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Posted January 29, 2017 by

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A Look At The 2017 Oscar Nominations

OK, film fandom has had a few days to vent its frustration over the latest Oscar noms. La La Land is overrated. It’s a crime that (insert name of your personal favorite) was snubbed. Suicide Squad, really? Freakin’ Suicide Squad? A don’t get me started on Passengers.

It’s always kind of funny to watch how incensed people get over Oscars. Sure, they matter. But it’s opinion and not everyone is going to share yours. If I were to list my five favorite achievements in each of Oscar’s categories, I’m sure I would disagree with well over half of the nominees. My “best movie of the year” is almost never the same as the Oscar winner. Usually it’s not even nominated for Best Picture.

Choosing lists of fives seems like a lot of work though, and I still have half a season of Mozart in the Jungle to watch, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to pick one replacement for each category. I will leave out the three Short categories since, well, I haven’t seen any of them. (Not that that would usually stop me from opining.) And incumbent on anyone discussing a snub is also announcing which nominee should be dropped. So I’ll do that too.

Simple, clean, streamlined venting. Feel free to vent back.


Lion really isn’t a very good movie (SPOILER ALERT: I will return to that theme throughout this little exercise). Its primary act II action consists of Dev Patel studying Google maps. Drop it and add what may have been the best movie of the year O.J.: Made in America. It would have been a bold move to nominate a documentary made for television, but it was eligible and it was awesome.


Well, I had it as my best narrative feature of the year, so I suppose Hell or High Water’s David McKenzie gets my vote here. Mel Gibson did fine with Hacksaw Ridge, but not top five.


Let me say right up front that I am a big La La Land fan. I am not a hater. I think it deserves most of its praise. But not necessarily in this category. Ryan Gosling is very good but I remember the four other nominated performances even more clearly. And I remember Adam Driver in Paterson even more than anyone not named Affleck and Washington.


It was a great year for actresses. A lot of people are pissed off that Amy Adams and Annette Benning weren’t recognized. I’m super-pissed (which is twice as pissed as just pissed by itself) that Rebecca Hall’s brilliance in Christine appears to have been totally forgotten. Since I thought she should win the Oscar, I’d put her ahead of everyone, but let’s drop Natalie Portman, who gave a committed, but at times overly theatrical performance in Jackie.

Supporting Actor

Ben Foster in. Dev Patel out.

Supporting Actress

Lily Gladstone was quietly riveting in Certain Women. Sorry Lion – don’t mean to pick on you. But Nicole Kidman was perfectly OK in a mediocre tear jerker.

Animated Feature

I think they actually got this one right, though if they had switched out Moana for Finding Dory, my world would not have ended.


At least Roger Deakins won’t have to suffer through his 14th unsuccessful nomination because he wasn’t nominated. You can probably guess I’m dropping Greig Fraser, who did a fine job on Lion. But hey, it was Lion and I think you know by now how I feel about that. The replacement may be a bit of a surprise. Jarin Blaschke’s gorgeous B&W work in The Witch deserves recognition.

Costume Design

Come on, a large part of The Dressmaker was its costume design. It’s right there in the title. Nominate Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson. A large part of Allied was Brad Pitt’s anguished stare. If they give an award for that, by all means, nominate whoever gave that to him. (I’m guessing it might have been the caterer.)


Sure, Life, Animated was a pleasant, feel-good story with lots of Disney clips. But didn’t it seem to gloss over a large part of Owen Suskind’s story? I’d recognize The Witness, which demythologizes one of the crucial stories about crime and psychology in American history.


As near as I can tell, the best edited movie of the year was O.J.: Made in America. Actually, it wasn’t even close. .And as much as I liked Arrival, I’m OK with letting this one go.

Foreign Language

The Oscars hamstrung themselves by leaving some excellent movies off their shortlist. If we are just going by that shortlist, I have no real problem with the five selections. But if we open it up to anything that was eligible, the Icelandic coming-of-age story Sparrows was far better than the crowd-pleasing A Man Called Ove. And that’s just looking to Scandinavia. Bulgaria’s Glory, which was not eligible, was better than both.

Makeup and Hair

Ok, so in Ove, they took a good-looking 59 year actor and turned him into a sour-looking 59 year old character. That’s award-worthy? Doesn’t it happen every day in filmland? You know what doesn’t happen every day? The wonderful and awesome array of grotesques created by the team of designers in The Dressmaker.

Original Score

Let’s begin the removal of Passengers. Let’s let Justin Hurwitz deprive James Newton Howard of his 9th Oscar for Fantastic Beasts instead.

Original Song

I never liked this category very much because I don’t know if it’s supposed to be for the best song or the best use of a song. Never mind. I’m violating my rule here by picking two replacements because both “Drive It Like You Own It” from Sing Street and “Letter to the Free” from 13th would be on my list. I could drop the Trolls song, though it was catchy and the Moana song, though it was Miranda. And after listening to the “The Empty Chair,” I’m pretty sure I could drop that too. But I haven’t seen the movie. As far as I can tell, no one I know has.

Production Design

The Passengers removal is now complete. Give me something strange. Doctor Strange.

Sound Editing

Sully was good. (The sound editing – not the actual movie, which was you know, kind of flawed). Rogue One was better. (The sound editing – not the actual movie, which you know, was kind of flawed.)

Sound Mixing

Remember, I am a huge fan of La La Land. But I’d drop it here in favor of Jungle Book. (Better yet, combine them for a cinematic adaptation of Springsteen’s epic Jungleland.)

Visual Effects

Maybe I’m just tired, but you know what? I’m OK with all of these.

Adapted Screenplay

It’s a weak year for adaptations. But the opening credits of Deadpool by themselves outdo Lion’s meandering plot.

Original Screenplay

I know a lot of film critic-types loved The Lobster. If the movie had ended at the midpoint, before becoming a derivative rogue revolution story, I might have agreed. If they had found a way to stay at the resort and remain surprising, it might be as good as its fans think it is. Alas, it didn’t and was consequently far outshone by Maren Ade’s magnificent Toni Erdmann.

There you have it. I hope no one was too offended. To paraphrase Marshall Mathers – I’m just playing, Lion. You know I love you.


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Jonathan Eig
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