OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2014: The minor film categories

  (Image: pop-break.com)

(Image: pop-break.com)

PART 1: THE MINOR FILM CATEGORIES

Welcome to Oscar week 2014.  The 86th Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, are this Sunday and it's time to break down and analyze just who or what is going to be walking off the stage with an Oscar.  If you follow my website, you will know that I've been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2014 Awards Tracker.  To put it in educational terms to match this website's theme, those numbers have been by my "data analysis" to predicting just what films are going to win.   It's time to make my formal predictions.  In this post, we look at the minor film categories that include foreign, documentary, and animated features.  Let's go! 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The nominees:  "The Croods," "Despicable Me 2," "Ernest and Celestine," "Frozen," and "The Wind Rises"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

25- "Frozen," 11- "The Wind Rises," 2- "Monsters University," 1- "Despicable Me" and "Ernest and Celestine"

Who was snubbed:  The big name that is missing is Pixar.  For just the second time in company history, their annual effort was left off of the Best Animated Feature field with "Monsters University" not making the final five.  It's not a big shocker, but it's a big statement to how Pixar is slipping since its recent dominance.

Happy to be there:  For sure, the two foreign and hand-drawn nominees, "Ernest and Celestine" and "The Wind Rises" count as the lucky ones to be included.  They are smaller, yet significant works that rarely get wide American audiences.  Japanese animation icon Hayao Miyazaki is the man behind "The Wind Rises" and it could be his last film.  His film is the only dark horse winner possibility of this category.

Who should win and will win:  This is one of the locks of the night.  There's no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that "Frozen" doesn't walk away with this one in overwhelming fashion.  It's the kind of huge hit that wins this popularity contest and has the quality to still be a deserving winner.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

The nominees:  "Feral," "Get a Horse!," "Mr. Hublot," "Possessions," "Room and the Broom"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  NONE

Who was snubbed: This is one of those "throw-a-dart-and-hope-it-sticks" categories that awards predictors dread.  This is such an obscure category that it's hard to tell what wasn't included.  These are so small on the radar.

Happy to be there:  I say this every year.  All of them should be happy they are even included in the actual awards show.  When everyone complains every year that the Oscars are too long.  Look right here for a category to cut and make the show shorter.

Who should win and will win:  I think this category is going to go to the one animated short film that everyone has likely seen.  That's "Get a Horse!" The short was Walt Disney Animation's lead-in that came before "Frozen."  In the past, the Pixar shorts have had success in this same category and Disney's efforts to resurrect Mickey Mouse (original Walt Disney voice and all) in his first original piece in years is worth an Oscar.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The nominees:  "Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)," "Avant Que De Tout Perde (Just Before Losing Everything)," "Helium," "Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)," "The Voorman Problem"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  NONE

Who was snubbed?:  Just as with the Best Animated Short, this category is too obscure to handicap a race from.

Happy to be there:  Once again, see my previous comment.  They all should be happy to be noticed.  This is their fifteen seconds of fame.

Who should win and will win?  The dartboard returns for this pick, but I'll side with a note of star power.  "The Voorman Problem" is a clever little mystery short film that stars "The Hobbit" lead Martin Freeman.  I'm going to call that enough to move the needle towards more votes with a "Hey, I know that guy" factor.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The nominees:  "The Act of Killing," "Cutie and the Boxer," "Dirty Wars," "The Square," "20 Feet From Stardom"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

21- "The Act of Killing," 7- "Stories We Tell," 6- "20 Feet from Stardom," 4- "Blackfish," 1- three others

Who was snubbed?:  The biggest snub is likely the one documentary from 2013 everyone either saw or heard of and that's "Blackfish," the scathing look at the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld.  It's currently making the rounds on Netflix after a nice theatrical run.  It should have made the final five

Happy to be there:  While some successful documentaries have gone mainstream and attracted A-list talent, this is still another category where people are happy to be noticed.  Three of the five nominees, "Cutie and the Boxer," "Dirty Wars," and "The Square," have not won an award in this category and should feel extra special for being included in Oscar night.

Who should win and will win?:  The most lauded documentary of the year is the frontrunner in this minor film category.  Look for "The Act of Killing" to get its name called on Oscar night.  It's been that one documentary of quality that has actually made a few major critics' "10 Best" lists for last year, including TIME magazine.  While voting in this category can be random and erratic, I'm putting my money on the award winner and frontrunner.  

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The nominees:  "CaveDigger," "Facing Fear," "Karama Has No Walls," "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life," "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  NONE

Who was snubbed?:  The pattern continues of no major award precursors in this category.  There's nowhere to spot a slight or omission.

Happy to be there:  For the second-to-last time on this prediction piece, the mantra continues of all nominees happy to be there and get their moment.

Who should win and will win?:  This is anyone's guess and another dartboard category.  I'll put my eggs in the Holocaust basket.  That always pings.  "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life" is the recounted story of the oldest-known Holocaust survivor, a 109-year-old pianist who has an extremely poignant and personal story of art and courage.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The nominees:  "The Broken Circle Breakdown," "The Great Beauty," "The Hunt," "The Missing Picture," "Omar"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

18- "Blue is the Warmest Colour," 6- "The Hunt," 2- "The Grandmaster", 2- "The Broken Circle Breakdown," 1- nine others (including "The Great Beauty" with the Golden Globe)

Who was snubbed?:  In one of the biggest snubs of the entire Oscar field, the most dominant and talked-about foreign film of 2013, the French lesbian opus and Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Colour," was completely shut out of the Oscars, ending a run of powerhouse foreign films that had the quality to sneak into major categories, much like "Amour," "A Separation," and, of course, "The Artist" did in previous years.  Nothing else has come close to the number of wins in this category to "Blue is the Warmest Colour."  

Happy to be there:  "Missing Picture" and "Omar" should feel the most lucky, as neither has won any previous awards in this category.  To give you another fact of contest, Best Documentary frontrunner "The Act of Killing" and Best Animated Feature nominee "The Wind Rises" have both won Best Foreign Language Film honors in front of "Missing Picture" and "Omar."  Their nomination is their award, clearly.

Who should win and will win?:  Without "Blue is the Warmest Colour," I have to move to the next best thing from the Awards Tracker data.  Put my pick and my vote down for "The Hunt" to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.  Starring NBC's "Hannibal" star Mads Mikkelson, "The Hunt" is winning over a growing audience on Netflix and likely will get the most views with voters.

NEXT UP:  THE MUSIC AND SOUND CATEGORIES

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