2017 Oscar Nominations: Snubs and Surprises

DGA (Directors’ Guild of America), WGA (Writers’ Guild of America),
PGA (Producers’ Guild of America), SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild)
BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts)

La La Land leads the 89th Academy Awards with 14 nominations, equalling the record with 1997’s Titanic and 1950’s All About EveMoonlight and Arrival followed with 8 each, and for the first time in three years, the ceremony will have nine best picture nominees: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Fences, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Lion, and Hidden Figures.  Manchester by the Sea showered with the most acting nominations (with three), Meryl Streep extends her record with her 20th nomination and Isabelle Huppert, another veteran, nabs her first Oscar nomination.  However, there were some unexpected nominees in the categories.  Let’s take a look.

SNUB: Amy Adams

One of the genuine shocks of the Oscar nominations of 2017 is the snubbing of Amy Adams.  Her tremendous work in Arrival (as well as Nocturnal Animals) lead everyone to presume the five-time nominee was a shoo-in for best actressShe missed out, despite Arrival getting eight other nominations, including best picture, director and screenplay.  Was the performance too understated?  Did her two movies split the votes?  She’s the only person this year to get nominations from SAG, Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice and not go on to get an Oscar nomination.

SNUB: Tom Ford and Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals’ Oscar love went up and down over the season, but even then, Tom Ford seemed to be in the conversation.  Best director was a tough category, but we’re surprised Ford’s name wasn’t mentioned in best adapted screenplay.  The acting across Nocturnal may have caused votes to split: Adams was leaning towards a nomination for Arrival, Jake Gyllenhaal found love nowhere (except the BAFTAs) and Michael Shannon and Aaron-Taylor Johnson were duking it out for supporting actor.  Despite doing well with Globes and BAFTAs, the film was only nominated for a single award.  Does the academy only look at Ford as a fashion designer?

SNUB: Silence

Besides Shutter Island, every Martin Scorsese movie since 2000 has received Best Picture and Director Oscar nominations.  Missing from this year’s Best Picture line-up (in a year where there were nine out of a possible ten nominees) was Scorsese’s passion project Silence.  Silence hadn’t always been in competition, with a late-release and slower, quiet pace.  But the film did gather some steam, making the AFI Top Ten Films List, and you have to remember that The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) was only nominated for a single award, for Scorsese’s direction.  The film’s title came true, with Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography being the film’s only nomination.

SURPRISE: Michael Shannon

When Nocturnal Animals premiered, many did predict Shannon would end up among the nominees.  He got a Critics’ Choice nod, but we weren’t entirely confident.  Shannon missed Golden Globes and Bafta nods to his showier co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson.  Despite stiff competition, Shannon did make the cut ahead of the likes of Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Ben Foster, and Issei Ogata.  I hope part of the reason was for not nominating him for last year’s 99 Homes.

SNUB: Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a great example of why Nocturnal Animals’ Oscar chances seemed nebulous.  Michael Shannon received critics’ support, but Taylor-Johnson surprisingly triumphed at Golden Globes (beating Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali) and received a BAFTA nod.  It felt like the Academy’s supporting actor category was going for mostly fresh faces.  In the end, the Acadmey went for Shannon, making Taylor-Johnson the first actor since Richard Benjamin in 1975’s The Sunshine Days to win a supporting performance Golden Globe and not go on to receive an Oscar nomination.

SNUB: Deadpool

We were always sceptical that Academy voters would come in force for an R-rated superhero comedy.  Deadpool, one of the earliest-released movies, was a triumphant for Ryan Reynolds and struck a chord with the critics.  At one point, it felt like it could be a real Oscar force, winning WGA, DGA, Globe, and PGA nominations.  The film’s relatively small-budget and ten-year development could have given the film a narrative to win a nod or two in the craft categories.  Despite this, Deadpool was completely shut-out, while all of the nine other PGA-nominees went on to receive best picture Oscar noms.

SNUB: Tom Hanks

Sully’s Oscar bid seemed dead in the water after Globe-BAFTA-SAG snubs.  It’s an interesting case: in a category that tends to reward veterans, Tom Hanks was left out of the best actor race.  Granted, it was an understated and solid performance, but the film ranked in more than $230 million worldwide and put Hanks back in awards conversation.  The Academy hasn’t nominated him since 2000’s Castaway and passed over his recent performances in Captain Philips, Saving Mr Banks and Bridge of Spies.  Instead, Sully’s only nomination was for sound editing.

SNUB: Annette Bening

Speaking of veterans, Annette Bening also failed to land an Oscar nomination for 20th Century Women after Globe and Critics Choice nominations.  The film only got a screenplay nomination.  Unlike Hanks, Bening has yet to win an Oscar after four previous nominations.  Granted, a nomination for Bening’s performance may have continued her awkward trend of losing Oscars to Hilary Swank and Natalie Portman (nominated for Jackie).

SNUB: Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant can make a performance look effortless, but never has he given one that won Golden Globe, Critics Choice, SAG, and BAFTA nominations simultaneously in his career.  It seemed the English actor had a strong chance to earn his first Oscar nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins.  Not every male actor can hold their own against Meryl Streep, and the fact that Grant wasn’t nominated is a bit of a surprise.  Perhaps he was lucky that the Critics’ Choice and Globes had those extra categories for comedy performances.

SNUB: Sing, Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets and Trolls in the animation category.

Pixar has dominated the animation category since Finding Nemo took home the award in 2004.  13 years later, the hotly-awaited sequel Finding Dory missed out on Oscars.  Although it was widely liked and a massive commercial hit, Finding Dory’s familiar setting may have hurt it chances when Disney had other offerings with fresh depth and political themes like Moana and Zootopia.  Sing, The Secret Life of Pets and Trolls were more generally-liked than absorbing, but Trolls still saw Justin Timberlake get a nod for the best-selling song of 2016, “Can’t Stop the Feeling”.





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