And the nominations are in! Capping off an impressive awards season, La La Land leads the pack with 14 nods including Best Picture, equalling the record set by All About Eve (1950) and matched by Titanic (1997), which both went on to win the top prize.
Also nominated for Best Picture are Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, Lion, Hidden Figures, Fences and Barry Jenkin’s increasingly prolific Moonlight. Nominations granted to the latter four, all acclaimed films and some already box-office successes, each starring prominent non-white actors, inevitably signals a non-repeat of last year’s controversial ‘Oscars So White’ campaign that plagued the institution which honoured films like In The Heat of the Night at the height of the civil rights movement and only three years ago, deservedly, showered 12 Years a Slave with praise.
Casey Affleck, the favourite for Best Actor for his performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, goes up against Gosling’s La La Land jazz-obsessive, Denzel Washington (Fences), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) and Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, who missed out on a nomination for his turn in Martin Scorcese’s Silence. One of the major films mooted for Oscar contention, Silence, which arrived quite late into awards season, scored one nomination for Cinematography, missing out on Best Picture.
Natalie Portman, following her lauded performance as Jackie Kennedy, will compete for her second Best Actress Oscar against Emma Stone (La La Land), Ruth Nega (Loving), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) and Isabelle Huppert who is nominated for her spectacular lead turn in Elle. Streep, described by one prominent US politician as “over-rated,” this year received her 20th Oscar nod, beating Streep’s own record set by her nomination for Into the Woods in 2015.
It’s also a big year for Australia film, with local productions Lion and Hacksaw Ridge both nominated for Best Picture, while The Light Between Oceans, also filmed in Australia, was snubbed by the Academy, as was, not surprisingly, Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool, despite a late resurgence in awards popularity. Most significantly, Tanna, a Nauvhal language film which is the first feature to be shot entirely in Vanuatu, is now the first Australian feature to ever compete in the best Foreign Language Film category. Tanna will go up against Denmark’s stunning Land of Mine and German entry Toni Erdmann, a critical darling and Oscar favourite.
Breaking ground on many fronts, this year’s slate also boasts the first time a streaming service is in contention for Best Picture, with Amazon Studios’ Sundance purchase Manchester By The Sea nominated in six categories.
Notably, La La Land, which has a virtual lock on Best Original Score, might just be too good, snatching two nominations for Best Original Song for ‘City of Stars’ and ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream).’ Prone to split the vote for the musical extravaganza, Moana’s ‘How Far I’ll Go’, penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda, might just garner the 37-year old Hamilton star an EGOT, having already won Grammys, Tonys and an Emmy. If Miranda pulls it off, he will be only the 13th person to do so, following in the footsteps of legends such as Audrey Hepburn and Mel Brooks. Moana, also nominated for Best Animated Feature alongside Kubo and the Two Strings, Studio Ghibli co-production The Red Turtle and My Life as a Zucchini, will have to trounce critical and commercial smash Zootopia.
Runaway success La La Land, the favourite to win in many of its nominated categories, save Best Actor, will too have to reckon with the stunning momentum of Moonlight, which remains a much-lauded critical favourite.
The 89th Academy Awards will take place on 26 February, 2017