This year’s Academy Awards are fast approaching, and the nominees are already making strides for Oscar history. Popular favorite La La Land received a record-tying 14 nominations, joining the ranks of 1950s drama All About Eve, and of course your favorite 1997 romance, Titanic.
Another record met is the number of people of color nominated for acting awards, matching with 2007’s number of seven actors. This comes as good news to many since absolutely no actors of color were nominated in the past two years, leading to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. In addition to these attributes, all of the films nominated for Best Picture have received a lot of attention, and the stiff competition in nearly every category should create a captivating show.
Multiple critics and media outlets hail as the year’s best film, Moonlight tells the story of the African-American and homosexual experience in 1980s Miami through the eyes of main character Chiron. The film follows Chiron from his childhood to him as a young adult, detailing the struggles of his sexuality, being bullied, and living alongside his emotionally abusive and drug addicted mother. The small-budget movie began to make waves at independent film festivals, where it soon garnered significant attention and praise for its performances, screenplay, and cinematography, which is often tinted with hues of blue and purple. Having won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama, it is definitely a frontrunner for winning Best Picture; many predict that both Moonlight and La La Land will be the main contenders for the top award. Supporting actor Mahershala Ali is also nominated and is definitely a fan favorite; he has already won over 20 awards for his performance as drug dealer Juan.
La La Land
Music, dancing, and romance seem to be the award ceremonies’ bread and butter: La La Land has not only been nominated for almost 200 awards, but also broke the record of amount of Golden Globes granted to one film with seven wins. Starring one of Hollywood’s favorite duos, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this movie shows a relationship between a barista and a restaurant jazz pianist who both aspire to make it big in Hollywood. Featuring grand musical numbers, the film has become cherished by the public due to its dreamlike, romantic quality and grand musical numbers that are reminiscent of the classics, such as Singin’ in the Rain. Directed by Damien Chazelle, the movie is a predicted recipient for the Best Picture award and Chazelle is also a shoo-in for Best Director. Stone and Gosling are also nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor.
Science fiction thriller Arrival depicts Oscar favorite Amy Adams as an expert linguist who is chosen to communicate with extraterrestrials as they randomly appear in different countries. It’s not your classic alien vs. human film; it’s crystal clear visuals alongside both a moving script and performances creates a poignant and emotional experience for the viewers. Arrival has been praised universally for its score and Adams’s performance; however, neither are nominated for Academy Awards. Many critics believe that Adams not being nominated for Best Actress is one of the year’s biggest snubs. Nevertheless, the film has eight nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Manchester by the Sea
A story of family and tragedy, Manchester by the Sea shows a broken family’s attempts to reconcile. After the death of his brother, protagonist Lee travels to their old hometown where he realizes that he has been granted guardianship of his brother’s teenage son. The film displays the ebbs and flows of their rocky relationship. Manchester by the Sea is nominated for six awards at the ceremony, including Best Supporting Actress for Michelle Williams in the role of an alcoholic mother and Best Supporting Actor for Casey Affleck in the role of Lee. Having won multiple other Best Actor awards, Affleck is also predicted to win at the big win. However, there has been some public outcry over Affleck’s possible win due to many sexual harassment lawsuits that have been filed against him by former coworkers.
Following in the footsteps of other critically praised broadway to screen adaptations, the stage production of Fences had won a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Awards when playwright August Wilson decided to write a screenplay for a film. Starring acting powerhouses Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the film follows the dynamic of a black family in 1950s Pittsburgh. Troy Maxson (Washington), a garbage collector becomes bitter and refusing when his son expresses interest in joining the NFL for it reminds of his failure to become a major league baseball player. In the meanwhile, Troy’s wife (Davis) discovers of his affair with another woman, and the couple became estranged, all while living in the same household. Fences has been hailed by critics for both its performances and screenplay, and Viola Davis is expected to receive the award for Best Supporting Actress. Her nomination this year has made history; she is now the first black woman to be nominated for three Academy Awards.
Lion, starring Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel, follows a young Indian boy who becomes lost from his birth family when he loses his brother on a train. After engaging on a long, winding journey to try to reach home, 5 year old Saroo is placed in an orphanage where he is then adopted by an Australian family. However, the mystery of his origins begin to eat him as he gets older, and he utilizes Google Earth to try to locate his family in India. Based on a true story, Lion is an uplifting and hopeful tale that received praise by both critics and the public. Kidman and Patel are both nominated in the Supporting Actress/Actor categories, and the film is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Another nominated film based on a true story, Hidden Figures illustrates the account of three black female mathematicians working at NASA, whose efforts led to many successful space missions and great achievements in computer science and engineering. The film follows their intelligence and dedication to the program, however they are often discriminated against and disrespected despite their contributions due to the color of their skin. Nevertheless, with great tenacity and willpower, the women accomplish great things and are eventually recognized by their colleagues. Many people had never heard of these great women, and along with superb performances, the movie became one of the highest grossing films nominated for an Oscar. The film is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Octavia Spencer is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for portraying mathematician Dorothy Vaughan.
Hacksaw Ridge tells the true war story of soldier and combat medic Desmond Doss, who rose to prominence after saving about 75 soldiers in World War II – all while refusing to carry any weapon due to his pacifist and religious beliefs. At first, Doss is berated by his fellow men for refusing to carry a rifle, but they soon begin to respect him after he selflessly goes back onto the battlefield to save the wounded. The film is directed by Mel Gibson and Doss is portrayed by British actor Andrew Garfield; they have both been greatly acclaimed and are both nominated for Academy Awards.
Hell or High Water
A modern take on the Western genre, Hell or High Water is a thriller of two brothers who go on several crime sprees in order to save their family’s soon-to-be foreclosed ranch. In elaborate bank-robbing efforts, the brothers attempt to gather enough money to save the family estate all while being trailed by two Texas Rangers. The film ensues in many high speed chases and shoot-outs that keep the viewers on their toes, and Jeff Bridges’s Oscar-nominated performance has resulted in many commendations. The film is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
By Shannon Stubbs