It’s here! One of my favorite days of the year (along with my birthday and Christmas and the premiere of a new season of The Challenge), is Oscar Nominations Day. I live for the surprises, the snubs, the armchair analysis of what’s overrated, and the mad scramble to predict who will take home the biggest prizes in film.
2016 was a really strong year for movies. And for the most part, these nominees reflect that, unlike many years past (I’m looking at you, truly egregious Selma snub of 2015. Seriously, I just re-watched this movie and it is incredible. And on Prime!).
Let’s dive into this year’s pool, shall we?
For those who’ve been following other awards groups this year, this list of nominees isn’t terribly shocking. It’s nice to see Hidden Fences Figures make a late, well-deserved surge in critical standings, but most surprising here is the inclusion of Lion and Hacksaw Ridge, both of which have received a slew of mixed-to-mediocre reviews. I was hoping to see some love for Loving or Love & Friendship instead.
The real horse race is between La La Land and Moonlight, both of which have cleaned up all awards season. (For what it’s worth, I hope Moonlight wins, but in my heart of hearts I am fully Team Hell or High Water.)
Congratulations to Viggo Mortensen for the annual “wait, who is nominated for what movie?” award! Seriously, does anyone know what Captain Fantastic is? So far, I’ve only seen two of the nominees in this category (Gosling and Affleck), but I’m going to go ahead and root for Denzel Washington here, because:
Don’t @ me. (Just kidding, please @ me, I love fighting about films on Twitter!)
This is a very stacked category, in which I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Huppert (the surprise upset at the Golden Globes), Portman, or Stone come out on top. To most, Amy Adams is an obvious snub here for Arrival, but I’m happy to see the beautiful, subtle work of Ruth Negga recognized. And as for Meryl Streep? Well. She’s Meryl Streep.
Otherwise, this is another very stacked category. Lucas Hedges and Michael Shannon are the best things about their respective films, Jeff Bridges is Jeff Bridges, and Mahershala Ali is nothing short of stunning in Moonlight. He seems poised to take this one home.
If Viola Davis doesn’t win this award, I will not recognize the world we live in anymore.
This seems like Damien Chazelle’s to lose. The Academy loves a (white, male) wunderkind, and it loves a movie about movies. Not that it would be undeserved. Say what you will about La La Land, the directing felt vibrant, fresh, and exciting.
Some greatest hits, predictions, and warm takes on these Oscar nominees.
And before you ask, yes, the Oscars are still #SoWhite (and #SoMale). This years’ nominees have not magically solved racism in the film industry or the world any more than Crash winning Best Picture in 2006 did.
The year’s highest-grossing indie was my favorite movie of 2016, so I’m excited about its four well-deserved nominations. But why stop there?
Give Mel Gibson’s directing slot to David Mackenzie. Give cinematographer Giles Nuttgens a nod for making West Texas look both utterly desolate and utterly beautiful. Recognize the hair and makeup department for all the mustaches. Recognize the production design team for how grimy and real every setting felt. Show some love to Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham’s performances.
But most of all, stop being so blinded by Chris Pine’s handsomeness that you sleep on what a great actor he has become. Chris Pine has never been nominated for an Oscar (or even a Golden Globe!), but if I had my way, he’d be getting his second nomination this year, after receiving one for playing Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods. I am dead serious about this.
But that’s a conversation for another day.