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10 Great Movies From 2016 That Should Have Been Nominated For Best Picture

10 November 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Mike Gray

So many films made every year and so little time to see every one of them. That is, unless your entire profession depends upon watching as many films as possible during a year, and doubly so if you are a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After all, it is members of this organization that decides what films are to be considered for Best Picture at the annual Academy Awards.

Every year, it seems more and more films are made, and with this the potential field considered for Best Picture nominations is widened. Although the Academy had expanded the number of films that can be nominated for Best Picture from 5 to 10 in 2009, this categorical expansion seems to ignore that there are dozens of great films released every year that should, by all rights, be considered for a nomination.

The politicking that goes on during awards season for this nomination also means that smaller films—those that don’t have the millions to promote to Academy members during this time—are often left ignored despite their merit. With this in mind, here are 10 great films from 2016 that should have been nominated for Best Picture but weren’t.

 

1. Nocturnal Animals

A wealthy art gallery owner is sent the manuscript of her long-estranged ex-husband’s new book in the mail, with him asking her to read it. As she reads the novel—a disturbing story about a sudden, violent ambush in the desert on a family at night that leaves a man’s life shattered—the audience watches the plot unfold as she envisions it in her mind.

Intercut with this, the viewer also gets glimpses into both her current life and her past relationship with her ex-husband, including how their marriage came to a cruel, sudden end on her part. As she nears the conclusion of the novel, the woman contacts her ex-husband to meet him for dinner but finds that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Nocturnal Animals opened to rave reviews from critics but never found an audience during its theatrical release—which is unfortunate, as it was one of the best films of the year. With a haunting performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as both the ex-husband and the protagonist of his book and the film centered around Amy Adams’ conflicted wealthy wife who left a good man behind, this atmospheric neo-noir psychological thriller alternates between being tonally intense and cool.

The real accolades go to screenwriter and director Tom Ford, who adapted the novel Tony and Susan, a sort of meta-fiction that translated well to the screen. Unfortunately, it only received only one Academy Award nomination for Michael Shannon for Best Supporting Actor when it should have been nominated for Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director.

 

2. The Witch

Horror films are rarely nominated for Oscars. Even when they are, it’s often for technical categories like Best Visual Effects or Best Editing. But the horror genre has slowly gained momentum over the decades, evolving from cheap slasher and exploitation films into more nuanced explorations of the fears and disturbing truths that lurk in the conscious collective. Besides this, some horror films are true works of art that seem to avoid easy categorization.

Such is 2016’s The Witch (stylized as The VVitch), a rare horror film set in the relatively distant past. In 17th century New England, a family is banished from a village of settlers over a difference of interpretation of the New Testament. Moving into the foreboding woods far from the settlement, the family struggles to survive.

One day, the eldest daughter Thomasin is playing peek-a-boo with the newborn of the family when it suddenly disappears during a split-second as her eyes are covered. The mother is thrown into a deep depression at this unexplained loss while the twin children of the family claim the family’s goat, Black Philip, speaks to them.

The family’s situation goes from bad to worse when the son, Caleb, encounters a woman in the woods who kisses him, which makes him fall deathly ill. The mother claims it is the work of witchcraft that is causing the family’s misfortune and accuses Thomasin of consorting with the devil. This leads to an explosive, violent end for much of the family as the influence of witchcraft is shown to be the cause to the audience.

Atmospheric and authentic, The Witch replicates the look and feel of the 17th century, including the wardrobe worn by the cast and the dialect spoken true to the era. It was one of the most original films—horror or otherwise—to be released in 2016, but being categorized as horror did it no favors when awards season rolled around.

 

3. American Honey

american-honey

Stuck in Oklahoma, orphaned, and taking care of two young children while their absentee stepmother strips and her stepfather molests her, teenager Star sees no way out of her bleak circumstances. But after a chance meeting with a charming young man, she hits the road with a group of young salespeople who sell magazines door-to-door. This kicks off an unconventional road movie and coming-of-age drama that was well-received by critics but didn’t find an audience upon its release.

Casting mostly unknowns to lend the film verisimilitude, including first-time actress Sasha Lane as Star, and capturing the landscape of America–its citizens, class differences, social and economic extremes, and of course its natural, haunting beauty–in the early 21st century, American Honey is a small masterpiece. Directed by Andrea Arnold, this film is a lyrical ode to youth, hope, and the hard-earned lessons learned while exploring the possibilities of both of those ideals.

 

4. Everybody Wants Some!!

Richard Linklater is a director that captures the spirit of youth and general casual experience of life in a manner few directors are able. From his ode to adolescence in Dazed and Confused to the romantic, sentimental tone of Before Sunrise to his sweeping mini-epic Boyhood, Linklater knows how to relate the elation, agony, and even ambivalence people experience through life’s moments both great and small.

Everybody Wants Some!! is a sort-of sequel to Dazed and Confused, this time following a group of friends—housemates united by being part of a college baseball team—who share the ups, downs, and wandering nonsense of the college experience.

Set in 1980, Everybody Wants Some!! shares the same spirit as Dazed and Confused, being both a nostalgic and comedic look at the era, complete with its fads, emerging culture, and attitudes that defined the early 1980s in America. It’s also a lot of fun to watch, as Linklater sets the “hang out” tone of the film that captures the loose, affected, and self-consciousness of young adults experiencing their first taste of true freedom in life.

 

5. Sing Street

Sing Street

John Carney may not be a household name, but this director has produced some of the finest films of the past decade, many of which center around music as a fundamental element that changes its character’s lives.

Finding an indie hit with 2007’s Once, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, Carney’s 2013 film Begin Again tread similar ground to great effect. His ability to create memorable characters and a completely realized world populated by believable types, while depicting the concept of music a transformative one in his characters, has produced films that articulate what every musician feels about the art form but is difficult to express to those who don’t play an instrument.

2016’s Sing Street continues his winning formula: part kitchen sink drama and part musical, Sing Street details the life of Conor “Cosmo” Lawlor, an adolescent in Dublin 1985 who—due to his family being in financial straits–is plucked from his private school and placed in public school, where he goes through a rough transitional period that changes him. Most significantly, inspired by a girl he meets and some new friends, Conor starts a band. The film then follows as his struggling band experiences highs and lows, he finds love and heartbreak, and the integrity of his family is put to the test.

For fans of the now-classic The Commitments and Carney’s previous films, Sing Street is a wonderfully realized bit of nostalgia and wish fulfillment. The teenaged protagonists and their story is thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding, and Sing Street is an underappreciated gem from 2016 that didn’t get the attention it deserved—particularly when it comes to the Academy Awards.

 

 

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  • Vincenzo Politi

    FINALLY some love for Nocturnal Animals! The inclusion of Edge of 17 in this list was unexpected, but I loved it. Unfortunately, I disagree with the choice of Everybody Wants Some: I usually worship Linklater, but that movie was just so meh to me!

    • AmazingAmy

      Yup, but i don’ t like Animals. I prefer his debut Single Man.

      • Vincenzo Politi

        And?

    • jamako

      Gotta disagree with Nocturnal Animals being worth a nomination. There was some amazing acting and camera work in there, but the film also had some problems. Still a good film though.

    • tommyturner

      Hated Nocturnal Animals. But….. Michael Shannon was deserving of a nomination.

  • Mortimer

    I honestly think that ‘Jackie’ was the best and most fascinating movie of 2016. Why so many people have problem with its parallel timelines is a mystery to me. Its pretty straight-forward and well-structured (unless older and middle-aged audiences expected some old-fashioned weepie from this ?). Portman gave all-time great performance for the ages and Mica Levi’s score is chilling, even more effective than in ‘Under the Skin’.

    • AmazingAmy

      Her lost to Stone really baffling. If Academy don’t want give second Oscar to her then Huppert or Bening should won. Emma Stone was Goop and Jlaw of 2016 but she is more likeable

      • Mortimer

        Academy (and majority of the mainstream audiences) loves ‘America’s Sweetheart’ type of actresses more – bright, shiny, likeably extroverted etc. Jennifer, Emma and Brie are those type. Obviously talented but personally I find actresses like Rooney, Carey and Natalie more interesting.

        I agree, 2016 Oscar belonged to Huppert or Natalie. But…

        • AmazingAmy

          I don think Brie sweetheart type…she is definition of talented but bland…emma and Jen at least have charm

      • I’m OK with Stone winning more or less. EXCEPT that Portman gave the best performance of a lifetime for JACKIE. The only reason she didn’t win is because the Academy awarded her recently before this. And it should be about the best performance, nothing more!

        • AmazingAmy

          Huppert should won too….and about best actor.. i am fine with Affleck since his perf actually great and affecting. But personally i chose Viggo Mortensen…i just pray one day he will win Oscar :'(

  • AmazingAmy

    Toni Erdman, Aquarius, 20 Century Women, Neruda, Handmaiden, Paterson

  • Mortimer

    ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is good but ultimately flawed movie in my opinion. Are you sure that 73 % on RT should be considered a ‘rave reviews’ ? I never understood why that same score is a ‘rave reviews’ for some films and for the some others a ‘terrible reviews’ ?

    • Lol. RT gave Homecoming and Dr.Strange 92% and 89%. Rotton tomatoes isn’t everything brother.

      • Mortimer

        I know that RT isn’t everything and tbh I don’t care very much for it. I’m just questioning opinion of the author of this article who said that the movie got “rave reviews”. Reading that, you would think it had at least 95% score.
        To say that the movie was polarizing among the critics would be much more closer to the truth.

  • Mortimer

    Where is PATERSON ??? Easily one of the best movies of 2016 (with 96% score on RT. Now, that’s a “rave reviews”).

    • Rublev

      FUCK YES. This movie is pure poetry.

  • Kush Limbaugh

    Sing Street & Everybody wants some were complete piles of trash.

  • No The Handmaiden, Neon Demon, Raw, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Julieta, Elle, A Monster Calls?

    • colonelkurtz

      Can’t agree with Neon Demon, but double yes for Julieta. What a composed film from such a wild director.

  • Franco Gonzalez

    Jackie Jackie and Jackie.. Such an amazing an intimate film. Also love the score and work of Mica Levi

  • David

    I still can’t believe that corny and forgettable pieces of shit such as Hidden Figures and Fences were nominated, but an incredible piece of filmmaking such as Silence was not. The Academy sucks.

    • nicoal

      Blowback from Oscars So White. The Oscars are always predictable bullshit.

    • Hal Jordan

      Hidden Figures is actually a great film

  • 10 Cloverfleld Lane, Edge of Seventeen, The Lobster and Jackie should have all been nominated.

  • Hal Jordan

    Silence is easily one of the best films about religion of all time. It deserved a lot of nominations.

  • colonelkurtz

    Scorsese should have done without Andrew Garfield in Silence. That guy’s acting bleeds his heightened ego every minute of screen time, and, for me, ruined the potential that film had. You just can’t pass the humble attitude of these extremely religious missionaries on self-centered Hollywood actors.

    • Mortimer

      I would like more if Adam Driver played that part, instead of Garfield.

  • Refat Siddique Pial

    u snubbed some really contemplative work like they did. Certain Women , Paterson , Love and Friendship , 20th Century Women , A Bigger Splash .