Animated Short Film: Pixar only does so-so in this category that’s often make-or-break in workplace pools across the country. Logic tells me to pick Lou while my gut leans towards current favorite Dear Basketball. Roll the dice on either and at least you know that you have a 50/50 shot.
The Nominees: Dear Basketball, Garden Party, Lou, Negative Space, Revolting Rhymes
Will Win: Dear Basketball
Could Win: Lou
Animated Feature Film: I’m not as hot on Coco as most people I know; it’s an enjoyable piece of representation and also an inferior version of last year’s LAIKA Animation powerhouse Kubo and the Two Strings (which is on Netflix and you must see). That said, Coco will pull out the win, even though I’d place a handful of other films above it in the pecking order. But hey, in the biggest shocker of the night, The Boss Baby is still immortalized as an Oscar nominee.
Will Win: Coco
Could Win: The Breadwinner
Should Win: The LEGO Batman Movie
Production Design: Outside of some terrible CGI, Beauty and the Beast is a very fine-looking film, and the kind that typically wins in this category. I’m hoping multiple nominee Greenwood cancels herself to open up the race a bit. Gassner’s work on Blade Runner 2049 can’t be undervalued; the landscapes in the film are characters in and of themselves, but he’s also building off the original’s vision. I’m pulling for Austerberry’s totally realized and meticulous sets on The Shape of Water, the most nominated picture of the year.
The Nominees: Sarah Greenwood (Beauty and the Beast), Dennis Gassner (Blade Runner 2049), Sarah Greenwood (Darkest Hour), Nathan Crowley (Dunkirk), Paul Denham Austerberry (The Shape of Water)
Will Win: Paul Denham Austerberry (The Shape of Water)
Could Win: Nathan Crowley (Dunkirk)
Should Win: Dennis Gassner (Blade Runner 2049)
Deserved Consideration: Aline Bonetto (Wonder Woman), Samuel Deshors (Call Me by Your Name), Philip Messina (mother!)
Visual Effects: Some think that War for the Planet of the Apes will win in the same fashion as The Lord of The Rings by securing the W in the trilogy’s final chapter. Weta’s slavish work on War should win out, yet unlike LOTR, the movie hasn’t earned the same lavish praise. Blade Runner 2049’s methodical story may have left some in want, but nobody can question the futuristic portrait presented by the film’s incredible visuals.
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Film Editing: Featuring three timelines seamlessly stitched together in Christopher Nolan’s tightest film in years, Lee Smith’s editing on Dunkirk is nothing short of masterful. I’ve seen it four times now, and although the story’s impersonal approach doesn’t quite hook my heart like most conventional war epics, Smith and Nolan make the film personal by embracing its immediate and overwhelming saturation of the senses.
The 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)
Will Win: Lee Smith (Dunkirk)
Could Win: Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos (Baby Driver)
Should Win: Lee Smith (Dunkirk)
Deserved Consideration: Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie (Good Time), Gregory Plotkin (Get Out), Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky)
Documentary Short Subject: I’ve only seen Heroin(e) because it’s on Netflix and I’ve heard only great things about the importance of Edith+Eddie. There’s a very good chance that I’m wrong here, but sometimes you just have to stick with what you know.
The Nominees: Edith+Eddie, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Heroin(e), Knife Skills, Traffic Stop
Will Win: Heroin(e)
Could Win: Edith+Eddie
Live-Action Short Film: Five very deep shorts make this category a contest of push and shove. There’s really no light choice in the bunch, so I’m hoping that the brutal DeKalb Elementary – a portrayal of an Atlanta school shooting – takes the win and gives its filmmakers a spotlight on stage to deliver an important message about current events.
The Nominees: DeKalb Elementary, The Eleven O’Clock, My Nephew Emmett, The Silent Child, Watu Wote/All of Us
Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
Could Win: My Nephew Emmett
Cinematography: Richard Deakins has never won an Oscar. Let that sink in for a moment. One of the most groundbreaking and important technician’s of cinema’s most picturesque component has never been called “the best” by the Academy. That is criminal. He has tough competition from the likes of Hoytema and Lautsen (who could just as easily take this; his film is more beloved and the craft speaks for itself). My fingers are crossed for a Deakins victory, I’m happy to witness Rachel Morrison as the first woman ever nominated in this category, and I so badly wish more people had seen Darius Khondji’s compelling work on the labor of love that is The Lost City of Z while it was in theaters.
The Nominees: Richard Deakins (Blade Runner 2049), Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest Hour), Hoyte can Hoytema (Dunkirk), Rachel Morrison (Mudbound), Dan Lautsen (The Shape of Water)
Will Win: Richard Deakins (Blade Runner 2049)
Could Win: Dan (Lautsen (The Shape of Water)
Should Win: Richard Deakins (Blade Runner 2049)
Deserved Consideration: Darius Khondji (The Lost City of Z), Matthew Libatique (mother!), Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me by Your Name), Alexis Zabe (The Florida Project)
Scroll below and hit the next page for more