So I know the Oscars are never a ‘fun’ show to watch. They’re always overlong and tedious and full of bad jokes and filler. But man, this year just felt so tedious, the way they did it. Which is weird, because I was into Soderbergh being one of the producers and loved how they set it up at the beginning. It started off so relaxed and seemed like it was gonna be something different and fun. Everyone hanging out at a cocktail hour beforehand outside and then going into that room and trying to do a different type of ceremony…
Then we had those overlong presenter intros that took way too long and didn’t translate as well in person as they maybe seemed when they thought them up. And then it felt almost like they were rushing through stuff rather than focusing on the right parts of the night. Somehow they avoided filler until right near the end, when they did that one bit with Glenn Close (which I didn’t hate, just because I know they have to do stuff to go viral nowadays, but you’d think they’d have done it an hour earlier, and not when we were all looking at the time like, “Okay, let’s wrap this up, guys”).
And then there was that ending, where you had three hours of Black presenters and Black winners and Black music, and an Asian woman winning and all sorts of diversity… and then the two older white people won to end the night. Honestly, how fitting. How ironically fitting, the Academy trying to go, “Look at us! We’ve changed!” and then the older white contingency still going, “…not so fast.”
It was the absolute perfect unintentional metaphor to end that ceremony, especially after you take into account how truly meaningless a lot of this is anyway. (more…)
Once more, unto the breach, dear friends.
It’s Oscar night, and we all know what that means: I get all analytical about what’s gonna win (and why) and nobody cares and only reads the picks. It’s okay. I don’t take it personally.
The goal this year has been brevity… so here’s my pick for Best Animated Short.
I really have tried to skip the rigamarole though, given all we’ve gone through this past year. I’m still gonna give you all the information you need to pick a ballot. I’m just gonna do it as succinctly as I can. Of course, last year I said that and still wrote 30,000 words. So we’ll see how it goes. (more…)
The ASC Award was handed out today. Mank won, which livens up the Cinematography category a bit, since Nomadland won the other two precursors. It was always gonna be between those two anyway, but at least it now no longer looks like an abject rout.
That’s our last precursor, so now we have a week to finalize guesses. I’m pretty much set in what I’m planning to do, so I’m gonna be using this week to just confirm my feelings and finalize my giant article (which, like last year, is basically done already).
Oscar night’s a week away, folks.
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The Annie Awards were handed out tonight. Not that they really matter, since we kinda know where the Animated Feature category is headed, but since they legitimately go deep in recognizing animated films, I like talking about them.
Soul won Best Feature, as well as Writing, Music, Editorial, Effects, Character Animation and Storyboarding, while Wolfwalkers won Best Indie Feature as well as for Direction, Production Design, Character Design and Voice Acting. The two films split every single category, with Soul winning 7 awards to Wolfwalkers’ 5. Just in case you weren’t sure that those were the two top Oscar choices.
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So the BAFTA Awards were handed out in two parts this year, which is strange to me. I’m just gonna cover it like I usually do and run down all the categories. But some of these were handed out yesterday.
Either way, I’m curious to see what, if anything, this does for the Oscar race, since at this point most of my beliefs about what’s going to happen locked up (even if that belief is ‘the category is wide open’). Mostly I’m expecting them to either solidify the things I feel are going to happen or go completely off the board and not help at all. But we’ll see.
Here are your BAFTA winners: (more…)
And the DGA Awards.
Chloe Zhao won for Nomadland, which sews up that category in case you had any doubt about that. She’ll finish up with a BAFTA win tomorrow, now that she needs it, and we’ll have yet another locked category on the night.
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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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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…)
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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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…)
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…)
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…)
The Critics Choice Awards were handed out last night.
The theme of this show is going to be ‘market correction’. That’s my guess. After what the Globes did, I’m expecting the expected winners to come through here in a big way. I don’t expect there to be anything that makes me reconfigure my expectations for the category. And in the case of most of the tech categories, I don’t even have expectations because a lot of the guilds are announcing nominees this week and BAFTA only nominates tomorrow. But for the high-end stuff like acting and what not, I expect this to be more in line with how I’ve been expecting these to play out all along.
I would also like to point out how happy I am that I no longer have to deal with six bullshit categories like “Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Comedy/All Other Genres We Don’t Take Seriously Enough to Let Into the Best Picture Race Plus One Best Picture Nominee You Know Is Gonna Dominate This Subsection of Awards Anyway Picture.”
Here’s what happened and BFCA: (more…)
The PGA nominations were announced today. And finally, we get clarity on the Best Picture race. Which we pretty much already had, but the PGA is the authority. They’ve gotten a minimum of seven nominees right every year since the sliding scale Best Picture system began, and most years they’re only one off at most. And usually you can tell what the one or two off are gonna be, because there’s always a populist nominee or two that gets on (previous examples: Quiet Place, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Skyfall). But basically, your Best Picture race is about to get a whole lot more set than it already was, and then BAFTA should basically lock everything into place for us tomorrow.
So here’s what the PGA has for us this year: (more…)
The Annie Award nominations were announced this morning. Somehow I knew they’d be out early. Something about a medium whose films are largely designed for children, it just feels like they’d be releasing earlier in the day than most other guilds.
But anyway, this is all kind of meaningless, since I think, list most years, we’re all pretty sure Pixar is just gonna win with Soul and there will be no drama whatsoever in the category (and I know there are gonna be some people who make the ‘I don’t know… Wolfwalkers’ argument. But I’ve been around this category way too many years than to try to delude myself with that. So really all we’re gonna get out of this is help in figuring out what the other four (or, I guess, three) nominees are gonna be outside of the obvious two in Soul and Wolfwalkers. Animated Feature is one of those categories that sets up obviously, but most of the time the branch will throw a curveball or two by going with more ‘artistic’ films over the obvious mainstream studio films. So I’m interested in seeing what the branch has for us this year.
Here are your Annie nominations: (more…)
The Art Directors Guild announced nominations today. If it feels like we’ve barely gotten any guild precursors to this point, it’s because we haven’t. But starting next week, they’re gonna start coming fast and furious. Next week I think is like three out of five days and then after that it’s almost a full week straight of something new every day.
But, at the moment, we have this. This is gonna help us out in Production Design, and I’m keen to see what they’ve nominated, given the fact that this feels like a pretty ho-hum kinda year with only about six or seven major contenders out there. So I’m curious to see what they give us and if there are some films that I’m not expecting that can make this a race.
As a reminder, the BFCA list for Production Design was Emma, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, News of the World, The Personal History of David Copperfield and Tenet, and your BAFTA longlist includes Ammonite, The Dig, Emma, The Father, Ma Rainey, Mank, Midnight Sky, News of the World, Promising Young Woman, Radioactive, Rebecca, Secret Garden, Tenet, Trial of the Chicago 7 and Wonder Woman 1984.
And here’s what the Art Directors Guild has for us: (more…)
Okay. So a little bit of a reverse of how this normally goes, but I wasn’t aware of the existence of this list beforehand. You already know the shortlist of ten, but here’s the full list of 96 eligibles for Animated Short.
I’m gonna go through and watch all the ones I can and then look at trailers for the rest and see which ones look great. All I’m really trying to do here is expose myself (and others) to some great animated shorts, which I feel are one of those things that we grow up with and then just sort of abandon along the way because we become less exposed to them. And we forget just how amazing they are to watch.
So, use this as a springboard to remind yourself of how great animated short films are. (more…)
And now Best Animated Feature. And you might be saying to yourself, “Mike, there’s only ten films on this shortlist and they’re all shorts. You probably could have done this one before some of the others.” And that’s true. Probably could’ve done it on day three or four if I wanted. But, I have a story to tell you…
On the day the shortlists came out, I was sitting around waiting for them to be released. I figured they’d put them out around 11/12 o’clock LA time. But they didn’t. They ended up putting them out at 3. And in those four hours in between as I was waiting I thought, “Let me see which ones people think might be nominated so I can try to get a hold of them preemptively.” Since the minute stuff gets shortlisted, they pull them down offline. Happens every year. So I start looking. Then, I find a list of all the eligible shorts for this year, which is a list I didn’t even know they released. But someone did. A list of all 96 eligible shorts.
Long story short, I decided to try to find all 96, ended up finding half of them and later on today I’m gonna post a full article going over all 96 eligible shorts (95% of which I either have seen fully or have seen a trailer for). Because I can and because it’s fun and because animated shorts are lost treasures among the filmgoing experience and I want to try to help bring them back. But before that, we’ll go over the shortlist. This is the dinner, that’ll be the dessert.
Here’s your animated feature shortlist:
If Anything Happens I Love You
The Snail and the Whale
And we end with the Documentary Feature shortlist, because that was the one I decided was the one I was gonna focus on for this article. Because, back around Thanksgiving, I decided to start compiling everything I thought could potentially get nominated in the category so that when they eventually did release this shortlist, I’d already have a bunch covered and not have to worry about then finding them. It worked out, since I already had ten of the fifteen docs on hand and ready to go and then immediately found two more that day. And, even better, I knew the final three were ones I could see fairly easily.
So, long story short, I’ve watched all 15 of these in the past two weeks and am gonna give a full breakdown in this article, which will make my life easier in future articles and discussions about this category.
Here’s your Documentary Feature shortlist:
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
The Painter and the Thief
The Truffle Hunters
Welcome to Chechnya (more…)