By Daniel Howat
As the 90th Academy Awards are merely days away, we’re analyzing each category and predicting a winner. Yesterday we broke down the tech categories. Today we’ll look at Documentary, Animation, and Live-Action Shorts, Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Animated Feature, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Screenplay.
These categories are some of the toughest to predict since they’re some of the least-watched nominees. Let’s give it a try anyway, starting with the shorts.
BEST DOCUMENTARY, SHORT SUBJECT
Look, the shorts are the hardest categories to predict every year. There’s not really any precursor awards to enlighten us with stats. It’s not as easy to watch them, so it’s tougher to evaluate them even just as a viewer. These are the ballot killers.
I’ve only seen one of the nominees in Documentary Short Subject this year: Heroin(e). It’s a spectacular film, and available on Netflix. But my limited knowledge of these films makes it even tougher to predict, and I’m mainly relying on the knowledge of others to make as good of a guess as I can.
Edith+Eddie has generated the most conversation this year. Cher is an executive producer and has given vocal support. We’ll go with that.
Will Win: Edith+Eddie
Should Win: Heroin(e)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
I’ve only been able to see three of these films, Dear Basketball, Lou, and Revolting Rhymes. Disney and Pixar are of course strong competitors in this category, but Lou doesn’t seem to be making waves this year. Instead, Dear Basketball has garnered the most buzz. It’s written by Kobe Bryant (and about him as well), directed by Disney legend Glen Keane, and with a score from John Williams. That’s a powerful trio.
Still, in the year of #MeToo, will the Academy be open to rewarding Kobe Bryant? It’s difficult to tell. Garden Party is the film to look out for if you think they pass over Dear Basketball. The animation in Garden Party is insanely realistic, and quite beautiful too. It could certainly get a lot of votes. But I’m going to stick with Dear Basketball.
Will Win: Dear Basketball
Threat: Garden Party
Should Win: Dear Basketball
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
I haven’t seen a single nominee in this category, so I can’t speak to the quality of any of them. Still, this category feels easily won by DeKalb Elementary. It’s a film about a school shooting. In the wake of the Parkland shooting dominating the news, it would be surprising if this one lost.
Of course, these are the shorts we’re talking about. A surprise win isn’t remotely out of the question.
Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
Threat: The Silent Child
Should Win: N/A
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Fantastic Woman has garnered the most buzz all season long, largely because of the breakout performance from Daniela Vega. Adding to the buzz, this year Vega will become the first transgender person to present at the Oscars.
The Square won Cannes, but its buzz didn’t carry as far as many thought it would. Still, it’s got a few recognizable faces in it, like Elisabeth Moss, and it might have a solid shot as well. I’m going to go with A Fantastic Woman, but The Square could surprise.
Will Win: A Fantastic Woman
Threat: The Square
Should Win: N/A
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
This is an abnormally tough category this year, as two of the most lauded documentaries of the year didn’t make the cut here: Jane and City of Ghosts. Faces Places has received plenty of praise this year as well and is notable for making Agnes Varda the oldest Oscar nominee in any category. Last Men In Aleppo made the news recently, as the filmmakers won’t be allowed into the country to go to the ceremony. That likely propelled the directors of The Salesman to win Foreign Language Film last year. Can it happen again here?
Throwing one final wrench into things is Icarus, a beloved and timely documentary. It deals with the Olympics, which just ended, and with Russian corruption, which is constantly in the news. While it could go one of three ways, I’m sticking with Faces Places.
Will Win: Faces Places
Threat: Last Men In Aleppo
Should Win: Icarus
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
I mean, what is there to even say? 2017 was one of the weakest years for animated film in many years. Coco will win this category and no one is even close. Every precursor award has gone to Coco all season long. Though The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent are respectable, they haven’t exactly generated a great deal of buzz. As for Ferdinand and The Boss Baby...well, they should just be thankful to be here.
Will Win: Coco
Should Win: Coco
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Like Animated Feature, there’s not a lot that needs to be said here. James Ivory’s screenplay for Call Me By Your Name has won just about every major award that it could, including WGA, BAFTA, and USC. This year hasn’t been very competitive at all for Adapted Screenplays either. Mudbound is the only serious threat to the win, but that’s highly unlikely. Ivory has been highly respected in the industry for a long time. Even though Sony Pictures Classics screwed up the release, robbing Call Me By Your Name of plenty of buzz, Ivory will easily win here.
Will Win: Call Me By Your Name
Should Win: Call Me By Your Name
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
And now we’ve come to one of the most competitive categories of the night. The only nominee that we can say with certainty will miss is The Big Sick. Additionally, The Shape of Water and Lady Bird are mostly out of the race. Now, if The Shape of Water is winning Best Picture (which we'll get to tomorrow), there’s always a chance it could start winning way more awards than expected, picking up this one. Same goes for Lady Bird. But again, neither of those is very likely.
The real race is between Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Get Out. Each has won its fair share of precursors. Golden Globe and BAFTA went to Three Billboards. WGA, Critics’ Choice, and the vast majority of critics’ prizes went to Get Out. The WGA is a bit of an anomaly though since Three Billboards was not eligible. Additionally, Get Out wasn’t even nominated at the Globes. So they’ve competed directly against each other twice, at the BAFTAs and the Critics’ Choice awards, with Three Billboards on top at the first and Get Out winning the second. Where does that leave us?
Three Billboards won Best Picture at both BAFTA and Golden Globes. It won Best Ensemble at the SAG. It received more nominations at the Oscars too, with seven to Get Out’s four. If you are predicting Three Billboards to win Best Picture, you need to predict it to win here. If you are predicting anything else to win, Get Out has a shot at beating Three Billboards.
When looking at BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and WGA, BAFTA matches with the Oscar slightly more often than the others. Still, Critics’ Choice and WGA is very close. Golden Globe is the worst of the four. If you combine Critics’ Choice and WGA (which Get Out have won), it’s got a slight edge on BAFTA and Golden Globe (which Three Billboards has). This exact split between those four awards has never happened before, so it’s a little difficult to use stats to predict the winner.
Finally, we just have to use intuition to pick the winner. Get Out makes the most sense as a win, much more sense than Three Billboards. It’s a complex thriller that’s timely, gripping, and surprising. Three Billboards is fantastic as well, but it can be more heavy-handed. Furthermore, Three Billboards has received much more backlash than Get Out, and most of it is directed at the script. So this isn’t an exact science at this point. I’m feeling Get Out will surprise us and win here on Sunday.
Will Win: Get Out
Threat: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Should Win: Get Out
Alright! 18 categories down, six to go. In the final installment of our analysis, we’ll look at the four acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture. Make sure you follow along on Facebook and Twitter as we get closer to the awards!