When nominations for the 94th annual Academy Awards were announced this year, 10 movies made the Best Picture lineup for the first time in 11 years. Many words could be expended here on the fluctuating number of available slots in that top category, which over the last decade has allowed for as few as five or as many as 10, depending on the amount of consensus support the films got during voting. This year, though, the Academy changed its rules and explicitly set the lineup at an even 10 movies, which the organization hasn’t done since the dawn of the 2010s. Perhaps they were hoping a guaranteed full double-digit slate would nudge that gigantic Spider-hit into contention, the better to boost sliding ceremony ratings. They’ll have to make due with Dune, and also maybe the streaming smash Don’t Look Up.
Best Picture is a full spectrum of budgets and subject matter this year, ranging from that aforementioned sci-fi monolith to what has to count as one of the artiest and least likeliest of nominees in this category ever. (Hint: It’s the one all the Oscar bloggers were up in arms about critics’ groups honoring in the early days of our endless awards season.) The actual quality of the movies up for the big prize ranges, too—though, of course, that’s always true and always a matter of opinion. Consider the full ranking of the Best Picture nominees that follows simply one man’s opinion, formed after another year on the review beat, watching spectacles he loved, coming-of-age dramas he didn’t, and everything in between. Fair warning: The list starts with a blast crater of disapproval, and takes a few clicks to get much more forgiving.