Oscars 2017: What They Got Right & Wrong

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Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

Does #OscarsSoWhite still resonate? Are peeps really that into musicals? Is Scorsese passé?

Disappointments, surprises, and contentions galore—let’s take a look at what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and all involved in the Oscars process got right and what they got wrong with the list of nominations just released. From a record-breaking number of nominations for black actors, to the puzzling omission of a legendary actress, peep the breakdown below.

What They Got Right:

  • La La Land: Mostly, the film dazzled critics and audiences alike, so the number of nominations was not a surprise.
  • Moonlight: Barry Jenkins is the fourth black director to be nominated for Best Director. If he wins, he would be only the second black director ever to have nabbed the award. Moonlight received eight nominations in total.
  • #OscarsNotAsWhite?: The list of nominations this year undoubtedly recognizes a more diverse pool of talent, with a record number of nominations for black actors—six in total. Black directors also dominate the Documentary category, making up four out of the five nominated. In addition, the academy’s second ever nomination for a Black DP was also the academy’s first nomination for a Black American, Bradford Young (Arrival).
  • A Nod to the Offbeat: A nice move from the Academy with Viggo Mortensen’s inclusion in the Best Actor category for his turn in Captain Fantastic—an *interesting* story of a rogue father raising his children in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

What They Got Wrong:

  • Best Actress Snubs: Annette Bening gave one of the best performances of her storied career in 20th Century Women. Amy Adams was arguably the heart of Arrival, a widely praised movie, and yet was passed over. Each actress has been nominated for Oscars multiple times before—Amy with five, Annette with four—but still have no wins, making their omission even more unfortunate.
  • Scorsese: The legendary director’s passion project only managed to snag a lone nomination for cinematography.
  • A Blind Eye to Krisha: This indie darling was a festival circuit favorite. Though recognizably polarizing, we’re surprised it didn’t make it into at least one category.
  • Park Chan-wook: South Korea kept Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden out of the running by submitting The Age of Shadows as its official entry for Best Foreign Language Film instead. In fact, South Korea has never submitted any of Park Chan-Wook’s films, despite him being arguably the most recognized director’s name overseas.
  • Original Song: Are La La Land’s songs really so exceptional that they deserved two slots out of the five available?
  • The Witch: Tough competition against higher-budget projects meant we all knew this film would never make it in above-the-line categories—especially without a formal Oscars campaign—but it’s a shame that The Witch didn’t even make it in categories such as production, cinematography, and costume design. Still, it’s not exactly a secret that the Academy doesn’t really hold horror in high regard.
  • Deadpool: This superhero slash genre film won over critics with its snarky, irreverent humor, its embrace of its R-rating violence, breaking the fourth wall, and more. The combination of multiple nods from the Golden Globes and winning Critics Choice awards lead many to believe this might finally be the year a superhero movie made the nominations, perhaps at least in technical categories such as best Best Visual Effects or Costume Design. They were, unfortunately, wrong.
  • Casey Affleck: Under scrutiny due to the resurfacing of now-settled sexual assault lawsuits from former colleagues and other allegations, the big question was whether the Awards scene would take a hint from the swift reaction to Nate Parker’s debacle and take a stand in affirming the gravity of such allegations. Many in the industry have echoed serious concerns about what his awards season recognitions may signal, including Fresh Off The Boat actress, Constance Wu:

To view the full list of nominees, click here. Or dive in here for more on what goes on behind the Oscars and how non-voters can influence the process.

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