By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer

Every year since 1929, the biggest film creators and stars have gathered to celebrate the best of the best in the film industry by awarding certain talents the greatest acclamation someone in that industry can receive: an Oscar. The Oscars, or Academy Awards, has a large group of film connoisseurs voting on which films should be considered to win the prestigious award.

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and moviegoers are excited to see some of the best films of 2016 get the recognition they deserve. Among these films are the highly praised “La La Land,” “Moonlight,” and “Manchester by the Sea.” However, there are a few surprises and disappointments included in the ballots. The choices the Academy makes can be baffling at times, so it’s always fun to dissect the Oscar nominations, wonder why some of your favorite movies were excluded, or predict which films will win in each category.

The full list of Oscar nominees can be found here.

The Surprises

This year’s Oscar nominations are fairly standard in the important categories. Almost every movie that’s expected to be in the running is in. “La La Land,” after winning seven Golden Globes, is nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards. However, there are a few unexpected nominations, whether it be for better or for worse.

The fact that we can now refer to “Suicide Squad” as an Oscar-nominated film is definitely for the worse. “Suicide Squad” is nominated for its makeup and hairstyling, which, while decent, don’t deserve an Oscar for it. The film was a mess on all levels, and some of the makeup on the Joker, Harley Quinn, and Diablo were no exception.

Another surprise is that Disney’s hit animated musical, “Moana,” only had one of its songs in the running for best original song. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s catchy lyrics should’ve gotten him at least two nominations. And while Disney was raking in the nominations on all fronts, one of its properties was noticeably lacking in nominations. Pixar’s “Finding Dory” is nowhere to be seen on the list, and the short film, “Piper,” is the only Pixar creation up for an award. I don’t necessarily consider this a snub because, frankly, “Finding Dory” isn’t quite up to Pixar’s gold standards, but it seemed like almost all of Pixar’s films, even if they’re mediocre, were nominated for an Oscar. If “Brave” was good enough to be deemed the Best Animated Feature of 2012, “Finding Dory” should at least get a nod for its wonderful visuals and groundbreaking animation with Hank the “septopus.”

The Snubs

Ryan Reynolds campaigned hard for his passion project, “Deadpool,” but to no avail. (Image from 20th Century Fox)

Most of the surprises lay in which movies didn’t receive a nomination. There are limits to how many films can be nominated for certain categories, so not every good film can get a chance for an Oscar. However, there are some films from 2016 that should’ve easily been chosen over some of the ones the Academy actually chose.

“Deadpool,” for one, vigorously campaigned for nominations this awards season. While it did manage to snag a Golden Globe nomination, everyone’s favorite superhero movie of the year had no such luck with the Academy. While the Academy does seem to discriminate against both superhero and comedic films, there are many aspects of “Deadpool” that deserve some recognition. It could have taken the place of “Suicide Squad” for the makeup category. Ryan Reynolds’ scarred Wade Wilson makeup and Morena Baccarin’s hair must have taken ages to do. “Deadpool” could have also been nominated for best costume design, although it probably wouldn’t win that one. The nomination that most fans were hoping for was Ryan Reynolds for Best Actor simply based on his perfect performance boosted by his raw passion for the project. Reynolds should be on the list instead of Andrew Garfield.

Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys” is another heart-wrenching snub among the catalog of great, yet unrecognized, films. “The Nice Guys” is a 1970s detective period piece starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, both of whom should have been nominated for best actor. The films also could have won an award for best screenplay and be nominated for best costume design or production design.

Other snubs include:

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” – Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Picture

“Swiss Army Man” – Best Screenplay, Best Original Score

“Sing Street” – Best Original Song

“Kung Fu Panda 3” – Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score

“The Little Prince” – Best Animated Feature

“Your Name.” – Best Animated Feature, Best Foreign Film

“Hidden Figures” – Best Original Song

The “La La Land” Sweep

After sweeping the Golden Globes “La La Land,” nabs 14 Academy Award nominations. (Photo by Dale Robinette, Lionsgate)

“La La Land” is by far the most talked about film this awards season. The hidden gem of a musical is now one of the biggest films in the nation and is being nominated for and winning every award its qualified for. That’s no different for the Academy Awards in which “La La Land” is nominated for a whopping 14 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Original Score (Justin Hurwitz), two Original Song nominations, and more.

In my ranking of 2016 movies, I listed “La La Land” as my second favorite film of the year. However, there is a part of me that wonders if “La La Land” deserves 14 nominations. It’s a wonderful movie for sure, but does it really need to be nominated for Best Screenplay or have more than one original song nomination? Those spots could have gone toward “The Nice Guys” or “Sing Street,” two films that desperately need more attention.

The Not So White Oscars

In the past two years, the Academy has been criticized for not having any minority nominees. In response to the backlash, the academy opened up its membership to include a more diverse crowd. This plus the multiple black-centric, Oscar-contending movies from 2016 improved the diversity among Oscar nominees this year. Black actors Denzel Washington (Best Actor for “Fences”), Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress for “Fences,” Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress for “Hidden Figures”, Naomie Harris (Best Supporting Actress for “Moonlight”), Ruth Negga (Best Actress for “Loving”), and Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor for “Moonlight”) were all nominated. Indian actor Dev Patel is in the running for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Lion” and Puerto Rican songwriter, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is nominated for his song from “Moana.” Obviously, this is only a small step towards racial equality in Hollywood, but even the tiniest of steps goes a long way.

The Likely Winners

The best part of the Oscar nominations, however, is trying to predict who will win. Many movie fans run an Oscar pool and bet on which films they think will be awarded and Oscar. This year’s Best Picture race is tight, but “La La Land” or “Manchester by the Sea” are the most likely to win. “La La Land” is a safe bet for Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song, but I’m hoping to see Ryan Gosling win in the Best Actor category and “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” win for Best Original Song. Based on past trends, Disney will win Best Animated Feature for “Zootopia” in place of the usual Pixar film. I’m also hoping for “Doctor Strange” to nab the win for visual effects and for “Rogue One” to win for sound mixing.

Kapiʻo News is holding a Oscar prediction contest open to everyone. Just drop off your prediction ballot at the Kapiʻo News office in ʻIliahi 127 and you will win a free float session at the Hawaiʻi Health Hub if you manage to predict the most amount of winners. Ballots are due by February 24, the Friday before the 89th Academy Awards airs on February 26.