Animated Short Film: Pixar always does very well in this category and I don’t see it losing out this year. It also helps that Bao is delightful, and maybe even more memorable than the much-anticipated Incredibles 2 that it played before in theaters.
The Nominees: Animal Behaviour, Bao, Late Afternoon, One Small Step, Weekends
Will Win: Bao
Could Win: Weekends
Animated Feature Film: On a night where some sure winners still have the possibility of being upset by another nominee, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will undoubtedly and rightfully secure the victory. It’s a great film with a visual palette unlike anything I’ve ever seen in an animated feature, and it helps that the rest of the field is pretty weak this year.
The Nominees: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Will Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Could Win: Isle of Dogs
Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Deserved Consideration: The Grinch, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, Smallfoot
Production Design: Apparently Roma went through the trouble of literally building entire blocks of Mexico City, and yet the production design never pops off the screen. This one will be a close battle between The Favourite and Black Panther, although First Man and its remarkable recreation for time and place will go overlooked. A few factors should keep Black Panther from winning. First, some of the sets look as cheap and as fake old swashbuckling epics, and secondly because the heavy use of CGI makes it hard to tell what’s even real. The Favourite’s eye for the ornate period piece decorations and its attention to detail should seal the deal.
The Nominees: Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart (Black Panther), Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton (The Favourite), Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas (First Man), John Myhre and Gordon Sim (Mary Poppins Returns), Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez (Roma)
Will Win: The Favourite
Could Win: Black Panther
Should Win: First Man
Deserved Consideration: Annihilation, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Crazy Rich Asians, If Beale Street Could Talk, Ready Player One, A Quiet Place
Visual Effects: When asked if we really did go to the moon, First Man director Damien Chazelle gave a definite yes, citing how difficult it was to recreate the landing with our advanced modern technology. These are the kinds of effects you don’t necessarily notice because they so seamlessly blend into the picture’s palette. Avengers: Infinity War achieved stunning motion capture work and Ready Player One was unlike anything else I’ve seen (I’d love to see it win), but I have a hard time imagining the Academy giving either of those the trophy. When in doubt, opt for the more prestigious pick.
The Nominees: Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, First Man, Ready Player One, Solo: A Star Wars Story
Will Win: First Man
Could Win: Avengers: Infinity War
Should Win: Ready Player One
Deserved Consideration: Annihilation, Bumblebee, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Paddington 2, Suspiria
Film Editing: Outside of Best Picture, this might be the most difficult pick of the evening. I’m not sure why Green Book was even nominated here, but there’s a good chance that any of the other four films could potentially win this one. Vice isn’t a great film but certainly is the most edited of the bunch, sometimes to a fault. BlacKkKlansman might win, I have a hunch that Bohemian Rhapsody will win based solely on the merits of that Live Aid sequence. Which is a shame because the rest of this musical biopic could be considered some of the worst film editing of the year. Seriously, it’s that bad.
The Nominees: Barry Alexander Brown (BlacKkKlansman), John Ottman (Bohemian Rhapsody), Yorgos Mavropsaridis (The Favourite), Patrick J. Don Vito (Green Book), Hank Corwin (Vice)
Will Win: Bohemian Rhapsody
Could Win: BlacKkKlansman
Should Win: Vice
Deserved Consideration: Bing Liu & Joshua Altman (Minding the Gap), Joe Bini (You Were Never Really Here), Jay Cassidy (A Star Is Born), Tom Cross (First Man), Walter Fasano (Suspiria), Carla Luffe Heintzelmann (The Guilty), Joe Walker (Widows)
Documentary Short Subject: I’ve only seen one of these and it’s on Netflix and I’ve read some high praise from Oscar prognosticators for its depiction of female empowerment. So I’ll choose that one, Period. End of Sentence.
The Nominees: Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat, A Night at the Garden, Period. End of Sentence.
Will Win: Period. End of Sentence.
Could Win: Lifeboat
Live-Action Short Film: This is always the category where I have to blindly roll the dice. Like somebody filling out their March Madness bracket based on the team mascots, I’m going with Marguerite simply because it sounds nice and reviews have praised its relative levity amidst otherwise dour nominees.
The Nominees: Detainment, Fauve, Marguerite, Mother, Skin
Will Win: Marguerite
Could Win: Skin
Cinematography: Roma’s approach is methodical; the film uses incredibly long panning shots, traverses landscapes through ambitious tracking shots, and captures the black and white detail though a digital lens. I didn’t love the movie anywhere near as much as others have, but there’s no denying the craft it exudes in this department. Personally, I’d rather see the other B&W nominee Cold War win because its more evocative and explores the frame of the image as a means of framing the characters within the world.
The Nominees: Robbie Ryan (The Favourite), Caleb Deschanel (Never Look Away), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Matty Libatique (A Star Is Born), Lukasz Zal (Cold War)
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Could Win: Lukasz Zal (Cold War)
Should Win: Lukasz Zal (Cold War)
Deserved Consideration: Sean Bobbitt (Widows), Bruno Delbonnel (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), James Laxton (If Beale Street Could Talk), Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Suspiria), Joshua James Richards (The Rider), Linus Sandgren (First Man)
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