Looking ahead to the 2017 Oscars

Michaela McGrath

Nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday Jan. 24. “La La Land” leads with 14 nominations in total, tying the record with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for most nods in Oscar history.

Close behind are other award season favorites, “Moonlight” and “Arrival,” with eight nominations each. “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Lion” are also up for six awards in different categories.

The race for best picture appears to be between Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” and Damien Chazelle’s musical “La La Land.” The best director category will likely pit these two against each other, as has been the case throughout award season. Because of Chazelle’s success at the Golden Globes, he will probably continue that success at the Oscars.

Best actor in a leading role once looked certain for Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea.” His chances are now slimmer after his loss to Denzel Washington at the SAG Awards, which Washington won for his part in “Fences,” a film he also directed. Likewise, the leading actress category is up in the air. Based on what’s happened so far, it seems to be a three-woman race between Natalie Portman  (Jackie), Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Emma Stone (La La Land).

In the supporting actress category, Viola Davis’ nod for her role in “Fences” makes her the first black actress to be nominated for three Academy awards. She is also the frontrunner in the category. A favorite in the supporting actor category is Mahershala Ali for his role as a father in “Moonlight,” despite losing against Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who is not nominated) at the Golden Globes.

Speculation in the weeks before the Oscar’s ceremony is fun, but the nominations also bring attention to lesser known films that audiences may have missed in 2016.

This year the Academy gave nods to smaller indie gems, including “The Lobster,” “20th Century Women,” and Viggo Mortenson for his role in “Captain Fantastic.” The film “The Lobster,” is about a dystopian future where people who aren’t in a relationship are sent to a hotel where they must find a partner within 45 days, or else they are turned into an animal of their choice. The Academy may have deemed “The Lobster” too bizarre to be included in the best picture category, so they’ve nominated it for best original screenplay instead.  

Nominated for best foreign language film is “Toni Erdmann,” a German movie written and directed by Maren Ade. Following a prankster dad as he tries to reconnect with his workaholic daughter, the film is funny and strange, as well as unexpectedly heartfelt. In the same category is the Iranian film “The Salesman,” a drama about a couple living in Tehran. Its director Asghar Farhadi (who previously directed “A Separation”), issued a statement saying he will not be attending the ceremony in light of President Trump’s immigration ban.

If the SAG Awards and Farhadi’s absence are any indication, the Oscars celebration can expect speeches from nominees addressing the current political climate in some form or another.

The 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, air Sunday Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

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