Oscars 2019: The B+ Nominations Ballot

I get so excited for this article, but it feels like we’re just rushing right into it this year. Which is because it’s coming about a week earlier this year than it usually does, pushed up due to the fact that the Oscars are three weeks early this year. It doesn’t matter. I’m still gonna go all out and blather on forever. Because it’s what I do. This article only comes second to the actual Oscar night article in terms of how all out I go in talking about stuff that only matters to me and just about no one else.

Tomorrow morning, at 5:30am PST, they will announce the Oscar nominees. There will be anywhere from 120 and 125 nominees, owing to the sliding scale for Best Picture. There will be 120 for sure, and there can be up to 125. If previous years hold, expect either 123 or 124. I’m gonna try to guess all of them correctly. Because that’s what I do. Typically, if I can get to 90, I’m happy. If I can hit 75% or more, I’m thrilled. The goal is to, one of these years, get to 80%. But that’s all hypothetical. I’m really just here to guess shit and talk about Oscars. The rest is just personal goals to make it more interesting for myself.

The tens of you who read this site should know by now that I’m not just gonna give you the same shit everyone gives you. Most people just give you a list and don’t explain themselves or they guess based on what’s gonna get them clicks. You know I don’t do the latter ever and I refuse to give you the former. I’m gonna give you way more information than you could ever possibly need. My goal is to do well enough for you to be able to do better than me. I’m not just telling you, I’m showing you the thought process so you can hopefully find some creases that I don’t see (or refuse to acknowledge because of whatever shred of pride there is left in these cockles). It’s not about how well I do. It’s about empowering you to do better.

How this article works is — I run through all the categories, tell you what all the precursors are, give you all the tips and tricks for guessing it and then work through how I think it’s gonna go and what I think will be nominated, even down to alternatives you could choose based on what seem to be the likely alternates. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s just intensely detailed. I am the walking definition of TLDR.

I also must put, as I always do, the caveat I put every year — I reserve the right to change this article up through midnight tonight. And, as I say every year, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually done it, but it wouldn’t be a nominations ballot if I didn’t at least say it. Though this year that might actually happen. Since BFCA announces winners tonight. And if someone I don’t have nominated comes out and wins, that might alter my thinking on how a category will go. But generally once it’s all done I’m already mentally onto the next thing and can’t be bothered to go back. Done with fish.

Okay, let’s get into this, because you know it’s gonna go on for a while. We start with Best Picture. You all know how this works, but I’m gonna tell you again anyway. The more I do this, the more I try to perfect it, and probably the more complicated it gets. But it’s fun for me. Here’s how we get our Best Picture nominees:

Each voting Academy member ranks their top five choices. The total number of ballots cast determines the threshold a film needs to hit to be nominated. That equation for that threshold is: total ballots divided by 11, rounded up. Because by that math no more than ten films can mathematically hit the required threshold. Say there are 7,500 Academy members and all cast a ballot, then the threshold is 7500/11 (681.8), rounded up. So a film needs 682 votes to be nominated for Best Picture.

So now all the ballots are in and we have 7,500 first place votes. What we do first — is kill all the lawyers. No, what we do first is naturally tally all the #1 choices. And any film with more than 682 votes is immediately nominated. So for argument’s sake, say in this scenario The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood manage to do that. Irishman gets 1200 first place votes and Once Upon a Time gets 900. They’re on. No muss, no fuss. Everything else maintains their vote total in the hopes of reaching the threshold over the next couple of stages.

The next stage is triggered by those first two nominees. Because as soon as they’re on, the first thing that gets taken into account is — The Irishman got 1200 votes but only needed 682. And ditto for Once Upon a Time with its 900. So what happens, rather than have some of those votes not count, is something called the ‘surplus rule’.

The surplus rule essentially says that because the Irishman, with its 1200 votes, only needed 56.9% of its votes to hit the 682 threshold, only 56.9% of those #1 votes will count for it. So rather than getting to 682 and throwing out the other 518, they make it so every vote counts toward 682, and only 682. So 56.9% of 1200 first place votes go toward The Irishman, giving it the 682 it needs to be nominated. Which means that on the 1200 ballots, 43.1% of a single vote goes toward whatever is #2 on those ballots. So some ballots will give .431 of a vote to Marriage Story, others to Parasite, etc. Which, when added up, helps each of them inch closer to the threshold. Same situation applies for Once Upon a Time, just with a different percentage breakdown (because it needed a larger percentage of its votes to get to 682, a smaller percentage of secondary votes will go toward the #2 films).

A few things to note in this situation. First, this rule only kicks in if a film achieves more than a 10% surplus. Which, in this scenario is 750 votes. Anything with under 750 votes does not get percentages allotted (though it is nominated), and remains idle for the moment. Second: say surplus has kicked in for The Irishman and .431 percent of votes are going to everyone’s #2 film. One ballot has Hobbs & Shaw as their #2. (It’s their ballot, they can do what they want.) But Hobbs & Shaw doesn’t have any #1 votes anywhere else, which means it can’t be nominated for Best Picture and the .431 of a vote can’t go to it. In that case, the .431 goes to the #3 film on that ballot, which is, say, Little Women. Or, say the #2 film on that ballot is Once Upon a Time, which already reached the threshold. Then the vote goes down to the first eligible film that needs the vote on that person’s ballot, which could be their #5 or could be nothing. If a person doesn’t rank all 5 or the rest of the ballot doesn’t need the help, then nothing gets the help.

Okay, so now we’ve tallied up our #1s and done our surplus. By now, Parasite and Marriage Story have hit the threshold of 682. They’re on. We now have four Best Picture nominees. And everything else is below the 682 vote threshold. So now we move onto the next step: redistribution.

How redistribution works is, first they knock off any films that have not yet achieved 1% of all votes. Which means that anything under 75 total votes after tallying #1s and giving things extra help through surplus is out. Cannot be nominated. Then what they do is go back to every ballot totally fresh. And whatever film in that remaining pool that is ranked the highest gets a full vote. No percentages. Full vote.

The reason this works is that, by this point, a lot of films are already ‘off’. In this scenario, Irishman, Once Upon a Time, Parasite and Marriage Story are already nominated. So if you went back to redistribute the vote on say, my particular ballot (which, for argument’s sake, is my top five films ranked as-is: Once Upon a Time #1, Ford v Ferrari #2, Irishman #3, Knives Out #4 and Parasite #5), #1, #3 and #5 would be irrelevant to the current proceedings because they’ve already moved on. They’ve been chosen to go to the Heaviside Layer. So for this round, only Ford v Ferrari or Knives Out could get my vote. Starting with Ford v Ferrari (since it’s ranked highest), if it has at least 75 votes and is still in contention, then it gets a full vote from my ballot. If it’s not in contention, then Knives Out gets my vote, as the highest remaining film. If neither film is not in contention, then the vote goes away. (This is how we end up with a sliding scale. Sometimes not enough things are on enough ballots to get more than say, 8 nominees.)

So say we did all that redistributing for every ballot and now Little Women and 1917 have hit the 682 threshold. Cool. Now we have six Best Picture nominees. In most cases, you would keep doing the redistributing thing until you got to your set number of nominees, but because Best Picture has a sliding scale, they do one more wrinkle to decide how many films are going to be nominated.

What happens last is, they figure out how many total votes are left. Because after doing all that other stuff, some ballots are going to not count anymore. Some ballots will have all five films on the list already. Some will have only ranked a #1, which was either nominated or been eliminated. Some ballots will be split between nominated films and eliminated films. Things will drop off. So say 700 ballots ended up dropping off. That leaves 6,800 ballots still in play. Any film that currently has 5% of the total vote is nominated. Simple as that. Which means 6800 x .05 — 340. Any film that has 340 votes on from #1 tallies, surplus percentages and redistribution votes is nominated. Which could be two more, three more or none at all. Anywhere between 5 and 10 nominees, and they’re good. I assume the math on that checks out. Smarter people than myself have figured that shit out.

That’s how we end up with 8 or 9 nominees sometimes. Because the idea is to have the films on the most ballots. And this weighted system is how we figure out the films on the most ballots without being overkill.

I kinda wish I had a Mr. Rogers Picture Picture vignette to show you for this. But we have that instead. The best part is I know absolutely none of you are reading this and simply skipped right down to what nominees I’ve picked, just so you can critique those with zero context of anything else. Just like everyone does on the internet. Why bother reading everything when we can isolate a single sentence and ‘well, actually’ that? (That’s my new Christmas movie, by the way. An interconnected series of people who meet and find love during the holidays through a website. Well Actually.)

Also, while we’re doing pet peeves for the people not reading this — please, people, for the love of god, stop turning film titles into acronyms when you’re talking about them. It’s lazy as shit and looks stupid. They’re movies, not government organizations. You look like an idiot when you write OUATIH. Just fucking type the damn thing out. It’s even worse when people, after already being lazy and doing that, then decide, “You know, it’s grammatically correct to put some of those letters in lower case.” Fuck you. Just type the title out like a human. I’m at the point where I just stop reading anything someone writes if they’re gonna disrespect a movie by not typing out its title. At least adhere to journalism rules — type it out fully the first time, and then shorten it for further references. When did this acronym shit start? Stop it.

Anyway, all you need to know from that Best Picture stuff is: think about what films are bound to be on the most ballots in some form. Not necessarily what the #1s are gonna be. Parasite could be #4 on a lot of ballots and end up being nominated because the redistribution of votes gets it over the threshold it needs to hit. #4 on a large percentage of ballots still means that a large percentage of people voted for it in some way. But you could spend hours trying to figure that shit out. The key is to know it, but not dwell on it. Let’s get into the hard facts. We’ve got precursors.

The precursors for Best Picture are the PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, SAG Ensemble and the Golden Globes. The big one, naturally, is the PGA. So we’ll start with them.

The PGA nominates 10 films every year. No sliding scale for them. Going back to 2011, when they began the sliding scale Best Picture list, here’s how the PGA did versus the eventual Oscar list:

  • 2018: 8/8
  • 2017: 7/9 (they missed Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour)
  • 2016: 9/9
  • 2015: 7/8 (they missed Room)
  • 2014: 7/8 (they missed Selma)
  • 2013: 8/9 (they missed Philomena)
  • 2012: 8/9 (they missed Amour)
  • 2011: 7/9 (they missed Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Tree of Life)

So generally, they’re right there. And of the years where the they did miss something:

  • 2017: BAFTA and BFCA had Darkest Hour
  • 2015: BFCA and the Globes had Room
  • 2014: BFCA and the Globes had Selma
  • 2013: BAFTA and the Globes had Philomena
  • 2011: BFCA had Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Tree of Life

So that means that in all instances but two, a precursor list had the missing nominee the PGA list did not have. And in the two other circumstances: one was Phantom Thread, a Paul Thomas Anderson movie that opened very late (and didn’t even screen before Thanksgiving), and it was clear to anyone paying attention that it was gonna be a contender regardless of precursors. And the other was Amour, a foreign film that could not have made some of those other lists and was clearly in major contention for other awards. Maybe we didn’t expect a Picture nomination per se, but it was something you’d have considered a possibility.

But really what you get out of that is: the precursors lead the way. Start with the PGA and then work through everything else and chances are at best you’re gonna get one wrong. The PGA has gotten at least 7 right in every sliding scale year so far, and we’ve had either 8 or 9 nominees total. So assume you pick up an obvious one from the precursor lists as your #8. That leaves #9 and #10 and maybe you make the swap wrong and get one wrong. Shit happens. You’re still on solid ground.

So let’s just lay out all the precursor puzzle pieces and then sift through them and put the puzzle together:

  • PGA: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Knives Out, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
  • BAFTA: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
  • SAG Ensemble: Bombshell, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
  • BFCA: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, Uncut Gems
  • Globes: (Drama) 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story, The Two Popes
    (Musical/Comedy) Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

This is the part where I discuss other films that I think could potentially be in contention, but… A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has hit nothing. Richard Jewell hit nothing. Us hit nothing. Waves (sadly) hit nothing. Motherless Brooklyn hit nothing. Hustlers hit nothing. Queen & Slim hit nothing. Pain and Glory hit nothing, Dark Waters hit nothing. All we have is The Farewell, which got on places, but in Foreign Language Film. So really, if we’re gonna consider anything past what’s already here, it’s The Farewell. Nothing else should be on your list for serious consideration. It’s a year of consensus and it’s all pretty strong, so I think we’re good with what we have.

To make it easier, I’m gonna sort all the films based on how many precursor they’ve hit. It’ll make it much easier to parse:

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — PGA, BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, Globes
  • The Irishman — PGA, BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, Globes
  • Parasite — PGA, BAFTA, SAG, BFCA
  • 1917 — PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Joker –PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Jojo Rabbit — PGA, SAG, BFCA, Globes
  • Marriage Story — PGA, BFCA, Globes
  • Little Women — PGA, BFCA
  • Ford v Ferrari — PGA, BFCA
  • Knives Out — PGA, Globes
  • Bombshell — SAG
  • Uncut Gems — BFCA
  • Dolemite Is My Name — Globes
  • Rocketman — Globes
  • The Two Popes — Globes
  • The Farewell — BAFTA (Foreign), Globes (Foreign)

How I go about this is — I find my top five, because we’re guaranteed five, and then we count one spot at a time from six to ten. So to start, let’s find the first five that we’re most comfortable with saying are going to be there.

Two movies hit everything — Once Upon a Time and The Irishman. Those are the first two on your list, and just on the sight test alone these are obviously gonna make it. So you’ve got two. Parasite hit everything except the Globes… where it was ineligible for a Best Picture nomination. So that’s three. Crazy that a foreign language film, when there’s only been ten of those ever to be nominated for Best Picture (and only nine actually from other countries), is an automatic above most other stuff, but that’s this year and that’s how good that movie is.

Next, we’ve got 1917, Joker and Jojo Rabbit. They’ve each hit four of the five precursors. 1917 and Joker missed SAG. 1917 was never gonna get nominated at SAG. There’s basically two actors in the majority of the movie and everyone else is literally a cameo. And it’s a guaranteed Director nomination, Mendes just won the Globe, the film just won the Globe… it’s on. (The last Drama Best Picture winner at the Globes that was not nominated for Best Picture was The Cardinal in 1963. And it’s only happened twice more ever, with Spartacus and East of Eden.) So that’s #4 for me of the top five.

Now we’ve got Joker and we’ve got Jojo Rabbit. On the sight test at the outset, I’d have said Marriage Story, but precursors are precursors. Mostly this just means I’m comfortable seven deep. So that’s good. But these two — Joker missed SAG. It got PGA, it got BAFTA, it got BFCA, it got the Globes. That’s basically a perfect score. Jojo, meanwhile, missed BAFTA, but got SAG. And, when you look at BAFTA, it got a lot of major nominations outside of Best Picture to the point where it feels like it missed due to lack of space and nothing else. And, at the DGA, Taika got on and Todd Phillips did not. And you’d think that Phillips was more likely to get that than Taika was. So, as much as base precursors should state Joker as #5… Jojo feels like it’s got more support all around. It’s hit like every guild too. I thought it was gonna be more of a 50/50, but it looks like they’re in on it. So that’s my #5. The numbers say there’s no reason for it to be left off. And even though both will have people who don’t like them, I’d feel like they’re more likely to embrace Jojo more than they’re gonna embrace Joker. So Jojo is the #5.

So now we’ve got our top five — 1917, Irishman, Jojo, Once Upon a Time, Parasite.

Now what we do, is rank 6-10. Because the sliding scale dictates that we can have anywhere from 5 nominees to 10 nominees. So, rather than try to cheat the system, I rank 6-10. And where the Best Picture list cuts off, my list cuts off. If my #8 is not nominated but my #9 is, but there are only 8 nominees, then tough shit, I was wrong.

I just had enough data to make Joker my #5 if I wanted to. So clearly that’s #6. We’ve got a top six I’m very confident in. The deeper we can go feeling confident, the better it usually goes.

Next on the precursors is Marriage Story, with the PGA, BFCA and Globes. No BAFTA — not surprising. And no SAG, which you’d think maybe it could have gotten, given three acting nominations there and a cast that feels like it’s the kind of ensemble they would embrace. But really all that does is knock it from #5 to #7, and I think we all figure it’s probably gonna get on. So that’s #7 and I’m feeling good about my top 7.

We’ve now got three spots remaining. It’s a good time to run down all the choices we have in terms of what hit precursors:

The Two Popes, Rocketman and Dolemite only hit the Globes. Uncut Gems only hit BFCA. I’m not putting any of those four on my guesses list. Dolemite is a Musical/Comedy nominee and that needed just one other precursor for me to have considered it. PGA could have happened and definitely would have raised that to #10 status or First Alternate. Without that, it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna happen. Screenplay nom at best there, with maybe a Costumes or Makeup. That’s about it. But we’ll get into specifics on those as we get to the category. That’s just my gut talking based on how the film looks at the outset.

Uncut Gems at the BFCA — that’s the weakest single precursor one can have, even less than the Globes, though about the same as Musical/Comedy and nothing else. Sandler doesn’t even seem like he’s got a shot at it. Without that, then I can’t imagine it gets Picture votes. It’s also a film that can be hard to like. Which makes it hard to think it’ll be broadly on ballots. Two Popes did get a Drama nomination and got two acting nominations. It’s probably gonna get a Screenplay nomination. But no other major precursors, so I can’t feel like it’s got a shot. MAYBE it’s the Dark Horse, but that’s about it. Rocketman — Egerton should get nominated, but no one really seemed to love the film, and with just a Musical/Comedy nomination at the Globes, it’s hard to see that being one of the final nominees. The way that film came across, I didn’t even think Egerton was a lock for a nomination until he hit everything. So I’m not putting that on my list.

We’ve also got The Farewell, which has hit nothing officially. But the Globes had it on Foreign Language Film, which means it was ineligible there. And BAFTA had it in Foreign Language, which means that at least they liked it a bit. And it got four BFCA nominations. That doesn’t mean it not going anywhere else is covered, but you feel like there is some love for it out there and it could get some votes. More than likely I’m thinking it’s one of those alternates. First or Dark Horse. I feel like people will have it on ballots, but I’ve got no evidence to suggest it’ll be on enough to hit that percentage to get it nominated. It’s possible, but it’s also going up against people dismissing it as nothing more than a charming indie.

One more film with just a single precursor: Bombshell. All it got was SAG, which is probably because Robbie, Theron and Kidman got nominated and it’s got more of a star-studded cast than Marriage Story and SAG is basically a popularity contest in a lot of ways. So that feels kind of empty and doesn’t seem like it’s got a real shot at it. So I’m skipping all of these and will come back to them once I finish the rest of my list.

That leaves three films left and three spots to fill… so now we’re just looking at logistics. That’s a good year. Nice and simple.

The three choices: Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out and Little Women. All three have hit the PGA. Little Women and Ford v Ferrari have a BFCA nomination and Knives Out has a Globes nomination in Musical/Comedy. The PGA is the strong nomination, and the others are just kind of there to be used for justification for either guessing it or not guessing it.

I tend to give Knives Out the shorter straw of those three just in terms of how I’m seeing it hit throughout the season. It has the feel of a film that’s gonna get left out. So I’m gonna make that the #10. Which means Little Women and Ford v Ferrari are the 8 and 9.

In terms of order… Ford v Ferrari is gonna get a bunch of tech nominations, has a shot with Bale in Actor and it feels like a film people generally like. Little Women — broke late, not sure if that factors in — people love Greta, but Greta seems to be getting left out of all the Director lists. It’ll get one, maybe two acting nominations, it’ll get probably Screenplay, maybe something like Production Design or Costumes. They’re both really close. I’m thinking I give Ford v Ferrari the slight edge there just because it appeals to that older contingent of the Academy which is generally pretty important and still does hold majority shares, so I’m gonna make that the 8. But honestly, with the amount of good shit here, I’m thinking (slash hoping) we get nine nominees and everyone gets on.

But yeah, that’s what I got. I feel comfortable through nine, and really the only thing that feels like it’s gonna bite me is if we stop at 8 and have 9 and 8 swap. I’m cool with that.

In terms of the alternates — I’m putting The Farewell as the First Alternate. I don’t like any of the others with precursors. I don’t think they’re gonna get the votes needed. If Knives Out doesn’t seem like it’s a lock to get votes, I don’t see any of the others having that kind of consensus. So The Farewell becomes First Alternate, and honestly I could even make that my #10 if I want. But at that point, #10 and First Alternate are irrelevant, because we’ve never had more than 9 nominees in a sliding scale year to this point. So I’ll just be wrong and it’s just window dressing so I can go, “Well, I was wrong, but that one was closer.”

I’ll put Bombshell as the Dark Horse, just owing to the possible acting nominations. Everything else will be either a surprise or a shock, and I’ll caution you to really not go past like, 11 or 12 choices for your pool of picking, if that. This feels like a year where you know what the top nine films are, and there are like two others that could get on. Anything else would be an Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close type surprise. And we really haven’t had any of those since that one. So I feel pretty confident in this list and it feels like it’s just gonna come down to how many total nominees there are.

Best Picture

1917

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

6. Joker

7. Marriage Story

8. Ford v Ferrari

9. Little Women

10. Knives Out

First Alternate: The Farewell

Dark Horse: Bombshell

Surprise: The Two Popes, Dolemite Is My Name

Shocker: Rocketman, Uncut Gems, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Don’t even bother: Hustlers, Richard Jewell, Us, almost anything else, really.

Would love to see: Aside from seeing that exact list of ten (since I’m resigned to Joker and Marriage Story making it on), Waves and Motherless Brooklyn instead of those two would be amazing for me.

I know going lock step 10/10 with the PGA isn’t always automatic, but this is a really strong crop of PGA nominees and I’d be happy with all ten getting nominated. I don’t think they’re gonna stray from the PGA list at all, and the only real question for me is where the list cuts off. This feels like a 2016 where we get 9 nominees and they all make sense based on what’s happened thus far. That’s my guess. I’d love for them to be my top 9 and for me to get them all right, but that almost never happens, so I’m expecting to be wrong somewhere with one of them. But hell, it’s hard not to feel as confident as I do with these. Based on all the precursors and how it’s all looking, I’d be really surprised if the Best Picture list isn’t entirely comprised of the top ten (or maybe eleven) on that list above.

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Best Director.

Obviously the place to start with this category is the DGA. Then you’ve got BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes. That’s pretty much how every category is gonna go. The guild and then those three. In most cases, the guild is most important, and then generally everything else is taken as a bunch, with one slightly weighted over the others depending on the category.

We know how good the DGA is on picking winners. But looking back over 20 years, they’re really accurate on nominees too:

  • 2018: 3/5. They missed Yorgos Lanthimos and Pawel Pawlikowski (had Bradley Cooper and Peter Farrelly)
  • 2017: 4/5. They missed Paul Thomas Anderson (had Martin McDonagh)
  • 2016: 4/5. They missed Mel Gibson (had Garth Davis)
  • 2015: 4/5. They missed Lenny Abrahamson (had Ridley Scott)
  • 2014: 4/5. They missed Bennett Miller (had Clint Eastwood)
  • 2013: 4/5. They missed Alexander Payne (had Paul Greengrass)
  • 2012: 2/5. This was the chaos year. They missed Michael Haneke, David O. Russell and Benh Zeitlin (had Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper)
  • 2011: 4/5. They missed Terrence Malick (had David Fincher)
  • 2010: 4/5. They missed the Coen brothers (had Christopher Nolan)
  • 2009: 5/5.
  • 2008: 4/5. They missed Stephen Daldry (had Christopher Nolan)
  • 2007: 4/5. They missed Jason Reitman (had Sean Penn)
  • 2006: 3/5. They missed Clint Eastwood and Paul Greengrass (had Bill Condon and Dayton & Ferris)
  • 2005: 5/5.
  • 2004: 4/5. They missed Mike Leigh (had Marc Forster)
  • 2003: 4/5. They missed Fernando Meirelles (had Gary Ross)
  • 2002: 4/5. They missed Pedro Almodovar (had Peter Jackson)
  • 2001: 3/5. They missed Robert Altman and David Lynch (had Baz Luhrmann and Christopher Nolan)
  • 2000: 4/5. They missed Stephen Daldry (had Cameron Crowe). (They also did have Soderbergh twice.)
  • 1999: 4/5. They missed Lasse Hallstrom (had Frank Darabont).

In the past 20 years, most of the time, they’re gonna get 4/5. They’ve only been exact twice. Let me say that again — only twice in the past 20 years did the DGA list match the Oscar list 5/5. And 14/20 years, they went 4/5. Which means that’s probably what’s gonna happen. Only three times were they 3/5 and that was the crazy aberration year. Chances are, it’s gonna be 4/5, and only when there’s some major snub does it tend to be more than that.

I remember last year, knowing Yorgos would get on but struggling to figure out who they’d leave off. No one expected both Farrelly and Cooper getting left off, even if you had Yorgos. Pawlikoswki was a bit of a surprise (even if presaged by a BAFTA nomination). Usually you’re just trying to figure out the one swap, and anything more than that is a surprise. So always assume 4/5 unless you think you’ve got it dead to rights for 5/5.

Also, to give you some numbers to back up that 4/5 assertion — the DGA has only matched the Oscar category five times in total since 1970. That’s about to be 50 years, and it’s only five times. Three of the five times were in 1998, 2005 and 2009. The other two were 1981 and 1977. (And by pure happenstance, the first four of those years chronologically involved Steven Spielberg.)

Going even further, before 1970 the DGA nominated ten or more nominees just about every year. Giving them double the chances to match the category exactly. And yet, going back to the beginning of the DGA, they only managed to match the Oscar category 5/5 three more times. 1967, 1954 and 1953. Which means that only eight times ever has the DGA matched the Oscar list 5/5. So plan on 4/5 unless you’re really sure.

Now that we know how the guild does, it’s important to see how the other precursors do in relation to the guild. Meaning, in all those years where the guild wasn’t 5/5, how did BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes do in picking up the slack:

  • 2018: BAFTA had Lanthimos and Pawlikowski
  • 2016: BFCA and the Globes had Mel Gibson
  • 2013: The Globes had Alexander Payne
  • 2012: BAFTA had Michael Haneke, BFCA had David O. Russell
  • 2010: BFCA had the Coens
  • 2008: BAFTA and the Globes had Stephen Daldry
  • 2006: BAFTA had Paul Greengrass (and he won), BFCA had both Greengrass and Clint Eastwood, the Globes had Eastwood
  • 2004: BAFTA had Mike Leigh (and he won)
  • 2001: BAFTA had Robert Altman, the Globes had both Lynch and Altman (and Altman won)
  • 2000: BAFTA had Stephen Daldry

That’s a good percentage of most of the other years, but still leaves nine times –

– where someone got nominated despite having zero precursors. So, let’s go and look at them through the lens of how many awards each of their films was nominated for:

  • 1999, Lasse Hallstrom: The Cider House Rules was nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture. Michael Caine won for Supporting Actor and it won Adapted Screenplay. This is before my time, so I can’t rightly say, but they had to have known this was firmly in the conversation for Best Picture, which would automatically put Hallstrom in the Director conversation (especially with Miramax behind it).
  • 2002, Pedro Almodovar: Talk to Her only managed a Screenplay nomination aside from Director. Which it won. It wasn’t even nominated for Foreign Language Film. Also before my time, but I feel like Almodovar came very much out of nowhere and that’s one of those ‘shit happens’ scenarios.
  • 2003, Fernando Meirelles: City of God got 4 total nominations for Director, Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing. I wonder if it seemed like a contender. Also before my time, so I’ve got no clue how that one went down.
  • 2007, Jason Reitman: Juno got 4 nominations, for Picture, Director, Actress and Screenplay. I think we knew it would get Screenplay and Actress. I don’t remember how much of a Picture contender it was, but it seemed to have hit all the major precursors. You almost had to mention Reitman in Director at that point. But that’s back when I was just guessing winners, not nominees. So I don’t have the first-hand knowledge of how things felt going into nominations.
  • 2011, Terrence Malick: Tree of Life got 3 nominations, Picture, Director, Cinematography. I think it had a lot of love but no one quite expected both of the big ones. That’s my memory of it. I feel like Director was more of a contender than Picture. But he was definitely in and around the conversation for that category. I had him as a Dark Horse without any precursors, so he was clearly right there and could have been guessed, even without precursors.
  • 2012, Benh Zeitlin: Beasts of the Southern Wild got 4 nominations, Picture, Director, Actress and Screenplay. This year was just a giant bloodbath on every level. Ben Affleck won every precursor and wasn’t nominated. We knew Beasts was gonna get a Screenplay and Picture nomination, and we were pretty sure about the Actress nomination too. So it being right there, I think it was something you considered for Director, even if its director didn’t have the stature of the other people who were in contention.
  • 2014, Bennett Miller. Foxcatcher got 5 nominations. We knew it was gonna get Actor and Supporting Actor and probably Screenplay. And it got Makeup & Hairstyling. But with two acting nominations and Screenplay, it was there. Tough pull out of nowhere, but it’s not like he wasn’t someone you considered from the film’s profile and his history at the Oscars.
  • 2015, Lenny Abrahamson. Room got 4 total nominations. We knew it would win Actress and probably be nominated for Screenplay. Picture and Director were surprises. I rooted hard for Picture, but even I didn’t see Director coming.
  • 2017, Paul Thomas Anderson. Phantom Thread broke really late. That was the thing I remember thinking. And we knew it would get Best Actor. Supporting Actress was a surprise. We knew Costumes, we knew Score. Picture and Director did sort of come out of nowhere, precursor-wise. But also… it made sense when it happened, weirdly. I don’t know how else to explain it.

Generally what you see there is that, even if someone doesn’t have precursors, if the film is in the territory of 3-5 nominations or more, it’s in the Director conversation. The only one who really seemed to come out of nowhere was Almodovar in 2002. Other than that, you could probably telegraph most of them based on being in the races for other categories. You might not have guessed them per se, but at least if you see that something hasn’t hit anything but is in line to maybe get a handful of nominations… throw it in your Director pile. It’ll at least get you to consider them and maybe you’ll tweak to something that’ll help you get it right.

So now with all of that, let’s put it into practice. It’s like school. The teacher went over the methodology, and now we’re gonna get the worksheet and figure out some problems on our own. Here’s how the precursors shook out this year:

  • DGA: Bong Joon-ho, Mendes, Scorsese, Tarantino, Waititi
  • BAFTA: Bong Joon-ho, Mendes, Phillips, Scorsese, Tarantino
  • BFCA: Baumbach, Gerwig, Bong Joon-ho, Mendes, Safdies, Scorsese, Tarantino
  • Globes: Bong Joon-ho, Mendes, Phillips, Scorsese, Tarantino

Now what I’m gonna do is look through the rest of the categories (don’t worry, you’ll get there as you read. I’m just saving you time) and figuring out which films are generally in the contention for the big awards and are looking to potentially get a couple of nominations. Those will give us our fringe contenders.

And honestly… looking through them all… it’s just James Mangold. Rian Johnson would have to come totally out of nowhere, and everyone else isn’t remotely in the Best Picture race and if the film is gonna maybe get a handful of nominations, it’s something like Rocketman, where you’re like, “They’ll never nominate Dexter Fletcher over these other people.” Two Popes, Fernando Meirelles… that’s an empty Best Picture nominee at best. Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller… it’s hard enough getting one woman on the list. Do you really think anyone but Greta has a chance at all for this? Jay Roach? Doubt it. It’s pretty much James Mangold and nobody. So that’ll make our lives easier.

Here’s the precursor breakdown:

  • Bong Joon-ho — DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Mendes — DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Scorsese — DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Tarantino — DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Phillips — BAFTA, Globes
  • Waititi — DGA
  • Gerwig — BFCA
  • Baumbach — BFCA
  • Safdies — BFCA

Four people hit everything. So most of your work is basically done for you. The DGA always goes 4/5, but rarely goes 5/5. So you’ve got your four to start — Bon Joon-ho, Sam Mendes, Marty and Quentin. Boom. How easy was that?

Todd Phillips only has two precursors, which is a bit surprising. I thought he hit everything but the DGA. But no. He got on BAFTA, because they matched 5/5 Picture and Director, and the Globes. So that doesn’t instill a shit ton of confidence in me that he’s automatically the fifth nominee. I think they’ll nominate the film, and there’s Joaquin, but I don’t see him as the automatic choice for that fifth spot even though clearly he’s in contention for it.

Taika has the DGA, but you can look back at people over the last few years who had big Best Picture contenders and still got left off. Bradley Cooper and Peter Farrelly last year (and Farrelly’s film won Best Picture!), Martin McDonagh before that, Ridley Scott in 2015 for The Martian. It happens. So I’m not 100% convinced that last spot is Taika’s at all. I’m thinking they go much more establishment with that pick, or more artistic, but that’s just my gut. Do I have anyone yet? No. But this is my thinking as I look for it. Maybe I don’t find anyone and Taika is the last one. Dunno.

Next, in terms of precursors, we’ve got Greta and Noah. How nice. Husband and wife. BFCA only for both of them. Little Women isn’t a lock for Picture and I’m not sure the film has the exposure/she’s got the notice among people as someone who’s strong enough to feel like she’s gonna get this. Baumbach, meanwhile, has the feel of someone who will come along if they really love his film a lot. Then again, he’s not Alexander Payne. You know what I mean? They haven’t gone there before and he’s not established with them enough to say that it’s definitely gonna happen. A month ago, you asked me to spitball it off the top of my head, and I’d have said him and Phillips would probably be on. So my gut is still telling me this last spot is him or Phillips. But I don’t know. That’s just the nagging feeling that’s probably coming from me just waiting for them to do the thing that’s gonna annoy me the most. There’s also the Safdies, but that’s just BFCA and that’s just not happening, unless the film somehow comes out of nowhere and gets Picture and Director and Actor and all of that. Don’t see it happening, so I’ll just be wrong there.

And then in terms of the fringe contenders — it’s just James Mangold. He really feels like someone who could sneak on. However… he’s got a suspiciously thin Oscar track record until now. One nomination for writing Logan. But nothing before that. Not even precursor nominations before. No DGA or anything for Walk the Line, nothing like that. Ever. Which is crazy. So that’s the big knock against him in that spot, even if Ford v Ferrari gets on.

Which, also… unless something is a major artistic triumph in their eyes, they really tend to just stick with the big Best Picture nominees. Looking back, there have been only two Best Director nominees from the past decade whose films were not nominated for Best Picture: Pawel Pawlikowski and Bennett Miller. That’s it. That’s the list. Looking back further… Julian Schnabel in 2007, Paul Greengrass in 2006, Mike Leigh in 2004, Fernando Meirelles in 2003, Almodovar in 2002, Ridley Scott and David Lynch in 2001. It’s a handful of times, but all but two happened in the era of five Best Picture nominees. Only twice since they expanded the list. So stick with the Best Picture frontrunners. There isn’t really someone who jumps out, and you’d rather waste your pick on something more likely to come in than a real long shot.

But anyway, to finish this one up: I’ve got Bong Joon-ho, I’ve got Mendes, I’ve got Marty and I’ve got Quentin. Who’s the fifth? My choices are: Todd Phillips, Taika Waititi, Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach and James Mangold.

Pros and cons:

  • Todd Phillips
    • Pros: BAFTA nomination (and I guess the Globes nomination. But that’s more neutral). Film clearly Best Picture nominee based on precursors. Three nominations minimum. Looking more like 5-7+.
    • Cons: Where’s the BFCA nomination? Shouldn’t he of all people have been a shoo-in for that? Not sure the guild particularly likes him. Might dismiss him as a comedy director. Might dismiss the film. Why didn’t the guild vote for him? Are they really gonna nominate Todd Phillips for Best Director for a Joker movie?
  • Taika Waititi
    • Pros: DGA nomination. Film looks really strong coming out of precursors. People generally like him. Feels like 3-5 nominations, easy. Maybe this is the film that gets the Editing nomination and gets stronger support than the precursors were showing. Those six BAFTA nominations without Best Picture were really impressive. (Joker also got 11, I know. But there’s expected impressive and there’s surprising impressive.)
    • Cons: No BAFTA nom. Phillips got it over him. (No BFCA either, but I expected that. I didn’t see him as a contender for this until DGA.) Film feels like it could be rejected by people who think it’s offensive. DGA is usually 4/5 and the other four seem really strong. Is the DGA more of a popularity contest like SAG?
  • Greta Gerwig
    • Pros: BFCA nomination. Film’s amazing. She’s been nominated before, so it’s not like they have to warm up to her. Film feels like it can sneak on for Picture and feels like it’s in the range of 3-4 nominations.
    • Cons: Broke late. Do they really care about a movie like this? Is the Screenplay nomination gonna be ‘enough’? Will they vote for her twice like that? It’s not like this is getting Lady Bird type reviews. I’m not seeing the support for the film the way I am for literally everything else in this breakdown. And — has to be said — she’s a woman. People will get mad about that, but you can feel it. The people who say that her gender doesn’t matter are also the “I’ll vote for a woman… just not her” for every candidate people.
  • Noah Baumbach
    • Pros: BFCA nomination. Film’s gonna get three acting nominations and a Screenplay nomination for sure. Score seems likely. Should definitely be a Best Picture nominee too. That’s six easy. How much further a stretch is Director? He was my assumed nominee before I actually looked at the numbers. Right now, you ask me who I think it’s gonna be, he’s probably my gut response. BAFTA miss I expected (he’d have gotten more credit for being on than blame for being left off in my eyes). Not sure the DGA miss matters all that much if they like the film the way it feels like they might.
    • Cons: Only a BFCA nomination. He’s not Alexander Payne. Payne got on 2013 for Nebraska with just BFCA. Not sure they like him like that. (Payne’s movies are about likable people.) Screenplay nomination could be seen as enough (which is bullshit, since literally everyone above him is also gonna get nominated for Screenplay, but this is how some people think).
  • James Mangold
    • Pros: Director-heavy film. Probably gonna get a Best Picture nomination. Guaranteed at least three tech nominations. Generally among people’s favorite films of the year.
    • Cons: Literally no precursors whatsoever. Never been remotely in contention before. They’d have to really love the film for it to get both, and I’m not 100% certain it for-sure gets the Picture nomination. Doesn’t feel like an effort that gets on without percursor help.

That’s where I see all of it. And really, since none of us know for sure where it’s gonna go, it pretty much comes down to where each of us feels most comfortable.

To me, Mangold would be amazing, but the feel just isn’t there. For some reason the film hasn’t been totally embraced, and it doesn’t feel like a film that’s gonna get both Picture and Director. So I’ll put my money on it getting Picture if anything. Greta I’m hoping for, but I can’t guess it. I gotta just let that one happen if it’s gonna and then try to figure out how they managed to embrace that film when the precursors didn’t. Taika… I love that DGA nomination, but I’ve been bit so many times on that one that I just can’t do it. I just know it’s not gonna happen. And if it does, that’s the one that makes me happiest. I mean, Greta would be happiest, but realistically between Taika, Phillips and Baumbach, Taika makes me happiest. So I’m gonna leave Taika off and see if DGA matches 5/5, which I’m remind you, has only happened eight times ever.

Also, I think you guys know how I do things by now… I tend to vote for the one that would be the worst case scenario for me (as in, the one that I don’t want them to do), and then hope I’m wrong and hope it goes in a way that I’d rather see. And either Todd Phillips or Noah Baumbach would be that for me. And honestly… my gut is still saying go Noah, so that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m putting Baumbach on, I’ll make Taika the Alternate because of the DGA (and at that point, it doesn’t really matter who’s the alternate and who’s not, because wrong is wrong) and I’ll make Todd Phillips the Dark Horse, even though to me, if it’s not Baumbach, Phillips feels like the person who’s gonna get it. The BAFTA nomination is a big deal and probably is the sign that he’ll get on. But for some reason I just keep thinking they’re gonna fully embrace Marriage Story, so that’s where I’m gonna go.

My big advice to you is this: go where you’re most comfortable. Though, having done this a bunch, I would say, since it’s only been eight times ever, don’t go lock step with the DGA. I’m not sure Taika is a lock, and I feel like Todd Phillips is statistically the one that makes the most sense to take (with BAFTA), and then, Marriage Story feels like it’ll get the most nominations of anything else, which makes Baumbach just as solid a bet (and remember, just BFCA only en route to a nomination happened with David O. Russell in 2012 and the Coens in 2010. It’s not insane, and you’re talking the Directors branch, which is a smaller, more concentrated version of the overall voting). And then Greta also is a possibility. Otherwise, if none of those are striking your fancy, then go Taika. I’m not really sure anyone but those four makes total sense. Mangold would be a stretch, and anyone else would be really surprising.

Best Director

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

First Alternate: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Dark Horse: Todd Phillips, Joker

Surprise: Greta Gerwig, Little Women; James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

Shocker: Benny & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems; Rian Johnson, Knives Out; Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

Don’t even bother: I mean… anyone else, really. They’ve got a solid six and three other people to go to instead. I can’t imagine we get past that in a year like this.

Would love to see: Trey Edward Shults, Waves (and for Greta to get that fifth spot)

I fully expect to go 4/5 here, and really the big question is gonna be who gets on that fifth spot. I assume it’s one of the big four, and then I’ll just have been wrong and won’t feel bad about it. That I’m fine with. Then I think about how they got on, and most of the times it’ll make sense. Anything past those four — Mangold is a surprise, but a good one. And everyone else would be a big surprise to me, and then I’ll have to figure out how that went down. The Directors branch has thrown us curveballs before (Pawlikowski, Bennett Miller, etc) that flew in the face of the norm, so I’m not ruling out them doing something similar, but I also feel like there’s enough ‘big’ choices here that they really will stick to what’s in that first tier of stuff. But we’ll see. I’m thinking that fifth spot is either Phillips or Baumbach.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Actor.

For the next four categories, the only acronym you need to know is SAG. You start with SAG and everything else flows from there. Everything else being the same three, BAFTA, BFCA, the Globes.

Here’s SAG straight up vs. the Oscar category

Gonna be hard to find someone else who could jump on without a precursor. But before we do that, let’s see how SAG and the precursors are with guessing all the nominees and how often someone gets on without precursors:

  • 2018: 4/5. SAG had John David Washington instead of Willem Dafoe.
  • 2017: 4/5. SAG had James Franco instead of Daniel Day-Lewis.
  • 2016: 5/5.
  • 2015, 4/5. SAG had Johnny Depp instead of Matt Damon.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Gyllenhaal instead of Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, 3/5. SAG had Forest Whitaker and Tom Hanks instead of Leo and Bale.
  • 2012, 4/5. SAG had John Hawkes instead of Joaquin Phoenix.
  • 2011, 4/5. SAG had Leo instead of Gary Oldman.
  • 2010, 4/5. SAG had Duvall instead of Javier Bardem.
  • 2009 + 2008, 5/5.
  • 2007, 3/5. SAG had Gosling and Emile Hirsch instead of Depp and Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Russell Crowe instead of Terrence Howard.
  • 2004, 4/5. SAG had Paul Giamatti instead of Clint Eastwood.
  • 2003, 4/5. SAG had Peter Dinklage instead of Jude Law.
  • 2002, 4/5. SAG had Richard Gere instead of Michael Caine.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Kevin Kline instead of Will Smith.
  • 2000, 3/5. SAG had Benicio del Toro (who won Supporting at the Oscars) and Jamie Bell instead of Javier Bardem and Ed Harris.
  • 1999, 3/5. SAG had Jim Carrey and Philip Seymour Hoffman instead of Sean Penn and Richard Farnsworth.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had Joseph Fiennes instead of Edward Norton.
  • 1997 + 1996, 5/5.
  • 1995, 4/5. SAG had James Earl Jones instead of Richard Dreyfuss.
  • 1994, 4/5. SAG had Tim Robbins instead of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Since SAG began, they’ve matched the Oscar list 5/5 six times, 4/5 fifteen times and 3/5 four times. They’ve never matched less than 3/5. Which is a good start for us.

Now folding in the other precursors:

  • 2018, BFCA and the Globes had Willem Dafoe, but BAFTA did not.
  • 2017, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes had Daniel Day-Lewis.
  • 2015, BAFTA and the Globes had Matt Damon. BFCA did not.
  • 2014, Nobody had Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, BAFTA and the Globes had both Leo and Bale. BFCA only had Bale.
  • 2012, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes had Joaquin.
  • 2011, BAFTA had Oldman. BFCA and the Globes did not.
  • 2010, BAFTA had Bardem. BFCA and the Globes did not.
  • 2007, BFCA and the Globes had Depp. BAFTA did not. Nobody had Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 2005, BFCA and the Globes had Terrence Howard. BAFTA did not.
  • 2004, Nobody had Clint Eastwood
  • 2003, BAFTA and the Globes had Jude Law. BFCA did not.
  • 2002, BAFTA and the Globes had Michael Caine. BFCA did not.
  • 2001, BFCA and the Globes had Will Smith. BAFTA did not.
  • 2000, The Globes had Bardem. BAFTA did not. Nobody had Ed Harris.
  • 1999, The Globes had both Penn and Farnsworth. BAFTA had neither.
  • 1998, Nobody had Edward Norton.
  • 1995, The Globes had Richard Dreyfuss.
  • 1994, Nobody had Nigel Hawthorne (BAFTA had him in 1995).

It’s important to note that BFCA only began handing out awards in 2001. So really if we want to analyze this, we’re gonna start there. I went all the way back to the beginning of SAG because it’s only 1994, but really in terms of accuracy, we’re looking from 2001 to present. And in all those years, only three times did none of the precursors have a nominee. So in 90 nominees, only 3 came in cold. That’s one out of every 30 and one every six years. I’ll take those odds. That means you’re almost certainly gonna get your five nominees from the precursor list, and you just look at them logically and figure out which ones make the most sense.

Of the three nominees that came in totally precursor-less:

  • 2014: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • 2007: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
  • 2004: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby

Two of the films — the Eastwood films — came in very, very late and came on very strong. Jones, meanwhile, people were figuring him to get nominated in Supporting for No Country, and he surprised everyone by getting nominated in lead. He didn’t really have the big critics awards most people would attribute to someone who had a legit shot at a nomination. Looking at Eastwood, he had a National Society of Film Critics nomination, but not a whole lot else. Thinking that was a ‘strength of film/statute’ nomination. Cooper I remember thinking for sure had a shot at the nomination in 2014, but wasn’t sure if he would. It definitely was not a big surprise at all. But yeah, I think what we learn is that you can generally see someone coming on strong with a film, but otherwise stick with the precursors and you’ll be fine.

Here’s what Best Actor has given us this year:

  • SAG: Bale, DiCaprio, Driver, Egerton, Phoenix
  • BAFTA: DiCaprio, Driver, Egerton, Phoenix, Pryce
  • BFCA: Banderas, De Niro, DiCaprio, Driver, Murphy, Phoenix, Sandler
  • Globes: (Drama) Bale, Banderas, Driver, Phoenix, Pryce
    (Musical/Comedy) Craig, Griffin Davis, DiCaprio, Egerton, Murphy

And here’s that ranked by amount of precursors:

  • DiCaprio — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Driver — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Phoenix — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Egerton — SAG, BAFTA, Globes
  • Bale — SAG, Globes
  • Pryce — BAFTA, Globes
  • Banderas — BFCA, Globes
  • Murphy — BFCA, Globes
  • De Niro — BFCA
  • Sandler — BFCA
  • Craig — Globes
  • Griffin Davis — Globes

It’s gonna be difficult to find someone who hit nothing but could still be nominated. I’ve got one — Song Kang-ho. We’ll get to him in a bit. For now, let’s start with the easy stuff.

Leo, Driver and Joaquin all hit everything. So they’re on. Not that Joaquin needs the help, but only four times ever did the Globe winner for Drama not get nominated for the Oscar (Jim Carrey in 1998 for Truman Show, Omar Sharif in 1965 for Doctor Zhivago, Anthony Franciosa in 1959 for Career and Spencer Tracy in 1953 for The Actress). He also won BFCA last night as well. And that winner has been nominated all but the first year of BFCA in 1995 (Kevin Bacon won for Murder in the First, a supremely underrated movie). So start your list with those three, and after that’s where it gets interesting.

The only other person who hit three precursors is Taron Egerton. A lot of people are gonna be high on him because he won the Globe. But know this — the Globe for Musical/Comedy means jack shit. James Franco won in 2017 for The Disaster Artist over Daniel Kaluuya. Which one of those two got nominated? However, I will say, when you look at the winners of that category — other than Franco, all the other winners that were in the realm of an Oscar (meaning not Downey in Sherlock Holmes) did get nominated. You have to go all the way back to Richard Gere winning and then not being nominated (and he beat Nicolas Cage in Adaptation). All the other categories that were blanks (meaning the winner didn’t get nominated but neither did any of the other nominees and generally none of them were in major contention for their year). So that does speak positively for Egerton. The BAFTA nomination was big (if expected), because SAG was a pure popularity contest. I’m not 100% sold on him being nominated, but given everything and the fact that he’s playing Elton John and people seem to like him, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and putting him on my list. But honestly until he won that Globe, I was straight up ready to leave him off the eventual list. Though also that was before I sat and actually looked at the category and realized just what I had in front of me. So I’ll make him #4, but I’m not thrilled about it. Do not be surprised if he gets left off. In fact, this is a prime example of the weird logic of Oscar season. The minute he gets left off and we take a step back from it, I feel like the majority opinion there is gonna be, “Well yeah, of course.” But here we are, just assuming he’s gonna be nominated. And honestly, I’m gonna go with it until he isn’t, even though I kinda want him to not be.

Looking at what’s left — I’m eliminating Daniel Craig. Just a Globes nomination and in a more comedic type role… that’s not happening. Eliminating Roman Griffin Davis too. That would be a real shock and would mean they loved Jojo beyond words. Could it happen? Sure. Do I think it’s gonna? No. But if you’re gonna pick him, then you need to have had Jojo in Picture and Director. Because there is no way they’re gonna let one happen without the others. I’m also eliminating Eddie Murphy. The film never got any real traction and neither did he. BFCA and Globes together are pretty meaningless in his situation. He needed SAG for me to seriously consider him, and even then I’d have considered it a long shot. So he’s off for me. And also, no Sandler. He didn’t get SAG and I thought for sure SAG was a half-shoo in for him. So he’s out. The film never went anywhere.

That leaves four people left with precursors and the fifth I know enough to know has to be considered:

First, Christian Bale. He’s got the SAG nomination. Which, for most people who don’t know what they’re doing, means he’s probably automatically on right now. Not so fast. SAG is basically a popularity contest. They’ve never gone less than 3/5 ever, but we’ve already put three… four, even… of the SAG nominees on. If anything, he’s the fifth nominee that generally doesn’t make it. Unless you think Egerton is the fifth nominee or they’re gonna go 5/5. We’ve had 25 years of SAG. 15 times SAG matched 4/5. That’s 60%. 5/5 is 24% straight up and 3/5 is 16%. SAG has only been 3/5 once in the past decade, and that year was one where Leo and his film (Wolf of Wall Street) were not screened for SAG in time. SAG also had Forest Whitaker nominated for The Butler that year, in case you didn’t think it was a popularity contest. So SAG doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Plus, where’s the BAFTA nomination? He’s a Brit, and every time he’s been nominated for an Oscar, he’s gotten a BAFTA nomination. That’s a big knock against him for me. I’m not sure I see it happening, despite the SAG nomination. I’d prefer him over most other people, but I’m not sure it’s in the cards. So while I could go with him in the end, I don’t know if I trust that SAG nomination.

Next is Jonathan Pryce. This is the most interesting of the remaining nominees. He got BAFTA and he got the Globes. I think we all just sort of dismissed the Globe nomination and thought, “That’s interesting.” But the BAFTA nomination is big. That makes him statistically the most likely person next to Bale to get the nomination. Hopkins seems likely to get the Supporting Actor nomination, Screenplay seems probable, the film has been generally around the conversation… could he come along with it? Pros, BAFTA nominated him. He’s been around a while. Cons — do people really care? Do we think they’re gonna take him over everyone else on this list? It’s a tough call. If you’re playing just the numbers, he seems like the most likely of the nominees. But on the eye test, he’s probably least likely. That’s what makes this last spot so fascinating to think about.

Next Antonio Banderas. He’s got a BFCA nomination and a Globes nomination. Normally, I’d consider those ’empty’ nominations if I had a full list. But I don’t. And two, that’s what Willem Dafoe used to get nominated last year for At Eternity’s Gate. Over, I might add, John David Washington, who had exactly what Bale has, a SAG nom and a Globe nom. So keep that in mind. Banderas is firmly in this conversation. Hills he has to climb: people seeing his film. Yes, it’s likely to get a Foreign Language nomination. Yes, it’s Pedro Almodovar. Still, though, it’s a foreign film. It’s impossible to get Academy members to watch 70% of the screeners they get. Do you really think most of them went out of their way to see his film? I’d have put him on if he got a BAFTA nomination. But he didn’t. So I’m left with him in the same melting pot as everyone else. Film isn’t gonna be as popular as Bale’s but he might be as liked as Bale overall. So I don’t know. I kinda see him as a coin flip at the moment.

Now, we have Robert De Niro. He’s only got a BFCA nomination. Nobody has ever gotten nominated for Best Actor with just a BFCA nomination. The last actor with just BFCA support without SAG and BAFTA is Willem Dafoe last year. But he had a Globe nomination too. Before that was Johnny Depp in 2007. He also had a Globe nomination. Before that, Terrence Howard in 2005. Also a Globe nomination. Before that, Will Smith in 2001. Same thing. BFCA, Globes. BFCA didn’t exist before that. So it’s never happened that someone only got BFCA and nothing else. Which is convincing enough for me. Honestly before that my gut kept going, “Irishman’s gonna get nominated across the board. They’re gonna nominate De Niro. He’s the veteran. The veterans get on in a smaller field.” But honestly… never is convincing enough for me to not do it. I’m gonna leave him off my list and leave him as someone who would qualify as a surprise if he got nominated. Because historically, he would. My gut is still gonna tell me it’s gonna happen until it doesn’t, but the numbers give me enough confidence to not actually put him in my category.

Lastly, we have  Song Kang-ho. He did not hit any precursors, however, there’s one thing I’ve learned, especially in recent years — if a category just does not make sense, and you can’t figure out why none of the final pieces fit… look foreign. Last year is the big example: I could not figure out what to do with Supporting Actress because I just didn’t feel like any of the final choices were the right one. And it’s because Marina de Tavira got nominated, and she had no precursors because she was ineligible for SAG and BAFTA and the other two were never gonna look past Yalitza Aparicio. So, when I see a film like Parasite, which is gonna get nominated for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Foreign Language (and yes, I know it’s International Film now. Give me a while to actually come around to it. It’s too stupid a euphemism for me to embrace immediately) and maybe even Editing and Production Design, alarm bells go off. And the refrain for a film that is in the conversation for seriously contending for Best Picture is: it needs to have an acting nomination. That’s always how we look at this stuff. If it’s not nominated in an acting category and isn’t something like Fury Road or Dunkirk, which make sense without them, it’s not really in contention.

Here’s all the Best Picture nominees of the past decade without any acting nominations:

  • 2018 – Black Panther
  • 2017 – Dunkirk
  • 2016 – Arrival
  • 2015 – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 2014 – The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma
  • 2013 – Her
  • 2012 – Life of Pi
  • 2011 – Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Tree of Life, War Horse
  • 2010 – Inception, Toy Story 3
  • 2009 – Avatar, District 9, A Serious Man, Up

Just looking through that chronologically — Avatar, District 9 and Up were never getting acting nominations. A Serious Man missed. 2010, Inception and Toy Story weren’t getting acting nominations. 2011, Tree of Life is all about directing (and Chastain got nominated for a different movie, as did Pitt, though in a different category), Hugo is all about directing, Midnight in Paris I guess you could count. And the last nominee stars a horse. Life of Pi is all about directing. Her technically counts (though one of its major characters is an operating system). Grand Budapest wasn’t really gonna, but counts. Selma missed. Mad Max is all about the directing. Arrival is one. Dunkirk is all about the directing. And Black Panther was never gonna. I could go deep into analysis on this, but the point is… you kinda need that acting nomination to be seriously considered.

If Parasite is gonna get these nominations, they should throw it at least one acting nomination. And the places for that to come are here and Supporting Actress. Those are really the only categories it’s competing in. I guess Actress has a horse in the race, but to me it’s Song Kang-ho and at least two supporting actresses that are the big acting contenders from that film. And he wasn’t eligible for SAG. (Though they were nominated for Best Ensemble there, which could be a sign of things to come.) That’s gonna track if they nominate him. That’ll be why he didn’t hit precursors. So do not rule that out. I’m not saying guess it. I’m saying don’t rule it out. To me, he’s got about as much a shot at this as Jonathan Pryce does. Though the one big knock here is — they haven’t been promoting any of the actors in specific categories. They’re just letting it happen however it goes. So I’ve got no idea how that’s gonna play for actual nominations, which is really what’s keeping me from actually guessing him.

So where are we? What have we learned? We learned that I’ve eliminated De Niro. I’m not gonna guess Song Kang-ho, but I do think I’ve illustrated upon you how possible that is. It’s impossible to know for sure how much they’ll go there, so I’m just gonna let it happen. Plus, me guessing him just feels like overcorrection for missing de Tavira last year, and it just feels destined to not happen. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is a trend. This would be somewhere between coincidence and trend, if it happens. Right now it’s just happenstance that maybe can be predicted if it happens again. I wanna see it get there before I just start assuming it’s gonna happen. So that means it’s Bale, Banderas and Pryce. Each with positives, each with negatives.

I know it’s fucking stupid to take Bale, but I’m also not totally sold on the other two. Pryce makes the most sense with BAFTA, but the more I look at that, the more it feels like a pure BAFTA nomination and nothing else. And Banderas… he is a member of SAG, and they just didn’t nominate him. I don’t know what to do, and all this is typically what leads to me stupidly just sticking with SAG and being wrong. But I feel like I want to try something else this year and just be wrong and then, if it’s Bale, go, “Oh shit, cool.” Because I want it to be Bale. But I’ve just been through this dance enough and been wrong enough to know I’m just gonna get burned again. (Also… Bale has been nominated for BAFTA every time he’s gotten the Oscar nomination. Why didn’t they nominate him this time?)

So you know what? Fuck it. Let’s take Antonio Banderas. Truly, I don’t know what that fifth spot is gonna be, but I always take SAG and am always wrong. And honestly, I’ll be happy to be wrong in this case. And Pryce statistically makes the most sense, but he just doesn’t feel like he’s gonna get on. At least Banderas would be one of those with the ‘foreign’ angle to explain why he didn’t hit more precursors, even though he’s got enough. So I’ll take a shot with him. I kinda want to put Song kang-ho, but I’ll let that one happen. I’ll take Banderas and be happily wrong with that, having taken my shot.

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

First Alternate: Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

Dark Horse: Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Surprise: Song Kang-ho, Parasite (if they’re considering him lead); Robert De Niro, The Irishman

Shocker: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems; Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

Don’t even bother: Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit; Daniel Craig, Knives Out

Would love to see: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Waves (and also Bale get nominated)

I’m not going 5/5 here. I’d have to get really lucky for that to happen. I’m not even sold that I’m gonna go 4/5. I mean, probably, but I’m still not totally buying that Egerton nomination until I see them do it. But I know I’ve got at least 3/5, and that I can live with. The others… I still don’t know what they’re gonna do. At this point, I almost wish I did go with Song Kang-ho. Because it doesn’t feel like Bale, I can’t see it being Pryce, and I have no faith in it being Banderas, even though I picked him. And the rule when that happens is, go foreign. And I know technically Banderas is going foreign. But also, I really don’t know how the lack of category distinction for the Parasite actors is gonna play. This one’s got my head all wacky. My gut is still saying De Niro’s gonna do it and get nominated, even though statistically that’s never happened that someone only had BFCA and nothing else and got on. So I don’t know. I’m gonna hope Egerton works out and then be fine going 4/5.

At this point, I’ve spent enough years demonstrating that I’m at least on top of this stuff. So I don’t need to get everything right. I’m fine doing just fair on all the guesses. I’m expecting to do awful this year. I just want to have at least discussed all the possibilities so nothing totally embarrassing happens. You know what would be embarrassing? If Paul Walter Hauser got nominated for Richard Jewell. And then it’s like, “Well how come you didn’t think of that?” And there’s no real answer there. I’m not someone that throws out everyone just to have covered them. So if that happens, that’s a slip up. If Adam Sandler comes out of nowhere, that’s just — I was wrong. I’m cool with being wrong. I’m just trying not to embarrass myself and I’m hoping to give you all the tools to guess right where I guess wrong. That’s all I want anymore. The fun for me is talking about it. The percentage correct is just for me to give myself some sort of measuring stick to try to hit.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Best Actress.

SAG, everything else. That’s how we do it.

Here’s SAG straight up versus the Oscar category:

  • 2018, 4/5. SAG had Emily Blunt and missed Yalitza Aparicio.
  • 2017, 4/5. SAG had Judi Dench and missed Meryl Streep.
  • 2016, 4/5. SAG had Emily Blunt and missed Isabelle Huppert.
  • 2015, 3/5. SAG had Helen Mirren and Sarah Silverman and missed Jennifer Lawrence and Charlotte Rampling.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Jennifer Aniston and missed Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013, 4/5. SAG had Emma Thompson and missed Amy Adams.
  • 2012: 3/5. SAG had Marion Cotillard and Hellen Mirren instead of Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva.
  • 2011: 4/5. SAG had Tilda Swinton and missed Rooney Mara.
  • 2010: 4/5. SAG had Hilary Swank and missed Michelle Williams.
  • 2009: 5/5.
  • 2008: 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet for the wrong film (though she won for it in SAG Supporting).
  • 2007: 4/5. SAG had Angelina Jolie and missed Laura Linney.
  • 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Ziyi Zhang instead of Keira Knightley.
  • 2004, 5/5.
  • 2003, 3/5. SAG had Patricia Clarkson and Evan Rachel Wood instead of Keisha Castle-Hughes (nominated SAG Supporting) and Samantha Morton.
  • 2002, 5/5.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Jennifer Connelly (who won the Best Supporting Oscar) instead of Nicole Kidman.
  • 2000 + 1999, 5/5.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had Jane Horrocks instead of Fernanda Montenegro.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Pam Grier and Robin Wright instead of Julie Christie. (*Six nominees.*)
  • 1996, 4/5. SAG had Gena Rowlands instead of Emily Watson.
  • 1995, 4/5. SAG had Joan Allen (nominated Supporting at the Oscar) instead of Sharon Stone.
  • 1994, 3/5. SAG had Meg Ryan and Meryl Streep instead of Miranda Richardson and Winona Ryder.

SAG has matched the Oscar list 5/5 six times, 4/5 sixteen times, 3/5 three times. They’ve never matched less than 3/5. They’re statistically more accurate than Best Actor, which is 6/15/4. So they’ve got one more 4/5.

Everyone else:

  • 2018, BFCA had Aparicio. BAFTA and the Globes did not.
  • 2017, BFCA and the Globes had Meryl. BAFTA did not.
  • 2016, BFCA and the Globes had Huppert (and she won the Globe). BAFTA did not.
  • 2015, BFCA had both Lawrence and Rampling. The Globes had Lawrence only. BAFTA did not have either.
  • 2014, BFCA had Cotillard. BAFTA and the Globes did not.
  • 2013, BAFTA and the Globes had Adams (and she won the Globe). BFCA did not.
  • 2012, BFCA had both Riva and Wallis. BAFTA only had Riva. The Globes had neither.
  • 2011, The Globes had Mara. BAFTA and BFCA did not.
  • 2010, BFCA and the Globes had Williams. BAFTA did not.
  • 2008, Everyone had Winslet winning Supporting (and sometimes lead). Basically everyone had her.
  • 2007, No one had Laura Linney
  • 2005, BFCA and the Globes had Keira. BAFTA did not.
  • 2003, BFCA had Samantha Morton but not Keisha Castle-Hughes. BAFTA and the Globes had neither.
  • 2001, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes had Kidman (who won the Globe).
  • 1998, The Globes had Montenegro. BAFTA did not.
  • 1997, Nobody had Julie Christie.
  • 1996, BAFTA and the Globes had Watson.
  • 1995, The Globes had Stone (and she won).
  • 1994, The Globes had Richardson but not Ryder. BAFTA had Richardson in 1993, but did not have Ryder.

You know what that says? In the history of four acting precursors, only once did someone miss all four precursors and get nominated for Best Actress. And it’s only happened twice since SAG began. Best Actor is four total, three since BFCA began. Actress is twice ever, once since BFCA began. That’s nuts. That means you should take the 1/90 probability and listen to the precursors. Though that might not be what some people want to hear this year, given the precursors.

Which, now’s a good time to get to those:

  • SAG: Erivo, Johansson, Nyong’o, Theron, Zellweger
  • BAFTA: Buckley, Johansson, Ronan, Theron, Zellweger
  • BFCA: Awkwafina, Erivo, Johansson, Nyong’o, Ronan, Theron, Zellweger
  • Globes: (Drama) Erivo, Johansson, Ronan, Theron, Zellweger
    (Musical/Comedy) de Armas, Awkwafina, Blanchett, Feldstein, Zellweger

Breakdown of all that:

  • Johansson — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Theron — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Zellweger — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Erivo — SAG, BFCA, Globes
  • Ronan — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Nyong’o — SAG, BFCA
  • Awkwafina — BFCA, Globes
  • Buckley — BAFTA
  • de Armas — Globes
  • Blanchett — Globes
  • Feldstein — Globes
  • Thompson — Globes

Okay, so this is where the moment of truth lies. First off — toss off Emma Thompson, Beanie Feldstein and Cate Blanchett. They’re never gonna happen. Just take the L in that case. I also don’t know who from Parasite to say for this category, so I’m just gonna leave that one out. How can you pick one when the studio isn’t promoting the actors in specific categories? Stick with what’s here and just be wrong. You’ll drive yourself crazy over something that just does not matter.

Now, Scarlett, Charlize and Renée have hit everything. So that’s the top three right there. Pretty simple, just like best actor. They hit everything, you take them. I’m not even gonna try to figure out how many times someone hit everything of the four and wasn’t nominated, because no one thinks that’s gonna happen here, and the category is so weak this year that there’s no need to make your life harder by trying to guess if they won’t make it. So there’s three, and you’re at least covered there.

Oh, and Renée won both the Globe and BFCA already. The only time a BFCA Actress winner wasn’t nominated for the Oscar was its first year, 1995 (Nicole Kidman won for To Die For), which is the same as Best Actor. Though the Globe for Actress/Drama… you know the last time a winner there wasn’t nominated for the Oscar? If we’re not counting Kate Winslet, nominated for the wrong film (but won Supporting for the film she won Best Actress for that year and technically she won both anyway), then the last time was 1988. Shirley MacLaine was in a three way tie for Madame Sousatzka. The other two people who tied were nominated. But if we want the last time a sole winner wasn’t nominated for the Oscar… I think you know where this is going… never. It’s never happened. So in case you needed extra reasoning for Renée getting on, you’ve got it.

The next two with precursors are Cynthia Erivo and Saoirse Ronan. I’ve been saying all year that I don’t buy Cynthia Erivo as a nominee. From the start I pegged her as the one that was gonna get all the precursors that were showy and everyone would put her on their list, but in the end she wouldn’t make it. Every year has one of those. She started with the Globe nomination, and I 100% guarantee that HFPA didn’t even see her movie and just nominated her because it felt like a performance in the realm of the Oscars and allowed them to cover their asses and not get yelled at for not being diverse. I’m telling you that’s what happened there. BFCA, more so they just voted broadly for what fit. And SAG is a popularity contest/kinda the same thing. Literally anyone I’ve spoken to who’s seen that movie, Oscar people or not, all said it wasn’t very good. Her getting nominated would literally just be them voting her through despite either not seeing her movie or not caring that it’s not very good. Now, she’s awesome, and maybe the popularity can carry her through. But I don’t buy it and I haven’t bought it all along. So she will not be on my list and I’ll just be wrong if that’s the case. Where’s the BAFTA nomination? That’s my question. They’re the most discerning of the groups in a lot of ways. If she got on there — for a quintessentially American role — then I’d buy that she’s gonna get nominated. Short of that, I’m not doing it. I’ve seen this too many times and will just be wrong if she is.

Saoirse, though… that BAFTA nomination is what saved her. I wasn’t sure if she was gonna get that. But her getting that means I feel comfortable putting her on my list. If all I’ve got is three, and she’s got BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes… I feel okay making her #4. I’ve seen enough faltering out of SAG in recent years to feel okay there. And the movie’s hovering around a lot of big nominations. I think she’s on. Which leaves us with that perilous fifth spot. I can’t just use Cynthia Erivo as a crutch now like everyone else will. So this’ll be fun.

We’ve got Ana de Armas, but she’s only got a Globe nomination for Musical/Comedy. Talk about a hill to climb. That would be like what her character goes through during the film, with this category being… well, you know. Jessie Buckley has just BAFTA, but that’s a quintessentially BAFTA nomination. If she had BFCA, then maybe I’d have done more than just toss her out immediately. In such a weak year you have to consider her a possibility, but I can’t see it and I’ll just let it happen. I’d rather just sit idly with Cynthia Erivo than guess her. So that only leaves two people — Awkwafina and Lupita Nyong’o.

I haven’t fully bought Lupita getting nominated all along. She started with BFCA, but BFCA nominated seven people. They throw the kitchen sink out there. If they had the balls to stick to five, I’d consider some of those nominations more strongly than I do. And then she got SAG, which is a pure popularity contest. People will point to her performance as being a reason she’s gonna get nominated. But that’s amateurish. We’re not here to talk about legitimacy or anything like that. This is the Oscars. We’re talking about what they’re gonna vote for, and logic doesn’t matter in that realm. I think SAG nominated her because they love her and I think BFCA threw everything out there. No BAFTA nomination… I can’t see that happening either. Not even the Globes went there. How can I say she’s more likely than Cynthia Erivo?

Which leaves me with Awkwafina. BFCA, she won the Globe (though that speech might not have endeared her to people, just because they like when people are hugely grateful for stuff, and the Academy skews older, so I’m sure they have a very ‘fuck millennials’ mindset in general). She’s a SAG member and was simply left off there, but maybe I can forgive that. I’m not voting Erivo and I’m not voting Lupita, so I kinda have to make her the fifth choice. It also kinda plays if she gets nominated. You see only those two precursors and then go, “Yeah, I get it.” SAG and BAFTA would be things she got left off. BAFTA especially could have just been a foreign language kinda deal. Since they don’t really seem to nominate those performances. So yeah, I’ll make her fifth. Fuck it. I’m probably gonna be wrong, but she feels like the right choice here, absent the actual numbers, which point to someone I refuse to take because I’ve seen that play too many times.

And yes, I also realize I’m actively saying that SAG is gonna go 3/5 this year, when Best Actress at SAG has been statistically the most accurate predictor of all time. But realize… they went 3/5 four years ago. So it’s not like it hasn’t happened recently. I’m fine with my list and we’ll see how it goes. You do what you want, but this is where I’m comfortable.

Best Actress

Awkwafina, The Farewell

Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Renée Zellweger, Judy

First Alternate: Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Dark Horse: Lupita Nyong’o, Us

Surprise: Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose; Ana de Armas, Knives Out

Shocker: Alfre Woodard, Clemency… and anyone else not above this line, really.

Don’t even bother: Anyone else with precursors. But also, if you can make a case for someone else, I say you maybe could. But also… probably don’t.

Would love to see: Aisling Franciosi, The Nightingale; Cate Blanchett, Where’d You Go Bernadette

4/5 seems almost assured here. Top three seem locked and Saoirse seems likely. It’s that fifth spot. Awkafina, Erivo, Lupita. That’s it. Should be one of the three unless a foreign nominee comes totally out of nowhere. In which case, no one had it and we’re all wrong. I can’t see us going past that top seven though. Otherwise we’re talking about a larger situation where something overperformed or some real long shot came on.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Best Supporting Actor. You know what it do.

SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2018, 4/5. They had Timothée Chalamet instead of Sam Rockwell.
  • 2017, 4/5. They had Steve Carell instead of Christopher Plummer.
  • 2016, 4/5. They had Hugh Grant instead of Michael Shannon.
  • 2015, 3/5. They had Michael Shannon and Jacob Tremblay instead of Sylvester Stallone and Tom Hardy.
  • 2014, 5/5.
  • 2013, 3/5. SAG had James Gandolfini and Daniel Bruhl instead of Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill.
  • 2012, 4/5. SAG had Javier Bardem instead of Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011, 4/5. SAG had Armie Hammer, Academy had Max von Sydow.
  • 2010 + 2009, 5/5.
  • 2008, 4/5. SAG had Dev Patel instead of Michael Shannon.
  • 2007, 4/5. SAG had Tommy Lee Jones instead of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006, 4/5. SAG had Leo instead of Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Don Cheadle instead of William Hurt
  • 2004, 3/5. SAG had James Garner and Freddie Highmore instead of Alan Alda and Clive Owen.
  • 2003, 4/5. SAG had Chris Cooper instead of Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002, 3/5. SAG had Alfred Molina and Dennis Quaid instead of Paul Newman and John C. Reilly.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Hayden Christensen instead of Jon Voight.
  • 2000, 4/5. SAG had Gary Oldman instead of Benicio del Toro (who won SAG lead instead).
  • 1999, 4/5. SAG had Chris Cooper instead of Jude Law.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had David Kelly instead of Ed Harris.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Billy Connolly instead of Robert Forster.
  • 1996, 2/5. SAG missed Armin Mueller-Stahl, Edward Norton and James Woods. (They had Hank Azaria, Nathan Lane and Noah Taylor.)
  • 1995, 2/5. SAG missed Brad Pitt, Tim Roth and James Cromwell. (They had Kevin Bacon, Kenneth Branagh and Don Cheadle.)
  • 1994, 4/5. SAG had John Turturro instead of Paul Scofield. (Same film, though.)

They’ve matched the Oscar category 5/5 three times. 4/5 sixteen times. 3/5 four times. 2/5 twice. But the two times it was 2/5 were over 20 years ago. This, like all the other SAG categories, is essentially automatic for 3/5 or more.

Looking at how the other precursors did when SAG missed:

  • 2018, BAFTA and the Globes had Rockwell. BFCA did not.
  • 2017, BAFTA and the Globes had Plummer. BFCA did not.
  • 2016, BFCA had Shannon. BAFTA and the Globes did not. But interestingly, both had Aaron Taylor-Johnson instead, from the same film (he even won the Globe).
  • 2015, BFCA had both Hardy and Stallone. The Globes had Stallone. BAFTA had neither.
  • 2013, Everyone had Cooper. Nobody had Jonah Hill.
  • 2013, BAFTA and the Globes had Waltz (he won the Globe). BFCA did not.
  • 2011, Nobody had Max von Sydow.
  • 2008, Nobody had Michael Shannon.
  • 2007, Everybody had Hoffman.
  • 2006, The Globes had Wahlberg. BAFTA and BFCA did not.
  • 2005, Nobody had William Hurt.
  • 2004, BAFTA had both Alda and Owen. BFCA and the Globes had Owen (who won the Globe) but not Alda.
  • 2003, Nobody had Hounsou.
  • 2002, Everyone had Paul Newman. The Globes had Reilly. BAFTA and BFCA did not.
  • 2001, BFCA and the Globes had Voight. BAFTA did not. (But did nominate Eddie Murphy for Shrek. I’d like to mention.)
  • 2000, BAFTA and the Globes had del Toro (who won the Globe).
  • 1999, BAFTA and the Globes had Law.
  • 1998, BAFTA and the Globes had Harris (who won the Globe).
  • 1997, Nobody had Robert Forster.
  • 1996, BAFTA and the Globes had Norton (who won the Globe). The Globes had Woods. Nobody had Armin Mueller-Stahl.
  • 1995, BAFTA and the Globes had Roth. The Globes had Pitt (who won). BAFTA did not. Nobody had James Cromwell.
  • 1994: BAFTA had Paul Scofield. The Globes did not (they had John Turturro instead from the same film).

That’s five instances where someone got nominated without precursors:

  • 2013, Jonah Hill — he came along with Leo. Every time Leo’s been nominated lead, his supporting actor comes with him. Every time. I saw that one coming from a mile away (plus the performance was great, which helped).
  • 2011, Max von Sydow — he came totally out of nowhere, yet I had that. Don’t know how or why, but I did. All he had was a Boston Critics nomination and not much else.
  • 2008, Michael Shannon — he got a bunch of critics awards, so I think he was known. He looks to have been coming along with a just-missed Leo as well.
  • 2005, William Hurt — He won both LA and NY Critics awards. So that’ll explain that one.
  • 2003, Djimon Hounsou — Indie Spirit win, but other than that, I guess he came along with Morton.

Essentially, precursors have it, otherwise most of the time the person will be generally in the conversation in a film that’s in the awards conversation as a whole. So I wouldn’t be too worried.

This year:

  • SAG: Foxx, Hanks, Pacino, Pesci, Pitt
  • BAFTA: Hanks, Hopkins, Pacino, Pesci, Pitt
  • BFCA: Dafoe, Hanks, Hopkins, Pacino, Pesci, Pitt
  • Globes: Hanks, Hopkins, Pacino, Pesci, Pitt

Limited field, right? That’s the beautiful thing about it. One acting category is always like this.

  • Hanks — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Pacino — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Pesci — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Pitt — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Hopkins — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Foxx — SAG
  • Dafoe — BFCA

This’ll be quick.

Hanks, Pacino, Pesci and Pitt hit everything (and Pitt’s won BFCA and the Globe already). That’s four right there. Don’t fight it. Just go with it. You’re almost done.

Anthony Hopkins, meanwhile, hit everything except SAG. And what did SAG do? Went with Jamie Foxx, a younger, more popular (and black) actor. That fits their M.O. in recent years to a tee. (SAG more than anything else has overcorrected after ‘Oscars so white’ and force people of color on their lists, even when the performances aren’t all there.) Feels like he’s on that fifth spot.

Dafoe only has BFCA, which means nothing to me, really. It’s a tough film and I’m not sure they’re going there, even though that would give him three years of nominations in a row. Foxx has SAG, but that’s an empty nomination. No one saw that movie. I’m not considering him anything more than a legitimate surprise.

Truly, the only person I can see getting on instead of Hopkins in that fifth spot is Song Kang-ho, if they consider him more supporting than lead (because one critics group did vote him as Supporting Actor and not lead). But I don’t know how the ballots are gonna go there, so I’m not gonna try to predict it. But I will make him my alternate, because if it’s not Hopkins in the fifth spot, then it’s gotta be Song kang-ho or someone else from Parasite.

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Al Pacino, The Irishman

Joe Pesci, The Irishman

Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

First Alternate: Song Kango-ho, Parasite (if they’re considering him supporting)

Dark Horse: Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

Surprise: Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy; Lee Sun-kyun, Parasite; Choi Woo-sik, Parasite

Shocker: Literally anyone else. But to get names out there: Alan Alda, Marriage Story; Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit; Sterling K. Brown, Waves

Don’t even bother: Honestly, given how locked this is, you probably shouldn’t bother past Willem Dafoe in this one.

Would love to see: Chris Cooper, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; Christopher Plummer, Knives Out

This is the first category where I feel like I can easily go 5/5. It’s just the one spot I’m unsure about, and even that feels really solid based on the precursors. And I can’t predict how the Parasite acting nominations are gonna go, so absent of that, I feel really good about this one.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Supporting Actress. Last acting category.

Here’s SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2018, 3/5. SAG had Emily Blunt and Margot Robbie instead of Regina King and Marina de Tavira.
  • 2017, 3/5. SAG had Hong Chau and Holly Hunter instead of Lesley Manville and Octavia Spencer.
  • 2016, 5/5.
  • 2015, 4/5. SAG had Helen Mirren instead of Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Naomi Watts instead of Laura Dern.
  • 2013, 4/5. SAG had Oprah instead of Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, 3/5. SAG had Nicole Kidman and Maggie Smith instead of Amy Adams and Jacki Weaver.
  • 2011, 5/5.
  • 2010, 4/5. SAG had Mila Kunis instead of Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, 4/5. SAG had Diane Kruger instead of Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet (nominated for Best Actress) instead of Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, 4/5. SAG had Catherine Keener instead of Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2006 + 2005: 5/5.
  • 2004, 4/5. SAG had Cloris Leachman instead of Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, 3/5. SAG had Keisha Castle-Hughes (nominated for Best Actress) and Maria Bello instead of Shohreh Aghdashloo and Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 2002, 4/5. SAG had Michelle Pfeiffer instead of Meryl Streep.
  • 2001, 1/5. They only had Helen Mirren and missed Maggie Smith, Jennifer Connelly (nominated SAG lead), Marisa Tomei and Kate Winslet.
  • 2000, 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet instead of Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 1999, 3/5. SAG had Cameron Diaz and Julianne Moore instead of Samantha Morton and Toni Collette.
  • 1998, 5/5.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Alison Elliott instead of Joan Cusack.
  • 1996, 2/5. SAG had Marisa Tomei, Gwen Verdon and Renée Zellweger instead of Joan Allen, Barbara Hershey and Marianne Jean-Baptiste
  • 1995, SAG had Stockard Channing and Anjelica Huston instead of Joan Allen (nominated SAG lead) and Kathleen Quinlan.
  • 1994, 2/5. SAG had Jamie Lee Curtis, Sally Field and Robin Wright instead of Jennifer Tilly, Helen Mirren and Rosemary Harris.

SAG has matched the Oscar category 5/5 five times. 4/5 eleven times, 3/5 six times, 2/5 twice, and 1/5 once. (Though in that last case, the Oscar winner was put for SAG lead. So that’s kind of 2/5.) Still, slightly less reliable than the other categories, but they’re generally 3/5 or more (everything less was 2001 or prior).

In terms of everyone else picking up the slack:

  • 2018, BFCA and the Globes had King. BAFTA did not. Nobody had de Tavira.
  • 2017, Everyone had Spencer. Only BAFTA had Manville. BFCA and the Globes did not.
  • 2015, Everyone had Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • 2014, Nobody had Laura Dern
  • 2013, BAFTA and the Globes had Hawkins. BFCA did not.
  • 2012, Everyone had Amy Adams. No one had Jacki Weaver.
  • 2010, BFCA and the Globes had Weaver. BAFTA did not.
  • 2009, Nobody had Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, Everyone had Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, BAFTA and the Globes had Saoirse Ronan. BFCA did not.
  • 2004, Everyone had Natalie Portman (and she won the Globe).
  • 2003, BFCA had Marcia Gay Harden. BAFTA and the Globes did not. Nobody had Shohreh Aghdashloo.
  • 2002, Everyone had Meryl (and she won the Globe)
  • 2001, Everyone had Connelly (and so did SAG, just wrong category, which she won). BAFTA and the Globes had Smith and Winslet (BFCA had neither). BFCA and the Globes had Tomei (BAFTA did not).
  • 2000, Nobody had Marcia Gay Harden
  • 1999, The Globes had Morton. Nobody had Toni Collette.
  • 1997, The Globes had Cusack. BAFTA did not.
  • 1996, Everyone had Jean-Baptiste. The Globes had Allen and Hershey (BAFTA did not).
  • 1995, BAFTA had Allen (the Globes did not). The Globes had Quinlan (BAFTA did not).
  • 1994, Nobody had Jennifer Tilly, Helen Mirren and Rosemary Harris.

There’s a lot of Swiss cheese in this one. Nominees coming from all over the board. So you gotta, more so here than any other acting category, do some more puzzle-piecing.

There have been eight years in which people were nominated without precursors. Three of them happened pre-BFCA and one in the first year of SAG. 1994 we’ll just ignore. 1999, Toni Collette came along with her film after missing just about every critics award and the like. 2000, Marcia Gay Harden managed an Independent Spirit Award as well as LA, NY + Online Critics wins. So she was there.

In terms of the five post-BFCA ones:

  • 2018, Marina de Tavira was ineligible for at least two of those groups — SAG and BAFTA. I definitely considered her, but I didn’t think they’d go all in on multiple foreign nominees. But she was someone, without precursors, who did merit consideration.
  • 2014, Laura Dern managed a few critics nominations (Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Vancouver and DC) but no wins. She came along with Reese in a weak year.
  • 2012, Jacki Weaver came along with the film. No precursors so speak of, they just block-voted the film in every acting category.
  • 2009, Maggie Gyllenhaal had nothing and came along with Jeff Bridges. That was generally as big a surprise as one can get, next to Laura Dern.
  • 2003, Shohreh Aghdashloo came along with Ben Kingsley, but also did the Marcia Gay Harden thing (Indie Spirit, LA, NY + Online critics), so she was definitely in the conversation.

So it’s pretty much precursors, and then who’s coming along with their film. And if we’ve learned anything from last year, when the category doesn’t fully make sense, look for a foreign nominee.

Here are this year’s precursors:

  • SAG: Dern, Johansson, Kidman, Lopez, Robbie
  • BAFTA: Dern, Johansson, Pugh, Robbie, Robbie
  • BFCA: Dern, Johansson, Lopez, Pugh, Robbie, Shuzhen
  • Globes: Bates, Bening, Dern, Lopez, Robbie

Broken down for easy viewing:

  • Dern — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Robbie — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Johansson — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Lopez — SAG, BFCA, Globes
  • Pugh — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Kidman — SAG
  • Shuzhen — BFCA
  • Bates — Globes
  • Bening — Globes

Dern and Robbie hit everything. So that’s two. Scarlett hit SAG, BAFTA and BFCA and I’m pretty sure the Globes didn’t want to put her in both categories. So I feel pretty good about her as the third choice, even though that would only make her the twelfth person ever to be double nominated for acting.

And while we’re here, the other 11 are: Fay Bainter in 1938 (White Banners and Jezebel. She won Supporting for Jezebel), Teresa Wright in 1942 (Pride of the Yankees and Mrs. Miniver. She won Supporting for Miniver), Barry Fitzgerald in 1944 (both for Going My Way. He won Supporting), Jessica Lange in 1982 (Frances and Tootsie. She won Supporting for Tootsie), Sigourney Weaver in 1988 (Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl. She lost both), Al Pacino in 1992 (Scent of a Woman and Glengarry Glen Ross. He won lead for Scent of a Woman), Holly Hunter in 1993 (The Piano and The Firm. She won lead for The Piano), Emma Thomson also in 1993 (Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father. She lost both), Julianne Moore in 2002 (Far from Heaven and The Hours. She lost both), Jamie Foxx in 2004 (Ray and Collateral. He won lead for Ray) and Cate Blanchett in 2007 (Elizabeth: The Golden Age and I’m Not There. She lost both).

So yeah, that’s three. After that, it gets dicey.

I refuse to put Jennifer Lopez on the list. I just feel like that’s such a stupid thing to do. SAG is a popularity contest, the Globes are starfuckers and BFCA is unreliable and nominates extra people. I just don’t see it happening, and I have to do this every year. This category, though, it’s so weak that I could actually see it happening, which would doubly piss me off. Because the performance is not that good, she shouldn’t be nominated, and it’ll embolden the idiots who don’t know what they’re doing to assume this is just a regular thing. Which it’s not. If there’s one acting nomination I’m completely vested in seeing not happen, it’s this one. And I’ve got enough history to know this won’t happen. So I’m leaving her off until she gets on. Which is really making my life harder, because now I need to find two people to get on instead.

But… then we have Florence. BATA and BFCA. And SAG being a popularity contest and not caring about the Globes… I’m cool with putting her on. I need two spots and I’m running out of people. So she’s on fourth for me. I’m not totally sold on it, but between that movie and Midsommar, I think she’ll get votes, funneled into this category. I think she comes along with Saoirse.

That leaves one spot and no fucking help from the precursors. Annette Bening is never gonna happen at all, so just toss her off. Kathy Bates… she got NBR, then the Globe and then fell off the face of the fucking earth. In the absence of one of the big three, I can’t take her. I can see it happening, but that movie got zero support anywhere. So I’m not guessing it. I’d rather just have J-Lo on there instead. Nicole Kidman — only SAG, in a popularity contest. Robbie’s already getting on from that film in this category. Can’t see it being her. I mean, I could, but I can’t see me guessing her. And then there’s Zhao Shuzhen, who only has BFCA, but there’s that foreign film thing going on. So it could be her.

You know where I always go in a scenario like this — the puzzle pieces don’t fit, so look foreign. The other thing I’m gonna do, before I get into that… someone coming along with someone else. What person in another category can bring a nominee with them, a la Reese Witherspoon bringing Laura Dern along, or Jeff Bridges bringing Maggie Gyllenhaal along. That sort of thing. Leo’s bringing Pitt with him (not that Pitt needs it), Driver and Scarlett are leads and Dern is already on here. If anything they’re bringing a Supporting Actor with them and nominating across the board. Joaquin’s not bringing anyone, because the only person to bring is Zazie Beetz, who doesn’t have anything to do in that movie. Egerton’s not bringing anyone. Banderas isn’t bringing anyone. Saoirse is theoretically bringing Florence in my scenario. Charlize is theoretically bringing Margot. Zellweger’s not bringing anyone. Erivo wouldn’t be. Lupita wouldn’t be. Awkwafina would be bringing Zhao Shuzhen, who I’ve already got in contention for the spot. I mean, yeah. That’s about it.

In terms of foreign… it’s Parasite. It’s clearly Parasite. Problem is… who? Cheo Yeo-jeong makes the most sense, but there’s also Park So-dam and Lee Jeong-eun. Plus — they haven’t assigned categories to them even if people wanted to vote for them (as far as I know). So I don’t know what the fuck to do with them.

So this is what I’m gonna do — I’m gonna put Zhao Shuzhen as my fifth nominee. That’s my symbol for ‘a foreign nominee feels like it’s gonna be the fifth spot’. I think a Parasite nominee makes the most sense, but that lack of guiding the sheep toward the right category is scaring me. So I’ll make Cho Yeo-jeong (who feels like the most likely of the nominees) the First Alternate and put Shuzhen on the fifth spot and figure either of them makes the most sense. Because I just can’t see it being J-Lo. Maybe it is, but I just can’t see it. Anyone else becomes a surprise to me, if not an outright, “Holy shit.” So we’ll see.

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

First Alternate: Cho Yeo-jeong, Parasite

Dark Horse: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Surprise: Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

Shocker: Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit; Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

Don’t even bother: Annette Bening, The Report; And pretty much anyone else.

Would love to see: Zhao Shuzhen, Cho Yeo-jeong and Taylor Russell, Waves

I’ve got this penciled in as a 3/5 for me. I’m not sold on anyone past Dern and Margot. And even Scarlett I’m not 100% convinced on past the fact that there’s literally no one else. So I’ll assume those three make it. Past that… minefield. I think I can get Florence on, and if that’s the case, I’ll take 4/5 and fucking run, lest they find a way to take one of them away. I know that fifth spot is gonna be wrong. I hope it’s because Cheo Yeo-jeong or one of the other Parasite nominees gets on (and I’d rather just have Shuzhen there and be wrong rather than have one Parasite nominee and another makes it on instead. Though… what if two Parasite nominees got on? I keep seeing that scenario playing out in my head to explain why I’m having such trouble with this. But god, that’s too difficult to figure out. I’ll just do this and not give myself an aneurysm) and not J-Lo. But yeah, this category is the most perilous of the acting categories, and I’m fully expecting to get two wrong here. Safe bet is to put J-Lo on, even though I’m gonna be the first one to call everyone out on it when she doesn’t get nominated. I’m feeling foreign nominee here, though. I really am.

What kind of year is this that I could put money on who wins the acting categories better than I can for who gets nominated in them?

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Screenplay time. Original first.

This starts the block of tech categories, which means we look at each of the guilds and then the same three precursors as the others. Each one will have its own little wrinkle. The WGA in particular has the wrinkle of some scripts not having been eligible for nomination. So we’ll start with that.

Here’s a list of the films that were ineligible for the WGA this year: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pain and Glory, The Farewell, The Peanut Butter Falcon, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Waves, Midsommar, Judy, Downton Abbey, Toy Story 4. Also of note is that The Two Popes was deemed Original by the WGA while it is competing as Adapted at the Oscars. The same goes for Hustlers. So that’s why I won’t be mentioning either of those here.

Got it? Cool. Here are your precursors:

  • WGA: 1917, Booksmart, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Parasite
  • BAFTA: Booksmart, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
  • BFCA: The Farewell, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
  • Globes: Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite

Broken down:

  • Marriage Story — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Parasite — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Knives Out — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Booksmart — WGA, BAFTA
  • 1917 — WGA
  • The Farewell — BFCA

Well… Marriage Story hit everything, Parasite hit everything, and Quentin hit everything except the one thing he wasn’t eligible for (and has already won two Oscars for writing before despite never being eligible at that thing and won the Globe and BFCA already). So that makes our lives easier, doesn’t it? There’s three. Meanwhile, Knives Out hit everything but the Globes, which basically means it hit everything. So that’s four.

Look at how easy your life is right now. We’ve got four nominees without even trying. Now, of course, is where it gets interesting.

Only three other scripts hit precursors — Booksmart has the WGA and BAFTA, which is pretty big. If it were WGA, BFCA, I’d have said that’s like Eighth Grade last year, where it was only on because other stuff was ineligible and was never gonna get nominated. I might still say that, even. But both WGA and BAFTA does statistically make it the most likely to get on. 1917 got WGA, and normally I’d again discount that as being on because of ineligibility, but that movie’s gonna get nominated for the big stuff. And that can sometimes bring a script along too. The single take concept could make them wanna vote for it here. Plus, Mendes talking about his grandfather and all that… it could happen, though it’s a war movie and I find it hard to believe they’ll nominate something like that. Dunkirk required just as much writing as that did. Plus, no BAFTA. And that was its bread and butter.

The third script, meanwhile, is The Farewell. Which was ineligible for WGA, and got BFCA. The lack of a Globes nomination is meaningless, and no BAFTA pretty much just means they put Booksmart on over it. And, since I’m never sold on a comedy like that being nominated… I’ve just found my fifth nominee. And Booksmart is the alternate that could easily make it on. If you wanna play the numbers, put Booksmart. But that ineligibility for The Farewell could be the reason it looks that way.

Also, fun fact — since I realized I haven’t discussed any non-precursor films that could potentially get on, and thought of the obvious one first — did you know that Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have never been nominated for an Oscar? Not for Ed Wood, not for Man on the Moon, not for People vs. Larry Flynt. One Globe nomination, one WGA nomination (they won an honorary award and won for American Crime Story/OJ). Crazy, right? So yeah, maybe don’t guess Dolemite.

Best Original Screenplay

The Farewell

Knives Out

Marriage Story

Parasite

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

First Alternate: Booksmart

Dark Horse: 1917

Surprise: Dolemite Is My Name, Ford v Ferrari, Pain and Glory

Shocker: Uncut Gems, Bombshell, Us

Don’t even bother: Anything else, really. This one’s pretty top-heavy.

Would love to see: Waves

I’m feeling 4/5 here at least. I think if it’s not The Farewell, then it’s Booksmart and I’m just wrong and fine with it. And if it’s 1917, well then shit, they went all in on that movie. I’m good either way. Anything else would surprise us all, and I think these five feel like the right five. So I’ll take 4/5 and hope I get that last one.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Adapted Screenplay.

Precursors:

  • WGA: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women
  • BAFTA: The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, The Two Popes
  • BFCA: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, The Two Popes
  • Globes: The Irishman, The Two Popes

Broken down :

  • The Irishman — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Jojo Rabbit — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Joker — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Two Popes — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — WGA, BFCA
  • Little Women — WGA, BFCA

Well, shit. That’s easy, isn’t it? Only six options. And one sore thumb. Not that sore, but… you can see it, can’t you?

The Irishman hit everything including the Globes, and Jojo and Joker hit everything. So that’s three. Two Popes hit everything but WGA, but it was competing in Original there, which could tell you why. So that’s pretty much four, isn’t it?

Then for that fifth spot, Little Women and Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood both hit WGA and BFCA. But Little Women just won BFCA. So that made it easy. And Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood becomes the alternate. That sure feels like a 5/5 category to me, doesn’t it? (Note: The last Adapted Screenplay winner at BFCA to not be nominated at the Oscars was Gone Girl in 2014. Just FYI in case you wanna go there.)

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

The Two Popes

First Alternate: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Dark Horse: Hustlers

Surprise: Toy Story 4, Dark Waters

Shocker: Motherless Brooklyn, Just Mercy, Richard Jewell

Don’t even bother: Pretty much anything else, really.

Would love to see: Put Little Women and Jojo on, and I’m fine with whatever else happens.

This should be a pretty easy 5/5. Worst case, Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood gets on and I’m 4/5, and then we’re talking about what didn’t make it (please let it be Joker). So I’m good. Screenplays were pretty easy this year. I like that.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Okay, full on tech time. Best Editing.

Here are the last 15 Best Editing categories:

  • 2018: BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Vice
  • 2017: Baby DriverDunkirk, I Tonya, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  • 2016: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight
  • 2015: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • 2014: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash
  • 2013: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity
  • 2012: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
  • 2011: The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Moneyball
  • 2010: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network
  • 2009: Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious
  • 2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire
  • 2007: The Bourne UltimatumThe Diving Bell and the ButterflyInto the Wild, No Country, There Will Be Blood
  • 2006: Babel, Blood DiamondChildren of Men, The Departed, United 93
  • 2005: Crash, Cinderella ManThe Constant Gardener, Munich, Walk the Line
  • 2004: The Aviator, Collateral, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray

Everything underlined was not nominated for Best Picture. The idea is to show you how often, especially in the past decade, the Editing category is comprised almost entirely of films in the Best Picture race. The only times is hasn’t, going back to 2008 — Dark Knight just missed a Best Picture nomination, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Fincher/lots of editing, Star Wars everyone went nuts about and they rushed to nominate it (remember when stuff like BFCA reopened their nominees just to get Star Wars on after it made all the money in the world? How’s that looking now?), I, Tonya just missed a Best Picture nomination/lots of editing and Baby Driver is all about the editing.

And also, on the flip side, the last film (save Birdman, which, the appearance of no editing was the trick for that movie. Which I’ll remind you in advance that 1917 is also doing this year) won Best Picture without an Editing nomination was Ordinary People in 1980. That’s why it’s mostly Best Picture nominees. So basically, your Editing list is figuring out which Best Picture nominees are gonna be the big contenders, and then seeing if there’s anything flashy enough and classy enough to make it on without one. It’s more straightforward than you’d think.

ACE is the Editors Guild, and here’s them versus the Oscars:

  • 2018: 5/5.
  • 2017: 5/5.
  • 2016: 5/5.
  • 2015: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Spotlight.
  • 2014: 5/5.
  • 2013: 3/5. ACE didn’t have 12 Years a Slave or Dallas Buyers Club.
  • 2012 + 2011: 5/5.
  • 2010: 4/5. ACE didn’t have 127 Hours.
  • 2009: 3/5. ACE didn’t have Inglourious Basterds or Precious.
  • 2008: 5/5.
  • 2007: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
  • 2006: 3/5. ACE didn’t have Children or Men or Blood Diamond.
  • 2005: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Cinderella Man.
  • 2004: 5/5.
  • 2003: 4/5. ACE didn’t have City of God.
  • 2002: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Pianist.
  • 2001: 5/5.
  • 2000: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Wonder Boys.
  • 1999: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Cider House Rules.

It’s of note that ACE has two categories for editing, Dramatic and Musical/Comedy, which allows them more chances to be 5/5. But it’s important to note just how many times their lists give you the entire category. Typically you don’t really have to look too much further past them and are really just looking to see which other precursors nominated stuff the most.

Anyway, to go further like we did with the other categories, here’s how much they all picked up whatever slack ACE had (it’s just BAFTA and BFCA. The Globes don’t have an Editing category. And BFCA’s category only goes back to 2009.):

  • 2015, BFCA had Spotlight. BAFTA did not.
  • 2013, BAFTA and BFCA both had 12 Years a Slave. Neither had Dallas Buyers Club.
  • 2010, BAFTA and BFCA had 127 Hours.
  • 2009, BAFTA and BFCA had Inglourious Basterds. Neither had Precious.
  • 2007, BAFTA did not have The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • 2006, BAFTA did not have Children of Men or Blood Diamond
  • 2005, BAFTA did not have Cinderella Man
  • 2003, BAFTA had City of God, but nominated it in 2002
  • 2000, BAFTA did not have Wonder Boys
  • 1999, BAFTA did not have The Cider House Rules

So since 2009, we’ve only had two Editing nominees that did not hit any of the guilds. And both were Best Picture nominees that ended up getting more support than originally anticipated. More so Dallas Buyers Club, which no one thought would get that Editing nomination. You’re gonna do okay looking at all the precursors, figuring out which films seem to be in major Best Picture contention, and then using common sense.

Here’s how the guilds look this year:

  • ACE Drama: Ford v Ferarri, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story, Parasite
  • ACE Comedy: Dolemite Is My Name, The Farewell, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • BAFTA: Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • BFCA: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, Uncut Gems

Breakdown of that:

  • Ford v Ferrari — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Irishman — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Jojo Rabbit — ACE, BAFTA
  • Joker — ACE, BAFTA
  • Parasite — ACE, BFCA
  • Dolemite Is My Name — ACE
  • The Farewell — ACE
  • Knives Out — ACE
  • Marriage Story — ACE
  • 1917 — BFCA
  • Uncut Gems — BFCA

First — that BFCA Editing nomination (and win!) for 1917 really makes it look like they didn’t watch the movie when they nominated it, doesn’t it? What is this, jazz? You’re voting for the notes that aren’t there? Granted, Birdman did get precursors in its year (it also won BFCA) and in a way you’re voting for all the editing that’s hidden in the movie. I get it. But also… come on, buddy.

And yes, that means don’t guess 1917 on your life. It’s okay. It can still be a major Best Picture nominee without being nominated for Editing. It’s a loophole. Only in an extreme circumstance of love will they nominate it. Don’t assume that and just let it happen. If you wanna go there, I guess go ahead. But I can see five easier choices than that while still maintaining the integrity and contender status of that film.

Meanwhile, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman and Once Upon a Time hit everything. The latter two are major Best Picture contenders and Ford v Ferrari is a racing movie that looks in line for tech awards and is 50/50 for a Best Picture nomination. I think you’re good with guessing those three. Maybe Ford v Ferrari gets left off in favor of an extra Picture/Director contender, but I think you’re good. (Imagine the war film without editing over the car film with lots of editing… I shudder to think of it.)

So you’ve got three and two spots remaining. Jojo and Joker got the guild and got BAFTA. Parasite got the guild and got BFCA. That’s three for two spots right there. And Parasite I’m just assuming happens. It’s one of the most lauded films of the year. They’d have to be nuts to leave it off Editing at this point. So it’s one spot and I’ve already got two contenders for it.

But before I figure that out, let’s look at the other ones just to make sure that’s all we’re dealing with:

Uncut Gems only hit BFCA and everyone else ignored it. Maybe in a guild circumstance would I consider it. But now, no. Too many Picture contenders. Same for Dolemite. So toss those off. The Farewell is a fringe Picture contender, and would really have to have a Dallas Buyers Club-like showing to get on here. And without guaranteed acting nominations like that film had, I can’t guess it. So that’s off too. 1917, I already said… let it beat you. So it’s just Knives Out and Marriage Story, which both got guild nominations. And then, checking the Best Picture contenders list, Little Women you have to also consider. I don’t see anything else outside of the Picture range with flashy enough editing to make it, especially since Ford v Ferrari is that contender that straddles both worlds. So I’m feeling like it’s all Picture nominees this year, with that one as the potential non-nominee.

Also, keep in mind, things can get a Picture nomination without an Editing nomination. That’s allowed. In the case of Little Women, no one thinks it can win Picture. Unless you think it’s gonna show out and get like six or seven nominations (Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay, Costumes and then this, Director or Production Design), then by all means, go ahead. More than likely, for that movie — Picture, Actress, Screenplay, Costumes and then maybe one or two more. So I’m not running to put it on here. And Knives Out — very fringe Picture contender. But the editing is flashy and essential to the film, so I’m not ruling it out, but I’m also not gonna guess it. I need to see them go there and over-support it.

Marriage Story is one that I can see happening. Think about it — Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay. That’s five. That’s before you consider the likely Score nomination as six. Director is open, which means potentially seven. Editing fits, even without Director. Though without Director, it’s had to see them going here. Because I don’t see it as a potential winner. But Editing will tell you how much they support it. So that’s one. And then there’s Jojo and Joker, which have the precursor support you want to see. So it’s one of three for that last spot.

And honestly, it’s just gonna come down to which one you think has the real Picture support. Joker is the one that could get on regardless, even if it’s not a major Picture contender, just because they’ll think of it as an ‘action’ type movie. I know it’s not, but some people will have it in that box and feel like they could vote for it in Editing. Jojo just has the support all around. And Marriage Story could have the support all around to get it on Editing too.

Personally… I think I’m going Jojo. Joker or Marriage Story also make total sense to me. But Joker, I just can’t see that getting like eight or ten nominations. Think about it — Picture, Director, Actor, Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Score, Production Design, Costumes, Makeup, maybe Sound Editing or Sound Mixing. That’s 12 max. I don’t see it getting to 12. I just don’t. That would be insane. So I see it being left off certain categories. I have it off Director already. It should get Picture no problem, given the broad support. Actor is a lock. This one is not, but could easily be on. Cinematography we’ll get to next, but it feels likely. Score seems like a lock. Production Design we’ll see. Costumes maybe, maybe not. Makeup probably. And then Sound I don’t know at all. I feel like it does 7 or 8 and misses Director and Editing. Or at least one of them. That’s my gut. So I’m leaving it off here and seeing what they do.

Jojo feels like it’s got this love out there, and BAFTA putting in on their list is the thing that made me feel that way. I know Joker did way more at the BAFTAs than Jojo did, but that DGA thing… Jojo makes sense to me. And then Marriage Story also feels like one they could sneak on if they really love it.

What I really wanna see is if they leave Ford v Ferrari off in favor of two of the three. And if they leave Parasite off entirely. I don’t see it happening, but… I don’t trust them, either.

Best Editing

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

First Alternate: Joker

Dark Horse: Marriage Story

Surprise: 1917, Little Women, Knives Out

Shocker: The Farewell, Uncut Gems, Dolemite Is My Name

Don’t even bother: With literally anything else. Nothing was that flashy and remotely in Oscar consideration to overcome all those Best Picture contenders at the top. Let them beat you.

Would love to see: Honestly, that category I guessed.

I’m feeling 4/5 here, maybe 5/5, but probably 4/5. The only way I go 3/5 is if they leave Ford v Ferrari (or Parasite, but more than likely Ford v Ferrari) off and then put on both Joker and Marriage Story instead, or 1917 and something else (which would be insane). And you know what? I can live with that. I won’t love it, but I can live with it. I think it’s 4/5 and Jojo versus the others for the fifth spot makes the most sense. Or Jojo gets on, Ford v Ferrari is off and one of them gets on instead. We’ll see. I don’t think we go past top seven in this one, with 1917 being the ‘they were stupid’ option at eighth.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Cinematography.

ASC is the guild, and we’ve got BAFTA and BFCA to back them up. Though BFCA only started with their category in 2009. But that’s a solid decade. Just know that past that, it gets flimsier.

Here’s ASC vs. the Oscars (I went all the way back, because I could):

  • 2018: 4/5. ASC had First Man, missed Never Look Away.
  • 2017: 5/5.
  • 2016: 5/5.
  • 2015, 4/5. ASC had Bridge of Spies, missed The Hateful Eight.
  • 2014: 4/5. ASC had The Imitation Game, missed Ida.
  • 2013: 5/5.
  • 2012: 4/5. ASC had Les Mis, missed Django.
  • 2011: 4/5. ASC had Tinker Tailor, missed War Horse.
  • 2010: 5/5.
  • 2009: 4/5. ASC had Nine, missed Half-Blood Prince.
  • 2008: 4/5. ASC had Revolutionary Road, missed Changeling.
  • 2007: 5/5.
  • 2006: 3/5. ASC had The Good Shepard and Apocalypto, missed Pan’s Labyrinth and The Prestige.
  • 2005: 4/5. ASC had King Kong, missed The New World.
  • 2004: 3/5. ASC had Collateral and Ray, missed House of Flying Daggers and Phantom of the Opera.
  • 2003: 3/5. ASC had Last Samurai and Return of the King, missed City of God and Girl with a Pearl Earring.
  • 2002: 4/5. ASC had Frida, missed Chicago.
  • 2001: 4/5. ASC had Pearl Harbor, missed Black Hawk Down.
  • 2000: 4/5. ASC had The Perfect Storm, missed Malena.
  • 1999: 4/5. ASC had The Sixth Sense, missed The End of the Affair.
  • 1998: 4/5. ASC had The Horse Whisperer, missed A Civil Action.
  • 1997: 4/5. ASC had The Boxer, missed The Wings of the Dove.
  • 1996: 5/5.
  • 1995: 2/5. ASC had Apollo 13, The Bridges of Madison County, Crimson Tide and Se7en (six nominees), missed A Little Princess, Sense and Sensibility and Shanghai Triad.
  • 1994: 4/5. ASC had Love Affair, missed Three Colors: Red.
  • 1993: 4/5. ASC had Heaven & Earth, missed Farewell My Concubine.

They’re very solid in the past decade, which is really what we want them to be.

Crosslisting with BAFTA and BFCA:

  • 2018: Neither BAFTA nor BFCA had Never Look Away.
  • 2015, BFCA had The Hateful Eight. BAFTA did not.
  • 2014: BAFTA had Ida. BFCA did not.
  • 2012: Neither BAFTA nor BFCA had Django.
  • 2011: BAFTA and BFCA had War Horse.
  • 2009: Neither BAFTA nor BFCA had Half-Blood Prince.
  • 2008, BAFTA had Changeling.
  • 2006, BAFTA had Pan’s Labyrinth but missed The Prestige.
  • 2005, BAFTA missed The New World
  • 2004, BAFTA had House of Flying Daggers but missed Phantom of the Opera
  • 2003, BAFTA had Girl with a Peal Earring but missed City of God.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Chicago.
  • 2001, BAFTA had Black Hawk Down.
  • 2000, BAFTA missed Malena.
  • 1999, BAFTA had The End of the Affair
  • 1998, BAFTA missed A Civil Action
  • 1997, BAFTA had The Wings of the Dove (which won)
  • 1995, BAFTA had Sense and Sensibility but missed A Little Princess and Shanghai Triad
  • 1995: A Little Princess, Sense and Sensibility and Shanghai Triad.
  • 1994: BAFTA did not have Three Colors: Red.
  • 1993: BAFTA did not have Farewell My Concubine.

Since 2009, only three times did they all miss. One was Half-Blood Prince, which I couldn’t tell you about. That was just before I started doing this, and Potter never really got nominations. So I don’t know where it came from. One was Django, which was Bob Richardson and we all kinda knew that was probably gonna get nominated. And the other was Never Look Away last year, which came totally out of nowhere, even though it’s Caleb Deschanel, whose been nominated six times. But really what that tells you is, when you’ve got all three precursors, they’re gonna give you everything you need almost every time.

This year’s precursors:

  • ASC: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • BAFTA: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, The Lighthouse
  • BFCA: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, The Lighthouse, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Also of note is that ASC did give a spotlight award to The Lighthouse.

Broken down:

  • 1917 — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Ford v Ferrari — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Irishman — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Joker — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Lighthouse — BAFTA, BFCA, (ASC honorary award)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — ASC, BFCA

Six choices, and they all hit just about everything. Ain’t that interesting.

So I guess the thing to do now is run down who the cinematographers for each one are. Because you have to realize… this is a guild. They vote for what they like, but they also have people they like.

  • 1917 is Roger Deakins. And it’s a one-take film. I think we’re done here. (He also just won BFCA.)
  • Ford v Ferrari is Phedon Papamichael. One previous nomination, for Nebraska. This is only his second ASC and BAFTA nomination, after Nebraska.
  • The Irishman is Rodrigo Prieto. Two previous nominations, for Brokeback Mountain and Silence. So his last Scorsese effort was nominated. Three previous ASC nominations, for the two aforementioned films and Frida. This is his first BFCA nomination.
  • Joker is Lawrence Sher. Never nominated anywhere before.
  • The Lighthouse is Jarin Blaschke. Also never nominated and really the definition of a newcomer.
  • Once Upon a Time is Bob Richardson. Three previous Oscar wins and nine previous nominations. He’s been nominated for three Quentin films in a row, Basterds, Django, Hateful Eight.

So yeah, looking at that… I think you wanna go 1917 and Once Upon a Time to start. The rest you can fuck around with, but those two you do not.

After that… they all basically hit everything. Lighthouse didn’t make the ASC list but they liked it enough to give it a special award. The only other film to miss something was Richardson missing BAFTA, which means nothing to me. It’s getting on.

So I’ve got four films and three spots: Ford v Ferrari, Irishman, Joker, Lighthouse. What does one do?

First off, they fucking love black and white stuff, so on that alone, I’m looking strongly at Lighthouse. Joker hit everything, so that also seems strong. Irishman is Prieto, and that feels like it gives him a leg up on everyone else, even though I can’t say I was in love with the cinematography there. But also, the digital aspect is technically a part of the cinematography. Avatar won this category. So who knows what they’re gonna do there. And Ford v Ferrari looked amazing, but I can’t help but feel like that’s the creative straggler in their minds. That feels like the one most likely to be left off. So I don’t know.

Good news is, there are only six choices so you’re bound to get 4/5 or 5/5. Bad news is, you gotta make a cut somewhere.

I’m gonna make my cut this way — I’m gonna assume Joker is on, because I can only be wrong and happy (even though the cinematography was the best part of that entire movie). I’m gonna just assume they are the group I know and figure they’ll salivate over The Lighthouse (which I’d also have nominated, so I’m right with them there), and I’m gonna put The Irishman on because it’s Scorsese and then leave off Ford v Ferrari. I’d like to see it nominated, but I’m just feeling like that’s the one they leave off. Maybe they leave Lighthouse off and that would be the first time ever they didn’t take the bait of a black and white film. My gut says leave off The Irishman and go all in on that, but that’s stupid. Though I might be crazy having two first-time nominees on this list. But it is what it is. I’m going with this and I’m thinking most that can happen is I miss the one and that’s okay.

Best Cinematography

1917

The Irishman

Joker

The Lighthouse

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

First Alternate: Ford v Ferrari

Dark Horse: Little Women

Surprise: A Hidden Life, Parasite

Shocker: Jojo Rabbit, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Ad Astra

Don’t even bother: Marriage Story, Motherless Brooklyn

Would love to see: Waves, Little Women

Notice how I didn’t talk at all up there about alternatives. That’s because you’ve got six really strong contenders, to the point where you almost hope for a tie and six nominees. You’re basically guaranteed for either 4/5 or 5/5. You’re gonna have to get lucky with that fifth spot. That’s just how that goes. No one can call this category dead to rights. You can be confident, but it’s not a gimme 5/5. So take your four and hope for the best on the fifth nominee.

I wouldn’t advocate for it, but if anything but those six is gonna make it on — Little Women makes the most sense. Parasite could sneak on because of overall support, and then you figure Hidden Life because it’s Terrence Malick, but his films haven’t gotten nominated since Tree of Life. So I doubt that one. Ad Astra is Hoyte, which they could go for, but without precursors, I doubt it. And Jojo would be a real surprise, so I wouldn’t do that. I think stick with your top six and hope you get it right.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Original Score.

This category’s gotten easier for us because now we have a shortlist to work with, on top of the three precursors: BAFTA, BFCA and the Globes.

I made this list last year that I like, so I’ll use it again. It shows, going back to 2005, how precursors each of the nominees hit (with any Extras in parentheses, meaning they were nominated for precursors but not nominated for the Oscar):

  • 2018 — Mary Poppins Returns and Isle of Dogs his every precursor. Black Panther (BFCA, Globes) and Beale Street (BAFTA, BFCA) had two precursors. BlacKkKlasman (BAFTA) had one precursor. 5/5. (Extras: First Man, A Quiet Place.)
  • 2017 — The Shape of Water, Dunkirk and Phantom thread hit every precursor. Three Billboards had one precursor (Globes). Star Wars had no precursors. 4/5. (Extras: Blade Runner, Darkest Hour, The Post.)
  • 2016 — La La Land and Lion hit every precursor. Jackie and Moonlight had two precursors (BAFTA, BFCA). Passengers had no precursors. 4/5. (Extras: Hidden Figures, Nocturnal Animals.)
  • 2015 — The Hateful Eight hit all precursors. Sicario had two precursors (BAFTA, BFCA). Carol had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). Star Wars had one precursor (BAFTA). Bridge of Spies had one precursor (BAFTA). 5/5. (Extras: Spotlight, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl.)
  • 2014 — Interstellar and The Theory of Everything hit every precursor. The Imitation Game had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). Grand Budapest Hotel had one precursor (BAFTA). Mr. Turner had no precursors. 4/5. (Extras: Under the Skin, Gone Girl.)
  • 2013 — Gravity hit every precursor. Saving Mr. Banks had two precursors (BAFTA, BFCA). The Book Thief had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). Her had one precursor (BCA). Philomena had no precursors. 4/5. (Note: 12 Years a Slave hit every precursor and was not nominated.) (Extras: 12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, Mandela, Captain Phillips.)
  • 2012 — Argo, Life of Pi and Lincoln hit every precursor. Anna Karenina had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). Skyfall had one precursor (BAFTA). 5/5. (Extras: Cloud Atlas, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom.)
  • 2011 — The Artist, Hugo and War Horse hit every precursor.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had one precursor (BAFTA). Tintin had no precursors. 4/5. (Note: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hit every precursor and was not nominated.) (Extras: W.E., Drive, Dragon Tattoo)
  • 2010 — Inception and The King’s Speech hit every precursor. The Social Network had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). 127 Hours had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). How to Train Your Dragon had one precursor (BAFTA). 5/5. (Extras: Black Swan, True Grit, Alice in Wonderland x2.)
  • 2009 — Up hit every precursor. Avatar had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). Fantastic Mr. Fox had one precursor (BAFTA). Sherlock Holmes had one precursor (BFCA). The Hurt Locker had no precursors. 4/5.
  • 2008 — Benjamin Button hit ever precursor. Slumdog Millionaire had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). Wall-E (BAFTA), Defiance (Globes) and Milk (BFCA) each had one precursor. 5/5.
  • 2007 — Atonement hit every precursor. The Kite Runner had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). 3:10 to Yuma had one precursor (BFCA). Michael Clayton and Ratatouille had no precursors. 3/5.
  • 2006 — Babel hit every precursor. The Queen had one precursor (BAFTA). The Good German had one precursor (BFCA). Notes on a Scandal and Pan’s Labyrinth had no precursors. 3/5.
  • 2005 — Brokeback Mountain hit every precursor. Memoirs of a Geisha had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). The Constant Gardener had one precursor (BAFTA). Munich and Pride & Prejudice had no precursors. 3/5.

Looking at this, odds are you’re pretty good for 4/5 just by precursors and intuition. And we have a shortlist to help us out even more. So there’s a limited field that can beat you.

Here’s the shortlist for this year:

1917, Thomas Newman
Avengers: Endgame
, Alan Silvestri
Bombshell, Theodore Shapiro
The Farewell, Alex Weston
Ford v Ferrari, Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders
Frozen II, Christophe Beck
Jojo Rabbit, Michael Giacchino
Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir
The King, Nicholas Britell
Little Women, Alexandre Desplat
Marriage Story, Randy Newman
Motherless Brooklyn, Daniel Pemberton
Pain and Glory, Alberto Iglesias
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams
Us, Michael Abels

No one’s doubled up, so that’s good. No figuring out ‘will they be nominated for this or that’. Otherwise, another thing I’d like to point out, before we get into precursors, is which of these people (some are obvious, clearly) have been nominated a bunch and which haven’t been nominated at all. The branch itself picks the nominees, so it’s important to know which people they favor in general outside of just the work:

  • Thomas Newman has been nominated for 14 Oscars and has never won. His first nomination was, coincidentally, for Little Women (and Shawshank. Double nominee that year) in 1994. He’s been nominated four times this decade, for Skyfall, Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies and Passengers. It should also be noted that he has been nominated three times for Sam Mendes films — American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Skyfall.
  • Alan Silverstri has been nominated for two Oscars (Score for Forrest Gump and Song for Polar Express). His last nomination for Score was 25 years ago and the only Marvel film to get nominated for Score was Black Panther last year, which was kind of a special circumstance (aka we wanna look good so we’re gonna nominate it everywhere so people get off our backs about not voting for people of color).
  • Theodore Shapiro has never been nominated for an Oscar. He scored a lot of comedies and this is the first time he’s done anything that would be close to being considered for a nomination (save maybe Trumbo, also for Jay Roach).
  • Alex Weston has never been nominated for an Oscar, and this is really his first major film that he’s scored as well.
  • Marco Beltrami has been nominated twice, for 3:10 to Yuma and The Hurt Locker. Buck Sanders has been nominated once, sharing the Hurt Locker nomination with Beltrami. It’s been a decade since that last nomination.
  • Christophe Beck has never been nominated for an Oscar. It should be noted that he did score the first Frozen and was not nominated for it.
  • Michael Giacchino has been nominated twice, both for Pixar films, Ratatouille and Up (which he won for). He’s never been nominated outside of his Pixar scores.
  • Hildur Guðnadóttir has never been nominated, though she is the protege of Jóhann Jóhannsson, who was nominated twice (for Theory of Everything and Arrival).
  • Nicholas Britell has been nominated for two Oscars (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk).
  • Alexandre Desplat has ten nominations and two wins. All his nominations have come between 2006 and now, and his two wins were for Grand Budapest Hotel and Shape of Water.
  • Randy Newman has been nominated for 20 Oscars. 13 have been in Song and 7 have been in Score. He’s won twice, both for Pixar and both in Song (Monsters Inc, Toy Story 3). His last nomination was in 2010. His last non-Disney/Pixar nomination was in 2000, and his last Score nomination was in 1998. Been a while for him.
  • Daniel Pemberton has never been nominated for an Oscar, despite three Golden Globe nominations in the past four years (two for Score one for Song). He’s definitely on the come-up (he did Spider-Verse last year, bandwagon-ers).
  • Alberto Iglesias has been nominated three times, for The Constant Gardener, The Kite Runner and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It should be noted that the last nominated score for a film not at least partially in English is Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006. Before that, Ennio Morricone for Maléna in 2000. It’s rare, is my point.
  • John Williams — everybody knows this. 51 nominations. 46 for Score, 5 for Song. 5 wins (Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., Schindler’s List). At this point, if he scores a film, he gets nominated. We’ll get into that in a second. But it’s basically true.
  • Michael Abels has never been nominated for an Oscar. Us is only his second film score, after Get Out.

Okay, now back to the John Williams thing, because it’s insane.

Of the past 30 years, John Williams has composed at least one score eligible to be nominated in 22 of them. He has been nominated in 19 of those years. Get that? In 30 years, he has 22 years in which he’s written film scores. Meaning he could only have been nominated 22 times (meaning years. Not number of nominations). And he’s been nominated in 19 of those 22 years.

Oh, but it gets better — in 7 of those 19 years, he has multiple nominations. Most of the time it’s double Score nominations, but sometimes there’s a Song in there too, sometimes he’s got multiple Scores and a Song nomination. It’s crazy. The three years in which he was not nominated of the 22 times he could have been were 1992, where he scored Home Alone II and Far and Away, 2008, where he scored Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and 2016, where he scored The BFG. So unless it’s truly a lesser film, they’re going to nominate him. Which is great. Because it sure as hell makes your life easier for this category, doesn’t it?

Here are the precursors for this year:

  • BAFTA: 1917, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • BFCA: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Us
  • Globes: 1917, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Motherless Brooklyn

Breakdown:

  • 1917 — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Joker — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes* (won)
  • Little Women — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Marriage Story — BFCA, Globes
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — BAFTA
  • Jojo Rabbit — BAFTA
  • Motherless Brooklyn — Globes
  • Us — BFCA

Only eight shortlisted scores hit precursors. In the past decade (2009-2018), of 100 nominated scores, only six nominated scores did not hit a single precursor. They are:

  • 2009, The Hurt Locker (Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders).
  • 2011, The Adventures of Tintin (John Williams)
  • 2013, Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
  • 2014, Mr. Turner (Gary Yershon)
  • 2016, Passengers (Thomas Newman)
  • 2017, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (John Williams)

So two John Williams, two Best Picture nominees, Thomas Newman coming out of nowhere, and Mr. Turner, which I can’t explain. I can live with that.

I said eight scores hit precursors. The seven that did not are: Bombshell, Endgame, The Farewell, Ford v Ferrari, Frozen, The King and Pain and Glory. Having listened to all of them, and having done this for a long time… you can disregard basically all of them. I’d say don’t entirely throw out Pain and Glory or Ford v Ferrari just yet, but don’t get ready to put it on your guesses list either.

Bombshell is a new composer and would have needed major precursors to get on. Frozen is a sequel when the first one wasn’t nominated, and that’s just not going to happen. So that’s off too. The Farewell isn’t much of a score, plus a first-timer… can’t see it without precursors. The King is Nicholas Britell, who has been nominated twice… but for Barry Jenkins films. And I can’t tell if they’re nominating the collaboration or him. And The King is not on the level of those two scores. So I feel okay telling you to skip that one too. Oh, and Endgame… yeah, don’t guess that. So that’s five off and we’re left with ten overall choices.

Now, of the two that didn’t get precursors — Iglesias has been nominated three times, but no foreign score has been nominated since Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006, and when you look before that, it’s Morricone in 2000. Before that, I guess if you wanna count The Red Violin in 1999. You gotta go back a long way before that (like… 1971). So probably don’t guess him and just let it happen if it’s gonna. And then there’s Beltrami and Sanders, who have gotten on without a precursor before. But for The Hurt Locker. Can’t see them doing it here, since the score is nice, but it’s not the kind of score they normally go for. I think you’re good without it. It’s a Dark Horse at best.

Okay, so now, eight scores with precursors, and we’re only dealing with those eight. One of them is already on, and that’s Star Wars. You don’t wanna guess against John Williams doing Star Wars. And then… 1917, Joker and Little Women hit every precursor, and Joker’s already got two wins (BFCA, Globes). So probably put those on too. Which is four right there. That’s pretty simple.

So that leaves four scores, two spots. Us only has a BFCA nomination, and honestly even with that, I almost told you to throw it away up there. Abels has only scored two films, both for Jordan Peele, and it just doesn’t feel like a score they’re gonna go for unless it was majorly in contention (and even then). BFCA also nominated six, and that’s clearly #6. So don’t guess that. Dark Horse at best. I think you guys know better than that.

Motherless Brooklyn… would be cool, Pemberton is a great composer. But a Globes Score nomination and nothing else doesn’t inspire much confidence, he’s never been nominated yet and the film is going to get approximately zero other nominations. And, fun fact — do you know the last time a film was nominated for just Original Score and nothing else? Bet you thought it happened fairly frequently as I did. You wanna know when it was? 2013, The Book Thief. John Williams. Wanna know the last time it’s happened when John Williams wasn’t involved? 2008. Defiance. That got on with just a Globes nomination. But that was James Newton Howard, who’s been nominated eight times. And that was his eighth nomination. Wanna know the last time a first time nominee got on Score as their film’s only nomination? If we’re talking just for Score and not first overall nomination, then it’s Marc Shaiman in 1995 for The American President (though he’d previously been nominated for Song in 1993). Before that, you have three people in 1984, but that is for “Original Song Score” and not just Score. Meaning… songs. Because Kris Kristofferon and Prince were nominated there. Fucking Purple Rain won. So we’re in 1984 and I’m still looking for a straight Score nomination that is the only nomination from a film and the composer is a first time nominee. And you know where I found it? 1975. Birds Do It, Bees Do It. A fucking documentary (and yes, that’s a pun). So I had to go back that far to find that. Wanna play those odds? I don’t.

So that leaves two scores left that you could reasonably put on. One is Marriage Story and one is Jojo Rabbit. Marriage Story has BFCA and the Globes and is Randy Newman (who scored both a Marriage Story and a Toy Story this year), and Jojo got BAFTA and is Michael Giacchino. Randy hasn’t been nominated for Score in 21 years and Giacchino has never been nominated outside of Pixar. He won for Up and was nominated for Ratatouille and that’s it. And honestly, I’ve played those odds most other years and have been right, so I’ll keep playing them. Give me Randy and I’m really fucking confident in those five, because I can’t see them going past like, the top 7. Maybe. And if they go past #6, they’re going way off the reservation. So I think I might have a legit 5/5 here.

Best Original Score

1917

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

First Alternate: Jojo Rabbit

Dark Horse: Ford v Ferrari

Surprise: Bombshell, Motherless Brooklyn, Us

Shocker: The King, Avengers: Endgame, Pain and Glory

Don’t even bother: The Farewell, Frozen II

Would love to see: From the shortlist? Jojo and Motherless Brooklyn, aside from Little Women, which should win.

I think this is 5/5. I can’t see them going elsewhere. Jojo is the only score that makes sense for them, maybe Ford v Ferrari, but even that one I can’t really see. It’s those five and it’s Jojo and after that, it’s a surprise because they went for something without precursors, which has only happened six times in the past decade, two of which were John Williams, which means four times in the past decade. And one was Desplat, one was Thomas Newman, who are both already on. The other was Beltrami and Sanders for The Hurt Locker, a big Best Picture film, and the other is a legit ‘out of nowhere’. I can live with twice. Give me these five and then Jojo or Ford as an alternate. Which I don’t even think is happening. I think it’s these five.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Original Song.

It’s the second year of the shortlist, but fortunately this year we were able to get a hold of all the eligible songs. Which basically just confirms how shitty a year it is for original songs. But at least I don’t feel as bad with the shortlist being what it is. But because there are no real precursors here, we’re basically just guessing from the shortlist and hoping for the best. We always did that and I forgot how perilous that was. At least the shortlist makes me feel like the floor is higher, but still… you could go 2/5 here. You don’t know.

We’ll start with the shortlist itself:

“Speechless” from Aladdin
“Letter To My Godfather” from The Black Godfather
“I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough
“Da Bronx” from The Bronx USA
“Into The Unknown” from Frozen II
“Stand Up” from Harriet
“Catchy Song” from The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
“Never Too Late” from The Lion King
“Spirit” from The Lion King
“Daily Battles” from Motherless Brooklyn
“A Glass of Soju” from Parasite
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
“High Above The Water” from Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
“Glasgow,” from Wild Rose

And now the two precursors that even give a Song award:

BFCA: “Glasgow,” “I’m Standing with You,” “Into the Unknown,” “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” “Speechless,” “Spirit,” “Stand Up”

Globes: “Into the Unknown,” “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” “Spirit,” “Stand Up”

The Globes are starfuckers and BFCA nominated half the goddamn shortlist. This is no help. We’re just guessing straight up blindly. Which is where we normally are, only with some help since at least we’re not guessing 5 from like 30 and it’s 5 of 15. I think we can do fairly well with this.

So to start — outside of a major star doing it or J. Ralph, who seemed to just get nominated a bunch in the past decade, we rarely get a song coming completely out of nowhere. Usually it’s attached to a film you recognize or you can see it coming based on who wrote it. So, knowing that, I feel pretty good telling you not to bother with “Da Bronx.” I also feel confident telling you to skip “Never Too Late,” because if they’re nominating Elton, it’s not gonna be for that. I know better than to tell you to vote for Thom Yorke, even though this is his second shortlist in a row. And as much as I’d like to see it, I can’t see them going there out of nowhere. (But fuck, would I love that.) Though hey, if he gets nominated then the Daniel Pemberton in Score possibility just increased! But yeah, probably don’t guess Thom Yorke.

I’m also gonna tell you not to guess Beyoncé. Because you can’t be that stupid to think that they’ll nominate her just because she’s Beyoncé. That song was awful and this is historically the stingiest branch ever. There’s no fucking way that’s gonna happen. So just skip and wait to see just how broken the category is (again). That’s four. I’m also gonna say, based on almost nothing, skip “Speechless.” The song is whatever, and I’m not sure they care. I guess it could happen, but I think they only shortlisted it because it’s Alan Menken and he’s won 8 times already. His last nomination was in 2010 for Tangled. Don’t see it happening. That leaves ten songs.

The way they vote for this is put a top five and whatever gets the most votes gets on. So you gotta just listen to the songs and think about where they’re gonna go with it. Our ears can’t be that wildly different from theirs. So it’s ears plus personal bias of which songwriters they want to vote for (or not vote for).

I think Frozen is an easy addition to the list. So put that on. Bobby Lopez is gonna triple EGOT or something like that if he wins for it, and I just feel like original Disney songs are basically automatic. So that’s one. Also, why would you not guess Elton? It’s a fair song, but also… Elton. And he just said that he and Bernie have never been nominated together for anything, and I think that might sway some people. Put Elton on your guess list. Just be wrong. He’s the biggest fish in the category. It makes so much sense. Plus he’s won the two big precursors already. Also… “Glasgow” has gotten a lot of press. Mary Steenburgen wrote it and it’s a big song that fits the category. Plus it tied Elton for BFCA. Which helps. Can’t see them leaving that off. It’s legitimately one of the only good songs here. If they do leave it off, then that shows you how fucked this category is. So that’s three on there. Oh, and did I mention that Diane Warren is here? Diane Warren, nominated in this category in 2014 for Beyond the Lights, 2015 for The Hunting Ground, 2017 for Marshall and last year for RBG Diane Warren. So yeah. She’s got “I’m Standing with You.” So I’m automatically putting her on my guess list and I’ll just be wrong. This is how you have to guess this category.

So now I’ve filled out 4/5 of my list. And I have one more to go with six potential songs to put on. All have different pros and cons to them.

  • “Letter to My Godfather” is Pharrell, who has been nominated before. For Despicable Me 2. But that was “Happy.” This is a song no one’s heard of for a documentary most people probably haven’t heard of (even though it was great). Normally I’d tell you not to bother with this, but the entire point of the documentary was about how Clarence Avant has all this sway and influence up and down the industry despite barely being known outside certain circles. So wouldn’t that be fitting if it got on? I’m not gonna guess it, but I am gonna put it on your radar for that reason. History/conventional wisdom say not to bother with this, though.
  • “Stand Up” is Cynthia Erivo from Harriet. Might be a good alternative to not being nominated for Actress. Or she does the Mary J. Blige and gets both. Who knows. This fits with something they usually do, though. So bookmark that for a finalist for the spot.
  • “Catchy Song” is Lego Movie. Pros: it’s catchy. And “Everything Is Awesome” was nominated five years ago. Cons: they’re kind of over the Lego Movie and the song is basically one-note. 50/50. I guess you could put it on your guess list, but I feel like I’d rather have “Stand Up” over it, in the end.
  • “A Glass of Soju” is Parasite. The song is just whatever, but if they’re really gonna go all in on Parasite, this could get nominated. So consider it. Maybe slip it on if you’re lost and figure, “What the hell.” Since it’s a crap shoot anyway, this category. I don’t see it happening at all, but I do think this is more of a contender than most things. Though I’m more likely to leave it off and just let it get nominated. Assuming sweep votes is always a bad idea. Usually they vote where they want and in the end it’s, “Oh, what, 14 nominations?”
  • “High Above the Water” is just a really nice song. If that matters to them, this could make it. Downside: Kathryn Bostic is a newbie for them. She did Clemency this year too, but otherwise this is her first go-round with this list. If they’re as insular as I think they might be, that factors against her. That said… it feels like it should be in major contention.
  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” is Randy Newman for Toy Story. He’s been nominated for every other one. So conventional wisdom says he’ll get on for this too. It might just be rote memory that gets them to vote for him. Even though this is the weakest of the Toy Story songs by far.

To me, it’s either “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Stand Up” or “High Above the Water.” The first two feel like they have the most sway with this branch, to the point where I’m thinking if they’re gonna leave something else off (Elton?). But yeah… I’m actually just gonna be stupid and bite the bullet and leave Randy off here. I just… both choices are cynical. Randy is just assuming they’re nominate him because he’s Randy and he always gets on for Toy Story. And “Stand Up” is the same as all the other songs of this ilk… Marshall, Mudbound, Selma… they just nominate these lately. The Marshall song literally had ‘Stand Up’ in the title. So I’m just gonna go with that and see what happens. I’d rather be wrong and see Randy get on than the other way around when I knew it was a subpar song.

Best Original Song

“Glasgow,” from Wild Rose

“I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough

“Into The Unknown” from Frozen II

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman

“Stand Up” from Harriet

First Alternate: “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4

Dark Horse: “High Above The Water” from Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Surprise: “A Glass of Soju” from Parasite; “Catchy Song” from The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; “Letter To My Godfather” from The Black Godfather

Shocker: “Spirit” from The Lion King; “Speechless” from Aladdin; “Daily Battles” from Motherless Brooklyn

Don’t even bother: “Never Too Late” from The Lion King; “Da Bronx” from The Bronx USA;

Would love to see: Thom Yorke get nominated. Otherwise, I don’t care. It’s a terrible year.

Don’t expect any better than 2/5 in Song, ever. You can figure you’ll probably do 3/5, but never figure for more than that. It’s too perilous a category. I think we’re safe with Rocketman, Frozen and Rose. Diane Warren is always a good bet too. So I think these are a safe four choices, even if they’re not good enough to assume you’ll get them all right. And then Harriet, Toy Story… fuck if I know. I’m just hoping for the best and going for the way I’d feel less shitty if it came in. You do the work in the other categories to be able to have this one fuck up badly and still do okay in the overall.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Production Design.

No shortlist here, but we’re back to the usual precursors: guild (which is ADG), BAFTA, BFCA.

Here’s ADG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2018, 5/5.
  • 2017, 5/5.
  • 2016, 5/5.
  • 2015, 5/5.
  • 2014, 4/5. They missed Mr. Turner.
  • 2013, 5/5.
  • 2012, 5/5.
  • 2011, 3/5. They missed War Horse and Midnight in Paris.
  • 2010, 5/5.
  • 2009, 2/5. They missed Dr. Parnassus, Nine and The Young Victoria.
  • 2008, 3/5. They missed The Duchess and Revolutionary Road.
  • 2007 + 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 3/5. They missed Goblet of Fire and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004, 4/5. They missed A Very Long Engagement.
  • 2003, 4/5. They missed Master and Commander.
  • 2002, 4/5. They missed Frida.
  • 2001, 4/5. They missed Gosford Park.
  • 2000, 3/5. They missed Quills and Vatel.
  • 1999, 2/5. They missed Cider House Rules, The Talented Mr. Riley and Topsy-Turvy
  • 1998, 5/5.
  • 1997, 4/5. They missed Kundun.
  • 1996, 3/5. They missed Evita and Romeo + Juliet.

They’re almost automatic the past decade. Though they do have three categories with which to do so. Still. It’s good to know they generally get it right.

In terms of picking up the little slack ADG leaves, here’s BAFTA and BFCA (who only go back to 2009):

  • 2014, BAFTA had Mr. Turner. BFCA did not.
  • 2011, BAFTA and BFCA had War Horse. Neither had Midnight in Paris.
  • 2009, BAFTA had Dr. Parnassus. BFCA did not. BFCA had Nine (BAFTA did not). Neither had The Young Victoria.
  • 2008, BAFTA had Revolutionary Road, but missed The Duchess.
  • 2005, BAFTA missed both Goblet of Fire and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004, BAFTA missed A Very Long Engagement.
  • 2003, BAFTA had Master and Commander.
  • 2002, BAFTA missed Frida.
  • 2001, BAFTA had Gosford Park.
  • 2000, BAFTA had Quills but missed Vatel.
  • 1999, BAFTA missed Cider House Rules, Talented Mr. Ripley and Topsy-Turvy.
  • 1997, BAFTA missed Kundun
  • 1996, BAFTA had Evita.

So we’ve had a solid decade of three precursors. Only three times did ADG not give you all five nominees. It’s a total of six nominees over ten years. 6%. There’s been only one nominee in the past five years that ADG didn’t have, and BAFTA had that one. Only twice in ten years did something not nominated at any precursor been nominated, and it hasn’t happened since 2011. You’ve got a lot of help here.

The precursors this year:

  • ADG Period: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • ADG Fantasy: Ad Astra, Aladdin, Dumbo, Endgame, Maleficent 2, Rise of Skywalker
  • ADG Contemporary: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, John Wick 3, Knives Out, Parasite, Us
  • BAFTA: 1917, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • BFCA: 1917, Downton Abbey, The Irishman, Joker, Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite

Let’s break that down:

  • 1917 — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Irishman — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Joker — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Jojo Rabbit — ADG, BAFTA
  • Parasite — ADG, BFCA
  • Ad Astra — ADG
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — ADG
  • Dumbo — ADG
  • Endgame — ADG
  • Ford v Ferrari — ADG
  • John Wick 3 — ADG
  • Knives Out — ADG
  • Maleficent 2 — ADG
  • Rise of Skywalker — ADG
  • Us — ADG
  • Downton Abbey — BFCA
  • Little Women — BFCA

Two things to note before we move forward. The first is logistical, so we’re gonna start there. First — it’s incredibly rare for a film in the Contemporary category of ADG to get nominated for the Oscar. And this year, we’ve got two contenders. So I’m eliminating the films I know stand no chance, and cutting the fat on that Fantasy category too. Which means that — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (though shout out there, the production design in that movie was incredible), John Wick 3, Us, Aladdin, Dumbo, Endgame Maleficent and Rise of Skywalker… sorry, you’re out of there.

Here’s my reasoning for some of those: Marvel’s only been nominated once for Production Design, and it was Black Panther, and it got multiple precursors. So Endgame is not happening. Disney — Beauty and the Beast did get nominated for Production Design, but it hit every precursor. Aladdin and Maleficent only got Fantasy at the guild, so they’re out. Let them beat you. Dumbo… Tim Burton movie. He’s been nominated before and a lot. But guess what? Always had a precursor. So that’s out too, though slightly more of a chance for that because it’s Burton. But also, don’t waste your time. Let it beat you. And Star Wars — never been nominated for Production Design since the first one in 1977. Don’t do it. The other three are contemporary, which never gets nominated, and I’ve already allowed for two potential contemporary films this year.

So, to clean up that precursor list:

  • 1917 — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Irishman — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Joker — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Jojo Rabbit — ADG, BAFTA
  • Parasite — ADG, BFCA
  • Ad Astra — ADG
  • Ford v Ferrari — ADG
  • Knives Out — ADG
  • Downton Abbey — BFCA
  • Little Women — BFCA

The second note I had was this one, which I discovered last year: Since there have been three precursors for this category, 33 films have hit every precursor. 31 of them have gotten nominated. Last year, we had four films hit everyone and all four got nominated. The two outliers were Inglourious Basterds in 2009 and Black Swan in 2010. Which were the first two years of the BFCA category, and Black Swan was contemporary, which we know they avoid. So that’s 31 films in a row with every precursor that got on.

Now’s probably a good time to mention that 1917, The Irishman, Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood hit every precursor. So that’s pretty easy.

Looking from the bottom up on the rest of that list — Little Women still feels like a contender, despite only a BFCA nomination. That’s one you keep around but only nominate in the absence of something else that feels more likely. Downton — if it missed BAFTA, how can you think it’s gonna get on out of nowhere. It didn’t even hit the guild! I’d say toss that off, but respect it because it’s stately English manors and shit. Knives Out is all about production design and looks gorgeous… but it’s contemporary. I’d go so far as to almost make that a Dark Horse, but even then I’m not sure I can, because I’d be legitimately surprised if they went there. (And I’ll explain further why in a minute.) Ford v Ferrari… cars. Outside. Seems unlikely. The guild nomination is nice, but also they didn’t have to funnel everything into a single category. Seems like a tall order to get this one on. That’s a surprise at best. And Ad Astra… they love space movies. But it also got no other precursors and it got nominated in Fantasy. I’d be pretty surprised, if not straight up shocked, if they go there over everything else they have as an option.

Now, two more films with multiple precursors, and the most likely contenders. First, Jojo Rabbit. World War II, Germany. Girl in a hole in the wall. Fits. Could easily see them going there. It got ADG and BAFTA. Those are the two big ones. Missed BFCA, but that’s fine. BUT… Parasite. Got ADG, got BFCA, and it’s set in two houses, and… well there are some secrets going on in that house. It’s all about the production design. If they love the film as much as I think they do, Production Design should be an easy get for them. The knock? It’s contemporary. That could be why BAFTA didn’t go there. And also, if I’m going Parasite, bucking the contemporary trend, then there’s no way I’m assuming Knives Out gets on and we have it happen twice in the same year.

But, you’ve got 4/5 and it’s either Jojo or Parasite. Take your pick. They’re both great choices. I’m going Parasite, just because I think that movie is all about production design, but it could just as easily be Jojo. You can make a case for or against either.

Best Production Design

1917

The Irishman

Joker

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

First Alternate: Jojo Rabbit

Dark Horse: Little Women

Surprise: Knives Out, Ford v Ferrari

Shocker: Downton Abbey, Dumbo, Ad Astra

Don’t even bother: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Aladdin, Avengers: Endgame, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Would love to see: Knives Out and Little Women get nominated

This feels like an automatic 4/5 and you’re 50/50 on whether or not it’s 5/5. Last year’s Production Design was basically an automatic 5/5. This is slightly less than that, but you gotta feel good about that coin flip on the last one. If only I had three more categories like this one the rest of the way.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Costume Design.

Same deal: CDG is the guild, BAFTA, BFCA.

CDG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2018: 4/5. Missed The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
  • 2017: 3/5. Missed Darkest Hour and Victoria & Abdul.
  • 2016: 4/5, Missed Allied.
  • 2015: 4/5, Missed The Revenant.
  • 2014: 4/5. Missed Mr. Turner.
  • 2013: 3/5. Missed The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster.
  • 2012: 5/5.
  • 2011: 4/5. Missed Anonymous.
  • 2010: 4/5. Missed I Am Love.
  • 2009: 4/5. Missed Bright Star.
  • 2008: 4/5. Missed Australia.
  • 2007: 4/5. Missed Across the Universe.
  • 2006: 5/5.
  • 2005: 3/5. Missed Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004: 3/5. Missed Finding Neverland and Troy (*single category)
  • 2003: 3/5. Missed Girl with a Pearl Earring and Master and Commander (*four nominees, single category)
  • 2002: 2/5. Missed Gangs of New York, The Hours and The Pianist (*four nominees, single category)
  • 2001: 1/5. Only had Harry Potter. Missed Moulin Rouge, Affair of the Necklace, Gosford Park and Fellowship (*four nominees, single category)
  • 2000: 2/5. Missed Gladiator, Crouching Tiger and 102 Dalmatians (*four nominees, single category)
  • 1999: 2/5. Missed Topsy-Turvy, Anna and the King and Titus (*four nominees, single category)
  • 1998: 1/5. Only had Beloved. Missed Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Pleasantville and Velvet Goldmine (*single category)

BFCA again only goes back to 2009, but here’s both them and BAFTA against that list:

  • 2018, BAFTA had Buster Scruggs. BFCA did not.
  • 2017, BAFTA had Darkest Hour. BFCA did not. Neither had Victoria & Abdul.
  • 2016, Both had Allied.
  • 2015, Neither had The Revenant.
  • 2014, Both had Mr. Turner
  • 2013, BAFTA had The Invisible Woman. BFCA did not. Neither had The Grandmaster.
  • 2011, Neither had Anonymous.
  • 2010, Neither had I Am Love.
  • 2009, Both had Bright Star.
  • 2008, BAFTA missed Australia
  • 2007, BAFTA missed Across the Universe
  • 2005, BAFTA had Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice
  • 2004, BAFTA had Finding Neverland but missed Troy
  • 2003, BAFTA had Master and Commander (which won) and Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • 2002, BAFTA had Gangs of New York but missed The Hours and The Pianist
  • 2001, BAFTA had Moulin Rouge, Fellowship and Gosford Park (which won), but missed Affair of the Necklace
  • 2000, BAFTA had Gladiator and Crouching Tiger (which won), but missed 102 Dalmatians
  • 1999, BAFTA missed Topsy-Turvy, Anna and the King and Titus (*four nominees)
  • 1998, BAFTA had Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth and Velvet Goldmine (which won) but missed Pleasantville (*four nominees)

So we’ve got a decade of three precursors. CDG is good, but not bulletproof. But typically they’ll get you 4/5. And we’ve only got 5 times all decade that something got nominated without precursors. And it was typically a very costume heavy film. Also, it’s Costume Design. I, personally, never expect to go more than 3/5 here as a rule, just to keep my expectations down and understand how fickle a beast this category can be. You’re usually set from the precursors, but sometimes shit happens. The only tricky part can be figuring out which films with some precursors and not others are gonna get on. Honestly you just gotta dive in and figure it out as you go.

Precursors:

  • CDG Period: Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman
  • CDG Fantasy: Aladdin, Captain Marvel, Endgame, Maleficent 2, Rise of Skywalker
  • CDG Contemporary: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Hustlers, Knives Out, The Laundromat, Queen & Slim
  • BAFTA: The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Judy, Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • BFCA: Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, The Irishman, Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

Breaking those down:

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Jojo Rabbit — CDG, BAFTA
  • Dolemite Is My Name — CDG, BFCA
  • Downton Abbey — CDG, BFCA
  • Rocketman — CDG, BFCA
  • The Irishman — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Little Women — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Aladdin — CDG
  • Judy — BAFTA
  • Maleficent 2 — CDG

Just to button up a few omissions on that breakdown — no film deemed purely ‘Contemporary’ has been nominated for Costume Design since 2010, with I Am Love (which is very stylish and almost feels period). Before that, it was 1994, Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which is about drag queens. Technically La La Land is contemporary, but there’s definitely an element of fantasy to those musical numbers. Also… it’s a musical. I’d have considered Knives Out if BAFTA nominated it, but saving that, throw them all out and just let them beat you. Aside from La La Land and I Am Love, the most recently-set, non-fantasy film to be nominated here took place in 1978 (American Hustle). Go old or go home.

Fantasy, meanwhile — Star Wars hasn’t been nominated since the first one. And by that I mean 1977. And Marvel, outside of Black Panther last year, has never been nominated for Costumes. So toss those off. I’ll allow Aladdin because Disney remakes have gotten on and the first Maleficent did get on.

Oh, and I did this last year for this category too, same as Production Design: since 2009 when we’ve had the three precursors, 32 films have hit all three. 28 of them have gotten nominated. The four that didn’t were Black Swan in 2010, Saving Mr. Banks in 2013, Brooklyn in 2015 and Bohemian Rhapsody last year. Last year had three other films with all three precursors that did get on, though. Looking at them — Black Swan was contemporary and got beat out by I Am Love or The Tempest. CDG didn’t have a full set of five nominees across categories that year, I’ll add. Saving Mr. Banks got beat out by The Grandmaster, a film with no precursors. Brooklyn got beat out by The Revenant, a film with no precursors. And Bohemian Rhapsody got beat out by, seemingly, Ballad of Buster Scruggs. They sure do like westerns.

But yeah, it only happens when something without precursors or something unlikely comes up to jump on (Buster Scruggs was presaged by BAFTA last year, but otherwise it’s generally no precursors). So, when you’ve got consensus, go for it. This category is too difficult to try to figure out blindly. Though unfortunately for us, only one film hit all three precursors this year: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. So we’ve really only got one automatic and the rest we have to reason through.

The film that hit the biggest precursors is Jojo, with CDG and BAFTA. That’s enough for me to put it on. I mean, the Hitler costume is memorable, and then Scarlett gets all the nice costumes, plus those shoes alone. I think Jojo is probably a safe bet (because if it isn’t, fuck if any of us know what’s gonna be).

Now, a couple of other things had mixed precursors. Just looking through on them — Little Women is costumes central, and I have a really tough time thinking that’s not on. So that’s one where — beat me. I’m taking it and nominate something else instead. Also, Rocketman — missed BAFTA, but also… Elton John. I think they nominate it. So that’s four.

What’s left is Dolemite — which hit CDG and BFCA and just won BFCA, which should mean it’s on. All the BFCA winners have been nominated before. So that’s good enough for me to make it five.

But before we go… let’s run through everything else to make sure there’s nothing there that I’m throwing out with the bath water: Downton Abbey is costume central, but also could be left off. Though if it’s getting on anywhere, it’s here. The Irishman — kinda boring, costumes-wise. Lotta plain suits that no one really remembers. Missed the guild, but got BAFTA. Not sure what that means, but it’s got enough precursors that you could guess it if you wanted to. Aladdin hit the guild in Fantasy… not doing that. Judy got BAFTA, which feels legit, but I’m not sure I’m going there. And Maleficent 2 — no. Just not gonna do it. Let’s let that just get on.

Also, fun fact — not counting Disney remakes, not a lot of direct sequels have been nominated in Costumes. Mary Poppins last year is a direct sequel. Fury Road… not really direct. Elizabeth: The Golden Age is kind of a sequel. You have to go back to the Return of the King after that. Not even Harry Potter got nominated as a sequel. That’s nuts. And also, of the things that have been nominated as sequels… all classy and high profile. So yeah, not going Maleficent.

It should be noted that Sandy Powell did the costumes for The Irishman, and she’s been nominated 14 times, winning three times. She’s also been nominated for both Hugo, The Aviator and Gangs for Marty. So maybe me leaving that off isn’t the best of choices. Downton, meanwhile, is Anna Robbins, who’s really only done TV stuff, including Downton the show. Something tells me it’s not gonna get this nomination. So yeah, Irishman has to be First Alternate on Sandy alone and I’ll just let everything else beat me. Downton seems to be getting ignored everywhere (no BAFTA nomination?), and Dolemite has a BFCA win. That’s step one to me. Maybe it’s a red herring. But that’s about as big a help as you’re gonna get the night before nominations.

Oh, also — I won’t say to take them, but keep an eye out in case they come in — Dumbo and 1917. Colleen Atwood has won four Oscars. She did Dumbo and has been nominated three times for Tim Burton films, even winning for Alice in Wonderland. So if you see Dumbo get nominated with no precursors, that’s why. Also, even with no precursors, 1917 is Jacqueline Durran, who figures to be nominated for Little Women, and David Crossman. I don’t think they double her up, but just keep an eye out for that as a potential spoiler, if the film has that much support all over.

Best Costume Design

Dolemite Is My Name

Jojo Rabbit

Little Women

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rocketman

First Alternate: The Irishman

Dark Horse: Downton Abbey

Surprise: 1917, Dumbo, Judy

Shocker: Aladdin, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, The Aeronauts

Don’t even bother: Honestly, if it’s not contemporary, all bets are off. Weird shit gets on here, even though they’ve been better in recent years and things either have precursors or 

Would love to see: Me go 5/5 here for once.

It’s Costumes. 3/5 is a good year. 4/5 is a great year. 5/5 is unheard of. I think you’ve got enough on the list I picked to at least go 3/5. But like I said. Hope for that, and if you get there, great. Anything more is just gravy.

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Makeup & Hairstyling time.

We have a bit of an update with this one, as they finally went and upped the category to five nominees instead of the usual three. They’re allowing it to play with the big kids finally.

We also have a shortlist, which, because it’s five nominees and not three, the shortlist is ten films instead of seven. Oh, boy. Is what I know you’re all thinking.

1917
Bombshell

Dolemite Is My Name
Downton Abbey
Joker
Judy
Little Women
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Rocketman

You asked me on principle, in a now-five nominee year, what five feel like they’d be on, I’d say Bombshell, I’d say Rocketman, I’d say Once Upon a Time. I’d assume they’d put Joker on by default, and honestly I’d normally think Little Women. But that’s why we have precursors.

Three precursors to look at with this. The guild, BAFTA, BFCA. You know how it is.

  • Makeup & Hairstylist Guild:
    • Period/Character Makeup: Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman
    • Period/Character Hair: Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, Maleficent, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman
    • Special Effects Makeup: Bombshell, Rocketman
    • Contemporary Makeup: Bombshell
    • Contemporary Hair: Bombshell, Joker
  • BAFTA: 1917, Bombshell Joker, Judy, Rocketman
  • BFCA: Bombshell, Dolemite Is My Name, Joker, Judy, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

Let’s break that down, even though I’m not sure how much we really need to:

  • Bombshell — M+HG x3, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Rocketman — M+HSG x3, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Joker — M+HSG x2, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — M+HSG x2, BFCA
  • Dolemite Is My Name — M+HSG x2, BFCA
  • Downton Abbey — M+HSG x2
  • Judy — BAFTA, BFCA
  • 1917 — BAFTA
  • Maleficent — M+HSG
  • Little Women — None

Oh, and of note — the Makeup & Hairstylists Guild announced winners on Saturday. Bombshell won all three of its categories, Joker won one of its categories and Downton won the fifth category. So now you’ve not only got precursors but you have some guild winners too. Oh, boy.

  • Bombshell just won three awards at the guild, was nominated across the board and has actors looking like real people and John Lithgow in a fat suit. It’s getting nominated. So that’s one. Oh, and it just won BFCA. So it’s doubly on.
  • Rocketman lost its three guild awards (only one to Bombshell), but was nominated everywhere, and is an Elton John movie. I just feel like they’re gonna go there. So that’s two for me.
  • I’m not leaving Once Upon a Time off my list either. And it hit everything. So that’s three.
  • Joker hit everything you want to see it hit, and the face paint. So, I guess I gotta put that on. That’s four.
  • Little Women seems to have no traction anywhere, so I can’t guess that, as much as I’d like to see it and as underrated as I think the makeup and hair is in that movie.
  • I refuse to guess Maleficent, straight up. I think half the Makeup in that movie is CGI, so I’ll just be wrong and be fine with that.
  • Downton hit the guild and won a category, but it hit nothing else and we seem to be cool with it getting shut out everywhere, so I’m leaving that off my list too. Let it get nominated. How can I not have it anywhere else (Production Design and Costume Design) and then randomly expect it to get on here? I’ll just say they ignore it and see if they put it on anywhere.

That leaves Dolemite Is My Name, Judy and 1917. One is war effects. They could go there. I could see it. I’m still not sure what Dolemite’s makeup portion was, or if it was just hair. I can’t see that getting on, even though it’s kind of a shiny object that almost begs you to take it. So I’m not voting for that, even though it got two guild nominations. But the guild is whatever. Things routinely don’t hit the guild and get nominated or hit the guild and miss. That’s why there’s a shortlist. That wins out more than anything. And the last one… is Judy. Renée Zellweger in a lot of makeup to look like Judy Garland. That feels like the choice, doesn’t it? Especially if she’s gonna win Best Actress. They love doubling up on shit like that.

I feel like it’s either Judy or 1917, and take whichever you want. I’m gonna take Judy because I feel like normally I’d go 1917, figuring, “Well, it’ll be more broadly liked, so they’ll take it here too.” But this is a specific guild that does a specific thing. Something tells me that BAFTA nomination is a sign. So I’ll put Judy on my list (conveniently ignoring that 1917 also got nominated for BAFTA as well. Look, sometimes you need to do what you need to do in order to just move along).

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Bombshell

Joker

Judy

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rocketman

First Alternate: 1917

Dark Horse: Dolemite Is My Name

Surprise: Downton Abbey, Little Women

Shocker: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Me go 5/5 here.

Gotta feel good about at least three of these, if not four. It’s Makeup & Hairstyling, though, and this is the first one with five nominees. So go with what makes the most sense, and then see what they do. My gut says they’re gonna go with the obvious, mainstream choices now that it’s a bigger category. It’s a test run, this year. I feel like in the end it’ll be easier for us to get 4/5, but we’ll see how it goes.

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Visual Effects.

We’ve got a shortlist of ten here. Plus the guild (VES), BAFTA and BFCA.

We’ll start with the shortlist, because the precursors won’t mean as much unless we know the pool we’re working with:

1917
Alita: Battle Angel
Avengers: Endgame
Captain Marvel
Cats
Gemini Man
The Irishman
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Terminator: Dark Fate

Here’s VES vs. the Oscars:

  • 2018, Best Effects (their main category), had 4/5. First Man was nominated in “Supporting Effects.”
  • 2017, Best Effects, had 5/5.
  • 2016, Best Effects had 3/5. Deepwater Horizon was nominated in Supporting. Kubo was nominated in a bunch of their Animated categories.
  • 2015, Best Effects had 3/5. The Revenant was nominated in Supporting. Ex Machina wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2014, Best Effects had 4/5. Captain America got lesser nominations.
  • 2013, Best Effects had 4/5. The Lone Ranger was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2012, Best Effects had 4/5. Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2011: Best Effects had 3/5. Hugo went Supporting. Real Steel wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2010: Best Effects had 4/5. Hereafter was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2009: Best Effects had 3/3.
  • 2008: Best Effects had 2/3. Dark Knight had three lesser nominations.
  • 2007: Best Effects had 3/3.
  • 2006: Best Effects had 1/3. Poseidon got lesser nominations and Superman Returns got one nomination.
  • 2005: Best Effects had 2/3. War of the Worlds got lesser nominations.
  • 2004: Best Effects had 2/3. I, Robot got one nomination.
  • 2003: Best Effects had 2/3. Master and Commander was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2002: Best Effects had 2/3. Spider-Man 2 wasn’t nominated by VES.

Visual Effects moved to 5 nominees in 2010. Since then, the Best Effects category/Supporting Effects have gotten you 4/5 or 5/5 every time. They’re very strong.

BAFTA, meanwhile, on their own are very good at this. Here’s them straight up versus the Oscar category, not even against the guild:

  • 2018, 4/5. Missed Solo.
  • 2017, 3/5. Missed Kong and Guardians 2.
  • 2016, 3/5. Missed Kubo and Deepwater.
  • 2015, 4/5. Missed The Revenant.
  • 2014, 4/5. Missed Captain America.
  • 2013, 4/5. Missed The Lone Ranger.
  • 2012, 4/5. Missed Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, 3/5. Missed Real Steel and Transformers.
  • 2010, 3/5. Missed Hereafter and Iron Man 2.
  • 2009, 3/3.
  • 2008, 3/3.
  • 2007, 2/3. Missed Transformers.
  • 2006, 2/3. Missed Poseidon
  • 2005, 2/3. Missed War of the Worlds
  • 2004, 2/3. Missed I, Robot.
  • 2003, 3/3.
  • 2002, 2/3. Missed Attack of the Clones

They’re automatic 3/5 and have been 4/5 in five of nine years. That’s really good straight up.

And now BFCA. They’ve only got a decade of category, but since we did BAFTA straight up, we’ll do them too:

  • 2018, 3/5. Missed Christopher Robin and Solo.
  • 2017, 2/5. Missed Star Wars, Guardians and Kong.
  • 2016, 2/5. Missed Deepwater, Kubo and Rogue one.
  • 2015, 4/5. Missed The Force Awakens.
  • 2014, 3/5. Missed X-Men and Captain America.
  • 2013, 4/5. Missed The Lone Ranger.
  • 2012, 3/5. Missed Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, 3/5. Missed Real Steel and Transformers.
  • 2010, 3/5. Missed Hereafter and Iron Man 2. (Four nominees.)
  • 2009, 3/3.

Now, to put a finer comb through all of that, I’m gonna look at how many times a film wasn’t straight up nominated in Best Effects at VES and then see which other precursors (including Supporting Effects at VES) it was nominated for:

  • 2018, Everyone (Supporting, BAFTA, BFCA) had First Man.
  • 2016, Deepwater Horizon was nominated in Supporting. Everyone missed Kubo (though VES had it up and down their animated categories).
  • 2015, The Revenant was nominated in Supporting and at BFCA. Ex Machina was nominated at BAFTA and BFCA.
  • 2014, Everyone missed Winter Soldier.
  • 2013, The Lone Ranger was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2012, Everyone missed Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, Everyone had Hugo. Everyone missed Real Steel.
  • 2010, Hereafter was nominated in Supporting.

So in a decade, we only have four films that missed every major precursor and got nominated. Otherwise they were on at least one of the four major lists. And of the four ‘misses’, Kubo felt like it had a real chance at it and the only question was whether or not they were gonna buck history. So really, precursors are gonna steer you in the right direction. And with a shortlist… we’re pretty much gonna understand where to go with it all.

Oh, and one more thing to help you out, because I did it last year and has been helpful thus far in the other categories — since 2009, there have been 35 films that were nominated across all three precursor lists (VES Best Effects or Supporting Effects, BAFTA, BFCA). 31 of them were eventually nominated on the final Oscar list. The four that haven’t were Dunkirk in 2017, Fantastic Beasts in 2016, Battle of the Five Armies in 2014 and Pacific Rim in 2013. So, if it’s nominated across the board, you’ve got close to a 90% chance of getting it right, which is about as good a chance as anyone could ever hope for.

Here are this year’s precursors:

  • VES:
    • Best Effects: Alita, Endgame, Gemini Man, Lion King, Rise of Skywalker
    • Supporting Effects: 1917, Irishman
    • Animated Character: Alita, Endgame, Gemini Man, Lion King
    • Created Environment: Alita, Lion King, Rise of Skywalker
    • Virtual Cinematography: Alita, Lion King
    • Model: N/A this year
    • Effects Simulations: Lion King, Rise of Skywalker
    • Composting: Alita, Captain Marvel, Endgame, Irishman, Rise of Skywalker
  • BAFTA: 1917, Endgame, The Irishman, The Lion King, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • BFCA: 1917, Endgame, The Irishman, The Lion King

Breaking that all down (note: VES-FX means the big category and VES-Sup means Supporting. I’ll note other VES nominations in parenthetical for each other nomination there a film has):

  • 1917 — VES-Sup, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Alita: Battle Angel — VES-FX (+4 VES)
  • Avengers: Endgame — VES-FX (+2 VES), BAFTA, BFCA
  • Captain Marvel — (1 VES)
  • Cats — None
  • Gemini Man — VES-FX (+1 VES)
  • The Irishman — VES-Sup (+1 VES), BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Lion King — VES-FX (+4 VES), BAFTA, BFCA
  • Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker — VES-FX (+3 VES), BAFTA
  • Terminator: Dark Fate — None

So to begin — Terminator and Cats hit absolutely zero precursors. Cats is so fucking creepy I can’t imagine they go there, and Terminator feels the most unlikely out of everything on the shortlist next to Cats. So that’s two off. Captain Marvel only got one minor VES nomination and nothing else. I’m not guessing that. So that’s three off, and we’re dealing with seven films for five spots. That’s doable.

Working from the top down — The Lion King got the big VES nomination, four more VES nominations, got BAFTA, got BFCA. And the entire film is animated. So that’s gotta be on your list. Second, Star Wars. Big VES, three more VES nominations, BAFTA and literally every Star Wars movie but one ever has been nominated. So that’s two. Endgame — big VES, two more VES nominations, BAFTA, BFCA (which it won), and it’s fucking Marvel. The biggest Marvel movie ever. They’re not leaving it off. So that’s three. Oh, and then there’s The Irishman. VES Supporting, one more VES, BAFTA, BFCA… and the de-aging is the most talked about special effect of the year. They could leave that off. But I’m not guessing that they will. So that’s four. That’s an easy four and now I’ve got three films for one spot.

All three remaining choices got VES: 1917 got Supporting and Alita and Gemini Man got Best Effects. Gemini Man got nothing else except one other VES nomination, and I just can’t see that happening. So I’m not guessing it. 1917 hit everything — VES Supporting, BAFTA, BFCA. HOWEVER… Dunkirk didn’t get nominated, and Dunkirk had more effects than that did (I think. Or at least it felt like). And Dunkirk also hit everything. Alita, meanwhile, got VES Best Effects and four more VES nominations. That’s the same as Lion King without the other precursors. That’s a big deal. That means they (the actual animators, aka the people voting on this category) really like it, and it tells me that it’s more likely to get on. Remember, Christopher Robin got nominated last year. (Though that did also get a BAFTA nomination, so maybe I’m just insane and BAFTA matches 5/5 with 1917.) I know the other precursors are also big, but… Kong got on with no other precursors but VES. They do shit like this. So I’m gonna take Alita and then let 1917 get on if it’s gonna get on and be totally fine with it if it does.

It’s 4/5 regardless and I feel like this could be a sneaky 5/5 because everyone’s gonna take 1917 and Alita just feels like that one nominee that sneaks on that no one sees coming.

Best Visual Effects

Alita: Battle Angel

Avengers: Endgame

The Irishman

The Lion King

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

First Alternate: 1917

Dark Horse: Gemini Man

Surprise: Captain Marvel, Terminator: Dark Fate

Shocker: Cats

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Honestly, the above category. That would be the ideal category.

You’re basically guaranteed 4/5. No matter what combination you pick, really. Because if it’s 1917 instead of Alita, you’re good. Say they leave Irishman off because they feel ‘fuck that’ — 1917 and Alita are both on, most likely. I can’t see Gemini Man getting on, and the other three basically got jack shit. You’re fine. Take your pick among the six, probably split between Alita or 1917, one on, one off, and you’re fine. 4/5 or 5/5. This is an easy one.

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Sound categories.

They have to be taken together, so you should read both before picking either. Plus, they generally match, so it’s good to know what’s most likely to happen in each while picking either.

The guild for Editing is MPSE (CAS is the Mixing guild), which gives out three major categories (SFX+Foley, Dialogue+ADR and Music) and then we’ve got BAFTA. Those are the three. BFCA did a Sound category for three years and then stopped.

Here’s how MPSE has done matching the Oscar category (and how well CAS did alongside that):

  • 2018, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma hit all three categories. Black Panther was nominated in SFX+Foley and Music. Bohemian Rhapsody was nominated in Dialogue+ADR and Music in a Musical (a lesser Music category). (All but Roma were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2017, Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Dunkirk and The Shape of Water hit all three categories. The Last Jedi was nominated in SFX+Foley. (All but Blade Runner were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2016, Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge hit all three categories. La La Land was nominated in the Musical category, Sully was in Dialogue+ADR and Deepwater Horizon was in SFX+Foley. (All five were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2015, Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant and Star Wars hit all three categories. Sicario hit the main two (Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley). (All five were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2014, Birdman hit all three categories. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hit Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley. Interstellar hit SFX+Foley and Music. Unbroken hit SFX+Foley. The Hobbit was not nominated by MPSE. (Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2013, Gravity hit all three categories. Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor hit Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley. The Hobbit hit SFX+Foley and Music. All Is Lost hit SFX+Foley. (Gravity, Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2012, Argo, Life of Pi and Skyfall hit all three categories. Django hit SFX+Foley and Music. Zero Dark Thirty was not nominated by MPSE. (Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2011, War Horse was nominated for Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley. Dark of the Moon and Drive were nominated for SFX+Foley and Music. Hugo was nominated in Music. (All five were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2010, Inception hit all three categories. True Grit hit Dialogue+ADR. Tron hit Dialogue+ADR. Unstoppable hit SFX+Foley. Toy Story 3 hit Animated. (Inception and True Grit were nominated by CAS.)

Generally, by looking at both categories, you can figure out what’s gonna make it on which category. It’s pretty intuitive, even though it may look like a mess of crap. Looking back to 2010, Battle of the Five Armies is the only movie that didn’t get nominated by either MPSE, CAS or BAFTA and ended up on the Editing list. And hey, for “shit happens,’ that’s a very limited scope. And if you widen that to just MPSE, then it’s only Zero Dark Thirty as a second one (but that got on CAS). So yeah, you’re pretty set from just the precursors.

The way to do this is look at MPSE, then use BAFTA and CAS to hone it. But before we get into this year’s precursors, I need to note two things. First — if films are big in the Best Picture category, they’re likely gonna get on either or both Sound categories. Roma got on both Sound categories last year. Shape of Water got both. La La Land got both. Birdman got both. Meaning, if they like a movie enough they will put it on the Sound categories. Second — assume the Sound categories will largely match. Maybe one split between the two, but mostly they’ll have the same films on both, and the difference is more likely a war/action movie on Editing versus a Musical on Mixing.

To put a finer point on that second point, here’s a list of everything from 2006 onward (that’s when they started having five nominees in both categories) nominated in both Mixing and Editing.

  • 2018: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma, A Star Is Born
  • 2017: Dunkirk, Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Shape of Water, Last Jedi
  • 2016: La La Land, 13 Hours, Hacksaw RidgeArrival, Rogue One, Deepwater, Sully
  • 2015: Revenant, Bridge of Spies, Mad MaxForce AwakensMartian, Sicario
  • 2014: BirdmanAmerican Sniper, Whiplash, InterstellarUnbroken, Hobbit
  • 2013: GravityCaptain Phillips, Inside Llewyn Davis, HobbitLone Survivor, All Is Lost
  • 2012: Les Mis, Lincoln, Skyfall, Life of PiArgo, Zero Dark, Django
  • 2011: HugoDragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Dark of the MoonWar Horse, Drive
  • 2010: Inception, King’s Speech, Salt, Social Network, True Grit, Toy Story, Tron, Unstoppable
  • 2009: Hurt LockerAvatarBasterdsStar Trek, Transformers, Up
  • 2008: WantedWall-E, Benjamin Button, Dark KnightSlumdog, Iron Man
  • 2007: BourneRatatouille, Yuma, TransformersNo Country, There Will Be Blood
  • 2006: Dreamgirls, ApocalyptoBlood DiamondFlags of Our FathersDead Man’s Chest, Letters from Iwo Jima

Aside from 2010 and 2012, the categories either match 4/5 or 5/5 most years.

Okay, so here’s this year’s precursors:

  • MPSE:
    • SFX+Foley: 1917, Endgame, Ford v Ferrari, A Hidden Life, John Wick 3, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rise of Skywalker
    • Dialogue+ADR: 1917, Endgame, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman
    • Music: Ad Astra, Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Queen & Slim, Waves
    • Musical: Cats, Frozen II, Judy, Rocketman
    • Animation: Abominable, Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon, Lion King, Missing Link, Spies in Disguise, Toy Story 4, White Snake
  • BAFTA (which has a single Sound category): 1917, Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Rocketman, Rise of Skywalker
  • CAS: Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

Precursor breakdown:

  • Joker — MPSE (x3), BAFTA, CAS
  • Ford v Ferrari — MPSE (x2), BAFTA, CAS
  • Rocketman — MPSE (x2) BAFTA, CAS
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — MPSE (x3), CAS
  • 1917 — MPSE (x2), BAFTA
  • Rise of Skywalker — MPSE, BAFTA
  • Endgame — MPSE (x2)
  • Jojo Rabbit — MPSE (x2)
  • The Irishman — MPSE, CAS
  • A Hidden Life — MPSE
  • John Wick 3 — MPSE
  • Judy — MPSE
  • Ad Astra — MPSE
  • Dolemite Is My Name — MPSE
  • Little Women — MPSE
  • Queen & Slim — MPSE
  • Waves — MPSE

We can eliminate most of the bottom of that list. Just let them get on. So here’s really the list we’re working from:

  • Joker — MPSE (x3), BAFTA, CAS
  • Ford v Ferrari — MPSE (x2), BAFTA, CAS
  • Rocketman — MPSE (x2) BAFTA, CAS
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — MPSE (x3), CAS
  • 1917 — MPSE (x2), BAFTA
  • Rise of Skywalker — MPSE, BAFTA
  • Endgame — MPSE (x2)
  • Jojo Rabbit — MPSE (x2)
  • The Irishman — MPSE, CAS

That’s nine. That’s not so bad. And honestly, Endgame isn’t happening, so it’s eight. And remember, only one nominee in the past however many years that hit zero precursors, and it was a Hobbit movie, AKA part of a series that had an established track record. I think we’re good.

In the interest of getting this article up more expediently, I skipped the big bit of work I was about to put myself through, which was how often something got nominated a bunch at precursors and then wasn’t nominated. But honestly, fuck it. I’m just gonna go with my gut and maybe do that later and come back (he said, knowing that was never gonna happen).

In my mind, we’ve got seven contenders for both Sound categories. The question is what version of those seven end up in each of the categories. I’m not thinking Jojo gets on unless they’re huge on it. And I can’t assume that, given everything else. So Jojo becomes one of the surprise nominees for the below section.

I might actually have another one I can leave off. Because I assumed Irishman was gonna be a lock as a major Best Picture contender. But you know what I’m seeing? Marty doesn’t get Sound nominations. I went back historically and looked to see which films of his got nominated in either category. In Editing, it’s just Hugo (which won). He’s never been nominated in Editing past that. Granted, Editing was a very limited category until recently. But no Raging Bull, no Departed, no Goodfellas, no Wolf of Wall Street, no Gangs, no AVIATOR. Not nominated in Editing. And add to that just a single MPSE nomination… that’s interesting to me. Though the CAS nomination is more interesting, because that means Mixing support. But let’s see how he does in Mixing… Raging Bull, Gangs, Aviator, Hugo (which won). So wow. Marty really only gets on Mixing, and even then, dicey. But generally with his big Oscar contenders, he gets on. So that makes my life easier in Editing.

We’ve now got six contenders here. And I’ll note before we get into them (since five of them are big Best Picture contenders) — no more than three Best Picture nominees have been nominated across both Sound categories in the past decade. So it’s okay to not have Irishman here.

But, I did go back — in terms of Best Picture nominees in the Sound categories (nominated in both, this is)… 60/40 two nominees versus three nominees. Always two, and almost half the time three. So that’s also good for us. Best Picture nominees across both, 2-3.

The years with three:

  • 2009, Avatar, Hurt Locker, Basterds
  • 2015, Mad Max, Martian, Revenant
  • 2016, La La Land, Hacksaw, Arrival
  • 2018, Roma, Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther

And the years with two:

  • 2010, Inception, True Grit
  • 2011, Hugo, War Horse
  • 2012, Life of Pi, Argo
  • 2013, Gravity, Captain Phillips
  • 2014, American Sniper, Birdman
  • 2017, Dunkirk, Shape of Water

This is all telling me to go with the obvious. So I’ve got six choices, five spots. I’m not putting Irishman on because it has no Editing precursors and Marty doesn’t get on Editing. Let them nominate it on both lists. I’m fine. And I’m not putting Jojo because the rest have too compelling an argument. Also, CAS has never matched Editing 5/5. So something’s gonna be off there as well. Just as a heads up.

We start with Ford v Ferrari and 1917. Ford v Ferrari hit everything you want to see it hit and is a car movie. Hard to see that not being nominated. So that’s on. And 1917 is a war movie. Those get on Editing. Especially when they’re as big a contender as this one is. So that’s two. Joker hit everything and has three MPSE nominations, most of anyone. So that’s gotta be on the list too. That’s three.

And Quentin — his last three films, Basterds, Django, Hateful Eight — Basterds and Django were nominated in Editing and only Basterds was nominated in Mixing. However, this one’s got a CAS nomination and feels like it’s gonna get on and it’s a big Best Picture contender. So I’m putting that on my list. That’s four.

That leaves one final spot. And the two contenders are Rocketman and Rise of Skywalker. Now, Rocketman has CAS and two MPSE nominations on top of BAFTA. However, BAFTA is one Sound category and includes both, CAS is about Mixing, which is where Musicals go and one of its MPSE nominations is for Music in a Musical, which isn’t one of the official three categories I generally use. So it’s fungible to me. It’s not a guaranteed nominee. And Rise of Skywalker… weakest reviewed of all the Star Wars movies… but still a Star Wars movie. BAFTA nominated it, which should be good for at least one Sound nomination. But both Star Wars movies in this trilogy got nominated across both categories. So you have to figure that out.

Personally, I’m going 1917, Ford v Ferrari, Once Upon a Time, Joker, and then figuring out the last one. And to me, Rocketman is Mixing only, Irishman is Mixing only, but could be both, and I’m gonna take Star Wars until the wheels fall off. If you wanna play it totally safe, in terms of Best Picture and all that, maybe put Skywalker in Mixing only and put Irishman here. But fuck it. I’m going big.

Best Sound Editing

1917

Ford v Ferrari

Joker

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

First Alternate: Rocketman

Dark Horse: The Irishman

Surprise: Jojo Rabbit

Shocker: Ad Astra, Little Women, Avengers: Endgame

Don’t even bother: Dolemite Is My Name, A Hidden Life, John Wick 3, Judy, Queen & Slim, Waves

Would love to see: As always, would love to see me go 5/5 here.

I think it’s down to 7 choices here. So you’ve got a good chance at 4/5 and should be guaranteed 3/5. Ford v Ferrari and 1917 feel like gimmes. I feel like Quentin gets on easily too. Joker hit everything, so you’ve gotta feel good about it, even if it may end up only with one Sound nomination potentially. So then it’s Star Wars, Rocketman, Irishman. You can maybe swap one of those on for something else, but Cleo from 5 from 7, you gotta feel pretty good overall there, considering how perilous the Sound categories are.

Oh, and did I mention? Those 7 are for both categories, so you gotta be looking at 7 or 8 or more total across both of those. That’s a good feeling.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Sound Mixing.

We already covered Editing and MPSE. So here’s just a list of how many times Editing and Mixing have fully matched as categories:

  • 2018, they matched 4/5. Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man and Roma. (Quiet Place got on Editing and Star Is Born got on Mixing.)
  • 2017, they matched 5/5.
  • 2016, they matched 3/5. Arrival, Hackasaw Ridge, La La Land. (Deepwater Horizon and Sully got on Editing and Rogue One and 13 Hours made Mixing.)
  • 2015, they matched 4/5. Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars. (Sicario got on Editing and Bridge of Spies got on Mixing.)
  • 2014, 4/5. American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken got both. (Mixing had Whiplash and Editing had The Hobbit.)
  • 2013, 4/5. Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Hobbit and Lone Survivor got both. (Mixing had Llewyn Davis and Editing had All Is Lost.)
  • 2012, 3/5. Argo, Life of Pi and Skyfall got both. (Editing had Zero Dark and Django, and Mixing had Les Mis and Lincoln.)
  • 2011, 4/5. Hugo, Dragon Tattoo, Transformers and War Horse got both. (Editing had Drive and Mixing had Moneyball.)
  • 2010, 2/5. Inception and True Grit had both. (Editing had Toy Story 3, Tron Legacy and Unstoppable. Mixing had The King’s Speech, Salt and The Social Network.)
  • 2009, 4/5. The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek got both. (Editing had Up and Mixing had Transformers.)
  • 2008, 4/5. Dark Knight, Slumdog, Wall-E and Wanted got both. (Editing had Iron Man and Mixing had Benjamin Button.)
  • 2007, 4/5. Bourne Ultimatum, No Country, Transformers and Ratatouille got all four. (Editing had There Will Be Blood and Mixing had 3:10 to Yuma.)
  • 2006, 4/5. Apocalypto, Flags of Our Fathers, Blood Diamond and Pirates got all four. (Editing had Letters from Iwo Jima and Mixing had Dreamgirls.)

Before then, Editing only had three nominees. But we’ll go back to 2002 anyway.

  • 2005: King Kong, War of the Worlds and Memoirs of a Geisha got both.
  • 2004: The Incredibles, The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2 got both.
  • 2003: Master and Commander and Pirates got both. (Editing had Finding Nemo.)
  • 2002: Two Towers and Road to Perdition got both. (Editing had Minority Report.)

Basically what this means is… they’re mostly gonna match. 4/5 is the typical match, but some years you get 3/5. So do not go below 3/5 the same, and probably go up to 4/5 the same.

Here’s CAS vs. the Mixing category, straight up:

  • 2018, 4/5. They had A Quiet Place and missed Roma.
  • 2017, 4/5. They had Wonder Woman and missed Blade Runner.
  • 2016, 3/5. They had Doctor Strange and Sully and missed 13 Hours and Arrival.
  • 2015, 4/5. They had Hateful Eight and missed The Martian.
  • 2014, 4/5. They had Guardians and missed Whiplash.
  • 2013, 4/5. They had Iron Man 3 and missed The Desolation of Smaug.
  • 2012, 3/5. They had The Hobbit and Zero Dark Thirty and missed Argo and Life of Pi.
  • 2011, 2/5. They had Hanna, On Stranger Tides and Super 8 and missed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dark of the Moon and War Horse.
  • 2010, 3/5. They had Black Swan and Shutter Island and missed The King’s Speech and Salt.
  • 2009, 4/5. They had District 9 and missed Inglourious Basterds.
  • 2008, 3/5. They had Iron Man and Quantum of Solace and missed Benjamin Button and Wanted.
  • 2007, 3/5. They had Into the Wild and 300 and missed Ratatouille and 3:10 to Yuma.
  • 2006, 4/5. They had Babel and missed Apocalypto.
  • 2005, 4/5. They had Crash and missed Chronicles of Narnia.
  • 2004, 3/5. They had Bourne Supremacy and Finding Neverland and missed Incredibles and Polar Express.
  • 2003, 5/5.
  • 2002, 4/5. They had Catch Me If You Can and missed Gangs of New York.
  • 2001, 4/5. They had Shrek and missed Amelie.
  • 2000, 5/5.

They’ve matched 5/5 twice, matched 4/5 ten times, matched 3/5 six times and matched 2/5 once. So 4/5 from CAS is typically the norm.

Now here’s CAS vs. Best Editing. The idea being to see if the CAS nominees hit Editing instead of Mixing and generally how many got nominated there:

  • 2018, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man and A Quiet Place. They had A Star Is Born and missed Roma. (Roma was nominated for three MPSE awards.)
  • 2017, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Baby Driver, Dunkirk, Shape of Water and Last Jedi. They had Wonder Woman and missed Blade Runner. (Blade Runner was nominated for 3 MPSE awards, as we said.)
  • 2016, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge and Sully. They had Hateful Eight and Bridge of Spies instead of Deepwater Horizon and Arrival. (Arrival had 3 MPSE nominations. Deepwater Horizon had 1.)
  • 2015, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Mad Max, The Revenant and Star Wars. They had The Hateful Eight and Bridge of Spies instead of The Martian and Sicario. (The Martian was nominated for 3 MPSE awards and Sicario 2.)
  • 2014, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken. They had Guardians and missed Battle of the Five Armies (which went un-nominated by MPSE.)
  • 2013, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Gravity, Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor. They had Inside Llewyn Davis and Iron Man 3 and missed All Is Lost and Desolation of Smaug. (Smaug was nominated for 2 MPSE awards and All Is Lost 1.)
  • 2012, 2/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty. They had Les Mis, An Unexpected Journey and Lincoln and missed Argo, Django and Life of Pi. (Argo and Life of Pi were nominated for 3 MPSE awards and Django 2.)
  • 2011, 1/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Hugo. They had Hanna Moneyball, On Stranger Tides and Super 8 and missed Drive, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dark of the Moon and War Horse. (War Horse, Dark of the Moon, Dragon Tattoo and Drive were nominated for 2 MPSE awards.)
  • 2010, 2/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Inception and True Grit. They had Black Swan, Shutter Island and The Social Network and missed Toy Story 3, Tron and Unstoppable. (Tron and Unstoppable were nominated for 2 MPSE awards and Toy Story 1.)
  • 2009, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Avatar, The Hurt Locker and Star Trek. They had District 9 and Revenge of the Fallen and missed Inglourious Basterds and Up. (Inglourious Basterds was nominated for 2 MPSE awards and Up 1.)
  • 2008, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, Wall-E and Iron Man. They had Quantum of Solace and missed Wanted. (Wanted was nominated for 1 MPSE award.)
  • 2007, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched No Country, Bourne Ultimatum and Transformers. They had 300 and Into the Wild and missed 300 and Ratatouille. (Ratatouille was nominated for 1 MPSE award and 300 was not nominated.)
  • 2006, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Flags of our Fathers, Dead Man’s Chest and Blood Diamond. They had Babel and Dreamgirls and missed Letters from Iwo Jima and Apocalypto. (Letters from Iwo Jima and Apocalypto were nominated for 2 MPSE awards.)

The idea is to show you just how closely related both these categories are. They generally overlap a lot.

Here’s a reminder of the precursors for this year:

  • CAS: Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman
  • BAFTA: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Rocketman, Rise of Skywalker

And then, a reminder of MPSE:

  • SFX+Foley: 1917, Endgame, Ford v Ferrari, A Hidden Life, John Wick 3, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rise of Skywalker
  • Dialogue+ADR: 1917, Endgame, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman
  • Music: Ad Astra, Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Queen & Slim, Waves
  • Musical: Cats, Frozen II, Judy, Rocketman

I’ve essentially narrowed this one down to seven choices: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time, Rocketman and Star Wars. I left Irishman and Rocketman off my Editing list. Here, I’m gonna look at which ones I think for sure will be nominated across both and then figure out the rest of the category.

I think Once Upon a Time is a certainty here/for both, and I think Irishman gets on here, if its Best Picture status is legit and given Marty’s history with Mixing in the big nomination years. I could see it getting left off, but… if CAS nominated it, it’s gotta get on here, I’d think. Ford v Ferrari feels like they’ll put it in both. It got CAS and BAFTA. Joker hit everything too, big time, so I gotta have that on too. That’s four right there for me. Which leaves 1917, Rocketman and Star Wars. So basically I backed myself into a corner with Star Wars. Great.

I’m leaving 1917 off this one, because I think that’s Editing only, but I could be way the fuck wrong on this. I think I’m overthinking this and am gonna do horribly (because why wouldn’t 1917 hit both, if it’s such a big contender?), but at this point, I don’t care. I just wanna be done with all this. We’re over 40,000 words already.

I’m gonna put on Rocketman, since I think they all like it as a Musical, which means I have to leave Star Wars off. But you know what? If this wasn’t as liked as it seems, they’ll leave it off one or both. So we’ll see. I’m gonna be way wrong, but I don’t know where, so let’s just do this and be wrong.

Best Sound Mixing

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Joker

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rocketman

First Alternate: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Dark Horse: 1917

Surprise: Jojo Rabbit

Shocker: Ad Astra, Little Women, Avengers: Endgame

Don’t even bother: Dolemite Is My Name, A Hidden Life, John Wick 3, Judy, Queen & Slim, Waves

Would love to see: Me somehow get 8-9/10 on these Sound categories. Which won’t happen.

I overthought this. I know I did. But my brain hurts. I’m assuming 3/5 the same when all we’ve done over the past couple of years is get closer to 5/5 the same. I guess the move would have been to take Star Wars off both and then put Irishman on both, and that would have been the safest version. But you know what? Let’s just roll the dice and hope I do well enough overall for it not to matter.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Time for Best Animated Feature.

There are 32 eligible films. Here they are:

Abominable
The Addams Family
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Another Day of Life
Away
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
Children of the Sea
Dilili in Paris
Frozen II
Funan
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Klaus
The Last Fiction
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Missing Link
Ne Zha
Okko’s Inn
Pachamama
Primal – Tales of Savagery
Promare

Rezo
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Spies in Disguise
The Swallows of Kabul
This Magnificent Cake!
The Tower
Toy Story 4
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris
Weathering with You
White Snake

I’ve seen a lot, but not all of these. Here’s a breakdown of my personal thoughts on them:

  • Liked: Frozen II, I Lost My Body, Klaus, Missing Link, Okko’s Inn, Toy Story 4
  • Was fine: Another Day of Life, Dilili in Paris, Funan, Pachamama, Primal, Spies in Disguise, This Magnificent Cake, The Tower, Weathering with You
  • Ehh: Abominable, Children of the Sea, How to Train Your Dragon, Lego Movie 2, Secret Life of Pets 2
  • Did not like: Addams Family, Angry Birds 2, Ne Zha, Promare, Upin & Ipin, White Snake
  • Haven’t seen: Away, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, The Last Fiction, Marona’s Fantastic Tale, Rezo, Swallows of Kabul

Now, of the 32 films, I guarantee you, 22 of them have zero chance to get nominated. Only ten remotely have a chance, and really it’s only seven, but I’ll give three more a shot.

The ones I know for a fact will not be nominated: The Addams Family, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Another Day of Life, Away, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, Children of the Sea, Dilili in Paris, Funan, The Last Fiction, Marona’s Fantastic Tale, Ne Zha, Okko’s Inn, Pachamama, Primal – Tales of Savagery, Promare, Rezo, The Secret Life of Pets 2, The Swallows of Kabul, This Magnificent Cake!, The Tower, Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris, White Snake. Normally I’m slightly more inclusive, but this year, fuck that. Don’t guess them, and let them beat you if they’re gonna go that way. Trust me. It’s not worth it.

Of the ten, the ones that I think could have a little bit of a chance, but probably not:

  • Lego Movie 2 — First one wasn’t nominated, can’t imagine they go here, but shit’s weird sometimes. Consider it, but don’t bother actually guessing it.
  • Spies in Disguise — It got good enough reviews, maybe they go there. Could be a Ferdinand type pull. I don’t see it happening, but you never know. At least Ferdinand had one of the precursors (I think the Globes). Not liking this one’s chances.
  • Weathering with You — Big anime film, director of Your Name. Did well elsewhere. Here’s the problem: last year was literally the first time ever a non-Ghibli anime made the Oscar category. And this film hasn’t even opened yet in America (or if it did, it just barely opened), so there’s no real word of mouth potential for it either. So I’m not seeing it. Mirai you saw coming. This one would literally come from nowhere.

That really leaves Abominable, Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, I Lost My Body, Klaus, Missing Link and Toy Story 4 as major eligibles. And honestly, you can figure four of them out just on principle. So it’s gonna be easy and all we’re gonna do is argue that last spot.

Here are the precursors, in case you put stock into those:

  • Globes: Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon, Missing Link, Toy Story 4
  • BAFTA: Frozen II, Klaus, Toy Story 4
  • BFCA: Abominable, Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon, I Lost My Body, Missing Link, Toy Story 4
  • PGA: Abominable, Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon, Missing Link, Toy Story 4

Total Annie nominations (* means it was nominated in the Best Picture category):

  • Frozen II — 8*
  • Missing Link — 8*
  • Klaus — 7*
  • Toy Story 4 — 6*
  • How to Train Your Dragon 3 — 6*
  • I Lost My Body — 6
  • Abominable — 4
  • Weathering with You — 4
  • The Addams Family — 2
  • Secret Life of Pets 2 — 2
  • Spies in Disguise — 2
  • Away — 1
  • Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles — 1
  • Okko’s Inn — 1
  • Promare — 1

Frozen tied for the most Annie nominations and hit every precursor. So that’s one. Missing Link was also tied for Annie nominations and got nominated everywhere but BAFTA. It’s Laika, and they’ve always been nominated. Plus it won the Globe, if that matters to you. So put that on. That’s two. Toy Story 4 is Pixar, hit everything and is fourth overall for Annie nominations. Plus it just won BFCA. That’s three. How to Train Your Dragon — both previous films were nominees, it has six Annie nominations and hit all the other precursors except BAFTA (who didn’t nominate the second one either). I’m saying that’s on, and that’s four.

Like I said, it’s just that last spot we’re talking about. We’ve got three options: Abominable, I Lost My Body, Klaus. Each has pros and cons.

  • Abominable — nominated at the PGA, nominated at BFCA. Four Annie nominations. Got good reviews. Negatives: least Annie nominations of the remaining films. Does anyone really care? Aren’t we assuming this is on purely because it’s the biggest studio film of the bunch and has the biggest profile?
  • I Lost My Body — Six Annie nominations and a BFCA nomination. Negatives… the one no one’s heard of. Artistic, but the new voting system seems to have eliminated those choices, by and large, unless it’s clear everyone agrees on them. I’m not surprised it missed the PGA, but I’d have liked to see a BAFTA nomination there.
  • Klaus — 7 Annie nominations and a BAFTA. That BAFTA nom is huge. Negatives: Netflix. Do they not vote for it because it’s Netflix? Did enough people see it and give a shit?

You can make a case for literally all three of them. The one I’m feeling least is I Lost My Body, so I’ll make that the Dark Horse. I guess it could, but I’m just not feeling it, and all I really have to go on is my gut. So it’s Klaus vs. Abominable. The boring, obvious choice is Abominable, but it doesn’t really have the kind of overall support I’d have wanted to see. The real problem is the Globes nominating Lion King in Animated, depriving us of that fifth choice.

But Klaus… Seven Annie nominations and BAFTA. And BAFTA’s usually really good at picking quality stuff. So I’m gonna go with Klaus and just be wrong if it’s Abominable or I Lost My Body. And if it’s something else, well then, shit.

Best Animated Feature

Frozen II

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Klaus

Missing Link

Toy Story 4

First Alternate: Abominable

Dark Horse: I Lost My Body

Surprise: Spies in Disguise, Weathering with You, Lego Movie 2, Okko’s Inn

Shocker: The Angry Birds Movie 2, Away, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, The Swallows of Kabul

Don’t even bother: The Addams Family, Another Day of Life, Children of the Sea, Dilili in Paris, Funan, The Last Fiction, Marona’s Fantastic Tale, Ne Zha, Pachamama, Primal – Tales of Savagery, Promare, Rezo, The Secret Life of Pets 2, This Magnificent Cake!, The Tower, Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris, White Snake

Would love to see: Okko’s Inn

You are 100% guaranteed 4/5 here. It would have to be a giant massacre in which we all go down for you to not. And you’ve got a 1/3 choice for that fifth spot. Take your pick. You’re already ahead.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Foreign Language Film.

Here’s your shortlist:

The Painted Bird (Czech Republic)
Truth and Justice (Estonia)
Les Misérables (France)
Those Who Remained (Hungary)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Beanpole (Russia)
Atlantics (Senegal)
Parasite (South Korea)
Pain and Glory (Spain)

Ten shortlisted, five nominated. Mostly you’re just guessing.

Here’s the precursors:

  • BAFTA: Pain and Glory, Parasite
  • BFCA: Atlantics, Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Parasite
  • Globes: Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Parasite

Let’s cut the bullshit. Parasite is on. It’s gonna get nominated for Picture and Director. It’s on.

Here’s the other nine, and what they’re about:

  • The Painted Bird — A young Jewish boy somewhere in Eastern Europe seeks refuge during World War II where he encounters many different characters.
  • Truth and Justice — The story of an uncompromising man whose soul is corrupted by the relentless pursuit of his dream.
  • Les Misérables — A cop of provinces moves Paris to join the Anti-Crime Brigade of Montfermeil, discovering an underworld where the tensions between the different groups mark the rhythm.
  • Those Who Remained — Reveals the healing process of Holocaust survivors through the eyes of a young girl in post-World War II Hungary.
  • Honeyland — The last female bee-hunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood.
  • Corpus Christi — Daniel experiences a spiritual transformation in a detention center. Although his criminal record prevents him from applying to the seminary, he has no intention of giving up his dream and decides to minister a small-town parish.
  • Beanpole — 1945, Leningrad. WWII has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.
  • Atlantics — In a popular suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Souleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another.
  • Pain and Glory — A film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him.

I didn’t do what I thought I might do, which is watch the few (Atlantics, Les Mis, Truth and Justice) I have copies of. Maybe that’ll happen tonight, we’ll see. (Update: It did not happen.)

I’ve seen, outside of Parasite, Pain and Glory and Honeyland. Honeyland is also shortlisted in Documentary Feature. Which… typically when something is shortlisted in both, it tends to get on Documentary, because documentaries don’t usually get on this category. The Missing Picture got on in 2013, but I felt like that was some sort of fuckery on behalf of the branch to get Cambodia nominated. But before that, you have Waltz with Bashir, and you gotta go back a ways before that. I’m not assuming the documentary gets on.

Pain and Glory, meanwhile, is Pedro Almovodar. He hasn’t gotten shortlisted a lot recently, so I don’t know if that means they’re gonna vote for him. But if I’m voting for Banderas in Actor, then I’m sure as shit putting in on this category. Plus… it’s Almodovar. What, you’re not gonna put the director you know in this category? So he’s on for me.

Meanwhile, Les Mis has gotten all sorts of nominations and has been very much in the realm of ‘most lauded foreign films’. Plus, they submitted it over Portrait of a Lady on Fire, so there’s a vested interest in seeing it nominated so as to not get into that conversation. So I think we’re pretty set with this getting on. And then Atlantics has also been pretty lauded and has fans all across the board. So that’s the fourth one for me.

Now we’re just figuring out that final spot. And for me, I always go with the arty black and white movie. So I’m taking The Painted Bird. There’s no rationale for it whatsoever. That’s just what I’m gonna do. You wanna go Corpus Christi, that’s fine. I could see that happening too. Wanna go Holocaust and Those Who Remained? Cool. Beanpole is Russia and just doesn’t feel like a film that gets nominated, but what do I know? If I saw it, then maybe I’d have a better idea. And then Truth and Justice… no clue, but it feels like a no. I’m fine with my five. I think I can get four of these.

Best International Film

Atlantics

Les Misérables

Pain and Glory

The Painted Bird

Parasite

First Alternate: Corpus Christi

Dark Horse: Those Who Remained

Surprise: Honeyland, Beanpole

Shocker: Truth and Justice

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Me go 5/5 here, because that seems like the best set of films.

It’s Foreign Language. You’ve got probably three to four gimmes here. Take those, hope for the best. If you get 4/5, that’s fucking great. Never assume more than 3/5 here. So if you have four you feel comfortable about, you’re already doing great.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Best Documentary.

They’ve shortlisted 15 films:

Advocate
American Factory
The Apollo
Apollo 11
Aquarela
The Biggest Little Farm
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama
The Great Hack
Honeyland
Knock Down the House
Maiden
Midnight Family
One Child Nation

I’ve seen 12 of these. Here are my thoughts:

  • Loved: Apollo 11, Maiden
  • Liked: The Apollo, Aquarela, For Sama
  • Was fine: The Biggest Little Farm, The Great Hack, Honeyland, Knock Down the House
  • Whatever: American Factory, The Edge of Democracy, One Child Nation
  • Haven’t seen: Advocate, The Cave, Midnight Family

Here’s what they’re all about:

  • Advocate — A look at the life and work of Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel who has represented political prisoners for nearly 50 years.
  • American Factory — End 2008, GM closes a plant in Ohio. A Chinese billionaire/Fuyao Glass buys the plant 2014 and invests in auto glass production. There are 2000 jobs there by late 2016. USA meets PRChina.
  • The Apollo — The history of New York City’s Apollo Theater in Harlem is given the full treatment.
  • Apollo 11 — A look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
  • Aquarela — Water and ice are shown around the world, in all of their many powerful forms.
  • The Biggest Little Farm — Documentarian John Chester and his wife Molly work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles.
  • The Cave — Amidst air strikes and bombings, a group of female doctors in Ghouta, Syria struggle with systemic sexism while trying to care for the injured using limited resources.
  • The Edge of Democracy — Political documentary and personal memoir collide in this exploration into the complex truth behind the unraveling of two Brazilian presidencies.
  • For Sama — A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice – whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much.
  • The Great Hack — The Cambridge Analytica scandal is examined through the roles of several affected persons.
  • Honeyland — The last female bee-hunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood.
  • Knock Down the House — A look at the people involved with various political campaigns during the 2018 U.S. congressional election.
  • Maiden — The story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.
  • Midnight Family — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help.
  • One Child Nation — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

Not a whole lot of precursors to use (and the branch is just totally broken), but here’s what we have:

  • BAFTA: American Factory, Apollo 11, For Sama, The Great Hack
  • PGA: Advocate, American Factory, Apollo 11, The Cave, For Sama, Honeyland, One Child Nation

BFCA also gave out a bunch of doc awards. Apollo 11 won Best Doc, Best Editing and other random awards. American Factory won (tied for) Best Director, and they had a bunch of other categories too. Not sure how much I can put stock in them, and they split the doc categories into a bunch of stuff. So they’re there if you want to use them. I’m not even using the PGA or BAFTA, really, so I’m moving along.

Just based on my history with this category, I feel comfortable saying these docs won’t get nominated: Advocate, The Apollo, Aquarela. Just three. But three is helpful here.

To knock a few more off — Apollo 11 is the best documentary of the year. I’m putting it on my list and they’re going to have to leave it off and yet again not nominate the best doc. Go ahead, pull another Mr. Rogers. I dare you. So that’s one for me on the list. American Factory has also hit like every major precursor, is produced by the Obamas and just feels like it’s gonna get nominated. So that’s one I’m putting on until they don’t nominate it. For Sama is also so emotional and so well done. And BAFTA nominated it in like four categories or something. That’s a big sign. Put that on your list. Let them not nominate it. That’s three. Oh, also, Maiden is one of the best documentaries of the year and I refuse to think that most people who see all these nominees wouldn’t want to vote for it. I’m also not gonna not have it on my list. So that’s my #4.

So now we’ve got eight options for the last spot. Great.

  • The Biggest Little Farm got a big release and was somewhat liked, but it’s a very slight documentary and just doesn’t feel like something that gets nominated. Plus, no precursors either, which should tell you a bit of how they feel about it. So that’s not going on my list.
  • The Cave I knew nothing about (because it’s one of the three I haven’t been able to see), but then there was the press about the director not being allowed to enter the country. Which definitely helped The Salesman win Foreign Language Film a few years ago. Plus, it’s about female doctors in Syria. Kind of the total package for them.
  • The Edge of Democracy is Netflix and it’s about Brazil. They really only seem to like films like this when they’re about America. It’s not people fighting for freedom (because we like that aspect. We think of ourselves as the torchbearers for fighting for and giving other people independence), it’s about governmental corruption. We’ve got enough of that here, so I don’t feel like they’re gonna go there, but who knows.
  • The Great Hack is Cambridge Analytica. Big scandal, big deal in the country. They’re gonna love the subject matter (and Sacha Baron Cohen even sort of referenced it at the Globes with his joke about Zuckerberg), but the question is if the doc is good enough for them to go there. I’m definitely considering this for that last spot.
  • Honeyland — shortlisted in two categories. Does that help it? Does it not? The last time something got shortlisted twice was Fire at Sea, which got nominated in Documentary. So maybe that means something. I saw it. I didn’t particularly care, but that doesn’t mean anything. You have to consider it strongly because of the double shortlists.
  • Knock Down the House is a very topical film, but it’s not really an amazing documentary. Not sure they’re gonna go for it. It feels like something that won’t get on. I can go deeper into it, but let’s stick with… it doesn’t feel like they’re going there.
  • Midnight Family sounds great, but also it never got sent out as a screener to voters. And that always concerns me. I’ve heard nothing about it, and that’s usually a bad sign. So I’m not gonna guess it and just will see what happens in the end.
  • One Child Nation could definitely make it. It feels like it could, feels like it might, but I’m not sure if they’re gonna care, in the end. Just because… it feels a bit like that scene in Selma, where they’re getting beaten and it’s televised, so suddenly all the white people realize, “Oh man, that’s what’s going on?” and suddenly things happen. It’s that Chappelle quote — “My god! Apparently the police have been beating up negroes like hotcakes!” That’s how this feels. Like, we knew the policy was there, so really this is just one family adopting a kid and realizing, “Wow, they’ve really fucked things up with this policy and now people are doing illegal things and selling children to Americans for profit.” So I don’t know. 50/50.

To me, if I’m picking that last spot, I’m thinking either The Cave, Honeyland, The Great Hack or One Child Nation. I’m not feeling One Child Nation, so I’m gonna leave that off and let it beat me. The Great Hack… not above the other two. Honeyland I should put on because of the double shortlisting, but some of these I can’t not put on my list. And I need to see them physically leave Apollo 11 off in favor of Honeyland. Because you know that’s how it’s going. I refuse to guess it, but you know that’s how that’s gonna go. I’ve seen this shitty branch fuck things up too many times to not expect that.

The Cave… it’s the total package for them, and it’s got the ‘this shitty administration prevented him from getting into the country’ angle to boot. How could they not nominate it after that? So that’s my fifth. I feel okay about all this.

Best Documentary Feature

American Factory

Apollo 11

The Cave

For Sama

Maiden

First Alternate: Honeyland

Dark Horse: The Great Hack

Surprise: One Child Nation, The Biggest Little Farm, Knock Down the House

Shocker: Advocate, The Edge of Democracy, Midnight Family

Don’t even bother: Aquarela, The Apollo

Would love to see: If Apollo 11, For Sama and Maiden are not on the final list, then this category needs to be overhauled or abolished until they fix it. I also would really like to see The Cave, just as a documentary, not like, nominated. I can’t speak to that just yet.

It’s Documentary. Expect no better than 3/5 at best. One year recently I got 1/5, I think. Or maybe it was 2/5 and it felt like 1/5 because I so rarely do that bad in a non-Shorts category. So anything’s open. I think, of my five nominees, I should get at least three of them, if not four. I’d love 5/5, but I can’t expect it. If I can go 4/5, not only am I happy, then they largely got the best possible category.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Documentary Short.

Five from ten. The usual.

After Maria
Fire in Paradise
Ghosts of Sugar Land
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
The Nightcrawlers
St. Louis Superman
Stay Close
Walk Run Cha-Cha

Linked in all of those is either the full doc, a trailer or a clip, depending on what I could find.

  • After Maria — Strong Puerto Rican women forced to flee the island after Hurricane Maria have bonded like family in a FEMA hotel in the Bronx. They seek stability in their new life as forces try to pull them apart.
  • Fire in Paradise — On 8th November, 2018, a fire broke out in California near the town of Paradise. Over the course of a few hours, the Camp Fire grew into the country’s deadliest wildfire in over a century. Through first-hand footage of the disaster and interviews with survivors and responders, Fire in Paradise retells the survival stories from that day.
  • Ghosts of Sugar Land — A group of suburban Muslims attempt to reconcile the disappearance of a close friend and must learn to live with the consequences of his actions.
  • In the Absence — Documents the sinking of a South Korean Ferry. As a result of the ineptitude of the first response to the emerging situation, hundreds of people, mostly children lost their lives
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) — The story of young Afghan girls learning to read, write-and skateboard-in Kabul.
  • Life Overtakes Me — In the grip of trauma, hundreds of refugee children in Sweden withdraw from life’s uncertainties into a coma-like illness called Resignation Syndrome.
  • The Nightcrawlers — With unprecedented access, The Nightcrawlers is an unflinching exposé of Filipino President Duterte’s war on drugs, in which some claim over 20,000 people have been killed. RL, a former staff photographer for a prominent newspaper, leads the Manila Nightcrawlers, a small group of determined photojournalists on a mission to expose the true cost of the violent campaign. In covering both sides of the conflict, The Nightcrawlers reveals a harrowing twist behind Duterte’s deadly crusade.
  • St. Louis Superman — Bruce Franks Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives, must overcome both personal trauma and political obstacles to pass a critical bill for his community.
  • Stay Close — The underdog story of a fencer from Brooklyn who overcomes a gauntlet of hardships on the road to the Olympics.
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha — Paul and Millie Cao lost their youth to the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they have become successful professionals in Southern California-and are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor.

I’ve seen nine of the ten. St. Louis Superman is the only one that isn’t readily available to be seen.

Of the ten, I can’t imagine Learning to Skateboard or In the Absence being left off. So those are on. Stay Close feels like them — (person) overcomes (something) to do something great. It’s a really entertaining one too. So I’ll guess that. Nightcrawlers is about the Filipino war on drugs, which feels like a subject they’d go for. And then After Maria is about Hurricane Maria and how the government isn’t helping those affected by it. That also feels like it would be on.

St. Louis Superman — I can’t tell. So 50/50.

Walk Run Cha-Cha doesn’t feel like them, so I left that off. Ghosts of Sugar Land didn’t amount to anything, so I can’t see them going there. Life Overtakes Me sounded like it would be them to a tee, but I don’t know. They don’t lean into the political aspect as much as they should have if they wanted to be nominated. And Fire in Paradise does feel like them, but I’m not sure if they’ll go all in on it. So that’s my Alternate.

Truly with this category, you just guess and hope for the best. I think I’ve got 3/5 here for sure, which is really all I need.

Best Documentary Short

After Maria

In the Absence

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

The Nightcrawlers

Stay Close

First Alternate: Fire in Paradise

Dark Horse: Life Overtakes Me

Surprise: St. Louis Superman, Ghosts of Sugar Land

Shocker: Walk Run Cha-Cha

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone, In the Absence and Stay Close get nominated. Past that, don’t care.

It’s Doc Short. Assume 2/5, be happy with 3/5, anything more is a big win.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Live-Action Short. The biggest crapshoot of all.

Shortlist:

Brotherhood
The Christmas Gift
Little Hands
Miller & Son
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbors’ Window
Refugee
Saria
A Sister
Sometimes, I Think about Dying

Here’s what they’re all about, with links to trailers/whatever’s online in full:

  • Brotherhood — Mohamed is deeply shaken when his oldest son Malik returns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife.
  • The Christmas Gift — On the 20th of December,1989, a few days after Ceausescu’s bloody repression in Timisoara, a father’s quiet evening turns to sheer ordeal as he finds out that his little son has mailed a wish letter to Santa. As the kid understood, his father’s desire was to see Ceausescu dead.
  • Little Hands — Leo, 2, is the son of the acting manager of a chemical plant. When employees find out that the direction is about to close the factory, Bruno, a more radical worker, kidnaps Leo to negotiate…
  • Miller & Son — A transwoman mechanic lives between running her family’s auto shop during the day and expressing her femininity at night, until an unforeseen event threatens the balance of her compartmentalized life.
  • Nefta Football Club — In a Tunisian village, children are playing football on a wasteland. Meanwhile, Abdallah and Mohammed come across a donkey with headphones on his ears and bags full of a white powder on his back. The two young brothers decide to bring those bags back to their village.
  • The Neighbors’ Window — It tells the story of a middle aged woman with small children whose life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings move in across the street.
  • Refugee — As a pediatric surgeon in the Syrian city of Aleppo, Amira works daily to save children from death’s door — so much so that she has become neglectful of her own daughter, Rasha. When the war that has largely spared them finally strikes close to home, Amira and Rasha suddenly find themselves fleeing for their lives — forced into a dangerous journey during which they must heal their relationship and draw close even as they leave their homeland behind forever.
  • Saria — Explores the unimaginable hardships faced by young female orphans at the Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala, leading up to the tragic fire which claimed 41 of their lives in 2017. We follow the story of two inseparable orphaned sisters – Saria 12, and her sister Ximena 14, as they fight against mounting daily physical abuse at the very institution designed to protect them. In the sisters’ desperation for survival, they devise a daring plan of escape for all the orphans to find freedom in America.
  • A Sister — Follows two women communicating through a dire situation. A pulsing tempo with bold dynamic shots leads us to Alie as she makes the most important phone call of her life to an emergency dispatchers operator.
  • Sometimes, I Think about Dying — Fran likes to think about dying. When she makes a guy in the office laugh, he wants more – a movie date, a slice of pie, a conversation. But if dating him means learning to live, she’s pretty sure she can’t do that.

I’ve seen six of these: Brotherhood, Little Hands, Miller & Son, Nefta Football Club, The Neighbors’ Window and Sometimes I Think About Dying. All but Little Hands are still available online. I have not seen The Christmas Gift, Refugee, Saria and A Sister.

To start with the ones I haven’t seen — Refugee sounds like it’s good and sounds like something they go for. The Christmas Gift also sounds like it’s something they like too, assuming it’s kinda cute in the end and not, like, “Dad ends up killed.” But I think it’s something they’d like. A Sister I refuse to think they nominate, because literally every year of the past like, four, there’s been a ‘phone call’ type short or something on a shortlist somewhere. Can we really just be nominating the same shit over and over again? So that’s not going on principle. And Saria, I can’t tell. Gonna go for no, and just let it get on.

Of the ones I’ve seen — The Neighbors’ Window is the best short of the bunch and should be nominated and win. Sometimes I Think About Dying is cutesy, but I’m not sure there’s enough substance there. Nefta Football Club is basically a punchline kinda short, but they like those a lot of the time. Miller & Son is solid and feels like something they’ll go for on subject matter alone. Brotherhood is really solid, but also ends sort of out of nowhere. So maybe that’s enough for them, maybe they want more. I can’t tell.

Personally, I’m going with Miller & Son, Nefta and Neighbors’ Window of the ones I’ve seen. And rather than just go with what I’ve seen, I’m gonna put Christmas Gift and Refugee on as the other two. I’ll leave Brotherhood and Sometimes I Think About Dying as alternates. It’s completely random and no one knows, so none of this matters. You just make your choices and hope for the best.

Best Live Action Short

The Christmas Gift

Miller & Son

Nefta Football Club

The Neighbors’ Window

Refugee

First Alternate: Sometimes, I Think about Dying

Dark Horse: Brotherhood

Surprise: Little Hands, Saria

Shocker: A Sister

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: The Neighbors’ Window get nominated and win.

It’s Live Action Short. Assume 2/5, anything better is amazing. This category above all others is the most random. You cannot possibly telegraph this one in any intelligent way because you can never truly know. So guess and keep your fingers crossed.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

And we end with Animated Short.

Here’s the shortlist:

Dcera (Daughter)
Hair Love
He Can’t Live without Cosmos
Hors Piste
Kitbull
Memorable
Mind My Mind
The Physics of Sorrow
Sister
Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days

  • Dcera — The bond between a father and a daughter is imperiled by matters that go unspoken and hurts that are slow to heal.
  • Hair Love — About an African American father trying to do his daughters hair for the first time.
  • He Can’t Live Without Cosmos — This is a story about a mother and her only son. And also – about fate and destiny.
  • Hors Piste — The two best rescue workers in the region take off for their umpteenth mission. Professionalism and efficiency all around, but things don’t really go as planned…
  • Kitbull — An unlikely connection sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.
  • Memorable — Louis, a painter, tries to live with Alzheimer’s disease. How does his gaze evolve?
  • Mind My Mind — When relying on social scripts to survive the social world, it’s not easy to go off-script. Especially if you’re obsessed with German dive bombers and just want to date a girl.
  • The Physics of Sorrow — A saga of childhood reveries and adult regrets that is also the first-ever fully animated film using encaustic painting.
  • Sister — A man thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently?
  • Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days — From Regina’s personal and visual memories, a tribute to her uncle Thomas, a humble man with a simple and anonymous life. This is her acknowledgment how one does not have to be somebody to become exceptional in our life.

I’ve seen five of these. I have not seen Dcera, He Can’t Live Without Cosmos, Mémorable, Mind My Mind and The Physics of Sorrow. Fortunately I have seen The Physics of Sorrow director’s previous film, which was nominated, Blind Vaysha, so I get the style. And I’ve seen the previously nominated We Can’t Live Without the Cosmos, which was that gay Russian astronaut short from a few years ago. So I’ve got that going for me.

Of what I’ve seen —

  • Hair Love was beautiful and I’m putting it on my list. They’d be stupid not to nominate it. You can click the link up there and watch the whole short. You’ll see.
  • Hors Piste is fun as shit. Can’t tell if they’re gonna go there, but it’s so much fun they almost have to, right? I’m putting it on and I’ll just let them leave it off. I’m fine with that. That one’s available in full up there on the link.
  • Kitbull felt really slight. It felt like a Pixar grad student short rather than a Pixar short. I know the move is nominate Pixar every time… but I’m not feeling this one. Maybe I’m wrong and I’m stupid, but I’m feeling crazy this year. So I’m leaving it off. That one’s also up there in full on the link.
  • Sister I wasn’t really a fan of. It looked great, but the narrative just kind of pulls the rug out from under you and makes me roll my eyes rather than get emotional. But that’s just me. Maybe they’ll go for it. That one’s available in full as well.
  • Uncle Thomas I really enjoyed. And I know they tend to like those ‘childhood reminiscence’ shorts. It looked really nice too. So I’ll put that on my list. It used to be available in full but is no longer. So, sorry, all you get is a trailer.

Right now, I’ve got 3/5 filled. Yes on Hair Love, yes on Uncle Thomas, yes on Hors Piste. No on Sister, no on Kitbull. Which means I have to pick up two from the five I’ve not seen.

I didn’t like We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, so I’m not gonna assume they go back there for the sequel. But they nominated the first one, so clearly they like it. That’s your call. I’m not doing it. Physics of Sorrow… it’s gonna look amazing, that much I know. Will the story matter to them? Will they care? Will that matter? I don’t know. I’m leaving it of and am gonna see what they do. They don’t feel like a group that just nominates everything from the same directors. So that’s what I’m leaning on for this one. Mind My Mind has the autism angle, which they might go for. So I’ll pick that one. And Dcera just looks gorgeously shot, so I’ll put that on too. Memorable also looks amazing, but I’m out of space. And I also don’t know what the fuck is gonna happen, so I’m just gonna pick these five and hope for the best and not beat myself up over it.

Best Animated Short

Dcera

Hair Love

Hors Piste

Mind My Mind

Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days

First Alternate: Mémorable

Dark Horse: Kitbull

Surprise: He Can’t Live Without Cosmos, The Physics of Sorrow

Shocker: Sister

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Honestly, any five except the space one, Sister and Kitbull. Other than those, I’m fine.

So yeah, 3/5 is a good showing here. You never know. Just pick your five and hope for the best.

– – – – – – – – –

Okay. So that’s that. I’m at the point now where I don’t really care how well I do. I mean, I’d like to get about 85 of them right in total, but otherwise, I’m not really invested in playing it safe. I went some directions here that I really don’t normally go, I feel, and I felt like I just made some picks for the sake of making them and being done. I’m sure I do that every year and black it out, but whatever. Here we are.

BFCA Awards are gonna be announced soon and I may come back and edit this over the next seven hours. Other than that, nominations are announced 5:30am PT tomorrow. And then we’ve got our nominees and it’s a mad dash to Oscar night… in three weeks. It’s insane.

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