Which years had the best crop of best picture nominees? What films deserved nominations and what ones didn’t? See everything ranked here.
1. 2007- Certainly one of the greatest crop of films to have come across the laps of voters in the last decade, if not in the entire Academy’s history. There Will Be Blood is without a doubt a classic induction in American cinema and without blowing any smoke was CyniCritics rightful pick for the best film of the decade. Actual winner No Country for Old Men equally deserves striking gold and Atonement is highly overlooked for displaying an hour of completely flawless, beautiful cinematic glory. Juno won’t be forgotten and even Michael Clayton was a strong film. Nobody can really argue a film out of this list unless they make a case for made a case for an endless list of brilliant, best picture worthy films made in 2007 like The Lives of Others, Into the Wild, Sweeney Todd, Eastern Promises, The Assassination of Jesse James, or Zodiac. Now here is a year deserving of 10 nominees.
- There Will Be Blood
- No Country for Old Men
- Michael Clayton
Possible replacement nominee: The Lives of Others
2. 2003- Take away Seabiscuit and this year might contend for a photo finish with 2007. Even being well behind it, it’s full of memorable, diverse nominated films. Winner Lord of the Rings: Return of the King need not be explained. The surprising, fresh and remarkable Lost in Translation is a quieter smaller film with equal ambitions and the power of Mystic River is proof of Eastwood at his best. Master and Commander may be less memorable than Jack Sparrow’s version, but is a well-made film worthy of watching indeed.
- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
- Lost in Translation
- Mystic River
- Master and Commander
Possible replacement nominee: Kill Bill vol. 1
3. 2006- The year where our second pick for best film of the decade, The Departed, wins its dues with the academy and earns Scorsese all the credit he deserves as the greatest modern filmmaker. Other more genre based nominees like Little Miss Sunshine, Babel and Letters of Iwo Jima are all technically perfect films with immaculate stories. Export British bore The Queen and add the Mexican masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth and this year may be at the top of the list.
- The Departed
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Letters of Iwo Jima
- The Queen
Possible replacement nominee: Pan’s Labyrinth
4. 2009- It is hard to give 2009 a proper ranking due to its exception as the only year with ten nominees instead of five, and since it is nearly impossible to guess which films would be nominated had their only been five nominees, it really isn’t fair to rank it the same as the rest of the list. Many great films make the list: actual winner The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Up in the Air, A Serious Man, Precious, Up, District 9 and An Education. Okay, so everything but The Blind Side and the highly overrated and indulgent Inglourious Basterds, right? Even if those two or some of the weaker picks made the list of five, it would be a great list. Up in the Air should have took off with the award.
- Up in the Air
- A Serious Man
- The Hurt Locker
- District 9
- An Education
- Inglourious Basterds
- The Blind Side
Possible replacement nominee: Let the Right One In
5. 2002- Though it ranked ten our list for best of the decade, Gangs of New York can never get enough praise for being an epic, nearly flawless venture in the Scorsese series. It no doubt deserved to win over Chicago, which took home the prize, but that is no knock on Chicago. The second Lord of the Rings film got even better and The Pianist and The Hours could hold their own against their unforgettable performances.
- Gangs of New York
- Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers
- The Pianist
- The Hours
Possible replacement nominee- City of God
6. 2004- What a wonderful year to see two American classics go head to head in an Oscar showdown. In one end of the ring, Martin Scorsese with his marvelous but inferior The Aviator, which for the first time displayed a DiCaprio performance superior to the film. In the corner, Clint Eastwood and his winner Million Dollar Baby which was supposed to be his final film. What a story that would have made. Add in a highly underrated Finding Neverland which charmed the socks of audiences that gave it a chance, and it wasn’t a bad year by any means. Sideways was snobby fun, but that’s it. Let’s pretend we didn’t see Ray.
- Million Dollar Baby
- Finding Neverland
- The Aviator
Possible replacement nominee- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
7. 2000- This is where the list starts to fade. Gladiator was crowned champion and rightfully so. The film will was both iconic, a hit and further proof of Ridley’s ability to challenge any genre. Traffic was everything Crash was and more. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was an accomplishment for its time, even if it looks ridiculous today. The other two nominees could have made room for Darren Aronofsky’s innovative and emotionally gut-wrenching Requiem for a Dream or Lars von Trier’s similar accomplishments in Dancer in the Dark.
- Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
- Erin Brockovich
Possible replacement nominee- Requiem for a Dream
8. 2005- Probably one of the more memorable years in the bunch because of the upset Crash blundered over Brokeback Mountain. Though Crash doesn’t deserve the critical thrashing it received after upsetting, the love-story of our age Brokeback Mountain was an emotional powerhouse film itself. Other than these two films, however, there isn’t anything worth remembering.
- Brokeback Mountain
- Good Night, and Good Luck
Possible replacement nominee- A History of Violence
9. 2001- Not a whole lot to say here. Winner A Beautiful Mind wasn’t bad, but not as memorable as the visual artistry in Moulin Rouge! or as monumental as Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings which are still secondary level nominated films. It’s not even worth mentioning the quality and longevity of the other two nominees. Too many other great contenders were passed up: Amelie, Memento, Y Tu Mama Tambien or Mulholland Dr.
- Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
- Moulin Rouge!
- A Beautiful Mind
- In the Bedroom
- Gosford Park
Possible replacement nominee- Mulholland Dr.
10. 2008- There hasn’t been a weaker year for films in a very long time. Each of the five nominees is that fourth or fifth nominee that didn’t deserve to get nominated. Without the modest box office performances of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire, their box office totals averaged a meager $25 million. Forgettable, flawed and rather boring to begin with, these films deserving of their spots, yes even the well-made, exploitative winner Slumdog Millionaire. Easily these films could have made way for films that could have put this year towards the top of this list: The Dark Knight, Wall-E, The Wrestler, Vicky Christina Barcelona, In Bruges or Man on Wire.
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Slumdog Millionaire
- The Reader
Possible replacement nominee- The Dark Knight
Be sure to check out our Best Movies of the 2000’s HERE.