OSCAR PREDICTIONS: The minor film categories

(Image: hypable.com)


On February 26th, Jimmy Kimmel will host the 89th Academy Awards and its time to make predictions. On this website, I've been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2017 Awards Tracker.  Those results have been my data trends to predict these winners. In this second post, we look at the obscure minor film categories that include foreign films, documentaries, animated films, and short films.  Get the dartboard out, but stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!


The nominees:  "A Man Called Ove," "Land of Mine," "Tanna," "The Salesman," "Toni Erdmann"

AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 21- "The Handmaiden,”10- "Elle,” 8- "Toni Erdmann," 2- "The Salesman,” and four others with one win

Who was snubbed:  As you can see from the data, there are two glaring omissions at the top of the trophy case heap.  For unclear reasons, “The Handmaiden” was not chosen by its home country of South Korea to be the nation’s entry, disqualifying it from competition.  It would win in a landslide if it were present.  Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” was also wrongly snubbed.

Happy to be there:  Of the five nominees, “A Man Called Ove” has not won any lead-up awards of any kind in this category.

Who should win and will win:  The lack of competition from “Elle” and “The Handmaiden” makes this category a slam dunk for Germany’s “Toni Erdmann” as one of the surest of sure things of the whole Oscar night.  Only a late Trump travel ban sympathy vote for Asghar Farhadi’s “The Salesman” looks to steal.


The nominees:  “Kubo and the Two Strings," “Moana," “My Life as a Zucchini," “The Red Turtle," “Zootopia"

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  22- "Zootopia,” 18- "Kubo and the Two Strings,” 2- "The Red Turtle,” and four others with one win  

Who was snubbed:  Purely because of clout and visibility, the passing over of “Finding Dory” from the gleaming palace of Pixar was a stunner on nominations day.

Happy to be there:  This category has consistently sought to recognize non-Hollywood efforts with nominations.  This year those lucky slots of favor were given to “My Life as a Zucchini” and “The Red Turtle.”  Only twice since this Oscar category began in 2001 has a non-studio film won this award.  It won’t be this year.

Who should win:  “Kubo and the Two Strings” has been in a back-and-forth battle all awards season, but has slipped behind here towards the end as the large entities, other than the BAFTA, award elsewhere.  Give me Laika’s brand of stop-motion wonders anytime over the fancy computer work of the larger studios.

Who will win:  Disney’s big hit “Zootopia,” with its deeper meanings and themes within a kids film, nearly crashed one of the Big Eight categories with a big for Original Screenplay.  Appreciation for its story has spread to its artistry.  It has emerged as the Oscar frontrunner and favorite after winning the Annie Award for this field this month.  


The nominees:  "Blind Vaysha," "Borrowed Time,"  "Pear Cider and Cigarettes," "Pearl," "Piper"

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  2- "Piper,” 1- "A Love Story"

Who was snubbed:  Maybe the BAFTA winner of “A Love Story” deserved a look here.  I know general audiences would have liked to see “Inner Workings,” Disney’s pre-”Moana” short make the final cut.

Happy to be there:  Other than when Disney makes them, not enough people are exposed to short films, meaning all the nominees get a chance to stand next to the big boys.  

Who should win:  I was very impressed with “Borrowed Time” this past fall.  A few Pixar graduates started Quorum Films, a new outfit, and this dark and disturbing western stood as proof that not everything that looks as pretty as a Pixar film has to be sunshine and rainbows.  I would love to see the talent and tone of “Borrowed Time” extended into a full film.

Who will win:  This should be a shoo-in for Pixar’s “Piper.”  The darling short won the Annie Award in this specific field and can be a consolation prize for Pixar losing out on “Finding Dory.”


The nominees:  "13th," "Fire at Sea," "I Am Not Your Negro," "Life, Animated," "O.J.: Made in America"

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  26- "O.J.: Made In America,” 7- "13th,” 5- "I am Not Your Negro,”  5- "Cameraperson,” 3- "Weiner,” 2- "Tower,” 2- "Fire At Sea,” 2- "Gleason,” and three others with one win

Who was snubbed:  Hollywood love to honor Hollywood, so I was surprised to not see “De Palma” make the final five.  The same goes for the big name of Werner Herzog and his “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World.”  Personally, I enjoyed “Normal Lear: Just Another Version of You.”

Happy to be there:  Unfortunately, the least decorated of the five nominees is my personal favorite.  The heartfelt “Life, Animated” was my #3 film of the entire year and something I’ve championed others to see.  

Who should win:  My soft spot for “Life, Animated” gets the “should” vote here, but few could argue to poignant power found in both “13th” and “I Am Not Your Negro” when it comes to the topical race relations of today.  Both are perfect documentaries.

Who will win:  Break out the tape measures because the long-form film is going to win.  The five-part and 467-minute compendium that is “O.J.: Made in America” from ESPN Films will win the big one with ease.  Mark this one down as an easy and no-doubt look.


The nominees:  "Extremis,” “4.1 Miles,” “Joe’s Violin,” “Watani: My Homeland,” “The White Helmets"

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  1- "The White Helmets"

Who was snubbed:  none

Happy to be there:  all of them

Who should win:  Welcome to one of what I always call “dartboard categories” that make for wild guesses of obscurity.  Technically, the International Documentary Association awarded the short subject award to “The White Helmets.”  

Who will win:  I’ve been burned by following the IDA winners before, but I'm sticking with it after checking the aggregate Las Vegas betting odds website that say “The White Helmets” is the slight betting favorite.  It earns my symbolic quarter for jukebox.


The nominees:  “Ennemis Interieurs,” “La Femme et le TGV,” “Silent Nights,” “Sing,” “Timecode"

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  1- "Timecode,” 1- "Thunder Road,” 1- "Home,” 1- "Imago"

Who was snubbed:  I will throw some local love to my fellow Chicagoan Matthew Weinstein and his film “The Gun Equation.”  Also, I will complement Canada’s “Endless Waltz” and its stunning and simple beauty.  Short films are an area I’m improving in coverage and attention as a film critic.

Happy to be there:  All of them

Who should win:  The prestigious Cannes Film Festival named “Timecode” its festival winner for short film last summer.  That should be good enough, but, like Documentary Shorts, I’ve been burned followed that data.  

Who will win:  Dialing up the charts from Las Vegas, the money says “Ennemis Interieurs” has the edge of odds.  That’s good enough for my dartboard guess