As an intensely involved American film fan, it’s easy to say that the Oscars is in many ways the most anticipated awards event of the year. However, in a time where quality films come in droves, it’s hard to watch the Oscars and not feel a sense of lacking. More often than not, unique films get pushed out of the way for vehicles that the Academy deems more important than the rest. However, they always seem to surprise viewers with an occasional pick that stands out from the rest. With that in mind, in anticipation of the awards show this Sunday, here are some of the biggest surprises and snubs from this year’s Oscars.
Surprise: Logan for Adapted Screenplay
Far too few people have seen James Mangold’s amazing remake of 3:10 to Yuma. This film showcases fabulous directing skills that really capture landscapes and the vast countryside of America and its neighboring countries. It also shows Mangold’s ability to really visualize a script, and his recent efforts in the Marvel franchise have proven that he can not only direct, but co-write solid narrative structures. It’s hard to pinpoint another filmmaker who can take such a beloved character in Logan/The Wolverine and absolutely beat him down to his primal core and have audiences engrossed the entire way. This nomination shows good faith for Mangold’s skills projects to come.
Snub: Blade Runner 2049 for basically all the major awards (minus cinematography)
Blade Runner 2049 is an undeniable technical masterpiece. However, its lack of nominations for directing, acting, and even best picture reflect the Academy’s continuing inability to recognize science fiction. Sure, films like Gravity have taken the spotlight in years past, but when a film that oozes such perplexing thematic heft, along with amazing cinematography and deftly smooth direction from Denis Villeneuve, doesn’t get its day in the sun, it makes it hard to take this award show that seriously.
Surprise: Mudbound nominations
Rachel Morrison’s nomination for cinematography not only marks a solid nod from the Academy in nominating the first ever female cinematographer, it also gets Netflix’s foot in the door to becoming a serious contender for awards that normally honor films released in theatres. The ongoing battle between whether or not films released straight to streaming platforms may not end soon, but Netflix securing nominations from Mary J Blige’s supporting actress nod to adapted screenplay indicates a sense of steps in the direction that allows streaming platforms to bolster their quality flicks with legitimate award contention.
Snub: Baby Driver
Our thoughts on Baby Driver fall in a similar line with Blade Runner 2049. This film showcased director Edgar Wright furiously putting heist genre conventions on its head, blending beautifully shot action with character arcs that subverted his own visual style, and yet, technical nominations (sound editing, sound mixing, editing) were as far as this film got with the Academy. The intense attention to detail in every shot and every visual queue only gets recognized in the editing category, which is a huge oversight from the Academy. Wright deserves better for the skills he consistently shows on this project.
So, there you have it. Other than these surprises and snubs, the Academy did its due diligence in nominating what was expected. In the end, viewers will be surprised by the winners, disappointed by the losers, and likely as indifferent about the show as they always have been. However, no matter what opinion viewers hold, it should be an interesting night full of more surprises, and hopefully no Best Picture mix-ups.
Image Credit: Variety