Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Academy Award nominations announced: La La Land ties record with 14 nominations

Moonlight, La La Land, and Lion all came away with multiple Oscar nominations this morning, including Best Picture.

There you have it. La La Land, from wunderkind writer-director Damien Chazelle, becomes just the third movie in Academy history to score 14 nominations, joining All About Eve and Forrest Gump. Both of those films won Best Picture, and the kind of momentum the throwback Hollywood musical is likely to receive from its record-setting nominations haul could carry it through to the big night.

In total, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated nine films for Best Picture this year, and those challenging La La Land for the top prize are those we pretty much expected: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight.

La La Land came away with every nomination it conceivably could have, being named for Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor (Ryan Gosling), Actress (Emma Stine), Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Costumes, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Score, and twice in Original song for “Audition (Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars.”

Mel Gibson directing Hacksaw Ridge
As we predicted here, the Academy matched the DGA 4-for-5, nominating Chazelle, Denis Villeneuve for Arrival, Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight but opting for Mel Gibson and Hacksaw Ridge over Garth Davis for Lion. Gibson’s big, bloody anti-war film came up big, also pulling down the all-important Editing nomination, notices in both sound categories, and recognition for Andrew Garfield in Best Actor.

Also with six nominations were Lion, which found room for both Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman in the respective Supporting categories, as well as Cinematography, Score, and Adapted Screenplay, and Manchester by the Sea, which as predicted secured only above-the-line nominations for Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and three acting awards, Casey Affleck in Actor, Lucas Hedges in Supporting Actor, and Michelle Williams in Supporting Actress.

Trailing La La Land with the second-most nominations were Villeneuve’s emotional sci-fi epic Arrival and Jenkins’ tender coming-of-age tale Moonlight, which each garnered eight nominations. Arrival’s haul was predicted, and it added Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, and Editing to its Picture and Director nominations. The strength of Moonlight, however, was the morning’s most pleasant surprise and indicates the Academy really loved this beautiful little film. In addition to Picture and Director, it picked up nods for Mahershala Ali in Supporting Actor, Naomi Harris in Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, and Score.

Hell or High Water (Picture, Original Screenplay, Jeff Bridges for Supporting Actor, and Editing) and Fences (Picture, Denzel Washington for Best Actor, Viola Davis for Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay) each came away with four nominations, while Hidden Figures trails the Best Picture nominees with three notices (Picture, Octavia Spencer for Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay).

Outside the Best Picture nominees, which sucked up most of the air in the room, the Academy spread the love around. Jackie came away with three nominations – Natalie Portman for Best Actress, Costumes, and Score – and no other film garnered more than two.

Ruth Negga in Loving
Joining Stone and Portman in Best Actress are Isabell Huppert for Elle, Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins, and, in a lovely surprise, Ruth Negga for Loving. Affleck, Garfield, Gosling, and Washington will be joined in Best Actor by Viggo Mortenson in Captain Fantastic. The Supporting Actress nominees – Davis, Harris, Kidman, Spencer, and Williams – all come from Best Picture nominees, as do four of the five Supporting Actor nominees – Ali, Bridges, Hedges, and Patel, who are joined by Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals.

It was a morning short on surprises, but the biggest one was probably Gibson getting in for Best Director. Perhaps this means the industry has forgiven him for the multiple personal scandals that made him a pariah for years, or perhaps it means only his artistry in bringing Hacksaw Ridge to the screen could not be denied.

Shannon and Negga were wonderful surprises in their respective categories. Shannon likely got in over co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson (while Hedges probably pushed out Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins), and Negga’s mention meant there was no room for Amy Adams in Arrival or Annette Bening for 20th Century Women, a performance which sadly never picked up steam this season in a crowded field, though the film did pick up a well deserved Original Screenplay nomination for writer-director Mike Mills.

My favorite nominations this morning came in the Documentary category, where a trio of powerful films about race in America dominated – O.J.: Made in America, I Am Not Your Negro, and 13th – joined by Fire at Sea and Life, Animated. I was delighted to see The Lobster nominated for Original Screenplay and to see Moana pull down two nominations, for Animated Feature and Original Song for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “How Far I’ll Go.” That August Wilson is an Academy Award nominee for writing Fences pleases me to no end, and both of Jackie’s crafts nominations were well earned.

It was unfortunate the Academy could find no room for Weiner in Best Documentary, nor anywhere for the powerful Irish drama I, Daniel Blake, which was a hit with the BAFTA but was probably too Anglo-centric for Oscar voters. I also wish the Academy would have given more consideration to Martin Scorsese’s masterful Silence, which was nominated only for its lush cinematography. Time will reveal Scorsese’s passion project to be the brilliant work of art that it is.

As for my predictions, I nailed Best Picture, with my nine most likely nominees all getting in. I had guessed Hell or High Water’s David Mackenzie bumping Lion’s Garth Davis over Gibson in Best Director. In Actor and Actress, I also hit four out of five, as the Academy went with Mortenson over my longshot pick, Jake Gyllenhaal for Nocturnal Animals, and Negga over Adams. I went 5-for-5 in Supporting Actress but just 3-for-5 in Supporting Actor, failing to predict Shannon over Taylor-Johnson and thinking Hedges’ age might keep him out for Grant. I hit Adapted Screenplay with a perfect 5-for-5 but missed 20th Century Women in Original, opting instead for Zootopia.

I have yet to see the online chatter – something I try to avoid under the best of circumstances anyway – but I enjoyed the Academy’s nominations show. It was fun seeing past nominees discuss what it felt like to wake up nominations morning and hear your name called, and I thought it was a breezy, fleet-footed affair that I would not mind seeing blown out even a little more.

As far as what might win when the statues are handed out, we will discuss that in great detail over the next five weeks, but La La Land is sitting pretty and could very well sweep this whole season. Moonlight, however, with its stronger-than-predicted showing, cannot be counted out just yet. We will know soon enough. Until then, I’ll see you at the movies.

For a full list of nominees, click here.

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