Oscar Nominations: Surprises and Snubs

Oscar Nominations: Surprises and Snubs

Every year, the Academy gives us some unexpected choices, and missed a few great films - and here's this year's.
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It's that time of year again – Oscar season is upon us. The nominations were dropped on January 23rd for the 90th Academy Awards, and they were filled with surprises and snubs. From Best Picture nominees that were actual wide audience successes to the usual of indie films and Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis getting the usual nominations. I won't talk about my predictions, those will come later once I've seen the nominees and can make an informed decision. This year is a mixed bag of near-guarantees and surprises, as well as changes to the people that make up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and changes in how the awards are given out to prevent another “Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture” incident. We'll have to tune in to see what happens, but we can at least look at what was unexpected and ignored.

Surprises first, we have Get Out as a Best Picture hopeful. A horror film, directed by a comedian, starring a relatively unknown group of actors, and a film about race relations that isn't based on the Civil Rights Movement or slavery. Now it is entirely possible that it was moved up after the sexual harassment allegations on James Franco, thus giving bad press to The Disaster Artist, but in all reality it may be that the Academy wanted another Mad Max: Fury Road situation where there's a big hit movie in the running so people can say they saw at least one of the movies. Another surprise to be sure, but a welcome one, was the nomination of Logan for Best Adapted Screenplay. Superhero movies are a genre that more or less only gets visual effects nominations, though there is the Best Supporting Actor win that Heath Ledger was awarded in 2008. Logan does have some heavy competition in that category, but it at least means the Academy saw something in the film – and while it's just a screenplay nod, it's still “Oscar nominated.” The Boss Baby of all movies is up for Best Animated Feature, for some reason or another, but it's going against Pixar's hit Coco, so we can assume Pixar will take home the gold again. Despite the positive surprises, there were snubs that shocked most people reading the nomination list, in near every category.

Oh man, was there some snubs for awards. Logan easily could have been nominated in the acting categories and even Best Picture, but we'll just have to stick with the screenplay – though I will say Patrick Stewart was robbed of a nomination until the end of time. While stars Margot Robbie and Allison Janney were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively, I, Tonya is not in the Best Picture run, nor is the previously mentioned The Disaster Artist (which did get a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination but nothing else.) Blade Runner 2049 was considered by many to be a frontrunner for at least a nomination, but in the end, it got mostly technical nods. Many cite Wonder Woman as being the big snub, but let's be real, while the movie is great, it does become a cut and paste origin story after a while, and the third act is mostly just a CGI villain fight. On the topic of DC Comics films, I'm surprised The Lego Batman Movie didn't get a Best Animated Feature nod, though back in 2015, The Lego Movie didn't get a nomination either, maybe the Academy is biased against Lego. Adam Driver nor Mark Hamill got a not for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but again, it wasn't really an expected thing. Strangely, The Shape of Water was not nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling – perhaps it was unclear what was CGI (basically just the eyes of the Amphibious Man) and what was makeup on Doug Jones.

And lastly, there was the guaranteed nominations. Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, and Darkest Hour are in the fight for Best Picture, and stars from all four including Saorise Ronan, Frances McDormand, Octavia Spencer, Laurie Metcalf, and Gary Oldman are all nominated in acting categories. Dunkirk was almost a sure bet, considering it fits the usual bill of a World War II film about soldiers overcoming a major adversity during battle, and it's a Christopher Nolan (who has a Best Director nod) movie at that. Blade Runner 2049 is up for Cinematography, an aspect that was highly praised in reviews for the film. And of course Meryl Streep is in the Best Actress race, because whatever movie she's in, she'll get Oscar buzz for, along with Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor for his final role in Phantom Thread – so Gary Oldman has some decent competition.

As I said, this year could go any possible way. With new members of the Academy that are younger and covering a wider audience of people, it does allow for movies like Get Out, a January horror movie, to get a legitimate shot at Best Picture, and for more unconventional nods towards Lady Bird and Blade Runner 2049. Yes, these nominees are more diverse, but as I've said before, forcing diversity in nominations only allows for lesser performances to be put over great ones – but it does not seem to be the case this year, and each acting category has at least one good pair of rivals in terms of who should get the award. As per tradition, I intend on watching as many of the nominees as I can, then deciding who wins, because as of right now, it would basically all go to Lady Bird, Logan, and Star Wars. Some theaters are showing all the Best Picture nominees, and you can go out and rent at least two of them right now. Give them a watch, see what's up, and when the office pool starts, you can put in for some movies you wouldn't have otherwise seen. The show is in March, and much like the Super Bowl, pregame has already started. Nominations are out, now it's time to determine who gets to accept their award.

Cover Image Credit: Den of Geek/Academy Awards

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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