The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revealed the nominations for the 89th Annual Academy Awards. The Oscars Ceremony is set for just over a month’s time on February 26. So, the question becomes: Who will be the big winners this year? Academy Awards Fans across the internet are looking at the odds of the current nominees, and it’s a very interesting and eclectic group of films and performances this year.
The feel-good and enjoyable musical that is La La Land brought in a staggering 14 nominations this year. This is the third film to accomplish this feat, after James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950). Now, Titanic actually took home 11 of its 14 nominations. Meanwhile, All About Eve took home five of its 14 nods, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Titanic took home Best Picture, Best Director, and numerous technical awards. The amount of most Oscar wins is tied with Titanic, 1959’s Ben-Hur, and 2003’s Return of the King. In 2004, Return of the King won all 11 of its Oscar nominations. That basically makes a fantasy sequel of The Lord of the Rings franchise the most Oscar winning movie of all time. That is also the biggest clean sweep ever. So, La Land definitely has its work cut out for it to take home the big awards.
La La Land does have some factors working in its favor. The film has already been awarded with seven Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actor for Ryan Gosling, Best Actress for Emma Stone, Best Director for Damien Chazelle, and Best Screenplay for Chazelle as well. With 14 nominations, that could make La La Land a heavy favorite to see if it could beat the previous records set by the likes of Titanic, Ben-Hur, and Return of the King.
One encouraging piece of news from the Oscars is that a strong science fiction movie, Arrival, received some big nominations. Unfortunately, Amy Adams did not received a well-deserved nomination for her great lead performance. However, the film did bring home the nominations for Best Picture, Best Director for Denis Villeneuve, Best Adapted Screenplay for Eric Heisserer, and Best Cinematography by Bradford Young. Either way, it’s nice to see a pure science fiction story receive some big awards recognition in major awards categories. It’s not something that often happens for the genre, and Denis Villeneuve brought a nice level of prestige to the project.
One crying shame is that Zootopia, one of the best reviewed movies of 2016, was only able to achieve one nomination in Best Animated Feature. Zootopia is more than likely the clear and academic favorite to win that award. However, it’s also symbolic of how Best Animated Feature tends to be a consolation prize for animated features, which are not deemed as worthy enough for the big prize in Best Picture. Both Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story 3 were deemed worthy enough to receive Best Picture nominations. Zootopia is arguably worthy of that honor as well. It seems that Best Animated Feature, at least this year, remains as a sort of glass ceiling for giving more recognition to animated films. Zootopia easily should’ve been considered for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It’s thematically relevant, socially relevant, it’s amazingly well made, it’s well performed and it’s technically exceptional. So, why is Zootopia not a candidate for Best Picture? The Best Picture category allows for 10 films to be nominated. This year, there was only nine nominations. That slot easily could’ve gone to a movie such as Zootopia, or heck, even Kubo and the Two Strings for that matter.
It seems Hollywood has finally decided to forgive Mel Gibson and let him out of movie jail. Gibson previously won the Best Director Oscar in 1996 for his 1995 film Braveheart, which also won Best Picture. However, in recent years Gibson has been in a career slump. It’s been going on for about 10 years due to racist comments he made during a DUI arrest and also some disturbing raging comments made toward his girlfriend and another writer. Regardless, Gibson was somehow able to salvage what was left of his career after quite a few misses with the critically acclaimed Hacksaw Ridge. Hacksaw Ridge received six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Mel Gibson, and Best Actor for Andrew Garfield. Gibson’s career is undeniably like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes here. After the pit his career was in, to have this type of resurgence when he seemed to be persona non grata in Hollywood at one point is nothing short of astounding. As the saying goes, “Everyone loves a comeback.”
Speaking of controversy, there is quite a bit of it surrounding the film Manchester by the Sea. The film received six big nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor for Casey Affleck, Best Supporting Actor for Lucas Hedges, and Best Supporting Actress for Michelle Williams. Affleck has recently come under fire by actress Constance Wu. Wu criticized Affleck for the sexual harassment allegations made against him in the past. Granted, Best Actor is probably the most competitive field of all at the Oscars this year between two-time winner Denzel Washington for Fences, Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, two-time nominee Ryan Gosling for La La Land, and two-time nominee Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic. While Affleck did win the Golden Globe Award for his role in Manchester by the Sea, it’s hard to imagine he will take the top prize in such a competitive field. However, the way the Academy decides to vote is not always predictable.
Manchester by the Sea actually marks Williams’ fourth nomination. The Academy sometimes likes to award veterans who have been nominated multiple times. There is also sometimes a sense that an actor will get an award for a lesser role because there is a perception they should’ve won for a previous film. It’s unclear if that will happen here, but perhaps that will work in favor for Michelle Williams this year.
The 2017 field of Academy Award nominees is a very interesting field, and with all the films receiving numerous award nominations, it looks like it will be a very competitive awards seasons. ABC Will Broadcast the 89th Annual Academy Awards on February 26 starting at 7:00 p.m. EST.