Portman, about the days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy told through Jackie Kennedy’s eyes. Portman was nominated for Best Actress, but that’s not the same. The entire movie was really good!
In 2009, the Academy went from having a limit of five nominees in the Best Picture category to allowing up to 10 (there were nine last year). I thought this would really help my chances of seeing all my favorite movies on the list, but no dice. Apparently, the Academy has very different tastes in movies than I do. Luckily, after the #OscarsSoWhite debacle in 2016, the Academy has been inviting a more diverse group of people (ahem, women of color) to vote on which movies should be nominated. We’ll find out on Jan. 23 if it helped.
So, here is my dream list of the 10 movies (since that’s the limit) I wish to see nominated for Best Picture. Drum roll, please…
1. Wonder Woman
This film did so many great things for women in and out of the movie industry. Directed by Patty Jenkins, it tells the story of our favorite female superhero (played by Gal Gadot), and it’s about time! Finally, Wonder Woman is not just somebody’s girlfriend or assistant; she’s the actual star of the movie. The movie not only made us laugh, swoon and cry; it also made over $400 million worldwide. Now that’s worth a nomination.
2. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Keeping with the Wonder Woman theme, this little indie film tells the story of Professor Marston (Luke Evans), the man who created the Wonder Woman comics. He believed women should rule the world because they’re more levelheaded and compassionate than men and created a comic book to inspire young people to think the same way. What’s even more interesting is that the character of Wonder Woman was inspired by the two women he loved: his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their live-in lover, Bella Heathcote (Olive Byrne). Yes, they had a polyamorous relationship, and, even after William Marston died, Elizabeth and Bella continued to live together and love each other.
Set in the 1930s, Mudbound focuses on two families: one white and one black, both struggling to feed their families. The story reveals two sides of one coin, each heartbreaking in their own way, allowing the film to delve deep into racism and explore how such toxic attitudes are passed from one generation to another. The female leads, Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan, are the two gatekeepers of their families, letting nothing enter or exit without their hard-won permission. It would also be super-cool to see a Netflix film win Best Picture, but certainly, that’s pipe dream.
4. The Big Sick
This romantic comedy is a special movie for many reasons, the biggest probably being that it’s based on cowriter and star Kumail Nanjiani’s real story of falling in love with his wife, Emily Gordon. But it’s special in other ways too. It’s a story about an immigrant blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it, with the American Dream. The film shows a giant culture clash that every immigrant family can relate to. It also asks the question, “What does it mean to be true to myself?” But at the end of the day, it’s just a good, old-fashioned love story.
5. I, Tonya
Love or hate Tonya Harding, it doesn’t matter. She was a girl with a dream, and despite knowing she doesn’t achieve it, the movie makes you root for her anyway. Americans love underdog stories, and while the film is that, at its heart, it’s a story about class in America. For all of Harding’s talent, and there was plenty, she could never transcend her lower-class tastes, attitudes and limited resources. Because the film tells the story from different characters’ points of view, it is a fascinating look at a woman (played by Margot Robbie) that still mesmerizes audiences 25 years later.
6. Get Out
This psychological horror film is superbly plotted, frightening to no end and as good as any Hitchcock movie. Its terror comes from the darkest kind of racism, reminding us all that old attitudes of xenophobia are still alive and well.
7. The Florida Project
Both humorous and heartbreaking, the movie is set in a dingy hotel near Disneyworld and takes a stern look at poverty just outside the world’s “happiest place.” As the gap grows between the rich and the poor, this movie is a microcosm of America revealing the best — 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her enchanted imagination — and the worst — an unforgiving U.S. economy dominated by corporate greed.
8. Blade Runner 2049
I’ll admit this movie doesn’t live up to the original director’s cut of Blade Runner, but it’s still a powerful movie. What was science fiction in 1982 is now becoming reality, for better or worse. Artificial intelligence is here, prompting new questions about what it means to be human and the true nature of God. But the best thing about the film is that Harrison Ford is back as Rick Deckard, elevating the film to a whole new level.
9. The Zookeeper’s Wife
Based on a recently revealed true story, Jessica Chastain plays Antonina Zabinski, the wife of a zookeeper in Nazi-occupied Poland. Antonina is a quiet heroine, but her courage and resolve is awe-inspiring. Her ability to nurture those around her in a time of war, both animal and human, makes it one of the most powerful stories told this year.
10. Girls Trip
OK, so yes, I know this is an R-rated comedy with some really bawdy humor, but just hear me out. This was the funniest movie of all of 2017, and people are still talking about grapefruit! Plus, a movie with four strong women of color in the lead roles should make adding it to the list of noms a no-brainer. The ensemble acting in this movie is stellar, and I would argue that Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and newcomer Tiffany Haddish are the best ensemble cast of the year.