Here it is. The moment you have been waiting for. All 24 categories for the 92nd Oscars analyzed and predicted just in time to enter your office pools (just don’t blame me if you don’t win). Some of these categories could produce surprising results, others you can take to the bank right now, and I will indicate which contenders in each case are absolute locks. Again, these are not necessarily personal choices but rather predictions based on how the Oscar winds seem to be blowing. But as famed two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman once said, “Nobody knows anything.”
Here we go.
The race for Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards is turning out to be one for the ages. With nine nominees and a record-breaking four of them with 10 or more nominations apiece, we have a real dogfight on our hands, although a clear front-runner has emerged after my initial guesses for our Awardsline print edition which were done a couple of weeks ago. That is an eternity in this shortened season, and now with all the guilds and BAFTA having chimed in, it appears Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917 is out front, which is where I had surmised it might be at this point. With big wins at the Golden Globes, DGA , PGA and BAFTA it is formidable, but because of the Academy’s unique system for Best Picture voting, where you must rank your favorites from 1 being best and 9 being least, anything is possible as your No. 2 and No. 3 votes could make a real difference in the Academy’s effort to get a consensus (the other 23 categories are straight up and down votes). The system has wreaked havoc in the category in recent years — ever since the Academy decided to nominate up to 10 Best Picture nominees, in fact. 1917 looks like a safe bet, but not an invincible one. Just three years ago, La La Land looked like a lock with a record-tying 14 nominations and wins just like Mendes’ film at the Globes, PGA, DGA and BAFTA, yet it lost to Moonlight in the end thanks to the Academy’s weighted ballot on Best Picture. Can that happen again? You bet. In fact, based on the track record of the last few years, it is better than 50-50 that it could. Here is analysis of each Best Picture nominee and how they stack up against the field, followed by my winner prediction.
Ford v Ferrari
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A victory for this film in the Best Picture category would appear to be much more difficult than Ford’s triumph in this riveting and beautifully crafted movie. Firmly in the auto-racing genre, it succeeds first and foremost as a great human story. Directed by James Mangold and toplined by superb performances from Christian Bale and Matt Damon, the movie received only four nominations, lowest of all the Best Picture nominees, and none in the other major categories of acting, directing or screenwriting. No film since Grand Hotel in 1932 faced those steep odds and ended up in the winners’ circle. Still, the fact that it is among the nine finalists is a tribute not only to the film, but also to the great Oscar legacy of 20th Century Fox, for which this represents a last great hurrah after its Disney acquisition.
DIRECTOR: James Mangold
PRODUCERS: Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, James Mangold
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
A classic mob movie spanning decades and ultimately serving as a coda to a criminal era gone by, director Martin Scorsese and star Robert De Niro’s dream project was rescued by Netflix, which put up a budget rumored to be anywhere between $160 million-$200 million. The results of the three-and-a-half-hour epic are impressive indeed, though it may be hampered by the format. Informal conversations with some Oscar voters indicate they watched it on Netflix, or screeners, in bits and pieces rather than one sitting—which is what a great movie like this requires, if you ask me. That might affect its vote, already indicated by its virtual shutout at the Globes, Critics’ Choice, PGA, DGA, WGA, BAFTA and SAG awards. With 10 nominations, however, it is clear enough that the Academy found much to love.
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
PRODUCERS: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Directing, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design, Film Editing, Visual Effects
This admittedly daring, offbeat but human and touching movie from director Taika Waititi uses humor to portray the horror and idiocy of Nazi Germany in World War II. Focusing on a young boy who must navigate complicated feelings about fitting in as a Nazi kid and using an imaginary Adolf Hitler playmate to do so, the film drew mixed reactions when it first opened. But it won the often Oscar-predictive People’s Choice prize at the Toronto Film Festival, where it premiered, and that put it squarely in the race, where it has stayed since. This is a dark horse, since despite Waititi receiving a DGA nomination, he did not get a corresponding Oscar nod in the Directing category. However, that is the same situation another TIFF People’s Choice winner found itself in just last year, and we all know what happened to Green Book. With six nominations overall, don’t count this under-rabbit out, no matter how long a shot it seems on paper.
DIRECTOR: Taika Waititi
PRODUCERS: Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi, Chelsea Winstanley
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Film Editing
Until last year, no movie derived from a comic book character had ever been nominated for Best Picture. Marvel’s Black Panther changed all that, and now for the second year in a row we have a comic book creation, Joker, leading the race with 11 nominations. It is DC’s turn now, but this is not your father’s comic book movie. Closer in spirit to Taxi Driver than Batman, this is a dark and disturbing origin story of how one man with mental illness is tossed aside by our society and turned into a monster of sorts. There was no movie this year more pertinent to its time, even though director and co-writer Todd Phillips set it in the ’80s. Fronted by a remarkable turn by Joaquin Phoenix, this is the highest-grossing nominee of the bunch, at more than $1 billion and counting. With more nominations than anyone else it can’t be counted out, but so far seems to be feted more for its lead performance and musical score.
DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips
PRODUCERS: Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
STUDIO: Warner Bros
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Directing, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Mixing
Hollywood just can’t stop remaking Little Women, but Greta Gerwig has made this seventh movie version of the classic coming-of-age tale every bit as contemporary and relevant as any film out there. This is the first version of the Louisa May Alcott classic to gain a Best Picture nomination since the 1933 adaptation, and it is well deserved. Gerwig is now only the second female director ever to see two of her films up for Best Picture, and in her case, they were her first two solo-directed movies—an impressive feat, even if she was overlooked by the Directors Branch this time around. She was only the fifth woman to be nominated for directing in Oscar history just two years ago for Lady Bird. The odds of a win here are long, but the outrage around her absence in the Directing category just might give it a long shot chance if the front-runners manage to cancel each other out.
DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig
PRODUCER: Amy Pascal
STUDIO: Sony Pictures
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Costume Design
Netflix’s second entry in the Best Picture category is perhaps the most personal ever from writer-director Noah Baumbach. In a movie he calls a “love story about divorce,” he hits all the notes from funny to sad and everything in between. With superlative performances from Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta among a superb ensemble cast, this film hits a nerve for many, and presents this story of a marriage breaking up and a family trying to stay together in ways we haven’t seen in a long time. Baumbach also missed out on a Directing nomination, so odds are long that this could triumph in the end. But Netflix should be immensely proud of it no matter what happens.
DIRECTOR: Noah Baumbach
PRODUCERS: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Original Score
The latest breaking entry into this year’s race is Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes’ extraordinary tribute to his grandfather, who fought in World War I. Employing a clever technique of making the entire film look like it was done in one shot, this movie reaches far beyond that kind of gimmick to become a compelling, suspenseful, touching and gut-wrenching look at two soldiers as they take a vital message behind enemy lines to save a unit marching into a German trap. Epic in scope yet intimately told, it rings all the bells of a classic Best Picture winner, and indeed upset the apple cart by taking the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama followed by PGA, DGA and BAFTA honors (the latter for a home-grown contender), a sure sign it could be on its way to victory at the Oscars.
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
PRODUCERS: Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Directing, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Visual Effects, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film is also his best, and certainly his most personal, if you ask me—a love letter not only to Los Angeles but also to a changing era of the movies. Set in 1969, the film meticulously re-creates what was going on in the industry and the city, but at the same time wistfully, and with no shortage of bittersweetness, reimagines events in ways that are, to say the least, surprising and heartfelt. This movie represents the career pinnacle of a master of the medium, and more importantly, a true lover of it. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical, and Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards, its 10 Oscar nominations are proof it is in it to win it. But losses since then at PGA, DGA, BAFTA and for the cast at SAG, plus the lack of a Film Editing nomination, are troubling signs.
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
PRODUCERS: David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, Quentin Tarantino
STUDIO: Sony Pictures
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Directing, Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
The most unexpected entry in this year’s race could also be the one that makes history. The first-ever film from South Korea to be nominated for Best International Film (formerly Foreign Language), and winner of five other nominations, this Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner has the first real opportunity to be a foreign film that wins Best Picture. Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece also recently became the first foreign-language film to win the Outstanding Cast award at SAG. The drawback is that many voters might think picking it for International Film is reward enough, and that’s precisely the scenario that’s occurred every time a Foreign Film has had a Best Picture nod in the past. Still, it’s beloved, and the Academy’s complex voting system for Best Picture could really help it achieve the dream. In fact, it could be the most likely to benefit from that system to pull an upset here. Its loss at PGA, which has the same voting system, might make you think twice though.
DIRECTOR: Bong Joon Ho
PRODUCERS: Kwak Sin Ae, Bong Joon Ho
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Directing, International Feature Film, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Film Editing
THE WINNER: 1917
If ever there was sentiment for a veteran in this category it would be for Scorsese, who received his ninth nomination here and 14th overall. The list of his previous nominations is awe-inspiring, ranging from Raging Bull to The Wolf of Wall Street, and there’s no question he’s deserving for this mob epic as well. He’s won only once, for The Departed in 2006. However, the competition this year makes a second win iffy especially since he has yet to pick up a win at any of the precursor shows.
Phillips is the only director among these five nominees who didn’t receive a DGA nomination, and that isn’t a good sign—the DGA winner has predicted the Oscar every time since 1949 when the DGA began giving out awards, with only seven exceptions. Long odds indeed, but Phillips’ inclusion shows the incredible strength that Joker has in the Academy, since many thought he might be overlooked here too. This is his first nomination here, but he probably has a better chance in Adapted Screenplay based on what has happened so far this season.
Twenty years ago, Mendes made his first film, American Beauty, and won an Oscar for Directing right out of the gate. While he hasn’t been nominated in this category since, he recently won the Golden Globe against this very same group of directors, as well as seeing his film take the PGA Award. Then he won at the DGA and at BAFTA and that pretty much sealed the deal. The sheer technical achievement he engineered with 1917 is the kind of thing that really impresses voters, and it will be just enough to sneak in at the end of the year and take it all.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Tarantino already has two Oscars at home for writing Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained, but he has yet to be honored for Directing, despite previous nominations in this category for Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds. This film however seems like the culmination of a great career for a contemporary auteur who truly deserves this award. However, competing scenarios for the other nominees could see him coming up short once again here, while possibly taking another Screenplay Oscar instead. He deserves both.
BONG JOON HO
The Cannes Film Festival may have set up a preview of this showdown between Bong and Tarantino, as Parasite‘s director took the Palme d’Or while Tarantino’s film won nothing but the “Palm Dog.” Will there be a repeat where Bong is once again triumphant? As recently as last year, we saw a split between Best Picture and Directing as Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, another foreign-language film, won here. The same could happen two years in a row with this South Korean master. but he didn’t win against Mendes at the Globes, DGA or BAFTA, so it is a big mountain to climb.
THE WINNER: SAM MENDES, 1917
All season long, this year’s incredibly dense and crowded list of contenders for Best Actor have been much debated. There were at least five actors who could have won in any other year, but didn’t even get nominated. The five who did are formidable: Cannes winner Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory, Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Adam Driver in Marriage Story and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes. However, Joaquin Phoenix in Joker has been running away with the precursor awards at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, SAG and BAFTA, where his acceptance speeches have pretty much sealed the deal.
THE WINNER: JOAQUIN PHOENIX, JOKER
Just like the Actor race, there has been one clear winner all season long, since her film about the final months of Judy Garland, Judy, premiered at Telluride. This is Renée Zellweger’s to lose, and so far, she hasn’t lost a thing, with wins at the Globes, Critics’ Choice, SAG and BAFTA overwhelmingly cementing a victory here. She’ll likely win over the likes of Cynthia Erivo in Harriet (who represents the only person of color among all the acting nominees this year), Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story, Saoirse Ronan in Little Women, and Charlize Theron, whose uncanny work channeling Megyn Kelly in Bombshell makes her the only one who could possibly upset. But I am afraid this time Judy Garland gets to the podium.
THE WINNER: RENÉE ZELLWEGER, JUDY
In a category where at least four of the five nominees are arguably leading roles, any room for true supporting actors went out the window this year. Also, the category contains three past Best Actor winners, and they’re slumming it here this time around. All were exceptional, and all five have Oscars already, but look for the contender whose previous Oscar was for producing, not acting, to take the prize, as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Brad Pitt has already done at the Globes, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and SAG awards. Tom Hanks, Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins will all just have to give their lead actor Oscars an extra hug on the night, as will past supporting winner Joe Pesci, who came out of retirement to do The Irishman and has already retired again.
THE WINNER: BRAD PITT, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Like all the other acting categories this year, there has been one consistent name heard on the circuit when the envelope is opened, and that is hometown favorite Laura Dern for her killer role of divorce lawyer Nora Fanshaw in Marriage Story. Oscar will be no different than the Globes, SAG, Critics’ Choice or BAFTA, and the other nominees will have to be content just having a nice night out. They include Kathy Bates for Richard Jewell, Florence Pugh for Little Women, Margot Robbie for Bombshell, and Scarlett Johansson for Jojo Rabbit. Johansson has a double nomination this year, in both lead and supporting—a rare feat—but alas, not one that will reap a statuette this time.
THE WINNER: LAURA DERN, MARRIAGE STORY
Four out of the five nominees here are also nominated for Best Picture, so that means we can probably eliminate Rian Johnson’s fiendishly clever Knives Out—the sole nomination for that movie. Also, Sam Mendes, making his screenwriting debut with first-timer Krysty Wilson-Cairns in 1917, is probably a long shot, since the script wasn’t really the selling point. That leaves Parasite, Marriage Story and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (the latter of which was not eligible for WGA, so keep that in mind) to duke it out. This is a tough one to call, since Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story was brilliant and he’s overdue, but he hasn’t won a precursor since the Gotham Awards. Parasite has a lot of heat all of a sudden including a rare (actually first) win for a foreign-language film at WGA, where he wasn’t competing with Tarantino, and at BAFTA, where he was, so this is the category where once again the past two-time winner could once again prevail for his love letter to movies and Los Angeles. However, it really comes down to how much love there is for both these films and which one squeaks it out. This is tight, but on a hunch…
THE WINNERS: BONG JOON HO and HAN JIN WON, PARASITE
Anthony McCarten’s script for The Two Popes was perhaps the most literate and inventive of all, but the film wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, so we can probably discount its chances here. This might be a place to honor The Irishman with Steven Zaillian’s epic script, or to give the prize for sheer audacity and achievement to Todd Phillips and Scott Silver for transforming DC Comics’ Joker into something deadly real and serious. However, I think it could come down to Greta Gerwig as a sort of consolation prize (it isn’t) for not being nominated in the Directing category for Little Women, or Taika Waititi for the sheer originality and joy of BAFTA and WGA winner Jojo Rabbit.
THE WINNER: TAIKA WAITITI, JOJO RABBIT
The nominees are Poland for Corpus Christi, North Macedonia for Honeyland (a rare documentary nominated here), France for Les Misérables, Spain for Pedro Almodóvar’s brilliant and personal Pain and Glory, and South Korea in the category for the first time ever with Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. Every time a nominee in this category has also been nominated for Best Picture, it wins here and loses there. I’m not certain what will happen in Best Picture, but this is the category to bet the farm on, folks.
THE WINNER: PARASITE, SOUTH KOREA
Two sequels, the third edition of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise and the fourth Toy Story compete with two films from Netflix: I Lost My Body, a multi-prize winner that debuted in Cannes and won Critics’ Week there, as well as the holiday film Klaus which won seven Annies and the BAFTA. The fifth nominee, Missing Link, is from Laika, which has landed a nomination for every single one of their films but never a win. It was, however, the surprise champ at the Golden Globes, and that made me sit up and take notice, as did upstart Klaus’ win at BAFTA and sweep at the Annies. This category is a complete toss-up, a battle between a pair of behemoth sequels and three originals. Thinking the two sequels and the two Netflix entries cancel themselves out and we go with the Globe winner, but I really don’t have a clue on this one. This is a shaky prediction but…
THE WINNER: MISSING LINK
Extraordinary work from all in this category runs up against the 800-pound gorilla of Roger Deakins for his amazing “one shot” 1917, and it’s hard to see him losing this award, since this is a film that belongs to the cinematographer in so many unique ways. The Irishman and Joker are deserving entries, and I think Robert Richardson did wonderful and exemplary work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The Lighthouse is probably the least seen of these films, and is the only non-Best Picture nominee among them, but it is a massive long shot despite superlative black-and-white images.
THE WINNER: ROGER DEAKINS, 1917
This award almost always goes to period costume pictures, and this year, each nominee is set in a distinct period, whether recently, as with the ’80s of Joker, or the late ’60s of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The Irishman spans several decades, while Costume Designers Guild winner Jojo Rabbit is set in the Nazi Germany of the ’40s. That leaves only BAFTA winner Little Women to go way back to the Civil War era, and that could be an advantage. My guess is as good as yours.
THE WINNER: JACQUELINE DURRAN, LITTLE WOMEN
For the first time, one movie was nominated here and for Best International Film: Honeyland. That would seem to give this amazing North Macedonian film about the last of the wild beekeepers a leg up. However, Netflix’s American Factory has Barack and Michelle Obama on its producing team; that is pretty irresistible, and it is thought to be the front-runner here and the one to beat. The Cave’s Syrian director got a lot of publicity about his troubles making it into the U.S. despite travel bans (he’s on his way), so that could factor, plus NatGeo did a huge TV and print ad campaign. There’s also The Edge of Democracy and BAFTA champ For Sama nominated, too. All worthy. All heavy. American Factory is the only non-international entry, but Honeyland made history with its two nominations so “to bee or not to bee,” that is the big question. Oy. I might really get stung here but…
THE WINNER: HONEYLAND
Always a key category, especially given how a nomination here affects your Best Picture chances. However, taken on their own merits, and considering the entire Academy’s votes and not just editors’, there can be some surprise winners. Thelma Schoonmaker is beloved, but voters may punish The Irishman for being three and-a-half hours, and blame that on the editor. Joker is nominated, and so is Ford v Ferrari, but both lost at the ACE Eddies to the other two contenders, Jojo Rabbit and Parasite. The latter has likely become the front-runner here. However I have a hunch that this is one place we might see a little love for Ford v Ferrari, just as it got at BAFTA, and I am going with that.
THE WINNERS: MICHAEL McCUSKER and ANDREW BUCKLAND,
FORD v FERRARI
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
The transition of Joaquin Phoenix into Joker was subtly achieved and frightening. Renée Zellweger has her team to thank for not making her Judy Garland into a drag queen version, but someone she could become. Angelina Jolie’s angular cheeks are worthy of an Oscar alone in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. And all those soldiers were appropriately muddy and bloody when they needed to be in 1917. But really, can anyone compare to the complete transformation of Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly? No way.
THE WINNERS: KAZU HIRO, ANNE MORGAN, VIVIAN BAKER, BOMBSHELL
When I first heard Thomas Newman’s stirring score for 1917, I thought this would bring the 15-time nominee his first Oscar. I mean, after all those nominations he’s in danger of becoming Oscar’s Susan Lucci. Let’s give him one. However, the sheer complexity and brilliance of the world of Hildur Guðnadóttir in Joker, a score she wrote before filming began and just based on the script, is the one to beat. The fact that she’s a woman, a rarity in this field at the Oscars, doesn’t hurt, nor do the BAFTA, Globe, Critics’ Choice and SCL awards she has already won for this. The other nominees are Little Women, Marriage Story and John Williams, with his 52nd nomination, this time for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
THE WINNER: HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR, JOKER
Speaking of Susan Lucci, there’s Diane Warren with her 11th win-less nomination. This time it’s for “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough. She’s got to win one day. However, this faith-based film from early last year is largely forgotten, and unlikely to do the trick for Warren this time. The Frozen 2 song “Into the Unknown” sounds a lot like Oscar winner “Let It Go” from the first Frozen, so I doubt they will go there again, but you never know. “Stand Up” from Harriet is stirring, and Randy Newman’s latest tune from the Toy Story franchise is fine, if forgettable. The most danceable of the bunch comes from the legend Elton John, and that may set it apart, so I predict his one new tune from Rocketman, already the Golden Globe winner, will carry the day.
THE WINNERS: ELTON JOHN and BERNIE TAUPIN for
“(I’M GONNA) LOVE ME AGAIN,” ROCKETMAN
Always an impressive category, and this year there are lots of different looks. Spanning decades provided the challenge for The Irishman, and re-creating a German town during World War II gave Jojo Rabbit its uniquely colorful feel. The re-creation of battlefields and bunkers, which had to be done from scratch, was deftly achieved in 1917, while 1969 Los Angeles was brilliantly and meticulously rendered in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The unique housing designs for Parasite was key in making that movie work—almost characters in and of themselves. This is another tough one. If 1917 sweeps, it will probably take this too.
THE WINNERS: DENNIS GASSNER and LEE SANDALES, 1917
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
The nominees are Dcera (Daughter), Hair Love, Kitbull, Memorable and Sister. Hair Love is from former NFL football star Matthew Cherry, and revolves around an African-American father trying to deal with his daughter’s unique hair style. Very clever and charming. Kitbull comes from the geniuses at Pixar, and revolves around the relationship between a kitten and an abused pitbull, both of whom are in need of a forever home, and join together to forge differences and help each other out. It’s simply terrific, and Pixar obviously has a great track record. I will trust them again, especially since in my opinion the other three foreign-language nominees here are a bit artsy and tend to blend together in my memory of watching all these contenders.
THE WINNER: KITBULL
LIVE ACTION SHORT
The nominees are Brotherhood, Nefta Football Club, The Neighbors’ Window, Saria and A Sister. The Neighbors’ Window revolves around a husband and wife with three kids who find themselves watching Rear Window-style at the swinging sex parties going on in the neighbor’s apartment directly across the street. In just 20 minutes, it remarkably tells two distinct stories, and is unexpectedly moving and surprising. It comes from multiple Oscar-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry, and is his first narrative film. It’s very fine. I also liked Nefta Football Club, which was a charmer in its own way, and thought A Sister was very well made. Saria and Brotherhood were tough sits.
THE WINNER: THE NEIGHBORS’ WINDOW
The nominees are In the Absence, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl), Life Overtakes Me, St. Louis Superman and Walk, Run, Cha-Cha. The latter is the lightest of the bunch so probably won’t gather a lot of support against this competition. Life Overtakes Me, about refugee kids in Sweden who have Resignation Syndrome, is truly weird and disturbing. St. Louis Superman is the inspiring story of a young man trying to make a difference against all odds in the poorest neighborhood in the city. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone has all the right stuff that won this award last year for Period. End of Sentence, as it concerns a program of skateboarding for young girls in Afghanistan who are otherwise not allowed to leave their house. In the Absence, about government negligence in the wake of a tragic sinking of a ferry with hundreds of schoolkids, is the first South Korean film ever nominated in the documentary categories, so in the year of Parasite could this be an Oscar harbinger?
THE WINNER: LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE
(IF YOU’RE A GIRL)
Despite fine work in Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, I think this is a race between the screeching tires of Ford v Ferrari and the World War I sounds of 1917. They both won awards at the Golden Reels, while 1917 prevailed in the combined Sound category at BAFTA. The category has a history of going to both genres—wars and racing—and might be a toss-up, at least for me, but more often than not war movies prevail. Both are Best Picture nominees as well, so that helps.
THE WINNER: 1917
Star Wars didn’t make it into this category, but otherwise it is identical to the contenders in Sound Editing. Another outer space epic, Ad Astra was named instead of Star Wars here. The branch is considering consolidating both into one category for next year, which is wise since lately the same film tends to win in both. With that in mind, I will follow suit for now. It’s still between 1917 and Ford v Ferrari.
THE WINNER: 1917
This is the one category where the year’s box office champ got nominated, just like last year. The now all-time highest grosser, Avengers: Endgame, is up for the award, but will they want to honor that achievement now that Avengers is done? Or can VES winner The Lion King follow the live-action Jungle Book to Oscar glory? Could Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prevail as a gift for the end of that series? Maybe the de-ageing magic that drove up the cost of The Irishman? Some groundbreaking work there. Or will a Best Picture front-runner, 1917, sweep in this category as it did at BAFTA with its more subtle effects depicting the horrors of war?
THE WINNER: 1917
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