Dudrick: Academy finally gets nominations right – for the most part


Luke Dudrick, Entertainment Editor

The 2017 Oscar nominations are here, and while many smaller films got due credit, there are still some oddities among the nominations. The Academy generally receives criticism for their nominations, but this year’s theme seems to be one of inclusion, as blockbusters and independent films alike received nominations.

The most immediately intriguing fact is the nomination total for Damien Chazelle’s immensely popular musical La La Land, which tied an Academy Award record with 14 nominations, including nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Moonlight, fresh off claiming the Best Drama prize at the Golden Globes, received eight nominations, most notably for Best Picture. Barry Jenkins’s heartbreaking coming-of-age film has been collecting awards at festivals worldwide at a staggering pace.

The Best Picture race is among the more interesting competitions at the awards this year. There are a total of nine nominees this year, boasting an inclusive variety of films. Indie darlings Hell or High Water and Lion got recognition, and even Mel Gibson’s triumphant directorial return Hacksaw Ridge got a nod, but there are still some glaring exclusions.

Martin Scorsese has had an historically unlucky bout with the Oscars, with many of his greatest films, now considered classics, continuously overlooked at the award show. His latest passion project Silence, which I have admittedly not seen, drew mostly positive praise from critics, who lauded the performances from Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, yet the single nomination it received this year was for Rodrigo Prieto’s work as cinematographer.

Another surprising exemption from the diverse Best Picture race is Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, a biopic that deviates greatly from the vapid formula that many biopics unfortunately insist adherence to. Jackie showed how immediately tortuous Jackie Kennedy’s life became after her husband’s assassination, and dealt with themes of infidelity, mourning, and maintaining sanity and a public image after a traumatic national tragedy. Natalie Portman received a well deserved nomination for Best Leading Actress, and Mica Levi’s haunting score is a frontrunner for Best Original Score, but the film itself received little recognition beyond that.

Legendary actress Meryl Streep received her 20th nomination, breaking her own record for nominations, following her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins.

La La Land seems to be a major favorite for many of the categories, and it will be interesting to see how the Academy arbitrates this year’s winners.