And The Contenders Are

by Danielle Bozzone

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

In 2016, the Oscars were host to long-awaited moments: Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home a trophy after five nominations, critical and commercial darling Mad Max: Fury Road took home the most awards with six and the ode to hard-hitting journalism Spotlight took home Best Picture. However, the ceremonies were overshadowed by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

This year’s Oscars hope to be host to more magical moments as the nominees more accurately reflect both the globalized media landscape of today and the diversity of talent in the industry. Here are the highlights, the surprises and the snubs of 2017’s Oscar race.

HIGHLIGHTS

After its record-breaking run at the Golden Globes, La La Land unsurprisingly earned the most nominations with a record-tying 14. Any movie that made audiences want to dance, sing and celebrate life amid a tumultuous 2016 undoubtedly deserves praise. While it will almost certainly take home awards for Original Score and Original Song, the big categories present plenty of competition.

There are a total of nine films nominated for Best Picture, one more than last year, with heavy hitters like Moonlight, Manchester By the Sea and Hidden Figures that could present a challenge to the apparent favorite La La Land.

Meryl Streep, whose speech was one of the standout moments at this year’s Globes, earned her 20th nomination, Lin-Manuel Miranda is one step closer to his EGOT, Ruth Negga earned her first nomination as Best Actress in Loving and Dev Patel was nominated for the first time since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire for his performance in Lion.

Additionally, the nominees this year are practically the antithesis to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. The Denzel Washington-directed Fences earned a Best Picture nomination as well as a Best Actor nomination for Washington, who also stars in the film, and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Viola Davis. Barry Jenkins’ masterful Moonlight, which tackles the often-undiscussed topic of black masculinity and sexuality, earned a total of eight nominations— the second highest number of nominations this year.

SNUBS

In almost every year for the past two decades, Martin Scorsese has earned a Best Picture nomination for all of his films except Shutter Island (whose omission was by no means a snub) and Silence (which is definitely a snub). Silence, despite earning praise across the board, earned only a single nomination for Best Cinematography.

Five-time nominee Amy Adams, who is shaping up to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio in the eyes of the Academy, entirely missed out on being nominated. Despite stellar performances in both Nocturnal Animals and Arrival, Adams failed to secure a Best Actress nomination.

Taraji P. Henson missed out on any nominations despite a heavily praised performance in Hidden Figures. Her co-star Janelle Monae was also absent from Best Actress nominations despite celebrated performances in both Hidden Figures and Moonlight.

The Best Animated Picture category is host to big names like Moana and Zootopia, but blockbuster Finding Dory surprisingly lost out to My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle—neither of which have had releases outside of Cannes and their home countries.

SURPRISES

Absent from the list of Best Picture nominees were big names like Jackie and Loving. However, both films earned Best Actress nominations for Natalie Portman and Ruth Negga, respectively.

Although Elle earned a nomination through Isabelle Huppert’s nomination for Best Actress, the film was absent from the Best Foreign Language Picture category.

Hacksaw Ridge earned a Best Director nod for Mel Gibson and a Best Actor nomination for Andrew Garfield. However, it is absent from other categories dominated by fellow Best Picture films like Best Adapted Screenplay/Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor/Actress.

Another snub was Hidden Figures that went without a single nomination in the technical categories and missed out on Best Director. While Hell or High Water earned Jeff Bridges a Best Supporting Actor Nomination and a nod for Original Screenplay, it failed to appear in the directing or technical categories (save for a nod for Best Film Editing).

Finally, Suicide Squad as an Oscar nominee may be the greatest surprise of all.