Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Check Out 2017's Academy Award Nominees Here

The moment is finally here. After months of speculating, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominees for this year's Oscars ceremony. The announcement was held this morning with a special video production to make this year extra special. With La La Land leading the pack, it was an exciting year full of diversity both in genres as well as race. So, who made the cut? The following is a rundown of every category and every nominee, including additional thoughts for each field regarding how exciting this year's Oscar race is. So without further ado, a look at the Oscar nominees of 2017, celebrating the best and brightest in film.

Best Picture

-Hell or High Water

PRO: With a solid nine nominees, this year's Best Picture category definitely lives up to The Academy's desire for diversity. From neo-westerns like Hell or High Water to feel good dramas like Hidden Figures to unique black experiences like Moonlight, there's a little bit of everything for everyone. It also helps that the selection is rich with quality work that exemplifies the best in what cinema has to offer. If nothing else, it's a nice balance between successful films and surprise indie hits.

CONS: It was such a packed year for the nominees that it's difficult to put every great film on this list. Movies like Jackie and 20th Century Women would've been nice additions to this list, but were cut out in favor of a diversity that The Academy sorely needs. While I don't love all of these films (specifically Hell or High Water), I think that the nominees are pretty strong overall and definitely show why this category needs to be 10 instead of the fluctuating list that it's become. For those wondering why Silence didn't show up big, just know that challenging films that don't do well at the box office often don't get Oscars. I love Silence, but realize that it would be difficult to convince voters to see a three hour movie about faith.

Best Director

-Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
-Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
-Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
-Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)
-Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

PROS: Among the categories I predicted yesterday, this was one of the few that I got 100% correct. For starters, it is great to see Denis Villeneuve make the cut as he is one of the best directors currently working in mainstream cinema. Most of the other names are predictable, though it's especially great to know that Moonlight still came out strong this awards season. Based on other predictions, I feel like the surprise is Mel Gibson; though I feel his comeback story made Hacksaw Ridge's success more of a plausible outcome (also, a certain demographic really liked the film).

CONS: I was contemplating that Martin Scorsese would get either Best Picture or Best Director for Silence, but not both. While it would've been nice, it makes sense why he didn't make the cut. Again, the year is packed with a solid group that makes it difficult to suggest much of a con. It would've been nice to see more racially diverse nominees in this category, but the fact that Barry Jenkins got into the mix is a nice touch. Now that there's diverse nominees, one can only imagine that the next focus will be on getting women and Asian filmmakers. It would be nice.

Best Actor

-Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
-Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
-Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
-Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
-Denzel Washington (Fences)

PROS: All of the usual suspects are present here. Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington still lead the pack with Ryan Gosling falling not too far behind. As someone who felt that Andrew Garfield was snubbed for The Social Network, it is great to finally see him in the Oscars circle, admittedly for the lesser of his two performances. Even then, he has charm to spare and makes the most of the unique war movie experience. Viggo Mortensen also is a nice addition to this list for an otherwise underseen film.

CONS: As great as it is to see Mortensen on this list, it does reflect how few other actors were heavily in the competition. Considering how diverse this year's nominees were, it would've been nice to see an actor from Moonlight. Of course, it would be difficult to suggest which of those actors would be nominated, as they were all integral to each other's performance. With all of that said, it's a pretty strong line-up otherwise.

Best Actress

-Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
-Ruth Negga (Loving)
-Natalie Portman (Jackie)
-Emma Stone (La La Land)
-Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

PRO: Emma Stone and Natalie Portman continue to show up strong during awards season. While Jackie didn't get too many other nominations, it's nice to see the main reason to see the film wasn't ignored by The Academy. Seeing Ruth Negga on this list is also a nice touch and caps off an otherwise solid year for the actress. Otherwise, it's bizarre yet welcome to see Isabelle Huppert on this list for a performance in one of the more challenging films nominated this year.

CON: In a year that called for diversity of every kind, why must Meryl Streep celebrate her 20th Oscar nomination? While I consider her talented, I don't know that she deserves to be recognized. I firmly believe she takes away these filler Oscar nominations from talented performers that deserve to be recognized. In this case, Amy Adams in Arrival and Annette Benning in 20th Century Women are both more than worthy of filling in that additional spot. The only real compliment is the year was so packed with great performances that it makes Streep  more of a baffling choice.

Best Supporting Actor

-Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
-Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
-Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
-Dev Patel (Lion)
-Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

PRO: It is great once again to see Mahershala Ali make the cut, as he has been the dominant nominee for Moonlight. It also is nice to see Lucas Hedges, who didn't seem like a sure bet compared to his Manchester By the Sea co-stars. While I still don't think that Nocturnal Animals deserved much attention, if it had to be any nominee I am glad that it was Michael Shannon - who was the perfectly weird centerpiece of the whole film. Also, Dev Patel is only the third Indian actor to be nominated. I feel like that achievement deserves more attention than it gets.

CON: There isn't much to speak of. While this category is very much a wild card field, there's nothing too surprising or weird this time around, save for Shannon. Otherwise it's a solid line-up that features a nice group of new faces that reflect The Academy's wishes to be diverse and interesting. Patel, Hedges, and Ali are all great touches and hopefully will reflect the growth of this category in years to come.

Best Supporting Actress

-Viola Davis (Fences)
-Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
-Nicole Kidman (Lion)
-Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
-Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

PRO: It's funny to think that this year's category features a reunion of The Help nominees Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who both deserve their nominations. Spencer also marks the first black actress to be nominated after winning. Otherwise, it's great to see Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams on the list - the latter of whom does an incredible performance with limited screen time. Overall, another strong category that also features the impressive task of having 3/5 of the nominees being racially diverse.

CON: While Spencer is a deserved nomination, I do feel like her Hidden Figures co-stars are also deserving of some credit, specifically Taraji P. Henson (though she may be more of a leading nominee). The only other complaint is that Davis is actually a victim of category fraud, as her role in Fences is more of a leading performance. With that said, there's not much to complain about with her being nominated in general.

Best Adapted Screenplay

-Hidden Figures

PRO: A solid line-up that features a nice variety of stories. Fences is an interesting story, if just because screenwriter August Wilson has been dead for over a decade, likely making his nomination a new record for posthumous nominees. Hidden Figures is a crowd pleaser with plenty of memorable lines. Arrival is one of the smartest sci-fi films of the year. As a whole, it's a decent line-up that reflects the diversity that comes with this year's overall nominees.

CON: I cannot think of any at this moment.

Best Original Screenplay

-Hell or High Water
-La La Land
-Manchester by the Sea

PRO: This may be the strongest category of the year. I love almost every one of these nominees in some form. I am especially glad to see The Lobster and 20th Century Women on this list - which I feel are poorly represented elsewhere on this list. Otherwise, it's nice to see the reliable nominations of Manchester By the Sea and La La Land, who are going to be duking it out in all sorts of different fields on Oscar Sunday.

CON: It isn't much of a criticism on this category, but this list does feature movies that I wish showed up bigger. Also, the lack of Jackie nomination is disappointing. If there was anywhere that was really strong, it was the script category. Pablo Larrain's film is breathtaking as a thesis of death. With that said, I cannot argue with what the general consensus was for the nominees.

Best Animated Feature Film

-The Red Turtle
-My Life as a Zucchini

PRO: I am glad to see Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, and Zootopia on this list. All three were among my favorite movies of the year and feel that they reflect the strengths of animated films in 2016. I personally would love to see Kubo make the cut, but I am sure that the politically charged Zootopia is going to end up taking all of the credit. Also, it's nice not to see Finding Dory on the list, which was a mediocre movie that didn't reflect Pixar at their best. It is also nice to see the trend continuing of foreign animated films taking up a few spots on these lists.

CON: None that I can think of at this moment. 

Best Cinematography

-La La Land

PRO: If Silence had to get one nomination, I am glad that it is for this category. The imagery is so gorgeous. The same could be said for Arrival and Moonlight, which I feel extend beyond their genre and makes great art to look at. Moonlight in particular is a nice addition because of how innovative the technique is for lighting the actors. I like that La La Land is on here as well, which feels like it adapts 1950's MGM musicals to a T while updating it to modern sensibilities. Overall, a strong batch of nominees.

CON: There is nothing that I can think of at this moment.

Best Documentary Feature

-Fire at Sea
-I am Not Your Negro
-Life, Animated
-O.J. Made in America

PRO: I haven't seen enough to pass full judgment, but I feel like seeing 13th on this list is a nice touch. Also, the lengthy O.J. Made in America seems like a surprise nomination, even with the high praise behind it. As a whole, there's plenty worthy of watching from this list. Maybe it will inspire me to watch them and review them.

CON: I was a big fan of Weiner, which was another major documentary contender. I feel like real life events probably threw the film out of favorable notions. Otherwise, I wish that it would've made the cut and made this year feel timely to the 2016 presidential election. Otherwise, it's a solid group.

Best Documentary Short Subject

-4.1 Miles
-Joe's Violin
-Watani: My Homeland
-The White Helmets

Best Original Score

-La La Land

PRO: Mica Levi is an Oscar nominee! Let us just celebrate that now with her great work on Jackie. Also nice to see La La Land on this list, which may be hard to distinguish from the song category, but only reflects how great Justin Hurtwitz's work on the music is. As a whole, it's a solid line-up and may be one of the best line-ups that this category has had in quite a few years.

CON: What is with nominating Thomas Newman for mediocre drivel like Passengers? Surely there was something else worthy of nominating.

Best Original Song

-"Audition" (La La Land)
-"Can't Stop the Feeling" (Trolls)
-"City of Stars (La La Land)
-"The Empty Chair" (Jim: The James Foley Story)
-"How Far I'll Go" (Moana)

PRO: My prediction that La La Land was going to get a double song nomination came true. I am happy about that, as I feel like the songs are infectious and help to elevate this film. It's also nice to see Moana on this list for what is arguably the film's strongest song. Lin-Manuel Miranda is going to become an EGOT, and that's so exciting. If nothing else, the four nominees in this category are very strong and may be one of the best in recent years, even with the "Happy"-level annoying "Can't Stop the Feeling."

CON: Why do we keep giving Sting Oscar nominations? That is totally bogus. The sleep-inducing "The Empty Chair" became that way because I fell out of it after falling asleep from listening to this mediocre song that sabotaged this category from being one of the best in eons. Oh well, Sing Street's "Drive It Like You Stole It" will live on as a crowd favorite elsewhere.

Best Foreign Film

-Land of Mine
-A Man Called Ove
-The Salesman
-Toni Erdmann

PRO: Toni Erdmann has been getting a lot of praise and I have been meaning to see it. It just hasn't been playing anywhere nearby.

CON: This category is weird because the films that people actually talked about (The Handmaiden, Elle) were disqualified in this field. That makes no sense other than that the "one entry per country" rule backfires when you pick popularity over quality.

Best Animated Short Film

-Blind Vaysha
-Borrowed Time
-Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Best Live Action Short Film

-Ennemis Interieurs
-La Femme et le TGV
-Silent Nights

PRO: The only Sing that needed to be nominated.

Best Costume Design

-Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
-La La Land

PRO: I actually feel like this line-up features an excellent diversity in the way of costumes. Every one of these nominees have such a distinguished look that I have trouble determining which I love most. I am also surprised that La La Land made the cut, solely because contemporary attire rarely makes the cut. With that said, mostly glad that Jackie didn't end this Oscar race with only one nomination.

CON: I admit that I don't get the La La Land nomination because of its contemporary look. It's the only one that I am hesitant on. However, I hope that its nomination means that more movies that take place in the here and now will get recognition.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

-A Man Called Ove
-Star Trek Beyond
-Suicide Squad

PRO: Um, what? Star Trek Beyond looked like a Star Trek movie, I guess.

CON: I'm sure that many will likely complain about it further down the line, but Suicide Squad is now an Oscar contender. That is crazy. I guess it makes sense for this category, as all of the characters do have distinct looks that bring their characters to life. I just think that this category is so lacking with appetizing nominees from a year that had great character designs. I don't get any of this, though I guess I am happy to see that this category is becoming more of a challenging hodgepodge of nominees.

Best Sound Editing

-Deepwater Horizon
-Hacksaw Ridge
-La La Land

Best Sound Mixing

-Hacksaw Ridge
-La La Land
-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
-13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Editing

-Hacksaw Ridge
-Hell or High Water
-La La Land

Best Production Design

-Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
-La La Land

PRO: It's nice to see Hail, Caesar! get at least one Oscar nomination this year, even though it deserved many, many more. Otherwise, it's second fiddle to the heavyweights here who have more than one nomination.

CON: Passengers? I guess it's all about how it looks, but it still is a baffling entry in the race. I guess people like their Morten Tyldum movies with their wacky set designs. 

Best Visual Effects

-Deepwater Horizon
-Doctor Strange
-The Jungle Book
-Kubo and the Two Strings
-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


-La La Land: 14
-Arrival: 8
-Moonlight: 8
-Hacksaw Ridge: 6
-Lion: 6
-Manchester By the Sea: 6
-Fences: 4
-Hell or High Water: 4
-Hidden Figures: 3
-Jackie: 3
-Deepwater Horizon: 2
-Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: 2
-Florence Foster Jenkins: 2
-Kubo and the Two Strings: 2
-A Man Called Ove: 2
-Moana: 2
-Passengers: 2
-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story :: 2
-4.1 Miles: 1
-13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi :: 1
-13th: 1
-20th Century Women: 1
-Allied: 1
-Blind Vaysha: 1
-Borrowed Time: 1
-Captain Fantastic: 1
-Doctor Strange: 1
-Elle: 1
-Ennemis Interieurs: 1
-Extremis: 1
-Fire at Sea: 1
-Hail, Caesar!: 1
-I am Not Your Negro: 1
-Jim: The James Foley Story:: 1
-Joe's Violin: 1
-The Jungle Book: 1
-La Femme et le TGV: 1
-Land of Mine: 1
-Life, Animated: 1
-The Lobster: 1
-Loving: 1
-My Life as a Zucchini: 1
-Nocturnal Animals: 1
-O.J. Made in America: 1
-Pear Cider and Cigarettes: 1
-Pearl: 1
-Piper: 1
-The Red Turtle: 1
-The Salesman: 1
-Silence: 1
-Silent Nights: 1
-Sing: 1
-Star Trek Beyond: 1
-Suicide Squad: 1
-Sully: 1
-Tanna: 1
-Timecode: 1
-Toni Erdmann: 1
-Watani: My Homeland :: 1
-The White Helmets: 1
-Zootopia: 1


I am glad to see a whole lot of diversity at this year's Oscars. I am especially impressed that this year's nominees manage to feature racial diversity in almost every category. With that said, it's also great to know that who they picked are equally engaging and interesting choices. I admit that there's a lot that I wasn't wild about, but I definitely feel like The Academy is on the right track to course correcting what The Academy represents to the people. I am especially glad that La La Land came out strong and that the second highest was an LGBT-themed movie called Moonlight. Considering that last year saw an underwhelming presence of gay-themed movies, it's nice to see Moonlight show up strong. It's also nice to see Indian actors finally getting recognized after being snubbed. I am hoping to dissect the list further as time goes on. For now, I would say that this year is very strong and while it doesn't have certain favorites (20th Century Women, Jackie) playing out strong, it has a little for everyone - and that's what's most important.

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