ByUsama Masood, writer at Creators.co
I cover everything from Detective Fiction to Detective Comics (DC). Find Me @TheWayneMansion
Usama Masood

One of the biggest snubs this year was the exclusion of Amy Adams from the Best Lead Actress category at the 89th Academy Awards. The Man of Steel actress has been receiving much love from critics and fans alike for her incredible performances in and , and while Denis Villeneuve's critically acclaimed sci-fi film managed to get its share of nominations (save of course for the aforementioned categories), it was the other Adams film that got edged out from its competition.

The Tom Ford directed Nocturnal Animals was one of the best films of last year. With its stylized take on a crime-noir, the film even managed to win the auspicious Golden Lion Award at the Sundance film festival, defeating heavyweights like .

Here are five categories it most deservingly needed to be nominated in:

1. Best Actress

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

Let's get the most obvious one out of the way. How the hell did Amy Adams not get nominated for this? I was sure that I would see her name either for Nocturnal Animals or for both Arrival and Nocturnal Animals (as an atypical Academy twist). Yet, she somehow managed to miss out on what would have been her sixth Oscar nomination.

Adams's take on Susan was no light affair. With just a few simple facial features she showcased a variety of emotions that made the film all the more special. Whenever she felt tense, we did, whenever she got scared, we did. It's a testament to the brilliance of her acting skills that she managed to carry so much of the movie on her shoulders, despite having more facial than verbal cues.

2. Best Supporting Actor

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

The Academy already nominated Michael Shannon for his work on this film, but it's clear to most fans of the film that there was one actor who deserved this honor more: Aaron Taylor Johnson. 's Quicksilver wouldn't be who many directors would have in mind when thinking of choosing a twisted villain for their film, but Tom Ford's gambit paid off and he brought a level of magnetism to his goosebump-inducing scenes that made him worthy of his win. Not only was he terrifying, he was a force to be reckoned with as he faced off with Jake Gyllenhaal and Shannon, two much more celebrated actors. Not only did Johnson hold his own, he managed to draw in, repulse and frighten audiences at large. It's hard to think of his scenes without involuntarily shuddering and to say that Johnson not only delivered would be a gross understatement; he quite simply stole the show.

2. The Visionary Director

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

I was one of the few people not dazzled by Ford's theatrical debut A Single Man (starring Colin Firth), yet I was completely blown away Nocturnal Animals. To package Nocturnal Animals is no small feat — it has three running timelines, with each a distinct feel.

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

The current Amy Adams timeline is sexy and modern, and expertly manages to show the cold and hollow lifestyle the protagonist leads. The flashback scenes are more than just sepia tinged, they feel warm and homey. In turn, the scenes from the book are purposely left rough around the edges.

It's one of those rare movies in which each frame means something and adds to the overall narrative of the film. It is therefore beyond comprehension how Ford could have managed to juggle such complex themes and storylines while also leaving clues for the viewer. I love leaving the theater effected by something I've seen and Ford's Nocturnal Animals manages to not only affect, but also to wow the viewer.

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3. Best Adapted Screenplay

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

The book — upon which the movie is based — was written by Austin Wright and published as Tony & Susan in 1993. The book itself is sharp, twisted and stunning, but Tom Ford's adaptation wasn't a simple reincarnation of the story on the big screen. Rather, Ford painstakingly added color to each segment of the book, highlighting the inconspicuous brilliance of the novel. Ford also enhanced several aspects of the novel for thematic effect, such as the wealth of Susan after her second marriage. However, his changes to the original manuscript have been wholly exceptional. In fact, certain scenes from the book that are adapted without any changes work much better than they did in the book, under Ford's perceptive eye.

While the book is brilliant in it's own right, it was the movie that really dared to explore the depth of its characters and deliver an unforgettable visual experience. Beneath the glossy facade of this drama lies an ugly, cold interior, and yet that unequivocally is Nocturnal Animals's best feature, something which Ford truly recognizes.

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Best Original Score

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

Composed by Abel Korzeniowski (the composer of Penny Dreadful fame), the haunting score of the film took multiple weeks to be perfected, with Ford stressing that given the fact that it was to used in the backdrop of Susan's various endeavors — from reading the book, to going to her job — as well as Edward's (Jake Gyllenhaal) story, it really needed to be excellent.

Ford has explained why he stressed so greatly on finding the right score:

“A large part of the film is a work of fiction that this woman is reading. We’re reading along with her, so it’s a chance for a heightened reality in the performances...a kind of intensity that you couldn’t have in real life. I wanted the score to have that same overblown, quite dramatic feeling.”

To Korzeniowski's credit, his composition is outstanding. Given that the movie plays out like a western-thriller and a crime drama, Korzeniowsk really had his work cut out for him. The composer said:

“The drama is scored like a film noir. She just walks through the house and we have some music that tells us that there’s something in the dark. When we go into the novel/thriller part, it’s scored like something very emotional, even if we have a car chase. It’s like feeling your blood throbbing in your veins.”

Best Picture

'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Nocturnal Animals' [Credit: Focus Features]

It's not hard to find superlatives for this film, but the easiest and perhaps the chief among them is that it's not easily forgettable. One may not find it to be his/her cup of tea, and that might certainly be the case given how dark the movie is, but it is not the kind of movie one sees and never thinks about. Nocturnal Animals is as jarring as it is thought provoking. The plot, which differs not only story wise but also thematically, is an extremely hard one to nail, yet Ford's 2016 film does exactly that.

Brilliantly executed, the almost two-hour film, goes back and forth through various different scenes but never fails to leave the viewer behind, nor does it loosen its grasp on the viewer's interest, which only increases through the course of the film. With remarkable visuals and superb acting, it would not have been hard to see this film wind up in the nomination list and even steal the coveted golden statue. But perhaps, in the post-Trump world, we really do need more love, and if that is the case, then La La Land is most certainly the way to go.

So, what did YOU think of Nocturnal Animals?

(Sources: Vanity Fair)

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