So. How about those #Oscar nominations? I know. I’m not happy that Captain America: Civil War wasn’t nominated for anything either. Luckily, more than a few of the year’s best films did get nominated, including a few we weren’t expecting. Mel Gibson made a powerful return in the director’s chair with Hacksaw Ridge, while the romantic musical La La Land got a best picture nod as well. But how did these best picture nominees get to where they’re at? And what weird places did Hollywood take them to get there?
Here are nine fast facts from this year’s nine best picture nominees:
1. 'Arrival' Was Originally Titled 'Story Of Your Life'
You might be wondering why the original title for a science-fiction mystery thriller sounds like a How I Met Your Mother episode. It’s because that’s the title for the short story that #Arrival is based on.
For those of you who have seen the film, you understand why the film was originally titled Story of Your Life. For those of you that haven’t, you’re understandably confused. So were test audiences. After a few test screenings, director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) eventually decided that the movie didn’t need to sound “like a romantic comedy.” Villeneuve sifted through hundreds of titles, but eventually settled with Arrival, the first one that was suggested.
2. Eddie Murphy Was Originally Supposed To Star In 'Fences'
Long before Denzel Washington was attached to direct and star in Fences, comedian actor Eddie Murphy urged Paramount to purchase the rights to August Wilson’s Pulitzer prize-winning play. He wanted to produce the film and star as the main character’s son, Cory Maxson.
So what happened? When the rights were originally bought in 1987, Paramount was trying to get the project off the ground with a cast and crew ready to helm the project. Murphy was 26 at the time. By the time they had assembled a cast and crew, Murphy outgrew the appearance of a high school teenager, so he left the project. Fences was stuck in development hell until Washington took it over in 2015.
3. Superheroes Inspired Mel Gibson To Make 'Hacksaw Ridge,' Sort Of
Now Mel Gibson is not a fan of superhero movies. Like, at all. Earlier in the year, he voiced his very vocal distaste of the superhero genre, going so far as to call Batman V. Superman a “piece of shit.”
“I’m not interested in the stuff. Do you know what the difference between real superheroes and comic book superheroes is? Real superheroes didn’t wear spandex. So I don’t know. Spandex must cost a lot.”
What does that have to do with Hacksaw Ridge? Well, after reading about the incredible true story of Desmond Doss, who saved 75 men during WWII armed without a single weapon, he was inspired to tell a story about a real superhero who didn’t wear spandex. Man, Mel, what is it with you and spandex?
4. 'Hell Or High Water' Takes Place In Texas, Even Though It Wasn't Filmed There
It’s kind of surprising that even though the western-heist film Hell or High Water takes place in Texas, not a single scene was filmed in the southern state. The film was alternatively shot in parts of New Mexico, including Clovis, Guadalupe, and Route 66. You know, anywhere except Texas. What do you got against us, boys? Don’t you know we have Whataburger down here?
5. The Woman Behind Hidden Figures Didn't Understand Why A Movie Was Being Made About Her
In preparing for her role in the film, Taraji P. Henson spoke to the real-life Katherine Johnson, who is currently 98 years old. After watching Hidden Figures, Johnson said she was very pleased with her representation, although she didn’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about her. Oh, no reason, Ms. Johnson. You only helped Neil Armstrong land on the moon.
6. A 'La La Land' Star Turned Down 'Beauty And The Beast' And Vice Versa
The Oscars are treating the cast and crew of #LaLaLand well this season. The film has 14 nominations, including best picture and director, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are nominated for best acting awards as well. It wasn’t always a straight line for these two though. Before filming, Gosling was offered a role in the Disney live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, but turned it down to star in La La Land. Actress Emma Watson was also offered a role in La La Land, but turned it down to star in Beauty and the Beast.
So basically, both actors just traded movies. Interestingly enough, both films are musicals.
7. More People Auditioned For 'Lion' Than For Spider-Man
When directors Anthony and Joe Russo were originally casting for Captain America: Civil War, they screen tested six actors after a rigorous audition process where over 1,500 actors were being considered. Tom Holland was among these actors and who ended up getting the part.
That’s a large number to overcome, but not as large as the 4,000 actors who auditioned for the role of young Saroo Brierly in Lion, a story about an adopted boy trying to find his birth parents. Sunny Pawar couldn’t even speak English when filming began, and he played cricket with his on-screen mother Nicole Kidman in between takes.
8. Matt Damon Was Supposed To Direct And Star In 'Manchester By The Sea'
It's hard to imagine that at one point, Casey Affleck wasn't going to be the pioneer for Kenneth Lonergan's dramedy Manchester By The Sea. Long before Casey's involvement, Matt Damon was attached to star and direct Lonergan's drama-filled screenplay. However, as time passed and projects kept piling up, Damon had to drop out and recruited Affleck to take his place.
9. 'Moonlight' Is Partially Autobiographical
Even though #Moonlight is based on a book by Tarell Alvin McCraney, director Barry Jenkins says he shares a lot in common with the film’s main character, Chiron.
- He and Chiron are both from Miami.
- He and Chiron both grew up in the housing project area Liberty Square.
- He and Chiron both had a mother that dealt with drug addiction.
However, unlike Chiron, Jenkins isn't homosexual. Still, that’s a lot to share in common with a fellow Miami man.