Reactionary Tale: Oscar Nominations 2017

Biggest Snubs (in order from most to least egregious)
1. Arrival – Actress
Arrival really could not have done better among this year’s nominees. It had the highest gross of any Best Picture nominee, and its director Denis Villeneuve got his first nomination. Add in a slew of technical nods (most well-deserved for its gorgeous cinematography and production design) and it might end up earning the most awards after La La Land. But how did Amy Adams miss out? I know this was a surprisingly strong year for lead actresses, but Adams is a five-time nominee who completely carries a Best Picture nominee. Her absence makes absolutely no sense. But then again, neither did 2016.

2. 20th Century Women – Actress
This was always an uphill battle, but it hurts the most. A four-time nominee, this was her best role to date. But she was a victim of overcrowding. Yet it’s almost fitting for a movie about a woman who doesn’t quite get her due in life.

3. Christine – Actress
This was never going to happen, but to me this was the best lead actress performance of 2016. With a bigger studio pushing it, she might have sneaked in. After all, it is a performance filled with blood, sweat and tears about a real-life tragic figure. But it was not meant to be, and so Rebecca Hall goes unheralded for another year.

4. Silence – Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
I won’t beat around the bush: Silence is a tough hang. But it’s a masterfully crafted, deeply personal film that we’ll all be talking about for much longer than most of these nominees. I’d have given it much more attention than the Academy gave it, and you’ll look back in years and wonder why they didn’t.

5. Sing Street – Original Song
Guys. I know La La Land is the big musical. But c’mon, none of the other songs nominated are nearly as good and energetic as “Drive It Like You Stole It.”

6. Tower and Weiner – Documentary Feature
Another victim of overcrowding, there just happened to be an abundance of stellar documentaries, many of them dealing with race relations. That meant school shooting doc Tower and political disaster Weiner found themselves on the outside.

7. Hail, Caesar! – Costume Design, Original Screenplay
While it did get nominated for its gorgeous Production Design, it absolutely deserved another craft nod for its stellar costumes. And, as usual, the Coen Brothers write dialogue better than just about anyone, I’d say it probably should have gotten a slot for original screenplay. Somehow, they’ve only been nominated in that category for Best Picture nominees (Fargo and A Serious Man; plus Bridge of Spies, which doesn’t really feel like a Coen Brothers movie).

8. 10 Cloverfield Lane – Supporting Actor
John Goodman should have been nominated over Alan Arkin for Argo. I’ll defend that forever. And he should have been nominated here as well, if the Academy didn’t have such a genre bias. He’s terrifying and memorable, just like winner Kathy Bates was in Misery.

9. Certain Women – Supporting Actress
With Certain Women being writer-director Kelly Reichardt’s first movie to pass $1 million, there was no way Lily Gladstone was going to get nominated this year. But I’m still trying to find a performance that touched me as deeply as her major debut.

10. Sausage Party – Original Song, Animated Feature
I guess South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut getting nominated for “Blame Canada” was a total fluke, as joke songs have rarely been nominated since (except for winner “Man or Muppet,” which still has that torch song vibe). But “The Great Beyond” has the award-winning pedigree, but the obscenity of the movie kept it away from the apparent dandies in both the song and animated feature categories.

Pleasant Surprises (in no particular order)
Kubo and the Two Strings nominated for Visual Effects
For the first time since The Nightmare Before Christmas, an animated movie is nominated in this category. And given its painstaking craft, this is absolutely deserved.

Jackie nominated for Original Score and Costume Design
Natalie Portman was a lock, but nothing else was, especially its challenging score by Mica Levi. Its costumes were outstanding, too.

Suicide Squad nominated for Make-up and Hairstyling
Make no mistake: Suicide Squad is a giant pile of garbage. But its make-up – from the prosthetic effects on Killer Croc to the paleface make-up and colorful hair of the Joker and Harley Quinn – this is the one award-worthy aspect of one of the year’s worst movies.

Silence nominated for Cinematography
It won’t win, but I’ll be rooting for it. Rodrigo Prieto frames every scene exactly it as it needs to play out, plus that instantly iconic shot of Andrew Garfield seeing Christ’s reflection in the water.

20th Century Women nominated for Original Screenplay
I went out on a limb to predict this, and I’m glad I did. Mike Mills’ script would get my vote (at least since Moonlight was officially ruled an adaptation). But it’s not going to happen, so this nomination – the film’s only one – is reward enough.

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