Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester By the Sea
Unsurprisingly La La Land is leading the way in Oscar nominations. What is surprising is that it received 14 nominations, which ties it for the most ever with Titanic and All About Eve. I loved La La Land; in fact, it was my favorite movie from 2016, but there are a lot of people who didn’t like it. Probably because self-proclaimed musical lovers and cinephiles like myself were showering it with so much love that by the time the average movie-goer saw it they were left wanting. I could (and probably will) fight to tell you why I love this movie, but that many nominations are just going to increase the hype and fuel the hate. It is quite possible that any one of the more diverse films the Academy finally decided to honor could beat it, especially Moonlight. The fact that Fences and Hidden Figures were also nominated will help the Academy distance itself from its #OscarsSoWhite problem and hopefully bring more perspective and variety to the show.
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
This is without a doubt the most competitive category in the field. Emma Stone and Natalie Portman have to be the odds-on favorites to win. I was surprised, though, that Amy Adams was left off the list. Arrival has been nominated for eight other Oscars, so clearly the Academy loved the movie. It’s not like the Academy doesn’t love Adams; she’s been nominated five other times. I doubt she would have won with the other heavy hitters in the category, but some recognition would have been nice. Someone who doesn’t need the recognition is probably Meryl Streep, who has now been nominated a record setting 20 times. We get it guys – you like her, she’s good. You don’t need to nominate her every year. Unless the real reason you are nominating Streep is for her Golden Globes speech, then by all means.
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
One of the worst things about the Oscars is you can submit yourself into any category you want which is why Viola Davis is in the supporting actress category. Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea has an absolutely heartbreaking performance in two of the four scenes she appears in, but that is the thing—she’s only in four scenes. Meanwhile, Davis is in over half the movie and the Academy will have many more opportunities to see her perform. The most frustrating aspect of all is that Viola Davis had a really good chance to win as Best Actress. But I don’t think she wanted to walk away empty handed a third time, and in a panic submitted herself as a supporting actress.
Best Documentary – Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
I was surprised that O.J.: Made in America was considered for an Academy Award. The docuseries made its debut on ESPN and the seven hour run time seems a little too long for continuous viewing. But apparently there are theaters across the country are screening the docuseries both in separate parts and in its entirety. Not only that, but there are countless critics who named this series the best movie of the year when they were recapping their favorite movies from 2016. I wonder if O.J. could have had enough juice (heh) to have been a serious contender as Best Picture. On a separate note, congrats to the documentary category for leading the charge in diversity and making history with four of the five documentaries made by black directors.
Best Original Song
“Audition” (La La Land)
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (Trolls)
“City of Stars” (La La Land)
“The Empty Chair” (Jim: The James Foley Story)
“How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)
I have a lot of feelings about this category. For starters, why are “Audition” and “City of Stars” the two songs that are nominated for La La Land? Without question the best song from La La Land is the opening number, “Another Day of Sun,” in part because Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone aren’t singing in it. The song also opens the movie in a dynamic way that sets the tone, and is instrumentally more interesting, which is probably why the music was initially used for all the movie’s advertising campaigns. Next, what the hell is, “The Empty Chair”? I would drop that song and one of the songs from La La Land, and replace them with “Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street and almost any song from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. If you haven’t seen Sing Street yet, it is streaming on Netflix and I highly recommend it. Not only was it nominated as a Best Picture for the Golden Globes, but it just happens to be a really enjoyable movie. And I know the Academy doesn’t mind putting more fun songs in consideration for Best Song, especially with past inclusions of “Blame Canada” and “Everything is Awesome.” I challenge you to find a cleverer song than any of those put out by The Lonely Island in the funniest movie of the year. And finally, within the category, I am pulling for Moana and “How Far I’ll Go” solely because I want Lin-Manuel Miranda to win the PEGOT.
As we get closer to the awards I’ll have more to write about the nominees, but for now enjoy catching up on these movies.