Any semi-serious critic will likely tell you that the Academy Awards – for however fun they are to follow, and for however much importance we place on them – are most certainly no serious gauge for measuring the actual best films of the year. Ask any critic – or even a casual fan – what they felt the best film of any given year was, and they will very, very rarely list a film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, or even a nominee.
There are exceptions, of course (Casablanca leaps to mind), and great films are frequently nominated for Best Picture, but for the most part, The Academy likely does not do their critical due diligence and they do not bother compiling, delving, analyzing, debating, or really seeking out the true best films of the year. In order to be a true authority on the matter, one would have to see every film released in 2014. And I don’t think anyone bothered to see the many hundreds of films eligible.
Most nominees (generally speaking) tend to be a very particular kind of drama released at a very particular time of the year. This is how dull biopics like The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and American Sniper are in contention for Best Picture of the Year.
So what was the best film of 2014? We here at CraveOnline selected a few: William Bibbiani felt that the Best Picture nominee Whiplash was the best of the year, although no one thinks it will actually win, including Bibbiani. Fred Topel agreed with William, although his top-of-the-year list contains a few weird surprises. Brian Formo felt that Under the Skin was the best of the year. I myself selected Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious art film The Dance of Reality as the best of the year, and it has had no awards buzz whatsoever, and even went unseen by a lot of my professional colleagues.
Let us take this time to look back over a few recent years and consider the films that won Best Picture, and compare them to the films that were actually (according to critics) the best pictures of that year.