Oscar Primer 2017 – Loving Doctor Jackie at the Zoo

Every Tuesday there will be an Oscar Primer going over the chances that nominated films have of winning their respective categories. Best Picture nominated films will be dissected on Contra Zoom, while the remaining ones will be discussed here. Last week I talked about Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryCaptain FantasticHail, Caesar! and Suicide Squad. This week I will go over Jackie, Loving, Zootopia and Doctor Strange.

Jackie was directed by Pablo Larraín and was released on December 2nd 2016. The film has three nominations.

  • Best Actress- Natalie Portman
  • Best Costume Design- Madeline Fontaine
  • Best Original Score- Mica Levi

Jackie might be the best film this year not nominated for Best Picture, after being nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2013 for No, Pablo Larraín returns with an even more ambitious film. Combining multiple film types, aspect ratios and non-narrative story telling we are witnessing the blossoming of a great auteur. At the centre of it all is Natalie Portman who gives a performance so convincing you are leave the film with mixed emotions about Jackie Kennedy. Was she a good mother and wife? Was she too altruistic? Was she able to carefully construct a fairy tale about her late husband or just was a control freak? The first minute of the film Portman’s accent was so jarring and unrealistic until you get used to it. Linguists have actually praised Portman’s accent, as being so spot on it is unnerving. If La La Land isn’t the dominant film it looked like, Portman is odds on favourite to be the best rival to Emma Stone.

Everyone knows the famous pink Chanel suit Jackie Kennedy was wearing when her husband JFK was killed, which would have been easy to replicate and be the centrepiece. The costumes don’t stop there as Jackie is shown in such a variety of beautiful dresses that her style icon status is full on present to the point that the film even shows mannequins being loaded into stores wearing knock offs of Jackie’s outfits. Jackie is easily one of the frontrunners with maybe on La La Land and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as competitors.

The slightly unnatural score that leaves you unsettles and questioning Jackie Kennedy is a highlight of the film, as it is strong and noticeable while not distracting you from the story. Instead of telling you how to feel, it makes you question your surrounds and choices that are being made. Sadly Jackie goes up again La La Land, one of the films most assured categories.

Loving was directed by Jeff Nichols and was released on November 4th 2016. The film has one nomination.

  • Best Actress- Ruth Negga

Loving was such a beautiful and tender film, quiet and unassuming. It actually dared to not show the flashy courtroom drama that takes place all the way at the Supreme Court to show that the Loving family just wanted to be left alone and raise a family. Ruth Negga showed such a range of emotions that made you full feel and understand everything she was forced to go through. Her counterpoint Joel Edgerton was just as captivating, although instead of words he used grunts and mumbled speech to communicate his frustration at the disgusting disallowance of interracial marriage. Director Nichols has been steadily on the rise these last few years with Mud and Take Shelter but 2016 was supposed to be his big breakout with Midnight Special coming out in April then Loving in November. Unfortunately Midnight Special was subpar by Nichols standards and Loving just plain went unseen. Negga should be the only real competition to Natalie Portman; instead she has to settle for just getting the exposure of getting a nomination.

Zootopia was directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer and was released on March 4th 2016. The film has one nomination.

  • Best Animated Feature- Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Way back at the beginning of last year Disney put out an original animated film, which seems to be a rarity for them these days as everything seems to be a sequel, reboot or based on another source material. Viewers were in for a treat as the suspense thriller was chock full of classic movie references, amazing voice work from Gennifer Goodwin, Jason Bates, Idris Elba, Shakira and more and it was just plain funny. The movie had a solid message about nature vs nurture, being inclusive and racism in a way that kids could understand and parents wouldn’t groan at. While Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings both have nominations in other categories as well Zootopia is the one to beat by a long shot.

Doctor Strange was directed by Scott Derrickson and was released on November 4th 2016. The film has one nomination.

  • Best Visual Effects- Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould

Once again proving Marvel’s run at the top of the superhero food pyramid, Doctor Strange created an origin story for a character many thought would never been given the proper screen time. Casting top-notch actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a fluff film serious credit behind it but the visual effects took it to a whole other dimension. The film is like Inception on steroids… actually more like LSD as cities fold over on themselves while clicking and clacking away. Viewers are so close to having seizures from what is going on, especially when the titular character first experiences inter-dimension travel. The effects are breath taking and they reach new heights. Is it enough to make voters go their way, when some industry people are having serious Marvel fatigue? Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Jungle Book both seem to be the front-runners, but I wouldn’t discount Doctor Strange as of this moment.

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