“La La Land” is tied with “All About Eve” and “Titanic” for 14 Oscar nominations, the most for any film period. About a month ago, I would be totally on board that train, but as “La La Land” garners more ludicrous statements from people (such as “best movie musical of all time”) I find my issues with it becoming bigger and bigger, especially after a second viewing in which the relationship between the main characters dwindled in charm. (I might write a second thoughts sort of piece, but read Amy Nicholson’s fantastic review for a similar opinion. Plus she writes it much better than I could). I know I shouldn’t let my opinion become affected by hype, but it’s hard not to when I feel that most of the people I know are overlooking other great films (both other movie musicals, such as its inspiration The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and other 2016 releases that I will mention soon) in favor of a pretty good one.
Of course, not repeating the #OscarsSoWhite issue from last year is a win, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a persistent issue. “Fences” (still have yet to watch), “Hidden Figures” (a surprisingly fun biopic), and particularly “Moonlight” are all in competition for the big prize. Last year, the closest thing we had to these stories was “Beasts of No Nation,” a movie steeped in controversy over both its portrayal of race and its release over Netflix, causing many theatres to boycott showings. The other movies last year featuring black characters/actors at the forefront -- “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” -- were never really given much light by other awards shows and therefore couldn’t carry over the weight. Luckily, the lack of diversity issue is gone this year, and hopefully (but probably not), it will never be an issue again.
Now for some categories I feel are worth mentioning and my quick takes.
The various actors portraying Chiron in Moonlight are all great, but Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash stole the show in both the film and maybe this entire category. Jeff Bridges, Dev Patel, and Lucas Hedges are all replaceable.
If I’m replacing Lion and Passengers, I’ll replace them with Loving (David Wingo) and Krisha (Brian McOmber), both films that take their central themes and project them into their scores.
Olivia Colman (The Lobster) and Lily Gladstone (Certain Women). Both subdued, subtle, and wonderful. Would replace with Nicole Kidman and Octavia Spencer.
I would have switched around some of the songs from Moana and La La Land on this list, but Sing Street ABSOLUTELY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THIS LIST.
Both Paterson and Everybody Wants Some!! conjured up extremely believable worlds. Those in favor of Hell or High Water and La La Land.
Both The Fits (Paul Yee) and The Handmaiden (Chung Chung-hoon) benefit from a subtle beauty that permeates the best photographed films of the year. Probably could have replaced Lion and Silence with these two.
Elle, Certain Women, Don’t Think Twice. Each bring humor, drama, and tragedy into their stories perfectly. Would take out Hidden Figures, Lion, and (reluctantly) Arrival.
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer) is one of the best directed films of the year, and it’s a debut feature. Jackie (Pablo Larraín) is also very noteworthy. Replacing them with Hacksaw Ridge (although you never know, I might love it) and Manchester by the Sea.
Tilda Swinton hardly says a word in A Bigger Splash, but she’s fantastic as usual. Krisha Fairchild might have played a really similar version of herself in Krisha, but damn, is she good at it. Would have replaced Meryl and Emma with these two.
Colin Farrell (The Lobster), Joel Edgerton (Loving), and Adam Driver (Paterson) all sell their respective work. Each manage to be funny, touching, and just lovely overall. With apologies to Andrew Garfield, Ryan Gosling, and Viggo Mortensen.
I’m just gonna act like the Academy and not consider films like The Lobster, Elle, The Fits, Certain Women, Paterson, Julieta, A Bigger Splash, The Handmaiden, 13th, Krisha, Little Men, and plenty of others, simply because they’re not the typical films you’d consider for Oscars. However, in the category of Oscar movies, Jackie and Loving are both extremely good examples of fantastic ways to make true stories become art. If we’re acting like this is five nominations, I’d remove Lion, Hacksaw Ridge, Fences, Arrival, Hell or High Water, and Hidden Figures.
This took way longer than I thought it would, and is really long, but I enjoyed doing it. Please see some of the smaller movies that got nominated (in particular The Lobster, Elle, Jackie, Moonlight, and Loving), since if the Academy Awards have one good purpose it’s getting people to see independent cinema.