Oscar 2017 Nominations and Reactions

E: Huh.  31 out of 34 predictions correct.  I feel pretty good about that!  I also feel really good about the diversity of this year’s slate – three movies starring African Americans (surely a first), a movie about Indians and India, and three movies with female leads.  (And yes, three out of nine is pathetic, and yet by nominating more than two in an industry where Hollywood refuses to make movies about women and then routinely ignores many of the good ones it does produce, Oscar is operating on high.)

Also?  For La La Land, the view from the top is pretty sweet.  And rarefied.

                                                                                  Best Actor 5/5

I Said:

Affleck, Garfield, Gosling, Mortensen, Washington

Oscar Nominated:

Affleck, Garfield, Gosling, Mortensen, Washington

Good for Andrew Garfield, picking up his first nomination.  I believe this is the second for Casey Affleck, Ryan Gosling and Viggo Mortensen; Denzel Washington (long the most nominated African American actor) is the only old hand here, picking up his fifth best actor nod and his seventh over all.

                                                                                Best Actress 4/5

I Said:

Adams, Huppert, Portman, Stone, Streep

The Academy Nominated:

Huppert, Negga, Portman, Stone, Streep

I definitely did not guess that Amy Adams would be the odd person out – but every year there are big snubs of people we all assume will be nominated.  They’ve done everything right, they’ve gotten all the precursors, the critics love them, they might even be possible winners, but they get squeezed out.  (I’m think of Steve Buscemi in Ghost World, Mila Kunis in Black Swan, Andrew Garfield in The Social Network, Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks, Nicole Kidman in To Die For, Tom Hanks in the last decade and a half.)  Fun fact: Adams exclusion means that Arrival is the only Best Picture nominee without at least one acting nomination (6 have 2, with Manchester leading the charge with 3).  While I love Adams and Arrival, however, I’m thrilled for Ruth Negga, who picks up her first nomination in her first big leading role.  Also, countering last year’s egregious shut outs of actors of colors, this year may mark a first, with actors of color in all four acting races.  And who knows, maybe the snub will help Adams get an actual Oscar in the future, increasing the number of people who think she’s due.  I am patting myself on the back a little for picking first time nominee Isabelle Huppert over Bening, though, because that was a tough call.

The Screen Actors Guild should give us an indication of whether Emma Stone will win on her second nomination, or if Natalie Portman could take two out of three.  That’s assuming, that is, that Globe and Satellite winner Huppert isn’t making a run for it, and we won’t know that until Oscar night itself because she wasn’t nominated by either SAG or BAFTA.

Note: three time winner Meryl Streep has wracked up 20 nominations by getting nominated roughly ever other year since 1979; after being nominated for 2015’s Into the Woods, she’s right on time.  Her longest stretch without a nod?  The early 90s, between 1991’s Postcards from the Edge, and 1996’s Bridges of Madison County.

Best Supporting Actor 3/5

I said:

Ali, Bridges, Grant, Patel, Taylor-Johnson

Oscar Nominated:

Ali, Bridges, Hedges, Patel, Shannon

This clearly is my worst category; usually that’s Best Director, but not this time.  I was fifty-fifty on the Taylor-Johnson/Hedges split; I’m kicking myself over that one, but I’m pleased that Oscar went the other way.  Shannon over Grant, however?  Didn’t see that coming.  (And darn it, that means I have to see Nocturnal Animals anyway.  Hopefully it’ll be a pleasant surprise.)  I thought Hugh was going to get his first nomination for sure.  There’s no lack of first time nominees, however: Mahershala Ali, Dev Patel and Lucas Hedges all pick up their first nod.  Michael Shannon, formerly honored in this category for his work in Revolutionary Road, doubles his lifetime tally. Now seven time nominee Jeff Bridges is the only man on this list who already has an Oscar.

We’ll see what happens at SAG on Sunday, but without Globe winner Taylor-Johnson in the mix, you have to guess that critics’ darling Ali goes back to being the favorite.

Best Supporting Actress 5/5

I Guessed:

Davis, Harris, Kidman, Spencer, Williams

Oscar Chose:

Davis, Harris, Kidman, Spencer, Williams

I’m certain that having three black actresses in one category is a record.  In fact, add Ruth Negga and I’m sure that 4 out of 10 is a record as well.)  What of course is the most important thing here is that all five women are tremendously deserving; it’s not affirmative action, these are the standouts who’ve been acknowledged all year. Well, okay, I personally haven’t seen first time nominee Naomi Harris yet – Moonlight is next on my list – but critics have consistently lauded her performance all season, so I’m going to assume it’s worthy.  I also have yet to see Fences, but I know enough of Viola Davis to feel very confident in her worthiness.  I’m thrilled to see Oscar winner Octavia Spencer pick up a second nomination as the lone representative of Hidden Figures, one of my favorite films of the year so far.

And, let’s see.  This is 4 for Kidman, 4 for Michelle Williams (how funny is that?), 3 for Davis, 2 for Spencer and 1 for Harris.  At 14 collective nominations that makes these ladies a clear standout bunch. (I would say the most nominated group, but Meryl beats each category by herself.)

Best Director 4/5

I Figured:

Chazelle, Davis, Jenkins, Lonergan, Villeneuve

Oscar Nominated:

Chazelle, Gibson, Jenkins, Lonergan, Villeneuve

So, okay, I did correctly identify the four solid nominees (all first timers).  And I knew going with the DGA pick was big risk, because those lists never line up.  All I can say is that it seems Hollywood has made its peace with Mel Gibson, who comes into this race with two previous nominations (producing and directing Braveheart) and two wins. Am I surprised?  You bet.  But hey, it’s a really good movie, if occasionally heavy handed.

As I mentioned, Barry Jenkins brings the number of black directors nominated for Oscar to four.  Good for you, Barry.  (Now here’s rooting for the next glass ceiling to come down – what do you have going on next year, Ava DuVernay?)

Best Picture 9/9

I Offered Up:

Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Oscar Chose:

Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

I won’t lie.  I am feeling pretty pumped about this.  Best Picture is the hardest category to predict.  The obvious contenders are never the whole story – except this year, they were!  I’ve seen 6 of the 9 and enjoyed each one (if differently), so that feels good, too.

Here’s the complete list of nominees.  A few other things that stand out to me:

First, that The Red Turtle and My Life as a Zucchini beat out Finding Dory for an animated feature nomination.  (I’m thrilled for Kubo, Zootopia and Moana, all deserving – and I’m somewhat cracked up that there are two nominees here I haven’t seen when I did see so many fantastic domestic animated films.)  I had a feeling this was going to happen after the Globes, but come on.  Not only was Dory a blockbuster, but it was also terrific and highly acclaimed movie, scoring 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.  Red Turtle comes in with 92% out of 57 reviews, with My Life at 100% with a mere 14 reviews.  Dory, in case you’re wondering, was reviewed 268 times.  Maybe the other two are better films, but sometimes it looks like the animation branch thinks that foreign and artsy and small means better, which is not necessarily fair.  Finding Dory earned its enormous box office because it was fantastic.

Anyway.  Soap box away.

I’m very pleased to see Ava DuVernay nominated in the documentary catagory, which like Supporting Actress is 3/5th African American.  Manchester By the Sea didn’t get an Editing nod, and it’s a weird, little known fact of Oscar watching that films snubbed by editing almost never win Best Picture.  I’m bummed to see Rogue One and Hidden Figures shut out of the Score nominations, but I’m please for the very memorable La La Land and Lion.  Though I’m sure “City of Stars” will be win Best Song, I’m pleased to see Lin-Manuel Miranda and Justin Timberlake nominated for “How Far I’ll Go” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” respectively; when I think of 2016, Hamilton and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” will be music I’ll recall.  I will be hugely disappointed if they don’t have the original artists performing these on stage.  I’m so looking forward to that (even if “Audition” feels like a surprising and thin pick when compared to, say, “Runnin’,” “Drive It Like You Stole It,”  “Someone in the Crowd,” “A Lovely Night,”  and “We Know the Way.“)

What else?  Chazelle, Jenkins and Lonergan are all nominated for both writing and directing.  Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them takes home two nods for costume and production design.  Deepwater Horizon surprised with two technical categories nods.  In my memory, anyway, Kubo and the Two Strings becomes the first Animated Feature to also be nominated for Visual Effects. Poor Sully manages a single nod, the same as Dr. Strange, and Rogue One gets two.

The count stands here – La La Land with 14 nods (tying Titanic and All About Eve for the most ever), Moonlight and Arrival tie for second place with 8, with Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Manchester By the Sea coming in third with 6 each.  It probably goes without saying that no film has ever had so many nominations in the time of the preferential ballot, and that no film has ever had so many nominations without winning Best Picture.  Obviously the Academy does like the bittersweet charmer just as much as the Hollywood Foreign Press did, honoring it technical and creative categories. Though it couldn’t win more than 13 with two songs competing against each other, that could still beat the all time record – 11 Oscars won by the 1959 Ben Hur, Titanic and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.  So perhaps the game this year will be to figure out just how many awards La La Land is going to win.

So what did you think?  What and who are you rooting for?  What are you disappointed by?  Does La La Land belong with the all time greats?  Let me know!

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7 comments on “Oscar 2017 Nominations and Reactions

  1. Why the Nocturnal Animals reluctance? Best film of those I’ve seen this year, and I liked many of the same ones you did. Brace yourself for Fences. Davis the ONLY reason to watch it. Terrible stage-film adaptation.

    • E says:

      Oh, I’m quite happy to hear that about Nocturnal Animals. I liked A Single Man very much, but there’s a heaviness to the noir feel of the Animals trailer that really turned me off. I’ll be quite happy to be wrong! Hearing that about Fences is a bit depressing, though, because it really doesn’t look likable either – lots of speechifying and declaiming and grandstanding. At least there is Viola…

    • MMGF says:

      I can help somewhat second this. Nocturnal Animals is difficult at times, but it’s also very interesting, and super stylized. I found myself more drawn into it than I expected to be. And I completely agree about Fences. Davis is remarkable – not surprisingly – but the rest of it just feels like a play that someone filmed from the audience. Lots of grandstanding and loooong lines from Denzel Washington’s character.
      Moonlight, by the way, is an unusual find, that I think you’ll enjoy quite a bit.

  2. MMGF says:

    As you know, I don’t get the overwhelming love for La La Land. It was a perfectly nice, entertaining movie. But… Best Picture? Record-tying number of nominations? Possibly record-breaking number of wins? Sure, Titanic probably wasn’t worthy of all its accolades, either. But, it at least had a LOT going on, and has proven to withstand the test of time. I have a hard time imagining La La Land being replayed on TNT every weekend 20 years from now. Man, I’m a sucker for a good musical, but I when I hold La La Land up to some modern musicals like Chicago or Moulin Rouge – they’re just not in the same stratosphere for me.

    And just to comment on the song. Funny, because I agree that Audition is a little light (and it somehow reminds me too much of that Ladies Who Lunch song, which is a lot more fun.) But, if I’m going for a second Moana song, I’m probably going for “You’re Welcome,” and if I’m going for a different La La Land song, I’m probably going for “Another Day of Sun.” But, I’d certainly take your “Drive It Like You Stole It” over any of them! What a shame, no love for the clever and thoroughly entertaining Sing Street!

    • E says:

      For some reason that is not clear to me “You’re Welcome” was not deemed eligible for Best Song. I’d have nominated that and “Shiny” if it were up to me.

      And yeah. I like the movie more than you did, but is it a classic? I don’t know. Is it better than, say, Schindler’s List? Definitely not.

      • MMGF says:

        Oh, how interesting. it never occurred to me to check the eligibility list. Not only isn’t “You’re Welcome” on there, from Moana, but neither is “Another Day of Sun” from La La Land. From what I can gather, the producers of each movie just didn’t submit those songs. How odd. Apparently the idea is to not risk being an Enchanted or Dreamgirls, by potentially giving the voters three songs from your movie to choose from and coming away with a loss.

        • E says:

          Yeah, I don’t really know what to say about all that. I do find it stunning that the La La Land team would pick Audition over Another Day of Sun as likely to be nominated — and that they’re apparently right to do so? Seriously weird. I have to listen to that mysterious fifth song, though. Where did that come from?

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