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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let's Really Talk About Those 2017 Oscar Nominations

I chose this pic from Nocturnal Animals because of the epic side eye
So, this happened. Hacksaw Ridge (you know, one of the most mediocre films last year) made it all the way to the best picture Oscar nominations list. Like, HOW? And wait, it doesn't stop there. Director Mel Gibson and lead actor Andrew Garfield are also among the film's mind-boggling FIVE nominations. I can't even.

Speaking of out-of-nowhere surprises, here's a good one: Michael Shannon earning a best supporting actor nomination for his fantastic performance in the criminally underrated, Nocturnal Animals. The single nomination for a film that could have (and should have) swept a lot of these categories was like the Academy telling Golden Globe winner (and presumed Oscar nominee) Aaron-Taylor Johnson, "That's enough of that." (Though I would have fallen off my couch had they both been nominated). While I do wish that Stephen Henderson or Mykelti Williamson from Fences were nominated in this category -- who are we kidding? -- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) is going to slay all these guys (as only he should). So we don't even need to discuss fellow nominees Jeff Bridges (who's stolen all the limelight from Chris Pine's better performance in the great Hell of High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), or Dev Patel (who's erroneously been dropped into this category when he is clearly the lead in Lion). It's not even worth it.

Moving on to other categories, LOVE seeing Denzel Washington and Viola Davis nominated for best actor and best supporting actress, respectively, for the extraordinary Fences. But I'm very disappointed that Washington is nowhere to be found in the directing category, ousted by the likes of mediocre favorites Gibson and Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) . Oh, and Ruth Negga's lead performance in Loving is thankfully not forgotten (though unfortunately it's the only nomination for this beautiful film). But why was Annette Bening (20th Century Women) knocked out of the lead actress category?

 Let's investigate by talking about some of the others in the category:

Isabelle Huppert (in the annoyingly talked about Elle), Meryl Streep (who's apparently mandated by law to be nominated for all things, including the ridiculous-looking Florence Foster Jenkins), and La La Land's Emma Stone (who's just cute).  There, done with the investigation. Case closed. 
Oh, Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) could have squeezed in here too. So there's that.

Similar to the best supporting actor category, the best supporting actress category has one clear winner: Viola Davis (Fences). While I love saying "Oscar nominee Naomie Harris," I wasn't as bowled over by her performance in Moonlight as many others. Nicole Kidman's nomination for Lion seems arbitrary just because the film is nominated for best picture (because her performance is really not Oscar worthy). Same goes for Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea). I do, however, feel like Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) earns her nod by this scene alone:

Boss b**ch coming through. Make way!

That's what you call a boss scene. This and telling off Kirsten Dunst's oblivious character in the bathroom solidified the deal. 

But wait, let's get back to the best picture list for a second. Because it is almost beautiful. Fences. Hidden Figures. Arrival. Moonlight. Lion. Hell of High Water. FOUR films starring actors of color are nominated in the Academy's top honor. Relish this moment, because I don't think I have ever seen this before. AND a genre film? That's just delectable. (I choose not to further on the other nominees: Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea). Most of the best picture nominees are actually great films. That's major, guys.

And Barry Jenkins. Words can't even adequately express how thrilled I am to see him nominated for directing and co-writing Moonlight. If you haven't seen his first feature, the marvelous Medicine for Melancholy, please do so right away. In the nearly perfect adapted screenplay category, Jenkins is joined by August Wilson (Fences), Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), Luke Davies (Lion), and Eric Heisserer (Arrival). I say "nearly" because Lion could have been better focused. Just saying.

Three more categories to discuss before I let you go: best animated feature, best foreign language film, and best documentary feature. Best foreign film is easy: The Salesman is actually the one I've seen and it's solid. None of my favorite films made the cut, so this might be the first time in a long while that I honestly don't care about this category. Moving on to animated feature. One word: ZOOTOPIA! I just love that a kids film with an astoundingly deep message for today's sociopolitical climate is actually being recognized. It's so deserving. And a similarly prescient film, I Am Not Your Negro, is leading (in my head) the documentary feature category also occupied by 13th (directed by Ava DuVernay, one of the alarmingly few women filmmakers on the entire nominations list) and O.J. Made in America (two wonderful docs).

DuVernay's 13th

Now I'll hand this off to you. Agree with me? Wanna fight me? Leave it all in the comments section below.

See the complete list of the 2017 Oscar nominations here. The award ceremony will live on February 26 at 8:30pm on ABC.


37paddington said...

The Best Picture category is definitely exciting!

Brittani Burnham said...

Hacksaw deserved those sound nominations but that's about it. Gibson getting Best Director is just ridiculous.

Courtney Young said...

I'm definitely rooting for Ali for best supporting actor (and was pissed that he lost the globe), but how beyond epic would it be if Shannon won? Just to hear his politically-charged acceptance speech? And to potentially see him in a suit with a Hawaiian shirt underneath? I kid, but his speech would be insane haha

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