The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards ceremony on Jan. 24. This year marked a change in how they broadcasted the nomination reveals — streaming short videos of celebrities and other individuals who work in the film industry as they announced each category. The nine nominees for Best Picture this year are “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.”
The previous two Academy Award ceremonies received a lot of criticism for the lack of diversity in the nominees, especially for writer/director Ryan Coogler’s snub for a nomination for his work on “Creed.” However, this year seemed to finally fix this issue in a way that didn’t come across like the board was pandering. The nominations for films like “Hidden Figures” and “Fences” felt genuine.
This year, Bradford Young became the first black cinematographer to have been nominated for his breathtaking work on “Arrival.” Also, Ava DuVernay and Ezra Edelman became the first black filmmakers to be nominated for Best Documentary Feature.
The starchild this year is “La La Land,” with 14 nominations, tying with “All About Eve” and “Titanic” for most nominations for a single film. That isn’t surprising as 2011’s “The Artist” won 5 awards, including Best Picture. Both “The Artist” and “La La Land” are throwbacks to classic Hollywood. Given how the Golden Globes have become a good way to predict the winners, it’s a safe bet that “La La Land” will most likely be the big winner of the night, walking away with Best Picture, Director and all of the technical achievements.
With how quickly “La La Land” gained popularity, there has been a lot of backlash toward the film, such as concerns over how the film supposedly idolizes aspiring actors moving to Los Angeles and living in poverty. If the Academy chooses not to go the predictable route, then the runner up is “Moonlight.” Not only would the potential win of this film satisfy those who wish to see a more diverse list of winners, it would also be a great venue for interesting political conversations, much like Meryl Streep’s speech during the Golden Globes.
For Best Animated Film, there’s no doubt that the award will go to “Zootopia” as it is the highest grossing film in that category and the one that voters have probably seen. This category is so slanted towards Disney/Pixar productions, there’s no point in nominating any other film because they don’t stand a chance. Not to say that Disney/Pixar doesn’t make high quality films, but it’s not like their awards shelf is going to be empty anytime soon.
The most surprising snub of this year was Amy Adams not getting recognition for her performances in “Arrival” or “Nocturnal Animals.” Both performances were not only praised by critics and labeled as career defining, but won many awards, including the National Board of Review’s pick for Best Actress. What makes this snub even more insulting was that the official website had a different list for Best Actress nominees, which included Adams, for a brief time after the official stream. But of course, the Academy must continue its seemingly inside joke of nominating Meryl Streep for whatever film she worked on for that year.
The 89th Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 26 on ABC at 4 p.m. PST and will be hosted by late-night talk show personality, Jimmy Kimmel.