I feel like this happens every year – the Academy Awards nominations come out and I realize the full extent of the films that I haven’t seen. I live in Minnesota, so not every Oscar-worthy film gets here before the nominations. Oscar season is also cold, so there’s always something that does get here but I don’t want to brave the cold for it.
That said, I think that there’s a lot of interesting things about the Oscars and about the film industry as a whole, or at least the film industry as promoted by the Academy. So here are some assorted thoughts about what was nominated and what wasn’t.
La La Land sweeps with 14 nominations
I think anyone following Oscar buzz could have seen La La Land doing well coming. However, with 14 nominations La La Land, it has notably tied the record number of Oscar nominations held by both Titanic and All About Eve. La La Land is doing well, but perhaps better than we would have thought. It’s started to receive some relatively minor backlash, but even La La Land’s most fervent critics tend to admit it’s a well put together film. It’s not a Crash, is what I’m saying.
One thing I’ve been wondering is if, with all the critical acclaim and box office success (as of the writing of this post La La Land has grossed over $174 million worldwide on a budget of $30 million, so it’s a hit), more original musicals could be on the way. Original movie musicals have been the domain of Disney movies and not much else for quite some time now – even critical darling Moulin Rouge! didn’t focus on original music. Yet La La Land comes out and has been a massive success.
Not every film that gets major Oscar recognition and does well financially gets imitators – The Artist was very successful and I haven’t seen a slew of silent, black and white films getting made. Yet musicals have had some successes before and not all that long ago, and I think audiences responded to the positivity and brightness of La La Land. It doesn’t seem out there that we may be seeing more musicals in the coming years.
Not #OscarsSoWhite This Year
One of the more notable Academy Awards controversies of recent years has been #OscarsSoWhite, where there have been years of the acting categories being completely dominated by white actors, ignoring diverse performances. While it’s hard to say that years like that won’t be happening again, it is heartening to see that there is diversity among the acting nominees. One thing of note is that out of the five supporting actress nominees that three are black women – Viola Davis for Fences, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, and Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, which is the first time that black people have been the majority nominated in any Oscar category.
I’m not sure if any of the efforts the Academy has had in changing its membership have had any effect or if films like Hidden Figures and Moonlight are too good and too well liked to ignore, but it’s a good sign.
Amy Adams not nominated
From what I’ve seen so far the most widely acknowledged snub is Amy Adams not being nominated for Arrival. Which, as someone who saw and loved Arrival, is probably a pretty big snub. Arrival has gotten some awards recognition – it’s nominated for several major awards including Best Picture. But despite the direction, the production design and the effects, which all contribute to the success of Arrival, Adams’ performance carries the film. Given how much the Academy clearly liked Arrival, it’s a surprise and disappointment that Adams didn’t get recognition as well.
No Love and Friendship?
I know I shouldn’t have expected Love and Friendship to receive any nominations – I really didn’t think it would. Yet it’s a shame to see it not at least get an Adapted Screenplay nod, considering it took a short epistolary novel by Jane Austen and made it a very successful and very funny film. The Adapted Screenplay category is pretty stacked, with all of the nominations in that category also nominated for Best Picture. Still, it’s a bit disappointing that it didn’t get a nod there.
The Lobster Gets One Nod
Another small note, but I’m happy that the Academy remembered The Lobster with its Original Screenplay nod. I really enjoyed The Lobster, and this is totally deserved.
Production Design Gets Some Unexpected Nominations
It’s always interesting to see which films get nominated for the technical awards, because often they are more unexpected or just not normal Oscar picks. While La La Land and Arrival got Production Design nods, so did Passengers (despite how little critical love it had), Hail Caesar! and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Hail Caesar and Fantastic Beasts are both solid nominations for this category – both are historical pieces that have a lot of style to them, so I could see both of them doing well. My bet would be on either La La Land or Hail Caesar, but it’s always nice to see these interesting nominations.
La La Land vs EGOT?
As a fan of musicals and musical theater, I’m of course familiar with and a fan of Hamilton. So, one area of note has been when Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will receive his Oscar to complete his set of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. However, while many fans have been hoping that his work on Moana could set him up, La La Land’s push is a bit too strong. While having two songs from La La Land could split the vote some, at this point I can’t imagine anything but City of Stars winning.