Check out how the 2017 Oscar nominees compare to the 2016 nominees, before the winners are announced tonight.
Best Picture Winner
Spotlight won the Academy Award in 2016 for Best Picture. Despite Spotlight’s 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience’s favorite of the year was divided. Spotlight shared this honor with The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road in a stiff competition.
Although La La Land will likely win tonight, this year overall has provided a strong group of contenders. It seems practically as if any movie this year could have beaten Spotlight. So then why did Spotlight win? Spotlight is an incredible exhibit of craft. Besides Best Picture, It was nominated for Directing, Screenwriting, Editing, and multiple Acting categories. However, despite being an incredibly strong movie, it lacks an emotional connection.
There are emotional scenes in Spotlight, as it is about controversial material, however the characters are weak. The characters exist largely as vehicles to carry the story. They are given backstories, yet they are unimportant in the greater scope of the movie. All the pieces fit excellently together in Spotlight; however, the quality of most of the 2017 nominees is comparable. Yet, the 2017 nominees also have a strong emotional component. Audiences are able to enjoy a quality film while also finding the characters compelling.
The only 2017 nominee that could even come close to being a blockbuster would be Arrival. However, despite being science fiction and having aliens, it would be erroneous to call it a blockbuster. Even though director Denis Villeneuve has Blade Runner 2049 and Dune coming up, it does not seem like the director of Enemy could possibly make a blockbuster in any classic definition.
The Academy is known for not nominating blockbusters. It was an anomaly last year that both Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian were nominated. This does not seem to be a fault of the Academy that this trend was not repeated this year, but just natural of the movies released each respective year.
In 2016 there were no blockbusters of comparable quality to Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian. There was some speculation that Deadpool could receive a nomination. However, Deadpool was more of a fun, unique novelty than actual Oscar material. Also, this year was competitive enough that if Scorsese could not even get Silence nominated, no blockbuster had a chance.
It is no secret that the Academy did an immensely better job in 2017 in nominating movies with a diverse cast. Infamously, in 2016 white actors and actresses filled all four acting categories, and all the movies for Best Picture had a white protagonist.
This greatly improved in 2017, with the nominations of Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Moonlight for Best Picture. Additionally, Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, Ruth Negga, Dev Patel, Octavia Spencer, and Denzel Washington were nominated within the Acting categories.
Additionally, 2017 stayed essentially the same as 2016 for movies with female protagonists. 2017 has Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, and La La Land while 2016 had Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Room. This is significantly better than 2015, when The Theory of Everything came closest to having a female lead.
However, in neither year (nor any since 2010) was a female director nominated. Also, in 2017, the only female screenwriter nominated was Allison Schroeder, the co-screenwriter of Hidden Figures. This is a minor step backwards from 2016 in which four females were nominated for writing or co-writing. Interestingly, Mica Levi is nominated for Best Original Score for Jackie. She is the only woman to be nominated in this category since 2000.