This is the third of seven prediction and analysis articles for the Oscars being given out at the upcoming 85th Academy Awards on February 24th, hosted by Seth McFarlane (full site). This quick article follows the minor film categories that include documentaries, shorts, animated, and foreign films. These are the really tough ones that I (and you) end up throwing a dart at a dartboard blindfolded to guess and predict.
Like last year, I offer the categories of snubs and happy nominations to go along with a choice of "who should win" and "who will win." This season, I've been doing my due diligence by tracking what movies and people have won the precursor and lead-up awards to the Oscars on my "2012 Awards Tracker" page. For a full breakdown of earlier 2012-2013 award results, please check that page and tab. Enjoy and good luck with your Oscar pool!
BEST DOCUMENTARY- FEATURE
The nominees: 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Searching for Sugar Man
AWARDS TRACKER (number of earlier award wins): 8- Searching for Sugarman, 4- The Imposter, 3- Bully, 2- The Central Park Five, 2- The Invisible War, 2- The Gatekeepers, and seven more films with one win (none of which are nominated here).
Who was snubbed: Based on those documentaries that have won some form of a minor critics group or regional award, you have to wonder where The Central Park Five and The Imposter are. Normally, I catch one or two documentaries a year, but this year I've made it to none. I did see Bully, but even though it won a few 2012 awards and just now this month made it to DVD and Blu-ray, it technically was out in 2011.
Happy to be there: Again, judging by what documentaries have won a few honors and awards, two of the five Oscar nominees are win-less against their competition and fit the "happy to be there" label. They are 5 Broken Cameras, a father's story of nonviolence in Palestine, and How to Survive a Plague, about the modern success with combating AIDS. An Oscar nomination that can raise awareness to their works are awards in themselves. Unless there's a huge upset, that's all they will get.
Who should win and will win: The shoe-in winner here should and likely will be Searching for Sugarman. Like Bully, Waiting for "Superman", and the works of Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, every year, one decent documentary gains a nice little slice of mainstream attention and a nice semi-wide release. That's Searching For Sugarman for 2012, a big favorite from Sundance and something even available now on Redbox. It's story of search for a former music idol of a pair of South Africans has won the most awards and has the most appeal. This should be a lock.
BEST DOCUMENTARY- SHORT SUBJECT
The nominees: Inocente, Kings Point, Mondays at Racine, Open Heart, Redemption
AWARDS TRACKER (number of earlier award wins): no previous major awards given
Who was snubbed: I have no idea. As I warned, we are in the obscure and "dartboard" categories.
Happy to be there: All of them are happy to be here. For years, the populists in the world have clamored to have this category bumped from an already-long and busy award show. This is every single film's fifteen seconds of fame, with one of them getting 45 seconds of fame to talk about their film and be cut off by the orchestra.
Who should win and will win: This is anyone's guess. There's no sense separating "should" and "would" with this level of obscurity. After a little homework and digging (yes that means borrowing expert predictions that are better than mine), I'll put my vote on Open Heart. Let's hope I get a lucky one following that horse.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
THE NOMINEES: Amour (Austria), Kon-Tiki (Norway), No (Chile), A Royal Affair (Denmark), War Witch (Canada)
AWARDS TRACKER (number of earlier award wins): 15- Amour, 5- The Intouchables (France), 4- Holy Motors (France), 1- Rust and Bone (France), 1- Pieta (South Korea), 1- The Kid with a Bike (Belgium), 1- Headhunters (Norway)
Who was snubbed: Much like the feature documentaries, there are always a few foreign films a year that catch on with the mainstream and get a decent theatrical release. One of those was the snubbed The Intouchables from France. The touching story about a minority caregiver changing the heart of dying rich man is the second most-honored foreign film of the year and was left off the list. Now, there may be a rule or two that keeps it out. For the Oscars, countries have to bid and submit films and their are limits and finalists. For all I know, The Untouchables missed the cut or the bidding altogether. The same might be said for Rust and Bone, a fine film starring an Oscar-worthy performance from previous Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard that I was able to catch and review.
Happy to be there: Every nominee that's not named Amour is happy to be hear. Like A Separation last year, Amour is the juggernaut that has crossed over to garner multiple Oscar nominations in other categories as a foreign film. The other four nominees are purely spectators.
Who should win and will win: Mark this down as one of the easiest predictions and locks of the night. Amour will will the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Anything else would be a complete shocker. There are some that consider Amour the best film of the year, period. You would think it would then be a slam dunk as the best foreign film along the way. If those cinema aficionado's get their wish, a double Best Picture win would be monumental. I think the closest chance you ever had of that was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and last year's The Artist, had that silent film made in France been considered a foreign film (which it technically really was).
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The nominees: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph
AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins): 8- ParaNorman, 8- Wreck-It Ralph, 6- Frankenweenie, 1- Brave, 1- Rise of the Guardians
Who was snubbed: There's not a big glaring omission of a prior award winner here other than Rise of the Guardians, but I'm sure it's not really taken that seriously. I think the bigger snubs from a popularity vote standpoint are that three of the bigger grossing animated films of 2012, The Lorax, the fifth Ice Age, and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted didn't make the vote or the field. You would think their high profile and financial success would bump the clay-mation pirates. Speaking of them...
Happy to be there: Those pirates should be happy to be there. The fifth and surprise nominee was The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The Academy, lately, always votes in one obscure, curveball, or traditionally animated choice to not completed be filled with computer-generated films. However, with the well-reviewed ParaNorman and Frankenweenie already filling those non-CGI spots as fellow works of clay-mation and stop-motion, the Academy really didn't need to bump The Pirates up. Good for them!
Who should and will win: This is, surprisingly, a hard field to call for a change. Normally, the Disney/Pixar release (Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3) is so staggeringly good that the rest of animated film nominees do not matter. That's not the case this year with Brave. It was still nominated and even squeaked out a Golden Globe win over many of these same nominees. However, I'm going to put my personal vote and my prediction away from Pixar and earmark Wreck-It Ralph as the surprise winner. Disney's non-Pixar video game adventure won the Producers Guild of America award in this category and that's the closest award and voting group to the Academy in this field. I'm going to call that the push and prognostication that puts Wreck-It Ralph over the top. I continue to think that the worthy, but too-similar Frankenweenie and ParaNorman split their own votes.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
The nominees: Adam and Dog, Fresh Guacamole, Head over Heels, Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare," Paperman
AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins): none
Who was snubbed and happy to be there: No one was snubbed or could possibly be. In carrying on the theme of obscurity, these animated shorts (which used to be a movie theater staple for those folks old enough to remember Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes) should be lucky they aren't bumped from the show altogether. Kidding aside, I've actually gotten the chance to see EVERY SINGLE ONE of these animated short nominees. Are you impressed, because I sure am? How? The power of the web and you can too. For nice and quick entertainment (ranging from 5-15 minutes long), you should see these excellent shorts. Follow this link. You will not be disappointed!
Who should win: Of the five nominees, all are incredibly unique. Even though it's dirt simple, I got a kick out of Fresh Guacamole. I know the power of Disney is behind Paperman and The Simpsons are endlessly popular, but that little play-on-food short was fun, clever, inventive, and effective with great imagery. I know it won't win, but it was cute. All of the dog lovers will vote for the crudely-drawn, but emotional Adam and Dog. Watch it and you will see.
Who will win: The animated short that will win is Paperman and I'm completely OK with that. Those of you who saw Wreck-It Ralph on time (and weren't in a concession line or a bathroom) likely saw this little gem attached to the beginning of it. It's an outstanding whirlwind of a word-less romance told with soaring animation and expertise. It's an absolute winner and Disney strikes again with farming and finding new talent.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
The nominees: Asad, Buzkashi Boys, Curfew, Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw), Henry
AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins): none
Who was snubbed and happy to be there: Ditto my comments and thoughts from earlier in this article when I talked about the Documentary- Short Subject nominees. It's way to hard to tell what films should be here. Again, all should be happy with their fifteen seconds and footnote on news articles. You know, though, somewhere there's probably a guy who's all up in arms that some little film was bumped for these five. I want to meet that guy and bring him a home-cooked meal to get out of the dungeon.
Who should win and will win: Well, I threw the dart blindfolded and it landed on Curfew. We'll take it. Good luck with this one, folks.
NEXT UP: The writing and directing categories!