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Oscar Voters: Don’t Forget ‘Mother,’ Ridley Scott and 2017’s Other Unsung Heroes

Lord knows, we don’t need another awards show. But the year in film has seen some extraordinary work and though the usual “for your consideration” conversations are valid, they seem insufficient in some cases.  

There is a long list of people who are worthy of Oscar consideration, so don’t forget these people when filling out your Oscar ballots, which are due Jan. 12. But let’s also give them special recognition, a round of applause for doing work that was above and beyond.

Wind River
Writer-director Taylor Sheridan and his “Wind River” team deserve awards attention for delivering an entertaining and relevant film. Beyond that, they deserve a salute for wresting control of the movie away from the original distributor, the Weinstein Co. As soon as the story broke on Oct. 5 about that industry bully-rapist, Sheridan and Acacia Entertainment renegotiated everything and made sure that no profits will go to TWC, but instead will be directed to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. They are not only waging a good awards campaign, they are righting some wrongs.

Ridley Scott
Just as a reminder: On Nov. 8, Scott declared he would refilm scenes for Sony’s “All the Money in the World,” with Christopher Plummer and would still meet his December release date. Has anyone in Hollywood done this? Could anyone else do this? The answers are no and no. Scott made a smart business decision — and a strong statement about standing up to the vile behavior of an industry bully-monster (the Voldemort of the acting profession, He Who Must Not Be Named). Scott is one of the industry’s giants. Give him every award in the book.

“Mother!”
Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” stirred up love/hate/confusion among audiences and critics, but the artisan work is indisputably great. Especially worth mentioning are the cinematography by Matthew Libatique and the production design by Philip Messina.

Production designer Harley Jessup, “Coco”
A live-action production designer can tap into existing buildings and rooms as a starting point. An animation production designer is starting from scratch. Jessup created both a reality-based world and the imaginative Land of the Dead for “Coco,” and the results are as beautiful and evocative as anything else created on film this year.

Actors
Some great performances worth remembering: Lois Smith, “Marjorie Prime,” stellar, more than 60 years after her film debut in “East of Eden”; Richard Gere, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer”; James McAvoy, “Split”; Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson in “A Quiet Passion”; and Andy Serkis, “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

In supporting roles, Sterling K. Brown in “Marshall”; Betty Gabriel as the eerie maid Georgina in “Get Out”; the excellent Beulah Koale in “Thank You for Your Service”; and Patrick Stewart, so good in “Logan”

Writers
Danny Strong, for his screenplay for “Rebel in the Rye” about J.D. Salinger; Mike White, “Beatriz at Dinner”; James Gray, “The Lost City of Z”

“The Promise”
Open Road’s “The Promise,” directed by Terry George from a script by him and Robin Swicord, was largely ignored at the box office, but that’s OK: When Kirk Kerkorian paid for the production, he announced that the No. 1 goal was not profits, but to raise awareness of the 1915-17 Armenian Genocide. Turkey denies it happened and Hollywood has scrupulously avoided the topic; a “denialist” movement is working hard to discredit “Promise.” But the film, with an accompanying documentary “Intent to Destroy,” features great below-the-line work and a memorable title song by the late Chris Cornell.

Oscar noms will be announced Jan. 23. Good luck to all.

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