Celebrating The Art of Self Indulgence

Note: Free donuts to anyone who makes it to the end of this article.

Not to brag (ok to brag), but I used to be pretty good at this Oscar prediction stuff. I won the Oscar contest at a local video store (yes it was that long ago) three out of the four years I entered. And that contest included all 19 major categories. Unlike those office-pool Oscar contests with only eight categories, the full list of winners can’t be easily predicted by the company’s disinterested college basketball fanatic who thinks the Oscars are “gay.” It takes someone with more than a casual interest in film to be good at this. I don’t follow the industry nearly as closely as I once did. And I didn’t resume attending movies regularly, after 15-years of personal distractions, until last year, so I may be a little rusty. But the same silly principles that dictated Oscar wins back then still hold true. So I thought I’d give it another shot and see if I’m still good at this or if I’m little more than the pretentious blowhard we all know I can be.

I’ve seen about 25 movies from 2017, a meager total compared to the number released and the number seen by some of the young whipper-snappers here on WordPress. But seeing all the nominees is unnecessary for predicting Oscar winners. The academy has all kinds of reasons for giving an award and quality of work is only one of them.

This year’s major categories are utterly predictable, even more so than usual. Despite the Academy’s best efforts to shorten the Oscar season, there’s little they can do to stop the abundance of other award shows that have robbed the broadcast of its surprises.

The following are my predictions for each of this year’s categories. The first 18 are listed by what I consider their importance to the overall film. The remaining categories, for foreign language, animated, documentary and short films, are of equal importance as the best picture category as they are complete films in themselves.

1. Best Picture

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mo

I’ve only seen seven of the nine Best Picture nominees, but I don’t need to see them all. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO has the momentum of a Golden Globe win and the ensemble trophy at the SAG awards. And it’s the kind of indie movie that the academy’s current point system tends to favor. But its ludicrous omission in the directing category is a major handicap. If there’s a surprise winner here, it might be Get Out, Jordan Peele’s satirical thriller about racial appropriation. The academy loves to make choices that make them look hip and open-minded. But they may have satiated that hunger last year with Moonlight. The same applies to the powerful gay love story, Call Me by Your Name. I will personally be happy to see any of these three win this award but Call Me by Your Name moved me the most.

Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers drama, The Post is, by most accounts, his best film in years. But it seems to have generated little excitement. Guillermo del Toro’s likely best director win may help The Shape of Water in this category. But even though the two awards have generally always gone to the same film over the decades, there’s been a trend away from this in the last few years. And Water may just be too weird for Academy voters to give it the big prize. Dunkirk seemed like an early favorite upon its release, but its buzz fizzled long ago. Darkest Hour is most memorable for its lead performance and seems unlikely to capture many voters. Paul Thomas Anderson has a strong following in the academy having netted multiple nominations, but his films tend to alienate as many viewers as they delight, so his dark romance, Phantom Thread, is a no-go.

Will Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mo

I’m Rooting For: Call Me by Your Name

2. Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out

There wasn’t a more bewildering snub this year than the exclusion of Three Billboards’ Martin McDonagh in this category. Mcdonagh tread more dangerous waters than any filmmaker this year and did so with humor and unflinching honesty. Gerwig and Peele made impressive directorial debuts but are more likely to be competitive in the screenplay categories. Nolan is a visionary director with a unique visual flair and technical mastery, but he makes the kind of fantasy blockbusters that can be a hard sell to the academy. As a result, it took a mainstream WWII drama to earn him his first Oscar nomination. The academy’s general lack of enthusiasm for Dunkirk will likely sink his chances. Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the more interesting American directors around, but his films are too cerebral for many academy voters. Guillermo del Toro’s DGA win for The Shape of Water and his lack of a nomination for the much-revered Pan’s Labyrinth, make him a sure shot.

Will Win: Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

I’m Rooting For: Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread

3. Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Guillermo de Toro and Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele – Get Out

This is a solid list. Gordon and Nanjiani’s The Big Sleep was one of the big sleepers of the year and it deserves its nomination, but it didn’t quite have the widespread impact of the other four and thus will likely get lost in their shadows. Both Peele and Gerwig have a decent shot here, particularly Peele for his wickedly satirical look at racism disguised as a horror film. Del Toro is a shoo-in for the director’s award, but his script for The Shape of Water, while thematically rich, is sunk by its bizarre premise. Martin McDonagh is a highly respected Irish playwright whose script for Three Billboards reveals an uncanny understanding of the moral ambiguities of small town America. And there simply isn’t a timelier, gutsier, or funnier script on this list.

Will Win: Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’m Rooting For: Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

4. Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

James Ivory – Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green – Logan
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
Virgil William and Dee Rees – Mudbound

This is another solid list. The variety of work represented here is impressive. I was particularly happy to see The Disaster Artist and Logan grab nods this year, but their respective writers, like those of Molly’s Game and Mudbound, will have to be happy with being nominated. This one is an easy call. James Ivory is highly respected among academy members, having been nominated three times for best director without a win. He’s 89 now and this may be his last nomination. A lot of people loved Call Me by Your Name and since it’s unlikely to win best picture, the academy will almost certainly want to give it at least one major award.

Will Win: James Ivory – Call Me by Your Name

I’m Rooting For: James Ivory – Call Me by Your Name

5. Editing

Nominees:

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos – Baby Driver
Lee Smith – Dunkirk
Tatiana S. Riegel – I, Tonya
Sidney Wolinsky – The Shape of Water
Jon Gregory – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

“A film is not shot, but built,” Sergei Eisenstein famously said. And he was right. Editing is the foundation of visual storytelling. Not only does it assemble the individual shots to tell the story, it can do so in a way that creates profound emotional reactions. Eisenstein’s own Battleship Potemkin and its legendary Odessa steps sequence is the indelible proof of this. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced the larger group of academy voters really cares about this. They’ll usually go with the flashier choices, where the editor’s craft is more noticeable. This bodes well for Baby Driver, Dunkirk, and I, Tonya. If there’s no obvious choice, they usually go with their favorite film of the year or whichever film has the most moment. That would give and edge to Jon Gregory’s work in Three Billboards and Sidney Wolinsky’s editing for The Shape of Water. But Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has the kind of high impact editing that usually wins this award and the academy will want to reward it for its considerable technical achievements.

Will Win: Lee Smith – Dunkirk

I’m Rooting For: Jon Gregory – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

6. Original Score

Nominees:

Carter Burwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water
Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread
John Williams – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk

Hans Zimmer, a previous winner in this category for The Lion King, is not one of my personal favorites. While his harmonic drones for Dunkirk are effective, their appeal is probably limited to the musicians who nominated it and not the actor-dominated academy at large. If I was going to take the Zimmer route, I’d have nominated his chilling collaboration with Benjamin Wallifisch for Blade Runner 2049.

Legendary film composer John Williams has been nominated 51 times, winning four in this category for some of the most recognizable scores in film history (Jaws, Star Wars, etc.), but his work for The Last Jedi, doesn’t compare to his best. Carter Burwell’s effective genre mixing in Three Billboards has an outside shot in this category, boosted by the film’s likely best picture win. And Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s jittery piano-dominated music for Phantom Thread has its gorgeous moments, but it’s often intrusive, getting in the way of the drama. The popular choice is Alexandre Desplat, whose wistful, whimsical work for The Shape of Water will benefit from the film’s and director del Toro’s momentum. It’s the strongest entry in a mediocre field.

Will Win: Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water

I’m Rooting For: Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water

7. Cinematography

Nominees:

Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049
Bruno Delbonnel – Darkest Hour
Hoyte van Hoytema – Dunkirk
Dan Laustsen – The Shape of Water
Rachel Morrison – Mudbound

Despite its unlikely win for best picture, you can expect Guillermo del Toro’s fractured fairy tale, The Shape of Water, to do well in several technical categories, including this one. The film garnered 13 nominations, the most this year, and it’s nice to look at, if a bit dreary. Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, and the superior Mudbound all make use of the tasteful, subdued tones typical of period films, but I prefer the varied hues and filtered light of Roger Deakins’ disquieting imagery for Denis Villeneuve’s ultra-stylish Blade Runner 2049.

Will Win: Dan Laustsen – The Shape of Water

I’m Rooting For: Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049

Acting Categories:

Alfred Hitchcock referred to actors alternately as cattle and furniture. He was joking (I think), but his point was that they aren’t essential to the filmmaker’s craft. Much of the tension in his heavily story-boarded films comes from the way his images are edited together. Film is first and foremost a visual medium. The montage of inanimate objects could not only tell a story on its own but create emotions. I wouldn’t go as far as Hitchcock. People don’t go to movies to see inanimate objects. They go to see human beings and stories about them. Actors are essential to most great films, though perhaps not as important as they imagine. Still, a great performance can save a mediocre film and a bad performance can wreck a good one. Imagine any of the following films without their nominated actors and their impact is greatly diminished.

8. Best Actor

Nominees:

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Daniel Kaluuya’s incredible appeal was a key to the success of Get Out’s balancing act between horror and subtle satire. But he’s a rising star and the academy will likely pass him over with expectations of future nominations. Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor to have won the lead actor award as many as three times. If he wins, he’ll tie Katherine Hepburn as the person with the most acting Oscars. I’m not sure if the academy is willing to elevate him to that status. Denzel Washington is becoming the male Meryl Streep with yearly obligatory nominations for mediocre films. This year he and his film are non-factors.

If I had my druthers, the winner would be Timothée Chalamet’s performance in Call Me by Your Name. There was no more fully realized performance on film this year. It’s simply one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen. But Gary Oldman is the heavy favorite. Hollywood loves to bestow awards to veterans with long and fruitful careers, especially those, like Oldman, who’ve never won before. Saddled with prosthetics and a fat suit, he endured the kind of physical hurdles actors gush about. His utterly credible imitation of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour has already resulted in a plethora of awards and he can expect to add the Oscar to his bookshelf.

Will Win: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

I’m Rooting For: Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name

9. Best Actress

Nominees:

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Francis McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

In terms of quality nominees, this is possibly the most loaded major category of the night. Every performance on this list is worthy. Even Meryl Streep’s annual nod was apparently well-earned according to many who’ve seen this film. Any one of these women could win this category… but only if Michael J. Fox travels back in time to ensure that Frances McDormand is never born. Her riveting performance in Three Billboards is the kind that sticks in your head for days. It takes your breath away. She’ll win. She deserves it. End of story.

Will Win: Francis McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO

I’m Rooting for: Francis McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO

10. Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The controversial nature of Sam Rockwell’s role in Three Billboards is the only thing that could hurt him here. But don’t count on it. He’s won most of the major pre-Oscar awards in this category. Harrelson and Jenkin’s both gave memorable performances, but both were overshadowed by their female leads. The always dependable Plummer may get votes for his last-minute rescue of Ridley Scott’s Kevin-Spacey-tainted All the Money in the World. Willem Dafoe is a long-time veteran with many great performances under his belt and this is one of his most acclaimed. He could provide the night’s only acting upset.

Will Win: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’m Rooting For: Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project

11. Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

R&b legend Mary J. Blige made a big splash in the Netflix drama Mudbound, but barring the Marisa Tomei effect, she’ll not likely overtake the four seasoned pros she’s up against, particularly Allison Janney. Hollywood loves to throw awards at her (seven Emmys and counting.) She’s swept this category throughout Award season for her performance as Tonya Harding’s mom-from-hell in I, Tonya. A previous winner in this category, Octavia Spencer, seems to have been nominated because she’s Octavia Spencer and not anything particularly memorable about her character or performance. Laurie Metcalf and Lesley Manville delivered the more complex performances of the five. Metcalf was subtle and compelling. She could win here, but her role wasn’t as flashy as Janney’s so it’s unlikely. But it’s Manville, the esteemed British theater actress who’s the real standout. She barely moves a facial muscle the entire film. but her terse mouth and stern eyes mask the subtextual shadings of her ultimately surprising character. She’s understated and brilliant.

Will Win: Alison Janney – I, Tonya

I’m Rooting For: Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread

12. Best Production Design:

Nominees:

Paul D. Austerberry – The Shape of Water
Nathan Crowley – Dunkirk
Dennis Gassner – Blade Runner 2049
Sarah Greenwood – Beauty and the Beast
Sarah Greenwood – Darkest Hour

Again, The Shape of Water, having garnered 13 nominations, was clearly popular with voters this year and I expect that to carry over to this award. The film has a distinctive and cohesive look that serves the story well, but its industrial main set and tired bluish tones left me cold. Sarah Greenwood’s work for Beauty and the Beast was, like the film itself, tawdry and charmless. Her work for Darkest Hour was standard WWII period design, accurate perhaps, but routine. Ditto Nathan Crowley’s work for Dunkirk. Gassner’s design for Blade Runner 2049’s dystopian future was a character unto itself.

Will Win: Paul D. Austerberry – The Shape of Water

I’m Rooting For: Dennis Gassner – Blade Runner 2049

13. Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Consolata Boyle – Victoria and Abdul
Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread
Jaqueline Durran – Beauty and the Beast
Jaqueline Durran – Darkest Hour
Luis Sequeira – The Shape of Water

These are all beautifully costumed films. Jaqueline Durran’s fanciful creations for Beauty and the Beast were the only part of its overall look that approached the magic so lacking in the rest of the film. There’s great imagination here. But she’s nominated against herself for her work in Darkest Hour, which could cancel out her votes. I wouldn’t count her out, though. Victoria and Abdul an English monarchy drama with exotic foreign touches, is the kind of film that often wins in this category. Or the Academy could choose to send more love to The Shape of Water. But it makes sense that a film about a fashion designer would win the costume award and I believe Phantom Thread will indeed win.

Will Win: Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread

I’m Rooting For: Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread

14. Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Darkest Hour
Vitoria and Abdul
Wonder

The Academy loves when makeup artists transform well-known actors into unrecognizable characters. Seeing Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill is something to behold. Darkest Hour will win.

Will Win: Darkest Hour

I’m Rooting For: Darkest Hour

Sound Awards

I’m not sure most academy members really understand the difference between the two sound awards or that they even care, which is probably why they often go to the same film. I barely understand the difference myself but let me give it a try. The sound editor assembles the disparate elements of sound, such as dialogue, music, and sound effects into the greater whole. The sound mixer, like the mixer on a musical recording, mixes the different levels of each sound, determining which are more dominant and which less so at any given moment in the film. Why we need two awards for this is a mystery to me. I miss the good old days when there was only one sound award. It was so much easier to predict back then.

15. Sound Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This is a tough lot to choose from, but the academy usually gives the sound awards to the noisiest film nominated. That theory favors the WWII epic Dunkirk or Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Will Win: Dunkirk

I’m Rooting For: Blade Runner 2049

16. Sound Mixing

Nominees:

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Very often these two awards go to the same film, but not always. I have a hunch one of these may go to either The Last Jedi or Blade Runner 2049, but I’m not sure which film or which category. So I’m going to cover my ass and play the odds by picking Dunkirk for both. That film has the kind of technical clout and dramatic weight that academy voters generally value over popular entertainments and sci-fi blockbusters.

Will Win: Dunkirk

I’m Rooting For: Blade Runner 2049

17. Visual Effects

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

If it was up to me, I’d have given a nomination, and perhaps, an award, to the effects team for Andy Muschietti’s remake of Stephen King’s It. If the effects in that film weren’t as large in scale as in the five nominated films, they were brilliantly original, serving the nightmarish tale instead of dominating it, as happens so often in the CGI saturated environment of empty Hollywood blockbusters. As for the films nominated, Guardian of the Galaxy’s comic book effects were fun but manically overwrought even given the movie’s comic book nature. The Last Jedi had the advanced effects one expects from the series, but the sheer volume of these films, and outer space epics in general, has neutered their impact. Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake won this award in 2005 and by this point, giant apes are a bit passé, so Kong: Skull Island will have to settle for peanuts. I’ve heard great things about the effects in War for the Planet of the Apes and the academy may want to throw a banana at that acclaimed film. But I think the award will go to Blade Runner 2049. The academy missed out on their chance to give the cult classic original its much-deserved Oscar. They may feel like this will somehow make up for it (it won’t), but that’s ok. It’s a tough choice between the two, but I’m going take a risk and go with Blade Runner 2049 over War.

Will Win: Blade Runner 2049

I’m Rooting For: Blade Runner 2049

18. Original Song

Nominees:

“Mighty River” from Mudbound – Music and Lyrics by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name – Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from Coco – Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall – Music by Diane Warren, Lyrics by Lonnie Lynn and Diane Warren
“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman – Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

I live in fear every year that one of the most successful American songwriters of all time, that tone-deaf hack known as Diane Warren, will win this award (She’s been nominated nine times for fuck sake), but thankfully I don’t expect it this year. “Remember Me” from Coco was a charming song and did what a movie song is supposed to do, further the themes and emotions of its story. Beloved r&b singer Mary J. Blige cowrote “Mighty River” and her star power may well be enough to win the category. “This is Me” from the critically drubbed musical The Greatest Showman won the Golden Globe in this category. But it’s the kind of clichéd, preening, annoyingly self-important drivel that’s taken over Broadway in the decades since the glory days of its last true genius, Stephen Sondheim. My instincts tell me voters will want to give another consolation prize to Call Me by Your Name. Sufjan Steven has been making beautiful music for almost two decades with little recognition outside the critic’s circle. His two songs for the film are both lovely and their lyrical content fits well with their placement in the film.

Will Win: “Mystery of Love” – Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens

I’m Rooting For: “Mystery of Love” – Music and Lyrics by Sufjan Stevens

19. Animated Feature

Nominees:

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Pixar at its best is hard to beat in this category. They’ve won this award seven of the 15 years of its existence. There’s no reason to think the studio’s lovely Coco won’t continue the trend. The Boss Baby is full of clever ideas and a splendid title sequence, but it gets tiresome quickly. The other three received minimal attention during the movie year and will get little on Oscar night. This one’s a no brainer. Put your money on Coco.

Will win: Coco

I’m rooting for: Coco

20. Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

A Fantastic Woman – Sebastián Lelio, director (Chile)
The Insult – Ziad Doueiri, director (Lebanon)
Loveless – Andrey Zvyaginstev (Russia)
On Body and Soul – Ildikó Enyedi, director (Hungary)
The Square – Ruben Östlund, director (Sweden)

Sadly, I’ve yet to see any of these films, but from what I know of them, I’d have go with A Fantastic Woman. The other films received acclaim, particularly Östlund’s satire of the art world, The Square. But Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman is the most talked about of the five and it’s transgender theme is perfect Oscar bait for academy voters who want the world to see how open minded they are.

Will Win: A Fantastic Woman

Buffalo Chicken Wing Categories

These are the awards that most people don’t care about, the short film and documentary categories. To the average viewer these awards provide a perfect opportunity to pop those chicken wings and pizza rolls in the oven or take an extended bathroom break. That’s a shame. Cinema is cinema, regardless of length. These are legitimate films and they deserve to be seen and honored.

Back in the day, few people had the opportunity to even see these nominees. Occasionally a feature length documentary might capture popular opinion (The War Room, Hoops) and the local art houses might have shown a package of the nominees over the weekend, which they still do, but even the most diehard movie fans rarely got so see them. When I was younger, I had a surprisingly effective way of predicting the winners in these categories – the title. The more unusual the title, the more likely the win. That theory hasn’t worked quite as well in the last few years, but it doesn’t matter anymore because the internet and streaming services like Netflix have made most of these films available to the public.

Another method I used back then is still of value, that of basing my predictions on subject matter. The Academy loves movies about the holocaust, racial injustice, the physically challenged, and any other social cause that makes them feel important.

If I do poorly predicting the winners of these four categories, I’ll remind everyone how hard they are to predict and insist they not be counted in my final tally. If I do well, however, you can bet your overpriced popcorn I’m taking full credit!

1. Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Icarus
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

The key word here may be “Aleppo”. The devastating civil war in Syria and the crimes of Assad against his own people will almost certainly push the buttons of liberal academy members over the Great Recession banking scandal film, Abacus; the sports doping scandal movie, Icarus; and the crime documentary Strong Island. But legendary French film director Agnés Varda seems poised to take the award for her person-in-the-streets documentary Faces Places. She won an honorary award in November, but she’s never won a competitive Oscar. If she doesn’t win here, I’d go with Last Men in Allepo.

Will Win: Faces Places

2. Documentary Short Subject

Nominees:

Edith + Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

This a crapshoot folks. I’m going with the opioid epidemic movie Heroin(e) over the interracial geriatric love story/ elderly abuse documentary of Edith + Eddie; the depression portrait, Heaven; the ex-cons-as-chefs story, Knife Skills, and the racism chronicle, Traffic Stop. It’s the only one of the five I’ve seen so I’m biased. It’s powerful if not extraordinary, but it has the importance and relevance the academy loves. If I’m wrong, I’m guessing Traffic Stop will take the gold.

Will Win: Heroin(e)

3. Short Film, Live Action

Nominees:

DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wrote/All of Us

DeKalb Elementary has the timeliest subject matter of the five live action shorts on this list, telling the story of a 911 call for a school shooting. With the  recent school massacre in Parkland, Florida still fresh in everyone’s memory, the academy will  surely want to give the subject attention and provide its creators with the opportunity to make an important, moving, and politically controversial speech on the subject. The psychiatric session comedy, The Eleven O’Clock; the racial bullying story My Nephew Emmit; The Silent Child, a drama about a profoundly deaf child; and Watu Wrote/All of Us, about the 2015 Mandera bus attack in Kenya, will be also-rans.

Will Win: DeKalb Elementary

4. Short Film, Animated

Nominees:

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

This is an interesting list. Michael Jordan’s very short Dear Basketball has been poo-pooed as insubstantial by some critics. I found it to be a moving visual love letter to the sport that made him famous. With a score by John Williams, it had me a bit teary-eyed at some point, though the effect was fleeting. Its hand drawn animation is charming if a bit lackluster compared to the competition. The Academy may prefer the flashier Garden Party, a lush CGI animated graduation film from Illogic Collective, a group of French CGI animation school graduates. It’s full of clever gags and funny situations. Lou, the seven-minute short paired last summer with Cars 3, is not without its charms, but it’s hardly top-tier Pixar. Negative Spaces has some buzz as does Netflix’s droll but overlong version of Roald Dahl’s beloved Revolting Rhymes. My best guess is that the Academy will be wowed by Garden Party’s ultra-sophisticated animation and hilarious visual humor.

Will Win: Garden Party

I’m Rooting for: Garden Party

Thanks for reading. Hopefully I won’t look like a complete idiot come Oscar night. If I do, expect me to erase all evidence. Delete! Delete! Delete! Oh and here’s those donuts I promised you. Enjoy!

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