For the 89th annual Academy Awards, the nominations can be either predictable or surprising. This could easily be said of the movies themselves. There is always more to a movie than just acting and recording and this is what the Academy Awards focus on. There are directors, producers, cinematographers, makeup artists and many other contributors that work to bring these movies to life.
It will be no surprise when “La La Land” comes out with wins in at least half of their categories, seeing that the film met the record of fourteen nominations that “Titanic” set back in 1998. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the new-age musical has been in the headlines and gracing nearly every media site with high reviews since before its release in early December.
Hit movies like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Passengers” are surprisingly scarce on the nomination board, making appearances only in categories such as Costume Design and Production Design. Although these movies have great casts, scripts and overall production, the key characteristic this year tends to lean more towards a varied impact on the audience.
“Fences” and “Hidden Figures” both tell stories of black characters in the 1960’s who fight to show their worth in predominantly white spaces such as sports and aerospace mathematics respectively. They star Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, all of whom are nominated in their respected “Leading Role” or “Supporting Role” categories, although Taraji P. Henson was shockingly absent from the ballot.
“Fences” originated as a now Pulitzer Prize-winning play, but critique sites like Vulture say that the story “doesn’t resonate onscreen the way it does onstage.” On the other hand, “Hidden Figures,” according to The New York Times, is a “well-told tale with a clear moral and a satisfying emotional payoff.” Although this is a high praise, there is never a clear-cut answer as to whether the Academy agrees.
Another movie that proved to be quite impacting upon release, “Deepwater Horizon,” made its way into two categories, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. Being paired against other action movies like “Hacksaw Ridge,” a war story starring Andrew Garfield, and “Sully,” starring Tom Hanks. The winner will be a close call. Having to recreate true stories is a challenge in itself, but the editing of the environment to mimic times of a real-life disaster is where the magic happens.
“Suicide Squad,” a film that had high expectations fell into a much lower, understandable ranking, only being nominated in Makeup and Hairstyling. Although it included a star-studded cast and brought back memories of childhood action heroes and villains, it did not seem to hit that mark that should leave the audiences with full satisfaction. “Deadpool,” on the other hand, failed to even make it into the category.
The nominations for Animated Feature Film are interesting to say the least, seeing that “Finding Dory” failed to rank as well. The nominations, instead, include “Moana” and “Kubo and the Two Strings” which both hold characteristics of a truly great movie that children—and adults alike— found were worth the watch. Another nomination, “My Life as a Zucchini” is and should probably stay an unfamiliar name to give recognition to the lesson Pixar created with the familiar fish gang.
One thing besides surprising nominations that stands out is the mystery of how these nominations are considered. Some nominations may not always support the audience’s preference, and awards may not seem to be given out fairly when they lean towards one show-runner. However, it does show an interesting aspect of the film industry and how preference, design, and creativity are always changing.