This year’s Oscar nominees are more diverse than what we are used to seeing. But there are still a plethora of actors and titles that deserve a spot on Hollywood’s biggest night.
This list will showcase some of the most overlooked films and performances of the past year.
1. Kicks (Best Director, Justin Tipping)
Director Justin Tipping’s first feature-length film is about an underprivileged teenager, Brandon, from a rough East Bay neighborhood in Richmond, California, and his unhealthy longing for Air Jordans, which comes with the promise of popularity and status. The film offers a raw, but oftentimes surrealistic view of life on the streets. Much like Moonlight, the film revolves around manhood, except the audience sees it in Brandon’s introduction to crime and his desire to be respected at any cost. Tipping not only crafted another unique look into a side of the world that most are not used to seeing, but he also developed one of the most resonating stories about the dangers of losing one’s soul to material obsession.
2. Green Room (Actor In A Leading Role, Anton Yelchin)
The late Anton Yelchin delivered one of his best performances as a member of a punk rock band who is forced to fight for survival after bearing witness to a murder in this gritty thriller directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Saulnier draws out Yelchin’s terrific abilities as an actor with how the audience gets to see his character, Pat, develop from a terrified victim into a fierce adrenaline-pumped force against his terrorizers. Yelchin takes command of the film, and by the end of it you may be left wondering what heights this actor could have been able to reach if he were still here.
3. Arrival (Actress In A Leading Role, Amy Adams)
Various publications commented on Adams’ snubbed nomination for her emotionally driven performance as Dr. Louise Banks in Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar nominated sci-fi epic. What Adams brought to the film was a personal sense of urgency; her performance stands out among the scores of other sci-fi films where extraterrestrials visit earth. Her character’s story ties into the main narrative of the film in a way that few others within the genre are able to do, creating immediate sympathy for what she is feeling and the struggles she has to go through to make sure the nations of the world work together to address the global crisis.
4. The Neon Demon (Best Cinematography)
Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s most recent offering once again displays the director’s immense taste for stunning color palettes in meticulously captured frames. Natasha Braier, the film’s cinematographer, did a fantastic job of channeling Refn’s love of color and wide shots to bring about the story’s more sinister elements, which in turn makes the film much more symbolic. Various shots allow for lead star Elle Fanning to emphasize the way her character functions in the harsh world of modeling, while giving audiences a visual feast to remember.
5. Blood Father (Best Picture)
Director Jean-François Richet’s dark film revolves around the relationship of an ex-con (Mel Gibson) and his runaway daughter (Erin Moriarty), who begs for his help after she has gotten herself into trouble with a violent group of drug dealers. Even though Richet includes scenes of intense action to amp the tension, at its core the film is a father-daughter drama, in which Gibson’s and Moriarty’s performances soar because of their chemistry and a well-written script. But perhaps Richet’s most impressive feat is how he manages to blend personal and often relatable situations between father and daughter, as well more tense moments, to bring about a more meaningful story that shows how far family will go for each other.