The B+ Oscar Ballot: Guide to the 92nd Academy Awards

It’s Oscar night, folks.

I’ve done this enough to know what’s about to happen. You all want my picks for what’s gonna win because I’m the person you know who’s stupid enough to actually put real thought into this whole charade and generally am right about all this stuff, and I like talking about this nonsense. So we have the trade-off… I write a lot and you pretend to read it while skipping down to what I picked.

We all know the drill — I’m gonna ramble for 24 categories, try to make sense of it all, eventually decide “fuck it” and leave it to chance, then I’m gonna go get drunk and eat Chinese food and watch the ceremony. Everybody has their traditions.

I’m gonna surprise you, though. I’m not going all out with this one as I normally do. I usually go extra nuts in this article because this is my one chance to throw all these random historical statistics and things out there. But this year, if a category’s easy, we’re just gonna let it be easy. And you know what’s even crazier than that? I finished this article like a week ago. I’ve moved on already.

george clooney GIF

Don’t worry, it’ll still be twice as long as it needs to be. I said I wasn’t going all out, I didn’t say I wasn’t writing stuff up. You know there’s no one out there who wastes as much time as I do on all this stuff. And I can guarantee that I’m the only one who will give you the entire picture of a category and maybe be slightly more entertaining than the others. But only slightly.

I’m usually in the 18-20 range for straight up guesses most years, though now I’m more about accurately grading myself on gauging entire categories than just straight picks. Which is why I’ll always explain my rationale for doing what I’m doing all the way through a category, so that way if you disagree you can just go another way. I’ll also tell you when I’m doing something that’s probably not the smart choice. The goal isn’t to tell you what to do but to give you all the information you need to be smarter than I am. Which is admittedly a very low bar.

Since 2015 I’ve been grading myself on what I call the ‘Scorecard Ballot’, which grades me not just on winners and losers but on how well I can analyze an entire category. The way it works is: I rank each category from 1-5 (1-9 for Best Picture), with #1 being the most likely winner and so on. If my #1 wins, I get 1 point. #2, 2 points, etc. The goal is to get as close to a perfect score of 24 as possible. So even if I’m not perfect, I’m graded on how well I can say, “If it’s not this, then it’s this.” Which I’ve shown to be pretty good at doing. My personal best on the Scorecard is +5, but for me, as long as I’m under 10 I’m doing well.

Even though I only officially started doing this in 2015, I did always rank all the nominees when I did this article, so I’m able to calculate my Scorecard numbers all the way back to 2011. I’m sure I’d have done some of those early years differently if I was trying to get the rankings right, but still, we get a decent picture of how I normally do at this:

  • 2011: +14 (38)
  • 2012: +10 (34)
  • 2013: +5 (29)
  • 2014: +8 (32)
  • 2015: +9 (33)
  • 2016: +11 (35)
  • 2017: +5 (29)
  • 2018: +9 (33)

Generally I’m in that 5-10 range, which is exactly where I want to be. That amounts to getting 17-21 right picking straight up. Which most years is a respectable score. Really the goal is to get all categories down to a 50/50 tossup, with maybe one third choice occasionally coming in. I always say, in the history of me doing this, there’s really only been about three categories that straight up threw me for a loop, and they’re all technical categories (Editing 2011, Production Design 2012, Visual Effects 2015). Typically you have a good idea of what the contenders are and there’s no reason we shouldn’t all be doing well at this.

Most of it comes down to eliminating personal biases and the rest comes down to simple luck. You’re always gonna need the luck, but as long as you can take yourself out of the equation, you’re putting yourself in the best possible situation. Plus, the beautiful thing about taking yourself out of the equation is you don’t get upset when stuff you don’t want to happen does.

Let’s get into the categories. (That’s got to be the shortest introduction I’ve ever had for this article.)

Best Picture

1917

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

My Rankings:

  1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. Ford v Ferrari
  3. Parasite
  4. Little Women
  5. The Irishman
  6. 1917
  7. Jojo Rabbit
  8. Marriage Story
  9. Joker

My Thoughts: Fortunately, 7 of my top 10 films are on this list. Of course, being a preferential ballot, I did make some slight changes to my rankings, putting the films in the order I’d like to see them win. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is my #1, so that’s #1 here and would be my vote. Ford v Ferrari was my #2, so that’s #2. Irishman was my #3, but all things considered, I’d rather see both Parasite and Little Women win over it, so those are my #3 and #4 and Irishman becomes #5. 1917 was my #6, so no change there, and Jojo is the only film left from my top ten, so that becomes #7. I wasn’t a huge fan of Marriage Story or Joker, so those are my #8 and #9. All pretty easy, and it makes me confident I’d be happy with most outcomes they’d choose for the actual winner.

My Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Should Have Been Nominated: Knives Out, Waves

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The PGA was a perfect 9/9 this year, and all the way through we pretty much knew what the consensus choices were. There wasn’t a whole lot of variation on everyone’s lists. BFCA had all nine on their list, BAFTA had five of the nine on theirs and the Globes nominated 6/9, with Parasite being ineligible. This was a very straightforward category, and the only question was whether or not they’d have 9 nominees or 8 (because there’s never been 10 nominees in a sliding scale year).

In terms of the actual voting, it’s done on a preferential ballot. Which — I can post the whole long explanation I usually do, or just say: people rank the choices 1-9. A film needs only a simple majority (50% + 1 vote) to win. They tally all the #1 votes in the first round and whatever has the least of the nine is out. Then what happens is, all the second choices on the ballots with the eliminated #1 film get that ballot’s #1 vote. And they keep doing that and eliminating films until something hits that majority. It’s important to note that the film with the most #1 overall votes might not win Best Picture if another film is #2 or #3 on the most ballots. So really it’s all about which films everyone really liked the most overall.

The five precursors that help us guess this category are PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, SAG and the Globes. Historically, the PGA is the most accurate predictor. They’re 21/30 all-time (70%). Here are their nine misses:

  • 1992, The Crying Game wins the PGA. Unforgiven wins the Oscar.
  • 1995, Apollo 13 wins the PGA. Braveheart wins the Oscar.
  • 1998, Saving Private Ryan wins the PGA. Shakespeare in Love wins the Oscar.
  • 2001, Moulin Rouge! wins the PGA. A Beautiful Mind wins the Oscar.
  • 2004, The Aviator wins the PGA. Million Dollar Baby wins the Oscar.
  • 2005, Brokeback Mountain wins the PGA. Crash wins the Oscar.
  • 2006, Little Miss Sunshine wins the PGA. The Departed wins the Oscar.
  • 2015, The Big Short wins the PGA. Spotlight wins the Oscar.
  • 2016, La La Land wins the PGA. Moonlight wins the Oscar.

2016 was a straight 50/50, even if La La Land won most of the precursors. 2015, there were a couple of options at the top and we weren’t sure where it was gonna go. 2006 was open but I think we all figured Marty winning director might turn the tide in Picture. 2005, we all know what happened there. 2004, Million Dollar Baby came on late and strong. 2001, I can only assume they knew they wouldn’t vote for Fellowship because two more were coming and didn’t really know where to put most of the votes. 1998 was a straight 50/50. 1995, Braveheart became the choice when Ron Howard wasn’t nominated for Best Director. And 1992, I can’t tell you about. But it’s Clint Eastwood again, so I’m thinking I can wager a good guess.

Of the other four precursors, here’s who had the winner in the years the PGA missed:

  • 1998, BAFTA, SAG and the Globes had Shakespeare in Love (though the Globes also had Private Ryan in Drama)
  • 2001, BFCA and the Globes had A Beautiful Mind (though the Globes also had Moulin Rouge in Comedy)
  • 2005, SAG had Crash
  • 2006, BFCA had The Departed
  • 2015, BFCA and SAG had Spotlight
  • 2016, the Globes had Moonlight (but also had La La Land in Comedy)

Generally, it’s all there. We’ve had precursor awards for Best Picture going all the way back to 1943, and only nine total times did something win zero precursors and go on to win Best Picture: Casablanca (1943), From Here to Eternity (1953), Marty (1955), Patton (1970), Godfather Part II (1974), Deer Hunter (1978), Unforgiven (1992), Braveheart (1995) and Million Dollar Baby (2004). Meaning it’s only happened twice in the era of five precursors and only once in the past 20 years. And somehow, even that one time I think we kinda knew it, too. But even so, most years, you know what the choices are. It’s usually a 50/50 tossup with one a decided favorite. I can’t think of a year other than 2015 in recent memory where you didn’t know for certain what the top two choices were.

Precursors:

  • PGA: 1917
  • BAFTA: 1917
  • BFCA: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • SAG Ensemble: Parasite
  • Globe (Drama): 1917
  • Globe (Comedy): Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

It feels like every year, some major stat is in jeopardy of falling. Last year, Green Book became just the fifth movie to win Best Picture without a Director nomination (after Wings, Grand Hotel, Driving Miss Daisy and Argo). Here’s what’s in play this year:

  • If either 1917 or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wins, it’ll become just the 11th film ever to win Best Picture without an Editing nomination (the other ten are It Happened One Night, Life of Emile Zola, Hamlet, Marty, Tom Jones, A Man for All Seasons, Godfather Part II, Annie Hall, Ordinary People and Birdman). Of course, 1917 is like Birdman in that it was shot to look like it’s not edited, so while it would count, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Once Upon a Time winning would legitimately be a bigger deal.
  • A Parasite win would make it the first foreign language Best Picture winner ever (of ten previous nominees).

We’ve really been knocking at that door for a few years now and it feels like a matter of time before we break through the barrier and it becomes a normal thing for something to win without either a Director or Editing nomination. Though if you are playing the precursor game as it currently stands, only Parasite, Joker and Irishman got both Director and Editing nominations. So if you’re following the ‘rules’ of a Best Picture win, technically only they would be the favorites. Unless you grant a ‘Birdman’ exemption to 1917, of course.

I’m gonna make this next part real simple — only three movies won precursors, and the next step is me listing the top three contenders. So let’s cut all the bullshit and get right to that. I think we can all see from what the top choices are.

Though one thing I will add — the most disappointing thing to me this year is how much they’ve been playing “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” every time they introduce Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or whenever it wins an award. As if the song belongs to that movie. I think we all know who that song really belongs to:

 

Most Likely to Win: 1917. The PGA win alone makes it the favorite. The BAFTA win only helps it. Plus, Mendes is gonna win Director. I’m not 100% sold on this as the surefire winner, but you have to consider it the favorite (and I am like 95% sold, based on what I’ve seen). It’s won the most precursors and I suspect will be top four on a lot of ballots. Maybe it wins, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s for sure your favorite with that PGA win, given that they’re 8/10 the past decade.

The Competition: Parasite. I know most people will say Once Upon a Time in Hollywood here, given that is has more precursor wins, but something tells me the real alternative is this. It won SAG, and the Actors branch is the biggest voting body in the Academy. Now granted, SAG’s voting body is like twenty times what the Academy’s is, but still. It’s broadly liked. It’ll be top three or four on a lot of ballots. Of course, some people will refuse to vote for a foreign film for Best Picture and will downvote it deliberately. You know that’ll happen. But honestly, if there were something other than 1917 I felt that could sneak in and take this down, this is the one. This, at least has the Editing nomination and seems like it might take Quentin down on Screenplay. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe the numbers play out and Once Upon a Time is the second choice. But I’m feeling it’s this.

Spoiler Alert: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It has the second most precursors, and clearly people love it. I’m just not sure how much of a ‘serious’ contender it is. It doesn’t have the Editing nomination, and conventional wisdom forever has been ‘if it doesn’t have an Editing nomination, it can’t win Picture’. Not that it can’t, but only one movie since 1980 has done that, and that was the movie made to look like it wasn’t edited. So on that alone, this almost has to be the third choice. But also… doesn’t it just feel like 2009? Inglourious Basterds is in the race with Avatar and Hurt Locker, wins SAG, has support, but generally feels like a third choice that’ll get votes but not really enough to beat the top two. In terms of pure precursors, you can make the case for this as second choice. And maybe if you really feel like it can somehow win, you could probably rationalize taking it (the argument being that they sold the reason for voting for this as ‘because you love movies’, which, for Hollywood people, is a compelling argument). But I’m feeling like this is ultimately a possible, but unlikely third choice. I really can’t get over that lack of an Editing nomination.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. 1917

2. Parasite

3. One Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. The Irishman

5. Jojo Rabbit

6. Joker

7. Little Women

8. Marriage Story

9. Ford v Ferrari

What’s on My Ballot: 1917. Reason your way through this — Ford v Ferrari won’t get the votes because it only got 4 nominations. Do you know the last film with less than five overall nominations to win Best Picture? Cavalcade. 1932-1933. You have to go back to the double years to find one! (And only five movies with just 5 nominations have ever won!) Marriage Story doesn’t have a Director or Editing nomination and is Netflix. That’s the triple whammy. Little Women doesn’t have Director or Editing and it’s basically a remake/sequel/what have you, and they never vote for those. Plus, let’s not pretend like they’d vote for a movie written and directed by a woman about women.

Joker’s got all the stuff you wanna see in terms of nominations, but it’s won zero precursors and there’s no real push behind it to actually win. Can’t see that being the choice. Irishman is Netflix, and it’s won nothing. Some people might look to vote for it, but I can’t see a win happening. Not one year after they went all in on Green Book just to spite Netflix and Roma. They’d have openly rationalized the sudden wanton disregard for their so-called principles long before now to set the stage for that decision (you know, like Senate Republicans did). Jojo, people seem to love, but it’ll be a tough climb to get that over the hump and those other contenders. It has no precursor wins and missed Director. Which leaves Once Upon a Time, Parasite and 1917. Those are really the only three you should be considering.

But Once Upon a Time doesn’t have an Editing nomination and Quentin, if they are gonna reward him, it’ll be in Screenplay and not Director. Bong Joon-ho, meanwhile, has a legitimate chance at Screenplay and feels like the only person who could potentially take down Mendes in Director. Plus, Once Upon a Time has BFCA and the Globe, which are both critics awards, and Parasite has SAG, which at least has a percentage of Academy voters in it. So I think Parasite’s the second choice.

Still, 1917 has PGA and BAFTA, which is all you’ve ever needed to win Best Picture. Mendes is gonna win Director and it has 10 overall nominations. I know Once Upon a Time also has 10, but it doesn’t have Editing. And unlike 1917, it’s not edited to look like it’s not edited. So it’s got no excuse there. I think you gotta take 1917, unless you wanna play that Parasite hunch or just wanna go all in on the film you’re rooting for. Which isn’t the smart play, but we don’t always make the smart plays, do we?

The Smart Choice: 1917. It’s the smart choice because it’s never smart to assume the Academy is going to be forward-thinking or progressive in any way. It’s like last year with Roma. You half-knew they’d never vote for the foreign film on Netflix for Best Picture. Not when there was a movie about how a white dude helped a black guy by driving him around (probably saving jazz along the way by allowing him to play it for all those southerners) to vote for. I’d be tickled to see Parasite win, and you sure as hell have enough ammunition to try to vote for it if you think they’re gonna go there. Moonlight won with just a Globe win, which it split with La La Land. But you knew it was a 50/50 and you knew there was love for it out there. You could make that same argument here if you really believe it’s going to happen.

For me, the smart money’s on the movie that’s won the PGA, BAFTA and the Globe. I still can’t get over that Once Upon a Time lack of an Editing nomination. I’m not really counting the SAG loss against it, just because I can’t take SAG totally seriously in a lot of ways anymore. But no Editing bit me last year, so I’ll just let that win if it’s gonna win, keep it the third choice and be totally happy to take a 3 if that’s how it goes. Nothing else won a precursor, and 1917’s won the majority of them. Plus it just feels like the choice. Parasite… it’s foreign. I guess they could go there, but… no one’s ever gone broke betting on the Academy to do the boring, old white person thing.

The Vote: 1917

Best Director

Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Todd Phillips, Joker

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My Rankings:

  1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. Sam Mendes, 1917
  3. Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
  4. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
  5. Todd Phillips, Joker

My Thoughts: This one was pretty straightforward. Quentin was my favorite directorial effort of the year, so he’s gonna be the vote. I just love that he created this hangout film atmosphere and made one of the most rewatchable movies I’ve ever seen. Then, having watched all these nominees again over the past two weeks, I’ve moved Sam Mendes up to second over Bong Joon-ho. I love everything about Parasite, but each time I go back to 1917, I’m just so much more impressed by it as a film. So I’ll make that swap now and see what time does for me. Regardless, I wouldn’t take either over Quentin. Scorsese goes fourth, just because I would never vote for Todd Phillips, who essentially tried to do Scorsese with his movie. I’m not voting for the imitation when the real thing is also in the category. So there we are. Pretty straightforward. Quentin’s the vote, though over time Bong Joon-ho or Sam Mendes may become the choice.

My Vote: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Should Have Been Nominated: Greta Gerwig, Little Women; James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

– – – – –

The Analysis:

We got the usual 4/5 from the DGA list. They’re almost exclusively 4/5 historically and have only matched 5/5 eight times ever, and that’s including a bunch of years where they nominated ten people. They had Taika on their list instead of Todd Phillips, but based on how everything went, it felt like Phillips was going to be that last choice. No surprise, even though I think the exclusion of Greta Gerwig is gonna look awful in the years to come. Not that I’m emotional about it or anything.

I’ll be as quick about this as possible, since I think we know where this one’s going. The DGA is the big precursor, and there’s only been 7 times ever the DGA winner did not go on to win the Oscar:

  • 1968, Anthony Harvey won DGA for The Lion in Winter. Carol Reed won the Oscar for Oliver!
  • 1972, Francis Ford Coppola won DGA for The Godfather. Bob Fosse won the Oscar for Cabaret.
  • 1985, Stephen Spielberg* won DGA for The Color Purple. Sydney Pollack won the Oscar for Out of Africa.
  • 1995, Ron Howard* won DGA for Apollo 13. Mel Gibson won the Oscar for Braveheart.
  • 2000, Ang Lee won DGA for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ridley Scott won the Oscar for Traffic.
  • 2002, Rob Marshall won DGA for Chicago. Roman Polanski won the Oscar for The Pianist.
  • 2012, Ben Affleck* won DGA for Argo. Ang Lee won the Oscar for Life of Pi.

The *s mean the DGA winner wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar.

Rather than get into a bunch of analysis, I’m simply going to tell you that this year Sam Mendes won the DGA, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. Bong Joon-ho did tie for BFCA, which I guess is something. But I think we all know what’s gonna happen here.

Most Likely to Win: Sam Mendes, 1917. SEVEN times. The DGA has been right all but SEVEN times. He’s the favorite.

The Competition: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite. He’s the only other person with a precursor. Also his film feels like the only other contender to sneak in and steal Best Picture for real. So he’s the second choice. I also feel no real momentum for Quentin in this category. Bong Joon-ho actually does seem like he’ll legitimately get votes.

Spoiler Alert: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Screenplay is gonna be the reward (if he even wins that), but if it’s gonna be anyone from the remainder of the list, it’s gonna be him. His movie’s the only other one with the Best Picture shot, and some people like to pair up Picture and Director. Plus, Marty’s already won his Oscar and his film’s died like a frozen fish in the backseat of the car since nominations and Todd Phillips is just along for the ride. If we get down to a third choice, Quentin’s it.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Sam Mendes, 1917

2. Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

3. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

5. Todd Phillips, Joker

What’s on My Ballot: Sam Mendes, 1917. He’s won every precursor. The DGA is basically lock solid. He’s the choice. Oh, and did I forget to mention, HE SHOT A WAR MOVIE TO LOOK LIKE IT WAS DONE IN A SINGLE TAKE. You can argue about Best Picture all you want. He’s got this.

The Smart Choice: Sam Mendes, 1917. Taking the DGA winner is always the smart choice. You do what you want, but the smart money’s on Mendes until he loses.

The Vote: Sam Mendes, 1917

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

My Rankings:

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
  3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
  4. Adam Driver, Marriage Story
  5. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

My Thoughts: There’s almost no one to vote for in this category for me. Pryce is fine, but half the movie they cut to a younger guy playing him. I thought Driver was solid, but wouldn’t vote for him. I love Antonio Banderas, thought he was really good in that movie, but I wouldn’t take him unless I had to. And Joaquin — love him, he’s good here, but it’s the kind of performance I really wouldn’t want to see him win for and truly didn’t love enough to vote for. Fortunately, I have Leonardo DiCaprio, who did give my favorite performance of the year and can easily be my vote. Which gives me a nice beacon (green light?) at the end of a category I don’t really want anything to do with.

My Vote: Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Should Have Been Nominated: Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari; Kelvin Harrison Jr., Waves

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was perhaps the most surprising of the acting categories in terms of who got nominated. Leo, Joaquin and Driver were set all the way through. But those other two spots were questionable. Taron Egerton hit most of the precursors and seemed to be on solid ground, but he always felt like one of those performances they’d normally leave off. Until he won the Globe (which is a weird turning point, I know) I was convinced he wouldn’t be nominated. But then he won and I figured, “Well, I guess that’s a sign that they think he’s got a shot,” completely overlooking the fact that they only did it because Elton was in attendance at the event and they sure as hell couldn’t give it Best Picture. But I don’t regret it. There were two open spots and he made a lot of sense and made my life easier, even if I didn’t fully believe it would happen.

Somehow, though, I pulled that Antonio nomination out of my ass, which I’m gonna feel good about in perpetuity. And Pryce got the BAFTA support, which is what powered him through to that last spot. I knew Bale was never gonna get on, but I held out hope. In the end, the category does make sense and ultimately I’m happier that Egerton isn’t on, if only because Antonio Banderas has his first nomination, Jonathan Pryce has his first nomination, and both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are nominated in the same category.

Now that we’re in the acting categories, we should all know that SAG is who you listen to. SAG first, BAFTA second, and then BFCA and the Globes as backups to further justify your choice.

SAG has matched Best Actor 20/25 times. The five misses are:

  • 2000: Benicio won SAG for Traffic. Russell Crowe won the Oscar for Gladiator. (Benicio won the Supporting Oscar.)
  • 2001: Russell Crowe won SAG for A Beautiful Mind. Denzel won the Oscar for Training Day.
  • 2002: Daniel Day-Lewis won SAG for Gangs of New York. Adrien Brody won the Oscar for The Pianist.
  • 2003: Johnny Depp won SAG for Pirates of the Caribbean. Sean Penn won the Oscar for Mystic River.
  • 2016: Denzel won SAG for Fences. Casey Affleck won the Oscar for Manchester by the Sea.

We’ll give them the Benicio one. That’s a category swap situation. It’s really only four misses, and only one in 15 years. And looking at the other precursors, BAFTA only picked up the winner once (Affleck). BFCA’s picked up three of them (Crowe, Penn and Affleck). The Globes had Penn and Affleck. So only the Crowe/Denzel year wasn’t picked up by any of the precursors, and that I think was a situation where Crowe did something bad just as ballots went out and it got people to vote for Denzel instead.

Not that it matters, because this year, Joaquin’s won everything. SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. So I think we’ve got this one pretty sewn up. Isn’t it nice that we’re just moving through this?

Most Likely to Win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker. He’s won everything. He’s the favorite.

The Competition: Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. No one else has a precursor, so this is really only in case of ‘shit happens’. And if I thought Leo gave a career-best caliber performance, I’m pretty sure others are gonna think the same. Plus, he’s been around, they like him, they clearly like the film, so if I had to put money on who wins if it’s not Joaquin, I’m gonna say it’s Leo.

Spoiler Alert: Adam Driver, Marriage Story. If it’s not Leo, it’s Adam. Pryce won’t get votes and Banderas won’t get votes. Not enough to matter. Driver’s the only other person besides Leo and Joaquin to be nominated everywhere. The question is how many people will vote for him. A lot of voters have that weird mindset of “This is a nice welcome, but it’s not his time yet,” and won’t vote for the first-time nominee. This is all hair-splitting, but he’s clearly third, if he isn’t second.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Adam Driver, Marriage Story

4. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

5. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

What’s on My Ballot: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker. We’re all agreed on this one, right? I don’t see how he loses.

The Smart Choice: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker. I should not have to explain this one to you.

The Vote: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Oh, my bad. Accidentally put the original version of the movie.

Best Actress

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Renée Zellweger, Judy

My Rankings:

  1. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
  2. Renée Zellweger, Judy
  3. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
  4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
  5. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

My Thoughts: Boy, do I not like this category. I thought Theron was fine, but other than a nice impression of Megyn Kelly, I’m not sure she had a whole lot to do in that movie. I like Erivo, but the movie around her was just not good (or remotely befitting of its subject). I can’t vote for that performance, even though I’m happy she was nominated. I also didn’t think Scarlett was particularly outstanding in Marriage Story. She’s good, but I didn’t see what other people are seeing in that performance. And Zellweger — ehh. Showy, ‘acting’ type performance. I’m good with the nomination but I’d never vote for it. Which leaves me with Saoirse. Kinda like Joaquin, this isn’t the performance I’d want to see her win for, but if she’s gotta be the vote, she’s the vote. She’s absolutely fantastic in Little Women and I wholeheartedly support her in this category.

My Vote: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Should Have Been Nominated: Aisling Franciosi, The Nightingale; Cate Blanchett, Where’d You Go, Bernadette

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The good news for people picking this category is that it was basically locked all the way through. The bad news for people picking this category is that it was basically locked all the way through. Because it’s just not interesting at all. Everyone knew Renée and Scarlett were on. Charlize hit every precursor. Saoirse hit everything but SAG, and at this point not being nominated at SAG isn’t even much of a downgrade anymore, given how much of a popularity contest that’s turned into. So they were clearly on. The only question was Erivo, who, hitting every precursor but SAG, ultimately got on. Mostly because there weren’t really any real alternatives. It was basically just Awkwafina, who was too young and who isn’t taken seriously as an actress yet. Plus, let’s just say it… there’s also some racism going on there. You can almost count the number of people of East Asian descent to be nominated for acting Oscars on one hand. So in the end, we got the just-okay category we saw throughout the whole race.

So, acting category, SAG. In Best Actress, SAG is 17/25 all-time:

  • 1994, Jodie Foster won SAG for Nell. Jessica Lange won the Oscar for Blue Sky.
  • 1999, Annette Bening won SAG for American Beauty. Hilary Swank won the Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry.
  • 2001, Jennifer Connelly won SAG for A Beautiful Mind. Halle Berry won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball. (Connelly won the Supporting Oscar.)
  • 2002, Renee Zellweger won SAG for Chicago. Nicole Kidman won the Oscar for The Hours.
  • 2007, Julie Christie won SAG for Away from Her. Marion Cotillard won the Oscar for La Vie en Rose.
  • 2008, Meryl Streep won SAG for Doubt. Kate Winslet won the Oscar for The Reader. (Winslet won SAG Supporting.)
  • 2011, Viola Davis won SAG for The Help. Meryl won the Oscar for The Iron Lady.
  • 2018, Glenn Close won SAG for The Wife. Olivia Colman won the Oscar for The Favourite.

Two category discrepancies here, with Connelly and Kate (great law firm name). So only six pure misses. BAFTA managed to pick up five of the eight (Kidman, Cotillard, Kate, Meryl and Colman), every recent one. BFCA, meanwhile, had Hilary Swank and missed everything else. The Globes? Had Lange, had Swank, split Kidman and Zellweger, split Cotillard and Christie, had Winslet twice that year, had Meryl and split Close and Colman. That’s every year covered but 2001. Crazy.

Of course all that is going to amount to very little, because every single precursor this year went to Renée Zellweger. So like Best Actor, we’re pretty sewn up.

Most Likely to Win: Renée Zellweger, Judy. SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes. Forget winning, name me someone who’s won all those things and isn’t the favorite.

The Competition: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story. Going into the race, I thought this was Scarlett’s to lose. Double nominee, the perfect age for them to reward her, and a big, meaty role. Turns out, they went for the veteran playing the famous person instead. I thought it would be a 50/50. I didn’t expect Renée to just run away with it. But yeah, anyone’s gonna upset, it’s Scarlett.

Spoiler Alert: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women. It’s not Cynthia Erivo, I’ll tell you that much. Maybe it’s Charlize, but at this point, who cares. Without any momentum for anyone else, let’s make Saoirse third. She’s been a favorite of theirs in recent years, is considered the best actress of her generation and whose film has the most support of anything remaining in the category.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Renée Zellweger, Judy

2. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

4. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

5. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

What’s on My Ballot: Renée Zellweger, Judy. She’s won everything. She’s gotta be considered as big a lock as Joaquin is.

The Smart Choice: Renée Zellweger, Judy. It’s never happened in the era of four precursors that someone in Best Actress has won everything and then lost the Oscar. Take the easy one.

The Vote: Renée Zellweger, Judy

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

My Rankings:

  1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. Joe Pesci, The Irishman
  3. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  4. Al Pacino, The Irishman
  5. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

My Thoughts: This category was guaranteed to be great. There was a glut of great supporting performances this year. Hopkins, I love that he’s back in the Oscar fold, but I wouldn’t vote for him. Pacino’s mostly just doing his shouty Pacino thing there. Hanks — great as Mr. Rogers. Wouldn’t vote for him, but that’s nothing against the performance. It’s just that my two favorite supporting performances this year were Brad Pitt and Joe Pesci. Pesci absolutely steals that movie out from everyone else in it. Were it not for Brad Pitt, he’d have been the vote. But Brad Pitt, man… he’s so good in Once Upon a Time. He’s the vote for me.

My Vote: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Should Have Been Nominated: Chris Cooper, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was the category all the way through. These five hit basically everything. Though something I noticed along the way: Joe Pesci’s last nomination was in 1990, Pacino’s was in 1992, Hopkins’ was in 1997, Hanks’ was in 2000 and Pitt’s was 2011. You normally don’t get that. Usually people are either first timers or were nominated fairly recently. All these guys… and this is their last nomination. Not like, in the category. Those were the last times they were nominated for acting Oscars. That’s nuts. You guys all get hyped for these kind of coincidences, right?

It’s acting, so SAG, the rest. You know the deal. SAG is 16/25. Though one of the nine misses is the Benicio category swap from Best Actor. Though it still puts this as their worst category, even if they’ve great recently. And, as you’ll see, a couple of those misses have to do with people not being nominated:

  • 1995, Ed Harris won SAG for Apollo 13. Kevin Spacey won the Oscar for The Usual Suspects.
  • 1998, Robert Duvall won SAG for A Civil Action. James Coburn won the Oscar for Affliction.
  • 2000, Albert Finney won SAG for Erin Brockovich. Benicio won the Oscar for Traffic. (He won SAG Best Actor.)
  • 2001, Ian McKellen won SAG Fellowship of the Ring. Jim Broadbent won the Oscar for Iris.
  • 2002, Christopher Walken won SAG for Catch Me If You Can. Chris Cooper won the Oscar for Adaptation.
  • 2005, Paul Giamatti won SAG for Cinderella Man. George Clooney won the Oscar for Syriana.
  • 2006, Eddie Murphy won SAG for Dreamgirls. Alan Arkin won the Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine.
  • 2012, Tommy Lee Jones won SAG for Lincoln. Christoph Waltz (not nominated at SAG) won the Oscar for Django Unchained.
  • 2015, Idris Elba won SAG for Beasts of No Nation. Mark Rylance won the Oscar for Bridge of Spies. (Elba wasn’t nominated for the Oscar.)

In the past decade, the only two SAG misses are because the Oscar winner wasn’t nominated at SAG or the SAG winner wasn’t nominated for the Oscar. And both were picked up by one of the precursors.

However, yet again, Brad Pitt’s won everything. SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, the Globe. Sometimes it’s just easy.

Most Likely to Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He’s won every precursor. He’s the favorite.

The Competition: Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Who else can it be? Hard to assume they’ll be able to split the Pacino/Pesci vote in any legitimate way for one of them to win. And it’s not gonna be Hopkins. So it’s gotta be Hanks. Plus, it’s Mr. Rogers. If they’re not voting for Brad, it’s gotta be him who get the votes, right?

Spoiler Alert: Joe Pesci, The Irishman. It’s hard to ignore that performance. The vote split means he probably couldn’t win, unless it was clear he was the choice, like Sam Rockwell over Woody Harrelson. Plus, let’s be honest, Joe doesn’t give a fuck. He doesn’t go to the shows, he’s not campaigning. That means he’s only getting the votes of the people who truly thought he was the best performance. Which isn’t nothing, but also doesn’t really help him. Meanwhile, Hopkins, Pacino, even if they campaigned (which they didn’t seem to. Hopkins barely went to the events and Pacino seemed to just be happy to be included), will it be enough to really contend? Doubt it. So let’s keep Pesci third.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

3. Joe Pesci, The Irishman

4. Al Pacino, The Irishman

5. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

What’s on My Ballot: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He’s won everything. Every acting category’s been a sweep thus far. No effort required.

The Smart Choice: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. When they’re easy, let them be easy.

The Vote: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Margot Robbie, Bombshell

My Rankings:

  1. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
  2. Florence Pugh, Little Women
  3. Laura Dern, Marriage Story
  4. Margot Robbie, Bombshell
  5. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

My Thoughts: Another category I don’t love, mostly because it’s so boring. I love Kathy Bates, and spiritually I’m fine with the nomination (because this category was built on 30s/40s ‘Ma’ roles, and if anyone was born to play ‘Ma’, it’s Kathy Bates), but that performance was basically one press conference. I’m not voting for that. Margot was fine. Her’s the best performance in the movie, but I wouldn’t vote for it at all. Laura Dern, I just wouldn’t vote for her either. Which leaves the two performances I liked in the category, Scarlett and Florence. Florence is really great as Amy, but I just don’t have that spark that makes me want to vote for her. And Scarlett, there is enough love there for me to want to take her. So she’s the vote.

My Vote: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Should Have Been Nominated: Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell; Cho Yeo-jeong, Parasite; Taylor Russell, Waves

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This category was the one I pinpointed as the place for a foreign nominee to get on. But I forgot just how anti-Asian the acting branch is. So, while we knew Dern, Scarlett and Margot were gonna get on and figured Florence would probably get on with Saoirse, that last spot was open. So, absent having anyone I knew was getting on (and I said the entire race… Jennifer Lopez was not gonna get nominated for an Oscar. And surprise! She wasn’t), I figured it’s gotta be a Parasite actress or Zhao Shuzhen for The Farewell. But nope. They went Kathy Bates. Which speaks volumes to one of the problems with the Academy, that their viewpoint is often too narrow and they only watch the boring old white people movies and that’s what they nominate because that’s all they see. So in the end, we got a fine but uninteresting category.

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Last acting category. SAG is 17/25 with two swaps, so only straight up wrong five times.

  • 1995, Kate Winslet wins SAG for Sense and Sensibility. Mira Sorvino wins the Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite.
  • 1996, Lauren Bacall wins SAG for The Mirror Has Two Faces. Juliette Binoche wins the Oscar for The English Patient.
  • 1998, Kathy Bates wins SAG for Primary Colors. Judi Dench wins the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love.
  • 2000, Judi Dench wins SAG for Chocolat. Marcia Gay Harden wins the Oscar for Pollock.
  • 2001, Helen Mirren wins SAG for Gosford Park. Jennifer Connelly wins the Oscar for A Beautiful Mind (she won SAG Best Actress).
  • 2007, Ruby Dee wins SAG for American Gangster. Tilda Swinton wins the Oscar for Michael Clayton.
  • 2008, Kate Winslet wins SAG for The Reader (she won Best Actress at the Oscars). Penelope Cruz wins the Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
  • 2018, Emily Blunt (not nominated at the Oscars) wins SAG for A Quiet Place. Regina King (not nominated at SAG) wins the Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk.

In the past ten years, save the Oscar winner not being nominated at SAG (who we know would win even despite that), SAG’s been perfect.

But again, none of this really matters, because Laura Dern won SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. So that’s our fourth clean precursor sweep of the acting categories. Have we ever had one of these? We had to have. I just can’t think of what it is off the top of my head. Also, remember when I basically called all the acting categories back in December?

Most Likely to Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story. She’s won everything. It’s hers to lose.

The Competition: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit. The double nomination has to count for something, right? Though the that’s also the case against her. But I feel like if she’s gonna get real votes anywhere it’ll be here, since this is the more emotionally affecting performance of the two. Having to pick anyone on the off chance Laura Dern loses, she makes the most sense to me.

Spoiler Alert: Margot Robbie, Bombshell. You’d think it would be Florence, right? But no. They’re gonna, if they even cared about the performance, see her as a newbie whose first nomination is a ‘welcome to the club’. That’s how they think. Margot’s already been nominated, and this is the kind of performance people will appreciate more than Florence’s. I feel like, if somehow it’s not Dern and somehow it’s not then Scarlett, it’s probably Margot. But the odds of that are… just let them happen by that point.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story

2. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

3. Margot Robbie, Bombshell

4. Florence Pugh, Little Women

5. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

What’s on My Ballot: Laura Dern, Marriage Story. Clean sweep. Always take the clean sweeps in the acting categories unless there’s an outside factor. And there are zero outside factors here.

The Smart Choice: Laura Dern, Marriage Story. We’re six categories in and you have to feel like five of them are locked (with a pretty good handle on the sixth). How good a start is that to a ballot?

The Vote: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Best Original Screenplay

1917

Knives Out

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

My Rankings:

  1. Knives Out
  2. Parasite
  3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Marriage Story
  5. 1917

My Thoughts: Love this category to bits. 1917 pulls up the rear for me just because that’s a script that’s really only a tool for the direction. It’s great for that, but I can’t give it an Oscar for writing. Marriage Story — get why it’s here, really strong script, wouldn’t vote for it. The other three choices are way too strong for me to even think about taking that script. And here’s why I surprise you — Quentin’s only making third for me. For some reason, I don’t feel the urgency here to vote for him like I normally would. This doesn’t feel like a script he created like the other ones do. I can’t explain it. I’m also just more excited about the other two scripts. So he’s third.

Parasite, I think, should probably win on a lot of levels because of how well it handles the progression of that narrative. No one ever has any idea where that movie is going when it gets to that point in the middle. But, I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery. So I’m gonna take Knives Out. I love that script, with the flashbacks and voiceover tags over dialogue and all of that stuff. I just can’t pass up that script. And know how much I thought about this, taking it over both Parasite and Quentin. But it’s the choice for me right now.

My Vote: Knives Out

Should Have Been Nominated: Waves, Ford v Ferrari

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The category was pretty straightforward all the way through. The only real question was that last spot. I wasn’t totally sure if they’d go in on 1917, being a war film and being very ‘direction first’. They left Dunkirk off for that reason. I thought maybe The Farewell, being an indie darling, might get on instead. So we got a pretty obvious category.

For precursors, it’s the WGA, then BAFTA, BFCA, and, like the letter ‘y’, sometimes the Globes.

In the past 20 years, the WGA is 13/20 in Original Screenplay. However, four of those times the Oscar winner wasn’t eligible for WGA and another time, Moonlight was deemed Original by the WGA but won the Adapted Oscar. Meaning, in 20 years they’ve only straight up been wrong (picking against the eventual Oscar winner) twice. One was all the way back in 2000, and the other was last year, when they voted for Eighth Grade (which wasn’t nominated) over Green Book. And BAFTA, over 20 years, is 11/20 straight up, but have picked up 6/7 WGA misses. So basically either the WGA winner is gonna win, or the winner was ineligible there and has probably won BAFTA. WGA and BAFTA together, in 20 years, have only missed once.

BFCA, going back to 2009 (they’re generally unhelpful before then) are 8/10. The only two misses are Quentin in ’09, when he lost to Hurt Locker, and last year, where they inexplicably went with First Reformed (which was never going to win the Oscar). And the Globes, they have a single category, but whatever’s won that category has gone on to win either the Original or Adapted Oscar 14 of the past 20 years. Point is, we’re probably covered by these precursors.

Precursors:

  • WGA: Parasite (Quentin was ineligible)
  • BAFTA: Parasite
  • BFCA: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Globe: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

You think we can figure this one out? I do.

Most Likely to Win: Parasite. It’s gotta be considered the favorite. I mean, if you think Quentin would have won if he were up for WGA, then yes, he’s the favorite. But the BAFTA win for this is huge. Because, I remember 2017 Original Screenplay really well. Get Out won WGA and Three Billboards was ineligible. And I kept thinking, “Three Billboards has all these precursors and it’s Martin McDonagh. How can it lose? It would have won the WGA if it were eligible.” AND it won BAFTA. And yet, you felt that momentum for Get Out that was there. The numbers weren’t there, but the feeling was. And that’s what I feel for this movie. Which is why I think ultimately this is the most likely contender to win this award.

The Competition: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Here’s my rationale for this as second choice and not first: when Quentin won the Oscar in 2012 for Django, he was ineligible for the WGA. However, he won BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe. So WGA felt like more of a technicality than anything. His category (which was Amour, Flight, Zero Dark Thirty and Moonrise Kingdom) didn’t feel like it had that other choice that could take him down. Here… the love seems to be for Parasite. He could still win it, and you could call the BAFTA loss an aberration. But I don’t know. This is feeling more like 2017 than 2012. I don’t know if he wins this.

Spoiler Alert: 1917. It feels weird putting this here, but think about it — Marriage Story has no support for any wins at all and Knives Out is juts happy to be here. This is probably gonna win Best Picture, and that alone might get it a few votes here. But honestly, if you’re not gonna have either Quentin or Parasite on your ballot, you’re playing a huge hunch. This being a Best Picture favorite is only good enough to put it third. Even I can’t see this winning. This is just covering my ass. It’s a 50/50 at the top and anything else would be an abject shocker for us all.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Parasite

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. 1917

4. Marriage Story

5. Knives Out

What’s on My Ballot: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This is the first time I’m putting something on my own ballot that’s different from what I’m telling you to take. If you notice, I ranked Parasite #1 on the Scorecard. Why have my own ballot on here if I can’t do crazy shit on it? In order for something to be the ‘smart’ ballot, I have to do some dumb things to show you why that is. So this is the first dumb thing. I mean, the dumb thing could work out, but that’s like running into traffic and not being hit by a car. Sometimes you get lucky. I just, don’t see him as the favorite here. But I can rationalize it enough as a choice that I’ll throw it on here and see what happens.

The Smart Choice: Parasite. I’m telling you, this feels like 2017. It feels like the overall love for it is gonna spill over into this category and then the film that’s nominated for Best Picture with no Editing nomination that will win an acting award is gonna lose to the film that has the more rabid fan base. I just see this one coming down the pike. And if it doesn’t win and it’s ultimately Quentin instead, then I’m sorry. But you’re free to take what you want. I’m just saying I think this is the smart choice. It’s got WGA and BAFTA. And I know technically WGA could be because Quentin wasn’t on that list, but then how do you explain BAFTA? There is support for this movie out there. Get Out won with WGA and BFCA and not BAFTA. I think this can do it. I think it’s gonna do it.

The Vote: Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

The Two Popes

My Rankings:

  1. Little Women
  2. Jojo Rabbit
  3. The Irishman
  4. The Two Popes
  5. Joker

My Thoughts: I’m very fine with this category and have three scripts I could legitimately vote for. Joker is out of the question for me. Two Popes was fine, but it’s like The Queen. The writing’s good, but there’s no reason I’d ever vote for that script. I loved The Irishman, and I appreciate the writing and I think it’s better than maybe people are giving it credit for. But when it comes down to it, I don’t really feel a need to vote for it. To me, it’s between Little Women and Jojo. And as much as I loved Jojo and think Taika wrote a fantastic script, I can’t pass up Greta. What she did with that movie is nothing short of remarkable. The way she jumps back and forth between timelines and the way she juxtaposes scenes… it’s brilliant. She’s 100% the vote for me, even though Jojo is a very close second choice.

My Vote: Little Women

Should Have Been Nominated: Dark Waters, Dolemite Is My Name

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was a pretty easy category to figure. Only six scripts hit the precursors, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was clearly the outlier. So no surprises here. Also of note is that 8/9 of the Best Picture nominees were nominated for their screenplays (Ford v Ferrari’s the one that wasn’t).

Precursors, same as Original — WGA, BAFTA, BFCA (no Globe this year. Quentin won). The WGA is 13/20 the past 20 years, with the Moonlight category swap and two ineligibles. Meaning four straight up misses, only two in the past decade (Up in the Air, which everyone got wrong, and last year, when BlacKkKlansman won without a precursor even though we all kinda figured it would). BAFTA — not great in Adapted. Put it this way: Shrek won Adapted for them in 2001. Though they are 3/4 since 2015. BFCA, also not great. 4/10 the past decade. There’s also the USC Scripter, which I’m iffy on, just because it’s a school who’s voting. But they are 8/10 the past decade. And their two misses are the same as the WGA.

Precursors:

  • WGA: Jojo Rabbit
  • BAFTA: Jojo Rabbit
  • BFCA: Little Women
  • USC Scripter: Little Women

Most Likely to Win: Jojo Rabbit. WGA and BAFTA. Even as Little Women won the Scripter, I thought it was too good to be true. Still, all I needed was to see it win one of the other two precursors and it would have been here and would have been the vote. But it lost the two that mattered. Plus, Jojo… that feels like a script people are gonna vote for because they’re gonna go, “That was clever.” It feels like the obvious first choice.

The Competition: Little Women. If it’s not Taika, it’s Greta. They split the precursors down the middle, it’s just that he won the two more important ones. There’s some weird cosmic symmetry in Noah losing Original and Greta losing Adapted. But yeah, I just can’t consider her the favorite while having lost both the WGA and BAFTA. Which goes back to my hesitance to believe in the Scripter. I’d love for them to be right here, but I gotta go with the two voting bodies that actually cross over with the people voting.

Spoiler Alert: The Irishman. It’s not Two Popes. The last Adapted winner not nominated for Best Picture was Gods and Monsters in 1998. And Joker…does anyone see that happening? I sure don’t. If it’s not Greta or Taika, it’s gotta be Irishman. It’s Steve Zaillian, not that anyone cares, and it’s the film with 10 nominations they might look to get something. Joker, I’m not sure they’re looking to get it anything. Marty, they might. So while, absent a precursor, I can’t see us getting this far, this has to be considered the third choice just because it makes the most sense.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Jojo Rabbit

2. Little Women

3. The Irishman

4. Joker

5. The Two Popes

What’s on My Ballot: Little Women. I’m gonna split this one too. Because I can. I’m rooting hard for Greta. This might be the one win all night I’m most invested in seeing happen. So I’m gonna put it on here to get it out in the universe and try to will it to happen. You can make the intellectual argument for taking this, but it’s not the smart choice. So if you’re taking it, then you’re doing it like I am, for the rooting interest.

The Smart Choice: Jojo Rabbit. He won the WGA and BAFTA. Both over Greta. He won the two most important precursors and the script feels like something voters at large would gravitate to over Little Women. I’m not even sure most voters even saw Little Women. So smart money is clearly on this as a choice, even if I think this is a closer split than maybe some of the other 50/50 choices are. Precursors say it’s more of a 75/25 split. I’m thinking more 60/40. Still, this is the likely winner here. Just because I want to see Greta win doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen.

The Vote: Jojo Rabbit

Best Editing

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Parasite

My Rankings:

  1. Ford v Ferrari
  2. Parasite
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. The Irishman
  5. Joker

My Thoughts: This is an easy one to parse. I would not vote for Joker here. Irishman — if there’s one thing I wouldn’t vote for the movie in, it’s Editing. Jojo I thought was impeccably edited, but I just wouldn’t take it over the other two. Parasite would normally be the vote, just because I love how they structured that film (and that coffee table scene is just incredible). But Ford v Ferrari… it’s a racing movie! That’s 100% the choice for me and it’s not even a question. The race scenes are absolutely thrilling.

My Vote: Ford v Ferrari

Should Have Been Nominated: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; Knives Out; Little Women

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Best Editing is always a function of Best Picture, and it’s rare for a non-Best Picture nominee to get nominated here. So, in the end, you got the five Best Picture nominees they seem to have liked the best (or four and the obvious ‘editing’ movie). Weird that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood got squeezed, but Quentin hasn’t been nominated for Editing since Sally Menke died, and I wonder how much that has to do with it. If people are thinking he’s gotten a bit bloated in the editing since then. But, in the end, they left it off and we got these five, so–

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The precursor for Editing is ACE. They’re one of the older guilds, going back to 1961. They’re 40/58 (69%) all-time, 23/30 (77%) the past 30 years, 15/20 the past 20 and 6/10 the past decade. It’s worth noting that they have two Editing categories (Drama and Comedy), so they do have two chances to get it right. Though since they split the two, the Comedy winner has only gone on to win the Oscar just once ever, and that was Chicago in 2002.

Keeping this to the past 20 years, here are the five times ACE missed:

  • 2000: Gladiator (Drama) and Almost Famous (Comedy) win ACE. Traffic wins the Oscar.
  • 2011: The Descendants (Drama) and The Artist (Comedy) win ACE. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wins the Oscar.
  • 2013: Captain Phillips (Drama) and American Hustle (Comedy) win ACE. Gravity wins the Oscar.
  • 2014: Boyhood (Drama) and Grand Budapest (Comedy) win ACE. Whiplash wins the Oscar.
  • 2016: Arrival (Drama) and La La Land (Comedy) win ACE. Hacksaw Ridge wins the Oscar.

BAFTA, meanwhile, is terrible as an Editing prognosticator. Like, 20-25% all-time bad. Though some of that is skewed, since for them, pre-1990, a lot of their winners had already won the Oscar the year before they won BAFTA. But still. They were 0-for the entire decade of 1997-2006. However, they are 6/10 the past decade, and they did pick up both Whiplash and Hacksaw Ridge. So they’re getting better, but they’re not there yet.

toy story burn GIF

BFCA, all-time, is 5/10. They gave their Editing awards to both Birdman and 1917. So that should tell you something. However, they did have Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011 and Gravity in 2013. Which means that of the four ACE misses of the past decade, some precursor had them. Though because 1917 was their choice, BFCA is irrelevant this year.

Precursors:

  • ACE Dramatic: Parasite
  • ACE Comedic: Jojo Rabbit
  • BAFTA: Ford v Ferrari

They basically spread the board. Leaving us with a real conundrum to deal with. There’s always one category every year where this happens. Though, fortunately for us, like most categories, you can pare it down to essentially a 50/50. Though given how generally iffy the two precursors here are, you’ve gotta be a little nervous about this one, considering how sure-footted we’ve been to this point.

Most Likely to Win: Ford v Ferrari. When in doubt, tie goes to the ‘most’ editing, right? How else are you gonna parse it? I think of it this way: the guild is the guild. But the guild voted for The Descendants. With BAFTA, this was only up for tech awards. Which means they liked the editing enough to take it purely on that. They could have voted for Parasite, but they didn’t. So I’m thinking that, plus the fact that it’s a racing movie, makes it more likely to catch those stray votes, which is what makes it the favorite. But honestly, it’s a straight 50/50, this one.

The Competition: Parasite. 51/49 second choice. This can easily win. And this is the moment, where (and I haven’t had to say this in a few years for Editing) whatever wins will suggest how the rest of the night goes. If this film wins this category, watch out for Picture. If it wins this and Screenplay, then really watch out. And at that point, I’d even keep a side eye on Director, too, even though I think that one’s pretty locked down. This is the award that turns the tide of the night. Like in 2017 when I said, “If Get Out wins Screenplay, then Shape of Water has Picture won.” Because there was that chance Three Billboards could take it. but once it lost Screenplay, there was no way. This winning here could be a sign for things to come the rest of the night.

Spoiler Alert: The Irishman. Okay, so the actual third choice is Jojo. It won ACE (even though the ACE Comedy winner has only won the Oscar once in 20 years). I’m putting Thelma here right now just because her presence in this category scares the living shit out of me. Joker has no shot without precursors. But Thelma — she’s always in contention. Though it’s worth noting the only times she’s ever won this category she also won the Eddie. Plus, it’s hard to think a movie that most people think might be 30 minutes too long is gonna actually win for Editing. So really, I’ll end up sticking with Jojo, which is more about timing and actually won a precursor. Plus, I think the race is really between Ford v Ferrari or Parasite anyway. But man, does Thelma fucking scare me right here.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Ford v Ferrari

2. Parasite

3. Jojo Rabbit

4. The Irishman

5. Joker

What’s on My Ballot: Ford v Ferrari. I figure what the hell. I don’t know, so I’ll default to the racing movie. You can make the case for this and you can make the case for Parasite. It’s a straight 50/50. If you’re taking Parasite in Best Picture, you almost have to take it here. It’s also got more overall nominations and makes sense. I just feel more comfortable with BAFTA over the guild, and with the racing movie that feels like the movie where, if people looked to vote for what felt like ‘editing’, this would be the shining example. So that’s my rationalization. I have no idea.

The Smart Choice: Ford v Ferrari. There really are two smart choices here. Parasite is as smart a choice as this is, and the only differentiation I’ve been able to make is that this movie is more obviously about ‘editing’ than Parasite is. Not sure that always matters, but if I’m stuck in a 50/50 draw, I have to make a judgement somewhere. I think you can take either and be fine. If you took Parasite in Picture, you have to take it here too. If you went with 1917 like I did, then you’re free to do what you want. Honestly, I truly don’t know. It’s a 50/50. I’m covered on the Scorecard, but I don’t know if I could confidently tell you to take either contender over the other. You just have to pick one and hope for the best.

The Vote: Ford v Ferrari

Best Cinematography

1917

The Irishman

Joker

The Lighthouse

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My Rankings:

  1. 1917
  2. The Lighthouse
  3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Joker
  5. The Irishman

My Thoughts: I love this category. Irishman, to me, is the weakest in the bunch, so that’s fifth choice. Joker looked great, but I wouldn’t vote for it. Once Upon a Time I loved, but I’m not gonna pretend like I’d take it over the other two, even though in other years it would likely be my #2 or #1. The Lighthouse — he shot it like it was a silent film, and the black and white was stunning. That said, Roger fucking Deakins shot a fucking war film as if to look like it was done in a single fucking take. Roger fucking Deakins, who hadn’t won an Oscar in like 14 tries before two years ago. So yeah, I’m taking Roger Deakins and I’m giving him his second Oscar because the man’s earned like four of these by this point. If he wants to flex all over this category, let him flex. I’m here for it.

My Vote: 1917

Should Have Been Nominated: Little Women, Ford v Ferrari

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was one of the easiest categories to guess. Only six movies hit any of the precursors. The other choice was Ford v Ferrari. And when you looked at the rest of them… Deakins was getting on, Richardson was getting on, you assumed Joker would make it and Marty was probably gonna make it. So the choice was the car movie or the movie in crisp black and white meant to evoke silent cinema. Of course it was that one. The only sad part is that Little Women didn’t hit anything, because that, to me, was one of the most stunningly shot films of the year.

Anyway, it’s a tech category, so guild, BAFTA, BFCA. You know the drill. The guild here is ASC, and they’re 14/33 all-time. Which isn’t great. BAFTA’s only 17/33 in that timespan, which at least is slightly above 50%. BFCA — 9/10. And somehow in the one year they missed, they had a tie and both their winners were wrong. Historically the numbers aren’t great, but over the past decade they’ve all been uniform or at least pointed the way to a clear and obvious winner.

We don’t really need the help this year, because Roger Deakins won everything. If you remember how 2014 went with Birdman, this should be a walk. Even before you consider the fact that it’s Roger fucking Deakins who did it.

Most Likely to Win: 1917. Do you need me to explain this? Wallace Beery. Wrestling picture. Roger’s got this in the bag.

The Competition: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s Bob Richardson, who’s won this category three times. The film is a Best Picture win contender, and it stunningly recreates 1969 Los Angeles, where most of the voters live. It’ll get votes. But it won’t get enough to overtake Deakins. Putting it very snugly as the second choice in case for some reason Deakins doesn’t win.

Spoiler Alert: Joker. Has to be. No one’s going for Marty unless it’s reflexively for him and not the effort. And Lighthouse… that’s the only film here that isn’t nominated for Best Picture. Only 13 films in 60 years have won this category without a Best Picture nomination, and every single one of them has gotten at least 3 or more total nominations, the average being 5/6. So that, added to the fact that Roma and Schindler’s List are the only two black-and-white films to win Cinematography since they got rid of the Black-and-White category in 1966, leaves Joker as a default third choice. But honestly, do we really think it’s gonna get this far that we’re gonna have to worry about it?

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. 1917

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Joker

4. The Lighthouse

5. The Irishman

What’s on My Ballot: 1917. Roger Deakins, baby. Ten years ago we couldn’t buy one of these wins for him, and here we are about to give him a second one like it’s nothing. What a difference a decade makes.

The Smart Choice: 1917. Don’t be stupid. This is a lock.

The Vote: 1917

Best Original Score

1917

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Rankings:

  1. Little Women
  2. Marriage Story
  3. 1917
  4. Joker
  5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Thoughts: Considering the shortlist, we got about as good a category as we could have gotten. I’m not taking Star Wars because, while I love a good John Williams Star Wars score, I don’t feel the need to vote for him. So he’s fifth, and Joker, which I like in the context of the film but don’t particularly love as a score, goes fourth. 1917 and Marriage Story — loved those scores, loved how they worked within their films, really like them both as pure scores — wouldn’t take either of them over Desplat. Desplat is my favorite working composer and his scores… I knew within like five notes that he was gonna be the vote. I like what I like.

My Vote: Little Women

Should Have Been Nominated: Motherless Brooklyn, The King

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This category has gotten so much easier in recent years since they introduced the shortlist. Used to be I had to look at 120 scores and pick 5. Now I get 15 and have to pick 5. It takes half the fun out of it, but it is way easier. And based on the list they gave us this year, this one was real easy to whittle down. Stuff like The Farewell, Us and Bombshell you knew wouldn’t make it because the scores weren’t nominated anywhere else and the composers haven’t been nominated before. Pain and Glory is foreign, and foreign films never get nominated here anymore. Then there was obvious stuff like Endgame and Frozen that were never gonna get nominated because they’re not the type of scores that get on unless they’re really special.

Special GIF by memecandy

Then you had Motherless Brooklyn and The King, both of which were films that never landed, so you figured slim chances there. Ford v Ferrari kinda landed, but it’s not a film where you think much of the score, plus the composers hadn’t been nominated in a decade. And then Jojo… Giacchino’s never been nominated outside of Pixar and hasn’t been nominated in a decade. So you were basically left with this category by default. And that’s even before you reasoned it out. Because these five dominated the precursors. This was the easiest category of all of them to guess. And, by the way… it’s a really good one.

Normally I give you a big chart with how all the precursors went and how that matches up to the Oscar. But in most recent years we’ve either had an across-the-board consensus or it’s like last year, where none of the precursor winners were nominated and you had to reason your way through it anyway. So I’ll spare you the chart. Plus, this year, Joker won the Globe, the BAFTA and BFCA. So I think we’re good. Don’t you?

Most Likely to Win: Joker. It won everything. It’s the favorite.

The Competition: 1917. What else is it? Absent a precursor, you have to manufacture reasons. It’s the Best Picture frontrunner. It’ll catch stray votes on that alone. That’s the only rational argument I can make for any other nominee, given that one film won every precursor.

Spoiler Alert: Little Women. It’s not Star Wars. I think we all know that much. So that means it’s either this or Marriage Story. And I’m not sure Marriage Story screams ‘score’ to anyone just glancing at a ballot. Maybe people know or care that it’s Randy Newman, but I doubt it. People will think of this movie as having a big score to it, and that’s enough for me to put it third. If it’s not Joker, the only two rational options are this or 1917.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Joker

2. 1917

3. Little Women

4. Marriage Story

5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

What’s on My Ballot: Joker. In the past 20 years, only once has the same score won all three precursors and lost the Oscar (2005. Memoirs of a Geisha lost to Brokeback Mountain). So unless you think they’re gonna go in on 1917 or Little Women, this is probably the choice.

The Smart Choice: Joker. Smart money’s on the film that won all the precursors. And hey, that’ll make Hildur just the fourth woman ever to win Best Score. That’s pretty cool, right?

The Vote: Joker

Best Original Song

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from Toy Story 4

“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

My Rankings:

  1. “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman
  2. “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen II
  3. “Stand Up,” from Harriet
  4. “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from Toy Story 4
  5. “I’m Standing with You,” from Breakthrough

My Thoughts: I don’t love the category, but it’s a byproduct of a weak crop of songs this year. They generally got it right, though the best song of the year (“Glasgow”) was left off. Which is a joke, considering one of the nominees’ lyrics are basically the words ‘I can’t let you throw yourself away’ over and over. Which is half the problem. There aren’t that many great original songs as it is, but it’s also a boys’ club, with people voting for the same songwriters over and over. Diane Warren and Randy Newman got on because of who they are. No one fucking cared about those songs. And then they threw Harriet on because it makes them look ‘woke’. Frozen got on because it’s Bobby Lopez, who’s won twice already, and because it’s Disney. And then Elton. I’m not gonna say the branch is broken, because it’s not as bad it was in 2011 when they had to change things. And the options this year weren’t that great. But seriously, guys. Get your shit together and vote for the product and not for your friends.

Anyway, “I’m Standing with You” sounds just like a dozen other songs of the same ilk. “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” is the weakest of the four Toy Story songs and probably shouldn’t even be here. “Stand Up” is fine, but it doesn’t really… stand out. “Into the Unknown” was the best song in Frozen II, but that doesn’t say much. And then there’s Elton. His song is fun and likable, and in a category like this… fuck it, I’ll take it. It’ll be nice to see him win again.

My Vote: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman

Should Have Been Nominated: “Glasgow (No Place Like Home),” from Wild Rose; “Daily Battles,” from Motherless Brooklyn

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The only thing of note in terms of how we got this category is that “Glasgow,” from Wild Rose, was left off. And that was the best original film song of 2019. Otherwise, they did the best they could and the category turned out about how you’d expected it to turn out.

Precursors are useless here, but if it means anything, Elton won both of those. But it’s Song. You basically just listen to them and use pure logic to know how they’re gonna vote. Most years you can get it down to a 50/50 or know the winner straight out instantaneously, like last year with “Shallow.”

Here are the nominees for your listening pleasure:

Most Likely to Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman. There are two choices here, and at least this one has nominal precursors to point to. Otherwise it’s a straight 50/50, and one of the closest Song categories we’ve had in a long time. But I suspect Elton is the favorite. We really have nothing to go on other than intuition and experience. And my… both of those things… tell me this is the most likely candidate to win this category.

The Competition: “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen II. If it’s not Elton, it’s Frozen. Because voters who don’t know and don’t give a shit (most of them) will look at it, know it’s Elton and know Frozen won last time and that Disney generally has good songs. That’s how that works. So if Elton is top choice, this is the default second. I’ll be truly shocked if the outcome is anything outside of those two. Even glancing at it from afar, you should be able to know these are the top two choices.

Spoiler Alert: “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from Toy Story 4. Taking off the obvious two, what’s left as the one people are gonna recognize? Toy Story. Randy Newman. People know that instinctively. He won for the last one. Though granted, 3 was nominated for Best Picture and he did lose for the first two. Still, people know this is Randy Newman, and that’s 90% of the battle in this category. Don’t let the other songs fool you. Nobody has any idea what Breakthrough is and 95% of voters don’t know or care that Diane Warren wrote that song. And “Stand Up” is just another nominee, not unlike the other songs that sound just like it from previous years (one of which was called “Stand Up for Something,” written by… Diane Warren). Trust me, if it’s not Elton or Frozen, Randy’s the only choice. That’s how this category works.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

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

2. “Into the Unknown,” from Frozen II

3. “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from Toy Story 4

4. “Stand Up,” from Harriet

5. “I’m Standing with You,” from Breakthrough

What’s on My Ballot: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman. When I don’t know, I’m taking the obvious choice and then leaving it up to fate. I know I’m covered on the Scorecard for whatever screwy way this is gonna go, but like 2017, I know that if it’s not the choice that makes sense, they’ll default to the obvious animated song, so I’ll be fine. But honestly, this feels like the winner. They know it’s Elton, he’s been making the rounds, he’s won two precursors, he said that he’s never won an award with Bernie before (which I’m sure will sway a few people) and it just feels like a good choice for them, given the rest of the category. So I’m taking it.

The Smart Choice: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman. There are two smart choices here. As much as you can rationalize this, you can also rationalize Frozen. I truly don’t know which will win for sure. I think as long as it’s one of the two, you’re in good shape. My gut says it’s likely this, but I’m also an idiot. I know enough to urge you not to take anything other than these two if you want to put yourself in the best possible position to get it right. We could all be wrong, but the smart money is on either Elton or Frozen. And if I had to tell you to take either, I’d say take Elton.

The Vote:  “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from Rocketman

Best Production Design

1917

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

My Rankings:

  1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. 1917
  3. Parasite
  4. Jojo Rabbit
  5. The Irishman

My Thoughts: I like this category. It’s not overly sexy, but it’s solid. Irishman I thought was kinda boring on the sets, so I wouldn’t go there. Jojo was nice, but as I said, not a particularly sexy choice. Parasite is basically two houses, and really well done. You feel every inch of the poor family’s home, and the rich house… well, we all know why that’s a great location. Though I wouldn’t vote for it, even if the excitement for the film might lead to some people going there. 1917, I’m more impressed with each time I watch it. Because they built trenches and made it feel like World War I, down to the giant shell holes and half-standing buildings. And they designed it all so they could shoot single-take, which is really nice. It was almost the vote.

But… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I remember driving up the streets as they’d changed the storefronts and going past them like Pitt does in the movie. And it just felt different. I know a lot of it is trading off pre-existing locations in the city, but man, that just felt like 1969. That’s my vote. There’s pure work that went into something and then there’s the overall effect and feeling it evokes, and that one, to me, is all about the feeling.

My Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Should Have Been Nominated: Knives Out, Little Women

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This was a pretty standard-fare category. The only minor surprise is that this is the one category where they left Joker off. It hit every precursor and then it didn’t make it. Still, we got a great category, and I’m glad Parasite got on. Especially since contemporary films never get on here. La La Land is the last one (though technically that’s half fantasy with the musical numbers). Parasite’s the first straight contemporary nominee since, if I remember correctly, The Birdcage in 1996.

hank azaria dancing GIF

The big precursor here is ADG. They’re 15/23 all-time and are generally solid. Though they have multiple categories with which to get it right. BAFTA’s only 9/23 in those same years, and BFCA all-time is 8/10. Typically, though, you can spot the consensus choices, and most years there’s either a definite winner or a top two.

Oh, and fun fact I discovered last year that I’m gonna repurpose: this award goes all the way back to the first Oscars. Since then, 125 films have either been the most nominated film of their year or tied for most nominations. Only 30 of them were not nominated for Production Design. A list that now includes Joker. Of the post-studio era ones, almost all of them were either purely contemporary (No Country, Birdman, American Beauty) or took place largely outside (Braveheart, Hurt Locker, Brokeback, Platoon). Joker’s the first straight period piece that wasn’t nominated here in thirty years.

Precursors:

  • ADG Period: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • ADG Contemporary: Parasite
  • BAFTA: 1917
  • BFCA: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Most Likely to Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It won the guild, and it’s 1969 Los Angeles. It makes the most sense. It feels like the one they’re gonna vote for. Though it’s not a lock by any stretch. It just feels like the proper favorite. Plus, if you want further explanation, La La Land won with the guild and BFCA and lost BAFTA to a quintessentially British film. So there’s that too.

The Competition: 1917. The BAFTA win is big. Am I totally sold on this as a second choice? No. But Parasite is contemporary, and straight contemporary hasn’t won since All the President’s Men. This is period, they built trenches, and it’s probably winning Best Picture. So I can make a case for this as second, though I think that just illustrates what seems like a wide gap between first choice and second. To me at least.

Spoiler Alert: Parasite. I’m so hesitant leaving off Irishman, just on the off-chance this becomes another 2012 with it playing the role of Lincoln, coming out of nowhere to win despite zero precursors just because it has a lot of nominations and they want to ‘get it something’. But Irishman’s not exactly the White House in 1863, you know? I’m okay there. And Jojo, I’m just gonna have to run the risk. What are you gonna do? Sometimes you gotta say fuck it and know you did your best. But this at least has a precursor to its name and some people might love the idea of the house as a set piece. It feels like it could win, but I’m not sure it’s really gonna happen over those other two.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2. 1917

3. Parasite

4. The Irishman

5. Jojo Rabbit

What’s on My Ballot: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Congratulations to the city of Los Angeles on what looks like its second Production Design win in four years. I have a hard time seeing this losing, given the alternatives. One movie takes place largely outside and the other is basically two sets and is contemporary. This is LA! Their home! It feels like the right choice.

The Smart Choice: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. You could make the argument for 1917 because of BAFTA, and you could make the case for Parasite on guild and general love for it. But smart money feels like the movie that’s set in the city where most of the voters live and reminds them of how it used to look 50 years ago. This seems like it should win. And if it doesn’t, we’re set up for another 2012 and something crazy coming in. So now it’s Editing and Production Design that can go haywire. Wait til we get to Visual Effects. We’re literally just reliving all my nightmares from the past Oscar decade. But yeah, I think this is the choice.

The Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Costume Design

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My Rankings:

  1. Little Women
  2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. The Irishman
  5. Joker

My Thoughts: Fine category. Though really only two choices for me. Irishman’s costumes were solid, but it’s not like anyone really remembers them. Joker, meanwhile, is basically just the suit. It felt like Joaquin was in his underwear for most of that movie. I’m not voting for it. Jojo — nice. The Hitler costume, all of Scarlett’s stuff, the robot costumes, Rockwell’s thing at the end. Wouldn’t take it though. Once Upon a Time feels like something I would want to take — you remember Pitt’s yellow shirt and DiCaprio’s robe at the end — but nothing overly stood out there. To me, the answer is Little Women. 1850s dresses, but nothing showy. No hoop skirts and big, ornate dresses. They felt like regular clothes people would wear, but also wonderfully fit the period. I think that’s the easy choice here.

My Vote: Little Women

Should Have Been Nominated: Dolemite Is My Name

– – – – –

The Analysis:

There was only one real surprise with this one — well, two. One is Dolemite Is My Name not being nominated despite winning BFCA, who until now were 9/10 all-time on straight up winners. And the other was Joker getting nominated with zero precursors. It got all the Production Design precursors and was left off there, and then missed all of these precursors and got on. Go figure. Otherwise, all pretty obvious stuff that hit precursors and made sense as nominees.

The guild for this category is CDG, and they’re 10/21 all-time. BFCA is out this year, having awarded a non-nominee, so that only leaves BAFTA, which is 8/10 the past decade, only missing Jackie in 2016 (which everyone missed) and The Favourite last year (because the Academy was determined to vote for Black Panther for things to seem hip).

Image result for how do you do, fellow kids gif"

Precursors:

  • CDG (Period): Jojo Rabbit
  • BAFTA: Little Women

That makes things pretty easy, doesn’t it?

Most Likely to Win: Little Women. What else do you do? Only two films won precursors and this is the one with the obvious ‘costumes’ in it. Usually you vote for the frills anyway. This feels like frills.

The Competition: Jojo Rabbit. It’s the only other film with a precursor. It beat Once Upon a Time at the guild, and neither Joker nor Irishman were even nominated there. So it’s gotta be considered second choice. Though, to me, that only solidifies the idea that Little Women is the clear winner in this category. But, since we’re never too sure in Costumes, safest choice for #2 on paper is probably this.

Spoiler Alert: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Joker is too recent a period piece for them and Irishman is too drab a choice to think it’ll get any real votes. If anything’s third, it’s this. This can win. Without a precursor though, I can’t put this higher. Plus, it’s pretty recent for them. They’ve gone 60s before, but they typically prefer to go older. So I don’t see much momentum for this winning other than the film and the general idea of ’60s costumes’. It’s possible, but I’m not sure it’s something you put on a ballot.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Little Women

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Jojo Rabbit

4. Joker

5. The Irishman

What’s on My Ballot: Little Women. It makes the most sense. It’s the most ‘costume’ heavy film out there, and I’m not sure any of the other choices inspire much confidence. Especially in a category that’s usually about which one appears like the right choice.

The Smart Choice: Little Women. What are you gonna do, take Jojo? I mean, go ahead, but smart money feels like it’s on this. Just look at that gif. This is the ‘costumes’ movie.

The Vote: Little Women

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

1917

Bombshell

Joker

Judy

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

My Rankings:

  1. Bombshell
  2. Judy
  3. 1917
  4. Joker
  5. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

My Thoughts: I don’t really have much stake in this category. Without either Once Upon a Time or the criminally left-out Little Women, it doesn’t even feel like much of a category to me. Maleficent being on instead of those two is a joke, and somehow Joker’s inclusion is even more of a joke, since the extent of the makeup is clown paint and green hair dye. I get putting it on for category visibility, but at the expense of those other two… no way. Judy makes total sense to me; they made Renée Zellweger look like Judy Garland. 1917 – war wounds and such. I get it. Wouldn’t vote for it, but I’m fine with it being here. The only real choice is Bombshell, where the leads look like the real people they’re portraying and John Lithgow is in a fat suit that somehow isn’t distracting (which fat suits almost always are). Had Little Women been here, we’d have had a discussion. In the absence of that, Bombshell’s the runaway choice and nothing else comes close.

My Vote: Bombshell

Should Have Been Nominated: Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The big note for Makeup & Hairstyling is that they’ve upped the nominees from three to five. So whereas in the past, you looked at the category and went, “That one’s gonna win,” now you go, “That one’s gonna win,” take a second glance to be sure because there are two more contenders and then go, “Oh yeah, that one’s gonna win.”

We had a shortlist of ten, they nominated five. The five that didn’t make it were Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey and Rocketman. All five have cases to be made for them and against them, but only the Little Women omission is the one that truly sticks out to me. Especially given two of the choices that did make it on in its stead.

But as I said, typically in this category you know what’s gonna win just by glancing at the nominees. And in case you can’t do that, we have the Makeup & Hairstylists Guild, BAFTA and BFCA as precursors. Bombshell won BAFTA, won BFCA and won all three guild categories it was nominated for. The only other nominee to win a precursor was Joker, which won a category Bombshell wasn’t in at the guild. So yeah, I think you get the idea here.

Most Likely to Win: Bombshell. Charlize Theron looks like Megyn Kelly. Nicole Kidman looks like Gretchen Carlson. John Lithgow, while he’s not the spitting image of Roger Ailes… I’ve been distracted by a lot of fat suits in my time. And I kept looking at that one and going, “Wow, it’s really not distracting at all.” This is clearly the choice.

Image result for roger ailes bombshell gif

The Competition: Judy. They like actor transformations. A lot of time you’ll see an acting winner also take the makeup team along with them. Meryl did it with Iron Lady. Oldman did it with Darkest Hour. Bale didn’t win last year but the Vice team won. This, unfortunately, is behind Bombshell on points, but feels like a second choice, getting votes some of the people who voted for Renée and went, “She looked just like her.” I truly can’t rationalize anything else as a second choice here.

Spoiler Alert: Joker. My instinct tells me to have 1917 here, but truly, I’m not getting caught with this as a fourth choice in case the Academy decides to be dumb and vote for this. So it’ll be my #3, but I can’t understand why anyone would take this over the previous two options. But at least this has a nominal guild win (even though it didn’t beat any other nominee in doing so). Like I said, the only reason this is here is because I’m gonna be pissed if they go here and it’s anything less than a #3 for me. Otherwise this shouldn’t remotely be in contention for this award in any conceivable sense and 1917 makes at least slightly more sense just given the war stuff. But I doubt we get past Bombshell here and it matters in the least.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Bombshell

2. Judy

3. Joker

4. 1917

5. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

What’s on My Ballot: Bombshell. In this category, you know what’s gonna win just by looking at it. We’ve had exactly one year in the past ten where the winner wasn’t immediately apparent (and that was Academy Award winner Suicide Squad, which was a 50/50 toss-up with Star Trek). This one is pretty immediately apparent. It’s won BAFTA, it’s won BFCA and it’s won the three guild categories it was nominated in. That makes it about as close to a lock as I can figure.

The Smart Choice: Bombshell. Unless they’re going all in on that Judy Garland transformation (and let’s not pretend like most people saw and/or even loved that movie), I can’t see this losing.

The Vote: Bombshell

Best Visual Effects

1917

Avengers: Endgame

The Irishman

The Lion King

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Rankings:

  1. The Irishman
  2. The Lion King
  3. 1917
  4. Avengers: Endgame
  5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Thoughts: I’m so happy with this category. One could make a case for any of these five as potentially being the choice. I can’t take Star Wars. While the effects in it are good, they’re never surprising. You know what I mean? So that’s fifth. Avengers — loved the movie, I think they did a tremendous job with it and the effects are good. But also… it’s too much. Nothing made me feel like it was the vote. I’m also not gonna do the ‘it’s the culmination, it should win’ thing either. Fuck that. Earn it. And speaking of ‘earn it‘, that brings us to 1917. Most of its effects are practical and had to be perfectly timed so as to work within the choreography of the long takes. I’ll also take practical effects of CGI most days. But… not over those other two. Not right now. Maybe in a year or two.

The tough choice for me was deciding between Lion King and Irishman. I’ve been saying all year that, while Lion King is not a good movie, the way they made it and the effects in it are absolutely stunning. And Irishman, I’m shocked I was as fine with the de-aging as I was. It strained at times, but for much of the run time you didn’t really notice or pay attention to it. Mostly all my questions were after the fact, when you realize De Niro’s character was supposed to be 28 at the beginning of the film, even though he looked consistently about 45 throughout the whole thing. But still, the fact that they accomplished what they did over three-and-a-half hours is impressive to me.

The way I’m gonna decide this is kinda shitty, but it’s the only way I can make a judgment. The fact that Lion King is essentially entirely animated kinda makes it like a purely animated film, and while how they made it is stunning and revolutionary, I feel like The Irishman using the effects for the story is more what the category is about. So I’m gonna take The Irishman, but that difference was the only way I could rationalize it, because I really like what both films accomplished.

My Vote: The Irishman

Should Have Been Nominated: This is the ideal category for me. They got it 100% right.

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This category always starts with a longlist of 20, which becomes a shortlist of 10, and then 5 get nominated. Of this year’s shortlist, you immediately knew which five were gonna make it. To prove that, here are the five that didn’t: Cats, Terminator, Captain Marvel, Alita: Battle Angel and Gemini Man. See what I mean? They all just got out-classed. The only one with a slight was Alita, which managed a bunch of guild nominations. But in the end, the classiest/obvious five won out. But we did end up with the best possible category, which is always a good thing.

In terms of parsing it… same as the others: guild (VES), BAFTA, BFCA. VES’ main category is Best Effects, and the film that’s won that has won the Oscar 10 of the past 17 years, with two of those seven misses involving a film winning Best Supporting Effects at VES. Two of the other five times, the Best Effects winner was a Planet of the Apes movie, which lost the Oscar to a much classier film. Of the other three: one was 2004, which is essentially irrelevant, one was 2007, when Transformers lost to Academy Award winner The Golden Compass, and the final one is 2015, when Ex Machina shocked everyone and won despite zero precursors over Force Awakens, Mad Max, The Revenant and The Martian. Which is just a ‘shit happens’ scenario.

BAFTA, meanwhile, is really good at guessing Visual Effects. They had Golden Compass straight up. They had Interstellar and Blade Runner too. Going back to 2002, BAFTA’s only missed the Visual Effects winner four times. One was Ex Machina, two of them (2004 and last year) involved their winner not being nominated for the Oscar and the final one was them giving it to Deathly Hallows 2 as a sendoff to the Potter franchise. So, in a way, BAFTA’s the biggest Visual Effects precursor we have. BFCA, not so much. 5/10 all-time.

The other general rule for this category, outside of the precursors, is also that the classiest film usually wins. Until Ex Machina in 2015, no Best Picture nominee in the modern era of special effects (post-Star Wars) had ever lost this category to a non-Best Picture nominee.

Precursors:

  • VES:
    • The Lion King — 3 wins (including Best Effects)
    • The Irishman — 2 wins (including Supporting Effects)
    • Rise of Skywalker — 1 win
  • BAFTA: 1917
  • BFCA: Avengers: Endgame

Given what I see here and what the usual modus operandi is for this category, I think we can parse this one pretty easily, don’t you?

Most Likely to Win: The Irishman. I know this might not make total sense, but somehow it does to me. BFCA is irrelevant. They’re populist and always go with a choice like that. And Lion King winning the guild only means something if it’s a year like 2016, where it could be the big choice in the category. But Best Picture nominees always tip the scales here. So you’re really only deciding between two films. This has the Supporting Effects win at VES and just feels like the choice to me.

The Competition: 1917. Since special effects became modernized (Star Wars), only once did a Best Picture nominee in this category lose to a non-Best Picture nominee. That was 2015, and that was the last time a Best Picture nominee was nominated in this category. So there’s no argument you’re going to make to me to say that anything other than this or The Irishman are the top two choices in the category. Decide which is one and which is two however you want. It’s one versus the other and that’s it.

Spoiler Alert: The Lion King. It won the most awards at the guild, and it is the most effects-resplendent film in the category. So this is the third choice. But it’s only got the one nomination and I can’t see people rushing to vote for this over those other two. How many people even saw this? It’s not like 2016, with Jungle Book, where you kinda knew it was the choice and it won the precursors. There’s no argument to be made for this anywhere other than third choice.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Irishman

2. 1917

3. The Lion King

4. Avengers: Endgame

5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

What’s on My Ballot: The Irishman. Another category that’s a straight 50/50 tossup. Something tells me that basic logic won’t win out in the end and they might refuse to vote for this. Then again, this could be the slam dunk winner. I’m gonna err on the side of VES, which took this over 1917, and say that BAFTA was just a hometown deal. Normally BAFTA is a sign of things to come, but I just feel like 1917 winning there was a byproduct of it being a British film. Though the pushback to that is, “Then why didn’t Dunkirk win in 2017?” I don’t know. I’m not saying what I’m doing is smart, I’m just telling you what I feel. So I’m taking this. I’m not sure I’m gonna tell you to follow, though, because post-BAFTA I’m not sure this feels like the ‘smart’ choice anymore.

The Smart Choice: 1917. This is one of the few categories where you can make the case for two choices. Irishman has Supporting Effects at the guild, which is 12/17 all-time, and this has BAFTA, which is 13/17 in that same time. Though the caution is that one of their misses has been for a ‘hometown’ choice (Deathly Hallows 2. Over, coincidentally, Hugo). Best Picture winners, while seldom being nominated for Visual Effects (though who can forget those incredible VFX in Kramer vs. Kramer and Terms of Endearment?), do generally always win. All-time, the list of Best Picture winners that lost here are Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Mrs. Miniver and Patton. Though admittedly, all those are 1970 or earlier, and the list of those that’ve won (competitively) is equally as short: Ben-Hur, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Gladiator and Return of the King. But also, none of them did it in a category of five films. So we’re really in uncharted waters here. Does the presumed Best Picture win it on muscle alone, or does Irishman take it? I don’t know. For me, I’m gonna err on the side of extreme caution and say that the presumed Best Picture winner should just get reflex votes in this category regardless. Maybe I’m wrong, but it makes sense and seems like the way to go.

The Vote: 1917

Best Sound Editing

1917

Ford v Ferrari

Joker

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Rankings:

  1. Ford v Ferrari
  2. 1917
  3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  5. Joker

My Thoughts: This one’s an easy one for me. I’d never vote for Joker. Once Upon a Time is more a Mixing film than Editing. Star Wars, we all just take for granted at this point and I can’t say I’d think to vote for it. The choice is really either 1917 or Ford v Ferrari. And honestly, 1917, I watched it again… there’s really less pure ‘sound’ stuff than I thought. Ford v Ferrari is constantly giving you cars and racing stuff. I thought it was gonna be more difficult to decide, but it really wasn’t.

My Vote: Ford v Ferrari

Should Have Been Nominated: Uncut Gems

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The Sound categories. These are treacherous, even if things do tend to turn out okay most of the time. It’s because the Academy can’t really differentiate between Mixing and Editing, so typically both just match. Used to be the music movie won Mixing and the war/action movie won Editing, but that’s not always the case anymore and now the same film tends to just win both. I’m really curious to see what happens this year, with two big ‘sound’ movies in both categories.

I’ll note that the categories should be taken as a single entity. So know how you’re gonna vote in both before you vote for either. If that makes any sense.

In terms of how we got these categories, this one was pretty straightforward. Mixing’s the one where it got interesting. I somehow called this category straight up, and am forever impressed with myself, pulling Rise of Skywalker getting only one Sound nomination instead of two out of my ass, despite the film’s two predecessors being nominated in both Sound categories. Granted, it wasn’t that difficult a category to figure out, but still, I feel good.

For precursors, since we take the Sound categories as one, I look at MPSE, the Sound Editors guild, CAS, the Mixers guild, and BAFTA, which has a single Sound category. Beginning with MPSE, they have three main categories: SFX+Foley, Dialogue+ADR and Music (generally in that order of importance, but not always). They’ve handed out awards since 1991, but Sound Editing has only had five nominees since 2006, so really it’s just that timeframe that can help us.

The SFX+Foley winner has won the Sound Editing Oscar 8 of the past 12 years. Of the other four, the Music MPSE winner won twice (Hugo, Dunkirk), Bohemian Rhapsody won Dialogue+ADR and the fourth was the weird year where Hacksaw Ridge swept MPSE and lost Sound Editing to Arrival yet also somehow won Sound Mixing.

Typically, if something wins multiple MPSE Awards, it’s going to win a Sound Oscar. The only time that hasn’t happened was Avatar winning multiple and then losing both Sound Oscars to Hurt Locker (which won both BAFTA and CAS that year).

BAFTA — since 1991, the winner of their Sound category has won at least one Sound Oscar 19 of 27 years. And to shorten the timespan, they’re 15/20 and 9/10 (their only miss was picking The Revenant in 2015, which lost both Sound categories to Fury Road). Which means that if something wins BAFTA, it’s also probably gonna win at least one Sound Oscar. And if it’s gonna win one Sound Oscar, it’s got a decent chance of winning both, given how voting tends to go in those categories.

Also, since we do reach across the aisle back to this in Mixing, know that the CAS winner is not generally helpful when it comes to this particular category. The CAS winner is 9/25 in Editing since 1993, and most of those nine times, it was a really obvious double Sound winner. But, use the precursors, use common sense and you’ll be able to make a confident selection.

Precursors:

  • MPSE:
    • SFX+Foley: Ford v Ferrari
    • Dialogue+ADR: 1917
  • BAFTA: 1917
  • CAS: Ford v Ferrari

I think we knew what the two choices were going in and know what the likelihood of each right now feels like, don’t we?

Most Likely to Win: 1917. Gotta be, right? Best Picture, war movie. Won BAFTA, which means that it should win at least one Sound Oscar. And it split the guild, which means there’s clear support for it out there. But also, when you’ve got only two main choices that have generally split the votes, how do you pick a favorite? Look at which one is more like to win Best Picture, and that’s usually how you do it.

The Competition: Ford v Ferrari. If it’s not 1917, it’s this. It won CAS, it split MPSE. It’s basically a 50/50 and the only thing keeping me from saying this is an automatic winner (aside from the BAFTA loss) is that 1917 is probably gonna win Best Picture. It’s a pretty straightforward tossup. Aside from a slam dunk winner, this is about as good as you can hope for in a Sound category.

Spoiler Alert: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I mean, what else can it be? Star Wars has never won a Sound Oscar since the original trilogy, and I’m seeing no real push out there for people to vote for Joker in the tech categories. Plus, anything other than those first two would be pretty shocking to see come in. Here’s my rationale for this as third: the movie’s all about music. Which means Mixing. But, if they’re voting for it in Mixing and really don’t have a sense of the difference between the two categories (hence why things always win both), they’re just as likely to take it in both. Plus, without being able to make a case for Joker or Star Wars, I gotta put this third. But I’m telling you, I’d be shocked if it wasn’t one of those first two choices.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. 1917

2. Ford v Ferrari

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. Joker

5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

What’s on My Ballot: 1917. BAFTA win, MPSE split, war movie, Best Picture favorite. All that to me sounds like a pretty easy Editing win. War movies win Sound Editing. They just do. Maybe it’s Ford v Ferrari. Maybe that movie wins both. I don’t know. But even if we get another 2016 — Arrival won BAFTA and then won Editing. So I guess there’s that rationale? But really, it’s all those other things. It feels like a clear favorite just on sheer nominations strength alone.

The Smart Choice: 1917. The Best Picture favorite is a war movie and has all the precursors you wanna see. That makes it a pretty smart choice, and the only real thing keeping us from picking it is the notion that Ford v Ferrari is a racing movie. It could happen, but I think this is the smarter play.

The Vote: 1917

Best Sound Mixing

1917

Ad Astra

Ford v Ferrari

Joker

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My Rankings:

  1. Ford v Ferrari
  2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. 1917
  4. Ad Astra
  5. Joker

My Thoughts: It’s pretty much the same as Sound Editing. Ford v Ferrari is the choice. I can’t see taking anything else over it. I loved the music in Once Upon a Time and since 1917 doesn’t have large-scale battle scenes, I’d really only have looked to take it in Editing, not Mixing. So that makes Once Upon a Time second choice. Ad Astra is a welcome inclusion and I did think the sound design in that film was great. But it’s only fourth for me. And Joker was always gonna be fifth. Ford v Ferrari’s the only choice. The sound landscape in that film was great.

My Vote: Ford v Ferrari

Should Have Been Nominated: Waves

– – – – –

The Analysis:

As I always say, take the Sound categories together, so if you haven’t read Editing already, go do that now and come back down. I’ll take a break while you go do that.

In terms of the category we got, Ad Astra is a total surprise. Came out of nowhere, and I’m not sure anyone was expecting that to happen. Three of the five were locks, and given Joker’s overall strength of precursors, you had to figure that for both Sound categories. I thought Irishman or Jojo could get on here, but instead we got Ad Astra as the surprise nomination. It happens.

I will start by saying this: the last film to win Sound Mixing as its only nomination is Last of the Mohicans in 1992. And the last non-Best Picture nominee to win is Bourne Ultimatum in 2007. So don’t guess Ad Astra. This will be my last mention of it in this analysis. That’s how little a chance it stands, odds-wise.

Only 18 films have ever won both Editing and Mixing in a competitive category (Raiders won both, but the Editing win was an achievement award). It’s not that big a statistic, since Sound Editing only became a category in 1963 and only really became a consistent category in 1982. But, in the 38 years since 1982, it’s happened 17 times, which is 45%. So about half the time, something’s won both categories. And in the past decade, it’s happened 7 out of 10 years. And in the three times something didn’t win both: Les Mis (musical), Whiplash (lots of music) and that weird year where Arrival won Editing and Hacksaw won Mixing and the only explanation is that voting in both categories must have been really tight.

My point is, given how often the two categories match and how treacherous it is if you split them (in 2016, I had La La Land in Mixing and Hacksaw in Editing and ended up missing both), the odds typically favor something winning both or you being at least half right. Hence my usual refrain at this point on the ballot: “Don’t split the Sound categories, Mike.”

Same precursors here as Sound Editing, with emphasis on CAS. CAS is 15/26 all-time in picking the Mixing winner, and 6/10 the past decade. BAFTA, meanwhile, is 15/26 in that same time span and 8/10 the past decade. Their two misses are 2015 and 2016 (Revenant and Arrival. Though Arrival at least won a Sound Oscar). Generally, because we’ve got both Sound guilds and BAFTA and two Sound categories to work with, you can usually reason your way through both categories pretty easily.

Precursors:

  • BAFTA: 1917
  • CAS: Ford v Ferrari
  • MPSE:
    • SFX+Foley: Ford v Ferrari
    • Dialogue+ADR: 1917

The category is basically the same as Editing, so the top three choices are gonna be exactly the same.

Most Likely to Win: 1917. If it’s the favorite in one, it’s the favorite in both. There’s not enough differentiation in the categories to say otherwise.

The Competition: Ford v Ferrari. Same deal. It’s a 50/50 in both categories and this is the competition to 1917 in both.

Spoiler Alert: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. If it’s gonna get votes in either Sound category, it’s gonna be this one. But I can’t see how it overcomes both the racing film and the war film. So it’s third choice until it wins. Absent a precursor, I can’t see it happening.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings: 

1. 1917

2. Ford v Ferrari

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. Joker

5. Ad Astra

What’s on My Ballot: Ford v Ferrari. That’s right, folks. I’m splitting the Sound categories! Look, it wouldn’t be my ballot if I couldn’t do something stupid on it. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna tell you to do it too, because it really is stupid. But hey, it won CAS and won SFX+Foley at MPSE. There’s a legitimate case to be made that it can win a Sound category. It could win both. Best Picture winners don’t always win the Sound categories. My gut keeps telling me what’ll happen is both films will get a lot of votes in both categories and we’ll have some weird quirk where this wins Mixing and 1917 wins Editing. It’ll look good on paper, but it is a weird thing to actually have happen. Which is why I’m not telling you to do it too. You should take the same thing in both, and I just do crazy shit on my own ballot because I can.

The Smart Choice: 1917. Never split the Sound categories unless you’re absolutely sure. The last time I was sure of a split was 2014, with American Sniper and Whiplash. Otherwise, you run the risk of 2016, when they split the wrong way and you get screwed. There’s only four real scenarios: 1917 wins both, Ford v Ferrari wins both, or they split either way. If you put the same film on both ballots, in 3/4 scenarios, you’re getting at least one category right. Plus, I’ll reiterate: this is the Best Picture favorite, it’s a war movie, it won BAFTA, who are 9/10 the past decade on their Sound winner winning at least one Sound Oscar, and people generally don’t know how to vote in the Sound categories, so the same thing typically wins both of them (it’s happened 7 of the past 10 years). This is the smart choice in both. It just is.

The Vote: 1917

Best Animated Feature

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I Lost My Body

Klaus

Missing Link

Toy Story 4

My Rankings:

  1. Toy Story 4
  2. Klaus
  3. Missing Link
  4. I Lost My Body
  5. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

My Thoughts: This category’s okay. It was a ‘meh’ kinda year for animation, and we got a generally okay category. Frozen II being here wouldn’t have changed things all that much. I’ve been bored with the How to Train Your Dragon films since the first one, so I’m never gonna vote for that. I Lost My Body I liked, but wouldn’t take it over the other three choices. Missing Link was nice, but like all Laika movies outside of Kubo, I wouldn’t do much past nominating it. Klaus was a real surprise for me. I did not expect to like that movie as much as I did. However, up against Toy Story 4, I wouldn’t take any of them. I was hoping I’d have something else to vote for, but in the end Toy Story is the choice. Granted, it’s like going, “I don’t want Prancer, Dancer, Vixen or Cupid… who’s left? Oh, fuck, Rudolph!” It’s really not a bad revelation to come to, though I was kinda hoping to find something more exciting.

My Vote: Toy Story 4

Should Have Been Nominated: Okko’s Inn

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Not much to be said in the way of us getting a category — they left Frozen II off, which fits their M.O. in recent years, being reticent to nominate both Disney and Pixar in the same year and leaving off ‘lesser’ sequels. Last year, having both a Disney and a Pixar sequel nominated was an aberration. But other than that, there’s really not much to talk about here.

Not that we really need to, but, precursors:

  • PGA: Toy Story 4
  • BAFTA: Klaus
  • Globe: Missing Link
  • Annie Awards:
    • Klaus — 7 wins including Best Feature
    • I Lost My Body — 3 wins, including Best Independent Feature

The problem with precursors here, especially the Annies… they don’t mean all that much. The Academy at large is gonna look at their ballot, only have seen maybe two of the nominees and vote for the obvious choice. Which tends to be Disney or Pixar. The Animation branch is technically the second largest in the Academy, but that’s still only about 10% of total voters. So even if they like one film over another (and the Annies are notorious for not voting for Pixar/Disney to share the wealth with other, smaller films), the category almost always defaults the same way.

Most Likely to Win: Toy Story 4. It won PGA, and when I think about where the voters at large are coming from and how they’re gonna vote, that’s what I’m gonna look at. Plus it’s Toy Story, and that’s the epitome of class, unlike all the other Pixar sequels. I don’t see how this isn’t a stone cold lock.

The Competition: Klaus. Thank god it won all those Annies. Otherwise I’d have had no idea what to make the second choice. I don’t believe in anything past Toy Story in this category. How can you think this can win? Even if it did win BAFTA, how could it be the favorite? Martin Scorsese didn’t watch this movie. You know what I mean? People are gonna default to Pixar because that’s what they do. Anything else is second choice at best.

Spoiler Alert: Missing Link. It won the Globe. That’s something. I’m pretty sure the only reason it won is because it was the only non-sequel or remake in the entire category. But it didn’t even win anything at the Annies! And Laika’s never won here. It’s really Toy Story vs. the field in this one. But, I can’t put I Lost My Body here, as the by-far lowest-profile film in the category, which is never good in a category like this. And How to Train Your Dragon… the first two lost, the film came out almost a year ago now and no one really cares about it. Plus the only sequel to ever win this category is Toy Story 3. So I can’t even see that as a third choice. It’s gotta be this. At least this has the Globe and people respect Laika.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Toy Story 4

2. Klaus

3. Missing Link

4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

5. I Lost My Body

What’s on My Ballot: Toy Story 4. Here’s every winner in the category ever: Shrek, Spirited Away, Finding Nemo, Incredibles, Wallace and Gromit, Happy Feet, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3, Rango, Brave, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Inside Out, Zootopia, Coco, Spider-Verse. You see a trend there? If it’s not Disney or Pixar, the film has a really high profile or was considered a major artistic success. Nothing else in this category has that kinda profile to get votes. This is the choice.

The Smart Choice: Toy Story 4. When is Pixar not the smart choice in this category? Don’t get fooled by the smokescreen of precursors. This category always defaults the same way. Let this lose if it’s going to lose and then recalibrate later. You’ve heard this story too many times to fall for a smaller Netflix movie with no profile. Just let it win.

The Vote: Toy Story 4

Best International Film

Corpus Christi

Honeyland

Les Misérables

Pain and Glory

Parasite

My Rankings:

  1. Parasite
  2. Pain and Glory
  3. Les Misérables
  4. Corpus Christi
  5. Honeyland

My Thoughts: To get the obvious out of the way, Parasite is in my top ten and is my third overall choice for Best Picture. So obviously it’s the vote. But otherwise, pretty solid category. Pain and Glory was really good. An easy second choice for me. Les Mis was really solid and I liked it quite a bit, so that’s the third choice for me and also could have been the vote in another year. Corpus Christi I liked. Honeyland didn’t really do much for me. Overall, a pretty good category, but there’s a clear winner here.

My Vote: Parasite

Should Have Been Nominated: Can’t say. Haven’t seen any of the other shortlisted films. Though Painted Bird and Atlantics looked good.

– – – – –

The Analysis:

My analysis here is that Parasite is going to win and we don’t need to waste any time talking about it. I told you I was gonna make this easy when I could.

Most Likely to Win: Parasite. Do I need to explain this one?

The Competition: Pain and Glory. It’s got a nomination in a big category. That’s enough to put it here. It’ll be the only film the most amount of people will have deigned to watch other than Parasite. It’ll get a few votes for Almodovar alone. This category is always about highest profile. And next to Parasite, this has the highest profile. Therefore it’s the second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Les Misérables. I know Honeyland is nominated in two categories, but the other one is Documentary, a category people care about even less than this one. This movie got a push from Amazon. I saw a trailer for this in front of a real studio movie. At this point, a third choice doesn’t matter, but I’ve definitely heard more acknowledgement and shoutouts for this than I did for Honeyland. Most people don’t even know what that movie is. So not that it matters, but this is the only potential spoiler, but we’ll never get this far.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Parasite

2. Pain and Glory

3. Les Misérables

4. Honeyland

5. Corpus Christi

What’s on My Ballot: Parasite. Because I’m not stupid.

The Smart Choice: Parasite. No foreign language film has been nominated for Best Picture and lost this category in the same year. Don’t be dumb. This is the biggest gimme of the night.

The Vote: Parasite

Best Documentary Feature

American Factory

The Cave

The Edge of Democracy

For Sama

Honeyland

My Rankings:

  1. For Sama
  2. The Cave
  3. Honeyland
  4. American Factory
  5. The Edge of Democracy

My Thoughts: The Documentary branch is broken. It’s literally a running joke now that if something is a consensus best documentary of the year, the branch will leave it off their list. Life Itself. Left off. Eagle Huntress. Left off. Jane. Left off. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Left off. This year, Apollo 11 and Maiden. I can see one of those, but not both. That’s horrendous. It can only be one of two things. Either they’re so fucking self-important that they refuse to vote for the best docs because they feel they need to ‘show the real issues’ (as if Jacques Cousteau and Walt Disney didn’t win this category in the past along with March of the fucking Penguins), or it’s because while they vote, they think, “That one already has the votes, so let me put something else on that could use the support.” And then guess what? It fucking gets left off. And now we have a boring category that nobody cares about that is literally less interesting than Best Animated Short. I mean, it usually is for me most years anyway, but come on. Documentaries should be taken seriously. And you’ve relegated your category to amateur status. How about you just fucking vote for which ones you thought were the best, like it’s supposed to be? The system is broken, and it needs to be fixed immediately. Or they need to start shaking up who can vote for the category, because something is very wrong.

Anyway, this list. I’m generally not a fan of most documentaries, especially when they’re ‘serious’ or about political issues. All too often I find that I get the point within ten minutes and feel beaten over the head for the next 90. That’s how I was with Edge of Democracy and American Factory. I got the point, they didn’t do much for me and I was pretty bored the whole time. Honeyland was like watching one of those plotless foreign movies that wins Cannes. What is this, Uncle Boonmee or Best Documentary? It wasn’t for me, and it felt overly staged, which turned me off.

The only two docs that felt remotely worthwhile were The Cave and For Sama. The Cave was fascinating to watch. The underground hospital connected by tunnels, the female doctor in this impossible situation working against a war and sexism. It’s really good. But it doesn’t carry the emotional weight that For Sama carries. That movie… my god. What a beautiful message from a mother to a daughter. Without the two documentaries that should be here, it wins without question.

My Vote: For Sama

Should Have Been Nominated: Apollo 11, Maiden

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Have I mentioned the Documentary branch is broken? I’m gonna keep saying it whenever I talk about this category because we’re so far beyond the point of them needing to have done something about it.

Here’s how this category works: they shortlist 15 films, they leave off the best ones because the branch is broken, and then 5 films get nominated. Here’s this year’s crop:

  • American Factory — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a factory in an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring 2,000 Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
  • 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.
  • 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.

There’s really not much I need to say about this one. The top three are really easy to figure out. And there aren’t any precursors that matter, since the category is so insular, and because what wins the precursors are the best documentaries of the year, which don’t end up getting nominated because the fucking Documentary branch is broken.

mister rogers middle finger GIF

Most Likely to Win: American Factory. It’s produced by the Obamas. Their production company is behind the film. And don’t think everyone doesn’t know it. A vote for this, to them, is basically a vote against 45. This should win on that alone. But also, people think this is a really good doc and one of the best of the year. I’ve seen it on people’s top ten lists. Plus Netflix is behind it, which certainly helps raise the overall profile. It feels the clear favorite to win.

The Competition: For Sama. I think the 4 BAFTA nominations tells you what a solid contingency of voters thinks about it. Documentaries have gotten multiple BAFTA nominations before (Senna even won Best Editing!), but none of them got four overall nominations. Plus… a woman made a documentary for her infant child who was born in Syria! She’s literally saying, “This is the world you were born into, and I’m sorry.” How can that not tug at everyone’s heartstrings? Honestly, were it not for the Obama factor, I wouldn’t be totally sure how to parse these top three. They’re all pretty tightly in contention for various reasons.

Spoiler Alert: The Cave. Two reasons. First, it’s about female doctors in Syria. Which is a twofer. War-torn land and trying to maintain an understaffed and undersupplied hospital. Also… male dominated society. Sexism is rampant. Huge deal, subject-wise. Second reason: the director was denied a visa when he tried to enter the country to promote the doc. Remember what happened with The Salesman a few years ago? That movie went from second choice to a clear favorite to demonstrative winner because of a similar situation. So that’s a big feather in the cap of this movie’s chances. Honestly, like I said, were it not for the fact that American Factory was produced by the Obamas, I’d have a really tough time trying to figure out which of the three was gonna win. But this feels like a fairly definitive order for how it feels like these three are gonna fare. (And no, Honeyland is not a major contender just because it got nominated twice. Don’t fall into that trap. Just let it win if it’s gonna win.)

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. American Factory

2. For Sama

3. The Cave

4. Honeyland

5. The Edge of Democracy

What’s on My Ballot: American Factory. Here’s the deciding factor for me, and it’s not just the Obama thing, although that is a big factor (or maybe more like… a big factor-y): the last time a documentary won this category without being primarily in English was 2004. I’m not sure if that’s happenstance or just purely that people are less willing to watch something with subtitles (and I’m thinking I know the answer to that), but to me, that’s the deciding factor. This doc is the perfect microcosm for the kind of political issue/statement they like to make in this category when there isn’t something entertaining to vote for, and people seem to actually really love this on top of that. It feels like a pretty easy choice to me.

The Smart Choice: American Factory. I think this is the only one that can be considered the ‘smart’ choice. You could make For Sama or The Cave the choice. But I’m not sure either is the smart choice. Them not being in English feels like a strike against them, even if it’s not a dealbreaker. But I do feel like the notion of subtitles will keep some people from seeing those, whereas this one, people generally are aware of and are more likely to throw a vote its way because of it. Plus, the Obamas are behind it. It feels like the right choice. Go with whatever you want. I’d say smart money’s on this, but if you’re feeling For Sama or The Cave and want to do that, go for it.

The Vote: American Factory

Best Documentary Short

In the Absence

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

Life Overtakes Me

St. Louis Superman

Walk Run Cha-Cha

My Rankings:

  1. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  2. In the Absence
  3. St. Louis Superman
  4. Life Overtakes Me
  5. Walk Run Cha-Cha

My Thoughts: I managed to see them all. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) is by far the best doc in the bunch. It should win, it probably will win, and it’s my vote all the way. Otherwise, In the Absence is really strong, but basically you’re just watching a tragedy/monumental governmental fuck up happen in real time. The Korean government basically let a ferry sink and let three hundred people die. It’s insane. You watch the whole thing go down. And then nobody does anything to help them! It’s hard to want to vote for something like that because it’s so fucked up and heartbreaking, but it is one of the top two in the category and feels like it would be most people’s vote if not for Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone.

St. Louis Superman I thought was fine. Not something I’d ultimately vote for, but a solid entry. Life Overtakes Me I had issues with, because they don’t really get into anything other than, “These kids have Resignation Syndrome.” They say it’s from the stress of being refugees, but never show any of that. So there was really nothing for me to grab onto there. And Walk Run Cha-Cha… I just don’t get it. Two people who grew up in Vietnam now dance together. That’s… that’s it. There’s really nothing uplifting there. It’s just, they dance together. We don’t really hear stories about Vietnam or anything. So yeah, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone is by far the choice for me, even though In the Absence was really powerful as well.

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

Should Have Been Nominated: Stay Close

– – – – –

The Analysis:

No one really cares how we got this category. There were ten shortlisted films, they nominated five of them. I saw all ten, and mostly they picked the right ones (thought I’d have put Stay Close and The Nightcrawlers on there. But the top three I feel they got right. So that’s good.

The only insight I can provide for this category is the past decade of winners, which clearly shows what they gravitate toward:

  • 2018: Period. End of Sentence (Indian women fight against the stigma of menstruation by manufacturing and distributing sanitary pads)
  • 2017: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (A mentally ill woman overcoms her illness to create art. In LA!)
  • 2016: The White Helmets (Syrian Civil war doc about people who go into wreckage to pull out survivors)
  • 2015: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (Honor killing in the Middle East)
  • 2014: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (Suicide prevention hotlines for vets with PTSD)
  • 2013: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Elderly Holocaust survivor used music to overcome the horrors)
  • 2012: Inocente (Immigrant, homeless girl in Los Angeles rises above her situation to be an artist)
  • 2011: Saving Face (Doctor who performs surgeries on Middle Eastern women who have acid thrown in their faces)
  • 2010: Strangers No More (A preschool in Israel where children of all races and religions learn together)
  • 2009: Music by Prudence (aA severely disabled African woman overcomes her disability to become a singer)

They like people overcoming stuff to make art and they like things based on current issues, so they can pretend like they’ve done their part in correcting them. It’s all very straightforward, and simply by knowing what each one is about, you can pull out the likely winners. Here’s this year’s category:

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. (Streamable here.)

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. (It’s on Netflix.)

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.

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 mean… can’t you just tell from that alone what’s gonna win?

Most Likely to Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl). This is such a slam dunk. The title basically tells you to vote for it. It’s like a Bat-Signal for voters. Afghanistan, young girls (who by nature of the location are automatically oppressed), and they’re learning to skateboard, read and write. Which is almost making art. But it’s making the best of a bad situation. This is Hollywood being able to say, “Good for them” and throw them a bone by having the people who made a film about them win an award. The girls themselves get left to go get sold off into marriage. But man, did they like the film! So yeah, this checks every single box of what normally wins this category, and all things being equal (except those girls, because of the toxically male-dominated environment in their country) I’d be pretty stunned to see something beat this.

The Competition: St. Louis Superman. I’m not so sold this is the second choice, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned with this category, it’s not how good the doc is, it’s what it’s about and nothing more. And this one sure sounds good on paper, doesn’t it? Guy’s brother gets killed when he’s young. Victim of gun violence. He gets radicalized after Ferguson, decides to change the system by joining the state legislature, and fights to pass a bill! And he’s black! That’s everything the voters look for, right? Two things, though. One, the battle rapper thing. Not sure they like that part. They like it when people are like, mechanics and then go join politics. Second thing, and no one’s really talking about this part… the bill he passes isn’t to ban guns or do anything major, it’s to name a day after his brother, while also saying, “Kids are dying, and that’s bad.” So it’s a bit of a give and a take. If people actually watched these docs, I’m not sure most people would really want to take this, but on the other hand… people don’t really watch shit in the Academy. They just vote for what sounds good. And this certainly sounds good. So, if I knew people actually watched stuff, then this would be lower. But I know they don’t, so I have to keep it here, all while knowing it probably shouldn’t (and probably won’t) win. That’s the weird shit you gotta do in this category. Thank god we have what seems like an easy winner.

Spoiler Alert: In the Absence. I mean, anyone who actually watches this stuff is gonna feel something while watching this. You’re literally watching people die. It’s like if you watched the last hour of the movie Titanic, from afar, as Coast Guard boats just sort of hovered around and everyone was like, “What do we do?” And then they just watched as the boat went down. It’s fucked up, and it might be best doc in the category for a lot of people. I can’t see Walk Run Cha-Cha being the choice. I’ll just straight up be wrong if that’s gonna be it, and Life Overtakes Me, while it is Netflix, just doesn’t feel like the kind of thing that wins because it doesn’t immediately have that spark of ‘issue’ around it. This at least is a powerful and damning piece of evidence around an event. And rather than point fingers, it just shows you the tape and lets you draw your own conclusions. Honestly, all things considered, if I thought they actually watched shit, I’d have this as the second choice and think it stood a legitimate chance at winning. But they vote for stuff on paper here. So I never know how it’s gonna go.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

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

2. St. Louis Superman

3. Walk Run Cha-Cha

4. In the Absence

5. Life Overtakes Me

What’s on My Ballot: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl). This is about as big a slam dunk as I’ve seen in a few years. Period End of Sentence was a slam dunk last year, but that had the back-door campaigning going on, as a major awards publicist (who ran a lot of big campaigns over the years and now is Netflix’s in-house person) was a producer on it and that win was never in doubt. Without having that guarantee, this one feels pretty close to a sure thing as I’ve seen. You can never be too sure in a category like this, but to have the confidence to know this is the most likely winner and to not feel other ones really tugging at you out of sheer not-knowing is freeing.

The Smart Choice: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl). It’s the obvious choice. Nobody knows the Shorts categories at all, so if you’ve got a choice you can be confident in, run with it. It’s a complete tossup most of the time anyway, but when you’ve got something like this, you’ve got a real leg up on the competition. Never assume you’ll get it right (I always assume the fifth choice is gonna come in, just to be safe), but feel good when you can rest easy knowing you’ve got a probable favorite on there. If you feel strong about something else (I’d caution to say probably don’t go further than either St. Louis Superman or In the Absence, but who knows, honestly), go for it, but smart money’s on this.

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

Best Live Action Short

Brotherhood

Nefta Football Club

The Neighbors’ Window

Saria

A Sister

My Rankings:

  1. The Neighbors’ Window
  2. A Sister
  3. Nefta Football Club
  4. Saria
  5. Brotherhood

My Thoughts: Brotherhood has an interesting premise, but goes nowhere for a while and rushes to a conclusion just as it gets interesting. Saria was really well made and very emotional, but just unbearably bleak. And another one that starts off like a movie and then rushes into a climax. Nefta Football Club is a simple comic short. It’s just okay, and builds to a punchline that’s chuckle-worthy, but isn’t the amazing twist that you need to vote for. Though it does feel more complete than the other two inasmuch as it’s a joke and the punchline completes it. A Sister, meanwhile, does manage to tell a complete story. I got upset when I saw it nominated because I’ve seen at least three or four similar stories either shortlisted or nominated the past few years, and the optics felt repetitive. But after getting a chance to see it… I understand. It’s really well done. And what it accomplishes feels earned. But, The Neighbors’ Window is the best short in the category by far. That’s my vote. And honestly, having seen them all, anything else winning would be a travesty.

My Vote: The Neighbors’ Window

Should Have Been Nominated: They got the only one on that I care about. I’m okay.

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This is the worst category to pick. Because you never know. This is the Ratatouille of categories — anything can win.

ratatouille what GIF

In terms of the category we got, they got the two most solid ones I saw on (I saw 8/10 shortlisted films, missing only The Christmas Gift and Refugee). Little Hands and Sometimes I Think About Dying were fine, but I’m not sure I needed either here. The one I was moderately surprised about was Miller & Son, which is about a trans mechanic hiding her true self from her father and brother. I figured they’d go in on that. Still, the category we have feels pretty strong, all things considered.

The only help I can give for picking this one is the past handful of winners and reasoning our way through it. This is truly the most unknown of all categories, so really all you have is how they usually vote and the overall quality of the shorts themselves. Here are the last couple of winners:

  • 2018: Skin — A black man smiles at a young white boy in a supermarket. The boy’s white supremacist father beats the shit out of the guy in the parking lot. The man’s friends later kidnap the white supremacist, drug him and tattoo his entire body. So when he comes home late that night, dazed, his wife thinks a black man is breaking into the house and he’s shot by his own son.
  • 2017: The Silent Child — A deaf girl is completely ignored by her family because they think she’s dumb and can’t communicate. A social worker comes and teaches the girl how to sign and opens up a new world for her.
  • 2016: Sing — a young girl joins her prestigious school choir, only to find out that the teacher forces the weakest singers to just mouth the words so they can keep winning competitions. Eventually the kids join together and all refuse to sing during a major competition to get back at the teacher.
  • 2015: Stutterer — A lonely man with a stutter forms an online relationship with a woman, but is worried about meeting her in real life because he thinks she won’t be able to deal with his disability. He decides to learn sign language so he can pretend he’s deaf. Eventually, when he does meet the girl, he discovers that she’s actually deaf, and won’t be able to hear his stutter anyway.
  • 2014: The Phone Call — A recently widowed man calls a suicide hotline and says he has taken a bunch of pills and will die soon and simply wants someone to talk to as it happens. The woman on the phone tries to keep him talking long enough to find out where he is in order to save him as well as talk him out of his decision.
  • 2013: Helium — A dying boy in the hospital befriends the janitor, who tells him stories of a fantastical realm that is an alternative to Heaven. As the boy nears death, the janitor is kept from him, but, thanks to a nice nurse, is snuck in to finish his story for the boy. The film ends from the boy’s POV as he ascends into the fantasy world from the janitor’s story.
  • 2012: Curfew — A man (mid-suicide attempt) gets a call from his sister, who has an emergency and needs someone to watch her daughter. He agrees. He and the girl initially want little to do with one another, but eventually bond over the course of the night. They go to a bowling alley, and at one point, a musical number breaks out. Eventually he’s left wanting to stay alive and getting closer to both his sister and his niece.
  • 2011: The Shore — Two childhood friends meet 25 years later, after a disagreement caused by the ‘Troubles’ of Northern Ireland in the 90s.
  • 2010: God of Love — A man in unrequited love wishes for his crush to love him and is mysteriously given a pack of “love darts.” He uses one on her, hoping to woo her to the point of having her still love him once the dart wears off, but it doesn’t work. He then starts using the darts on other women, but nothing fulfills him. Eventually he realizes his best friend is really the one in love with his crush (and she with him), he uses the last dart to get the two together. He then comes home to find Cupid’s bow and arrow at his door, appointing him as the new (insert title here).

And this year’s nominees:

 

Brotherhood — A boy comes home to find that his older brother has returned. Only now, he has a very young, pregnant wife with him who wears a full niqab and barely speaks. His father is very suspicious, and suspects his son may be working for Isis. His wife tries to be hospitable toward the wife, and eventually we learn the truth — the woman was raped by ISIS soldiers and the son rescued her and married her so she wouldn’t be killed. Only now, realizing his son isn’t what he suspected, the father rushes to go warn him (because he secretly called the police to come get him), only to get there too late. And the implication at the end is that his son is going to be arrested and imprisoned (and possibly killed) because of this.

Nefta Footall Club — Two soccer-loving boys in Tunisia are hanging out in the desert and find a donkey wearing headphones and carrying bags full of white powder on its back. The older brother knows immediately what it is, and younger one thinks it’s sacks of flour. They take the bags back to their village and hide them in their house. The older boy plans sell them for money. He sends his brother to go off and play soccer and goes off to meet with some guys he thinks can help him with his plan. Meanwhile, the younger brother takes all the other kids from the neighborhood soccer game back to the house to show them what they’ve got. So when the older brother gets back to the house, all the drugs are gone. He runs outside to go find his brother, and we find out what happened to all the drugs — thinking it was flour, the boys used it to create real boundary lines for their soccer field.

The Neighbors’ Window — A husband and wife with a young kid discover that their new neighbors across the way didn’t put any curtains on their windows. And they’re, shall we say… active. So the husband and wife start watching them. At first it’s kinda fun. But then it becomes a source of contention. “Why are you watching the hot neighbors instead of helping with the kids?”; “What do they have that I don’t,” sort of thing. Months pass, years pass, and now they’ve got three kids. And they look across the way one day and see, “Hey, did the neighbor shave his head?”; “Wow, he looks awful. He must be hungover.” Then life goes on, and pretty soon the guy’s looking really bad, and now there’s a full on hospital bed inside the apartment. And then the guy dies. The wife, watching the EMTs take the body away, goes downstairs, only to come upon the neighbor’s wife, crying as they load the ambulance. And as she comforts her, the woman realizes, “You’re the woman who lives across the street. We can see inside your window.” And you realize she’s been watching them all this time, and wishing that’s what she had.

highly recommend this one, as it’s one of the best shorts I’ve seen in a long time.

A Sister — A woman at police dispatch gets a call one night from a woman who pretends she’s talking to her sister. The woman at first thinks it’s a prank call, but soon realizes… the woman is in danger. She went out with a man she knows, and the man attacked her, forced her in his car and is now driving her somewhere she doesn’t know. She’s pretending to call her sister, who is watching her daughter for the night. The dispatch woman stays on the phone and asks her questions to find out where she is, and eventually they are able to pinpoint the woman’s location and plant a car on the road for the woman to notice. They wind up pulling the car over and get the woman out safe. And the dispatch lady is left not knowing anything about the woman, not even her name.

There’s only a trailer for Saria:

Saria — This one’s based on a true story about orphans inside a Guaramalen group home. The kids are treated horribly, are forced to work and clean all day (some of them even get raped). One girl, Saria, is there with her sister and dreams of running away to America. One day, the kids band together and start a riot, which allows a number of them to escape. Only, within a day, all of them are found and brought back to the home and locked inside a single classroom, watched over by the national guard. And that night, a fire starts inside the classroom, and 41 kids end up dead, including Saria, and her sister.

Most Likely to Win: The Neighbors’ Window. It’s hard not to see everything they go for in this short. It’s not particularly funny or quirky in that usual sense, but it’s got that feel to it. You think, “Oh, it’s this cute short about people who can spy on their neighbors having sex.” But then you’ve got that twist of the guy dying and you realize it’s not all fun and games and escapism. And then there’s the emotional twist of, “They were watching you, and wishing they had your life while you were watching them and wishing you had theirs.” That’s the kind of emotional punch that the voters really respond to. Sometimes you watch a short and you just feel like it’s gonna win. I had that two years ago with The Silent Child. That one was also very dramatic with an emotional punch, and I get that same feeling here. It’s exactly what fits this category.

The Competition: Nefta Football Club. It’s a comic short. They like comic shorts, even if single punchline shorts don’t actually tend to win. Looking back… actually, there’s not really any single punchline kinda shorts that’ve won. I mean, Stutterer has that final twist of the guy realizing the girl is deaf, but there’s a lot of cute and quirky stuff along the way there. This one just kinda builds to the punchline. So maybe it’s not the second choice. Maybe it’s third. But it does feel closer to what I think voters usually respond to, which is the cute and quirky kind of tone rather than unbearably depressing. So that’s why I feel like this is the on-paper second choice, even though in the end there’s a chance I rank this third.

Spoiler Alert: A Sister. If you watch all five shorts, I think most people would be left saying that this and The Neighbors’ Window are the best. They’re the most fully formed, fleshed out, and pack the biggest emotional punch. (Maybe someone will say Saria for emotional punch, but unbearably bleak is usually not their cup of tea.) Nefta Football Club is fun and fine, but this and Neighbors’ Window feel much more complete. Brotherhood, as I said, gets interesting and then just ends. And Saria sets things up in an interesting way then immediately cuts to the riot, speeds through the kids getting caught and then before you know it everyone’s dead. That feels like someone trying to get money for a full feature more than anything else. This feels complete. It’s tense, you get fully invested in the situation and you get a nice, mostly satisfying ending out of it. I think that if people actually did watch all the nominees, this will get a nice amount of votes simply because it feels like one of the better, if not best, shorts in the bunch.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Neighbors’ Window

2. Nefta Football Club

3. A Sister

4. Saria

5. Brotherhood

What’s on My Ballot: The Neighbors’ Window. There’s really not much to anguish over. This feels like the choice they 100% go for most of the time. I’ve never really known them to go opposite the one that feels like the winner. Last year’s category didn’t have one of those, which is what made it so hard to gauge. Otherwise, they generally go for the one that either feels the cutest or has the most emotional impact. And this is that short. And in a category where you never really know what’s gonna happen and can’t justify any of your choices except, “This is how they usually vote and this is what I feel is gonna happen,” this feels like the right choice to me. I feel more comfortable about this as a choice than I would for most Live Action Shorts in other years.

The Smart Choice: The Neighbors’ Window. This is, to me, the safest choice in the category. If you think they want purely cute, then take Nefta Football Club. If you think they’re gonna go in on the ‘women helping women’ short (and since The Phone Call won a few years ago, which is also a dramatic short about one person on the phone with another in a tense situation), then take A Sister. But, having watched all five, I’m not sure how you can’t see this as the main choice. This feels about as close to a sure thing as you’re gonna get. Feeling good about a choice here puts you three steps ahead of the game. The most you could be here is wrong, which we should all expect to be most of the time anyway. If it’s not this, then it’s A Sister. And if it’s neither, it’s Nefta Football Club, but even there, it’s against the grain of what usually wins. And if it’s none of those three, then we’re in uncharted waters, and there was really no way to guess that based on what was in front of us and how they’ve voted in the past. Smart money is always on the obvious choice. And that’s this (and then maybe 15% on A Sister, which admittedly does have a shot at it).

The Vote: The Neighbors’ Window

Best Animated Short

Dcera (Daughter)

Hair Love

Kitbull

Mémorable

Sister

My Rankings:

  1. Hair Love
  2. Mémorable
  3. Dcera (Daughter)
  4. Sister
  5. Kitbull

My Thoughts: I wasn’t that overwhelmed by the crop of shorts this year. Kitbull felt like a Pixar B-side. It’s trading on the notion that people will fall in love with any short about a dog and on the assumption that people think pitbulls are a dangerous breed, even though anyone who’s ever met a pitbull knows they’re like the best dogs in the world. So I really got nothing of value from it. Sister looked great, but I couldn’t get into it. The whole “Here’s my relationship with my sister — psych! I don’t have a sister because the One Child Policy prevented me from ever having one!” thing left a sour taste in my mouth.

Dcera looks amazing and is gorgeously directed (the stop-motion with the shaky cam were really effective together), but I didn’t feel the emotional connection to the father/daughter relationship that I wanted to. That one’s more technical appreciation than love. Mémorable looks stunning and has enough going on narratively that I’d definitely make it my second choice. The way they go into fantasy to illustrate the man’s descent into dementia is gorgeous. And Hair Love is an adorable father-daughter story, and it’s a story of representation and of love. In a different year, if there were some great Pixar or Disney short, I probably wouldn’t vote for it. But in this category, it’s the easy choice.

My Vote: Hair Love

Should Have Been Nominated: Hors Piste, Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days

– – – – –

The Analysis:

The category we got is fine, but not overly spectacular. Not a whole lot to talk about except to say that two shorts that weren’t nominated, Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days and Hors Piste, were both really solid and worth checking out.

Not really a whole lot of analysis to be had here. You just kind of look at the nominees and guess how they’re gonna vote. The only real help I can give you is a list of the last ten winners:

  • 2018: Bao — Pixar short about a woman whose dumpling comes to life and becomes a surrogate son.
  • 2017: Dear Basketball — Kobe Bryant’s ode to his sport.
  • 2016: Piper — Pixar’s short about the bird who is afraid of the water.
  • 2015: Bear Story — A bear tells the story of his life through a little mechanical machine.
  • 2014: Feast — A story told from the perspective of a very hungry dog.
  • 2013: M. Hublot — A man with OCD creates a steampunk house in order to be kept to himself. Though he soon gets a robot dog, which turns his life upside down.
  • 2012: Paperman — We’ve all seen this, right? A man courts a woman using paper planes. It’s incredible.
  • 2011: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore — Beautiful story about a librarian and his magical library of books.
  • 2010: The Lost Thing — A boy in a dystopian future discovers a lost creature and is determined to help it find its place.
  • 2009: Logorama — the entire film is comprised of logos and characters that are brands of corporations. It’s brilliant.

At one point, all five of these were available online, but they took Mémorable, Sister and Dcera down in recent weaks. Here’s Hair Love and Kitbull, though:

And here’s trailers for the other three:

Most Likely to Win: Hair Love. I know the rule is always just make Disney-Pixar the favorite, but this year feels different. It doesn’t feel like Pixar has a horse in the race because their entry wasn’t put in front of one of their films. So people aren’t already aware of their short the way they usually are. In fact, if we’re talking about the one short people might actually be aware of, this is it. It’s a beautiful film that has a lot of strong voices championing it. They raised $300,000 on Kickstarter for it (while only asking for $75,000), Sony picked it up, put it in front of Angry Birds 2, a children’s book was made from it… people know about this. And given the notion of inclusion and what this represents, it’s hard to see them not throwing votes toward this even if they didn’t see most of the other nominees. This has got to be considered the favorite, whether or not it ends up winning.

The Competition: Kitbull. Okay, so Pixar’s not the first choice, but they’ve gotta be second. You can’t rule them out of a race like this ever. Pixar will always be in the top two. Because otherwise you’re assuming that the majority of voters will have actively watched all the shorts, cast an informed vote and had a legitimate preference for one short in particular over all the others. And based on the history of this category, not only can you not assume that, you can usually assume the opposite of that. So Pixar is a de facto second choice, even though they don’t always win. They’ve only won 5 times ever going back to 1988 and didn’t win at all from 2001-2016. Disney won in that interim, but not Pixar. They won in 2016 for Piper and last year with Bao, but that’s it. Nominated a bunch (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017), but only two wins since 2001. They don’t always win, and this is a short that feels very much in the ‘not gonna win’ category for them. I’ll show it the respect and make it the second choice, and if they do win it’ll be another, “Well of course, Pixar wins again,” but I’m not feeling this one and really don’t think it’s gonna happen.

Spoiler Alert: Mémorable. So you take off the frontrunner and you put Pixar second out of habit. Where, then, does that leave you? It’s a simple process of elimination at that point. Sister is stop-motion and looks great, but doesn’t remotely fit what they usually go for in the category. Same for Dcera. Both are very serious shorts. Sister is more a ‘reminiscence’ film, and they like to nominate those (Weekends, Negative Space, Me and My Moulton), but they never win. And Dcera is a visceral kind of experience, but also doesn’t remotely fit what wins here. Mémorable, however, does. It’s gorgeously animated and it’s got that transcendently beautiful ending that they go for. The lower profile, though, is probably gonna hurt them. It’s also a film that has dialogue, which isn’t something that tends to win in this category. And it’s French dialogue. You have to go back before 2000 to have a film win that’s not primarily in English. That’s a tall order. But, the film is good enough for me to say that it has a chance of still winning despite all that.

Scorcard Ballot Rankings:

1. Hair Love

2. Kitbull

3. Mémorable

4. Sister

5. Dcera (Daughter)

What’s on My Ballot: Hair Love. It makes the most sense. If you wanna blindly vote Pixar, I can’t stop you. But honestly, that feels like a third choice at best. I’m putting it second because it’s Pixar and I kind of have to, but I feel like if people were to sit down and watch all the nominees and then cast a vote, the majority would be for either Hair Love or Mémorable. That’s just my gut feeling on that. Hair Love makes complete sense to me as a choice. It’s the most known, it’s got big people out there championing it. Sony picked it up and put it in front of Angry Birds 2, making it the only short in the category to be attached to a major theatrical release. It feels like it has everything going for it, including the fact that it came out in a year where Disney or Pixar have something that’ll automatically win the category.

The Smart Choice: Hair Love. If you looked at this category from afar, which of the five is the one you’re most likely to have heard of? That’s usually the right choice here. Smart money’s on this, but it’s a Shorts category, so you never really know what’s gonna happen. Put yourself in the best position to get it right and then hope for the best.

The Vote: Hair Love

– – – – – – – – – –

Okay. We went through all the categories. Now it’s time to look macro. It’s one thing to make your guesses, but it’s also good to take that step back and realize, “Wait, I just guessed this movie is gonna win 12 Oscars.” Seeing the big picture implications of your guesses can help you realize the spots where you might be making the wrong decisions. Because realize, in the past decade, no film has won more than 7 Oscars in a single ceremony, and 7’s only happened once. Most of the time, the film with the most wins has 4, 5 or 6. So, if you’ve got Irishman with 8 wins, you might want to go back over your ballot.

What I do here is take each film that has a significant number of nominations and separate each of its nominations into, “Will win,” “Will likely win,” “Could win” and “Won’t win.” Which gives me a gauge of the range of awards each can win and puts the entire ceremony in context for me and helps me keep track of just how each films does. It’s really just another way to reconsider my choices and make sure I feel comfortable with everything I’m taking.

Joker
11 nominations

Will win: Actor, Score
Will likely win:
Could win: Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling
Won’t win: Picture, Director, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing

It should have 2 in the bag. Joaquin’s been locked all season and Score has come in everywhere else, so it’s hard to think it loses either of those. But other than that, I don’t really see it as a major contender in any of the other races. Some races it theoretically could stand a chance, but in most of them it’s either the fourth or fifth choice and would be a straight surprise. There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest Picture and Director will suddenly swing its way. Cinematography seems to be entirely about Deakins, so I find it hard to think that even if he loses, this will be the recipient of the rest of those votes. And in the Sound categories, there’s a war film and a racing film up against it. Hard to see this getting enough votes to win there. Screenplay seems very unlikely with both Taika and Greta there. Editing would be surprising, but is theoretically within the realm of possibility. Costume Design feels like a long shot, but again one of the more possible ones. Makeup & Hairstyling also feels like it could happen, but feels unlikely. I’m feeling 2 wins here. Maybe it sneaks a third somewhere, but 2 feels like the right number.

1917
10 nominations

Will win: Cinematography, Director
Will likely win: Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Could win: Score, Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects
Won’t win: Original Screenplay

It’s got Cinematography and Director in the bag. Picture seems pretty likely as well. So that’s 3 wins minimum to start. The Sound categories could go against it, but that means Ford v Ferrari would win half its total nominations. With how this has performed in those precursors, you gotta think it wins at least one Sound category. Which means you gotta assume both. So that’s 5 wins. That makes sense. It’s not winning Screenplay. Visual Effects is a 50/50, so that could put it at 6. Or 5, if it splits the Sound categories. Makeup feels very unlikely, Score seems unlikely too. Production Design is the only one it theoretically could pull off, which could put it at 7. That feels possible, but unlikely. Generally they only vote for movies where it ‘makes sense’. And to me, 4-6 wins makes the most sense. Picture, Director, Cinematography, plus any combination of Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. I’m thinking it wins 5 or 6. That’s my guess. If it wins 3, that’s a weak night. 4 is about the norm for Picture winners lately. 5-6 is a solid Best Picture-winning haul. I think that’s where it ends up.

The Irishman
10 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Visual Effects
Won’t win: Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Pacino), Supporting Actor (Pesci), Cinematography

Don’t feel too bad. Gangs of New York went 0-10. This has happened to Marty before. This looked real strong to start and then got a bad draw in most of its categories. Without a precursor, Picture is out. Plus it’s Netflix, and they’ve already made a big deal about not voting for Netflix. Director’s out. Cinematography’s out. Both acting nominations are out. Theoretically it has a shot in Screenplay, but it’s third choice at best there. Theoretically it has a shot at Editing because of Thelma, but that would surprise most of us because the general complaints about the movie were about its length. Costumes makes no sense but theoretically could happen. Production Design could be a Lincoln scenario, where they look to get it something, but even that would be a bit surprising as a winner. The only real reward for this seems to be Visual Effects. And that feels like a tossup with 1917. So this will either go home with just 1 award or 0. Anything more than 1, and this had a relatively great night.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
10 nominations

Will win: Supporting Actor
Will likely win: Production Design
Could win: Picture, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Sound Mixing
Won’t win: Director, Actor, Sound Editing

Pitt’s in the bag, so that’s 1. Leo’s not winning and Director is out too. I can’t see it winning either Sound category. Costumes are in play, but it’s not the favorite. Cinematography is in play if Deakins loses, but he won’t. Picture is in play, but no one really expects that, given the way the precursors have gone (plus no Editing nomination). I think it’s probably got Production Design in the bag, and Screenplay is a 50/50. He easily could win it, though. I’d say 1 minimum, 3-4 maximum. 4 is a great night, 2-3 is an average night. Only 1 means they went all in on Parasite and that over-performed. I’m feeling 2 wins for this and that’s it, with the potential for 3 if he wins Screenplay. If it sneaks a win anywhere else, it’ll be in Costumes.

Jojo Rabbit
6 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Adapted Screenplay
Could win: Supporting Actress, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design
Won’t win: Picture

Adapted Screenplay looks pretty likely. Other than that, I’m not seeing any real open lanes for wins. Anything else it wins will come from hardcore support we’ve only gotten hints at. Scarlett could win Supporting Actress, but only if Laura Dern loses (which feels really unlikely). Costumes are in play, but it feels like the clear second choice to Little Women there. Production Design theoretically is on the table, but it’s fourth choice at best there and would be a Lincoln-type surprise if it came through. Editing feels definitely in play, but again… feels like a third choice at best. This seems like a Screenplay winner and nothing else. 1 win, 2 on a really good night, and the second one would be a surprise. And 0 wins is also a possibility, but I think it’ll probably get that Screenplay win to give it the 1.

Little Women
6 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Costume Design
Could win: Adapted Screenplay, Score
Won’t win: Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress

Costume Design should be in the bag. So it should get 1 win for its troubles. Anything else would honestly be a great night. Adapted Screenplay is possible, but it would be a minor upset (one I would very much welcome). Score, it has an outside chance in, but it’s unlikely. Picture seems like a no, and both acting awards feel like a no too. So it’s only got three real chances at a win. I’m thinking 1 win, with 2 possible, and 3 not-impossible. 2’s a good night here. But 1 feels like how it’s gonna go.

Marriage Story
6 nominations

Will win: Supporting Actress
Will likely win:
Could win: Original Screenplay, Score
Won’t win: Picture, Actor, Actress

This will be assured a win because of Laura Dern. Otherwise, there’s no play for anything else. Scarlett and Adam can’t win their races and Picture is way out (no Editing/Director nods, plus Netflix). Baumbach is a long shot for Screenplay (though it would shock us, since he’d have to beat both Quentin and Bong Joon-ho), and I guess if Joker loses, maybe they vote for Randy Newman’s score? But even that I doubt. So I’m thinking just the 1 win.

Parasite
6 nominations

Will win: International Feature
Will likely win: Original Screenplay
Could win: Picture, Director, Editing, Production Design
Won’t win:

It has International Feature in the bag, so it’s for sure getting 1 win. And it’s legitimately in play for everything else. If 1917 loses Picture, this is the most likely alternate. If Sam Mendes loses Director (the longest shot on the board), Bong Joon-ho is for sure the winner. Screenplay does seem like a win for it, but Quentin can easily take that. Editing is definitely in play. It’s a 50/50 shot to win that one. And Production Design is kind of in play, though that feels like a tougher choice. This is a film with minimum 1 win, maximum 4. I’m expecting 2 but would not be surprised to see 3 or even 4 possibly happen. If it ends up with 3, the most likely third win is Editing. But 2 feels right.

Ford v Ferrari
4 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Editing
Could win: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Won’t win: Picture

It’s in play for everything but Picture. Kinda like Bohemian Rhapsody was. This could sweep all three tech awards and end up with 3 wins. It’s a racing movie. It’s gonna be in play for Editing and the Sound categories until it loses. Editing feels likely, though it can easily lose that. And then the Sound categories, it’s in a 50/50 race with 1917, and I’m assuming it’s just gonna lose just because 1917 is the big Best Picture favorite. But it could win one or even both of those Sound categories. I can’t tell. This could have 0 wins or it could have 3. I’m thinking it wins 1 somewhere. Probably Editing, but it could be one of the Sound categories. 0 or 1 win makes the most sense to me.

 

The rest:

  • Either Rocketman or Frozen II will win Best Original Song. I’m leaning toward Rocketman, but it could go either way.
  • Bombshell will win Best Makeup & Hairstyling.
  • Toy Story 4 will win Best Animated Feature. Klaus could win Best Animated Feature.
  • The Lion King could win Visual Effects.
  • American Factory will likely win Documentary Feature, but For Sama or The Cave could win as well.
  • I’m also fairly certain that Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) will win Documentary Short, The Neighbors’ Window will win Live Action Short and Hair Love will win Animated Short. That’s the Shorts categories, though, so any number of alternatives can win, but those three I feel the most comfortable about as I have for any set of three in a couple of years.

Final tally as I see it:

  • 1917 — 5 wins (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing)
  • Joker — 2 wins (Actor, Score)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — 2 wins (Supporting Actor, Production Design)
  • Parasite — 2 wins (Original Screenplay, International Feature)
  • Bombshell — 1 win (Makeup & Hairstyling)
  • Ford v Ferrari — 1 win (Editing)
  • The Irishman — 1 win (Visual Effects)
  • Marriage Story — 1 win (Supporting Actress)
  • Jojo Rabbit — 1 win (Adapted Screenplay)
  • Judy — 1 win (Actress)
  • Little Women — 1 win (Costume Design)
  • Rocketman — 1 win (Song)
  • Toy Story 4 — 1 win (Animated Feature)

And then, American Factory in Documentary, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) in Documentary Short, The Neighbors’ Window in Live Action Short and Hair Love in Animated Short.

– – – – –

I’ll end with this, because this should boil it down pretty simply: I think you have 10 locks this year: Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Score, Makeup & Hairstyling, Animated Feature, International Feature. I think we’d all be pretty surprised if any of those didn’t come in as scheduled.

Then there are 6 categories that are basically 50/50s with a clear favorite: Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Those are ones where you could theoretically go one of two ways, but you kinda know which is probably the smarter way, based on all the evidence.

Then you’ve got what I’m seeing as 4 pure toss-ups: Original Screenplay, Editing, Song and Visual Effects. Those are much tighter and legitimately could go either of two ways. Those are ones where you should go with whatver makes the most sense to you and hope for the best.

And then there’s Documentary and the 3 Shorts categories. Though you have to feel pretty confident in the Shorts picks this year, you never presume you’ll get any of them right. And Documentary, while a toss-up, does have what feels like a likely winner there you can feel mostly comfortable about. Overall, if things break right, I don’t see why 19/20 isn’t a reasonable hope, even though you never figure for more than 16-18 just because shit does happen. But honestly, I feel confident that there really shouldn’t be that many ‘third choices’ coming in this year. I know that’s never the case, but you gotta feel like everything there was to be done has been done, and now it’s all up to chance.

– – – – –

And that’s it. Go forth and win your pools, my friends. I’ll be drinking and eating Chinese food and rooting for you all.

– – – – – – – – – –

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One response

  1. Chinoiserie

    I like Randy Newman but the song for Toy Story 4 still is forgettable to me. So I feel Missing Link is the runner up just because Laika has more the prestige Oscar voters like and it’s not a Netflix film. I might be wrong since Klaus has been so popular but it’s just my feeling.

    February 9, 2020 at 1:38 pm

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