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My Thoughts on the 2017 Oscar Nominees



If you are the type of person who likes to know other people’s opinions on things, usually to validate your own opinions, then read on! (I’m the same way)

At the end of this article, I provided a list of movies that came out in 2016 that I thought were great even if the Academy did not think so.

An underline means that you can click on the movie title and be led to my review of the movie. If I have not yet seen the movie, I put an * by it.

Only read the below statement if you have a cold heart:

###################If you get worked up over this article, cool it. All of these filmmakers are incredible, and I would give my left big toe to be in their position. I’m just having some fun, perhaps you should try it.#########################



Best Picture:
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures* (Doesn’t open in France until March 8…sigh…..)
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Who I would vote for: I did not give any movie of 2016 4/4 stars. As with any movie lover, I have very high expectations for this category. I think the Academy should become like the Pulitzer Prize peeps and make it possible to go a year without giving the award. Preserve the sanctity of the honor. *steps off soapbox, like halfway down* {{All of these movies were lovely whilst in the theater, but we are talking about putting one in a box collection set next to The Departed, The Godfather, and All About Eve. We can’t fling just anything in the box….}} To start, I don’t reallllyyy get why Lion was nominated, and I think if it was released at any other time other than Oscar-season it would be overlooked. It was a solid movie, though. Arrival disappointed me in more ways than one. If think that’s a stupid opinion to hold, go see Denis Villeneuve’s other movies. They are way better and never got any Oscar love. I thought Fences was a brilliant movie, but much too like the stage-version to be an overall best picture winner. Manchester by the Sea is in the same boat as Fences: brilliant writing and acting but the other cinematic factors (music, editing, cinematography) are never given time to shine. Hacksaw Ridge was exhilarating to watch, but I can’t answer the question of how this movie was different, how it stood out, how it will inspire change in war movies to come. It didn’t stay in my mind too long after. Hell or High Water was much better than I initially thought it would be (I try to not pre-judge movies, but when there’s a bunch of cowboys on the poster and “hell” in the title, I can’t help by roll my eyes). Taylor Sheridan’s script was tight and entertaining. The music by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was wonderful. Again, it didn’t blow my socks off. The ending was satisfying, maybe too much so. I doubt I’ll think about it a month from now. Okay, now I can move on to the last two movies who I think contributed something new and exciting to cinema’s history this year: Moonlight is by far the most original and daring of the nominees. A unique story told by a newbie filmmaker, combined with a wonderful solo-violin score, visually stunning and innovative cinematography, and poignant performances make Moonlight simply different from the rest. If you read my review, you’ll see that I wasn’t wholly satisfied with the film. However, I happily acknowledge the total brilliance of Barry Jenkins: I’m jealous that this was only his second movie. I cannot wait to see what he does next. Now, for my pick: La La Land. A movie that suffers from a severe case of over-hypeness…which is why I went to see it a second time. Last week, I sat in a huge Parisian Pathé movie theater and enjoyed seeing my home from the other side of the world. I liked La La Land when I first saw it. Then I was bothered by how everyone loved it. I felt I needed to see it again to confirm what thought of it, who cares what others say? Here’s the verdict: I do love the movie. Damien Chazelle combined the new and classic seamlessly. The camera and editing have a life of their own, telling the story when the script seemed cliché beyond belief. The music, well, I find it hard to believe that anyone really hates the soundtrack. The acting is sweet and sincere. My biggest complaint (and I know I am not alone) is that the script was a bit bland. Seeing the movie again made me realize that I’m not wholly bothered by the traditional script as much as I thought. It makes the story feel too safe…or just comfortable. Depends on the day you watch it. I love the movie. I do not care that everyone else also loves the movie (probably more than me). I do not care that a lot of people think the movie is overrated. From 2016, it is clearly the best picture, the best movie watching experience, and the best step forward in the future of cinema.

Actor in a Leading Role:
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Who I would vote for: Denzel Washington. HOWEVER, I have seen all of these performances, and I think Best Actor is one of the toughest categories this year. There is not one performance from these nominees that I do not think deserves to be honored. Bravo!!!!

Actress in a Leading Role:
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)*
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Who I would vote for: Isabelle Huppert. I also think Natalie Portman did a stellar job. I would be very happy if she won. Of course, I find this category to be very weak (see comments for supporting actress category). I just have to say itEmma Stone does not deserve her nomination. She did a perfectly OK job in an otherwise excellent movie. To be fair, the script did not give her a lot to work with. But still, I’m not a fan of her performance. And lastly, Meryl. For her to win again, she would have to be so undeniably sensational that it would be a crime to not give her a fourth statuette.

Actor in a Supporting Role:
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Who I would vote for: Mahershala Ali. He was DYNAMITE. Like the best actor category, I am impressed with all the performances. But, Mahershala Ali deserves it for his performance.

Actress in a Supporting Role:
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)*
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Who I would vote for: I HAVE A LOT OF THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS CATEGORY. So here’s the thing: Viola Davis will win this award. Why? Because she is utter perfection in Fences—so much so, in my opinion, that if she were nominated in the Best Actress category like she should be, she would win that too. I know that supporting actress is becoming the award that leading ladies are reducing their performances to in order to win (Like Alicia Vikander’s performance last year), but this has got to stop. Viola is one of the finest actresses alive right now. I agree with many others that she deserves an Oscar. But, but but….I wish the promotion people would have believed in her performance enough and not overestimated the hype surrounding Natalie Portman’ in Jackie. For in my opinion, Michelle Williams gave the best performance by a supporting actress. She absolutely did. I still think about the scene with her and Casey Affleck’s character when they run into one another. I feel bad she will lose out on her Oscar to Viola Davis. But then again, Viola Davis gave one of the absolute best supporting actress performances in Doubt (2006) loosing to Penélope Cruz in a Woody Allen flick. So there’s injustice all around. But I just had to put it out there. 

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Who I would vote for: Damien Chazelle. Come on, y’all. It was his vision. His baby. He took a potentially s-t-u-p-i-d attempt at capitalizing on American’s nostalgia for classic cinema and made something exciting and enjoyable for years to come. I am a huge fan of Denis and Kenneth though. I want them to have all the awards!!! But the movies they are nominated for are not even their best!!!! I am a youngin so I don’t remember any of the Mel drama, but I’m pretty sure Hollywood hate his guts and wouldn’t give him any award. I don’t think I would either…Andrew Garfield is the one and only reason (ok also the editing) why Hacksaw Ridge was so dang good. And I’ve already talked about how awesome Barry Jenkins is in my BP thoughts.

Best Animated Feature Film:
Kubo and the Two Strings*
The Red Turtle*
My Life as a Zucchini*

Who I would vote for: I haven’t seen 3 of these movies! When did they come out? Did I just miss something??? Where is Finding Dory??????????? But like, Zootopia was better than Moana so I guess I would go with that.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Moonlight, Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney
Arrival, Eric Heisserer
Lion, Luke Davies
Fences, August Wilson
Hidden Figures*, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi

Who I would vote for: Fences by August Wilson. The monologues still give me chills. OoooOOOoooooo

Best Original Screenplay:

La La Land, Damien Chazelle
Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
20th Century Women*(doesn’t open in France until March 1) Mike Mills

Who I would vote for: Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea. His movies do not feel like scripts. Go see his movie Margaret.

Best Original Song:
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” Trolls
“The Empty Chair*,” Jim: The James Foley Story

Who I would vote for: DANG IT LIN. Hamilton-god Lin-Manuel Miranda had to write stellar music the year a musical stole the entire show. La La Land is the Hamilton of the Oscars this year and “City of Stars” is my pick. Sorryyyyyy, it’s just such a fantastic song.

Best Original Score:
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz
“Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
“Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Jackie,” Mica Levi
“Passengers,” Thomas Newman

Who I would vote for: This category has some of the strongest competition. I LOVE the score of ALL of these (except Passengers). I am utterly astonished that the score for Nocturnal Animals was not nominated; it is wonderful. OK, this is painful but I just gotta pick……Moonlight may just be the best in an incredible year for film scoring, even though Dustin O’Halloran is one of my all-time favorite composers. Side note: I made a Spotify playlist of the scores for these movies, along with my other favorite scores. Feel free to check it out: https://open.spotify.com/user/bubbagumpxx/playlist/07LaWE2GOEnfDfpNKS8S03

Best Cinematography:
Moonlight, James Laxton
La La Land, Linus Sandgren
Arrival, Bradford Young
Silence, Rodrigo Prieto
Lion, Greig Fraser

Who I would vote for: La La Land. Although, Silence is a reallllyyyyyyy close second for me. I would lose maybe 30 minutes of sleep over this one. But the opening number edges La La Land just that much ahead to win.

Best Production Design:

“La La Land,” David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock
“Arrival,” Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte
“Hail, Caesar!,”  Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
“Passengers,” Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena

Who I would vote for: Arrival but also I’m not that passionate about the nominees in this category.

Best Visual Effects”
“The Jungle Book,” Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story*,” John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould
“Doctor Strange*,” Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
“Deepwater Horizon*,” Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
“Kubo and the Two Strings*,” Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff

Who I would vote for: I’ve literally only seen one of these movies. I have Kubo downloaded on my computer to watch this weekend though….

Best Costume Design:
La La Land, Mary Zophres
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Colleen Atwood
Florence Foster Jenkins, Consolata Boyle
Jackie, Madeline Fontaine
Allied*, Joanna Johnston

Who I would vote for: Re-creation does not merit an Oscar, IMO. If it did, I would say Jackie. But the costume design in La La Land was of another standard. Emma Stone’s yellow dress against the purple backdrop of Los Angeles is already a classic.

Best Makeup and Hair Styling:
Star Trek Beyond, Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson
A Man Called Ove*, Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

Who I would vote for: I don’t have a lot of credibility on this…but I was not impressed at all with the makeup for Suicide Squad so I’m gonna have to go with Star Trek Beyond. 

Best Film Editing
La La Land, Tom Cross
Moonlight, Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon
Hacksaw Ridge, John Gilbert
Arrival, Joe Walker
Hell or High Water, Jake Roberts

Who I would vote for: John Gilbert for Hacksaw Ridge. I don’t think Tom Cross got to have as much fun editing La La Land as he did with Whiplash. If having lots of fast inserts of someone pouring coffee before a scene constitutes as the most exciting editing, then nope. Sorry, Tom. Still love you though. Moonlight was so slow, like all the editors had to do was go back and forth between two people sitting next to each other but not talking. I saw Arrival a few months ago, so I did not have the editing in mind while watching but it did not blow me away since I didn’t notice it all. That’s just good ole conventional, solid editing. Same for Hell or High Water.

Best Sound Editing”
“La La Land,” Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
“Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare
Sully,” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Deepwater Horizon*,” Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli

Who I would vote for: I don’t think I have any authority on this. Hacksaw maybe because a war movie just sounds like a labor intensive sound design project. But Arrival had a lot of really cool sounds, so maybe them? Idk?

Best Sound Mixing:
“La La Land,” Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story*,” David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
“Arrival,” Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi*,” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Who I would vote for: Ahhhh who likes picking this category?? Do you keep track of the volume at which sound effects/dialogue/music was played while watching a movie??? Yes? Good for you.

Best foreign language film
Toni Erdmann*
The Salesman*
Land of Mine*
A Man Called Ove*

These movies are difficult to track down.I do have A Man Called Ove downloaded to watch this weekend. Haven’t been able to access any of the others though. Wish I could.

Categories no one has seen the nominees for (or even knows how to go about seeing them, for that matter): Best animated short film, Best live action short film, Best documentary short subject.


Paterson, The Edge of Seventeen, Nocturnal Animals, I, Daniel Blake, Other People, Hunt for the Wilder People, IndignationMaggie’s Plan, The Meddler


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