The Oscar for Best Picture 2017
The 89th Annual Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. The biggest stars in the entertainment industry flock to the ceremony for what is arguably the most prestigious and widely-viewed awards show for the big screen. Every year comes with its own surprises, and it is always interesting to see what the Academy decides as the best films, actors, actresses, directors, and everything in between for the past calendar year.
The best picture nominees list from 2016 features some outstanding films—some of which have become more well-known than others. All of them, however, have been deemed good enough to make the cut for the final decision by the Academy. Without further ado, here are the 89th Annual Academy Awards nominees for best picture.
“Hell or High Water”
Directed by David Mackenzie and starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster, the film takes place in western Texas and is the story of two brothers who commit a series of bank robberies to save their family’s ranch. The film borrows elements from classic westerns but hopes to refresh the genre. The film received high critical-acclaim, reaching a 98 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Action-packed and American to its roots, “Hell or High Water” is for anyone fond of westerns or gun-slinging action.
A science-fiction drama directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Forest Whitaker, “Arrival” is a film adaptation of the 1998 novela “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. The film follows expert linguist Louise Banks as she and her team attempt to gain information about mysterious spacecrafts that touch down on Earth—before it becomes too late for humanity. The sci-fi film should feature thrilling moments that will have you on the edge of your seat.
A drama directed by Garth Davis in his feature-film debut, the film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, and Nicole Kidman. “Lion” is based on the nonfiction book by Saroo Brierley titled “A Long Way Home.” The film chronicles the life of the young boy, Saroo, who becomes lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India. He is forced to survive alone in Kolkata until an Australian couple adopts him. Later in life, he attempts to use modern technologies, such as Google Earth, to find the family he left behind. “Lion” is a gripping tale of growth and discovery.
“La La Land”
One of the most popular films of the year, “La La Land” is directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The romantic-comedy-drama-musical is the story of Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a pianist who is completely devoted to the dying art of “real jazz.” Set in modern Los Angeles, the film illuminates the struggle of pursuing dreams and how love can both complicate important decisions and color our lives.
A biographical drama based on the nonfiction book of the same name written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film stars Taraji P. Henson, Katherine G. Johnson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons. The film presents the story of Katherine G. Johnson and two of her colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three black women working at NASA who were a large part of sending astronaut John Glenn into space. The women broke barriers of both gender and race in a previously untold story—the primary premise of the film.
A drama directed by Barry Jenkins, based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the film features Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, and Janelle Monae. “Moonlight” is an up-close-and-personal look into black life and culture, with themes of identity, family, friendship, and the search for universal truths. While critically-acclaimed, the film grossed substantially less than some of the others on this list, at only $22 million globally. It will be interesting to see how it holds up at the Oscars compared to box office giants like “La La Land,” which grossed $294 million at the box office. Moonlight might be considered one of the favorites to win, as it won best picture at the Golden Globe Awards this year.
Directed by Denzel Washington and written by the late August Wilson, “Fences” is based on Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The film stars Washington himself, as well as Viola Davis and Stephen Henderson. The story follows Troy Maxson, a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh, who once had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player but was too old by the time the major leagues allowed black players to join in on America’s pastime. Maxson’s lost dream threatens his relationship with his family, and he struggles to be a good husband and father despite his best efforts.
“Manchester by the Sea”
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the film stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges. “Manchester by the Sea” is the story of Lee Chandler, a man who works as a handyman in Boston who must take care of his 16-year-old nephew after his brother unexpectedly passes away. Chandler is forced to deal with his own grief, but also with the struggle of raising a teenager, all while attempting to sort out personal issues he has dealt with for most of his life.
A biographical drama directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, and Luke Bracey, “Hacksaw Ridge” is the story of Desmond Doss, an American soldier during World War II. Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, and was a pacifist combat medic who refused to use firearms or weapons of any kind. Doss saved 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa—one of the bloodiest in WWII—all while serving on the front lines without a weapon. Doss also became the first conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions above and beyond the call of duty. “Hacksaw Ridge” is action-packed and tells a unique story in a genre that is often overcrowded with new releases.
This year’s nominees for the Academy Awards’ best picture come from many different genres and tell vastly different stories. Some were bigger box office hits than others, but all of them possess the criteria that the Academy desires in selecting the finalists for the award. All that’s left is to see is if your favorite film of the bunch takes home the prize.
Written by Walker Chuppe, Arts & Culture Editor