Oscar Pipe Dreams 2017

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The Oscar nominations for 2017 will be announced tomorrow, and I don’t see as many movies as I used to. Which means that when awards season rolls around, I’m not the cinematic guru I once was. So I thought it would be fun to do something else instead of guess who the nominees will be.

Instead, I’d like to talk about some pipe dreams: nominations I think should happen that probably won’t happen, but only for movies I’ve seen. Many of the movies on this list will be nominated in various categories, but I want to suggest some far-fetched but (in my opinion) well-deserved nominations.

And hey, every now and then one of my pipe dreams comes true, like when John Hawks was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Winter’s Bone.

So here are my 2017 Oscar Pipe Dreams…


Why is this not being discussed for Best Picture? It won universal acclaim, audiences loved it, and its themes could not be more timely or mature. If it was a live action human crime drama instead of animated, talking animals, it would be more seriously considered. I mean, it’s basically “The Departed” meets “Crash” meets “The Lion King.” But it’s every bit as deserving of a BP nomination as Up or Toy Story 3 (it’s better than the latter in my opinion).

And what about “Try Everything,” the ridiculously catchy even if too poppy theme song? It rivals recent nominees like “Happy” and “Everything Is Awesome” in its quality, but so far has had little to no awards love.

And let’s discuss Best Original Screenplay. Again, the themes woven into the story are profound without being preachy, the dialogue easy and natural, and the characters are well-defined with voices of their own. Disney has never been nominated in this category and this one would be perfect to honor with a writing nomination.

Best Sound Editing – Every now and then an animated film breaks into this technical category, and I think the sound editing in Zootopia was especially creative and noteworthy.

It’s favored to be nominated and win Best Animated Feature, but more than deserving of these other notices.

Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping

Unfortunately, this pop star was a flop star at the box office even though it was well-reviewed. Still, I think it would be fun to see The Lonely Island score a Best Song nomination.

“I’m So Humble” perfectly sets the tone for the film and displays the Lonely Island’s humorous – if not sometimes obvious – wit. If a nomination were to happen, it would be the most likely.

Personally, though, I would prefer a nomination for “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song),” though it would never be able to be performed live at the Oscars due to its, er, colorful language. But the Academy previously awarded “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile and “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, so the Academy is not afraid to honor profanity. And I give points to “Finest Girl” for catchiness and hilarious shock value.

Again, this is a pipe dream.

Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe is expertly produced and directed, but was criminally under-seen. While not a perfect movie, it’s the kind of ensemble and human story that the Oscars generally love. But so far it’s scoring almost nil for awards notice.

David Oyelowo’s performance is charismatic and effortless as Robert Kutende, a part-time ministry outreach coach who becomes protagonist Phiona’s greatest mentor and advocate. Since they passed over Mr. Oyelowo’s incredible turn as Dr. King in Selma 2 years ago, this would be a good time to make it up to him with a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Honestly, it’s a big enough part, he could be considered for Best Actor, but both are longshots.

In an ideal world, I think it could contend for Best Adapted Screenplay. This type of film lends itself to sappy dialogue, but there’s none of that here. William Wheeler’s pen effectively puts “show don’t tell” to good use and doesn’t rely on shock value to pull in the audience.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Sound Mixing, please? While the visuals may be the talking point for Kubo, the sound mixing is essential to the story and keeping the audience trained on those stunning visuals. And when there’s a magic stringed instrument involved, sound mixing should be equally magical. Here, it most certainly is.

While it should have no problem scoring a Best Animated Feature nomination, there is also an exciting possibility that it could be considered for Best Costume Design after the Costune Designers Guild recently nominated it for its annual award.

Florence Foster Jenkins

While no one doubts Meryl Streep’s incredible performance, I’d love to see Simon Helberg get some love for his turn as Cosme McMoon, the San Antonio-bred piano player who became Mrs. Jenkins’ loyal accompanist. I’ve always thought he was talented and it’s great to see him do some character work outside of The Big Bang Theory. Plus, that’s actually him playing the piano – what?!

However, Focus seems to be pitting their Oscar energy on Hugh Grant. Granted, he gives a nuanced and layered performance as St. Clair Bayfield, Mrs. Jenkins’ husband, protector, and the most loyal unfaithful guy you could ask for. Incredibly, Mr. Grant has never been nominated for an Oscar despite the longevity of his career and this would be a good one to give him a nod for. But it would be completely appropriate for him to be pushed for Best Actor to leave room for Mr. Helberg in the supporting slot.


Leading lady anthem “How Far I’ll Go” is all but a certainty for a Best Song nomination, but why not the song “We Know the Way?” It’s arguably the better of the two and certainly more creative and musically layered.

But the score. Mark Mancina’s score is being criminally ignored. It may be one of the best musical scores in the world of animation and deserves to be recognized as such. Give him a nomination for Best Original Score, please. (Pretty please…?)

Rogue One

While I have no doubt that the first Star Wars anthology will get some technical love, why not Best Cinematography? It’s the most beautifully shot film in the SW universe and feels like watching a World War II espionage thriller. In a galaxy far, far away. Much of the credit for the film’s tone is not the script but the images onscreen.


It’s already on the shortlist for Best Documentary Feature, but what about a Best Song nomination for Common’s original song “A Letter To The Free”?

Sure, he just won an Oscar for his collaboration with John Legend, but an excellent song is an excellent song. And it’s not uncommon for documentaries to be nominated for songs: An Inconvenient Truth, The Hunting Ground, and Chasing Ice are all recent examples.

La La Land

While no one doubts that La La Land is on a steady march (dance?) to a Best Picture win, there’s one detail I think that’s being overlooked.

Everyone is talking about the song “City of Stars,” but I think the best song by far is “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” and I can’t understand why it’s not getting noticed more.

I’ve never talked about Oscar songs as much as in this blog, but that’s just the way of it this year: lots of great songs in film in 2017 to choose from.

To recap, my Oscar Pipe Dream picks:

Zootopia – Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Song, “Try Everything,” Best Sound Editing

Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping – Best Song, “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)” or “I’m So Humble”

Queen of Katwe – Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, David Oyelowo, Best Adapted Screenplay

Kubo and The Two Strings – Best Sound Mixing, Best Costume Design

Florence Foster Jenkins – Best Supporting Actor, Simon Helberg

Moana – Best Song, “We Know the Way,” Best Original Score

Rogue One – Best Cinematography

13th – Best Song, “A Letter to the Free”

La La Land – Best Song, “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”

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