And we’re off! With 33 days to go, Oscar season is officially here with this mornings announcement of the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards being held on Sunday February 26th. Throughout the Oscar season (it’s a thing, even if I just made it up) there will be two posts a week from me. First will be my regular written Oscar Primer’s every Tuesday, which will go into the odds of film has of winning their respective categories then on Thursday’s will be a new episode of Contra Zoom our film podcast where I will help break down the chances of each Best Picture Nominee.
Here are my quick thoughts on some of the nominees, snubs and early predictions.
- La La Land getting the most nominations and tying All About Eve and Titanic with 14 for the most ever is surprising. I liked the film but didn’t fall in love with it like everyone else did (think the Aziz Ansari SNL sketch from this weekend), but where it excelled was its technical side. The film is very deserving of its nominations in Cinematography, Costumes, Editing, Production Design, Directing, Original Song (where it appears twice) and overall Best Picture. I found the script to be its weakest part along with the acting in it. They got nominated due to everyone being in love with it. Look for it to still be the top winner come Oscar night, but maybe not as many as you think it will win.
- Despite being almost nine hours long J.: Made in America was nominated for Best Documentary. There was talk about it being a dark horse contender for Best Picture, but that clearly didn’t end up happening.
- I guess Mel Gibson is back! While it isn’t surprising that Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for Best Actor (Andrew Garfield), Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and even Best Picture, it is an absolute shock that Gibson was nominated for Best Director, after being cut out of Hollywood after his famous drunken tirade years ago.
- Speaking of Best Director, we can use this list to narrow down what Best Picture Nominees are the true contenders. Obviously La La Land is the top of the list, while Arrival, Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge all appear too making them strong contenders. The only one that might be iffy is Manchester By The Sea, as it doesn’t have a corresponding Best Editing nomination (Hell or High Water takes its place) another indicator of potential winners.
- Where the hell is Amy Adams? Her performance in Arrival was once of the year’s best, but she got snubbed! What most likely happened was she split her own votes with Nocturnal Animals, which clearly has its supporters managing to get Michael Shannon nominated for Supporting Actor, just like Janelle Monáe split her vote between Moonlight and Hidden Figures.
- Sure Dev Patel doesn’t show up until almost an hour into Lion, but he very clearly is the lead actor but producers can trick voters in putting him in a category where he stands a better chance. If they pushed him there, it might have meant Viggo Mortensen’s beautiful performance in Captain Fantastic would have been edged out.
- Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings and A Man Called Ove all broke out of their specific categories to get nominations elsewhere. Moana got an Original Song nom for How Far I’ll Go written by man of the year Lin-Manuel Miranda, which was pretty obvious. Less obvious was Laika Studio getting a Visual Effects nom for Kubo and the Two Strings for its Claymation film. Lastly Best Foreign Film A Man Called Ove also managed to score a Makeup and Hairstyling spot. Toni Erdmann was predicted as being the foreign film to most likely score an outside nomination, but it appears to be snubbed in the screenplay category.
- We know have to forever refer to Suicide Squad, Passengers, Trolls and Sully as Oscar nominated films. WHY???
- The last two years have been #OscarsSoWhite, but it finally ended this year with seven acting nominations for people of colour. In the lead acting categories is just Dezel Washington and Ruth Negga, but in the supporting categories is Mahershala Ali, Dev Patel, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer. Also four of the nine Best Picture nominees feature stories about people of colour as its focal point.
- Sadly, for the women out there, once again no nominations in Best Director and only one nomination out of ten for the screenplays as Allison Schroeder shares a nomination with Theodore Melfi for the Hidden Figures Script. It’s been a long seven years since Katheryn Bigelow won Best Director for The Hurt Locker becoming just the first woman to win and only the fourth ever nominated.
- Silence was a silent film this awards season, as it was not promoted by its studio and ignored everywhere, despite being a Martin Scorsese film and his first since The Wolf of Wall Street as it only got a Cinematography nod. Ditto goes to the amazing Hail, Caesar!, the latest from the Coen Brothers, which only appears in Production Design.