With the Oscars coming up later this week, it’s time to begin our mass movie-watching binge and catch up on those Academy Award nominations we’ve missed out on, especially the most empowering ones. Some amongst those nominees, including La La Land and Zootopia, have managed to reach much wider audiences and achieved great popularity than the rest, leaving the rest of this year’s most beautiful and thought-provoking pieces of art in the shadows. Here are a few nominees to look out for and deserve your recognition:
Best Original Screenplay – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Lonergan’s career before the 2017 Oscars has been a rough one. Margaret was a film both written and directed by Lonergan which, after several years of development and despite a star-studded cast inclusive of Matt Damon, received primarily bad reviews by major film critics. This marked a dent in Lonergan’s career and Manchester by the Sea has been his only creative project since then.
The amount of shame that burdens a writer after hearing nothing but criticism and general distaste for their work can certainly have an effect on their writing going forward. It takes more than just a little courage to muster up creative confidence to go back into the public limelight with the fear of being critiqued again.
With a total of six Academy Award nominations for his latest film, Lonergan has clearly made a powerful comeback.
Best Animated Feature Film – Kubo and the Two Strings, Travis Knight
Every year, the animation category carries some of the most underrated works of cinema. Despite the leaps and bounds made in each of the lesser known productions, it’s the movies developed by studios like Pixar or Disney that will always ultimately take home the crown. This year serves as no exception as Zootopia will leave with the Oscar, however, that does not take away the glory from the masterpiece that is Knight’s Kubo and the Two Strings.
Created by the original storytellers at LAIKA, who brought us The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman, and Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings follows Kubo, a young Japanese boy who sets out on a quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, who was once a great samurai. This stop-motion beauty demonstrates a level of detail, intricacy and real emotion that is necessary in great storytelling and yet is missing in an industry so overrun by formulaic films. Another animated movie that deserves an honorable mention includes The Red Turtle, produced by the incredible people at Studio Ghibli.
Best Picture – Lion, Garth Davis
Lion tells the true story of Saroo, a young man born in India, adopted and then raised in Australia, and who goes to great lengths to re-discover his past. Using Google Earth to find his home village through a mere search of pixels, Saroo reunites with his biological mother after being estranged for 25 years.
One of the more incredible aspects of this film, besides the already amazing real-life story it tells, includes actor Sunny Pawar. At only 8 years old, Sunny is the lead actor in this film despite having no previous acting experience. Dev Patel plays older Saroo, taking the supporting lead position while also receiving an Academy nomination.
Considering the previous years of scrutiny, call for greater nominations of people of color which gained popularity through the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. There’s has since been significant improvements with regards to a shift towards inclusivity. Four out of the nine nominated movies for Best Picture feature men and women of color in leading roles. Lion is just one of the many quality movies that are a part of the change to seeing more diverse faces on screen and more voices from minority groups being heard.
Author: Raazia Rafeek
Raazia Rafeek lives in Toronto writing, painting and studying to complete her final year of her Honours English degree. With an interest and passion for everything creative, she wishes to see her career through in Marketing or hopefully, film and production. Check her work out at www.raaziarafeek.wordpress.com.