After months of predictions and politicking we now have our 2017 Academy Awards nominees. As expected a majority of the love went to La La Land, which reaped a record tying 14 nominations, with the acclaimed films Moonlight and Arrival also reaping an impressive 8 nominations each. Of course this is awards season and for every artist whose cellphone is being bombarded with congratulation messages, there are a dozen who feel the sting of having their work passed over. Let's take a look at some of the most surprising and upsetting nominations.
Amy Adams and Annette Bening snubbed for Meryl Streep
Look, we all love Meryl. She's an icon, a role model and one of the hardest working women in Hollywood. That said, I guarantee no one will ever look back on her career and list Florence Foster Jenkins in even her top 15 best performances. Yet, the Academy must love getting to hang out with her on Oscar night because they've given her a 19th nomination at the expense of two stunning and deserving performances. Between Bening's nuanced portrayal of an aging single mother in 20th Century Women and Adams' grounded work as a linguist facing extraordinary circumstances in Arrival the voters could have honored bolder work than Streep's eccentric singer.
JT Crashes Best Song
So I guess we can now start saying Academy Award Nominee Justin Timberlake, after the pop singer scored a nomination for his hit song "Can't Stop the Feeling", from the movie Trolls. Facing stiff competition from resurgent movie musicals like La La Land and Moana, Timberlake brings a touch of the pop world to the proceedings. Though he's a long shot for the actual award, his recognition will hopefully attract other high profile pop artists to continue to share their work with the film community and audiences alike.
Hacksaw Ridge Outperforms Expectations
For better or worse, The Academy appears to have made its peace with the past actions and remarks of Mel Gibson and given his new film Hacksaw Ridge several major nominations including Best Picture and a Best Direction for Gibson himself. And while an artist's personal life and his work should likely be separated, it's difficult to accept the love when there are several deserving nominees including Denzel Washington's impressive work behind the camera with Fences or David Mackenzie's breakthrough contributions on Hell or High Water. During a time with so much hateful rhetoric making it's way through the country, it's hard not to wish the film community had chosen to honor an artist with less baggage.
Deadpool Misses It's Shot
Believe it or not, Ryan Reynold's crude and violent superhero satire had slowly but surely began to hold an outside chance of cracking the Academy's top honors. Having been recognized with major nominations from The Golden Globes, The Producer's Guild of America, and The Writer's Guild, it was not unreasonable to think that it might be able to land some major nominations. And yet, this wasn't meant to be as the film fell victim to the same reluctance that's kept past comic book movies like The Dark Knight from being recognized. While it's hard to say any of the films nominated in its place are less deserving, it sure would've been nice to bring a little irreverent fun to the proceedings.
Oscars taking baby steps towards true diversity
One year after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy placed Hollywood and its casting practices under the cultural microscope, this year's nominations showed significantly more recognition towards non-white artists. Buoyed by films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures there is now at least one performer of color in every major acting category, as well as major writing and directing nominations going to artists like Barry Jenkins and the late August Wilson. That said it's important not to let The Academy off the hook, Of the six nominated African-American performers, half were either past winners or nominees, and only one acting nominee was of Asian descent (Dev Patel) while no Latino performers were recognized. Though this year's nominees represent progress, it's important to continue to hold The Academy accountable in recognizing new and diverse talent and prevent them from regressing.
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