PART 2: THE MINOR FILM CATEGORIES
The short turnaround 92nd Academy Awards arrive host-free for the second consecutive year on Sunday, February 9th, barely a month after nominations were announced. The pace has added excitement and urgency right on down to my website’s 2020 Awards Tracker. Let’s start calling some winners. As always, that prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the minor film categories of international, animated, and documentary films. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
The nominees: Corpus Christi, Honeyland, Les Misérables, Pain and Glory, Parasite
Who should be here: These are likely the top and best five. Maybe I can throw a bone to Monos, but we’re getting pretty obscure once we all realize the juggernaut in the category.
Who should feel lucky to be there: Every film not named Parasite is the answer. Jokes aside, I must say I don’t mind the category re-naming to give this a little extra rub of prominence.
Who should win and will win: This is a no-doubter for Parasite, arguably the hyperbole-driven “movie of the year.” Sure, once could ask for wealth to be spread towards Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, but the renowned filmmaker already owns two Oscars to Bong Joon-ho’s zero. This will be a stunner and a possible precursor if it’s NOT Parasite. That could very well mean Parasite wins the top spot instead of this easy one. Be watching!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The nominees: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, I Lost My Body, Klaus, Missing Link, Toy Story 4
Who should be here: In my opinion, these are the right five, Frozen II be damned.
Who should feel lucky to be there: Klaus is the luckiest one where we have Netflix topping Disney, which is a really cool thing. Maybe this will nudge the Mouse House that originality gets honored more competitively that repetition. We could only hope.
Who should win: To keep the originality vibe going, let’s have the indie animated movie win for a change. I Lost My Body is a worthy, original, and soulful work. To me, that beats the cash grab sequel that’s going to win on the home television network it owns.
Who will win: My review flak and soapbox history with Toy Story 4 is well-known here. I don’t think it should win or be here, but it’s going to win. The craft is good enough and the franchise is beloved. The favoritism is too high. I’ll be the jerk rooting for an upset.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
The nominees: American Factory, The Cave, The Edge of Democracy, For Sama, Honeyland
Who should be here: The Academy makes me scratch my head. For the second year in a row, the most popular, well-reviewed, and publicly favored documentary of the year was excluded from the field. Apollo 11 is as imperatively important and worthy as any documentary in history. It has more than 30 award season wins, lapping these other nominees combined and twice over. It should be accepting a trophy on stage Sunday.
Who should feel lucky to be there: With Apollo 11 out, all five should feel lucky whatever discerning voting body that picks this field noticed them. Talk about changing the culture. I’d start in documentary.
Who should win: If we’re going for power and drama along with facts, For Sama is the heartbreaker that should sway voters with gobs of empathy. However, I think politics tend to win in this category and it will again.
Who will win: As a middle-finger to the current administration and wealthy genuflect to a departed hero, I think American Factory produced by the company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama carries the favor and sentiment. If the former first couple walks the red carpet and attend the ceremony, expect a big standing ovation days after a crass State of the Union and an impeachment acquittal.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
The nominees: Brotherhood, Nefta Football Club, The Neighbours’ Window, Saria, A Sister
Who should be here: Good luck digging. As connected as I am, I don’t know the depth of this field any more than most. The five here are solid enough.
Who should feel lucky to be there: We’ve reached that part of the ceremony of fringe and non-featured categories that will probably be given during a commercial break. They’re all lucky.
Who should win and will win: In this dartboard category with virtually no awards season data to go off of, I go straight to the Vegas betting odds. Brotherhood is where the money is going. Give it a checkbox.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
The nominees: Dcera (Daughter), Hair Love, Kitbull, Memorable, Sister
Who should be here: In a surprise, there was no Pixar-branded short that played before its annual June release, that being Toy Story 4. Normally, that is a shoe-in nominee in this field.
Who should feel lucky to be there: SEE LIVE ACTION SHORT
Who should win: Now I’ve actually seen these five and can give some love and true opinion. The best one I saw was the claymation drama Dcera (Daughter). Smudges matched character and intimate cinematography to move around the family subjects of grief was very striking. It really stood out something unique and artistic.
Who will win: Even without a mainstream Pixar choice, I’m still putting my money on the brand. One of their smaller PixarSpark selections was Kitbull, a charming little story of neighborly friendship between a chained and abused dog and an alley kitten. It went with refreshing 2D animation and brought the Pixar Punch heart. I think it wins people over.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
The nominees: In the Absence, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone, Life Overtakes Me, St Louis Superman, Walk Run Cha-Cha
Who should be here: SEE BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
Who should feel lucky to be there: SEE BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
Who should win and who will win: Fitting and with positive effort, topical politics tends to these documentary categories. Look no further than American Factory in the feature section. Here in the shorts, put your Oscar pool wager on St. Louis Superman chronicling the political rise and struggles of rapper Bruce Franks, Jr. during the post-Ferguson time period. That kind of content pushes the buttons and earns votes.
NEXT: THE VISUAL AND ARTISTIC CATEGORIES
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