While this year’s Oscar nominations have been praised for their record-breaking diversity, they’ve also been criticised for some major snubs and the inclusion of some fairly undesirable characters. Two steps forward, one step back; still, progress?
Here with me to discuss the nominees are Cinematographer Stephanie Coffey and Poet Ben Ladouceur.
T: This is one of my favourite films of Oscar season. I saw it twice! It’s about a lady saving the world through communication and compassion! It’s smart sci-fi in the vein of Ex Machina and Never Let Me Go.
B: And Eternal Sunshine! But I didn’t like the font they used when they suddenly started giving the alien language subtitles. It was a terrible font I am trying to forget. I hope this movie loses.
T: Completely reasonable.
S: I still haven’t seen it. I will, I promise. But I can’t help but think it’s a bargain bin Contact. I’m sorry Amy. I love you. If I ever get famous and this surfaces, please still work with me.
T: Contact was…ungood. “They should have sent a poet” – Jodie Foster. Fun fact: Arrival was also the name of Abba’s first great album and the title song has bagpipes in it.
B: I wish this movie had bagpipes in it. But we’ll talk about the soundtrack later.
S: I’m going on Thursday! I’ve been warned it’s like five hundred hours of non stop dialogue! I can’t wait to see Viola’s snot nose crying in more context than the trailer.
B: Yesterday I rewatched her seven-minute movie-stealing scene in “Doubt” and there was a lot of nose dripping. And a lot of blinking. She’s cracked the code of acting: equal parts snot and blinks. That’s how you win awards. That’s all it is.
S: Why did we just forget that Mel Gibson is anti-semitic and terrible? God, Hollywood you have the memory of a goldfish. No, Mel Gibson you can’t come to the party…
Hell or High Water
S: “I don’t understand the question, therefore I won’t respond.” – Lucille Bluth. I’m pretty sure I used this joke last year but it still applies.
T: Yey Hidden Fences.
S: This movie looks fun. I think I’m going to take my mom!
T: Let’s all take our Mums! Even though mine is kinda racist, she really loves all the Shondaland shows so she’ll probably dig this.
La La Land
T: This film was a delightful confection. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but two minutes after leaving the cinema I’d forgotten everything that had happened. Hollow. “La La Land ties with All About Eve and Titanic for most Oscar nominations ever!” – yeah, All About Eve had FIVE nominations for acting. Blah Blah Bland and All About Eve are not comparable. Bye.
S: Ugh. I wanted to love this. I thought this movie was going to save me from my bleak winter and fill my heart with joy. There were a lot of nice things about this movie. It was pretty, it had gorgeous cinematography but it just felt flat. It didn’t have that something special. I had no tears and I wanted tears. I also think the last five minutes was better than the whole movie.
B: I’m sick of show business movies winning awards. Like, there are so many movies about Hollywood. It’s why I hated Birdman. The guy’s problem is he wants to be a successful actor. That’s a pretty specific conflict for so many “must-see” films to have in common. There are so many career fields, ripe for the dramatizing! Where’s the must-see blockbuster about, like, beekeepers? Or proofreaders? Show me it.
T: This keeps being described as ‘moving’, so I guess I’ll see it.
S: I keep having amnesia about this film. I keep forgetting what Nicole Kidman is doing at events and things. And then I’m like “oh right you did a movie”. I’ll watch it on my couch when Netflix releases it in a few weeks.
Manchester By the Sea
T: This was very good. Sad white men are important. Kenneth Lonergan is a great writer and director, but if you want to watch a really great film of his with similar themes, check out You Can Count On Me. It has all the same stuff – loner guy, small town, family death – except it also stars Laura Linney. And thus is vastly superior. Write-in Best Picture nomination for You Can Count On Me!
S: You had me at Laura Linney. I vote for this write-in!
S: Moonlight had some story structure flaws. It could have been a bit tighter and the characters a bit more developed but looking at the whole category it might have been the best of the bunch. Until I see Contact II, it has my vote.
T: Missing: Jackie. What the hell?! Out of this lot, I’d probably go with Arrival to be honest.
S: Hidden Fences! I vote for that.
B: I feel like it’ll be the Manchester By the Sea movie because things happening next to water is very moving to people.
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)
T: GWAN MICHAEL SHANNON. I thought he was great in Nocturnal Animals.
S: Weird that the Globes went for Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Sorry Thomas, but I think that was a better choice. Taylor-Johnson was needlessly sinister and such a nut bar. For the Globes, I still felt like I liked Mahershala Ali better but I was like okay Aaron Taylor-Johnson played a pretty good nut bar. I’ll allow this. But Michael Shannon. Man detective. Meh.
T: A testament to the wide range of male-centric stories just dying to be told, this category features not one but TWO grizzled southern sheriffs with Shannon and Jeff Bridges. But I just really, really like Michael Shannon.
S: I don’t understand this, so I’m going to talk about how Jeff Bridges made a sleeping tape. He recorded himself talking peacefully. You can listen to it and have good dreams thanks to Jeff Bridges. It’s like meditation. You can find it at www.dreamingwithjeff.com. For some reason he teamed up with the my website provider. What up squarespace? It popped up one day when I went in to log onto my website and update it… I was like WTF Jeff Bridges. This is hilarious. I posted it on Facebook and no one took the bait….but now people have to listen to me!
T: Lucas Hedges is a great young talent who provides some much needed light and shade to this movie. A nice contrast to Casey Affleck’s misery-fest performance. You go Lucas! Dev, you will always be the kid from Skins. But good for you.
S: I fuckin’ love Skins. Cassie was so crazy. In my opinion Ali was the best thing about Moonlight. I loved his performance and when he holds little Chiron in the sea. That was such a beautiful moment and so I think he should win.
B: Simon Helberg was great in Florence Foster Jenkins and maybe should have been nominated in this category. That’s my hot take.
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
T: Casey Affleck is a sex rapist*. Hollywood doesn’t mind that, though. They gave Woody Allen his most recent Oscar in 2012 and he’s a proven child sex rapist. Anyway, Affleck is quite good in this and the likely winner.
*Casey Affleck is an alleged sexual harasser.
S: Yes. I banned this movie because I don’t care about it and I don’t want to support men accused of sexual harassment. Sorry Casey. You are a bargain bin Ben Affleck and even he is bargain bin so you are like the DVD that has scratches on it and has to be thrown away. Also I learned from the Golden Globes he only got this role because Matt Damon turned it down which for some reason is funny to me.
T: Andrew Garfield, you were great in Boy A and Never Let Me Go so I can’t begrudge you this. I just have no intention of ever seeing this movie.
S: I quite like him. But no to this movie. Never Let Me Go was a very good film. Should we just talk about that film instead?
T: Never Let Me Go is heartbreaking and filled with brilliant performances. The resigned sadness in Carey Mulligan’s face at the end, and that beautiful score. So haunting.
B: And Keira Knightley being vindictive and desperate both at the same time effectively! Ugggh. Never Let Me Go should win best actor.
S: See this is waaay better. I feel calmer already…
T: Ryan Gosling’s nomination is baffling.
B: Oh yeah? How come? I haven’t seen it yet. Is he just okay?
T: He’s charming Ryan Gosling doing his charming Ryan Gosling thing. Lovely dancing, but that’s it.
S: Yes, Thomas is right. It’s just Ryan Gosling playing the piano and looking hot. He’s been in MUCH better films than this. Give him a retroactive Oscar for Place Beyond the Pines, or Half Nelson, or Blue Valentine. Heck, Young Hercules! Breaker High! Something else.
Someone else! – Homer Simpson
B: Young Hercules!
S: If the Academy wasn’t a bunch of annoying losers they would be all like, “We’re really, reaaaally sorry Denzel for giving you an Oscar for Training Day. Here is a real Oscar for a movie you put your heart and soul into.” But no they’ll give it to Casey Affleck. BOOOOOOOO.
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
T: Oh, Emma. You did your best, but there wasn’t much to work with. You’re only an okay singer and you didn’t have many beats to play. My main beef with her win here is that in a couple of years I’m confident she will deliver an absolutely brilliant performance in a much better film and won’t win because they already gave it to her here.
S: This one is really heartbreaking for me. I love Emma. I always have. But this just wasn’t very good and you just weren’t very good in it. I think the okay singer thing was my biggest problem. Like, it’s a musical. You have to be a good singer. Those are the rules. I didn’t make them. I agree with Thomas. Her Oscar is like three years away and it’s going to be amazing.
T: Natalie Portman IS Jackie Kennedy. She plays the different layers of Jackie’s grief so well. THIS is the one that should win.
S: I like Natalie. I still hate Oscar baiting biopics. But sure, give it to her.
T: You know what? Florence Foster Jenkins is the kind of late-career Meryl performance that people sneer at. The fact is, Meryl is excellent in this, as usual. Will it be mentioned anywhere in her obituary? No.
B: Yes yes, go Meryl. But this is the slot that should have been Amy Adams’. It’s crazy that she’s not on here. She’s a total Overlooked Olga.
S: Lol to overlooked Olga.
T: An egregious oversight, especially seeing as Arrival was nominated for eight awards and she basically is the whole movie. Also missing: Sarah Paulson for Blue Jay, Susan Sarandon for The Meddler and Sally Field for Hello, My Name Is Doris. Come at me.
S: I fear Amy is like too good and then each year some one-off comes in and takes her Oscar. Like everyone every year is like yeah, yeah, she’s amazing but did you see? Emma danced this year! Amy is so long overdue. WHERE IS HER OSCAR?
B: I hope Huppert wins. This movie was batshit crazy. It’s by the Showgirls director. This movie is like Showgirls, but France instead of LA, and the video game industry instead of the stripper industry, and a fantastic lead actress instead of a terrible one. Also about times as much sexual violence. And it does that French movie thing where there are like 10 supporting characters with their own little subplots for no reason. Oh, I want to see this again. No idea why it isn’t on the foreign nominee list, though to be fair I haven’t seen any of the movies that actually made it onto the list. #teamisabelle
T: Loving has been under the radar but the love for Ruth Negga’s performance has been solid. Good for her.
S: Yeah, why is this film so under the radar? Ruth Negga is stunning and I heard she was really good in this. I will watch sometime this week and report back.
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
T: I BEEN STANDIN’ BESIDE YOU FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS. Enough said. A wagon of Oscars for Viola. Technically a lead performance? Anyway, this puts her closer to EGOT as after this she will have an Emmy, Oscar and a Tony.
S: Viola got her Globe this year. So all she needs is the O.
T: No Steph, the G is for Grammy…
S: Oh. I don’t think she’s ever getting a Grammy.
T: Three words: spoken word album
S: She just does a spoken word album to get the EGOT?
T: All she has to do is narrate a bunch of nursery rhymes and she’s there.
B: Even just her reading the classifieds. And it would be in the bag.
S: I’m still bummed it wasn’t a lead. This is a lead performance. Viola deserves BEST ACTRESS etched on her Oscar.
T: Fun slash sad fact: with her third nomination, Viola Davis becomes the black performer with the most Oscar nominations in history. Another fun slash sad fact: this is only the third time that three actors of colour have been nominated in a single category. The other years were 2004 and 2007. And our final fun slash sad fact: Octavia is the first black woman to be nominated for another Oscar after winning. Hattie, Whoopi, Halle, Jennifer, Monique and Lupita haven’t managed it. (Sidebar, Hattie is dead, so never will.)
B: Lupita will get around to it some time soon.
S: I love Octavia. Two for Octavia! You go Octavia! Sidebar of my own: can we please find a way to give Whoopi another Oscar? SISTER ACT 3: HABITUAL HABITING
T: “There was one habit she just couldn’t break…”
S: “…dressing up as a Nun for obscure reasons.”
T: So, Michelle Williams is in Manchester by the Sea for ten minutes and just cries the whole time. No.
B: Umm if that’s true it makes me want to see it more.
S: Yeah, Ben…Why?
B: She cries well. Why hasn’t there been a Joni Mitchell biopic yet? When they get around to making one, it will suddenly occur to everyone that Michelle Williams is the perfect person. And she’ll just cry and smoke and play guitar. Doesn’t that sound good?
T: Okay, yeah, I can see that. Better than Taylor fucking Swift doing it anyhow.
La La Land
T: La La Land gets this, right? Aside from that, Jackie has a great score and I’m surprised Arrival isn’t nominated in this category. Also, apparently Dustin O’Halloran, who did the excellent music for Transparent, is now an Oscar nominee for Lion. Well done Dustin!
B: Fun fact, Arrival was disqualified because the song at the beginning and end isn’t an original song. It’s called “On the Nature of Daylight” and it’s in every movie you’ve ever seen. And movies are disqualified if they have too many non-original songs diluting the original material. And to be fair, when you think of music from Arrival, this is the song you think of.
S: Thanks for that fun fact, Ben! It’s important to educate our audiences!
T: I agree that’s a very memorable part of the score, and I love Max Richter, but for me the standout part is where it keeps going WAAAAAAAAAAARGH really loudly and made me jump.
S: WTF Passengers? I think it has to go to La La Land because if the musical movie doesn’t win best score then what is it doing?
Audition (La La Land)
Can’t Stop the Feeling! (Trolls)
City of Stars (La La Land)
The Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story)
How Far I’ll Go (Moana)
T: This is a toss-up between the Academy’s boner for La La Land and their boner for Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’m gonna say that this goes to Lin because he’s the man of the moment, the decade, the century.
B: I haven’t heard any of these songs so my pick is “The Empty Chair” because I assume it is a sequel to the Les Mis song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” about how the tables aren’t empty anymore but there’s this one chair that’s still empty and it’s too bad.
T: Okay but who is Jim James Foley? And why does he have these disparate empty chairs and tables? Is he a lesser Les Mis character? This category raises more questions than it answers.
S: Hahah. WHO THE HELL IS JIM JAMES FOLEY? He was Prisoner 24602. He was right behind Jean Valjean. Didn’t you see him?
T: Um so you know how Wicked tells the flipside of Wizard of Oz? Maybe we could write a musical called 24602 about this guy whose chair is empty.
S: OMG. This might be our life’s purpose. Real talk though: I actually liked City of Stars. It was catchy in a cute, mumbly sort of way. I’ll go with that.
Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
T: La La Land. Honest to God. Give it a rest. Give it to 20th Century Women, because ladies. Fun fact: that movie is the same director as Beginners, which I know absolutely crushed you Steph.
S: God this category is L-I-T-E. None of these were really that good. I haven’t seen 20th Century Women yet. Let’s go with that!
B: Yes, to 20th Century Women.
Best Adapted Screenplay
T: I vote Arrival.
B: I don’t know man! Arrival was good, but it was kind of plothole city. I read the book right after and the book actually takes care of all the plotholes. It’s a lot more pedantic and attentive to logic than the movie — there are actual diagrams about light refraction at some point — and so the emotions it causes are that much more effective, since you’re totally on board with what’s going on. The movie didn’t have nearly as much theoretical groundwork. Instead of making you cry with math, it made you cry with violins. So, yes, lovely movie, but imperfect adaptation. (To be fair, I acknowledge that it had a lot more math and science in it than basically any other Hollywood movie. More fog too.)
S: Ben has given me a new goal in life. I want to cry with math! I’m going to blindly pick Fences. I’VE BEEN STANDING BESIDE YOU FOR 18 YEARS!!!
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life As a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Remember last year when that movie “The Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared” was nominated and we were convinced that the Academy was playing tricks on us? Well, what on God’s green Earth is “My Life As A Zucchini”?!
S: Haha I have no idea. The Academy is trying to see if we’re still woke!
Guys, I bloody loved Zootopia. I watched it Hungover one day and it made me really happy. It has a great message. And Jenny Slate plays a lamb and it took me the whole movie to figure out it was her. It was driving me crazy! For those of you who don’t know, Jenny Slate is the genius behind Marcel the Shell with Shoes on:
She’s a very talented comedienne who has done many other things but this still cracks me up to this day.
T: Can we make her a write-in for best actress for Obvious Child please?
S: YES! Totes. And also can we just TAKE NOTE that Mona Lisa Saperstein is one of the best characters ever created. #parksandrec4lyfe. Basically Jenny Slate we love you! Don’t ever change. Here is a video I just found of Jenny doing the voice recording for her Zootopia lamb:
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
T: Have we all forgotten that Mel Gibson is a bigot? Like, this is not okay. Anyway, Pablo Larrain should have been nominated for Jackie. Ridiculous. This will probably go to Damien Chazelle for La La Land right? And while I can’t begrudge him per se, I’d rather see this go to Denis Villeneuve.
S: There’s too many boys in this category. I’m bored. Sure, Damien, fine, you can have this. But just remember that Whiplash was better…oops, that sounds like a threat. It wasn’t. I’m just very passionate about this issue.
Best make-up and hairstyling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
T: Write-in nomination for the wigs in Florence Foster Jenkins.
S: Agreed. I’m actually thinking Florence Foster Jenkins is the dark horse of this whole competition.
T: Imagine if Meryl swoops in and takes Oscar #4 for FFJ? That would be a lol.
S: Omg. And then she makes another amazing speech about how Trump is a dolt and America needs to figure it out. The curtain comes down and the show is over folks!