Z at the Movies: 89th Oscar Nominations Reactions (La La Land, Moonlight)

Well the dust has settled a bit after this morning’s Oscar nominations announcement, and while many categories went as expected, we did get a few surprises. La La Land enters the history books with a record-tying 14 nominations, joining All About Eve and Titanic as most nominated films ever. Overall I went 97/122 in my predictions, or roughly 80%. I’m pretty happy with that outcome. Let’s take a look category by category:

Best Picture
Nine nominees here and no big surprises. I picked 10 possible nominees, and my first nine got nominated so I give myself 9/9 here. La La Land leads the pack, with fellow favorites Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea present as well. Overall this is a very strong selection of nominees with nothing major missing. I’m thrilled to see that Hell or High Water made it to the finish line, as I was a little worried about that one. However, it sucks that the good but not great Hacksaw Ridge made the final nine. Mel Gibson is a pretty terrible person, and really has made no effort to be apologetic for the things he said in the past. And while I’m fine with separating the art from the artist, his film is okay but it’s certainly not better than a multitude of films, including Loving, Zootopia, Jackie, or even Sully.

Best Director
Four of the nominees here – Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan, and Denis Villaneuve were widely expected, including by me, so I’m 4/5 on this one. Those four are all nominated for the first time. The fifth, Mel Gibson, is not completely out of left field, though most expected that spot to go to DGA nominee Garth Davis. I made my feelings on Gibson getting his second nomination pretty clear above, but it’s also a shame that the great work of Pablo Larrain, David Mackenzie, Garth Davis, and Denzel Washington went unrewarded here.

Best Actor
Good group of nominees here, and 5/5 on my predictions. Casey Affleck is the obvious front runner, Ryan Gosling rode the La La Land wave, and Andrew Garfield got in on the somewhat surprising strength of Gibson’s return. Denzel Washington and Viggo Mortensen are welcome returns to the party here, as both gave terrific performances.

Best Actress
I only hit 3/5 on this one, one of the tougher categories to predict. Biggest question of the day: How did Amy Adams not get nominated here?! Did Meryl need a twentieth?! Florence Foster Jenkins is a fine movie, but her performance simply doesn’t measure up to Adams, or even Annette Bening in 20th Century Women. I will not likely be able to see Elle until it hits DVD, but word is that Isabelle Huppert is more than deserving of this nomination. Natalie Portman and Emma Stone were widely expected, though Ruth Negga was certainly not a sure thing so it’s great to see her rewarded here.

Best Supporting Actor
You’ll never hear me complain about a Michael Shannon nomination, though I haven’t seen the film yet. I predicted his co-star and Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson, so I went 4/5 here. The rest of the category went as expected, with frontrunner Mahershala Ali among the eight nominations for Moonlight. Dev Patel, Jeff Bridges, and Lucas Hedges were all worthy nominees as well, but I was not so secretly rooting for Ralph Fiennes to get a nod for his superb turn in A Bigger Splash.

Best Supporting Actress
No shocks here (I went 5/5), as Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman, Octavia Spencer, and Michelle Williams all heard their names called this morning. All five are terrific and deserved these spots, though I wish there had been room for Greta Gerwig in 20th Century Women.

Best Original Screenplay
Great group here, as all five are wonderful screenplays and memorable films. I had picked Jackie (so I went 4/5) but have no issue with 20th Century Women taking its spot. My friend Nik hated The Lobster, but he’s wrong and it’s a wonderfully quirky movie that I’d be happy to back any year it wasn’t competing with Manchester by the Sea.

Best Adapted Screenplay
No surprises here, and I went 5/5 again. Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion and Moonlight are plenty deserving.

Best Animated Feature Film
This one is notoriously hard to predict, and I went 3/5 here. Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, and Zootopia are all excellent and deserving. The foreign entries, My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle haven’t even opened in the United States yet, so very few John Q Moviegoers have seen them, but the reviews are tremendous. Kudos to the animation branch for thinking outside the box and not just nominating the big money makers here.

Best Foreign Language Film
I’ve only seen A Man Called Ove from Sweden, but I still managed to go 5/5. Word on the other four films is good, so this seems like another strong year for foreign films.

Best Documentary – Feature
I went 4/5 here, missing Fire at Sea for Tower. However, I think of this category as O.J.: Made in America and four other nominees. If anything but the masterpiece OJ documentary wins, it will be stunning.

Best Documentary – Short Subject
I’ve actually already seen four of these on various platforms (two are on Netflix!), and I went 3/5 in this historically tough to predict category. The four I’ve seen are all very good, and the only one I haven’t had a chance to view yet is Watani: My Homeland.

Best Live Action Short Film
Sadly, I have seen zero of the nominees here, so I have nothing much to say about the results here. I went 2/5 on my predictions, my worst category.

Best Animated Short Film
I nabbed 4/5 here, and have also seen four of the five. I really liked Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, and Piper, so I’m looking forward to see how Blind Vaysha stacks up.

Best Original Score
Another 4/5 score for me here. The inclusion of Passengers is a bit of a shock, but the other four nominees were pretty widely expected and deserving.

Best Original Song
I went 4/5 again, but I swear I meant to predict “The Empty Chair” because the Academy LOVES J. Ralph. The other songs were expected, and are all a treat to listen to. I have a four-year old so I’ve heard “How Far I’ll Go” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” about a billion times each, but they’re fun.

Best Sound Editing
Once again, 4/5 on this category, as I foolishly neglected to predict La La Land here. The rest are deserving nominees, including impressive work on Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, and Sully.

Best Sound Mixing
Another 4/5 score, as I picked The Jungle Book and didn’t see 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi coming; to be fair, who did?

Best Production Design
Subpar on my predictions here, going 3/5. I guessed Hidden Figures and Silence, but got surprised (pleasantly) by Arrival and surprised (not as pleasantly) by Passengers. I’m also pleased to see Hail, Caesar! show up anywhere, even if it only got one nod.

Best Cinematography
Nailed this one 5/5, one of the easier ones to predict. I haven’t seen Silence yet, but I have no trouble believing it is a worthy entry in this category.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
I went 2/3 here, as I refused to believe that Suicide Squad, one of the year’s worst and most obnoxious films would get an Oscar nomination, but this is now the world we live in. Deadpool lost out its best shot of getting nominated, as the category is filled out by A Man Called Ove and Star Trek Beyond.

Best Costume Design
Another 4/5 score here, as I hoped for Love & Friendship but got Allied instead, which is not so bad. The rest were pretty predictable, but that’s not a bad thing in this case.

Best Film Editing
This below the line category is the one most closely associated with best picture, and I went 4/5 here, missing Manchester by the Sea for Hell or High Water (not quite an even trade, but close). All five nominees here are best picture nominees as well.

Best Visual Effects
I went 3/5 here as there were a few surprises. Kubo and the Two Strings becomes the first animated movie to score a nomination here, a fun barrier to be broken. It takes the spot of either Arrival or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both of which I thought were sure things. Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story received their expected nominations.

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