These People Probably Won’t Win an Oscar

But if You Like an Underdog, Put Your Money on Them

By UrbanDaddy Staff ·
The plucky, come-from-behind underdog story is always an American favorite. Well, except for maybe the Patriots. Or the 2016 election.

But at least it still is in the movies.

So what better way to celebrate the underdog than taking the time to sing the praises of a few of ours from this year’s list of Oscar nominees.

These selections may not win you the office Oscar pool, but sometimes you just have to put your money where your heart is.

The category: Best Cinematography
The favorite: La La Land
The underdog: Moonlight

“I didn’t know much about the plot of Moonlight before seeing it. But as the lights of the theater grew dark and the swirling camera movements began, I didn’t care. I was hooked. From the first shot, the camera is always looking, looking, looking. The camera is dancing. The camera is lilting and swaying. It’s singing. James Laxton lets his camera float over scenes. There’s a lyricism to it. Even when he slows it all down—like the way you experience a car accident—the spark of melody is somewhere in there. It’s a movie you could watch with no sound yet still hear. The gentle push and pull of the wind over harsh concrete and chain link. The hum of laughter from the Florida pastel palette. The muffled rustle of ragged palm trees. I know La La Land is the favorite in this category, but to me, the lens of Moonlight found just as much music in the Miami sun.” —Chris LaMorte

The category: Best Documentary Short
The favorite: Extremis
The underdog: 4.1 Miles

“‘Between 2015 and 2016, 600,000 migrants crossed the 4.1 miles of water between Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos.’

“That’s the premise of 4.1 Miles, the 21-minute underdog for Best Documentary Short that chronicles a few harrowing days in the lives of some Greek captains who’ve dedicated themselves to rescuing refugees from the Greek sea. It’s buried beneath a pile of frolicking Ryan Goslings and interstellar-traveling attractive people. It’s horrifying and it’s moving. It’s something you need to see.

“Yes, the Documentary Short category is a particularly dour one this year, and each film feels important in its own right. But now more than ever, the world needs to see what’s happening beyond the bubble. Not just what they show on the nightly news, but in this very real, very raw way. This isn’t about politics. It’s about humanity. In the words of one of those Greek captains as he and his crew were offloading another batch of cold, wet and freezing souls, ‘The world needs to know what’s happening here. We can’t be going through this alone.’

“You hear that, naked little golden man?” —Kelly Larson

The category: Best Sound Editing
The favorite: Certainly not Tom Hanks
The underdog: Sully, because this was its only nomination and Tom Hanks deserves better

“Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar in nearly two decades. Yes, you read that right—you’ve got to go all the way back to 2001 to find his name on an Oscar ballot, for Cast Away. His only wins came even longer ago still, back-to-back in 1993 and 1994 for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, respectively. And guess what: this year, he got snubbed again for the 16th consecutive time. This is a travesty. Tom Hanks is a national treasure and we are taking him for granted. He deserves better.

“The only reasonable solution to this injustice is to give Sully the Oscar in the one category it’s up for... which is... let’s scan through the list here and see if we can find something... oh, yes, here it is: Best Sound Editing. A nomination that it currently sits at 80-to-1 odds to win, according to GoldDerby.com. If that’s the closest Tom Hanks is going to get to recognition this year, I’ll be damned if I sit by idly and watch the most extraordinarily-ordinary-man actor of this generation get another raw deal from the Academy. (The movie received tepid reviews while still lavishing Hanks with praise and aviation-laced double entendres, like the following: ‘Tom Hanks Keeps the Shaky Sully From Crashing.’)

“Meanwhile, Meryl Streep got the courtesy nod for Florence Foster Jenkins this year. Is she going to win for that? No. Was it the right thing to do? Yes. Why? It just was, stop questioning it.

“But here I am, left wondering how the man we’ve come to know and love as America’s Dad is getting the stepdad treatment. This is not right. We need to make it right.

“And we can start by giving Sully a gold statuette for Sound Editing.” —Najib Benouar

The category: Best Supporting Actress
The favorite: Viola Davis in Fences
The underdog: Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea

“Before everyone gets up in arms about how deserving Viola Davis is of this award, let me say this: I agree. She probably more-than-deserves an Oscar for her work in Fences. But, as we discussed a few weeks ago, Davis is a lead actress competing in the Supporting Actress category. And although more screen time doesn’t necessarily equal greater value, in this case, her performance is robbing another actress of the award (whether or not Davis would’ve won in the Lead Actress category is up for debate; I think she would have).

“Michelle Williams has been nominated four times (twice for lead, twice for supporting), but has yet to win. The only reason she didn’t take home the Oscar for her role in Blue Valentine is that Natalie Portman played a downright psychotic ballerina, which is actually a pretty good reason, now that I think about it. Can you name an actress working today who’s more talented, more versatile, more fearless than Michelle Williams without an Academy Award to her name? (If you answered Amy Adams, props to you—but I’d still take Williams any day.)

“Williams’s performance in Manchester by the Sea is somewhat brief. She doesn’t really have that many lines. And yet, her presence can be felt in almost every scene, even the ones she’s not in (naturally, this is also a testament to the quiet power of Casey Affleck’s performance and Kenneth Lonergan’s script). Affleck manages to portray the wispy, shadowy emotions of the emotionlessness—the phantom feelings of someone who’s died inside. But Williams manages to express the unimaginable pain Affleck’s character cannot, without falling prey to sentimentality, which is an equally, if not more, difficult task.

“Those who haven’t seen the movie may still have heard of the pivotal confrontation between Affleck and Williams, near the end of the film. It was the most indelible scene I saw all year, and the most genuinely heartbreaking. Maybe that doesn’t make you want to rush out to see this thing. If that’s the case, just take my word for it: give Williams the friggin’ Oscar.” —Sam Eichner

The category: Best Supporting Actor
The favorite: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight
The underdog: Dev Patel in Lion

“In this based-on-a-true-story biopic, Lion tells the story of Saroo, a boy in India who loses his brother at a train station. After hopping a cargo train, he winds up 1,000 miles away from his home and living on the mean streets before finding his way into an orphanage. Eventually, he is adopted by a nice Australian couple played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham. Dev Patel picks up on this story 20 years later, playing Saroo, now a college student living in Melbourne, who can’t quite escape his past, so he embarks on a journey tracing back his footsteps from that fateful day aided by Google Earth.

“Patel genuinely portrays a young man flawed by his painful past, where even the slightest reminder can trigger painful memories of his journey. Patel shows childhoods help shape us into the adults we become. His performance gives us a reminder that it’s okay to be affected by our past—but we determine our future.” —Tiffany Katehakis

Elsewhere on the Daddy

More Entertainment