As of this writing, Paddington 2 is the best-reviewed movie in the history of Rotten Tomatoes, with 174 positive reviews and zero negatives. Rebel Without A Cause boasts a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes; Casablanca has a 97%, Lawrence of Arabia has 98%, and The Godfather clocks in at 99%. But Paddington 2, with its 100% unanimous approval, mops the floor with all of them.
And I mean, it’s funny. Because, clearly, there was no way that a Paddington Bear sequel could outpace the entire cinematic canon. There was no way that Paddington 2 could be the greatest film ever made. This boatload of accolades was symptomatic of this post-Trumpian epoch; of how weary we have become, how sapped of whimsy and vitality. It was showing on Tuesday night at my local discount theatre for $5, so I thought… what the hell. Let’s do it. Let’s cast our cares aside, and let’s go see the Paddington Bear movie.
Reader, I walked out of that movie theatre a changed man. It is my delight to inform you that Paddington 2 is, in fact, the greatest film ever made. I am not being sarcastic. I am not being hyperbolic. Paddington 2 is a perfect movie. It is not only the best movie ever made; it is the only good movie ever made. I am now going to prove it by deathmatching Paddington 2 against every one of this year’s Academy Award nominees.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
I mean, All the Money in the World garnered its only nomination for the breathtaking stunt that was replacing He Who Must Not Be Named with like, one week left on the clock before release. Which would already indicate that it wasn’t a super solid movie to begin with. And then there came the revelation that this bold anti-sexual assault statement coincided with the producers paying Michelle Williams a nominal per diem while paying her co-star Marky Mark millions and millions of dollars. Paddington 2 had no such drama. Paddington 2 has a scene in which Paddington launches a window-washing business to purchase a pop-up book for his dear Aunt Lucy, and he uses his little furry paws to wash the murky windows of his depressed neighbour, sending sunlight spilling into the man’s house and curing his depression! Go Paddington 2!
PADDINGTON 2 vs. BABY DRIVER
Look, on soundtrack and editing alone, Baby Driver owns this ass. However, Edgar Wright made the unfortunate decision to cast He Who Must Not Be Named, and the further unfortunate decision to cast Ansel Elgort over John Boyega, so. Paddington 2 it is.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Lot of thematic similarities between these two! However, this live-action remake kick that Disney’s been on is already getting old, whereas the Paddington franchise remains a font of sheer delight. I’m handing it to Paddington 2. Sorry, Emma Watson.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE BIG SICK
Paddington has caused some pretty big messes and mix-ups in his time, the clumsy little bear! But he never issued a Twitter tirade bashing social democrats while defending his grandfather’s decision to buddy up with the House Un-American Activities Committee! Unlike some people!
PADDINGTON 2 vs. BLADE RUNNER 2049
How are you gonna update Blade Runner 2049 for the 21st century without scrubbing away the vile misogyny that clings to the original like stink on a pile of dirty laundry? Come on, dude. I like Ana de Armas’ boobs as much as the next person, but we have to draw a line somewhere. Paddington 2 contains no such sexism. I think it passes the Bechdel test? Does it count if two named women are talking about an anthropomorphic male bear instead of a human man? Does it? This is definitely the point of the Bechdel test.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE BOSS BABY
Can you believe The Boss Baby is an Academy Award-nominated film? Neither can I! Not a lot to say here. They’d better hand Paddington 2 Best Picture on a silver platter next year to make up for the fact that “Academy Award nominee ‘The Boss Baby'” is now a real, actual thing you can say.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE BREADWINNER
Damn, The Breadwinner actually looks great. I loved that book. Why is this the first I’m hearing about it? Why, according to Wikipedia, has it grossed a mere $220,000 against its $10 million budget? Probably because it’s inferior in some way to the Citizen Kane-esque triumphal masterwork that is Paddington 2.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Paddington 2 doesn’t have an original Sufjan Stevens soundtrack, which is definitely a strike against it. However, Paddington 2 also hasn’t forced me to sit through nigh-on a year of exhausting, triggering discourse on the politics of queer representation and child sexual abuse, pitting friend against friend and forcing me to pull the longest, most restrained I’m Staying Out Of This One of my entire life. So Paddington 2 wins by default.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. COCO
I’ve heard Coco‘s really good, but I’ve also heard it’s a straight rip-off of the far superior The Book of Life. Also, my dear friend Alex’s takeaway was that its depiction of Mexico was “awkwardly Americanized” and “very clearly written by someone who’s only superficially familiar with Mexican culture.” Paddington 2, on the other hand, paints a sweet picture of a diverse, colourful London without, uh, stealing the work of creators of colour. It’s also not standing in the way of Sufjan Stevens receiving an Oscar. So it wins!
PADDINGTON 2 vs. DARKEST HOUR
I’ve actually seen this one, so I can attest: it feels like it was built in a lab to win Gary Oldman an Oscar, and the rest of the movie was an afterthought. I did like this one cute and almost definitely apocryphal scene, where Winston Churchill hops onto the Tube and asks a few upstanding denizens of London how they would feel about peace talks with the Nazis. All the people on the train are like, “Never! Fuck Hitler!” It was a fun little moment of charming British anti-fascist solidarity. However, Paddington 2 positively radiates charming British anti-fascist solidarity*, and has the advantage of not being boring-as-shit Oscar bait for a sexual predator, so… Paddington 2 takes this one.
*The first Paddington was a thinly-veiled radical critique of anti-immigrant xenophobia, and Paddington 2 is a thinly-veiled radical critique of the prison-industrial complex, and I’m not even joking.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE DISASTER ARTIST
Honestly, The Room was better. Hard to say whether Paddington 2 rises to the high bar Tommy Wiseau established in his debut feature, but it definitely outclasses James Franco with a stringy wig and a silly accent.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. DUNKIRK
I haven’t seen Dunkirk but I have seen that weird trailer for it that was essentially just five minutes of the movie played without any context whatsoever, and it confused and vexed me. Dunkirk is also part of the aggravating movement to critically rehabilitate the trash little boys of One Direction, so I gotta go with Paddington 2.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. FERDINAND
I know you can’t judge a book by its corny marketing, and I do love “The Story of Ferdinand,” but… those trailers are so, so hokey. To be fair, I remember seeing the trailer for Paddington several years ago and just thinking, “Oh, this looks awful,” because it was really heavy on like, Paddington pulling clumps out earwax out of his ears, and mucking up the bathroom? So who can really say for sure. But Ferdinand has 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, as opposed to Paddington 2‘s unassailable 100%, so that clarifies things, I guess.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE FLORIDA PROJECT
I have heard nothing but good things about The Florida Project, but I’ve also heard that it’s about terrible catastrophes happening to adorable small children? And I long ago made a vow with myself that I would never again spend $12 to be sad for two hours, so I’m giving this one to Paddington 2.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. GET OUT
Look, the objective quality and extreme importance of Get Out is not in question, and I am crossing my fingers for Jordan Peele to pull off an Oscar sweep the likes of which has never been seen before. However, Get Out is SPOOKY and SCARY, whereas Paddington 2 is FUN and FANCY-FREE, and also the last time I tried to watch a horror movie (Stoker, in 2012) I had a 48-hour-long panic attack and nightmares for weeks. So it’s Paddington 2 for me, personally, but only because, when it comes to onscreen violence, there’s very little separating me from eight-year-olds who think that whenever someone dies in a live-action movie, they are actually volunteering to get hurt and die.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
Really the only good thing about The Greatest Showman is that it kind of ate shit this whole awards season, radically decreasing Pasek and Paul’s chances of another Best Original Song win and bumping up Sufjan’s chances at Oscar glory. Can you tell that I care a lot about Sufjan Stevens winning an Oscar? Anyway, Paddington 2 isn’t a piece of racist apologia for a man who displayed black people in zoos, so Paddington 2 wins.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
I’m morally and ethically opposed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but like. Come on. If anything deserved a visual effects nod, it was Ragnarok. Whatever. Paddington 2 had killer visuals too, and also wasn’t headlined by the most obnoxious man alive, and also didn’t cut the lesbians out of the main superhero squad but leaving the sentient tree and the talking raccoon.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. I, TONYA
I liked I, Tonya quite a bit, and I’d die for Margot Robbie. However, the writer and director of I, Tonya made the strange assumption that I would want to attend this movie because I cared about people who are not Tonya Harding. The writer and director of I, Tonya made sure we spent virtually the entire third act with Tonya Harding’s ex-husband and the dude who ordered the hit on Nancy Kerrigan. “What’s interiority?” they said. “Never heard of it!” Paddington 2 does not make this mistake. Paddington 2 has a charming and well-developed cast of supporting characters, but it never forgets that Paddington is the reason we’re here.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Really? “Academy Award nominee Kong: Skull Island?” Life sure is a rich tapestry. Anyway, Paddington 2 was a really good movie.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. LADY BIRD
Lady Bird is a perfect movie, and I hope it crushes shit at the Oscars. However, does Lady Bird end with a high-budget musical number featuring Hugh Grant in a gay-as-hell tribute to “Prisoners of Love?” No, it does not. Step your cookies up, Greta. Paddington 2 wins again.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. LOGAN
A close match-up between, What? A Wolverine sequel can be… actually good? and What? A Paddington Bear sequel can be… a masterwork for the ages? I’m giving this one to Paddington 2 because Millie Bobby Brown was up for the role of Wolverine’s daughter and they didn’t cast her, which like, what? What???
PADDINGTON 2 vs. LOVING VINCENT
Okay, this movie consists of 65,000 individual handpainted frames, which is fucking bananas, and if I were an Oscar voter I’d hand it Best Animated Feature based on that simple fact alone. That said, the insane attention to meticulous technical detail in Loving Vincent apparently came at the cost of a coherent narrative, quelle tragique. Meanwhile, a lot of Paddington 2‘s visuals made me gasp aloud in awe and glee, so yes, it’s Paddington 2 for me once again.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. MARSHALL
Marshall‘s only nod was for Best Original Song, in one of those instances where it kind of seems like the song only exists to garner an Oscar nod for the movie. Paddington 2, on the other hand, is the whole cinematic package.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. MOLLY’S GAME
Oh, Sorkin. Sorkin, Sorkin, Sorkin. You tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, not even Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba acting their faces off could net you anything more than a Best Screenplay nod. It’s okay. The Oscars don’t always appreciate talent. I will be bitter about The Social Network losing Best Picture to The King’s Speech until my literal dying day. Still, Paddington 2 is superior to everything you have ever done, except for “MY PRADA’S AT THE CLEANERS,” which, let’s be real, owes it success largely to Andrew Garfield just absolutely crushing that line reading.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. MUDBOUND
Like Mudbound, Paddington 2 is a film about the devastating consequences of carceral ideology and racist bigotry in the lives of immigrants and people of colour. Unlike Mudbound, Paddington 2 contains 100% fewer depictions of black men being violently beaten and lynched by the Ku Klux Klan and having their tongues ripped out. Which is not to say that Mudbound isn’t a brilliant film, or that Dee Rees doesn’t deserve an Oscar, or that everyone involved with this movie wasn’t done goddamn dirty by the inept awards campaign team over at Netflix, but, like. The point stands.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. PHANTOM THREAD
Paddington loves his family and he would never put poisonous mushrooms in their tea and omelettes in order to keep them sick and feeble and dependent upon him. Take notes, Vicky Krieps. Paddington 2; no contest.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE POST
See, The Post is a Great Movie, but it’s trying to be a Great Movie. Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the leads, Amy Pascal plucking wildly talented debut screenwriter Liz Hannah out of obscurity and rocketing her to surefire stardom. Paddington 2, on the other hand, is a children’s movie about a CGI bear, and it surely wasn’t trying to be a Great Movie, but reviewers are literally unironically comparing it to Citizen Kane. So, like. Paddington 2 takes it.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.
This movie deserves props for enabling Denzel Washington to kill James Franco in one hit. But part of the reason Denzel’s nomination is so noteworthy is that, like. Everyone apparently agrees this is one of the worst movies of Denzel’s career. So Paddington 2 seems like the clear winner.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THE SHAPE OF WATER
If I am going to watch Sally Hawkins plunge headfirst into murky, frigid water in order to perform a daring rescue of an animal she loves, I would strongly prefer to not watch her subsequently fuck that animal. Paddington 2 wins.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Look, I’m not one of those people who hits Rian Johnson up on Twitter like, “KILL YOURSELF, FASCIST” but… you know, it doesn’t feel great when you’ve been looking forward to a movie for three years and then you finally see it and the credits are rolling and your friend turns to you and asks what you thought, and all you can do is kinda shrug and be like, “Ummmmmmmmmmmm. It was… good, I guess?” Paddington 2 inspired no such ambivalence. Paddington 2 was the most fun I’ve had in a movie theatre since December 2015, when I saw The Force Awakens twice on opening night and then five more times over the course of the next two weeks.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURI
PADDINGTON 2 vs. VICTORIA AND ABDUL
On a similar note, the best critically-acclaimed movie in theatres right now where an outsider from a foreign land befriends a British person and teaches said British person the value of tolerance and multiculturalism is Paddington 2.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Man, War for the Planet of the Apes was out here buying For Your Consideration ads for a Best Picture nod. I never imagined the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise would have this kind of longevity, much less critical acclaim. But anyway, I prefer my talking animal movies not to contain brutal violence and mass bloodshed, so I have to give it to Paddington 2.
PADDINGTON 2 vs. WONDER
Paddington 2 managed to teach the importance of love, acceptance, and kindness without making disabled children into objects for inspiration porn. Incredible!