7 Things You Didn't Know About This Year's Best Picture Nominees
We're now entering the home stretch of awards season 2017, with the Oscars just two days away. Fatigue may be setting in–the internet already hit
1. Hidden Figures was written as a book and filmed simultaneously.
Author Margot Lee Shanley sold her proposal for a book named Hidden Figures, about the unsung African-American heroes of NASA, back in 2014. Having first learned about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson– portrayed in the film by Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae – from her NASA scientist father, Stanley was determined to shed a light on their contributions.
The film rights were optioned immediately on the basis of Shanley's proposal alone, "which was very unusual," she has admitted. That put Shanley in the unusual position of "writing the book, and seeing the movie happening at the same time".
2. La La Land almost starred Miles Teller and Emma Watson.
Damien Chazelle's Best Picture frontrunner marks the third time Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have romanced each other on the big screen, but the original plan was for a very different pairing. Miles Teller, who starred in Chazelle's damn-near-flawless previous movie Whiplash, was originally in line to play La La Land's self-serious jazz enthusiast Sebastian – who is not a million miles away from his Whiplash character. Meanwhile, Emma Watson would have played the wide-eyed aspiring actress Mia.
There's a lot of conflicting intel on exactly what happened here: some reports suggest that Teller wanted too much money, while he claims he was let go after being told he "wasn't creatively right" for the project. Watson was reportedly unsure about the time commitment and opted to do Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast movie instead, which is probably for the best all round.
3. There's a reason Moonlight's tender swimming lesson scene feels so authentic.
Mahershala Ali's Juan teaching the withdrawn and neglected young Chiron (Alex R Hibbert) how to swim is one of the most moving, breathtakingly cinematic sequences in Moonlight. Director Barry Jenkins has called the scene "a moment of spiritual transference" between the characters, and it's all the more powerful when you watch it knowing just how authentic a moment it was.
"Alex Hibbert the actor does not know how to swim," Jenkins told EW, "so you're actually watching Mahershala Ali teach this kid how to swim in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as a storm is rolling in. Things like that, I can't plan for."
4. Denzel Washington had played his role in Fences 114 times before shooting the movie.
When August Wilson's play Fences first premiered in 1987, James Earl Jones starred as its conflicted protagonist Troy. Washington took over that role
"It's a lot to put on my plate," he admitted to Screen Daily, "but I had the luxury of 114 performances [on stage]. I knew the material inside and out. And we knew, and I knew, the success we had with these actors and with the material the way we did it."
5. Matt Damon was originally meant to star in – and direct – Manchester By The Sea.
Though he still wound up producing the movie, Damon was originally set to make his directorial debut on Manchester By The Sea, and play its laconic protagonist Lee, a man
Damon paid Lonergan a visit in 2011, per The Hollywood Reporter, when the latter was locked in an ugly legal battle over Margaret and, by his own admission, depressed. Damon, concerned about the "horrible limbo" had Lonergan found himself in, wanted to cheer him up… and so he pitched him his idea for Manchester, a movie that's hardly uplifting but did prove creatively inspiring.
Lonergan signed on to write and direct, with Damon still planning to star. But by the time the first draft was ready, Damon's schedule had filled up – with The Great Wall, among other things – and had to drop out, recommending childhood friend Casey Affleck to take his place.
6. The alien language in Arrival is an actual working language.
There were no half-measures taken on Denis Villeneuve's evocative and cerebral alien invasion movie. The mysterious visual language spoken by the alien visitors, which the US military enlists Amy Adams's linguist to translate, was a fully-functioning language. Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer worked together to develop a dictionary of more than one hundred "logograms", which are the symbols the aliens use in place of words. Around 70 of those logograms actually ended up in the finished movie.
7. Lion's child star was originally barred from attending the US premiere.
8-year-old Sunny Pawar was denied a US visa to attend Lion's premiere back in November, prompting the Weinstein Company to take legal action against what it called "immigration paranoia." The fact that this happened more than two months prior to Donald Trump taking office, never mind his travel ban taking effect, is
Once the film's producers made an appeal to Homeland Security, Pawar and his father were allowed to enter the US, and will be attending the Oscars this weekend – Vanity Fair is already calling the adorable Pawar "Oscar season's new It Boy".
From: Harper's Bazaar