The Art Directors Guild handed out awards tonight.
Mank won for Period Film, Tenet won for Fantasy Film and Da 5 Bloods won for Contemporary Film. And Soul won Animated.
Which pretty much just confirms my suspicions that Mank is gonna win the Oscar, especially now that it’s swept all the precursors. So that just made another category easy.
DGA’s happening now, so I’ll update that once they announce that Chloe Zhao won.
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Today’s category is Best Original Score, which has largely been a really solid category throughout the years. And the reason I know that is because, even since they’ve started announcing a shortlist for the category, even those have been solid. Sure, like International Feature this year, there are a couple of entries on there that are more about the stature of the composers more than the scores themselves, but that’s why you have a shortlist of 15. To be able to have that extra padding. Overall, these categories have been really good most years and while I can quibble about some of their choices of winners, they generally get it right in terms of the nominees.
This year, we get a nice mix of great scores, respected composers and overall good movies represented. And, like most years, while I can quibble one choice over another, it’s a really nice list that really feels like it cares about quality above all else. And you have to respect that, especially given the ups and downs this branch has had in the Original Song category over the years. (more…)
Today is Best Costume Design. Normally I’d wait to go over a category like this until I see what BAFTA and the guild have to say, but given how this one looks I think we can make pretty solid guesses as to how it’s gonna turn out. If things change based on those other two, then we can recalibrate. But until then, we’re just gonna follow the usual logic for this category — follow the frills.
Everybody knows what normally wins in Costume Design, and I bet most people just glancing at all five nominees in this category will know automatically what’s most likely to win. That’s really the only kind of logic you need most of the time. (more…)
Today is Best Supporting Actor, a category that has been really solid in recent years. And also really easy to guess. This year is no different. We basically know who’s gonna win from a mile out. Which really just means that I have to figure out what the hell to say here to justify an intro rather than a one-sentence article.
Honestly, I don’t really have anything. So let’s just get into the category. (more…)
Today we’re going over Best Original Song. And the beauty of this category is that everyone can participate in it. You simply just have to listen to 5 songs and then pick which one you think is the best.
It’s weird because there aren’t any real precursors for this category and you’re pretty much just going based on what you think everyone’s tastes are gonna be, and yet almost every single year you pretty much know “Okay, this should win, but in case it doesn’t, this is gonna win instead.” It’s weird how that works out. But then, I guess Academy members are ultimately pretty predictable.
I’m not sure if this is one of the categories affected by the pandemic or if it’s just a weak year in film songs. Either way, we’ve got a pretty forgettable category here that came from a pretty forgettable shortlist. So this is a situation where we’re just gonna do our best and try to get through it. (more…)
The VES Awards were handed out tonight. Theoretically they’re helpful in picking what’s gonna win the Oscar, but given what this year looks like, I’ve already written my my category breakdown because the category is so cut and dry. This is one of those situations where, just by looking at the list of nominees, you know exactly which one is gonna win. Wanna know how I know that? Here’s the category:
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan
(Yup, that’s right. Academy Award winner The One and Only Ivan.)
Anyway, here’s what VES did: (more…)
Today is Best Animated Short. I know most people tune out during the shorts categories, but this one at least has cute stuff in it, so maybe some people pay a little bit of attention during it. Though I know most people could care less about them.
Most of the time this category is fairly easy to pick apart. You know Pixar or Disney is one of the top two most likely to win and then you have to decide if it’s gonna beat the other emotionally-affecting short that’s on the list. Most years you’ve got a really solid hold on the category and at worst it’s usually ‘will A win or will B win’?
This one feels kinda like that, though maybe more skewed toward ‘A should win, but… Pixar…” Which the argument I feel like I’m usually having when I pick this category every year. (more…)
Today’s category is Best Documentary Short, which is one of those categories the average viewer doesn’t know anything about and either just sort of guesses or looks up what people are saying is gonna win. But contrary to popular opinion, this is generally a pretty easy category to guess. I’ve started telling people — one of three things wins this category year in and year out: people in third-world countries overcoming dire circumstances, people with mental illness overcoming it to create art, or the occasional Holocaust short. That’s pretty much all that wins here. Go back and look at the winners. There’s maybe like one short over the past 15 years that falls out of that pattern.
Most years a clear winner presents itself just when you talk about what each is about. It’s really not that bad. This year is interesting because we’ve got a few interesting scenarios at play here. (more…)
The SAG Awards were tonight. Honestly, this is the one awards show where I was pretty thrilled they cut it down to an hour and just ran through all the winners rather than doing the whole pageantry. Not that they don’t deserve time to celebrate themselves and their peers’ work, but it always was just such a boring show. It’s all just a little too self-serious with the kind of dumb humor that only works in circles where no one’s funny. It’s just not a fun show and I only really ever cared about the winners. So having a really concise little show was pretty helpful for me.
Normally I’d say that this sewed up all the acting categories. Well… this really only sewed up two of the categories, busted one wide open and kept the other one a gigantic mystery that will remain such all the way until Oscar night. Which is legitimately exciting to me.
Here are your SAG winners: (more…)
Today we go over Best Actor. Which, when I think back over this category in the years I’ve covered these awards (or even watched them seriously), it’s hard for me to think of many categories that felt like legitimate toss-ups. Most of the time there’s a clear winner and then a nominal second choice and then sometimes we get the one versus the other, but the precursors tend to heavily favor one over the other, so you’re generally pretty sure how that’s gonna turn out. Which is odd to me, given how major a category this is.
This year feels like it’s another one of those situations where we all know what’s gonna happen going in, and it’s less about who’s going to win as much as it’s about appreciating who’s going to win and the impact they had on the film industry in such a short time. (more…)
The Makeup & Hairstylist Guild Awards were held tonight.
As a reminder, this is your Oscar category:
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
There were five categories given out that affect this category. Two, Best Contemporary Makeup and Best Contemporary Hairstyling, went to Birds of Prey, which isn’t nominated. Of the other three, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom won for Period/Character Makeup and Period/Character Hair while Pinocchio won for Special Makeup Effects. Which pretty much cements those two as the favorites to win here, and I’m not sure anyone would dispute that. The BAFTA category has all of these nominees minus Emma, and I’m pretty sure what wins that will likely spell out what the Oscar favorite is, though I have a sneaking suspicion about what’s likely to happen even before that. But we’ll see.
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Today’s category is Best Visual Effects, which is the single most compromised category this year. Which isn’t its fault. We had a pandemic and theaters were closed and a lot of films got pushed a year. And the films that are most affected by theaters being closed are the big budget effects films. So the crop of films for this year was admittedly very weak. Most years we get a longlist of 20 and then the shortlist of 10. This year we didn’t even get the longlist and the shortlist of 10 had at least three or four choices that wouldn’t have made it past the list of 20 any other year.
In the end we get a category that’s likely to go down as one of the more forgettable Visual Effects categories, but given that there’s a very obvious and clear choice at the top I’m not sure people will notice it. (more…)
We continue our category breakdowns with Best International Feature. They’ve been tweaking this one a bunch in recent years and all of the changes seem to be impacting this category for the better.
On top of changing the name of the category to be more inclusive, they increased the shortlist from 9 to 10 last year and this year increased it from 10 to 15. I’m not sure that change was meant to be permanent but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be. It eliminates all of the nonsense they had to implement about ‘executive committee saves’ and all that. Because, if you remember, after I believe 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days didn’t make the shortlist despite being one of the consensus best films of that year, they implemented a system whereby the top six vote-getters would automatically make the shortlist but reserved three spots for ‘saves’, which allowed the heads of the branch to basically pick three other movies to automatically make the shortlist no matter how many votes they got. Which kept a lot of higher profile films in competition and also seemingly allowed them to get a lot of newer countries into the fray, rather than having the category just be France, Germany, Italy and Russia every year. But now, making the shortlist 15 allows all those higher profile films to make the shortlist and allows for more countries to make it on.
This year, I think the only negative about the expanded shortlist was that there were about 3-4 spots that clearly were just people voting for directors they respected rather than simply quality of film. But other than that, it feels like this is as close to improvement this category’s seen in a long time (since people not watching more than a small handful of films is an Academy-wide problem. So you can’t expect this category to be the outlier). (more…)
And we’re finally on the downhill. It’ll be category breakdowns every single day from here on out and then it’s Oscar weekend, baby.
Since the theme of this year is brevity, I’m not gonna do the whole rigamarole I normally do. We’re gonna focus on this year and this category and only discuss what we need to know to figure it out. It’s just gonna be how we got this category, what general information you need to know and a ranking of how likely each nominee is to win at the present moment.
We begin with Best Animated Feature, because that is one of the most locked categories of the entire night and we really don’t need to stress about it all that much.
The PGA Awards were handed out last night.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Nomadland took home Best Picture, which basically shores up that discussion. All that’s left to announce are BAFTA and SAG. And no one’s expecting BAFTA to vote for anything except Nomadland and SAG doesn’t really matter so much. Nomadland’s not nominated there and the only outcome there that will affect the race is if Chicago 7 wins, thereby nominally making it the second choice. Otherwise, that one’s locked.
In other categories, Soul won Best Animated Feature (no surprise), Hamilton won a Streaming Award (no shit) and My Octopus Teacher won the Documentary category. Only that and Time are in the Doc Feature field and, honesly, the win doesn’t mean a whole lot to me at the moment. Since the category began in 2007, only five PGA doc winners went on to win the Oscar. And you know what they were? The obvious populist five: Man on Wire, The Cove, Searching for Sugar Man, Amy and O.J. Made in America. Other stuff that won here are the docs that got ignored by the Academy: Life Itself, Jane, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Apollo 11. It’s hard to put that much stock into this, though it is a piece of information and given how the doc category is a giant question mark this year, I am wondering if we’re gonna see a March of the Penguins situation emerge with this one. Because truly, right now I can make a case for four of the five nominees.
But otherwise the big news to come out of here is that the Best Picture race is locked and depending on how the BAFTAs and all the guilds go, we might have a whole lot of locked categories coming our way over the next three weeks.
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The WGA handed out awards last night. This will help us figure out what’s gonna win the Screenplay awards.
At this point, given the protracted season, we kinda know what’s most likely to win, but this is definitely a big help. Once BAFTA announces in a few weeks we’ll know for sure. But this is the one you definitely wanna see those top contenders win.
Though here, the presumptive Adapted winner wasn’t eligible, so it’s really just a matter of what they gave it to instead to see what people are gonna consider the red herring vote come Oscar night.
Let’s see what they went with: (more…)
Okay, so we got here. Nominations have finally been announced. And now all that thinking I’ve been doing about what was gonna get here is gonna cease to be relevant the minute I finish this article. From here on out it’s only about what’s gonna win.
Quick thoughts about everything as a whole — generally this all felt in line with what I’d have expected. Some minor surprises and really only one or two that felt like they came out of nowhere, but nothing earth-shattering (and mostly of them positive developments). It’s more of a category by category thing, so let’s go through each of them, see how they differed from what was expected and what that means for who’s going to win going forward.
Here are your 93rd Academy Award nominations: (more…)
Here are your Oscar nominations. I’ll be back later with full analysis:
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Last year I remember feeling like Oscar season was rushed upon us. This article went up January 12th. And here we are after March 12th. What a difference a year makes.
After the strangest season ever, tomorrow the nominees will be announced. As I always do, I’m gonna guess what I think will be nominated. This is one of my two opportunities a year to really go nuts and talk about this stuff in depth. Most years I overdo it. Last year’s article was 42,150 words. This year I’ve decided to try to be as concise as possible while still providing all the essential information and the thought process (or idiocy) that goes into all the picks. Let’s see how that goes.
We’ll have anywhere from 115-120 nominees announced tomorrow. I generally try to hit 75%. A turbulent year like this will either make things easier because people are gonna default to the same handful of nominees or harder because it’s just gonna be chaos. I’m excited for either version. (more…)
You know what this article means — Oscar nominations are around the corner. I started writing up this particular article because I’ve always felt when people write up Oscar predictions, there’s always at least 20% of ‘I want this to happen, so I’m guessing it’ in there. And I hate that. Plus, at the beginning, when I’d post my guesses, I kept feeling the need to try to qualify each guess with, “But I would rather see this other thing happen.” And I like to keep my feelings as separate as I can from guessing, so I just decided to make them two articles. One day of just, “This is purely what I’d do” and one day of “this is what I think is going to happen.” It’s kinda like all the endings to the movie Clue.
So today is just me saying, in a magical dream scenario where I am somehow able to vote in every category (and differently than voting actually goes in some situations, specifically Best Picture), this is what I’d nominate. Not saying this is what should be nominated. Not saying if I could force them all to be nominated I’d do that. Simply saying, if I somehow could vote amongst the other several thousand voters across the entire ballot, this is what I’d nominate in every category.
The one change I’m gonna make this year in relation to other years is — other years I’d name my category and then justify the picks. I don’t really care so much about the justification so much as I am trying to explain my thought process and figure out what I would put on a ballot as I fill out this imaginary one and talk through all the stuff I liked for it, even if I ultimately wouldn’t nominate it. Since, as anyone who’s followed the evolution of this place, these days I’m really more about trying to talk up the things I think are cool and get people to see more movies.
So on that note, here’s what my Oscar ballot would look like: (more…)
And here’s our final precursor. The last piece of help we’re going to get before Oscar nominations come Monday morning. Meaning after this, I’ve got to spend today, tomorrow and Saturday figuring out what I think is gonna happen before posting my predictions on Sunday night (and then SAG is Sunday night, which could just waylay the whole thing).
But anyway, this is the Editors Guild and they have two categories, Dramatic and Comedy. And if memory serves, they’re usually pretty good at getting most of their nominees on. But Editing as a category heavily leans into Best Picture nominees. And this year, the only non-Best Picture nominee that feels like it has any sort of a shot at a nomination is Tenet. And given the tepid response to that movie, I’m fully expecting the Editing list to be five Best Picture nominees and the only question is which ones. So this list should illuminate a lot of that.
Here’s what ACE nominated: (more…)
ASC announced their nominations today, and we just got a bunch of help for the Cinematography category. Based on what I’ve seen from BAFTA and BFCA, there’s probably only about seven real contenders for this category, but the guild is the foremost expert on it, so I’m curious to see what they went for.
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Cherry. Interesting. That’s been largely absent from things this year, which makes me leery about the odds it has of making the final category. It was shot by Newton Thomas Sigel, who’s shot some great films like The Usual Suspects and Three Kings. Most recently he’s done Drive and Bohemian Rhapsody. And he also shot Da 5 Bloods and Extraction this year. This is his first ASC nomination too. Good for him.
Otherwise, Mank, News of the World and Nomadland have been mainstays. I’ve been waiting to see if Chicago 7 would get on. That’s Phedon Papamichael, who hit the guild last year too for Ford v Ferrari (though his only Oscar nomination is for Nebraska).
They also nominated for the Spotlight award: Swallow (which was immaculately shot), Two of Us and Dear Comrades. In case any of that sways people to guess them for the category. Which, honestly… it might. Also, Truffle Hunters, Gunda and Notturno were nominated in their Documentary category (which… if I was gonna tell you three docs on the shortlist that had great cinematography, those would be the ones I picked.
This is gonna be an interesting one in that you only really have three locks, and anything past that is gonna be intriguing. You might get a sneaky foreign film on this year like we did with Never Look Away in 2018. I’m gonna have to think on this one before Sunday.
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BAFTA woke up today and chose violence.
Well, okay. They sent out a very diverse slate of nominees that would be admirable if we weren’t in a period where that sort of thing is met with suspicion given how much awards shows seem to be about covering their asses lately so as not to get ‘Golden Globe’d’ rather than actually finding a way to counteract the problem. Apparently we’re now forced to live into this endless cycle of ‘performative diversity until no one’s looking, then settling back into our old ways until they get mad again’ rather than just doing the obvious thing and making it so the entire voting body is diverse enough that it’s not built around the usual same set of boring old white people films that are only the films because that’s all the boring old white people who make up the majority of voters watch.
Those issues aside (since I think everyone knows my feelings about all of this — if you make it a point to watch everything and then just pick what you liked best, the only thing you can be accused of is bad taste. The voting problem is a systemic issue at the root and any deck chair rearranging is arguably just as bad as the status quo), if you’re someone who, as I do, makes it a point to try to guess nominees and winners, you can’t help but see these nominees as just pure chaos (or perhaps the most specific through line you could ever get). And I kinda love it. I’ll discuss all that it means from category to category, but just know — this just got real fun.
Here are your BAFTA nominees: (more…)
This is basically gonna be your Best Director category. Only, what you need to know is — historically, the DGA only matches 4/5 and not 5/5. So as much as this looks like the most likely scenario for who the five Director nominees are gonna be, at least one of these (if not two) are probably gonna be switched out. It’s only happened something like seven times in the past 50 years. So don’t assume these five are gonna be the five.
But anyway, here are your DGA nominees: (more…)