It’s always instructive who merits an Oscar campaign and who doesn’t. The three ladies of Hidden Figures would have had better odds if their highly successful movie had premiered earlier in the season. As it played out, there was only one vulnerable slot in Supporting Actress, and Octavia Spencer snuck in.
Similarly, with so much talent in Moonlight, the studio only pushed Mahershala Ali from its pool of strong male actors. I understand why: campaigning more than one actor can lead to vote splitting and uncertainty (Michael Shannon vs. Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Nocturnal Animals). That one actor ends up carrying the movie through awards season, representing the whole ensemble with his work.
What should have been nominated this year? For starters, I was very moved by both Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women and Jeff Nichols’ Loving. They had no chance for Best Picture and Director noms this year. But in a just world…
My shoulda, woulda, couldas for the acting categories:
Amy Adams, Arrival
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Sally Field, Hello, My Name Is Doris
Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
Lucas Jade Zumann, 20th Century Women
Best Supporting Actress
Linda Emond, Indignation
Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women
Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures
Best Supporting Actor
Jovan Adepo, Fences
Michael Barbieri, Little Men
Tracy Letts, Indignation
…and the whole rest of the Moonlight ensemble!