Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Oscar Nominations (Reaction and Analysis)

Changing things up a little, The Academy this morning revealed their nominations for the 89th Annual Academy Awards, not at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills in front of media and publicists, but using a live stream on their website and digital platforms, along with satellite feed. I actually detested this approach as the "big event" feel of the announcement was completely lost in favor of impersonally finding a video online, entirely diminishing the spectacle and pageantry surrounding the nominations. They tried something new and it failed. And I hope they never do it again, especially if the primary motive was letting everyone know that the now digitally hip and connected Oscars have maybe moved into this century. But we'll look no further than the actual nominations to determine that, as the duties were handled bright and early by my favorite Academy Award Winning Best Actress, Brie Larson, Jennifer Hudson, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jason Reitman, Ken Watanabe and AMPAS President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Many were elated, some were disappointed, and a few less than usual were left wondering what on Earth the Academy was thinking. So, that's a plus.  Let's see how it all played out, running down some of the shocks, snubs and surprises from the morning's announcement. The full list of nominees can be viewed here.

-The big story is obviously La La Land tying Titanic and All About Eve's all-time Oscar record of most nominations with 14. This isn't entirely a surprise given the steam it's picked up and at this point it would be a shock if it doesn't win on February 26th. Universally beloved, it just doesn't have anything working against it other than the potential backlash of it being TOO successful, which is ridiculous.

-Most of the nominations shook out exactly how most thought they would across the board, as many of the acting nominees seemed locked in months ago. There weren't tons of options from the get-go and it was pretty clear who was and wasn't getting a nod, with very few exceptions.

-Didn't think Arrival would get in for Best Picture knowing the Academy's historic bias against sci-fi. But I should have known better. With anywhere from five to nine slots (and lately it's been nine) available, what else would make it? I still say they should go back to the traditional five, which would make each nominee mean more.
-I was right that Amy Adams wouldn't get in for Arrival. It was just too crowded a category, and if any actress could afford to be left out, it's her. 

-The highly respected Annette Bening's absence for 20th Century Women (which did earn a screenplay nod) might be the closest thing we have to a snub here. Depending on your perspective, either Ruth Negga (Loving) or Meryl Streep took her spot. I'd prefer to point the finger the latter.

-These Streep nominations for whatever she happens to appear in that particular year has now officially crossed the threshold into a running joke with Florence Foster Jenkins. I'm sure she's fine in it, but give it a break already. Even she must be laughing at this now.

-The thought that Emma Stone could very well win Best Actress is undeniably thrilling, especially for anyone who suspected such a feat was possible since Easy A. 

-Mel Gibson is back. No one ever questioned the talent but the Academy finally forgave and forgot, welcoming him back into their good graces with Hacksaw Ridge after nearly a decade in Hollywood purgatory. Nods for Picture, Director and Actor (Andrew Garfield) indicate they feel he served his sentence. Now we'll see what he does with his second chance.

-The Best Actor field turned out exactly as expected, with maybe Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic the only question mark going in. And even that was kind of a given. Casey Affleck is basically a lock to take this. 

-Did anyone really think Deadpool would be nominated for anything substantial knowing voters' tastes? Sorry, but that was real long shot.

-Count me among those who don't feel O.J.: Made in America should be eligible as a documentary. It's great, but an 8-hour episodic series for TV. And it's probably winning.

-Thought Hidden Figures may have peaked a little too late in the race to get in for Best Picture, but it did, with Octavia Spencer also earning a Supporting nod. She'll be competing against her former The Help co-star, Viola Davis, the likely winner in this category for Fences.

-Was really hoping for that surprise Kevin Costner supporting nomination but it just didn't materialize. Too bad. That would have been something if it did.

-Speaking of comebacks, did anyone think we'd again be talking about Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel in relation to the Oscars this year? Lion slowly built momentum and overperformed considerably this morning with a nomination haul of 6 (including a Supporting nod for Nicole Kidman and Adapted Screenplay). Not bad for a movie few have heard of and even fewer have probably seen.    

-After last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy, 2017 boasts a record six nominations for black actors, which will no doubt raise the question as to how much of an effect that had, if any. The Academy wasn't racist so much as not afforded the opportunity to nominate minorities based on a problem much larger and more systemic within the studio system. Whether that's changed at all remains to be seen, but we can agree that one year doesn't make a difference either way. This year or last. And simply counting nominations won't be indicative of that change.

No comments: