E: Of all the movies snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press, my mind didn’t leap immediately to Martin Scorsese’s Silence, or to Tom Hanks’ starring role in Sully, or one of the many dazzling songs in Moana skipped over for a couple of unknowns. No, the first thing that blew my mind was seeing Pixar’s stunning Finding Dory (not only one of the year’s best reviewed films but also currently the box office champion of 2016) passed over for My Life As A Zucchini.
Yes. That’s right. My Life As a Zucchini. An admittedly charming French stop motion animation flick about orphans and the power of love trumped the highest grossing movie in America.
You can not make this stuff up. Or rather, you could, but no one would ever believe it, and that might be motto for 2016 when you think about it.
So, quick run down of my thoughts, as always filtered through my guesses as to what it all means for the Oscars. As you probably know the Globes cut up movies into two categories, which allows for lots of warm fuzzies (nominating more movies! appreciating genres that the shaft from the Academy! getting more stars on their show!) but also muddies the Oscar waters by separating out the two top contenders. Predictably, that occurs this year in Best Actress, one of the few places where a comic performance can win acclaim. Before we get into that, however, let’s look at Best Picture.
First there’s Drama, a category which brings us nominees Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester By The Sea, and Moonlight
I’m somewhat bemused by this list. First, it’s a little surprising that voters have gotten over their distaste for Mel Gibson, but perhaps the Hollywood Foreign Press was never as peeved with him as American journalists are. Then, I’m not surprised, but also definitely bemused to see that Hell or High Water continues to charm the critics. I think we have to see it as a likely nominee at this point, much to my surprise. When was the last time there was a film in play that came out in August? Nothing about this dusty family crime drama said awards-bait when it came out. Intriguing. Finally, I’m surprised that Lion made the cut (lovely as it looks) over Jackie or Silence or Sully. Not shocked, but definitely surprised, given its weak box office performance. That looked like a movie that ought to have made a bigger impression.
Then, Musical/Comedy: 20th Century Women, Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Sing Street
These do surprise me, in a category that often brings us odd choices. Deadpool? Wow. It was hilarious, don’t get me wrong – but the R rated action comedy came out so long ago I forgot it was in 2016. And it’s pretty much as far from awards bait as you can get and still be a good movie. So, well done, Marvel! I’d never even heard of Sing Street. (Although now that I have looked up the adorable, 80s-tastic trailer, oh my gosh, I want to see it this very minute.) The others are more expected, including one of the top contenders for Oscar, La La Land. 20th Century Women and Florence Foster Jenkins may contend in the acting categories (more on that later) but La La Land‘s L.A. story is the only one you need to think about for your Oscar pool. Having only a single contender (which is not a broad comedy) among the ranks is fairly typical of this category.
As with Picture, the acting categories favor dramatic performances as well. In drama for the men, we have Casey Affleck in Manchester By The Sea (your possible winner), Joel Edgerton for Loving, Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge, Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic, Denzel Washington (your alternate winner) in Fences. The biggest surprise here is Mortensen over Tom Hanks; I’m going to be watching the SAG nominations later this week to see if this snub is an aberration or the start of a trend (as with Saving Mr. Banks and Bridge of Spies, roles he was widely expected to be in play for until he got passed over by the Globes). Two time winner Hanks, it should be noted, has not been nominated for an Oscar in 15 years. Also up in the air: Andrew Garfield, who could make it onto the short list for Silence or for Hacksaw Ridge, but just as easily see his two high profile performances cancel each other out. The Globes clearly didn’t take to Silence. Will Oscar do the same? Can Garfield transcend his age and looks to score his first nomination? A SAG nod would be a good indication that his colleagues aren’t too jealous to give him a crack at the brass ring, generally the purview of more grizzled veterans.
The Musical Comedy nominees aren’t particularly likely to pose much competition. Ryan Gosling’s leading man in La La Land could make the list (he’s done it before, though for far less glamorous roles). Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool? Not so much. It’s really fun that he’s in the mix, though. Also nominated: Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins (a brilliant performance I understood was being campaigned as supporting), Jonah Hill in War Dogs (appalling), and Colin Farrell in critically acclaimed oddity The Lobster. Farrell is the only other actor who could launch a campaign, and he’s got a tough hill to climb to make that dream a reality.
For the women, the blend is more potent. On the dramatic side, you have Amy Adams in Arrival, Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, Isabelle Huppert in Elle, Ruth Negga in Loving, and Natalie Portman in Jackie. It’s a pretty solid group, particularly with Adams and Portman. (Poor Adams. It not only never seems to be her year to win, it’s never even close. It’s rather amazing to think she’s already been nominated for Oscar five times without once being in contention for the actual win. Barring a massive surprise, look for that trend to repeat this year.) Now factor in the comedic actresses, and you have Annette Benning in 20th Century Woman, Lily Collins in Rules Don’t Apply, Hailee Steinfeld in Edge of Seventeen, Emma Stone in La La Land, and Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins. On this list, the shoe-ins are Benning and Stone. So who’s likeliest to fill out the fifth slot at Oscar? Streep? Probably not. Colins? Definitely not. Huppert? She’d be top of the critics list, for sure. Negga or Chastain? You can’t rule them out. It’s an excitingly varied group, with Benning and Stone being the favorites to win and Portman close behind. Perhaps the Globes will give us a little insight into which one has the edge.
Supporting actor gets even more complicated; there are more contenders, only the two categories, and there’s more fluctuation between precursor awards. In other words, expect at least a few different names on Wednesday when the Screen Actor’s Guild announces their nominees. Newcomer Lucas Hedges (Manchester) was snubbed in favor of Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg, endearing as a put-upon pianist in Florence who journeys from fussiness to empathy; Helberg’s triumph is a feat highly unlikely to be duplicated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Aaron Taylor Johnson of Nocturnal Animals was also a big surprise. We’re more likely to see Globe nominees Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Dev Patel (Lion), and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, the critics’ clear favorite). Look for them to be joined on the SAG list by Hedges or Grant, or by Johnson’s costar Michael Shannon. Other actors likely to factor: Silence‘s Issei Ogata and High Water‘s Ben Foster.
A big question for everyone involved is which actresses from Hidden Figures will get Oscar nods. Lately, it looked like the buzz was with Janelle Monae, but the HFPA picked former winner Octavia Spencer instead. And can we really count out Taraji Henson, as the HFP did? I wouldn’t like to. Pixie Michelle Williams will almost certainly gather her fourth Oscar nomination for her heart-wrenching, Golden Globe nominated performance in Manchester. Though she’s not as big a name in America, Naomie Harris made a big mark in Moonlight; she picks up her first Globe nod here, and could repeat that achievement next month at the Oscars, especially if Will Smith’s snubbed holiday weepy Collateral Beauty scores big at the box office, keeping her in the public eye. Former winner Nicole Kidman was nominated here for her work in Lion, and could easily be come Oscar time; the much nominated Viola Davis will almost certainly keep winning a spot on short lists as well. Who knows? This might finally be her year. If I had to bet with the limited information I have now, she and Williams would be at the top of my pile, with Harris a close third.
As you know, I’m a little surprised to see the song “Gold” from the film Gold (hello, left field) beat out contenders like “Get Back Up Again” from Trolls or literally five other possible choices from Moana. And I’m super surprised by Finding Dory‘s omission in animation. The number one movie of the year, people! Let me end with the directing nominees: there’s no surprise seeing Damien Chazelle for La La Land, Barry Jenkins for Moonlight or Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester By The Sea. Mel Gibson is a little more of an outlier, even from an awards-giving group that worships celebrity, and fashion designer Tom Ford was nothing less than a total surprise, getting the nod for his unnominated flick Nocturnal Animals. But each piece of information helps us piece together the emerging awards picture for 2017. Until SAG, I have the honor to be your obedient servant in all things Oscar: E, signing off.