Well folks, Oscar season is officially in full swing. The nominees were live-streamed from the Oscar website this morning at a scheduled 8:18am sharp. I have always been a fan of the awards ceremony and I thoroughly enjoy the personal challenge of seeing as many of the nominees as I can before the ceremony airs. There are many things to be said about the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, such as the lack of diversity that was showcased, not exclusively, at last year’s ceremony which was hosted by Chris Rock; but ultimately the event has become a spectacle that attempts to reward the accomplishments of the multi-million-dollar Hollywood machine that has been known to crank out a couple pieces of art here and there.
The category I am always the most excited for is the award that is the main event of the whole affair, and the one which is always presented last: Best Picture. It is arguably the highest honor of the bunch and, most of the time, it is a showcase of the best of the other categories, such as editing, acting and directing, all in one package. That is definitely not to imply that nominees of the other categories should be ignored, in fact I’m a strong believer that the short and documentary categories are far too undervalued. However, the Best Picture nod is the list of (mostly) mainstream films that have achieved excellence in more than one specific field. This year’s nominees in that category are:
Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea
This morning, as I was listening to, and subsequently reading reactions to, the announcement of the nominees, I was pleasantly surprised at the accessibility of the contender for Best Picture. Typically there are at least a few that had flew under my radar and I had missed the opportunity to see them in a theater; of this year’s nominees, I had already seen five of the nine films. Upon hearing the full official list, I planned my day accordingly and went right out to see Hidden Figures and Moonlight, knocking out another two of the list, and boy am I glad that I did.
Both films were fantastic; if you haven’t read Hell of a Thing’s review of Hidden Figures, go do it now. They were both extremely emotional and fascinating looks at African Americans struggles during the 1960’s space race and modern day, respectively. These topics are especially important to delve into and remember during the current American political climate. Although I personally think that Moonlight deserves to reign victorious above its eight competitors, I have an inclination that Hollywood will never miss an opportunity to reward the Hollywood as portrayed in La La Land. That being said, the backlash from last year and the #OscarsSoWhite movement and public embarrassment of being obviously non-diverse in its nominations, may make the Academy attempt to correct its wrongdoing from last year.
Moonlight is my personal pick for the Best Picture of the year, although this year did have an impressive overall list of nominees. Manchester by the Sea would be my runner-up, and Hacksaw Ridge was the only of the ones I’ve seen that I would honestly be disappointed to see walk away with the coveted statuette on the eve of February 26th.
Check out the full list of nominations at http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2017
-By Kirk Yoshonis