“La La Land” did what 800-lb gorillas are supposed to do: dominate the Oscar nominations tally, pulling down 14, including actor, actress, director and picture. That ties the record shared only with "All About Eve" and "Titanic."
"Arrival" and "Moonlight" each came away with eight nominations. Ava DuVernay’s “13th” joins “O.J.: Made in America” among best documentary feature nominees, continuing our ongoing conversation about race in the United States. Speaking of which, with Viola Davis, Dev Patel, Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Ruth Negga getting acting nominations, the 89th Academy Awards will definitely not be so white.
The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and will air live at 5:30 p.m. PT.
- The complete list of Oscar nominations
- Meryl Streep's response to her 20th Oscar nomination: This GIF
- Are the Oscars still #SoWhite? A look at the diversity among this year's nominees
- How an underdog screenwriter got the 'Hidden Figures' job -- and an Oscar nomination
- PHOTOS: L.A. Times portraits of the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards
- The Academy Awards through the years
- VIDEO: The Oscars aren't #SoWhite this time around
The ramifications of the executive order signed Friday by President Trump to suspend refugee arrivals and ban entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries continue to unfold in Hollywood.
The travel ban means that the subjects of the Oscar-nominated short documentary "The White Helmets," a film that focuses on the rescue efforts of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers, who have saved more than 60,000 civilian lives in Syria and were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, will be unable to attend the ceremony.
"We have always said that if we were to be nominated, we would bring Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, who has spoken many times in D.C., and Khaled Khateeb, the young cinematographer who risked his life over and over again, as our guests," Joanna Natasegara, producer of "The White Helmets" told The Times. "They’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize — these people are the bravest humanitarians on the planet, and the idea that they could not be able to come with us and enjoy that success is just abhorrent."
The news comes on the heels of a statement from Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi stating that he will not be attending the ceremony, even if granted a travel exception, as "condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America."
Farhadi won the Academy Award for foreign language film in 2012 for "A Separation" and is nominated this year for "The Salesman."
Marcel Mettelsiefen, who is nominated for an Oscar for documentary short subject for "Watani: My Homeland," about a family fleeing the Syrian civil war and attempting to build a new life in Germany, shared similar sentiments regarding the executive order.
"This travel ban from President Trump is another devastating blow to refugees who have already suffered so much," Mettelsiefen told The Times.
"We must reconnect with the common humanity of the refugee experience, and we must all remember that the founding story of America is dependent upon people who have fled war, hunger and poverty in search of a better life," said Mettelsiefen.
Protesting President Trump's executive order banning Syrian refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran, "A Separation," and this year's Oscar-nominated film "The Salesman," has decided that he will not be attending the Oscars -- even if he were granted an exception to do so.
In a statement to the New York Times, Farhadi laid out why:
I regret to announce via this statement that I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community.
Over the course of the past few days and despite the unjust circumstances which have risen for the immigrants and travelers of several countries to the United States, my decision had remained the same: to attend this ceremony and to express my opinions about these circumstances in the press surrounding the event. I neither had the intention to not attend nor did I want to boycott the event as a show of objection, for I know that many in the American film industry and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are opposed to the fanaticism and extremism which are today taking place more than ever. Just as I had stated to my distributor in the United States on the day the nominees were announced, that I would be attending this ceremony along with my cinematographer, I continued to believe that I would be present at this great cultural event.
However, it now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip. I would therefore like to convey via this statement what I would have expressed to the press were I to travel to the United States. Hard-liners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way. In order to understand the world, they have no choice but to regard it via an “us and them” mentality, which they use to create a fearful image of “them” and inflict fear in the people of their own countries.
This is not just limited to the United States; in my country hardliners are the same. For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears. Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals.
However, I believe that the similarities among the human beings on this earth and its various lands, and among its cultures and its faiths, far outweigh their differences. I believe that the root cause of many of the hostilities among nations in the world today must be searched for in their reciprocal humiliation carried out in its past and no doubt the current humiliation of other nations are the seeds of tomorrow’s hostilities. To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity. I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.
Asghar Farhadi, Iran
We understand that not every Oscar nominee wants to get on the phone with real, live reporters to give a real, live reaction to news about, oh, one of the most exciting honors a creative person can receive. But the growing trend of publicists dispensing pre-written statements after awards-show news does a disservice to the many entertainers perfectly capable of speaking to the press with charm and wit.
Consider the seemingly canned statement we received from Justin Timberlake's camp after his original song Oscar nomination for "Can't Stop the Feeling" from "Trolls":
"I am speechless, and humbled. Working on this film, and writing 'CANT STOP THE FEELING!' with Max Martin and Johan Schuster was such an amazing creative process. Thank you so much to the Academy for this nomination. What an honor to be among these talented nominees."
The statement is especially disappointing because in a recent interview with Times music critic Mikael Wood, the multi-talented Timberlake was playful and spontaneous.
“I was like, ‘You fools! I don’t know why you’re entrusting me with this," he told Wood about getting the "Trolls" offer, and described how Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire music influenced his decision to take the job.
And so, as we come to the end of this Oscar nominations day, we have a simple request: If you're not going to take our calls, at least delight us the way awards queen Meryl Streep did today with this GIF:
I am truly humbled by the news this morning, and I thank the Academy for this recognition, which I share with my co-collaborators Jeff Nichols and Joel Edgerton. It has been such an honor to have been given the opportunity to tell the incredible story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who serve as an inspiration that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
The Lovings fought quietly yet tirelessly, and changed the course of American legal history. Today, to be among such extraordinary women -- my fellow nominees, my peers with films this year, and the legendary performers whose work of years past has long inspired me ... this means a great deal to me.
Decided on by about 7,500 fewer voters than the Oscars -- and with many fewer degrees of credibility -- the Golden Globes are often derided as an awards-show punchline.
Who are these 80 entertainment reporters to determine what Hollywood thinks are the best movies of the year, when so many thousands of industry veterans vote on awards just weeks later?
But the first group may have had an unusually large effect on the latter this year.
When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its nominations Tuesday morning, it had put "Elle" star Isabelle Huppert on the shortlist for lead actress, while leaving out favorites Amy Adams ("Arrival") and Annette Bening ("20th Century Women").
Huppert's profile was raised dramatically in the critical final days of voting when the Globes gave her an upset victory of sorts in lead actress in a drama award -- then she gave a bubbly speech that played well to the thousands of voters watching. Though it's impossible to know how many votes shifted, her elevated stock in the final five days of voting only helped her candidacy.
Also nestling its way into voters' minds from the Beverly Hilton ballroom was Meryl Streep, who was considered a bubble candidate at best for her role as a bad opera singer in the little-seen "Florence Foster Jenkins." But she became a hero, especially in many precincts of Hollywood, at the Golden Globes, when she gave a fiery anti-Trump speech that included such as lines as "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."
A backlash from Trump and Trump supporters only solidified her status, and Streep's Oscar chances began to steadily rise, until Tuesday she notched an Oscar spot that might otherwise have gone to Adams or Bening. (Whether the Globes speech and its attention prompts Oscar producers to give her a platform at their show as well remains to be seen.)
But maybe the biggest contribution the Globes made to the Oscars comes with a polarizing personality: Mel Gibson.
Gibson was a somewhat unexpected juggernaut on Tuesday, his "Hacksaw Ridge" earning six nominations, including picture and director (both over Oscar darlings Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese).
As it turned out, Gibson was nominated for picture and director by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. as well. In fact, the group was one of the first to normalize the filmmaker after the string of racist, misogynist and anti-Semitic comments that put him in "director jail" a decade or so ago. They invited him to introduce the top honor of motion picture-drama last year at a point when few high-profile shows would have Gibson on. (It devolved into awkward barbs between him and Globes host Ricky Gervais.)
Gibson had been shunned by much of Hollywood following the multiple incidents -- so much so that Robert Downey Jr. asked forgiveness for him several years back. The Globes' embrace of Gibson helped pave the way for him to return to Oscar's good graces.
The HFPA won't win over skeptics who say the group does not represent people in mainstream Hollywood. But Tuesday's Oscar nominations proves at least one thing: Those people are watching.
Dueling L.A. Times film critics, Justin Chang and Kenneth Turan, take a break from the Sundance Film Festival to chat about the 2017 Oscar nominees.
Who was snubbed? Who was a surprise? And what is Turan over? Apparently Meryl Streep's nomination.
Amazon Studios, the film and TV production arm of Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce giant, made history Tuesday by becoming the first video streaming company to score a best picture nomination.
“Manchester By the Sea,” the acclaimed Casey Affleck drama backed by Amazon and distributed theatrically by Roadside Attractions, scored six nods from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which holds its awards ceremony Feb. 26.
To be sure, “Manchester By the Sea,” up for awards including lead actor, lead actress and director, is not streaming yet on the Amazon Prime service. Unlike Netflix, Amazon’s movie business follows the traditional windowing model where movies run exclusively in theaters before landing on home video outlets.
In the Oscars' animated short category, one film, "Pearl," brings a new technical twist to the party: the Google 360 experience.
"Pearl," the story of a father and daughter who travel the country in pursuit of their dreams, takes place entirely inside the family car, which the viewer experiences sitting passenger side throughout the whole story.
The immersive, 360-degree animated Google Spotlight Story, which allows a viewer to look up, down and all around to see different parts of the story, was directed by Patrick Osborne.
If you're watching "Pearl" in two dimensions — perhaps via the video embedded above — be careful how you navigate, or you might wind up staring out the hatchback's sunroof for most of the 5 minutes and 38 seconds.
For a more seamless experience, download the Google Spotlight Stories app and change your point of view while watching the short by moving your phone around in three-dimensional space. It's trippy.
Psst: Bonus points from us if you spin around in your office chair while you're watching it.
With an Academy Award nomination for documentary feature in hand, does this disqualify Ezra Edelman's epic, zeitgeist-capturing "O.J.: Made in America" from Emmy contention?
Turns out it doesn't, and we could very well be hearing Edelman's name again when the Emmy nominations are announced this summer.
Exploiting a loophole that makes any film that debuts in theaters eligible for Oscar recognition, ESPN Films premiered all 7 1/2 hours of Edeleman's film in theaters in May before its TV premiere in June.
This isn't the first time a documentary has been eligible to double-dip. In 2014, Jehane Noujaim’s"The Square" earned four Emmy nominations after being nominated for an Academy Award. Its eligibility for both was contingent upon "The Square" screening in theaters for no more than seven days and in no more than two cities, as stipulated by the TV Academy's rules. HBO Films' "Gasland" pulled off a similar feat in 2011, earning nominations at both the Oscars and the Emmys.
One small challenge for "O.J.: Made in America," however, is that neither of the above films managed to win both awards. Still, after the many accolades it has earned up to this point, along with the dramatization "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," would you bet against it?
My thanks to the Academy for amplifying the injustices of mass criminalization and mass incarceration that we chronicle in '13th.' Now more than ever, it is important to educate ourselves, explore our shared history and elevate our awareness about matters of human dignity.
It’s an honor be included in a category with such fine documentarians and to be nominated in a year that truly embraces and celebrates inclusion within our creative community.
Five years ago, Disney veterans Byron Howard (“Bolt,” “Tangled”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”) were heartened when their bosses lent support to “Zootopia,” about an enthusiastic female rabbit who dreams of becoming a police officer, defying the odds and prejudices of a socially divided animal kingdom.
“When you say you want to make an animated movie about bias, it doesn’t sound like something that’s going to make a lot of money or be very popular,” said "Zootopia" director Howard with a laugh on the phone from his home in Glendale, near Disney’s headquarters. “But support came from [Disney Chief Executive] Bob Iger and [Disney Chairman] Alan Horn and everyone at the studio, I think, because they saw that the world needed it.”
The urgency of “Zootopia’”s underlying exploration of racial, class, and gender bias within systems of power – led by a chipper bunny rabbit named Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin – crystallized even more as the Black Lives Matter movement dominated headlines, sparked by the killings of black American men at the hands of police officers across the country.
“It was horrifying to see that members of our society were being persecuted, very obviously because of what they looked like,” said Moore. “I remember saying, ‘This is exactly what we’re talking about with this movie.’ It was emboldening. We felt like we really needed to do this topic justice, because it wasn’t just a theoretical that we were playing out onscreen.”
What does it mean to you to see a movie like “Zootopia,” built around such a strong and timely social message, be acknowledged by the Oscars the same weekend Donald Trump takes office as president of the United States?
HOWARD: Our crew is just waking up now – we have about 800 people who worked on this film with us for about five years. We all really tried to take what was happening in the world and put it into this movie about a fox and a bunny, which was a pretty remarkable ride. The fact that we [and “Moana”] got nominated was a huge shot in the arm for Disney because 10 years ago, frankly, the studio was struggling hard to make quality films. “Zootopia” is about something that is difficult to talk about; it’s about bias and discrimination. It was reassuring for Rich and myself to take the film around the world and see that wherever we went, people were getting that message.
Does the Oscar nod give you more leeway to integrate these kinds of pointed social commentaries into your next films?
HOWARD: Absolutely. I think the creative community is going to be emboldened. That’s our job, to take what we see around us, what we’re experiencing in life, to make sense of it and to find truth in it – then sift it all out and say, "What does this all mean?" And I think for creative people, if our leaders are heavy-handed and try to clamp down on creativity, that’s just like throwing gasoline on a fire.
We’re charged with making sense of the world around us and making sense of the craziness in everyday life. In a presidency like this one, where truth is totally different from what we’re seeing with our own eyes, I think you’re going to see a lot of pushback.
MOORE: Everybody I knew went [to the women's march]. I heard from all these people downtown, especially in Los Angeles, three-quarters of a million people, men and women. It’s surreal. Right now there are moments that I experienced in the last few weeks like, am I in a dream? I don’t recognize this type of leadership. What is this? This is what we do when we’re being told that the truth is different than what we see with our own two eyes.
I’m not going to have my kids bullied by leadership. We’re going to push back.
Comedy has a history of using humor to speak truth to power, but in animation that’s much rarer. Do you see more studio execs greenlighting and supporting projects like this? What does it say about studios like Disney and bodies like the academy that films like this can be made and celebrated?
HOWARD: There’s too much at stake not to. And we all understand that these issues are the most important issues for us to talk about right now, to make movies that have a social message that allow people to talk to their families and talk amongst themselves. Social satire, music, comedy, art, has a great ability to point to things in our world that are so hard to deal with otherwise: "What would you, the audience, do if it were you in that situation?" Especially for children, I think it prepares you for life, to let them ponder: "What would I have done if I were Judy?"
MOORE: We spend up to five years on these movies, and they have to mean something. That’s a big part of your life to devote to making a piece of art. It has to be more than just laughs or songs.
Bill Mechanic has had many Hollywood lives. He's the former chairman and chief executive of 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment, he oversaw the video release of "Fantasia" and other animated classics for Disney, he co-produced "Coraline" (2005) and Terrence Malick's "The New World" (2005), and in 2010 he co-produced the Academy Awards show.
Certainly during Mechanic's tenure as head of Fox, the studio was nominated for and won many Oscars -- he was in charge when "Titanic" won 11 Academy Awards, tying with "Ben-Hur" and "The Lord of the Rings" for the record for most wins. Now, however, with the nomination of Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge" for a best picture Oscar, he could win an Academy Award of his own as one of the film's co-producers.
Shortly after the nominations were announced on Tuesday, we reached Mechanic, who described his morning watching the academy's livestream:
"When Andrew [Garfield] got in -- and I think it would have been a crime if he didn't -- I thought maybe things would be OK. You don't know," he said. "This was definitely a film that had to overcome a lot of stuff to get in. Only by the quality of the movie being so strong did the love overcome the hate."
Mechanic was especially gratified to see Gibson's directing nomination.
"It was really great and emotional to see Mel be embraced and the stuff of the past finally being forgiven by Hollywood," he said. "It's just such a long, hard journey that it would have been disappointing to see the movie not be recognized."
Mechanic thinks one of the reasons "Hacksaw Ridge" resonated with audiences and Oscar-nominating voters is that it's "an old-fashioned movie."
"We're a film that's a moral tale that takes you for a ride," he said. "Especially when you watch it in the theater, it takes you through a pretty good roller coaster ride and affects you emotionally. I think that's what makes a great movie, and I think people responded because of it."
As for the rest of the day after such a momentous morning, Mechanic said, "I should probably stay in, so I can't do anything wrong. I don't know what to do.
"Actually, I was braced for whatever happens, good or bad. This is all good. I feel like it was a good ride, a tough ride, and just the nominations are a victory for us."
The Oscar ballots this year feature a lot more diverse talent than in the last two years, when the all-white slate of acting nominees inspired #OscarsSoWhite.
Five hours after Jeff Bridges' supporting actor Academy Award nomination was announced, he still hadn't talked to his wife about it.
"I'm flying home. I'm in San Diego now," he said. "I haven't given her a call yet."
See, the "Hell or High Water" actor had a gig Monday night in Solana Beach with his band, Jeff Bridges and the Abiders.
"I partied pretty hard last night, got to bed about 2:30. ... My publicist called and gave me the good news."
Bridges seemed more excited about the movie getting four nominations total than he was about getting his seventh nod.
"You've got our editor, you've got best picture — God, that's a wonderful recognition — and Jake [Roberts], our editor, was acknowledged; that's wonderful. It's great, great news. It's wonderful to be recognized by people who do what you do."
The movie landed at what he called a "stimulating" time in history. The Women's March on Washington and the Standing Rock protests came to mind.
"I get a lot of comments ... people saying it's a movie of our time, and I think it certainly is, but it's not only for our times," he said. "It's kind of reflective of how us human beings have rolled since the beginning of time. We tend to look out for our own self-interest, whether we're banks ripping people off or poor farmers looking out for their families or oil guys looking out for their interests. ... It has consequences, when you're only looking out for yourself."
But when it comes to looking out for himself during Hollywood's award season, The Dude is looking at it with fresh eyes, as always.
"You never get used to something like this, or I don't," said Bridges, who won best actor in 2010 for "Crazy Heart."
"Red carpets, I've been down quite a few. It always seems like the flashbulbs are getting brighter and there's more craziness. It always seems fresh to me, all of this."
Garnering critical acclaim for her work in both Paul Verhoeven's "Elle" and Mia Hansen-Løve's "Things to Come," 2016 was already a banner year for French actress Isabelle Huppert.
After earning her first Academy Award nomination for her performance in Verhoeven's film about a woman's complicated journey post-assault, Huppert spoke to The Times about what gives her nomination for "Elle" special resonance and what lies ahead in her storied career.
Where were you when you learned about your nomination?
I just started a film yesterday with French director Benoît Jacquot, and it was during our lunch break today so I was alone in my room. I got a phone call from Michael Barker from Sony Classics, who told me I was nominated. It was absolutely great. Extraordinary.
You had expressed interest in the film adaptation of "Elle" even before Paul Verhoeven was attached to direct. Does it make the nomination that much more gratifying that it's for this specific role?
It is, actually.
First of all, it's a French-speaking film. It's a Paul Verhoeven film, who I think is an amazing director but is a free spirit. He's not always liked by everybody. He disturbs people most of the time, but he's a great, great director.
So to have gotten this nomination for a French-speaking film with a Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven, it's just amazing. It's great. Now the film gets all this recognition, which I always thought it should have from the very beginning, and it's just amazing for me.
You've had so many wonderful roles this year. Is it nice to have all of these films on your plate at this stage in your career?
It's always gratifying because you feel you receive it for the film itself and a little bit maybe for the sum of work. I think I managed to keep a pretty precise line, trying to make films that are as different as possible. I feel like it's the mission of this journey, and it's great for me.
That includes all the great American films I did ("Amateur," "Heaven's Gate"). I did few American films, but I managed them with the same criteria as I would have in my own country, which is based on the director, who is the main component of the ensemble, always.
You mentioned you're currently filming "Eva" with Benoît Jacquot. Do you have a lot of films lined up for the future?
I guess I do have many others but I don't know. I might take a little rest because I've been working a lot. I did "Elle" and then I did "Things To Come" just after, and I've done so many, many other films, so maybe I'll take a little rest. Well-deserved, I would say.
Do you have big plans to celebrate your nomination?
I will! I will celebrate with friends, not only today, but all the next days to come. It's a great day for me.
Andrew Garfield has been busy this past year, delivering performances in two of the year's best movies, "Silence" and "Hacksaw Ridge." The critical acclaim of his turn in the Mel Gibson-directed picture nabbed him an Oscar nomination Tuesday morning for best actor.
Shortly after the announcement, Garfield spoke with The Times from London about the recognition:
Where are you now?
I’m in London rehearsing a play, “Angels in America,” at the National Theater on the South Bank in London. I just finished my first morning rehearsal and went to lunch at the canteen and my agent called me screaming. I kind of assumed it was a good scream.
This is your first Oscar nomination. How does it feel?
I’m still feeling it—I can’t describe it really. All actors, before they know they want to be actors, even people who aren’t actors, fantasize about winning an Oscar. The best thing that can happen is to have someone affected by the work you’re doing. I feel very deeply reassured that I’m on the trajectory that I’m supposed to be on. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be with my life at this point. If there was any doubt in my mind —and there’s always a lot — the academy members, whose opinion I value, seem to think I’m on the right track.
Are you particularly happy that the film you were nominated for bears a pacifist message during a time of global turmoil?
Absolutely. To be a vessel for a story that is urgent for the times we’re in, for me as an actor, is all I can wish for. I think the world is crying out for this story and that is the ultimate gratification. To think, you’re adding something healing and soulful to the culture, something that’s authentic. People can feel it when something healing and beautiful and loving is happening. I think Desmond Doss was a personification of love. Those are virtues the world needs now. We need humility and we all need to show up as ourselves in all our unique callings.
I’m so inspired by the women’s march and everything else that is happening in terms of rallying against this culture of separatism and alternate facts, and the lies that are being peddled, and the ego that is being lived out. Desmond Doss was the antithesis of these qualities. Everyone is being woken up and called to action in some way. I just hope we do the unique thing that we are called to do. Not one of us can fix things; it’s going to take every human being to shift the tide. America won’t be brought down by one man’s ego.
Mel Gibson congratulated you by name in the reaction statement he issued. How does that make you feel?
It’s wonderful! This film is a real partnership. My performance as Desmond is as much Mel’s as it is mine. It’s as much of Vince Vaughan… and the rest of the battalion of lads. Every nomination or award is an ensemble one. All this means is that I was held up and supported by incredible artists, and above all, Mel, who really shaped this performance with me and [editor] John Gilbert in the edit room.
If you're both an avid reader and a committed movie buff, you can pass the time before the 89th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26 by dipping into the sources of the adapted screenplay nominees. But you won’t be reading any novels.
Two nonfiction books, two plays and one short story inspired the Oscar nominees for Adapted Screenplay: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures,” “Lion” and “Moonlight.”
For the first time since 2013, none of the nominated screenplays this year is based on a novel. Here’s more about each of the nominees.
It’s not often that a screenplay based on a short story (“Arrival”) makes the cut — the last was in 2008, when “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was nominated.
“Arrival,” written by Eric Heisserer, is an adaptation of Ted Chiang's “Story of Your Life,” the Nebula Award-winning tale of a linguist recruited by the government to communicate with aliens.
"Arrival" producer, Shawn Levy called in from the Upside Down while directing on the set of Netflix's "Stranger Things" to talk about the, ahem, arrival of the movie's many Oscar nominations.
This is a big day for “Arrival.” Did you see it coming?
It’s a good day! Given the ride we’ve been on since our festival premieres in the fall, we certainly hoped that it might all lead to a day like today. It was never something we contemplated over the past five years that it took to get this movie made, but seeing the reaction to our film, both commercially and critically, it definitely stoked the flames of hope. And today has us over the moon happy.
Where were you when you got the good news?
I’m also directing “Stranger Things” right now, and I am literally in the Upside Down today. I got the news of our Oscar nomination in the Upside Down.
How have others from the film reacted?
My first call was from Amy [Adams] who is so thrilled with the various ways in which the movie is being recognized and nominated. Amy is the most giving, gracious human being, and I personally feel like “Arrival” in anchored in every frame by Amy Adams, so to acknowledge the movie to the extent that the Academy has, is an acknowledgement of Amy’s genius.
Given the nuance and layers of meaning reflected in “Arrival,” do you feel the that the film is particularly timely?
I do. We never knew the extent to which a movie about communication, collaboration, and the duality of fear and hope would be topical. The movie has turned out to be so much more timely than we ever imagined, but I’m grateful for that. “Arrival” is about the obstacles to connection and communication, and the overcoming of those obstacles. What better lesson can we ask for?
How will you celebrate?
I’m literally going to celebrate by continuing to direct “Stranger Things” all day, and then I will have a very cold beer after wrap.
For director Michaël Dudok de Wit, seeing his film "The Red Turtle" get nominated for an Oscar for animated feature was a shock. "The competition was really strong," he said from his home in London. "I knew our film had a chance. It was unlike any of the other films. But many other films had a huge chance, I think. I was honestly quite nervous!
"On top of that, another French film was nominated, 'My Life as a Zucchini,' also handmade like our film. 'Kubo' was mostly handmade as well. I’m just delighted with all the nominees and of course, for our film and my team."
How did the project first come together, from such disparate cultural backgrounds and influences?
It’s a miracle. It was a very unlikely cooperation. [Studio Ghibli co-founder/"Red Turtle" artistic director] Isao Takahata has a mind that is interested in European culture, and I love Japanese art and traditional art especially. We were from totally opposite parts of the world and we each had an openness and a curiosity about each other’s culture.
What was behind the choice to tell this story without dialogue?
The whole thing started with an invitation from Studio Ghibli saying, "If you want to make your first feature film, we are interested in making it." It was a total dream offer – it was so surreal. I’ve seen and admired all of their films, and on top of that they are very independent-minded. My reply was, ‘Yes, of course!’
In the beginning I had some dialogue in my script, just a few moments to feel closeness to the main characters. We experimented with that but … at some point in development, we dropped all the dialogue. But I felt strongly that it should feel as though the people in the film can talk, and they do – it’s just that in our film we don’t see them talk. We wanted it to be very natural.
What does it say about the academy and the animation community that such a diverse spectrum of animated films were nominated this year?
It’s striking: On one hand, the members have voted for some very solid quality computer-animated films which have a traditional approach to the story. And on the other hand, they chose two films from Europe that were handmade, made on a small budget, and a film from Oregon with puppet animation which was beautifully, beautifully made. In other words, they clearly had a very open attitude. Some films are more experimental than others, but they all have a place among the nominations.
This year's diversity in Oscar nominations extended beyond actors and filmmakers to media platforms. Amazon, ESPN and Google are not names one normally associates with the Academy Awards but they may find themselves being thanked from the podium this year, and not just for gift cards in presenter swag bags.
Amazon dropped $10 million at Sundance last year for distribution rights to "Manchester by the Sea," an investment that certainly paid off -- on Tuesday, Amazon became the first streaming service ever to produce a film nominated for best picture.
Netflix, which tried to break through last year with "Beasts of No Nation," once again had a documentary nomination in Ava DuVernay's "13th," but "Manchester's" six nominations -- best picture, actor (Casey Affleck, who won the Golden Globe), actress (Michelle Williams), supporting actor (Lucas Hedges), director and original screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan) -- mark streaming's first foray into features.
ESPN also continued to blur genres, scoring its first Oscar nomination ever for the eight-hour, five-part series "OJ: Made in America," which aired both in theaters and on television (and yes, it is still eligible for next year's Emmys.).
Google has the short film "Pearl," which was part of its Spotlight Stories series of 360-degree films. Though it is still available in its original VR-compatible form, it was submitted in 2-D.
Which is too bad -- we were really looking forward to those fancy schmancy Oscar-night virtual reality goggles.