10 Great 2017 Movies That Won’t Get an Oscar Nomination

5. Wind River

Wind River

Following a string of excellent screenplays, Taylor Sheridan made his directorial debut this year with Wind River. This crime thriller was a smash hit at Sundance, but word of mouth has been relatively quiet since its release. Critics and audiences have really taken a liking to it and the box office haul is pretty decent considering the lack of marketing.

The problem is that nobody is really talking about Wind River now that awards season has arrived. It’s bound to be one of those movies that’s deemed underrated because it slipped under the cracks almost instantly. Admittedly, it’s facing a ton of competition this year with masterpieces like Dunkirk and Lady Bird, but that doesn’t mean it should be completely excluded from the discussion.

Thanks to two fantastic lead performances, stunning cinematography, and a razor sharp script, Wind River is one of the best thrillers of 2017. The big mystery isn’t all that mysterious, but it’s about the journey and not the destination this time around. Sheridan knows how to build tension, and that’s where the film truly shines. It’s not about figuring out the ending as much as it’s about watching the characters try to crack the case. It’s easy to feel for the two protagonists, which means it’s also easy to stress out over some of the more intense moments.

There’s a lot to admire here, but the summer release definitely pushes the nail further into the coffin. Wind River has a lot going for it, but it doesn’t seem to have the staying power to stick with people. The fall release schedule is jam packed with movies that have earned a ton of pre-release hype. These movies are guaranteed to push out movies like Wind River. Don’t let the inevitable lack of end-of-the-year praise fool you though. This is a movie well worth checking out.


4. Okja

Bong Joon-ho may have made the move to English language movies, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to sell out. His latest movies are just as stylish and darkly comedic as ever. After Snowpiercer turned out to be one of the best sci-fi movies of the decade, the director once again bumped up the budget and provided us with a wholly unique and satisfying experience.

Okja is unlike anything people have ever seen. It’s such a quality flick because it’s equal-parts funny and touching. Regardless of its overall quality, Okja is sadly not a serious threat at the Oscars. For one, Netflix releases still haven’t proven to be successful at awards shows. More importantly though, the movie’s too strange for Oscar voters for several reasons.

The movie bounces between various tones to the point where it’s almost jarring. It switches from heartfelt drama to over-the-top satire in the blink of an eye. Joon-ho does a masterful job of juggling the various tones, but it’s still going to rub viewers the wrong way.

The fact that it’s an action-adventure movie is enough of a reason for voters to steer clear, but the zigzagging tones only make things more polarizing. To make matters worse, the bizarre sense of humor can come off as grating to the wrong viewers. This is truly a love-it-or-hate-it movie. It’s not as polarizing as something like mother!, but it still has a tendency to feel pretty niche.

Even if it wasn’t polarizing, it still has to face off with more acclaimed movies in each category. While the movie is visually stunning, movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk will surely knock it out of the technical categories. Meanwhile, its chances in the major categories are nonexistent. The Oscar typically only let a few genre movies sneak into the major awards, so we can assume The Shape of Water is going to take Okja’s place. That leaves Okja with zero prospective nominations. Luckily, it doesn’t need an Oscar nomination to succeed as a delightful fantasy adventure film.


3. A Ghost Story

Oscar voters don’t usually bite when it comes to arthouse movies. Sure, The Tree of Life managed to outdo expectations, but that was something of an outlier. Their aversion to anything unconventional is precisely why A Ghost Story will fail to pick up any nominations. It’s too far outside of the mainstream to appeal to the more conservative voters. While the voters have begun to broaden their horizons, it doesn’t seem like this unusual supernatural drama will make any impact when nominations are finally announced.

At first glance, A Ghost Story is too simple for its own good. It’s an incredibly slow burn because there isn’t a whole lot of plot in the traditional sense. More casual moviegoers will want to turn it off within the first half hour because there isn’t a whole lot happening.

Rooney Mara cries a lot and Casey Affleck wears a sheet over his head, so what’s the big deal? The deceptively simple film actually has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. One of those tricks happens to be the poetic approach to storytelling which ultimately makes the movie such a rewarding experience. It’s hardly a straightforward narrative, but it doesn’t need to be in order to strike a chord. Lowery presents the audience with a creatively melancholy story that practically begs for thoughtful analysis.

Instead of being an awards season knock-out, A Ghost Story will likely live on as a cult classic. By breaking free of genre conventions, the film is both admirably unique and frustratingly off-putting. Not everyone is going to want to watch Rooney Mara eat pie for five straight minutes. Those who are willing to put up with lengthy scenes of apparent nothingness will find a film that has a lot to say about loss. Lowery clearly didn’t make this film with the intent of appealing to Academy voters. He has his audience in mind, and they’re likely to adore it.


2. Good Time

Good Time

The Safdie brothers continue to earn more recognition with each subsequent release. After Heaven Knows What made a splash in 2015, the directing duo made an even more high profile movie with the release of Good Time.

“More high profile” does not mean that they released some big blockbuster or Weinstein-backed Oscar bait films. They added a few big-name celebrities and bumped up the budget, but this is still a small film relatively speaking. The movie’s low-key release and box office performance is likely to hurt its Oscar chances, along with the chaotic pacing and style. Sure, the Oscars are getting a little less conservative, but they still struggle to embrace weirder films.

Good Time isn’t the weirdest movie to come along this year, but the stylish visuals and unusual tone may be tough to appreciate. The insane amount of violence also isn’t doing the movie too many favors. It’s tough to judge how Oscar voters will vote especially after they’ve proven that they’re willing to embrace movies that aren’t necessarily safe, but there seems to be a limit to how many they’ll embrace. There are plenty of strange movies competing this year, so why would the Oscars settle for this obscure movie from a bunch of “nobodies?”

Regardless of how the cranky old white men vote, Good Time is, pun very much intended, a good time. The movie tells a touching story, but it tells it in a way that’s undeniably fun and watchable. The dark humor mixes well with the very human story presented to the audience. The Safdie brothers don’t seem to interested in cranking out Oscar-contenders, but Good Time shows they’re at least capable of doing it.


1. Columbus


Columbus came out of nowhere and completely floored critics. With a stellar 89 Metascore, this micro budget drama is easily one of the most acclaimed movies of the year. Out of every movie on this list, Columbus is the one that really should be a major threat at the Oscars. The screenplay is hypnotic, the performances are engaging, and the themes are timeless. The film easily sits up there with past best picture contenders in terms of overall quality. In other words, the critics are absolutely right. This is one of 2017’s crowning achievements. With all of that praise, you’d think it would at least have some type of chance.

The biggest thing hurting Columbus is the incredibly limited release. It made less than $1 million at the box office, its widest release is 63 theaters, and it has fewer than 100 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Historically speaking, Columbus is incapable of earning any major Oscar nomination. It’s barely averaging one theater per state, which means that countless people are likely to miss out on what is clearly one of 2017’s greatest cinematic achievements. With such a small audience, it’s no surprise that bigger movies will inevitably take over.

Since this is Kogonada’s directorial debut, audiences who actually got the opportunity to see the movie have a lot to look forward to in the future. Even the people who haven’t seen the movie still owe it to themselves to keep an eye on this obviously gifted director. It’s a shame that the movie is essentially destined to fall under the radar. It’s not just one of the most underrated movies of the year; it’s one of the best movies, period.

Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.