Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
The nominees for the 89th Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning and, as usual, there were plenty of moments that made you want to shout “Come on!” And to be fair, there were also plenty of moments where you smirked and announced to the empty room “Well, at least they got that one right.”
The paint isn’t even dry on these new Oscar nominations, but it’s time to dive in and start picking them apart. So let’s start with the knee-jerk reactions. Let’s take a look at the biggest surprises and snubs of the 2017 Oscar nominations.
Silence Was Almost Shut Out
In some ways, it would have been better for Martin Scorsese’s Silence to have been completely shut out. Then it would have been able to join the elite club of fascinating, powerful, and vital cinema that the Oscars have completely ignored over the decades. Instead, it was given a single nomination for its cinematography (which is well-deserved!). They even went and nominated Silence star Andrew Garfield for another film, which really adds insult to injury. There are a few important takeaways here. First, a new drama from one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time is not guaranteed admittance to the Oscars club. Second, films this long and challenging probably shouldn’t launch their awards campaigns in late December.
They Liked La La Land That Much?!
Look, we all knew that La La Land was going to dominate these nominations and it’s surely going to win big at the actual ceremony next month. It has the momentum of a freight train. Critics love it. Audiences love it. It’s a box office smash. It’s about Hollywood, which always gets Oscar voters hot and bothered. But 14 nominations? That’s huge. That’s record-tying. La La Land just tied All About Eve and Titanic for the most nominations for a single film in the history of the Academy Awards. La La Land isn’t just going to win next month – it’s going to destroy everyone else.
The Academy Decides to Ignore Clint Eastwood For Once
Normally, the Academy bends over backwards to toss Oscar nominations at Clint Eastwood movies (even the bad ones!). So the fact that Sully, one of his better movies in recent years and a box office smash, only walked away with a nod for Best Sound Editing is peculiar.
Hollywood Has Forgiven Mel Gibson, Apparently
Remember when Mel Gibson was pulled over for driving under the influence and spouted a bunch of anti-Semitic and sexist garbage? Remember when he was caught on an audio recording shouting racial slurs? It wasn’t that long ago. His career was over. Done. Kaput. And now, he has a fresh Oscar nomination for directing Hacksaw Ridge, a film that received five nominations overall. It seems that time and a war movie is all some people need to forgive and forget.
The Most Original Screenplay of 2016 Actually Got Nominated
Hey, would you look at that: the most original screenplay for any 2016 release was actually nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category. Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou’s The Lobster only won a single nomination, but a film this bizarre and singular getting any Oscar love is extraordinary. Look, a movie about an alternate reality where single people are forced to find a partner or get turned into animals isn’t going to stop the La La Land train, but it’s just happy to be here.
They Liked Arrival That Much?!
It’s only taken most of a century, but the Academy is finally starting to warm up to genre films. Following in the footsteps of Avatar, District 9 and Mad Max: Fury Road, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival tied Moonlight for the second most nominations with eight nods, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. That’s a huge for any movie, but for a science fiction movie about aliens arriving on Earth? That’s extraordinary. I was fully prepared to open this article with “But what about Arrival?”, but I’ll give credit where credit is due: the Academy got this one right.