On 26 February 2017 the 89th Academy Awards takes place, marking the end of awards season with the biggest and most anticipated ceremony of the year. It’s no secret that La La Land is leading the Oscar buzz, picking up a cool 14 nominations, as well as receiving seven awards at the Golden Globes and five at the BAFTAs. But there are a whole host of films that are up for coveted awards at this year’s Oscars and shouldn’t be overshadowed by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s all-singing, all-dancing musical; here are five of the best.
Adapted from August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, Fences follows the story of Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington, who also directed the film) and his wife Rose (Viola Davis) in 1950s Pittsburgh. Exploring societal issues, racial inequality and familial relationships, Fences is a well-conceived, unglamorous portrayal of a complex man in a complex time. The film has been nominated for four Oscars: Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Based on a true story, Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a Seventh Day Adventist Christian who serves as a combat medic in the U.S. Army during World War II but refuses to carry or use a weapon. Despite resistance from the Army and his fellow soldiers, Doss goes on to be awarded the Medal of Honour (the first conscientious objector to do so) for his actions during the Battle of Okinawa. The film – directed by Mel Gibson – is gripping, bold and original and has been nominated for six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
Lion tells the true story of five-year-old Saroo, the Indian boy who accidentally finds himself miles away from his family, lost with no way of returning home. After a brief stint on the streets and in a Calcutta orphanage, Saroo is shipped off to Tasmania and foster parents John and Sue (played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). The story moves to a grown Saroo (Dev Patel), who starts to get flashbacks of his former life while studying in Melbourne, seeing him become withdrawn and obsessed with finding his family through the use of Google Earth. Lion is an emotional, gripping film without a hint of going over the top, and has been nominated for six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Music Score and Best Cinematography.
Manchester by the Sea
Casey Affleck stars as the moody, angry Lee – a janitor living on his own in Boston – who returns to his hometown Manchester (Massachusetts, not the city in North West England) upon the death of his brother Joe, only to find he is now the legal guardian of his nephew Patrick. Lee is haunted by the ghosts and troubles of his past, struggling to come to grips with his new role and grief – in a way that’s incredibly real and decidedly un-Hollywood. Manchester by the Sea is up for six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay.
Moonlight is a coming of age story about Miami native Chiron, following him through the identities he assumes at different stages of his life – ‘Little’, ‘Chiron’ and ‘Black’. With a crack-addicted mother and life riddled with bullies, Chiron sees his life spiral like many others’ around him, with friendship winning out in the end. Moonlight received eight Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Original Music Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.
Words by Angharad Jones