For Your Consideration: 7 Fringe Oscar Contenders That Deserve a Nomination

Oscars: 7 Fringe Contenders to Consider
Courtesy of Lionsgate

They might not have a prayer but they deserve a boost...

Balloting is well underway for the 88th annual Oscars as members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or their assistants or sons or daughters or dogs or cats) sit down to chalk up the best in 2015 cinema. I’ve already rattled off a personal list of superlatives, but allow me a final “for your consideration” pitch for a few contenders that could really use a leg-up. All of these are on the far outside looking in, but they represent some of the finest achievements of the year. So, to the various branches of the Academy…

Directors Branch: Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen for “Inside Out
I’ve been ringing this bell all season long but here’s one more push: Animation directors deserve some love, too, particularly when they crank out something as thematically and emotionally rich as “Inside Out.” Pete Docter and his co-director Ronnie Del Carmen created, for me, the best film of 2015, but more importantly, this is a barrier that ought to be broken sooner rather than later. When will the directors branch of the Academy finally go there?

Actors Branch: Géza Röhrig for “Son of Saul”
The lead actor race has been intriguingly thin all season, which is certainly out of character. So there’s room to maneuver, and I’d like to pitch a number of actors, honestly. I’ve already spoken up for Andrew Garfield in “99 Homes,” so let’s spread the love to “Son of Saul” star Géza Röhrig here. I’m frankly shocked that not one single critics organization handed him a trophy, because it’s a unique, stunning portrait, the kind that generally gets a boost from the critics circuit. In lieu of that, here’s a nudge.

Writers Branch: Charlie Kaufman for “Anomalisa”
“Anomalisa” should be good to go for an animated feature nomination (though don’t be too sure — last year’s “LEGO Movie” miss was another reminder that outsiders can be treated as hostile by this branch). But the film deserves recognition outside of a ghetto and Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant work on the page was in keeping with the masterful work he’s given us from “Being John Malkovich” to “Adaptation,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” to “Synechdoche, New York.”

Cinematographers Branch: Maryse Alberti for “Creed
There is a wonderful opportunity this year for cinematographers to make history: No woman has ever been nominated for a best cinematography Oscar. No one is asking for a handout, though, because Maryse Alberti’s lensing of “Creed” makes its own case. A striking visual rendering of a familiar tale for a new generation, it captures iconic frame after iconic frame with plenty of technical prowess to spare. (That single-take boxing match, though…)

Film Editors Branch: Chris King for “Amy
It’s very rare for documentaries to get a fair shake outside of their own category, but when they do, the work in piecing together the narrative tends to be what’s noticed. In “Amy,” the best documentary of the year if you’re asking me, editor Chris King pulled in material from all kinds of sources to transcend the simple-minded “behind the music” shade detractors have thrown on the film and help tell a story that makes you fall in love with a victim of the modern media.

Music Branch: Jóhann Jóhannsson for “Sicario
Straight-up, the score for “Sicario” scared the crap out of me. It’s an eerie piece of work that gets into your bones, and though Jóhann Jóhannsson was a darling on the circuit last year with “The Theory of Everything,” he hasn’t received the proper appreciation this time around. (I’ve been a fan ever since his last collaboration with filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, “Prisoners.”)

Sound Branch: “Love & Mercy”
This would be a great way to celebrate the overall aural brilliance of Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic. Wilson can’t land a nomination because his original song, “One Kind of Love,” was rendered ineligible. Similarly, Atticus Ross’ score wasn’t able to make it to the starting gate, probably due to the proliferation of Beach Boys music in the film. But the overall sound design and sonic identity of the movie is quite brilliant, bringing the audience into the mind of a musical genius. A mixing nod, in particular, would be splendid.

Latest Predictions:

moonlight Movie Picture
  1. "La La Land" Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt

  2. "Moonlight" Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner

  3. "Hidden Figures" Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi

  4. "Lion" Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder

  5. "Manchester by the Sea" Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck and Kevin J. Walsh

See Full Listing
Damien Chazelle la la land BTS Director
  1. Damien Chazelle "La La Land"

  2. Barry Jenkins "Moonlight"

  3. Denis Villeneuve "Arrival"

  4. Kenneth Lonergan "Manchester by the Sea"

  5. Mel Gibson "Hacksaw Ridge"

See Full Listing
Manchester by the Sea Actor
  1. Denzel Washington "Fences"

  2. Casey Affleck "Manchester by the Sea"

  3. Ryan Gosling "La La Land"

  4. Andrew Garfield "Hacksaw Ridge"

  5. Viggo Mortensen "Captain Fantastic"

See Full Listing
Elle Cannes Actress
  1. Emma Stone "La La Land"

  2. Meryl Streep "Florence Foster Jenkins"

  3. Natalie Portman "Jackie"

  4. Isabelle Huppert "Elle"

  5. Ruth Negga "Loving"

See Full Listing
Michael Shannon Supporting Actor
  1. Mahershala Ali "Moonlight"

  2. Dev Patel "Lion"

  3. Jeff Bridges "Hell or High Water"

  4. Michael Shannon "Nocturnal Animals"

  5. Lucas Hedges "Manchester by the Sea"

See Full Listing
Supporting Actress
  1. Viola Davis "Fences"

  2. Octavia Spencer "Hidden Figures"

  3. Naomie Harris "Moonlight"

  4. Michelle Williams "Manchester by the Sea"

  5. Nicole Kidman "Lion"

See Full Listing
Arrival Adapted Screenplay
  1. "Moonlight" Barry Jenkins; Tarell Alvin McCraney

  2. "Lion" Luke Davies

  3. "Arrival" Eric Heisserer

  4. "Fences" August Wilson

  5. "Hidden Figures" Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi

See Full Listing
Hell or High Water trailer Original Screenplay
  1. "La La Land" Damien Chazelle

  2. "Manchester by the Sea" Kenneth Lonergan

  3. "Hell or High Water" Taylor Sheridan

  4. "20th Century Women" Mike Mills

  5. "The Lobster" Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos

See Full Listing
Silence Cinematography
  1. "La La Land" Linus Sandgren

  2. "Lion" Greig Fraser

  3. "Arrival" Bradford Young

  4. "Moonlight" James Laxton

  5. "Silence" Rodrigo Prieto

See Full Listing
Fantastic Beasts and where to find them Costume Design
  1. "Jackie" Madeline Fontaine

  2. "Florence Foster Jenkins" Consolata Boyle

  3. "La La Land" Mary Zophres

  4. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Colleen Atwood

  5. "Allied" Joanna Johnston

See Full Listing
hacksaw ridge Film Editing
  1. "La La Land" Tom Cross

  2. "Arrival" Joe Walker

  3. "Hacksaw Ridge" John Gilbert

  4. "Hell or High Water" Jake Roberts

  5. "Moonlight" Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders

See Full Listing
Star Trek Beyond Makeup & Hairstyling
  1. "Star Trek Beyond"

  2. "Suicide Squad"

  3. "A Man Called Ove"

See Full Listing
A Monster Calls Original Score
  1. "La La Land" Justin Hurwitz

  2. "Moonlight" Nicholas Britell

  3. "Lion" Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka

  4. "Jackie" Mica Levi

  5. "Passengers" Thomas Newman

See Full Listing
Best Original Song
  1. "City of Stars" "La La Land"

  2. "How Far I'll Go" "Moana"

  3. "Audition (The Fools Who Dream") "La La Land"

  4. "Can't Stop the Feeling!" "Trolls"

  5. "The Empty Chair" "Jim: The James Foley Story"

See Full Listing
Hail Caesar Production Design
  1. "La La Land" David Wasco; Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

  2. "Arrival" Patrice Vermette; Paul Hotte

  3. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Stuart Craig; Anna Pinnock

  4. "Hail, Caesar!" Jess Gonchor; Nancy Haigh

  5. "Passengers" Guy Hendrix Dyas; Gene Serdena

See Full Listing
Deepwater Horizon Movie Sound Editing
  1. "Hacksaw Ridge" Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright

  2. "La La Land" Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan

  3. "Arrival" Sylvain Bellemare

  4. "Deepwater Horizon" Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli

  5. "Sully" Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

See Full Listing
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Sound Mixing
  1. "La La Land" Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow

  2. "Hacksaw Ridge" Kevin O'Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace

  3. "Arrival" Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye

  4. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

  5. "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

See Full Listing
  1. "Zootopia" Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

  2. "Kubo and the Two Strings" Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner

  3. "Moana" John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer

  4. "My Life as a Zucchini" Claude Barras and Max Karli

  5. "The Red Turtle" Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki

See Full Listing
OJ Made in America Documentary Feature
  1. "O.J: Made in America" Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

  2. "13th" Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish

  3. "Life, Animated" Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman

  4. "I Am Not Your Negro" Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety and Hébert Peck

  5. "Fire at Sea" Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo

See Full Listing
Foreign Language
  1. "A Man Called Ove" Sweden; Hannes Holm

  2. "The Salesman" Iran; Asghar Farhadi

  3. "Tanna" Australia; Martin Butler, Bentley Dean

  4. "Toni Erdmann" Germany; Maren Ade

  5. "Land of Mine" Denmark; Martin Zandvliet

See Full Listing
Visual Effects
  1. "The Jungle Book" Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon

  2. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

  3. "Deepwater Horizon" Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton

  4. "Kubo and the Two Strings" Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff

  5. "Doctor Strange" Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould

See Full Listing

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 22

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Carolyn bruce says:

    I am a retired white schoolteacher. My husband and I just saw ” concussion” and we believe that will smith had one of the best performances we have seen! He was terrific. For the first time we are boycotting viewing the academy awards! They truly made a mistake! He deserved a nomination!

  2. Kholby says:

    I would love to see Cynthia Nixon nominated for best supporting actress in James White. She was heartbreakingly beautiful in the role.

  3. John G. says:

    It’s just occurred to me that there are four films up for major Oscars this year set in the 1950s: Brooklyn, Carol, Trumbo, and Bridge of Spies. Is there a thinkpiece opportunity in that somehow? Or maybe it’s already written.

    • Lots has been made of Carol/Brooklyn, which I believe may even take place in the same year.

      • John G. says:

        Seems like the 60s and 70s are often mined for cinematic material. Funny that in the year of “Make America Great Again,” we’re re-examining that sometimes forgotten decade of post-war prosperity (and paranoia).

  4. says:

    Montage of Heck for Best Documentary and Best Editing! By far.

    In my humble opinion, Amy had way to many helicopter stock footage and not enough Amy.

  5. Sophie says:

    Best Supporting Actress (Marion Cotillard), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Picture.

  6. Ken says:

    FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD – Actress (Carey Mulligan), Cinematography, Score, Costume Design

    SON OF SAUL – the gamut! It’s brilliant.

    THE WALK – Direction, Visual Effects, Production Design, Score

  7. Skywalkerspock says:

    An interesting list (mark me down as a no on animated directors being nominated) ) but there shouldn’t be a need for a last minute hail mary. Why wasnt Variety( and other trades/bloggers) pushing these types of choices for months? Instead what we get is piece after piece on who is most likely going to get nominated. Those articles just perpetuate the cycle of the same middlebrow ‘Oscar Bait’ movies getting chosen. The same actors getting chosen because of who they are vs what they have done on camera for a specific part.

    That being said, where’s the love for Tom Hardy in Legend, Tessa Thompson in Creed, Carey Mulligan & Matthias Schoenaerts in Far From the Maddening Crowd, Guy Pearce, Colbie Smulders & Kevin Corrigan in Results?

  8. Jonathan says:

    “The End of the Tour” for Best Actor (Jason Segel) and Best Adapted Screenplay (the best of the year).

    “Creed” for Best Actor, Best Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Perplexed how at least two of those aren’t sure things.

    “Ex Machina” for Best Production Design and Best Sound Editing.

    “The Good Dinosaur” for Best Original Score.

  9. Henry says:

    I agree with Maryse Alberti for “Creed”

  10. Son of Saul…Best Picture, Direction, Actor and Original Screenplay
    Jeff Daniels for Best Supporting Actor in Steve Jobs
    Peter Sarsgaard for Best Supporting Actor in Black Mass
    Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo for Supporting Actor from Spotlight
    Carey Mulligan for Best Actress in Suffragette
    Ian McKellen for Best Actor in Mr. Holmes

  11. Dunstan says:

    Re: the music nom for “Sicario…” I was able to ask Director Denis Villeneuve whether it was electronic or a traditional orchestra providing the music. He confirmed that it was a full orchestra, with the music being altered in post. The film’s intensity, especially from the opening when the screen is black but the music is heard, owes much to the great scoring.

  12. just sayin' says:

    SOUTHPAW – Jake Gyllenhaal Best Actor, Forest Whitaker – Best Supporting Actor, Oona Lawrence and Rachel McAdams – Best Supporting Actress, Antoine Fuqua Best Directing, James Horner – Best Score, Mauro Fiore – Best Cinematography, John Refoua Best Editing, Derek R. Hill – Best Production Design – etc ***MOST OVERLOOKED FILM ***

  13. cadavra says:

    How about CRIMSON PEAK for Production Design? Real sets, not CGI.

  14. Danka Endrel says:

    I nominate Z for Zachariah – I agree that it is one of the most underrated films of 2015 – it is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent films which automatically eliminates it from any awards.

More Film News from Variety