We have all sorts of different kinds of conversations about movies these days. As critics, we talk about a film’s quality as well as its place in cinema history, its technological achievements, and its impact on the cultural landscape. As fans, we talk about how a film made us feel, how it changed the way we personally look at the world around us.
But with our friends and loved ones, especially those who haven’t seen most or any of this year’s nominees, they might have one key question as we urge them to check out our favorite films: How big of a bummer are they? It’s certainly the question that many people would like to have answered when sitting down with an unknown quantity like Drive My Car or CODA.
Hence, this hopefully helpful guide, with all 10 Best Picture nominees ranked from least to most likely to bum you out. Being a bummer, let’s be clear, is not a commentary on a film’s ultimate quality — or an indication of its chances at winning the big prize.
Looking back over the past 10 or so years of Oscars history, there are plenty of winners which might lean more towards the downer side of the spectrum than others: Yeah, sure, a crowdpleaser like The King’s Speech won in 2011, but 12 Years a Slave won in 2014! Every year, the Academy finds a way to choose chaos, and this year’s nominees certainly have that potential.
While the goal here is not to directly spoil the endings of any of these films, the nature of this ranking means that there will be at least implicit spoilers about their content. But hopefully, no more of a spoiler than you might get from a friend, urging you to give all of these films a chance — even if they might not be as fun as going to see Spider-Man: No Way Home again.