10 Talking Points from the 89th Academy Awards Nominations

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1. You might as well give La La Land Best Picture now- After scoring a record-equaling 14 nominations, La La Land is the most clear cut frontrunner we’ve had for Best Picture for many years. It’s pretty much unstoppable, and I wouldn’t bother predicting anything else to be honest.

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2. Though it was a very good day for Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea- It was a strong showing for the indie darlings at this year’s nominations, as Moonlight managed to score an impressive 8 nominations, while Manchester by the Sea scored a respectable 6, all coming in above the line categories. However, I think the rewards for the films will be coming in the acting categories- with Mahershala Ali winning for Moonlight in Best Supporting Actor, and Casey Affleck winning for Manchester by the Sea in Best Actor.

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3. Hell or High Water and Hacksaw Ridge cementing their positions as dark horses- I mentioned after the Critics’ Choice nominations, and the Golden Globe nominations, that these two films were ones to watch- and they’ve really delivered this season, much more than we originally expected early on in the season. Not only did they both get Best Picture nods, but HoHW getting into Best Editing, Original Screenplay, and Supporting Actor for Jeff Bridges, and Hacksaw Ridge getting into Best Editing, Director for Mel Gibson, and an overdue first nomination for Andrew Garfield, both their campaigns have to be applauded for sure.

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4. Arrival excels- but that Amy Adams snub stings- With the joint second most nominations with 8, tying with Moonlight, this sci-fi drama had a good showing, even though the notable snub of star Amy Adams is one that really hurts fans of the film, such as myself. That miss pretty much hands Best Actress to Emma Stone, as she remains the only contender in a Best Picture nominee. Still a good day for Arrival, that got big nods in Director and Editing, but may easily pull an American Hustle, or The Martian, in getting zero wins for it’s multiple nods.

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5. The Acting Branch recognise under the radar hits- While it’s pretty safe to say that the acting winners will probably come from Best Picture frontrunners (Manchester by the Sea, La La Land, Moonlight, Fences, etc.), the acting branch still managed to save room for performances from films that didn’t receive citation elsewhere, as Captain Fantastic (Viggo Mortensen), Loving (Ruth Negga), Elle (Isabelle Huppert), and Nocturnal Animals (Michael Shannon), all got their film’s only nominations in the acting categories, which is good to see as it shows a bit more creativity than just picking actors from the films they like.

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6. Some of the same traits are still in the Academy- There are few things we’ve learned from the Oscar nominations every year, and they were back in force proving us right yet again. The first of them, which is how I got my 100/1 outsider “No Guts No Glory” pick right, is that they love songs from documentaries- with this year’s contender being “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story. The second is the random film included in the 7-film bake off for Makeup and Hairstyling getting in- last year it was “The 100 Year Old Man…”, this year it was “A Man Called Ove”. And the third was the “well they made it this far inclusion” getting in, this year coming in the shape of Kubo and the Two Strings in Best Visual Effects, and Suicide Squad in Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

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7. Guilds prove once again to be better predictors than Precursors- If you are ever not sure what to pick for the Oscars, look at what the guilds picked. That’s always been the rule, and was proven again correct this year. That was clear to see in Best Picture, where all 9 nominees were also nominated at PGA, and in Cinematography where all 5 nominees matched up with ASC. Also, in the acting categories, 17 out of the 20 nominees were nominated at SAG (which is the same as the number 2 years ago), with only Emily Blunt, Amy Adams, and Hugh Grant missing out in favour of Isabelle Huppert (Globe winner+BFCA nominee), Ruth Negga (Globe+BFCA nominee), and Michael Shannon (BFCA nominee).

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8. Diversity makes headlines- After the last two years of #OscarsSoWhite, it was refreshing to see such a diverse lineup this year. After the last 40 acting nominees all being white, it’s nice to see 7 POC nominated in the acting categories (Denzel Washington, Ruth Negga, Mahershala Ali, Dev Patel, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, and Octavia Spencer), with a POC nominated in every acting category, as well as having POC representation in Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, and Editing.

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9. Best Visual Effects offers some questions- Following Ex Machina’s jaw-dropping victory in this category at last year’s ceremony, anything can happen in Visual Effects, and what was notable about this year’s nominees is that none of these come from Best Picture nominees, which has only happened once in the last 8 years. My money is on The Jungle Book, though it is the film’s only nomination, which could see Rogue One, Doctor Strange, or even Kubo take this. It’s a tough one to call.

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10. Prepare yourself for a boring ceremony- With La La Land so out front, and with it more than likely winning 11 Oscars on the night, this won’t nearly be as exciting as ceremonies past, where we are on the edge of our seats until the last minute. This is by no means taking aim at the film, but it will likely be a pretty boring ceremony, especially as many people found Mad Max: Fury Road winning 6 below the line Oscars last year dull. Let’s hope for some creativity in the winners, as we’ve seen a few glimpses of what the academy can do with their picks today.

The 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, are on Sunday 29th February 2017.


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