My movie evaluation entry has gotten enough comments that I thought I'd give my picks for Best Picture of the last 16 years. If none of the Best Picture nominees excited me, I've added in what did.
2001. Actual winner: Gladiator. My choice: eh, okay, either that or Erin Brokovich, but without enthusiasm. What would have really excited me: either The Contender or O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2002. Actual winner: A Beautiful Mind. My choice: perhaps Gosford Park. What would have really excited me: Shrek. Best animated film of all time, hands down, head & shoulders, no contest.
2003. Actual winner: Chicago. My choice: The Pianist. What would have excited me just as much: Frida. Just as arty but less choppy.
2004. Actual winner: The Return of the King. My choice: any of the other nominees. Probably Master and Commander. A fun movie, with one of the greatest puns in film. [Edited to note: That while I detested the movie The Return of the King and delighted in the movie Master and Commander, nevertheless the book The Lord of the Rings is my favorite of all novels, while my one attempt to read Patrick O'Brian quickly bogged down in a swamp of naval terminology. This demonstrates the difference between books and movies.]
2005. Actual winner: Million Dollar Baby. My choice: Sideways. Special Award for Extreme Cleverness: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
2006. Actual winner: Crash. My choice: Good Night and Good Luck. Or Brokeback Mountain or Capote, actually, just not Crash.
2007. Actual winner: The Departed. My choice: Little Miss Sunshine.
2008. Actual winner: No Country for Old Men. My choice: Juno. Touching and real.
2009. Actual winner: Slumdog Millionaire. My choice: Milk. Inspiring!
2010. Actual winner: The Hurt Locker. My choice: uh ... none of the above. The only nominated films I saw that year were Avatar and Up, and I wouldn't reward either of those. Best Use of the Color Blue? What would have excited me: maybe In the Loop. Your chance to see the Doctor swear a blue streak.
2011. Actual winner: The King's Speech. My choice: Inception. People dish this, but not me: it's great movie-making, the crystal-clear telling of an absurdly complex plot.
2012. Actual winner: The Artist. My choice: The Descendants. Or Moneyball. Or even Midnight in Paris. I liked them all.
2013. Actual winner: Argo. My choice: I guess that. Exciting and semi-historical. Wouldn't have minded Lincoln or even Les Miserables.
2014. Actual winner: 12 Years a Slave. My choice: Philomena. Two diverse people find a meeting of minds: a sad and lovely story.
2015. Actual winner: Birdman. My choice: Boyhood. How to make a straightforward movie about a completely ordinary life that actually interests me: make this one.
2016. Actual winner and my choice, the one time they firmly match: Spotlight. Gripping, passionate, and a perfectly balanced ensemble film.