OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2018: The minor film categories

  (Image: hypable.com)

(Image: hypable.com)

PART 2: THE MINOR FILM CATEGORIES

This year returning host Jimmy Kimmel gets to redeem himself and likely make seven or more Moonlight envelope flub jokes for the banner 90th Academy Awards.  With less than a week to go, let’s breakdown predictions.  Throughout the awards season, I’ve been tallying the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories on the 2018 Awards Tracker as a big source of my prognostication data. In this second post, we look at the minor film categories of foreign film, documentaries, animated films, and short films.  As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The nominees:  A Fantastic Woman, The Insult, Loveless, On Body and Soul, The Square

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  9- BPM (Beats Per Minute), 8- The Square, 5- In the Fade, 5- First They Killed My Father, 4- Raw, 4- Thelma, 2- Graduation, 2- Okja, 1- Loveless, and six more with a single win.

Who was snubbed:  The data shows several films deserved more and better consideration, starting at the top with the much-loved BPM, two Netflix snubs in First They Killed My Father and Okja, and the Diane Kruger drama Into the Fade.  I don't get the invisible voter hate for all things with a Netflix logo on it, even with Mudbound breaking a glass ceiling or two for Netflix in a few categories.

Happy to be there:  The Insult and On Body and Soul are the two deepest sleepers and outliers compared to the award wins and notoriety of the other nominees.  

What should win:  If we’re going by the math, this should be The Square’s Oscar in an uncontested runaway.  However, I’ve watched this category deny favorites and previous top winners for years.  I think another curveball is coming to a film that speaks more to the moment.

What will win:  That moment is the #MeToo movement of this past year and its empowering efforts for women.  The film matching the moment that is impressing audiences with its courage and quality is A Fantastic Woman.  I’ve seen it myself and a win for the film would be a watershed moment for the transgender community.  It feels like the right time for this to happen.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

The nominees:  The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, Coco, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  43- Coco, 3- The Breadwinner, 2- Loving Vincent, 1- The LEGO Batman Movie

Who was snubbed:  I don’t think there’s a larger and more obvious snub in the whole Oscar field than the missing title of The LEGO Batman Movie in this category.  Sharing the same scary and egregious fate as The LEGO Movie is scary and nonsensical.   

Happy to be there:  The Boss Baby has no business anywhere close to the Oscars.  Too many better films exist to champion animated features than that one.

Who should win:  As perpetually great as the works of Disney/Pixar are and have been, the creative accomplishment of Loving Vincent and its 65,000+ oil-painted frames is historic and monumental.  The craftsmanship alone is Oscar-worthy and the film’s engaging Vincent Van Gogh mystery is equally excellent.

Who will win:  This is the lock of the night.  No other award has this level of one-side supporting data or support.  Coco will win, earning another Pixar Oscar, but, more importantly, also bringing love to Hispanic heritage and audiences. 


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The nominees:  Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Faces Places, Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo, Strong Island

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  18- Jane, 15- Faces Places, 3- Strong Island, 3- City of Ghosts, 2- Kedi, 2- Dina, and 11 others with one win

Who was snubbed:  Based on my Awards Tracker data, the winningest documentary of the awards season wasn’t even nominated and that film is Jane, a well-regarded and masterfully edited chronicle of renowned scientist Jane Goodall.  A local Chicago favorite after a long Music Box run was Kedi.  That also would have been a nice addition, the Jane snub looks embarrassing, just like BPM up in Foreign Language Film.

Happy to be there:  Of the five, Icarus has the fewest wins and previous nominations in the category.  It looks like the nominee with the least footing.

Who should win and will win:  Without the competition of Jane in the mix, this should be a layup for Faces Places and quite the toast to the soon-to-be 90-year-old French filmmaker Agnes Varda.  Within film circles, she counts as a legend for her French New Wave work decades ago. 


BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The nominees:  Dekalb Elementary, The Eleven O'Clock, My Nephew Emmett, The Silent Child, Wate Wote/All of Us

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  1- Timecode, 1- Cowboy Dave

Who was snubbed:  This is a film scene and area of the medium that over 90% of people never see.  I know I’ve learned to love a good short film.  I have no idea if it was Oscar-eligible, but I will give a shout-out to Not Yet, the one five-star live action short film I reviewed last year.  It’s like the silent magic of a Pixar animated short brought to life with all the charm and punch.

Happy to be there:  Everyone should be happy for their Oscar moment and the luck of not being cut to trim overall show running time.  

Who should win:  Thanks to press credentials, I’ve had the treat of seeing all of Live Action Short Film nominees and they are gems.  My personal favorite was The Eleven O’Clock, a staccato-paced hilarious dialogue between a psychiatrist and one his patients who thinks he is the psychiatrist.  The fun part is we, the audience, don’t know which is which.

Who will win:  The Eleven O’Clock may have been my favorite, but the best short of the bunch is DeKalb Elementary. Reed Van Dyk’s harrowing real-time drama re-tells a true incident of an armed school shooter encountering a kindly school secretary.  Its 21 minutes are nothing short of nail-biting.


BEST ANIMATED SHORT

The nominees:  Dear Basketball, Garden Party, LOU, Negative Space, Revolting Rhymes

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  1- Poles Apart

Who was snubbed:  Whatever you do, don’t you dare say Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the reviled appetizer that played before Coco.  Anything but that!

Happy to be there:  As is the same every year, a guy like me will call these films buried treasure, but most audiences barely know these types of films exist outside of the Disney-backed offerings.  Like Live Action Short, this category is lucky it hasn’t be dropped by producers in favor of a shorter telecast.

Who should win:  Like the live action category, I’ve been lucky enough to see all five of these nominees.  The five couldn’t be more different from each other.  For me, there’s not a five-star stud among them, unfortunately.  My two favorites were Negative Space, a claymation long-form poem about fathers and sons, and Garden Party, a surreal photorealistic twist of a crime scene.  

Who will win:  The winner will be the familiar Los Angeles face of Kobe Bryant.  Dear Basketball, his personal thank you card to the game of basketball, was directed by Disney legend Glen Keane and scored by the legendary John Williams.  Call it a dash of hobnobbing Hollywood saluting hobnobbing Hollywood.  Still, watch out for Pixar's LOU as a possible upset special.


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The nominees:  Edith+Eddie, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Heroin(e), Knife Skills, Traffic Stop

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  1- Edith+Eddie

Who was snubbed:  No clue.  We’re getting really obscure here.  

Happy to be there:  Finishing this carousel of the dartboard categories, everyone here better soak up their 15 seconds when they get them on March 4th.

Who should win and will win:  I will back the one firm data source in this category.  The International Documentary Association awarded Edith+EddieI had the chance to see the film as part of the programming at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival.  That’s good enough for my betting and prediction.

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