Let’s Talk Oscar Nominations…

By Hope Madden and George Wolf

2016 was a fairly weak, fairly bland year at the movies, but it still has surprises in store for us. Look at this…Suicide Squad is nominated for an Oscar! Okay, it’s for makeup and hairstyling – who knew that rolling around Hot Topic could translate to an Oscar nomination?

The official Academy Award nominations had few other surprises in store. La La Land racked up quite a haul of noms, most of which are likely to translate to statuettes. What’s the lowdown? Who should have made the list? Who shouldn’t have? Let us walk you through it.


Best Film



Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Manchester by the Sea


Snubs: Zootopia, Jungle Book, The Witch, The Lobster, Jackie, Loving – there’s a bunch we’d have included instead of Lion, Hidden Figures or Hacksaw Ridge. Not that those are bad films – they are quite good. Just not as deserving.


Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Snubs: No question Mel Gibson is out of his league here. While Hacksaw Ridge was a fine piece of filmmaking, it almost works in spite of Gibson’s direction. He begins with a Hallmark card then descends into carnage few other filmmakers care to capture. But the performances and the genuine merit of the story keep the film interesting. It’s not the direction, which is why we’d have honored David Mackenzie and his glorious direction for Hell or High Water instead.


Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Snubs: It’s hard to even form this sentence, but Meryl Streep should not be on this list. We know! Blasphemy! But the pool for Best Actress is rarely this deep, and Annette Bening (20th Century Women) Rebecca Hall (Christine), or Amy Adams (Arrival) would have been better choices.


Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen,  Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

Snubs: Not much to complain about here. The race is basically Affleck V Washington, with Affleck coming out on top, but we could have accepted Tom Hanks (Sully) or Nate Parker (The Birth of a Nation) in Garfield’s spot.


Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman,  Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams,  Manchester by the Sea

Snubs: Here’s a weird yet valid complaint: the smart money’s on Viola Davis to win, but how in the hell is this a supporting role? Not only is Davis the only female on the screen for 9/10 of Fences, she has more screen time than Denzel. It’s her story. She’s not just the lead actress, she’s the lead. And her performance is more than strong enough to take home the best actress Oscar.


Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali,  Moonlight

Jeff Bridges,  Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Snubs: First of all, amen to Michael Shannon. We could not be more pleased to see him hit this list. And halleluiah to Mahershala Ali – the likely front runner in the category.

We’d have given Dev Patel’s slot to Shannon’s Nocturnal Animals co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Ben Foster outshined his full slate of talented co-stars in Hell or High Water. He deserves Jeff Bridges’s spot.


Original Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Mike Mills, 20th Century Women

Snub: This is a very solid and admirable list. Mike Mills’s 20th Century Women is brilliantly written and performed. We might swap him out, though, and give his spot to Robert Eggers’s The Witch.


Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer, Arrival

August Wilson, Fences

Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

Luke Davies, Lion

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Snubs: Hidden Figures and Lion were well put-together, lovely films. But in this year of searing, searching, brilliant writing, they have no place in this list. In their stead? Whit Stillman’s wicked and wonderful Love & Friendship and Tom Ford’s story within a story Nocturnal Animals.




La La Land




Snubs: Chan-wook Park’s gloriously wrong The Handmaiden looked better than anything else that came out this year. It shouldn’t just be nominated, it should win. But it certainly should be perched in this category in Lion’s spot.


Foreign Language

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman


Toni Erdmann

Snubs: Again, where is the love for The Handmaiden? And the bigger surprise may be Elle, which nabbed a Best Actress nomination.


Documentary Feature

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

OJ: Made in America


Snubs: Nope. Not a one. Every single one of these is required viewing. We’re hoping for some ties.


Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings


The Red Turtle


My Life as a Zucchini

Snubs: No Finding Dory? We’re not sure that’s a snub, but it means no Pixar in this category, and we’ll call that a surprise.

We’ll have our official predictions a little closer to the Feb. 26th Oscar ceremony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.