Best and Worst Oscar Wins of the 2010s

The final Oscar’s of the 2010s has come to a close. In this article, I will go over what I think were the Best and Worst wins, and a nominee that didn’t win that I feel should have. Remember these are MY opinions, so if you disagree, find me on twitter and we can debate. I hope you enjoy, and I am looking forward to another decade of wonderful films!

Best Picture

Best Win: Parasite (2019)

  • There were plenty of great wins and plenty of films that could have taken this spot. However, even though I don’t think this was the best film of the decade, Parasite winning the best picture was the most monumental win of all time. A foreign film finally got its due diligence at the Oscars and began to take away the “local” factor of the awards. I wish it would have been Roma, but at least it did happen. I hope this isn’t a “moment” and is something that can continue for years to come.

Worst Win: Green Book (2018)

  • There were a few questionable wins of the past decade, but this one hurts the most. Not because it wasn’t a deserving film, it wasn’t, but because it robbed arguably the best film of the past decade in Roma. It was an entire shock, and when there were so many other films that were worthy in: A Star is Born, The Favourite, BlacKkKlansman, even Black Panther. Seeing this film win was not only shocking but disappointing.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Roma (2018)

  • This one is a no brainer. This movie is an incredible piece of modern neorealist cinema, an art form that is not as popular as it is today. What should have been the first foreign film to win the best picture, to see this movie lose to a film that was unworthy of it was something that was a travesty to see.

Best Director

Best Win: Alfonso Cuarón – Roma (2018)

  • Alfonso Cuarón beautifully crafted and recreated a style of filmmaking that has not been around in so long. Creating a neorealist film about a maid in Mexico, using unprofessional actors (getting Oscar-nominated performances out of them), and making the film in black and white was so beautifully gorgeous and wonderful. It is one of the most amazing films I have seen in my entire life.

Worst Win: Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech (2010)

  • The King’s Speech is a fine movie, but there is no way that this film should have won as many awards as it did. Director being at the top of the list. David Fincher’s work on The Social Network was something ahead of its time, and I believe if the movie were to release now it would win upwards of 10+. We, as a society, just was not completely ready for it yet.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Sam Mendes – 1917 (2019)

  • This is a recent one, and I do not think that Bong Joon-ho’s win was undeserving, but what Sam Mendes did in crafting 1917 was something otherworldly. Making the film in real-time, and look as well as it did, was a masterpiece in and of itself. I have said this to many people, but I believe no one would want to do what Mendes did, and even fewer of them would be able to pull it off.

Best Actor

Best Win: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea (2016)

  • Casey Affleck’s muted performance is one for the ages. I thought about going with Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, but there is just something so human and raw from Affleck’s incredible performance. A man fighting for a single will to live, while everything is falling around him, and some of it might be his fault. The scene where he is in questioning after the fire at his house… one of the best-acted scenes I have ever seen. It is tense, and emotional, and doesn’t rely so much on visuals to tell us the story, but on Affleck himself.

Worst Win: Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

  • Bradley Cooper gave the performance of his life, did his own singing, and even directed the film. But then, Oscar night, he lost to someone who got on stage and lip-synced the entire film. Malek’s performance was not good in any sense of the word. It was energetic, but his fake teeth and fake singing was something that was so upsetting to be so fooled by a film. A film that was not truthful to the audience in its depiction of the band, and played it so incredibly safe throughout. Even his “Oscar moment” became a meme. He did not win for his performance, but won for being “Freddie Mercury”. One of the worst Best Actor wins, one of the worst Oscar wins, of all time in my honest opinion.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: James Franco – 127 Hours (2010)

  • This performance by Franco will go down as one of the greatest. His facial acting and manic style fit so well into this role. He beautifully played a man descending into madness while being literally bound between a rock and a hard place. For most of the film, Franco is standing, and it is just him and the audience is taken through this ride of fighting and struggling to survive. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and downright incredible.

Best Actress

Best Win: Brie Larson – Room (2015)

  • Before I talk about Brie, I wanna say that Jacob Tremblay was robbed of a Supporting Actor nomination this year. Brie Larson, however, did garner the nomination, and the win, deservedly so. A constrained and heartbreaking performance of a woman kidnapped from her life and learning to escape and readjust. It was emotional to its core, and such a powerful performance for such a powerful actress.

Worst Win: Renee Zellweger – Judy (2019)

  • What is so incredible about this win is that it will probably be at the bottom of many of the “Best Actress Winner” lists, but it also was never in question she would lose this. Just like Malek the year before, I do not believe the performance won so much as the person being portrayed did. In a year as strong as this one, it still baffles me how she basically went the entire season unscathed, and the film wasn’t even universally loved.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water (2017)

  • An absolute tour de force of a performance in a year with incredible lead female performances. Anyone of these nominees should have won over Francis McDormand, but the Oscars went with the most “in your face” of the bunch. Hawkins’ performance in The Shape of Water was uncanny and beautiful, and with her character being mute, there was another layer of difficulty added on top of everything else. She had to really act with everything BUT her voice. Her monologues had to be done in sign language and still included the same vigor and ferocity as if they were spoken. It was incredible to say the very least.

Best Supporting Actor

Best Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash (2014)

  • “Not my fucking tempo”. This quote sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. It is hauntingly powerful, and so was Simmons in this film. Simmon’s role alone helped to put Damien Chazelle on the map, and this spellbinding performance as a music instructor will go down as one of the best of all time.

Worst Win: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri (2017)

  • I am going to cheat here a minute. I have not seen Bridge of Spies, so I don’t feel comfortable putting Mark Rylance up here. I also do not think Rockwell’s performance here was not worthy of the Oscar. However, Willem Dafoe’s performance in The Florida Project should have run away with this. I didn’t hate Rockwell, but he should not have won. I feel for this the same way I feel for Mahershala Ali’s win for Green Book. Don’t hate the performance, but should it have won… no.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Sylvester Stallone – Creed (2015)

  • Sylvester Stallone came back to this franchise and took a step back from the lead role. By doing so, he brought the most amount of heart and passion to the role that he brought back in 1976 in the original. The film put him in such a position to really take the reigns on this film and get his long-awaited academy award. He won most of the precursors, but then lost the Oscar in one of the more disappointing losses of the decade.

Best Supporting Actress

Best Win: Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables (2012)

  • Tom Hooper wanted to make all of the actors do the singing live, which is what put this performance over the top. She had to sing an incredibly difficult song, live, while in an incredibly difficult position. I still think this film is utterly breathtaking and beautiful, and I know this is an unpopular opinion. But what is not debated is this performance.

Worst Win: None

  • To be honest, I could not find one performance, of the films I have seen, to where I actually felt they didn’t fully deserve their win. Instead, I am going to highlight some of the other winners of the decade.
  • Viola Davis (Fences) – Breathtaking in Fences. Absolutely stunning in every frame.
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) – Only on screen for around 15-20 minutes, but completely and fully nails this performance. Stunning work.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Emma Stone – Birdman (2014)

  • I understand why she lost. Arquette’s performance in the 12-year Boyhood epic was incredible, but what Stone brought to this film was amazing. Her first turn in real dramatic work, this film proved there was something else to her as an actress.

Best Original Screenplay

Best Win: Her (2013)

  • I thought about going to Parasite but went Her instead. A weird, Kaufmanesque film that included a relationship between man and machine. Not even just a machine, an AI system in a phone. There was no robot with a body or anything of that sort. When I tell people they need to see this film, every single one of them questions it. “Is that the movie where he falls in love with his phone”. Every time I tell them yes but to watch it, and almost every response to the film is that they eventually cried in the end. Johansson gives an Oscar-worthy performance, and she does nothing but speaks. The whole film itself is a fantastical masterpiece.

Worst Win: Green Book (2018)

  • This one is a no brainer. This film is the definition of a “white savior” film, and maybe that is why it worked so well for the Oscars. I have very little to say about this. In a decade with incredible and original screenplays, this is among them as winners…

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Eighth Grade (2018)

  • This is the one time I will go off script for who I think should have won. Bo Burnham crafted a funny, suspenseful, real, raw, and emotional look at an eighth-grade girl. A 28-year-old man wrote and directed a film about an eighth-grade girl. He never troped her or belittled her, but allowed her to grow over the course of the film in a way we all have had to experience. Her issues as an eighth-grader are some of the same things I am personally still dealing with. It’s incredible, to say the least. The fact this film got 0 nominations is mind-boggling. This is the definitive BEST coming of age story of all time, and one I will show my kids in the future. Than you Bo.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Win: The Big Short (2015)

  • Adam McKay’s turn from comedies to more dramatic work started with a bang with creating one of the most stylistically written and directed films of the decade. Taking a concept as recent, and confusing, as the housing market crisis, and showing us the people who basically stumbled their way into profiting off of it was incredible. There was never a moment of pretentiousness like their might have been in Vice, and there was never a moment where it felt like McKay was talking down to the audience. It flowed along and did so well.

Worst Win: Jojo Rabbit (2019)

  • This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but this script just didn’t do it for me. The movie as a whole didn’t do it for me. The jokes didn’t land, and the heartfelt moments really didn’t either. In the same year when Greta Gerwig crafted a beautiful and original version of a film that had happened three times already, I didn’t think there was a way she could have lost. I love Taika Waititi and am glad he has an Oscar, I just wish it wasn’t for this.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: Logan (2017)

  • What James Mangold did here was incredible. A fitting, and emotional, end for some of our favorite characters, and tying this film together so closely with the rest of the “Wolverine” films were incredible. The dialogue was perfect (Professor X’s death still kills me), and the action around it might have been even better. Mangold is so good at getting the most human stories out of his inhuman characters.

Best Animated Feature

Best Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse quickly became one of the best-animated films of all time upon release. The new visual style, originality of the film, and just pure enjoyment was something that was just so surprising. Lord and Miller have a knack for taking properties no one is interested in and making complete hits out of them. Jump Street, Lego Movie, and now this. Gems of the film industry.

Worst Win: Toy Story 4 (2019)

  • I almost went with Frozen on this one, but when I looked at the other nominees that year I guess it made sense. However, Toy Story 4‘s win was incredibly disappointing when you take into account the other, original, films on the list. The movie really wasn’t all that great and served more like an epilogue than a full Toy Story film.

Didn’t Win But Should Have: I Lost My Body (2019)

  • One of the most original animated films of the past decade. If this would have won, you could have made an argument that this would have been the best win of the decade. However, this film lost to the epilogue to Toy Story 3, and it was so sad when so many original and wonderful animated films came out that year.

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

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