Overlooked by the Academy

A week from tonight, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out the year's top prizes for films. And, as with every year, there's performances and films that get overlooked. Here's a few of the ones I think shouldn't be missed from 2016 even if they won't be taking home a statue.

The Light Between Oceans
* Best Actor Michael Fassbender
* Best Actress Alicia Vikander
About: This is one of the most beautiful, emotionally gutting and intense films I saw in 2016. Sadly, it kind of came in under the radar after being released on Labor Day weekend. That's not typically a key time to release films that are meant for awards competition, and I think it was a missed opportunity. This was one of the most haunting films I saw last year, and that is mostly a credit to the powerful work of Fassbender and Vikander. I was surprised this film generated no buzz, and I think it's one that people should take time to check out.

Edge of Seventeen
* Best Actress Hailee Steinfeld
* Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson
About: This movie probably got dismissed as a teen movie. And it is, but it's so much more. This is a movie that had a lot of beauty and heart. Steinfeld, who was great in the lead role, was recognized by the Golden Globes but missed the cut at the Academy. It was a tough field, but I certainly think she gives a beautiful and layered performance. Just as moving to me was Harrelson, who steals the show at times as a kind teacher who invests in his students. I loved this movie and it's a shame it wasn't more widely seen and appreciated.

* Amy Adams, "Arrival"
* Amy Adams, "Nocturnal Animals"
About: "Arrival" earned a Best Picture nomination and eight total nominations, yet Adams was passed over. In fact, she gave two incredible performances in 2016, and that might actually have hurt her as people probably split the vote. Still, it's a shame she's not being recognized for an incredible year of work.

* Aaron Taylor-Johnson, "Nocturnal Animals"
About: Taylor-Johnson actually won the Golden Globe, then got passed over for co-star Michael Shannon at the Academy Awards. Shannon was great, and deserving of recognition, but so was Taylor-Johnson, who was absolutely menacing. I didn't love "Nocturnal Animals," but the acting was incredible and it's a shame so many were left out.

* Margot Robbie, "Suicide Squad"
About: "Suicide Squad" wasn't a great film, and as a superhero movie it's apt to be dismissed. But there was one thing that made it a watchable film — Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn. It was one of the most inventive and incredible performances I saw this year, and I wish she'd gotten more recognition for it during awards season. Yes, it's a superhero movie that's not excellent. That doesn't mean the performance wasn't excellent.

* Blake Lively, "The Shallows"
About: Lively often gets dismissed because of what she's been known for in her career. And being the star of a little summer movie that reminds people of "Jaws" probably isn't the clearest path to an award nomination. But Lively is incredible in "The Shallows," and has to carry the film. What she does is the shark movie equivalent of "Cast Away," and she's completely believable in the story. It's a performance from her we haven't seen before, and it's what made it one of the best and most memorable films I saw in 2016. It's a shame she didn't get more recognition.


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