10 Things You Didn’t Know About the 89th Academy Awards Nominees

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If you’re like some of us here at Flavorwire HQ, last year’s political bonanza took up a lot of head space and free time — so you might be feeling a little left behind when it comes to the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards. Fear not, dear readers. We’ve gathered ten facts about ten different Oscar nominees to catch up with this year’s best movies. We hope they’ll inspire you to get your booty in a theater seat (or plunk down some cash for a rental) and enjoy some “you” time in the dark.

La La Land Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing

Ryan Gosling spent hours a day learning how to play the piano so he could perform all the sequences in the film without the use of a double or CGI. From music director Marius De Vries: “When Ryan came in and showed us what he could do on the piano—which, by his own admission, was not very much—I had a [team] for him to fit into. They worked two hours a day for four months. It shouldn’t be possible to cram the learning of a lifetime into four months but somehow they did it. Ryan’s very quick on the uptake. What you see on the screen is 100 percent Ryan’s hands and body and performance. We had a hand double as insurance, but that poor hand double sat in his trailer all day because he wasn’t called upon once.”

Moonlight Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

Director Barry Jenkins is the fourth black filmmaker nominated in the Oscars’ Best Director category.

Arrival Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

On the creation of Arrival‘s alien language, from the film’s screenwriter Eric Heisserer.

Visit the conversation for more (we don’t want to spoil anything for you).

Elle Best Director, Best Actress

It was difficult casting an actress in Paul Verhoeven’s rape-revenge drama. Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, Julianne Moore and Diane Lane were all offered the role, but the women turned it down. Marion Cotillard and Carice van Houten were frontrunners, but they rejected the controversial script as well. Verhoeven told The Guardian that the only American actor he thinks would have considered the part is Jennifer Jason Leigh. “She would have had absolutely no problem, She’s extremely audacious. But she’s an artistic presence and we were looking for names,” he said.

Hidden Figures Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay

One of the film’s producers is Pharrell Williams, who was also head of the movie’s musical elements and soundtrack.

The Lobster Best Original Screenplay

The production was created with almost exclusively natural lighting and there was no makeup used.

I Am Not Your Negro Best Documentary – Feature

The documentary took ten years to create and is based on one of James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscripts called Remember This House — a memoir of his personal thoughts and memories about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.

Lion Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography

It took Dev Patel eight months to develop his role as Saroo Brierley, including a new physique, new accent with the correct dialect, a trip to India to visit Brierley’s orphanage, and the same train ride that Brierley took as a young boy.

Jackie Best Actress, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design

Director Pablo Larraín estimates that about one-third of the shots in the film were captured on the first take. The filmmaker conducted no rehearsals for the movie either. “Personally, I never do rehearsals. I’ve never done it,” Pablo revealed. “I have a theater background and it’s very hard to really help an actor prepare without the makeup, the costume, and a camera. The camera brings the tension I need. If we don’t have that, then it’s very hard.”

The Salesman Best Foreign Language Film

Director Asghar Farhadi can’t (and won’t) attend this year’s Oscars, because Trump.