Surprise! They do know about diversity!
It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's Oscar season! Another year has come and gone, and now it's time to look back at the best Hollywood had to offer. You know, I was struggling back in the dog days of summer. I will touch on it more as I look back on the year myself, but this year's summer blockbuster season was TERRIBLE. It shows this year, as the visual effects category, a category usually reserved for the best of the summer blockbusters, had exactly one film from the summer season in its list. And that film was the live-action The Jungle Book remake so we're not exactly in the cream of the crop there. But the weak summer blockbuster season was more than made up for in Oscar season, with some strong entries headlined, of course, by La La Land. You can check out my review of it here, where I called it the best film I have ever reviewed on this blog, and if you know me at all you'd know I'm not even remotely surprised by its record-setting 14 nominations. But let's jump into it because I'll have more on that shortly!
For those who are new to this, this post is just some thoughts on my immediate reactions to the nominees. My comprehensive guide to the 2017 Oscars, where I go through each category and talk about who I think should win and who will win based on Vegas odds, will drop February 19th, so stay tuned! I have a lot of work to do between now and then.
Big Winners: La La Land, Mel Gibson, Manchester by the Sea, Diversity
The clear and obvious winner of this year's Oscars nominee list is La La Land. It's hardly surprising-Hollywood loves a good love letter to itself-but it's also a deserving one. Very rare do you realize you are watching a cultural phenomenon in the moment. Often you realize the true impact of a film long after it's release, which has led to some pretty amazing snubs over the years. (Most famous of which would likely be How Green Was My Valley beating out The Maltese Falcon and Citizen Kane in 1942) But that's not the case this year. La La Land is an instant classic, and there's no doubt it will be looked back on as one of, if not the, top films of this decade. It's sure to win Best Picture, and will definitely have a legitimate chance to break the nearly 60 year-old record for most Oscars won by a single film. (The record is 11 wins and is held by 1969's Ben-Hur, 1997's Titanic, and 2003's Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)
Now let's talk about the not-so-obvious! First and foremost, wow did Hacksaw Ridge have a great day. The film pulled out a surprising six nominations, including a Best Director nomination for Gibson himself. It's hard for me to be excited about the prospect of Gibson being "back" in Hollywood, after all I still haven't forgotten the disgusting anti-Semitic comments he's made in the past, but it looks like Hollywood is excited about it. But we'll see if those nominations turn into actual wins for Hacksaw Ridge. I'm not holding my breath too much.
Another big winner of this year's Oscar nominees is Manchester By the Sea. Initially premiering at Sundance way back in January, I thought Manchester By the Sea was going to receive an acting nomination for Casey Affleck and that's it, but instead it pulled away with a whooping six nominations, including for Best Director and Best Picture. I haven't seen this one yet but I hope it can live up to the hype now.
Finally, the elephant in the room: after two years of repeated #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy surprised even me and gave a record six nominations to people of color in the acting categories, including three in an absolutely stacked Best Supporting Actress category. The Academy even handed out its fourth ever Best Director nomination to a person of color, a well-deserving nod for Barry Jenkins's masterful work in Moonlight. Which is a must-see and my second-favorite film of the year so far, by the way. Were it not for Damien Chazelle, this would even be my favorite, but unfortunately for Moonlight and many other films this year, La La Land exists, and La La Land is primed to run the table.
Big Surprises: Michael Shannon, Arrival, Meryl Streep
There really aren't that many surprises to speak of this year, but there were a few that stuck out. First off, Nocturnal Animals was a film worth avoiding but director/fashion designer Tom Ford has a lot of sway in Hollywood so I figured it would get a nomination. However, I assumed that nomination would be for Aaron Taylor-Johnson so when I saw Michael Shannon's name listed instead of his I almost jumped out of my seat. I don't think either deserve a nomination, but the acting was definitely the best part of Nocturnal Animals so at least it got something here to appease Tom Ford and not something more egregious.
Another surprising film that received a lot of love from the Academy was Arrival. With six nominations, the year's strongest sci-fi film was not lost to the depths of time in what has overall been one of the most disappointing years for the genre in recent memory. I loved this film, and it will certainly be in my top 5 for the year, but I was certainly shocked to see the film got as much love from the Academy as it did.
I was also surprised to see Meryl Streep receive a nomination. There's little doubt the Academy was emboldened by her speech and a certain someone's childish response to it, and gave her this nomination out of spite, but in the process it cost two far more deserving actresses a nomination between Annette Benning for 20th Century Women and Amy Adams for Arrival. On the bright side, though, this is Streep's 20th Oscar nomination, which further increases her lead for most nominations for an actor or actress in Oscar history. So I think it's safe to say she is anything but overrated.
UPDATE 1/25: Just watched Hidden Figures, and I can safely say that Taraji P. Henson was snubbed as well. Just goes to show how strong the Best Actress category is this year!
Big Losers: 20th Century Women, Silence, The Nice Guys, Peter Berg
Overall this year's Oscar nominations are far more contained than most years. That tends to happen when six films have forty-eight nominations between them. As a result, there are a LOT of unfortunate snubs. By FAR the biggest loser this year is 20th Century Women. A film which had a lot of press going into the nominations, all 20th Century Women has to show for its hard work is a single nomination. I thought this film was in for an easy Best Actress nomination (and maybe even win, but that category is stacked this year) for Annette Benning, and a Best Picture nomination. I mean I don't know why it didn't receive one since the Academy does have ten slots to fill for Best Picture, but ever since it expanded that field from five to ten it's never had ten nominations. What's with that, Academy?
Another big loser is Silence. The latest from acclaimed director Martin Scorsese, Silence seemed to get caught in all the noise leading up to the nominations, so while it is a loser, it didn't surprise me as much as 20th Century Women's snubbing did. I haven't seen Silence yet, and I look forward to it since Scorsese is my favorite director in Hollywood right now, but after his last film (The Wolf of Wall Street) received five Oscar nominations, I was very surprised to see Silence receive only one.
Finally, you have the films that missed out on the party altogether. While everyone is talking about Deadpool's lack of love, I am far more shocked by The Nice Guys goose egg. Easily the best film of 2016 that no one saw, I thought for sure The Nice Guys was going to be this year's Grand Budapest Hotel or Mad Max and sneak in with at least a few nominations. Like screenplay, at least! But instead, nothing. And yes, it does suck that Deadpool wasn't nominated either, but c'mon. The Nice Guys was much better, and it was a made-for-Academy-voters kind of film.
Finally, also in the realm of goose eggs, is the surprising snubbing of all things Peter Berg-related. Berg had two high-flying, high-emotion films based on recent traumatic events in Deepwater Horizon and Patriot's Day, but all he has to show for his hard work is a throwaway sound editing nomination. Personally, I didn't think either of these films deserved any nominations, but I figured given the amount of money they made, the amount of stars that were in both of them, and their explosive and emotional subject material that would make them easy targets to gobble up nominations.
Well, there you have it! My first reaction to this year's Oscar nominations! Hope you enjoyed and I will be back soon with my look back at 2016 and actual preview of the upcoming Oscars. DEUCES!
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jos1JK8EgxU/VtTGDI4PquI/AAAAAAAAPLI/_4P-8ueXUbs/s1600/2017-Oscars-89th-Academy-Awards.jpg (2017 Oscars)
http://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/blog_post/primary_image/interviews/you-cant-play-a-symbol-michael-shannon-on-nocturnal-animals/primary_Michael-Shannon-2016.png (Michael Shannon)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4385888/mediaviewer/rm511639808 (20th Century Women)
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