The nominations for the 89th annual Academy Awards have been announced, and, arguably, there are few surprises.

The Oscars have gone ga ga for 'La La'

After setting a record for most Golden Globes won by a single film earlier this year, "La La Land" leads the way at the Oscars with a record-tying fourteen nominations. The only other films in history to achieve such a high number of nominations are "Titanic" in 1997 and "All About Eve" way back in 1950.

Damien Chazelle has bagged himself a couple of nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are nominated in the leading performance categories.

Chazelle was nominated back in 2015 for the screenplay to his stunning film Whiplash (ultimately losing to the mediocre "The Theory of Everything.") The film has also, unsurprisingly, landed several nominations for its musical and audio achievements.


People often forget that last year's #OscarsSoWhite backlash was spearheaded, in large part, by Will Smith and his wife, who were devastated that Smith's performance in "Concussion" hadn't been nominated. (Trust me: that did not emerge from a concern about the visibility of black artists in Hollywood.) Smith tried his best to get a nod this year with another terrible “bait” movie, "Collateral Beauty." He failed – but this year, the Smiths can't hide their disdain behind the hashtag.

Seven of the twenty nominees in acting categories aren't white; definitely an improvement over the grand total of zero we received last year. Was this the direct result of last year's backlash, or was it simply that this year brought too many commercially-successful and critically-acclaimed films and performances by black artists for the voters to ignore?

I'm inclined towards the latter; 2015's pickings simply couldn't compare to this year's "Moonlight," "Hidden Figures," and "Fences" – all films that have been nominated for Best Picture.

And for those who still feel the sting of Ava DuVernay not being nominated for Best Director a couple of years ago, hopefully, you can take some comfort knowing that she's nominated this year for her thought-provoking documentary "13th."

Were there any Oscar snubs?

“Snub” is a weird term; it implies a planned and purposeful refusal to vote for a given work or performance, which isn't really reflective of how voting works.

Still, it's a term that carries some sting, which ia what some of the hopefuls will feel after walking away without nominations – much to the surprise of many a pundit.

We may as well start with Scorcese's "Silence," a film developed across 25 years, which received a nod for Best Cinematography. Many had originally expected Andrew Garfield to be nominated for his role in Silence; thankfully, he received a nod for his astonishing turn in Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge."

Speaking of which, Mel Gibson has received his first Oscar nomination in just over twenty years! This may surprise many who believed Gibson had been exiled from Hollywood's good books, but those who saw the film knew it was destined for awards success.

He and his girlfriend welcomed a newborn boy today, so it's been a pretty damn good day for Gibson!

Best Actor held no surprises, though one of its number, Denzel Washington,was expected to bag a nomination for his directorial work in "Fences" - Mel Gibson seems to have snuck in and taken what may have been Washington's place, with a film that received more critical praise.

Despite his win for Best Supporting Actor at the Globes, Aaron Taylor-Johnson wasn't nominated in the same category at the Academy Awards; instead, the nomination went to his co-star in the same film, Michael Shannon.

So who's going to win an Oscar?

Let's throw out some predictions in the form of a no-frills list: Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck (unless his legal problems disrupt; in which case, Ryan Gosling), Emma Stone, Mahershala Ali, Barry Jenkins. "La La Land's" songs will leave Justin Timberlake walking away empty-handed.