Oscar Reflection | Best Picture & Best Director from the 86th Academy Awards

Written by Alexander Reams

Gravity: 76/100

12 Years a Slave: 72/100

There are some serious holes in my Best Picture and Best Director filmographies and I was given the idea to go through and watch them. I have seen most of the post 2010 Best Picture winners but I even have holes there. The first Best Picture winner in order from newest to oldest that I had not seen was Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, the Best Director winner was a film I had seen many times before, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. 

The 2014 Oscar race (for films released in 2013) is the first awards season I remember. I had seen Gravity in IMAX and continually heard about a film called 12 Years a Slave. Cut to awards night and I still had not seen 12 Years a Slave, but I knew Gravity had continually stayed in the conversation. I was electric that night, having seen the film I loved win so many awards. After Cuarón’s win for Best Director I was expecting to hear Gravity’s name called out when they announced Best Picture. Alas, that was not the case, 12 Years a Slave took home the award. 

Almost 8 years after these 2 films have been released I finally saw 12 Years a Slave and revisited Gravity. Suffice to say as the years have passed, other films nominated that year have gotten more love and attention within the film community. Her and The Wolf of Wall Street have stayed relevant more than any other Best Picture nominee from that year. Whereas these 2 films have been mostly forgotten. They both struck the zeitgeist when they were released, but have fizzled out over the years. For myself I remember Gravity’s win for Best Director more than the film itself, even after revisiting it. 

12 Years a Slave packs a lot of punch, and has really powerful moments, however it is not nearly as nuanced as the film wishes it was, which is really disappointing after all the hype I’d heard about this film. Hindsight is 20/20 and with 12 Years a Slave and Gravity both having been mostly forgotten proves that the Oscars got it wrong that year. My personal wins would be Best Director for Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Best Picture for Her.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

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