Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.

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Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.

The nominations are announced.  We’ll recap the selections and give our thoughts on what’s missing.

The 2017 Academy Awards Nominations.

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
We’ve been playing the “walk off” music for twenty minutes. She just keeps going!

Well, lo and behold.  After getting a scaling last year for lack of diversity, The Academy of Motion Pictures actually seems to have widened it’s field of vision.  Sure, some of the same names you always see are here, *cough* Meryl Streep.  At this point, shouldn’t Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep just get to come up on stage and give a speech without winning anything.  Wouldn’t change the show markedly and would maybe allow somebody else to get a nomination.  The Hanks/Streeps Award for longevity.  That sounds about right.

Some might point to the three majors of Best Actor, Actress and Best Director as having merely a token offering to people not lily white, but I have to say that the focus on films that tell stories that are not completely straight, white, and male dominated is a breath of fresh air.  Highlighting those stories means more of those stories get told, and we organically broaden the field.

(La La) Landing with a Thud.

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
Maybe if we surround them with musical talent, nobody will notice?

That being said, it’s a rant article, so here’s where my fire is:  La La Land.  What the jumped up dancing fuck?  14 nominations?  I didn’t know they gave out Best Best Boy and Key Grip awards, but apparently La La Land was just technically amazing on all fronts.  Joking aside, this film is not deserving of tying the most Nominations categories, though to be fair neither was Titanic.  Usually the Academy throws out one approachable film for the proles, but is La La Land even that approachable?  The story of two comfortably upper middle class beautiful white people who want to be in showbiz?  It’s catnip for insiders, and a waste of nominations for all but choreography and directing.

 

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
Can I take a moment to remind you that we KNOW Oscar Isaac can sing and dance?

It features two actors who can’t really sing or dance in a musical.  Was every other pretty white person with a couple years of tap under their belt already taken?  I can’t see either leads deserving the best actor or actress nod, and because of their iffy voices, I don’t see either song from this film that got nominated as being anything worth remembering.  I remember the music from X-Men Apocalypse more fondly.  (No, seriously, Sweet Dreams should have gotten a nomination dammit.)

Anywho, since the Oscars always leave somebody out in the cold, I’m going to look at the nominations and tell you who I would add to each major category…and who I would drop like a stone.

Category:  Best Picture.

Arrival

Fences

-Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

-Manchester by the Sea

-Lion

-Moonlight

Thoughts: 

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.A fairly balanced list here.  And dear god, is that a Western up for an Oscar?  And a Musical?  Oh my stripes and garters, there is even a Science Fiction movie!  Welcome to the future.

I would have to say that the films that I think are the weakest links up there, it would have to be Arrival and La La Land.  Arrival was a very technically wonderful movie, with an aesthetic and dedication to composition that reminded me of Stanley Kubrick, but I don’t think the movie itself is one of the best films, either this year or even in the Sci Fi genre of late.  La La Land was charming and full of nostalgia, but was pretty flimsy and aimed at a very inside-showbiz audience.  Plus Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling having trouble singing and dancing in a musical should be a disqualification.

Add One, Subtract One:

I would take La La Land out of the running, and I would put in The Hunt for the Wilderpeople.  This one went under lots of radars, but had fine acting, a compelling plot, and mixed humor and sadness in equal measures.

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
I’ll take a pissed-off Sam Neill any day.

Category:  Best Actor.

-Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea.

-Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge.

-Ryan Gosling, La La Land.

-Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic.

-Denzel Washington, Fences.

Thoughts:

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.I can’t say that any of the above performances really struck me with their quality, except possibly Viggo Mortensen for the criminally overlooked Captain Fantastic.  I think Andrew Garfield has been showing he is capable of more than was expected, but hasn’t reached Oscar winning levels yet.  On the opposite end, I think Denzel Washington maybe turned in too strong a performance, and seemed to be orating at times instead of acting.  Ryan Gosling…meh.  I could totally see him getting a nod for The Nice Guys, but La La Land is just too bland.

Add One, Subtract One:

I’m going to remove Casey Affleck on the grounds that he’s a little creep.  In his place I would probably put Adam Driver for his role in Jim Jarmusch’s film, Paterson, another film that didn’t get as much love as I thought it would.

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
See? They all liked it!

Category:  Best Actress.

-Isabelle Huppert, Elle.

-Ruth Negga, Loving.

-Natalie Portman, Jackie.

-Emma Stone, La La Land.

-Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins.

Thoughts:

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
Get a hanky ready for that acceptance speech.

Best Actress is always the hardest category.  Very rarely does the nomination sync up with any other category, meaning you’re not very likely to have seen any of these films for other reasons.  I’ve only seen La La Land, and though I like Emma Stone, she’s not exactly killing it in that film.  I think it was a mistake for Viola Davis to take herself out of the running for this one.  First, she was amazing in Fences, and every bit a leading lady.  Second, it makes picking best supporting so much harder and potentially hurts an actress who had a fantastic but smaller performance.

Add One, Subtract One:

I’m taking Emma Stone out of this one and putting Viola Davis back in.  Sorry, it’s your time to shine for that amazing role.

Category:  Best Supporting Actor.

-Mahershala Ali, Moonlight.

-Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water.

-Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea.

-Dev Patel, Lion.

-Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals.

Thoughts:

No real gripes about this category.  I liked most of those performances, though I do think it’s insider baseball that Dev Patel is being offered for best supporting instead of best actor.  Not because he was amazing, but because there’s no damn way he’s not the lead in that movie.   It’s a crappy dodge to punch down into a category where some of these folks only had a tiny fraction of his screen time.

Add One, Subtract One:

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
Stuck sucking up to Spider-Man for a whole 3 hours. Great.

For the same reason as Viola Davis, I’m going to take Dev Patel out of this one.  Wrong category.  You don’t get to suddenly change your weight class just to get a better shot at winning.  I would add in Yosuke Kubozuka for his role as Kichijiro in Scorsese’s Silence.  What did work in that movie’s story is due almost entirely to Kubozuka and Tadanobu Asano’s assisting roles, and Kichijiro is a hard character to make believable and sympathetic.

Category:  Best Supporting Actress.

-Viola Davis, Fences.

-Naomie Harris, Moonlight.

-Nicole Kidman, Lion.

-Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures.

-Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea.

Thoughts:

So, about how I said Viola Davis being in this category instead of Best Actress really screws the pooch?  Yup, sure does.  It’s hard to pick against her here, and that is a damn shame because Octavia Spencer turned in a career defining performance in Hidden Figures, and Naomie Harris had a break out turn in Moonlight.  Goddamn studio politics for making this clusterfuck.

Add One, Subtract One:

Suffice to say, Viola is out (and in as Best Actress.)  I think my pick for best supporting actress would have to be for Helen Mirren for Eye in the Sky.  Not the most august of films, but she can turn any role into an award winner.

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
You need me at the Awards ceremony? On it.

Category:  Animated Feature.

Kubo and the Two Strings.

Moana.

-My Life as a Zucchini.

-The Red Turtle.

Zootopia.

Thoughts:

Here’s the category that I think had the most “WTF?” nominations.  Kubo and Zootopia just don’t feel up to the Oscar level of unique achievement.  They’re formulaic and middle of the road, despite being very pretty.  Moana was pretty, but nothing that really stood out from the pack of Disney’s usual fare.  The list of films that got forgotten is sooo much stronger:  The Little Prince, Miss Hokusai, Long Way North, Little Door Gods, Another Day of Life, and my pick to replace…

Add One, Subtract One:

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
No, dear, that is NOT how a “write in ballot” works. Stop that.

I would take Zootopia off the list.  I would like to take Moana off too, but it had some really nice technical features that I think are should really have moved it into another category.  My replacement would be Your Name.  This anime from Japan blew up the box office there, and has a gripping story about gender and self-acceptance, all wrapped up in a beautiful package that is highly watchable.

-Category:  Best Director.

-Denis Villeneuve, Arrival.

-Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge.

-Damien Chazelle, La La Land.

-Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea.

-Barry Jenkins, Moonlight.

Thoughts:

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
Just saying…

The expected results.  Best director and best film almost always line up like this.  I have to say that exploring Denis Villeneuve’s catalogue a couple months back has made me a huge fan…I just don’t think Arrival is the strongest of his films.  Damien Chezelle I actually like for director but not for best film, since he really channeled the golden age of musicals into his movie with real aplomb.  Mel Gibson…ain’t no way in hell the Academy is going to give him an award after his implosion.  Moonlight is fine film, but nothing in it really screamed “check out this director, that is some stylish work!”

Add One, Subtract One:

I take Mel Gibson off the list for being a douche.  I put The Daniels (Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan) on for their audaciously funny and moving film (and my favorite experience of the year) Swiss Army Man.  If they keep up that level of well made anarchy, I think they’ll be in a category with Wes Anderson.

Sunday Night Rant: 2017 Oscar Nominations.
Open your eyes, people!

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