It is that time of the year where the spirit of movie enthusiasts are quite on the higher side. Oscars nominations are announced and pundits and critics are already busy measuring their tally. Every common movie buff out there is also making predictions of his or her own and probably betting against their best pals. On Sunday, February 26th all of their eyes will be glued towards that one big stage. If your partner is a film lover, tell him to spend February 26th, the complete day with you, refusing him access to Television, Computer or Mobile Screen and witness the magic that unfolds! And by the way, if someone takes this too serious and tries to do it, sorry about that!
To begin with, 2017 Oscars have a big speciality that it is after two decades a film has received 14 Academy Award nominations. You know the last one, don’t you? It is no surprise that La La Land, that impressed all critics and audience worldwide is in the prime focus of this year’s Oscar stage. This is the second film of director Damien Chazelle to arrive at the big stage after his independent film ‘Whiplash’ in 2014 that went on to win three out of its five Academy nominations. And Damien is still just 32! One cannot be wrong to assume the young director is already a legend in the making. The nominations include Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress in lead role. Emma Stone, the actress was earlier nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 2014 for ‘Birdman’ and Ryan Gosling, the lead actor too was once nominated for Best Actor in 2006 for his role in ‘Half Nelson’. La La Land is followed by ‘Arrival’ and ‘Moonlight’ with eight nominations each. No film year is really complete without a neat science fiction and in 2016 it was ‘Arrival’. When Director Denis Villeneuve, stepped into science fiction after his stirring legal and psychological thrillers such as ‘Sicario’, ‘Prisoners’ and ‘Enemy’, the filmmaker in him elevated to a supreme level too. The nominations for ‘Arrival’ include Best Picture, Direction, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay etc. Directed by Barry Jenkins, ‘Moonlight’ is an emotional coming of age drama film that provides engaging insights on sexuality, race, identity and culture. This is only the second film of the director after his independent film ‘Medicine for Melancholy’. The big fight in the bigger stage this year will be among this trio.. ‘La La Land’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Moonlight’.
Hacksaw Ridge directed by Mel Gibson and ‘Manchester by the Sea’ by Kenneth Lonergan have six nominations each. Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is the name Mel Gibson itself. Returning to direction after a decade, Mel Gibson immediately made his way into the Oscars. Ironically, this is also his first Nomination after his most famous ‘Braveheart’ in 1996! Whatever his offscreen controversies are, the craft of filmmaking has just not left Gibson. The biographical war drama has been nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Director, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Mixing. Kenneth Lonergan, the play writer who earlier got nominated for Academy Awards in the category Best Original Screenplay for ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘You can Count on Me’, is arriving strong at the Oscars this time with ‘Manchester by the Sea’, his third feature film as a Director. The heart wrenching drama film that depicted the life of a chronicle loner has been nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor and Actress. Meryl Streep, the winner of two Academy Awards for Best Actress and one for Supporting Actress is contending for Best Actress this time too with ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’. With this nomination, her total tally adds to twenty, which is eight ahead of the actor in second place, Katherine Hepburn!
In an industry where visual aura is uncompromised the award for Visual Effects is quite interestingly looked upon. Visual effects have become a regular companion of the American Motion Picture Industry and last year too there were some spectacular Films rich in Visual Effects. ‘Doctor Strange’, ‘Arrival’, ‘Jungle Book‘, ‘Deepwater Horizon’, ‘Kubo and the two Strings’ and ‘Rogue one’ are the contenders for Best Visual Effects in 2017. Directed by Scott Derrickson, the movie adaptation of Marvel Superhero character ‘Doctor Strange’ had about 1450 effects shots. Derrickson was determined to create effects that are fresh and new and the unique dimensions of action scenes are clear examples of that. Denis Villeneuve in ‘Arrival’, wanted a film that was real and prefered not to have overwhelming visual effects. The texture of the aliens were based on whales, octopus and elephants since they wanted to make the aliens look really odd…Really really an alien. For most of us who grew up watching the famous cartoon, the ‘Jungle Book’ was more than just a movie. Director Jon Favreau gave a pleasurable nostalgic trip with the help of some stupendous visual effects. Motion Capture and Keyframing were the important tools that they used to bring ‘Jungle Book’ alive. ‘Deepwater Horizon’, directed by Peter Berg and based on the 2010 explosion on the massive oil rig that killed eleven crew members, recreated the disaster in all its horror. One of the surprises in Oscar Nominations was the inclusion of ‘Kubo and the two Strings’ in the Visual Effects Category. The film, directed by Travis Knight won dual nominations for Best Animated Feature Film and Visual Effects. The film made use of stop motion technology and as per the words of Travis Knight if we go back to the dawn of cinema, stop motion was one of the first visual effects that was ever used. One need not mention anything about visual effects surrounding a Star Wars movie and it is no surprise that ‘Rogue One’, the latest addition to the franchise and directed by Gareth Edwards finds its place in Visual Effect nominations.
Oscar is a stage for history. They are made and broken here. And so, this year we have an entry that is quite historical. Perhaps the most exciting nominee at this year’s Oscars that has got the whole world talking is this six minute film! The entire tech-savvy world is curiously watching on. ‘Pearl’, the animated short film is the world’s first Virtual Reality Film to gain an Academy Award Nomination. The Film Industry, is one of the prominent fields that Virtual Reality is expected to revolutionize in the near future and this nomination proves that is a valid claim. Just within the first few years of it’s launch VR is already up there in the biggest stage for Films. Directed by Patrick Osborne, ‘Pearl’ is a product of Google’s Spotlight series that feature Virtual Reality Stories. ‘Pearl’ will be competing with ‘Blind Vaysha’, ‘Borrowed Time’, ‘Pear Cider’ and ‘Cigarettes and Piper’ for the Best Animated Short Film Category. Pearl’s director Patrick had earlier won an Academy award for his first Short Film ‘Feast’. Pearl’s nomination is VR’s continuing story of success after two of its films winning Emmy Awards in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, ‘Sleepy Hollow’, created by Canadian Studio Secret Location and in 2016 ‘Henry’ created by Oculus Story Studio had tasted success at Emmy Awards. With a lot of diversity in its nominations, February 26th is going to be a lot of fun!