Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oscar Winner Predictions: Foreign, Animated and Documentary

The Second post, focuses on the three other "Best Picture" categories - Foreign (a very tight race this year), animated and documentary (both fairly easy to call).
Foreign Language Film
5. Tangerines
4. Timbuktu
3. Wild Tales
2. Ida
1. Leviathan

Analysis: You never really know what direction the Academy is going to go in this category – something made worse by the fact that few of us actually get to see all of the nominees before the ceremony (this year, for instance, I haven’t had a chance to see Tangerines, Timbuktu or Wild Tales). They really could go any way here.

Who Will Win: Leviathan. After seeing the film, I cannot imagine the Academy hating the film – it is well made, dramatic, darkly comedic – and gives them a real opportunity to say screw you to Putin and Russia – by giving the film that insults them, from their own country, an Oscar. But it will be close – and wins for Ida or Wild Tales wouldn’t shock me.

Who Should Win: Leviathan. I’ve only seen two – this and Ida – and this was my favorite, so for now, it’s my choice.
Least of the Nominees: N/A.
I’m refusing to answer this one – because while of the two Ida is my least favorite, it’s still a hell of a film and I’m not going to insult it.

Who Should Have Been Here: Force Majeure. I understand them not voting for my favorite foreign film of the year – the three hour, twenty minute Winter Sleep from Turkey, but how they didn’t nominate Force Majeure – a darkly comedic family in crisis drama is beyond me. It even got shortlisted, and couldn’t make it in. Too bad.

5. The Salt of the Earth
4. Finding Vivian Maier
3. Last Days in Vietnam
2. Virunga
1. Citizenfour

Analysis: With the documentary Oscar, you never really know which way it’s going to go. Last year, The Act of Killing won practically every critics award (and many others besides) and then lost to the more inspiring 20 Feet from Stardom. Citizenfour is in The Act of Killing slot this year – the difference being I’m not sure I see something to knock it out.

Who Will Win: Citizenfour. Truly, nothing would surprise me here – the Academy always goes its own way with the documentary Oscar. Still, I think Citizenfour has the inside track – especially since the branch snubbed the film that I think the Academy as a whole would have voted for.

Who Should Win: Citizenfour. I haven’t see The Salt of the Earth or Last Days in Vietnam (they never came close to me, so it’s not my fault), so out of the three I have seen, Citizenfour was my favorite – and Laura Poitra’s is a fine documentarian in general, so it would get my vote.
Least of the Nominees: Virunga. I feel bad putting Virunga here – it did make my personal top ten for documentaries this year (out of the 40 I saw) – but I like it just slightly less than Finding Vivian Maier (and haven’t seen Last Days in Vietnam or The Salt of the Earth), so here we are.

Who Should Have Been Here: Life Itself. Once again, the documentary branch snubs Steve James. All this stretches back 20 year, to when they didn’t nominate his Hoop Dreams – and the kerfuffle that started. The documentary branch has never forgiven James for their own embarrassing omission of his masterpiece – so he keeps getting left out. That’s a shame because James’ film about Roger Ebert was my favorite doc of the year – and one I think the Academy as a whole would have voted for. Also, the shortlisted The Overnighters is better than any of the nominees I saw.

Animated Films
5. Song of the Sea
4. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
3. The Boxtrolls
2. Big Hero 6
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2

Analysis: The frontrunner somehow didn’t even get nominated, which has created a bizarre situation, where I wouldn’t really count out any of the five nominees. But that Academy has basically always gone for a big film, so I think it comes down to Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Who Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2. It will be close, but I think respect for the original, which didn’t win, will push this one over the top – but it’s an interesting five way race.

Who Should Win: Song of the Sea. None of the nominees moved me as much as this simple, beautiful Irish fable.
Least of the Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon 2. I really like the film – just a little bit less than the other four.

Who Should Have Been Here: The Lego Movie. I mean, seriously, right. This should have won, not just been nominated.

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