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Surprises from the Oscar nominations

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For my January blog, rather than reviewing a movie this month, I thought it would be more appropriate to write something on the Academy Award nominees for this year.  I’m doing this not only because the Oscars is the largest movie award show, but it also gives an opportunity to look back on a few of the best movies that came out in 2016.  As far as this ceremony usually goes, this year, the people in the Academy actually got a lot more right than they usually do. However, as always, there were still a few snubs and surprises to come out of the nominees.

“Nocturnal Animals”

Aaron Taylor-Johnson disappeared into his performance more than any other actor last year in “Nocturnal Animals.” In this twisting mystery-thriller, his character was intimidating in a disturbing way that most other actors fail to achieve. Johnson, who is not known for playing antagonists, surprised and shined in the film. Previously, we have seen him play the heroic protagonists in movies like “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Godzilla.”  He wasn’t necessarily the absolute Best Supporting Actor last year, but he definitely deserved a spot for how much he completely became the character and made his real-life personality disappear.  

“O.J.: Made in America”

For the first time ever, a TV miniseries has been nominated for Best Documentary rather than just a feature length film, and many people are betting that “O.J.: Made in America” is going to end up taking the award.  “O.J.: Made in America’s” five parts add up to an 8 hour documentary that takes viewers through the subject’s entire career from college up until the trial over his wife’s murder.  The level of detail director Ezra Edelman achieved is astonishing. We have never gotten a look at his life this in-depth before in any other form of media.  Also, rather than only focussing on O.J., Edelman uses this story to analyze the relationship between the LAPD and the black community over the past 30 years.  Now that American society is a comfortable distance away from the O.J. trial, and police/racial tension is a very high, this documentary is more timely than ever.

“La La Land”

One of the nicest surprises to come out of this years nominations was seeing the crowd-pleasing musical “La La Land” tie for the most Oscar nominations to ever be given. With a whopping 14 nominations, the 2016 film tied itself up with “Titanic” and “All About Eve.”  “La La Land” was my personal favorite movie of last year, so it was nice to see it getting a lot of awards attention this year.  Most people are betting that “La La Land,” including me, will end up sweeping the Oscars and earn more awards than any other film from last year.  In fact, the director Damien Chazelle would be the youngest director ever to win the best director award if “La La Land” gets the win, and it would be well deserved.

“Arrival”

In the Best Actress category, many were surprised to see Amy Adams get snubbed for her performance in “Arrival,” the science-fiction drama.  This was made even more surprising with how many other nominees “Arrival” ended up getting, a combined total of eight.  Most people would agree that “Arrival” wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for Adams’s performance, because without her powerful and emotional portrayal of Louise Banks, it’s difficult to see the movie coming together nearly as impressively.  In an interview with People, even the director Denis Villeneuve expressed his disappointment with her not getting nominated, and I would agree with him entirely.

“Hacksaw Ridge”

It wasn’t much of a surprise to see the gritty and gruesome war movie “Hacksaw Ridge” get nominated for awards like Best Actor or Best Picture,  but what some, including myself, did not see coming was a Best Director nomination for infamous Hollywood legend Mel Gibson.  With the Academy often being very political when voting on their nominees, many people predicted that Mel Gibson would be left out of the list based on his personal issues he’s had in recent years.  However, “Hacksaw Ridge” still was one of the best movies of 2016, so it is nice to see that the Academy is still nominating him because despite his past, he still deserved the nomination.

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