Oscars 2018: The B+ Nominations Ballot

If you were to list my three favorite articles to write each year, it would be — 3) Top Ten List, 2) Nominations Ballot, 1) Oscar picks article. I love this day. I love it so much.

And, in a way, while I do enjoy writing up the Oscar picks article slightly more than writing up this one, this article means more to me. I much prefer doing better here than on Oscar night. There are gonna be about 120 nominees announced tomorrow. If I can guess 90 of them, I’m happy. And if I can guess 90 of them and be right there on the alternates, I’m even happier. Forget going 20/24 on Oscar night. This is where it’s at. This is what takes skill.

And yes, this is going to be an article where I attempt to guess every single Oscar nominee. I’ve done it every year since I started this site, and I’ve always been above 2/3. The worst I did was 68% in my first year. Since then I’ve been above 70. Last year was 74.5% and my personal best was 78.5%. My next goal is to get either above 80% or over 100 total correct, whichever comes first.

I also, unlike a lot of the other sites (I know, because I used to read them before I realized I could make the same mistakes on my own), won’t just give you a list. I will talk you through my entire thought process. I’ll show you how I get to my decisions. The idea being it will give you all the information you need to do this too, should you want to. And hopefully you can all go forth and pick better than I can and make me proud. (I’m like a middle school teacher, but for useless stuff.)

So the way we do this is, I’m just gonna run down all the categories, give you all the precursors and little bits and bobs that I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me out and tell you how I think it’s all gonna go. I also (as always) reserve the right to edit this article up until midnight tonight. Don’t think I’ve ever actually done it, but it’s become a tradition that I say it, just in case. It’s a game we play. They bring the check, I tear it up.

I should also mention that my Oscar calendar is always there, which shows you how I’ve responded to all of the precursors along the way, which I’m sure influenced how we got to this article, should you care to go deeper than the 36,000 words I’m giving you in this article.

But yeah, I suspect I’ll be rambling on more than usual this year, so let’s just get into it and begin with Best Picture.

I’m wondering if I need to get into the whole spiel about how Best Picture voting works. Maybe I’ll try to consolidate it, because it is helpful to know how they do it.

The way Best Picture voting works is —

Each Academy member gets to rank their top five choices. The five get weighted based on their order, and in order to be nominated a film has to be #1 on at least 1% of all ballots and appear on at least 5% of all ballots.

Once all the votes are in, a threshold is determined. That threshold is the number of votes a film must have in order to be nominated (assuming it meets the first two criteria). That threshold is the total number of ballots, divided by 11, then rounded up. So I think there are about 7,500 Academy members currently. Assuming all of them vote, the threshold is 7500/11, rounded up. 7500/11 is 681.8, so 682. If a film gets 682 votes, then it’s nominated. (The math behind that is, say 10 movies get 682 votes, that’s 6820. That maximum any other film can get is 680.)

Now, the way in which this gets complicated is when a film has more than the threshold. Say A Star Is Born gets 900 first place votes. It only needs 682. So once it gets to 682, it’s nominated. And then whatever is #2 on those ballots gets the remaining votes toward that as a number 1 choice. (But of note: This rule only kicks in if a movie meets the threshold +10%. So in this case, 682 + 68 = 750. A movie needs at least 750 first place votes for the remaining #1s to be redistributed.)

However, if the film that is number 2 on those ballots did not meet the criteria for being nominated (not enough #1s or not being on 5% of ballots) then the votes go down to the #3 on that ballot. It sounds complicated, but basically it means: if you voted for A Star Is Born #1 and then Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again as #2, then assuming Star Is Born is way over the threshold, Mamma Mia isn’t getting the vote because you’re the only person who voted for it.

So basically they just keep redistributing votes until we get enough movies that hit the threshold for nominations. That’s why (and how) we have that sliding scale now. We don’t know how many movies are gonna hit that threshold. We’re guaranteed five nominees regardless. But after that, it could go anywhere from 5 to 10. Every year since they started this system, we’ve had 8 or 9 nominees. So I’d suspect that to be the same again. Probably 9 this year, just because I feel like it’s all the same 12 movies that will be on everybody’s ballots and it’ll give more stuff a chance to hit that threshold. But what do I know.

Get it? It’s not that complicated. Really all you need to know is — the movies that are liked by the most amount of people will be nominated. The most thinking you have to do with it is, “Okay, if this is gonna be their #1, what is their most likely #2?” But even then, there are so many different scenarios possible that you’re really just looking at the precursors, the guilds, and using common sense. Without thinking of the math at all, most of us can get 7 of the nominees right without even trying. The hard part is managing to get all of them, because you never know where the list is gonna cut off. It always gets hazy once you start getting to 8-9-10.

So, let’s start getting into the nitty gritty of it all and look at the precursors. The big one is the PGA. They always nominate 10 films regardless. Looking at previous years, just to give you an idea of how well/poorly they do:

  • 2017: They had 7/9 nominees (they missed Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour)
  • 2016: They had 9/9
  • 2015: They had 7/8 (they missed Room)
  • 2014: They had 7/8 (they missed Selma)
  • 2013: They had 8/9 (they missed Philomena)
  • 2012: They had 8/9 (they missed Amour)
  • 2011: They had 7/9 (they missed Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Tree of Life)

So yeah. Odds favor them having 7 of the films exactly the same and generally missing 1 nominee. So that makes your life easier. Really the hard part comes, as I said, 8-9-10.

And I should say at this point, the other major precursors for this are BAFTA, BFCA, SAG Ensemble, and the Globes. Of all those PGA misses in previous years:

  • 2017: BAFTA and BFCA had Darkest Hour
  • 2015: BFCA and the Globes had Room
  • 2014: BFCA and the Globes had Selma
  • 2013: BAFTA and the Globes had Philomena
  • 2011: BFCA had Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Tree of Life

Phantom Thread and Amour are the only two that came out of nowhere (precursor-wise). Phantom Thread we kind of knew would always be right there because it was Paul Thomas Anderson and was gonna get a bunch of other nominations. Amour is foreign and no one could really see that coming outside of the fact that it was destined to get an acting nomination. But what that tells you is — chances are the precursors have it. And usually more than one.

So that said, here are your precursors for this year:

  • PGA: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, Green Book, A Quiet Place, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice
  • BAFTA: BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born
  • SAG Ensemble: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born
  • BFCA: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice
  • Globes: (Drama) Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born (Musical/Comedy) Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, Green Book, Mary Poppins Returns, Vice

Usually what I do at this point is go over the other films that are in the conversation that could make it on despite having no precursors, but honestly I’ve got nothing this year. The most I can do is scrounge either Can You Ever Forgive Me? or First Reformed. But even then, only Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the only one that should get two acting nominations and a writing nomination. That at least wouldn’t shock me if it showed up. Everything else really would come way out of nowhere and not even make a whole lot of sense. There’s not even something not represented here that will make a killing in the tech categories. This is it. So I’m sticking with what I’ve got. It’s 13 movies.

And to make your lives easier, here are each of the films along with all the precursors they’ve gotten:

Black Panther — PGA, SAG, BFCA, Globes
BlacKkKlansman — PGA, BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, Globes
Bohemian Rhapsody — PGA, SAG, Globes
Crazy Rich Asians — PGA, SAG, Globes
The Favourite — PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
First Man — BFCA
Green Book — PGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
If Beale Street Could Talk — BFCA, Globes
Mary Poppins Returns — BFCA, Globes
A Quiet Place — PGA
Roma — PGA, BAFTA, BFCA
A Star Is Born — PGA, BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, Globes
Vice — PGA, BFCA, Globes

Two movies hit all five precursors: BlacKkKlansman and A Star Is Born. So those two should automatically be in your top five Best Picture choices.

Which makes it a good time to mention — the way I do Best Picture guessing is, I find my top five “automatic” contenders. That is, the five I’m pretty sure are guaranteed to be there, no matter how voting goes. Since we’re guaranteed to have five no matter what, you wanna put your strongest contenders there. Then, I rank 6-10 in order. That way, if we only have 8 nominees, my list cuts off at #8. I’ve definitely gotten burned before by having a movie at #9 and the list ended at 8. But it’s good, because it keeps you honest and prevents you from saying “Well, it was on my list of ten, so I got it right!” But yeah, BlacKkKlansman and A Star Is Born should automatically be on your list.

After that, three more films got 4/5 precursors: Black Panther, The Favourite and Green Book. So if you’re just playing the numbers, then there are your top five right there. Green Book also just won the PGA, so there’s no reason for that not to be in your top five here.

However, I’m not 100% sold that Black Panther automatically gets on. So I, personally, am not putting it in my top five. I did that with Get Out last year. Really all it did for me is make me feel more confident with more of the overall list, knowing it would probably make it on. I’ll do the same with Black Panther this year. Because as much as it looks like a nominee, it missed BAFTA, which is really the one I wanted to see it hit. SAG is only a supporting cog for guessing nominees and is becoming less helpful the bigger the voting bodies get. The Globes are mostly empty but have to be taken into account. BFCA and PGA can skew populist on some of their nominees, and sometimes you don’t know if that’s the case. Remember, Deadpool was nominated for the PGA. However, all those precursors clearly mean something, so you have to put it on your list. I’m just not 100% sold on it as a top five choice. So I will take those other four and look for a fifth elsewhere.

And that fifth choice for me will be the one that only got 3/5, but was ineligible to be nominated for the fourth (the Globes). And that’s Roma. It missed SAG, but who really thought it would get that? If you consider that it probably would have won the Globes had they been able to put it in Best Picture, it really makes sense as the fifth choice.

Look at your top five now: BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born. Don’t they seem like the five most likely Best Picture nominees?

Now that does leave Black Panther in my next batch of contenders. The only question is how low I put it. With four precursors, I really can’t put it any lower than seventh. I should have it sixth, but there’s one little quirk we have this year that we weren’t expecting, which is the Globes win for Bohemian Rhapsody.

The last time a Golden Globes Best Picture winner in the Drama category was not nominated for Best Picture was The Cardinal in 1963. And before that, the only other two to not be nominated were Spartacus in 1960 and East of Eden in 1955. So that, mixed with PGA and SAG nominations (and BAFTA for Best British Film, which isn’t quite Best Picture, but also isn’t nothing) and a whole mess of guild love, leads me to believe it’ll probably be nominated. So I’m putting that as my #6 over Black Panther.

Most of you will and should have Black Panther as #6 at the lowest, but “hasn’t happened since 1955 mixed with a PGA nomination” is stronger than my conviction that Black Panther will for sure be on the Best Picture list. So Bohemian Rhapsody is my #6 and Black Panther is my #7. That said, I feel pretty fucking confident about my top 7.

However, that does take us to the bottom three. That 8-9-10 section I’ve been talking about. It’s like when you’re figuring out where to seat people at your wedding. The first couple of tables go really quickly, but then those last few you have to do complex algorithms to figure out. Tears will be shed and blood will be spilled over those last couple of spots.

We have six films left that hit precursors. For me, it’s five. Because while A Quiet Place got PGA, that’s the one that for sure feels like the Deadpool, Wonder Woman, Straight Outta Compton, Skyfall spot. There’s no scenario where I actually guess that on my list. I’d rather just be wrong if it gets on. So that leaves me with three spots and five movies with precursors. Not so bad.

Of the remaining contenders, Vice and Crazy Rich Asians have the most precursors, with 3. If Beale Street Could Talk and Mary Poppins both have 2, and First Man has 1.

Looking at them, Crazy Rich Asians has PGA, SAG and the Globes. The Globes was in Musical/Comedy, and SAG is so broad at this point I completely expected them to nominate it there. Which leaves me with the PGA, which could just be a populist vote, a la Wonder Woman. I don’t know, but my gut tells me I’d rather not guess it and see if they’d nominate it. To me, seeing them nominate it tells me more about where they are now than what I expect them to do.

So assuming that’s not on, what’s next — Vice. PGA, BFCA and the Globes. I’m gonna have to stick it on the list somewhere. It also got a DGA nomination, will get at least one acting nomination (likely two), should be a shoo-in for a Screenplay nomination and could even manage Editing. That puts it front and center over everything else for proper precursors. It shouldn’t go lower than 9th on anyone’s list, if not straight up 8th. The only thing that gives me pause with it is the fact that people seem to be responding worse to it than I’d want to see.

Then we have Mary Poppins. Started off strong, but missed both BAFTA and the PGA. I thought for sure it would get a PGA nomination. Saving Mr. Banks ended up with a PGA nomination en route to being snubbed at the Oscars. Could this do the opposite? Has Disney forsaken it in favor of Black Panther? (P.S. if Black Panther ends up not being nominated tomorrow, props to the first person to Photoshop a picture of him holding an Oscar and being dusted at the same time.) It’s Mary Poppins and it’s Disney, so I feel like it has a shot, but it also feels like that movie I’d overrate its chances of because it’s got all the things you’d think they wanted to see. At best this is gonna have to be #10 for me, if not first alternate. I can’t, in good conscience, go higher than that.

Then there’s If Beale Street Could Talk. A movie that only hit BFCA and the Globes, which is exactly the combination some of those non-PGA movies in recent years had. And it’s gonna get Screenplay, Score and likely Supporting Actress nominations. Not to mention being in conversation for Cinematography and maybe another tech category. I feel like this is gonna get nominated, don’t you? Is it just me? It sure sounds like something that should be on their list. I think the love of this movie is gonna help it get on in the end. But maybe that’s just me. Numbers say you don’t have to put it on, but when you’re looking at all these remaining films in that conversation, it’s gotta strike you as top three, right?

And then there’s First Man. That’s the one that has been perplexing me throughout the season. I feel like it should be doing better than it has. Which usually means one of two things — either it’s gonna fall off the map entirely, or it’s gonna surprise and get more nominations than you think it’s gonna get. You have to realize — there’s still a legitimate chance it could get any number of Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actress nominations. We already know it’ll get Editing, maybe Cinematography, both Sound nominations, probably Score and possibly even Visual Effects. This is gonna do well in the tech categories. But where is it at the top? I doubt it gets 10 nominations, which is what it would get if it gets nominated for everything. But 6 is not out of the question. Maybe even 7-8. But the love doesn’t seem to be there. There’s no real comp for it in the past. I was gonna say Room, but that had a slam dunk Best Actress winner going for it. So it comes down to if you think it’s got the votes to get on this list. I’m not ruling it out, but I’m also not really seeing it. I feel like Director might be the place it could sneak on more than here.

But yeah, those are your five contenders. Or six, if you really think A Quiet Place has a shot. I don’t, so it’s five for me.

I already said I don’t think Crazy Rich Asians isn’t gonna make it, so that’s off for me. That’s the Dark Horse. So now I’m left with four films, three spots. First Man only has the BFCA nomination and I’m not sure it can get the votes to make a Best Picture list, so I think I’m gonna make that my First Alternate. At best it was gonna be #10 anyway. At least Mary Poppins made BFCA and the Globes and will also feature in the tech categories. At least with that, I can see it getting a Best Actress nomination to go along with Picture and fill the whole thing out. I don’t know if First Man can manage that acting nomination. It could, but I’m not sure that’s on as solid ground as Poppins’ acting nomination possibility is. But really it’s splitting hairs. One of them is #10, one of them is the First Alternate. The odds of me being right about either is slim. We haven’t had 10 nominees since they started the sliding scale. I’m basically saying that neither makes it and am making it so if Poppins makes it over First Man I can say, “Well it was #10 on my list, so I was almost there.” It’s nothing.

But that does mean my #8 and #9 are Vice and Beale Street. Based on precursors, I should have Vice at #8 and Beale Street at #9. But this is one of those situations where I think being wrong is more telling than being right. I’m gonna put Beale Street at #8 and Vice at #9. Why? Because if Beale Street Can Talk, It Can Get Nominated. (I regret nothing.) What I’m saying is — if they fucking leave If Beale Street Could Talk off their Best Picture list and put Black Panther on, then we’ve broken the Academy in the name of ratings. As much as I loved Vice, do we really think people are gonna give a shit about that as a film over Beale Street? Is time gonna be kinder go Black Panther than it is Beale Street? So I want to be wrong about that. I want to see them not nominate it.

And then, shit, if we get 9, then I know Vice should make it on, so I’ll be fine. So there’s that too. If we get 9, then I think I have a really good shot at getting all 9 right. Then it’s the matter of Poppins vs. First Man vs. Crazy Rich Asians for what I’d get wrong, if anything. Because I don’t see this being the year we miraculously get 10 full nominees.

I feel confident that I’ll get 7 of them. Maybe 8. Possibly 9. Still not totally sold on Black Panther, but we’ll see. It’s got the precursors. This is all one giant test for the Academy anyway, so let’s see how they do.

Best Picture

BlacKkKlansman

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

A Star Is Born

6. Bohemian Rhapsody

7. Black Panther

8. If Beale Street Could Talk

9. Vice

10. Mary Poppins Returns

First Alternate: First Man

Dark Horse: Crazy Rich Asians

Surprise: A Quiet Place, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Shocker: Pretty much anything else in a year like this. Cold War, I guess?

Don’t even bother: … with pretty much anything else. It’s a thin year. Stick with the ones that have shown up on lists thus far.

Would love to see: Widows, Suspiria

I’m expecting to get 7 of these for certain. I’m just not sure which 7. I think I could go 9/9. Of course, writing this article, you always talk yourself into thinking the scenario you thought up is gonna happen and that there are almost no other possibilities. And I’m almost always wrong in some way. But, I keep thinking that the worst that’s gonna happen to me with this is that Vice gets on and Beale Street doesn’t and then I swapped the two mistakenly. Outside of that, the only thing that seems like it’ll throw me is if they nominate Crazy Rich Asians. Other than that, I feel like it’s gonna go the way I guessed. But again, I say that every year. I’m sure I’ll get one wrong. Two would be surprising, and would mean we got a curveball in Best Picture. One is almost automatic in this, though. So I’m thinking that’s how this goes. I’ll take 7 right and anything above that is a bonus.

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Best Director.

When you guess Best Director, you have to begin with the DGA. Obviously everyone knows how accurate they are when it comes to guessing the winner, but they’re also quite reliable when it comes to nominations too. Going back twenty years, they’ve gotten 4/5 nominees almost every year.

  • 2017: 4/5. They had Martin McDonagh and missed Paul Thomas Anderson.
  • 2016: 4/5. They had Garth Davis and missed Mel Gibson.
  • 2015: 4/5. They had Ridley Scott and missed Lenny Abrahamson.
  • 2014: 4/5. They had Clint Eastwood and missed Bennett Miller.
  • 2013: 4/5. They had Paul Greengrass and missed Alexander Payne.
  • 2012: 2/5. This was the chaos year. They had Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper and missed Michael Haneke, David O. Russell and Benh Zeitlin.
  • 2011: 4/5. They had David Fincher and missed Terrence Malick.
  • 2010: 4/5. They had Christopher Nolan and missed the Coens.
  • 2009: 5/5.
  • 2008: 4/5. They had Christopher Nolan and missed Stephen Daldry.
  • 2007: 4/5. They had Sean Penn and missed Jason Reitman
  • 2006: 3/5. They had Bill Condon and Dayton & Ferris and missed Clint Eastwood and Paul Greengrass.
  • 2005: 5/5.
  • 2004: 4/5. They had Marc Forster and missed Mike Leigh.
  • 2003: 4/5. They had Gary Ross and missed Fernando Meirelles.
  • 2002: 4/5. They had Peter Jackson and missed Pedro Almodovar.
  • 2001: 3/5. They had Baz Luhrmann and Christopher Nolan and missed Robert Altman and David Lynch.
  • 2000: 4/5. They had Cameron Crowe and missed Stephen Daldry. (Yet had Soderbergh twice.)
  • 1999: 4/5. They had Frank Darabont and missed Lasse Hallstrom.
  • 1998: 5/5.

That’s 20 years of DGA. They’ve been 5/5 three times, 4/5 fourteen times, 3/5 twice and 2/5 once. So yeah, odds favor them being mostly right but not completely right.

And to put a finer point on that — the DGA has only matched the Oscar category five total times since 1970. Three of those times came in the past 20 years, in 1998, 2005, 2009. The other times were 1981 and 1977. And get this: before 1970, the DGA had ten or more nominees just about every year. And they still only managed to match 5/5 with the Oscar category just three more times. 1967, 1954 and 1953. So there’s only been a total of EIGHT TIMES EVER that the DGA has matched the Oscar list 5/5. Eight times. (Oh, and because it’s totally coincidental and I think it’s fun to note: four of the five post-1970 years involved Steven Spielberg.)

So yeah. Probably odds are against 5/5 for the DGA, as much as it may seem like it’s gonna happen.

And, just so we cover all our bases, let’s see how the other precursors (BAFTA, BFCA, the Globes) did with those years that the DGA missed people:

  • 2016: BFCA and the Globes had Mel Gibson
  • 2013: The Globes had Alexander Payne
  • 2012: BAFTA had Michael Haneke, BFCA had David O. Russell
  • 2010: BFCA had the Coens
  • 2008: BAFTA and the Globes had Stephen Daldry
  • 2006: BAFTA had Paul Greengrass (and he won), BFCA had both Greengrass and Clint Eastwood, the Globes had Eastwood
  • 2004: BAFTA had Mike Leigh (and he won)
  • 2001: BAFTA had Robert Altman, the Globes had both Lynch and Altman (and Altman won)
  • 2000: BATA had Stephen Daldry

That still leaves eight people whose nominations came without any of those precursors.

Taking those chronologically, I want to see what other Oscars each of the films was nominated for.

  • The Cider House Rules in 1999 was nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture. Michael Caine won for Supporting Actor and it won Adapted Screenplay. This is before my time, so I can’t rightly say, but they had to have known this was firmly in the conversation for Best Picture, which would automatically put Hallstrom in the Director conversation (especially with Miramax behind it).
  • Talk to Her in 2002. Just got a Screenplay nomination aside from Director. Which it won. I feel like Almodovar for Director that year came very much out of nowhere. I wonder how that went down. That was in my Oscar infancy. So I wasn’t guessing anything more than winners, and even that was without any kind of research.
  • City of God in 2003. 4 total nominations. Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing. I wonder if it seemed like a contender. Also before my time, so I’ve got no clue how that one went down.
  • Juno in 2007. 4 nominations. Picture, Director, Actress and Screenplay. I think we knew it would get Screenplay and Actress. I don’t remember how much of a Picture contender it was, but it seemed to have hit all the major precursors. You almost had to mention Reitman in Director at that point. But that’s back when I was just guessing winners, not nominees.
  • Tree of Life in 2011. 3 nominations. Picture, Director, Cinematography. I think it had a lot of love but no one quite expected both of the big ones. That’s my memory of it. I feel like Director was more of a contender than Picture, if I remember. But he was definitely in and around the conversation for that category. I had him as a dark horse without any precursors, so he was clearly there.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2012. Honestly I don’t even know if this year is worth talking about because it was a giant bloodbath and the person who won every precursor wasn’t nominated at the Oscars. But I know for sure we knew Beasts was gonna get a Screenplay and Picture nomination, and more than likely an Actress nomination too. So it was right there at the top of all those other categories.
  • Foxcatcher in 2014. It got 5 nominations. We knew it was gonna get Actor and Supporting Actor and probably Screenplay. And it got Makeup & Hairstyling. But with two acting nominations and Screenplay, it was there.
  • Room in 2015. 4 total nominations. We knew it would win Actress and probably be nominated for writing. Picture and Director were surprises.
  • Phantom Thread in 2017. It broke really late. That was the thing I remember thinking. And we knew it would get Best Actor. Supporting Actress was a surprise. We knew Costumes, we knew Score. Picture and Director did sort of come out of nowhere, precursor-wise. But also… it made sense when it happened, weirdly.

The overarching theme I’m seeing there is that either it’s firmly in that Picture/”top movie” conversation or it’s gonna get acting and writing nominations. So really, my point is, if you’re gonna look outside the precursors, look at writing and acting, and that’ll pretty much steer you in the right direction, especially lately. Everything since 2012 managed 4 or more nominations. Going back the 20 years, all but one movie managed 3 or more nominations. So that does help you out.

But, let’s start with the precursors:

  • DGA: Cooper, Cuaron, Farrelly, Lee, McKay
  • BAFTA: Cuaron, Farrelly, Lanthimos, Lee, Pawlikowski
  • BFCA: Chazelle, Cooper, Cuaron, Farrelly, Lanthimos, Lee, McKay
  • Globes: Cooper, Cuaron, Farrelly, Lee, McKay

And then, looking at the other contenders, based on likely acting, writing, overall nominations: Barry Jenkins, Ryan Coogler, Marielle Heller, Rob Marshall and… yes, Bryan Singer. While that last one would shock us, the numbers say that a film likely to get a Best Picture nomination and anywhere from 3-6 overall nominations does legitimately have a shot in Director. So don’t entirely rule it out (but also, probably don’t guess it. Because while the Academy is blind in a lot of ways, they know what a nomination there would do for them, publicity-wise).

But before we get into the “fringe” contenders, let’s break down those precursors into an easier list to digest:

  • Chazelle — BFCA
  • Cooper — DGA, BFCA, Globes
  • Cuaron — DGA, BATA, BFCA, Globes
  • Farrelly — DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Lanthimos — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Lee — DGA, BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • McKay — DGA, BFCA, Globes
  • Pawlikowski — BAFTA

Alfonso Cuaron, Peter Farrelly and Spike Lee have hit everything. And since all those movies are firmly in the top five of Best Picture voting, you should put all three on your list. After that… do you really think they’re gonna leave Bradley Cooper off? I mean, they could, but do you think they’re going to? I don’t. So that’s #4.

Now, you’re up to that fifth spot. The DGA is usually one off. So even though Adam McKay has 3/4 precursors, he’s missing BAFTA (as was Cooper), and his film doesn’t necessarily have the overall support of the other four. So he’s not a lock. Now, could he get on and someone else get left off? Absolutely. But the key is to try to get 4/5. So say Adam McKay gets on and one of the others gets left off… you’re still left with someone else getting on. So humor me for this next part.

You could just guess the DGA 5. Hell, I do most years, and most years I’m wrong. Of course watch this be the year they match 5/5. But I’m already betting that Vice is the most likely Best Picture castoff, so it’s way easier for me to assume McKay doesn’t get on Director. But the key is then replacing him with someone else who makes sense.

Who else is there? Well, Damien Chazelle has BFCA, won this category two years ago and his film should get at least 5 nominations. It could end up with closer to 10. But that is contingent on Picture, Director and an acting nomination or two. So let’s say maybe it gets closer to 5-6. Editing, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Score. That’s six. Production Design could be 7. That makes it right in the conversation for this category, even without a Picture nomination. Will it happen? Dunno. But it’s gotta be considered, doesn’t it? Plus, I think the direction was the best thing about this movie. So maybe the directors branch agrees.

Yorgos Lanthimos. His movie is a Best Picture shoo-in. Maybe he didn’t get DGA because he’s not a member. I don’t know. But when something is a top five Best Picture contender and guaranteed three acting nominations and a Screenplay nomination, along with probably Production Design and Costume Design, how can you not consider him firmly in the Director conversation? Sure, he’s not exactly an Oscar darling, but they nominated Morten Tyldum here for The Imitation Game. If they like a movie enough, they will nominate its director. (Remember, Peter Farrelly is already on this list.) Plus, this will probably get Editing too. That’s a lot of big categories.

Pawl Pawlikowski — with just a BAFTA nomination, I don’t see it happening. This seems like Foreign Language Film and Cinematography. That’s a path that’s happened before in recent years and makes sense to me as being its only nominations.

Then, as for the others that could make it on:

Let’s assume they don’t nominate Bryan Singer in any scenario. So then we start with Rob Marshall. His movie may get a Best Actress nomination. Should end up with a couple of tech nominations — Song, Score, Production Design, Costume Design. It’s fluid. It could have four nominations, it theoretically could only get 2. I don’t know. I’d assume 4. Then again, he doesn’t feel like someone they’d up and nominate without this getting a Picture nomination. And even then, it’s gotta be way stronger in Picture for me to consider him a Director contender. So I’d guess that one doesn’t happen.

Marielle Heller is a more intriguing choice. Her film will get two acting nominations and a Screenplay nomination. That’s it, though. If they really like it, it could maybe sneak on the Picture/Director list. Do I think that’ll happen? No. But if it happens, I will feel as though I saw the path for it happening. It wouldn’t shock me. But unlikely at best, is how I feel. I don’t see the support for the film. The path is there, but I don’t think it’ll happen. I think there are stronger contenders ahead of her.

Ryan Coogler is there purely for the potential Black Panther sweep vote. Incredibly unlikely, but has to be taken into account. More than likely — Picture, Screenplay (which is his reward, that nomination), maybe Score, maybe Song, maybe Production Design, maybe Visual Effects, maybe Costume Design, maybe Makeup & Hairstyling. It could end up with eight total nominations. Not sure it will. I feel like 5-7 is the max on that. But look at it. It’s there for all of them. How many movies can claim 8 possible nominations and not be in the conversation for Best Director? So you have to consider him near the top of the list no matter what you do.

And then there’s Barry Jenkins. Nominated opposite Chazelle two years ago. His movie is a sneaky Best Picture contender. It should get an acting nomination, it should get a Screenplay nomination (the only one it’s basically guaranteed to get), it should get a Score nomination. Picture/Director gives it 5. I feel like it caps out at 4 with just Picture, but a Director nomination shows that people love it and shows the support it would have had to get on Best Picture. I’m not totally sold they do it, but it’s definitely something you have to consider.

If I’m not gonna take McKay, which I’ve already talked myself out of, who is there?

  • Damien Chazelle — Maybe
  • Ryan Coogler — Could happen, but I’m not guessing it.
  • Marielle Heller — no
  • Barry Jenkins — Maybe
  • Yorgos Lanthimos — Maybe
  • Rob Marshall — no
  • Pawel Pawlikowski — highly unlikely
  • Bryan Singer — no

Okay, so it’s Chazelle, Jenkins or Yorgos. And honestly, how could I pass up the film with the Best Picture play it has going on? It’s gotta be Yorgos. I mean, I could easily talk myself into Jenkins or Chazelle (weird how those two are still joined at the hip forever because of 2016), but Yorgos makes the most sense for them, if it’s not McKay. So let’s go there and see what they do.

Though I will say, I’m now thinking Jenkins has the biggest play for the Paul Thomas Anderson of this year, getting on both Picture and Director almost out of nowhere, because people are realizing how amazing his film is. Not sure it happens, especially here, but with the DGA usually getting one wrong and me being pretty confident that one is Adam McKay, I’m thinking I’d rather have Jenkins as the alternate over McKay. I’m gonna be wrong either way if it’s not Yorgos, but at least here I’m sticking with my guns and saying it’ll be 4/5 and picking the one it won’t be.

Best Director

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Peter Farrelly, Green Book

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite 

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

First Alternate: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Dark Horse: Adam McKay, Vice

Surprise: Damien Chazelle, First Man

Shocker: Ryan Coogler, Black Panther; Bryan Singer, Bohemian Rhapsody (have to consider him, as crazy as it sounds)

Don’t even bother: Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War; Rob Marshall, Mary Poppins Returns;

Would love to see: Lynne Ramsey, You Were Never Really Here (and for Barry Jenkins to be nominated)

This feels like an easy 4/5. I don’t know how it goes past that. Yorgos, McKay, Chazelle, Jenkins. Feels like any one of them can get that last spot. And since I told myself I’m going against the DGA because historically they get one wrong, I feel most confident taking the movie that should get 8-10 overall nominations including Best Picture.

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Best Actor.

Now that we’re into the acting categories, that means one thing — SAG. You start with SAG and then everything else is secondary. The majority of your lists will come from SAG and then you use everything else to fill in those spots you aren’t already 100% sure about.

This year feels a lot like some of those other Best Actor years in recent memory, where most of it is locked going in. Though this one decidedly has one spot open that we have to figure out. But outside of that, the first four are pretty easy.

Check the precursors:

  • SAG: Bale, Cooper, Malek, Mortensen, Washington
  • BAFTA: Bale, Coogan, Cooper, Malek, Mortensen
  • BFCA: Bale, Cooper, Dafoe, Gosling, Hawke, Malek, Mortensen
  • Globes: (Drama) Cooper, Dafoe, Hedges, Malek, Washington (Musical/Comedy) Bale, Miranda, Mortensen, Redford, Reilly

Bale, Cooper, Malek and Mortensen hit all four. So there you go. That’s 4/5 your category done. Put them on your list, because everyone’s gonna get those wrong if they’re not nominated. Congratulations, the majority of your job is already done. Now all you gotta do is figure out that last spot.

Here’s how the precursors shook out for everyone else:

  • Coogan — BAFTA
  • Dafoe — BFCA
  • Hawke — BFCA
  • Hedges — Globes
  • Miranda — Globes
  • Redford — Globes
  • Reilly — Globes
  • Washington — SAG, Globes

I think we all know Coogan, Miranda and Reilly have no shot. And Redford really isn’t gonna get anywhere, is he? And Hedges’ movie completely died on arrival. Who’s expecting that one to come down?

Realistically, the only people who feel like they could get on are Dafoe, Hawke and Washington. And even then, what do you do? Washington’s movie has the most support, but I feel like he only got on SAG because of the broadness of the voting body. BAFTA was no help, because that fifth spot went to Coogan, who’s got no shot. Otherwise, you’re left with Dafoe and Hawke, both getting BFCA and whose films really aren’t gonna get any other nominations. I guess First Reformed could end up with Screenplay, but the movie made less of a showing at the precursors than even I thought (and I thought it wouldn’t do well). So I don’t know what to make of him at the moment.

The other person I’d keep somewhat in the conversation is Ryan Gosling, since First Man is in there for a bunch of nominations, and the last time he collaborated with Chazelle he got nominated. So it’s possible, even though without a single precursor it’s looking like a tall order. The last time that happened was, I think, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. Which… good time to check the precursor history.

Here’s SAG vs. the Oscars throughout SAG’s history:

  • 2017: 4/5. SAG had James Franco instead of Daniel Day-Lewis.
  • 2016: 5/5.
  • 2015, 4/5. SAG had Johnny Depp instead of Matt Damon.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Gyllenhaal instead of Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, 3/5. SAG had Forest Whitaker and Tom Hanks instead of Leo and Bale.
  • 2012, 4/5. SAG had John Hawkes instead of Joaquin Phoenix.
  • 2011, 4/5. SAG had Leo instead of Gary Oldman.
  • 2010, 4/5. SAG had Duvall instead of Javier Bardem.
  • 2009 + 2008, 5/5.
  • 2007, 3/5. SAG had Gosling and Emile Hirsch instead of Depp and Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Russell Crowe instead of Terrence Howard.
  • 2004, 4/5. SAG had Paul Giamatti instead of Clint Eastwood.
  • 2003, 4/5. SAG had Peter Dinklage instead of Jude Law.
  • 2002, 4/5. SAG had Richard Gere instead of Michael Caine.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Kevin Kline instead of Will Smith.
  • 2000, 3/5. SAG had Benicio del Toro (who won Supporting at the Oscars) and Jamie Bell instead of Javier Bardem and Ed Harris.
  • 1999, 3/5. SAG had Jim Carrey and Philip Seymour Hoffman instead of Sean Penn and Richard Farnsworth.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had Joseph Fiennes instead of Edward Norton.
  • 1997 + 1996, 5/5.
  • 1995, 4/5. SAG had James Earl Jones instead of Richard Dreyfuss.
  • 1994, 4/5. SAG had Tim Robbins instead of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Since SAG began (this is its 25th year), they’ve matched the Oscar list 5/5 six times, 4/5 fourteen times and 3/5 four times. They’ve never matched less than 3/5.

Combing those lists with BAFTA:

  • 2017, BAFTA had Daniel Day-Lewis.
  • 2015, BAFTA had Matt Damon.
  • 2014, BAFTA did not have Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, BAFTA had both Leo and Bale.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Joaquin.
  • 2011, BAFTA had Oldman.
  • 2010, BAFTA had Bardem.
  • 2007, BAFTA did not have either Depp nor Jones (but also didn’t pick the same as SAG).
  • 2005, BAFTA did not have Terrence Howard (but they also did not pick the same as SAG).
  • 2004, BAFTA did not have Eastwood (but also didn’t match with SAG).
  • 2003, BAFTA had Jude Law.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Michael Caine.
  • 2001, BAFTA did not have Will Smith (but also didn’t match with SAG).
  • 2000, BAFTA did not have Bardem or Harris (but did match with SAG on Jamie Bell, who wasn’t nominated at the Oscars).
  • 1999, BAFTA did not have Farnsworth or Penn (but also did not match with SAG).
  • 1998, BAFTA did not have Edward Norton (though did match SAG with Joseph Fiennes, who wasn’t nominated at the Oscars).

That leaves eight years where BAFTA didn’t have the stray nominee(s) that SAG missed. Though only one of them was in the past 10, which should be of note.

Looking at BFCA these years:

  • 2017, BFCA had Daniel Day-Lewis
  • 2015, BFCA did not have Matt Damon.
  • 2014, BFCA did not have Bradley Cooper.
  • 2013, BFCA had Bale but not Leo.
  • 2012, BFCA had Joaquin.
  • 2011, BFCA did not have Oldman.
  • 2010, BFCA did not have Bardem.
  • 2007, BFCA had Depp but not Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 2005, BFCA had Terrence Howard.
  • 2004, BFCA did not have Eastwood.
  • 2003, BFCA did not have Jude Law.
  • 2002, BFCA did not have Michael Caine.
  • 2001, BFCA had Will Smith.

(BFCA didn’t exist before 2001.)

The Globes, meanwhile:

  • 2017, they had Daniel Day-Lewis
  • 2015, they had Matt Damon
  • 2014, they did not have Bradley Cooper
  • 2013, they had Leo and Christian Bale
  • 2012, they had Joaquin
  • 2011, they did not have Oldman
  • 2010, they did not have Bardem
  • 2007, they had Johnny Depp but did not have Tommy Lee Jones
  • 2005, they had Terrence Howard
  • 2004, they did not have Clint Eastwood
  • 2003, they had Jude Law
  • 2002, they had Michael Caine
  • 2001, they had Will Smith
  • 2000, they had Javier Bardem but not Ed Harris
  • 1999, they had Sean Penn and Richard Farnsworth
  • 1998, they did not have Edward Norton
  • 1995, they had Richard Dreyfuss
  • 1994, they did not have Nigel Hawthorne

I’m letting those oldest three go (Hawthrone, Norton and Harris), since those weren’t as precursor-friendly as things are now. But, since BFCA has been in existence and we’ve had four precursors to guide us, only three times has someone been nominated for Best Actor without hitting any of the precursors:

  • 2014: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • 2007: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
  • 2004: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby

Looking at two of those, their films came on very strong very late (Clint Eastwood films, to boot). The other one — Tommy Lee Jones was figuring to get nominated. I just don’t think anyone saw that film (and category) being the one it was for. So yeah, basically what this means is that you can probably tell if someone’s coming on out of nowhere, otherwise stick with the precursors. Though again, none of this really helps us, does it?

John David Washington has SAG and the Globe, and Dafoe and Hawke both have BFCA. Now what? My gut tells me it’s either Washington or Dafoe. My instinct says they’ll nominate Willem Dafoe playing Vincent Van Gogh, but it’s interesting that he doesn’t have a whole lot of precursors. Looking at these, there has been no year where someone got nominated with just BFCA. They’ve always had BFCA and a Globe nomination. So either we’re bucking some sort of historical trend or the answer is staring us in the face.

I guess I gotta go with SAG. I don’t really know what else to do. At least I know BlacKkKlansman has Picture, Director, Supporting Actor and Screenplay already in the bag. So that makes me feel better about the chances. Maybe in the end this will have been the only choice. But it certainly doesn’t feel like a lock by any stretch of the imagination.

Best Actor

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

First Alternate: Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Dark Horse: Ryan Gosling, First Man

Surprise: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed; Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

Shocker: Robert Redford, The Old Man & the Gun

Don’t even bother: John C. Reilly (or Steve Coogan), Stan & Ollie; Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns

Would love to see: This should turn out okay regardless of what the fifth spot is. I don’t have that strong a rooting interest. Though shout out to Hugh Jackman in The Front Runner.

This should be 4/5 automatic. I truly don’t know where that fifth spot is going. Odds favor Washington (precursors, overall film support), then Dafoe (stature, role), then Hawke (stature), and Gosling is in there somewhere (film support, stature). I think I have a good chance at 5/5. But I also think this one isn’t close to locked. I feel like Washington is the one I’m gonna look back on and go, “Of course he wasn’t nominated.” But then, I couldn’t definitively say, “Of course (whoever it is) was.” Willem Dafoe is really the only one that feels like he’s gonna be that guy, unless we’re getting a First Man play no one’s really paying attention to.

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Best Actress.

More of the same as Best Actor. SAG, then everything else. Let’s look at how SAG matches up vs. the Oscars in this one, before we get to the precursors:

SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017, 4/5. SAG had Judi Dench and missed Meryl Streep.
  • 2016, 4/5. SAG had Emily Blunt and missed Isabelle Huppert.
  • 2015, 3/5. SAG had Helen Mirren and Sarah Silverman and missed Jennifer Lawrence and Charlotte Rampling.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Jennifer Aniston and missed Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013, 4/5. SAG had Emma Thompson and missed Amy Adams.
  • 2012: 3/5. SAG had Marion Cotillard and Hellen Mirren instead of Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva.
  • 2011: 4/5. SAG had Tilda Swinton and missed Rooney Mara.
  • 2010: 4/5. SAG had Hilary Swank and missed Michelle Williams.
  • 2009: 5/5.
  • 2008: 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet for the wrong film (though she won for it in SAG Supporting).
  • 2007: 4/5. SAG had Angelina Jolie and missed Laura Linney.
  • 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Ziyi Zhang instead of Keira Knightley.
  • 2004, 5/5.
  • 2003, 3/5. SAG had Patricia Clarkson and Evan Rachel Wood instead of Keisha Castle-Hughes (nominated SAG supporting) and Samantha Morton.
  • 2002, 5/5.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Jennifer Connelly (who won the Best Supporting Oscar) instead of Nicole Kidman.
  • 2000 + 1999, 5/5.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had Jane Horrocks instead of Fernanda Montenegro.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Pam Grier and Robin Wright instead of Julie Christie. (*Six nominees.*)
  • 1996, 4/5. SAG had Gena Rowlands instead of Emily Watson.
  • 1995, 4/5. SAG had Joan Allen (nominated Supporting at the Oscar) instead of Sharon Stone.
  • 1994, 3/5. SAG had Meg Ryan and Meryl Streep instead of Miranda Richardson and Winona Ryder.

SAG has matched the Oscar list 5/5 six times, 4/5 fifteen times, 3/5 three times. They’ve never matched less than 3/5.

And then BAFTA…

  • 2017, BAFTA did not have Meryl.
  • 2016, BAFTA did not have Isabelle Huppert.
  • 2015, BAFTA did not have Jennifer Lawrence or Charlotte Rampling.
  • 2014, BAFTA did not have Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013, BAFTA had Amy Adams.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Emmanuelle Riva but not Quvenzhané Wallis.
  • 2011, BAFTA did not have Rooney Mara.
  • 2010, BAFTA did not have Michelle Williams.
  • 2008, BAFTA had Kate Winslet winning both lead and supporting. Technically they had her.
  • 2007, BAFTA did not have Laura Linney.
  • 2005, BAFTA did not have Keira Knightley (and also incorrectly had Ziyi Zhang)
  • 2003, BAFTA missed the entire list except Naomi Watts (who SAG had. Still, though. Jesus, guys).
  • 2001, BAFTA had Nicole Kidman.
  • 1998, BAFTA did not have Fernanda Montenegro.
  • 1997, BAFTA did not have Julie Christie.
  • 1996, BAFTA had Emily Watson.

And BFCA:

  • 2017, BFCA had Meryl.
  • 2016, BFCA had Huppert.
  • 2015, BFCA had Lawrence and Rampling.
  • 2014, BFCA had Marion Cotillard.
  • 2013: BFCA did not have Amy Adams.
  • 2012: BFCA had both Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva.
  • 2011: BFCA did not have Rooney Mara.
  • 2010: BFCA had Michelle Williams.
  • 2008: Kate Winslet won Supporting. So technically they had her.
  • 2007: BFCA did not have Laura Linney.
  • 2005: BFCA had Keira Knightley.
  • 2003: BFCA had Samantha Morton, but missed Keisha Castle-Hughes.
  • 2001: BFCA had Nicole Kidman.

And the Globes:

  • 2017, they had Meryl
  • 2016, they had Huppert (and she won)
  • 2015, they had Jennifer Lawrence but missed Charlotte Rampling
  • 2014, they missed Marion Cotillard
  • 2013, they had Amy Adams (and she won)
  • 2012, they missed Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva
  • 2011, they had Mara
  • 2010, they had Michelle Williams
  • 2008, they had Kate Winslet for the wrong film (she won both lead and supporting, though)
  • 2007, they missed Laura Linney
  • 2005, they had Keira Knightley
  • 2003, they did not have either Keisha Castle-Hughes or Samantha Morton
  • 2001, they had Nicole Kidman (She was nominated in both lead categories. And she won.)
  • 1998, they had Fernanda Montenegro
  • 1997, they did not have Julie Christie
  • 1996, they had Emily Watson
  • 1995, they had Sharon Stone (and she won)
  • 1994, they had Miranda Richardson but missed Winona Ryder

So only once did someone miss all four precursors: Laura Linney in 2007. That one came truly out of nowhere. Every other time, the nominee had at least one nomination, the most slight being Rooney Mara, who only had a Globe nomination in 2011. So this means — the precursors have everything you need. It’s very rare for someone to come completely out of nowhere.

Of course, in a year like this you almost hope someone comes out of nowhere because it’s so boring. Look at this:

  • SAG: Blunt, Close, Colman, Gaga, McCarthy
  • BAFTA: Close, Colman, Davis, Gaga, McCarthy
  • BFCA: Aparicio, Blunt, Close, Collette, Colman, Gaga, McCarthy
  • Globes: (Drama) Close, Gaga, Kidman, McCarthy, Pike (Musical/Comedy) Blunt, Colman, Fisher, Theron, Wu

This is another one where 4/5 of the category is decided for you without any effort required. Check it:

  • Aparicio — BFCA
  • Blunt — SAG, BFCA, Globe
  • Close — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe
  • Collette — BFCA
  • Colman — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe
  • Davis — BAFTA
  • Fisher — Globe
  • Gaga — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe
  • Kidman — Globe
  • McCarthy — SAG, BAFTA, BFCA, Globe
  • Pike — Globe
  • Theron — Globe
  • Wu — Globe

See what I mean? Four of them hit everything. Close, Colman, Gaga, McCarthy. There’s the majority of your category. Just like Best Actor, all you really gotta do is figure out that final spot. And guess what? It’s just as easy, if not easier than it was last time.

So you take those main four out and you’re left with nine actresses. Because, as we saw, only once in the past 25 years has someone gotten nominated without any of the precursors. And trust me, this doesn’t seem like the year for it to happen. But we have nine actresses on paper. Constance Wu won’t get nominated. Nor will Elsie Fisher. Nor will Charlize Theron. Nor will Rosamund Pike. That leaves five actresses.

Do I think Viola Davis, with just BAFTA, can make it on? It’s possible. But Widows has no support and that seems like a steep hill to climb. I’m thinking it’s unlikely. Toni Collette, in a horror movie, with only one real nomination 19 years ago on her resume… seems unlikely. Nicole Kidman — always in contention. Nominated two years ago. Two strong performances this year. But both of them basically disappeared from contention early and left her nearly empty-handed. Is she out? Not entirely. But does it seem likely? Not particularly. Not for a movie as dark and difficult as Destroyer. I’d call her a dark horse who can make it because the category is open in that last spot. But I’m not sure I think it’ll happen. Yalitza Aparicio. Is she SAG? That could be why she didn’t get nominated. Then again, do we think they loved the performance that much? I don’t know. A BAFTA nomination would have made me feel much stronger about her chances. Then there’s Emily Blunt. She hit SAG, BFCA and the Globe. The only thing giving me pause is the lack of a BAFTA nomination. Why is that? That’s the one that should have been automatic. What does that mean? But then, they nominated Viola Davis instead of her. Do we think she’s got the votes in an open category?

I don’t know what to do here. My gut says just take Emily Blunt on precursors and general likability (plus the Globes showed that Quiet Place performance only works in her favor). This feels like the kind of situation where Aparicio gets on. The biggest comp is Quvenzhané Wallis, who got BFCA only (because she wasn’t SAG) en route to a nomination. But I don’t know.

I think it’s 50/50 between Blunt and Aparicio. I can’t truly see them nominating Emily Blunt here for that performance (which is borderline supporting), but I feel like I’d trust that to be nominated over Aparicio. So that’s how I’m parsing this. Flipped a coin and took the precursors.

Best Actress

Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

Glenn Close, The Wife

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

First Alternate: Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Dark Horse: Nicole Kidman, Destroyer

Surprise: Toni Collette, Hereditary

Shocker: Viola Davis, Widows; Charlize Theron, Tully; Saoirse Ronan, Mary, Queen of Scots

Don’t even bother: Rosamund Pike, A Private War; Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade; Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians;

Would love to see: Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline

This should be an easy 4/5, and it’s 50/50 as to whether or not it’s 5/5. Maybe Kidman jumps on, but I think the fifth spot is either Aparicio or Blunt. I think I’ve got as good a shot as any, but I’m not expecting anything more than 4/5 on this one.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Best Supporting Actor. This is another one that feels locked 4/5. But here, there are only two choices for the fifth spot. So you’re pretty much guaranteed to get almost all of it right, and you know who it’ll be if the last one doesn’t make it.

SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017, 4/5. They had Steve Carell instead of Christopher Plummer.
  • 2016, 4/5. They had Hugh Grant instead of Michael Shannon.
  • 2015, 3/5. They had Michael Shannon and Jacob Tremblay instead of Sylvester Stallone and Tom Hardy.
  • 2014, 5/5.
  • 2013, 3/5. SAG had James Gandolfini and Daniel Bruhl instead of Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill.
  • 2012, 4/5. SAG had Javier Bardem instead of Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011, 4/5. SAG had Armie Hammer, Academy had Max von Sydow.
  • 2010 + 2009, 5/5.
  • 2008, 4/5. SAG had Dev Patel instead of Michael Shannon.
  • 2007, 4/5. SAG had Tommy Lee Jones instead of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006, 4/5. SAG had Leo instead of Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005, 4/5. SAG had Don Cheadle instead of William Hurt
  • 2004, 3/5. SAG had James Garner and Freddie Highmore instead of Alan Alda and Clive Owen.
  • 2003, 4/5. SAG had Chris Cooper instead of Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002, 3/5. SAG had Alfred Molina and Dennis Quaid instead of Paul Newman and John C. Reilly.
  • 2001, 4/5. SAG had Hayden Christensen instead of Jon Voight.
  • 2000, 4/5. SAG had Gary Oldman instead of Benicio del Toro (who won SAG lead instead).
  • 1999, 4/5. SAG had Chris Cooper instead of Jude Law.
  • 1998, 4/5. SAG had David Kelly instead of Ed Harris.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Billy Connolly instead of Robert Forster.
  • 1996, 2/5. SAG missed Armin Mueller-Stahl, Edward Norton and James Woods. (They had Hank Azaria, Nathan Lane and Noah Taylor.)
  • 1995, 2/5. SAG missed Brad Pitt, Tim Roth and James Cromwell. (They had Kevin Bacon, Kenneth Branagh and Don Cheadle.)
  • 1994, 4/5. SAG had John Turturro instead of Paul Scofield. (Same film, though.)

They’ve matched the Oscar category 5/5 three times. 4/5 fifteen times. 3/5 four times. 2/5 twice. But the two times it was 2/5 were over 20 years ago. This, like all the other SAG categories, is automatic for 3/5 or more.

BAFTA now:

  • 2017, BAFTA had Plummer
  • 2016, BAFTA did not have Michael Shannon (but they did have Aaron Taylor-Johnson from the same film).
  • 2015, BAFTA did not have Tom Hardy or Stallone.
  • 2013, BAFTA had Bradley Cooper but missed Jonah Hill.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011, BAFTA did not have Max von Sydow.
  • 2008: BAFTA did not have Michael Shannon.
  • 2007: BAFTA had Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006: BAFTA did not have Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005: BAFTA did not have William Hurt. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 2004: BAFTA had both Alan Alda and Clive Owen.
  • 2003: BAFTA did not have Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002: BAFTA had Paul Newman but not John C. Reilly.
  • 2001: BAFTA did not have Jon Voight. (But did nominate Eddie Murphy for Shrek. I’d like to mention.)
  • 2000: BAFTA had Benicio del Toro. (SAG did too, just for lead.)
  • 1999: BAFTA had Jude Law.
  • 1998: BAFTA had Ed Harris. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1997: BAFTA did not have Robert Forster.
  • 1996: BAFTA had Edward Norton but not Mueller-Stahl or Woods. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1995: BAFTA had Tim Roth, but not Brad Pitt or James Cromwell. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1994: BAFTA had Paul Scofield. (* Only four nominees.)

BFCA:

  • 2017, BFCA did not have Plummer.
  • 2016, BFCA had Shannon.
  • 2015, BFCA had Stallone and Tom Hardy.
  • 2013, BFCA had Bradley Cooper, but not Jonah Hill.
  • 2012: BFCA did not have Christoph Waltz.
  • 2011: BFCA did not have Max von Sydow.
  • 2008: BFCA did not have Michael Shannon.
  • 2007: BFCA had Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • 2006: BFCA did not have Mark Wahlberg.
  • 2005: BFCA did not have William Hurt.
  • 2004: BFCA had Clive Owen but not Alan Alda.
  • 2003: BFCA did not have Djimon Hounsou.
  • 2002: BFCA had Paul Newman but not John C. Reilly.
  • 2001: BFCA had Jon Voight.

And the Globes:

  • 2017, they had Plummer
  • 2016, they missed Shannon (but had Aaron Taylor-Johnson instead from the same film, who won)
  • 2015, they had Stallone (who won), but missed Hardy
  • 2013, they had Cooper but missed Hill
  • 2012, they had Waltz (who won)
  • 2011, they missed von Sydow
  • 2008, they missed Shannon
  • 2007, they had Hoffman
  • 2006, they had Wahlberg
  • 2005, they missed Hurt
  • 2004, they had Owen (who won) but missed Alda
  • 2003, they missed Hounsou
  • 2002, they had both Newman and Reilly
  • 2001, they had Voight
  • 2000, they had del Toro (who won)
  • 1999, they had Law
  • 1998, they had Ed Harris (who won)
  • 1997, they missed Forster
  • 1996, they missed Mueller-Stahl, but had James Woods and Ed Norton (who won)
  • 1995, they had Brad Pitt (who won) and Tim Roth, but missed James Cromwell
  • 1994, they missed Scofield (but had Turturro instead from the same film)

We’ve got five instances where someone was nominated for an Oscar without any of the precursors:

  • 2013, Jonah Hill
  • 2011, Max von Sydow
  • 2008, Michael Shannon
  • 2005, William Hurt
  • 2003, Djimon Hounsou

Jonah Hill came along with DiCaprio. He always brings someone along with him whenever he’s nominated lead. It’s happened every time (Alda for Aviator, Hounsou for Blood Diamond, Hill for Wolf of Wall Street and Hardy for Revenant). That made total sense to me at the time (plus, when you saw the performance…). von Sydow came out of nowhere, but yet I had that. I can’t explain it, but I just saw that one coming. Shannon came pretty much out of nowhere, but also might have been coming along from a just-missed Leo nomination for the same film. Hurt came totally out of nowhere, and Hounsou I guess came along with Morton? Hurt won both the LA and NY Film Critics Circle awards. So that might explain that. And Hounsou had an Indie Spirit win, which maybe explains it?

I think the point is — people do come out of nowhere here, but usually they’ve either got other awards (sometimes critics) or they’re coming along with someone else or the film. But this one’s mostly done for us, so let’s just get into it:

  • SAG: Ali, Chalamet, Driver, Elliott, Grant
  • BAFTA: Ali, Chalamet, Driver, Grant, Rockwell
  • BFCA: Ali, Chalamet, Driver, Elliott, Grant, Jordan
  • Globes: Ali, Chalamet, Driver, Grant, Rockwell

Look at that: Ali, Chalamet, Driver, Grant. Hit them all. That’s 4/5 the category right there. And what are you left with?

Sam Elliott has SAG And BFCA, Sam Rockwell has BAFTA and the Globes, and Michael B. Jordan has BFCA only.

So really, it’s either Elliott or Rockwell. Both could easily come along with their lead actor, and Rockwell won this last year. But why do I think that spot is Elliott’s? That performance is made for this category and is strong enough to win on its own. So I’m gonna say they nominate that. Because if they don’t, then that’s snub city.

It’s just as simple as that, though. You’re picking Sam Elliott or Sam Rockwell for the fifth spot. That’s pretty much it. I’m already voting on the “Vice doesn’t do as well as the precursors might suggest” ticket, so this is just another for that play. I’m not actively doing that, but putting Rockwell on after I basically said it won’t get Director and could be left off Picture if there are eight nominees would be kinda weird. Though of course none of these have really anything to do with the other. But you know what I’m saying.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

First Alternate: Sam Rockwell, Vice

Dark Horse: Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Surprise: Steve Carell, Vice

Shocker: Daniel Kaluuya, Widows; Steven Yeun, Burning

Don’t even bother: Russell Crowe, Boy Erased; And uhh… anyone else, I guess. No idea. Couldn’t guess the long shots if I tried.

Would love to see: Robert Forster, What They Had; Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give; Brian Tyree Henry (or Colman Domingo), If Beale Street Could Talk; Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick

This feels like an automatic 4/5 again and a probable 5/5. If I miss it, it’s because Rockwell got on. Otherwise, someone came completely out of nowhere and I couldn’t have figured it.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Supporting Actress.

Here’s SAG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017, 3/4. SAG had Hong Chau and Holly Hunter instead of Lesley Manville and Octavia Spencer
  • 2016, 5/5.
  • 2015, 4/5. SAG had Helen Mirren instead of Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, 4/5. SAG had Naomi Watts instead of Laura Dern.
  • 2013, 4/5. SAG had Oprah instead of Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, 3/5. SAG had Nicole Kidman and Maggie Smith instead of Amy Adams and Jacki Weaver.
  • 2011, 5/5.
  • 2010, 4/5. SAG had Mila Kunis instead of Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, 4/5. SAG had Diane Kruger instead of Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet (nominated for Best Actress) instead of Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, 4/5. SAG had Catherine Keener instead of Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2006 + 2005: 5/5.
  • 2004, 4/5. SAG had Cloris Leachman instead of Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, 3/5. SAG had Keisha Castle-Hughes (nominated for Best Actress) and Maria Bello instead of Shohreh Aghdashloo and Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 2002, 4/5. SAG had Michelle Pfeiffer instead of Meryl Streep.
  • 2001, 1/5. They only had Helen Mirren and missed Maggie Smith, Jennifer Connelly (nominated SAG lead), Marisa Tomei and Kate Winslet.
  • 2000, 4/5. SAG had Kate Winslet instead of Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 1999, 3/5. SAG had Cameron Diaz and Julianne Moore instead of Samantha Morton and Toni Collette.
  • 1998, 5/5.
  • 1997, 4/5. SAG had Alison Elliott instead of Joan Cusack.
  • 1996, 2/5. SAG had Marisa Tomei, Gwen Verdon and Renée Zellweger instead of Joan Allen, Barbara Hershey and Marianne Jean-Baptiste
  • 1995, SAG had Stockard Channing and Anjelica Huston instead of Joan Allen (nominated SAG lead) and Kathleen Quinlan.
  • 1994, 2/5. SAG had Jamie Lee Curtis, Sally Field and Robin Wright instead of Jennifer Tilly, Helen Mirren and Rosemary Harris.

SAG has matched the Oscar category 5/5 five times. 4/5 eleven times, 3/5 five times, 2/5 twice, and 1/5 once. (Though in that scenario, the Oscar winner was put for SAG lead. So that’s kind of 2/5.) Still, slightly less reliable than the other categories, but they’re generally 3/5 or more (everything less was 2001 or prior).

BAFTA:

  • 2017, BAFTA had Manville and Spencer
  • 2015 BAFTA had Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, BAFTA did not have Laura Dern.
  • 2013, BAFTA had Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, BAFTA had Amy Adams but not Jacki Weaver.
  • 2010, BAFTA did not have Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, BAFTA did not have Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, BAFTA had Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, BAFTA had Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2004, BAFTA had Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, BAFTA did not have Shohreh Aghdashloo or Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Meryl.
  • 2001, BAFTA had Jennifer Connelly, Maggie Smith and Kate Winslet. They did not have Marisa Tomei.
  • 2000, BAFTA did not have Marcia Gay Harden.
  • 1999, BAFTA did not have Toni Collette or Samantha Morton.
  • 1997, BAFTA did not have Joan Cusack. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1996, BAFTA had Marianne Jean-Baptiste. They did not have Joan Allen or Barbara Hershey. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1995, BAFTA had Joan Allen. They did not have Kathleen Quinlan. (* Only four nominees.)
  • 1994, BAFTA missed all four nominees.

BFCA:

  • 2016, BFCA had Spencer but missed Manville
  • 2015, BFCA had Jennifer Jason Leigh.
  • 2014, BFCA did not have Laura Dern.
  • 2013, BFCA did not have Sally Hawkins.
  • 2012, BFCA had Amy Adams but not Jacki Weaver.
  • 2010, BFCA had Jacki Weaver.
  • 2009, BFCA did not have Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • 2008, BFCA had Marisa Tomei.
  • 2007, BFCA did not have Saoirse Ronan.
  • 2004, BFCA had Natalie Portman.
  • 2003, BFCA had Marcia Gay Harden They did not have Shohreh Aghdashloo.
  • 2002, BFCA had Meryl.
  • 2001, BFCA had Marisa Tomei and Jennifer Connelly. They did not have Maggie Smith or Kate Winslet.

And the Globes:

  • 2017, they had Spencer but missed Manville
  • 2015, they had Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • 2014, they did not have Laura Dern
  • 2013, they had Sally Hawkins
  • 2012, they had Amy Adams but not Jacki Weaver
  • 2010, they had Jacki Weaver
  • 2009, they did not have Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • 2008, they had Marisa Tomei
  • 2007, they had Saoirse Ronan
  • 2004, they had Natalie Portman (and she won)
  • 2003, they missed both Shohreh Aghdashloo and Marcia Gay Harden
  • 2002, they had Meryl (and she won)
  • 2001, they had Jennifer Connelly (she won), Magie Smith, Marisa Tomei AND Kate Winslet
  • 2000, they missed Marcia Gay Harden
  • 1999, they had Samanta Morton but missed Toni Collette
  • 1997, they had Joan Cusack
  • 1996, they had Joan Allen, Barbara Hershey and Marianne Jean-Baptiste
  • 1995, they had Kathleen Quinlan but missed Joan Allen
  • 1994, they missed Jennifer Tilly, Helen Mirren and Rosemary Harris

There have been seven times that someone was nominated in this category without hitting a single precursor. There’s Laura Dern in 2014, who managed some critics group nominations (Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Vancouver and DC) but no wins. Most figure she came along with Reese in a weak year. Jacki Weaver in 2012, she pretty much came along with the film. There are no real precursors for her. Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2009 came along with Jeff Bridges having just one precursor (Dallas critics). Shohreh Aghdashloo in 2003 came along with Ben Kingsley, but won a lot of precursors (Independent Spirit, LA Film Critics, NY Film Critics, Online Film Critics), so she was definitely in the conversation. And Marcia Gay Harden in 2000 came along with Ed Harris and managed a similar trajectory to Shohreh (Independent Spirit Award nomination, National Society of Film Critics, NY Critics win). Before 2000, Toni Collette in 1999 missed just about everything and came along with her film. There was little outside of that to say she was a serious contender. And in 1994, all three of the contenders missed everything. But those last two are pre BFCA, so I don’t look at them. Basically it’s five times. The point is, generally they’re either coming along with someone else, or you can see them in the precursors.

Here are this year’s precursors:

  • SAG: Adams, Blunt, Robbie, Stone, Weisz
  • BAFTA: Adams, Foy, Robbie, Stone, Weisz
  • BFCA: Adams, Foy, Kidman, King, Stone, Weisz
  • Globes: Adams, Foy, King, Stone, Weisz

Well that certainly makes it easy, doesn’t it. Adams, Stone and Weisz hit all four, so that’s 3/5 your category right there.

Everyone else:

  • Blunt — SAG
  • Foy — BAFTA, BFCA, Globes
  • Kidman — BFCA
  • King — BFCA, Globes
  • Robbie — SAG, BAFTA

First off, does anybody think they’re gonna leave Regina King off? Are you gonna be that beholden to the numbers that you really think they’re gonna snub Regina King? They could, but do you really think that’s gonna happen? I don’t. So for me Regina King is on. Not to mention, she won the Globe for Supporting Actress. The last time someone won the Globe in this category and was not nominated was 1976 (Katharine Ross, Voyage of the Damned). And it only happened twice before that (Karen Black in 1974 for Gatsby and Hermione Gingold in 1958 for Gigi). So three times ever, and not in over 40 years. Hard to think they leave her off. Plus she’s got the BFCA win too. That’s the same path Sylvester Stallone took for Creed in 2015. If you even needed a recent example to convince you that she’s probably getting on.

That leaves one spot and four contenders. I don’t think anyone takes the Blunt nomination here seriously (despite the fact that, statistically it could happen), and Kidman has fallen off in both races somehow. Robbie has SAG and BAFTA, which should make someone automatic, but there’s always someone every year who manages that combination who gets left off. Usually it’s in Best Actress, I feel. I remember that year, what was it, 2012, where Helen Mirren for Hitchcock had SAG and BAFTA and I was convinced it wasn’t gonna happen. This feels like that. The movie has no support, really. I feel like the SAG vote was for Margot Robbie. BAFTA makes sense. And if it was just BAFTA, no one would be taking it seriously as a nominee. Claire Foy, meanwhile, has everything but SAG, and if Regina King also missed SAG, Claire Foy could have missed it for similar reasons. So my gut tells me to put Foy on that fifth spot, especially since her movie is gonna have 7 or 8 nominations, it looks like.

This is one where, you could play your hunch in that fifth spot. Because only four of them are locked, and theoretically this could go anywhere. But I feel like of all the precursor plays, Margot Robbie is the one that doesn’t feel like a strong one, despite having the precursors in her favor. But it’s either Margot or Claire Foy for that last spot. So have at it.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, Vice

Claire Foy, First Man

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

First Alternate: Margot Robbie, Mary, Queen of Scots

Dark Horse: Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

Surprise: Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place; Linda Cardellini, Green Book

Shocker: Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians; Elizabeth Debicki, Widows; Natalie Portman, Vox Lux

Don’t even bother: Blythe Danner, What They Had; Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & the Gun; Marina de Tavira, Roma

Would love to see: Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace; Tilda Swinton, Suspiria

This is another one where you’re basically guaranteed 4/5. The only question is who the fifth spot is. Conventional wisdom says it’s either Claire Foy or Margot Robbie. Maybe it’s Nicole Kidman. Otherwise, this will be interesting and come out of nowhere like some of those years past.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Screenplay time. We start with Original.

The tech categories are where things get tricker. There are more variables that come into play here because the precursors can get less helpful. Screenplay in particular, you have to deal with ineligible scripts at the WGA. But generally you can see one of those coming. And in a year like this, which is pretty weak overall, I feel like it’s gonna go the way of the precursors and there won’t be too many variables. I feel like we’re all gonna go 9/10 on these and there will maybe be one swap for a first alternate. But again, what do I know?

Here are your precursors:

  • WGA: Eighth Grade, Green Book, A Quiet Place, Roma, Vice
  • BAFTA: Cold War, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice
  • BFCA: Eighth Grade, The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, A Quiet Place, Roma, Vice
  • Globes: The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice

Note: At the WGA, The Favourite and Sorry to Bother You were ineligible.

So you have The Favourite hitting everything but the place it was ineligible. You have Green Book, Roma and Vice hitting everything. So pretty much that’s 4/5 the category right there without trying. Now all you gotta do is figure out the last one.

Other scripts that hit the precursors:

  • Cold War — BAFTA
  • Eighth Grade — WGA, BFCA
  • First Reformed — BFCA
  • A Quiet Place — WGA, BFCA

That’s it. Four scripts, one spot. Really three, because I don’t think anyone expects Cold War to make the showing it did at the BAFTAs. So three scripts, one spot.

There’s not really anything else I can point to as being a contender here, either. Everything else in the big races is an adapted screenplay. So really, you’re just picking from these three. And you have a 1/3 chance of getting it right.

First Reformed missed WGA and got no real support throughout the race. It would normally be hard for me to consider that the top choice for that last spot. HOWEVER… it won BFCA for Original Screenplay. Which is a bit of a big deal. I originally said that no film had ever not been nominated at the Oscars after winning BFCA Screenplay, but I am mistaken. Gone Girl was not nominated after winning BFCA and hitting a lot of the precursors (my bad. ALL the precursors. Gone Girl had all the precursors and wasn’t nominated). So I’m not as convinced as I was when I looked that up that this will be the fifth contender. Still, a BFCA win is a big deal. Though the fact that it was eligible for WGA and still missed is a head-scratcher to me and leads me to believe that it’s just a critical darling and isn’t as supported as one might think.

Eighth Grade got BFCA and WGA, so that is a solid contender in its own right, as is A Quiet Place, which also managed the same two. Of the two, my gut tells me A Quiet Place is probably the one with the more overall support, but that’s just my gut from seeing it show up in more precursors. It’s kind of a three-way toss-up.

First Reformed and A Quiet Place are the two that I’m torn between. That BFCA win is either a signpost as to where this is going or a red herring. Now that I’ve seen something win BFCA and not be nominated, I’m leaning back toward A Quiet Place. Honestly, it’s a 1/3 shot, so I’m just gonna pick the one that seems to have the most overall support and hope for the best.

Best Original Screenplay

The Favourite

Green Book

A Quiet Place

Roma

Vice

First Alternate: First Reformed

Dark Horse: Eighth Grade

Surprise: Bohemian Rhapsody; Cold War

Shocker: Sorry to Bother You; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Don’t even bother: Most anything else, really. What else is there that anyone would see coming?

Would love to see: Blindspotting, Sorry to Bother You

I don’t expect to go less than 4/5 here. And I feel like, with ostensibly a 1/3 choice between Eighth Grade, First Reformed and A Quiet Place, I have a decent enough chance of 5/5. But again, I doubt we go below the Dark Horse in this race. It should be straightforward.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Adapted Screenplay now.

  • WGA: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born
  • BAFTA: BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born
  • BFCA: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born
  • Globes: If Beale Street Could Talk

Note: At the WGA, The Death of Stalin, Hereditary, Incredibles 2, Leave No Trace and The Sisters Brothers were ineligible.

Usually one of the two categories is stacked with Best Picture contenders. This year is pretty even. Which is good, since there aren’t many more contenders outside of that circle.

Remember what I said about Original Screenplay being straightforward? BlacKkKlansman hit the three big ones. Can You Ever Forgive Me hit the three big ones. If Beale Street Could Talk managed the three big ones and a Globe nomination. And A Star Is Born managed the three big ones. That’s 4/5 again.

The remaining contenders? Black Panther got WGA and BFCA and First Man got BAFTA and BFCA. So there you are. 4/5 and a 50/50 choice for the last spot. I feel like Black Panther is the one that gets on over First Man, just because their panties are all up in a bunch to nominate it for everything. They gave it a WGA nomination, so that’s usually a signpost. Could go to First Man, but I’m gonna stick with what seems like the trendy option and just be happily wrong if I am. (I’m also still secretly hoping for Death of Stalin, but I’m not sure if that’s even a possibility. It did get nominated in Adapted Screenplay at BAFTA last year.)

Best Adapted Screenplay

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

If Beale Street Could Talk

A Star Is Born

First Alternate: First Man

Dark Horse: The Death of Stalin

Surprise: Leave No Trace; Crazy Rich Asians

Shocker: Boy Erased; Mary Poppins Returns

Don’t even bother: Most anything else. This is a thin year and a relatively closely packed category.

Would love to see: Widows, The Front Runner, The Death of Stalin

At worst you’re going 8/10 in the screenplay categories. Decent chance of 10/10, and really good odds on 9/10. It’s that kind of year. Take what you can get.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Okay, so now it’s hardcore tech categories. Starting with Best Editing.

Here are the last 15 categories for Best Editing:

  • 2017: Baby DriverDunkirk, I Tonya, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  • 2016: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight
  • 2015: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • 2014: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash
  • 2013: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity
  • 2012: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
  • 2011: The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Moneyball
  • 2010: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network
  • 2009: Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious
  • 2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire
  • 2007: The Bourne UltimatumThe Diving Bell and the ButterflyInto the Wild, No Country, There Will Be Blood
  • 2006: Babel, Blood DiamondChildren of Men, The Departed, United 93
  • 2005: Crash, Cinderella ManThe Constant Gardener, Munich, Walk the Line
  • 2004: The Aviator, Collateral, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray
  • 2003: City of GodCold Mountain, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit

The underlined films are ones that were nominated in Editing without being nominated for Best Picture. The point being that in order to properly contend for Best Picture, a film needs a Best Editing nomination. The last film to win Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination (aside from Birdman, whose conceit was an essential lack of editing) was Ordinary People. So really you’re just trying to figure out what, if any, of the non-Best Picture nominees can and will make it on Editing. This year, I see only one major ‘editing heavy’ film (and even that is a very outside Best Picture contender, not that I think it’ll make it).

Here’s ACE vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017: 5/5.
  • 2016: 5/5.
  • 2015: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Spotlight.
  • 2014: 5/5.
  • 2013: 3/5. ACE didn’t have 12 Years a Slave or Dallas Buyers Club.
  • 2012 + 2011: 5/5.
  • 2010: 4/5. ACE didn’t have 127 Hours.
  • 2009: 3/5. ACE didn’t have Inglourious Basterds or Precious.
  • 2008: 5/5.
  • 2007: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
  • 2006: 3/5. ACE didn’t have Children or Men or Blood Diamond.
  • 2005: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Cinderella Man.
  • 2004: 5/5.
  • 2003: 4/5. ACE didn’t have City of God.
  • 2002: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Pianist.
  • 2001: 5/5.
  • 2000: 4/5. ACE didn’t have Wonder Boys.
  • 1999: 4/5. ACE didn’t have The Cider House Rules.

Cross-checking that with BAFTA:

  • 2015, BAFTA did not have Spotlight
  • 2013, BAFTA had 12 Years a Slave but missed Dallas Buyers Club
  • 2010, BAFTA had 127 Hours
  • 2009, BAFTA had Inglourious Basterds but missed Precious
  • 2007, BAFTA did not have The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • 2006, BAFTA did not have Children of Men or Blood Diamond
  • 2005, BAFTA did not have Cinderella Man
  • 2002, BAFTA had City of God (but it was nominated at year later at the Oscars)
  • 2000, BAFTA did not have Wonder Boys
  • 1999, BAFTA did not have The Cider House Rules

And now BFCA:

  • 2015, BFCA had Spotlight
  • 2013, BFCA had 12 Years a Slave but missed Dallas Buyers Club
  • 2010, BFCA had 127 Hours
  • 2009, BFCA had Inglourious Basterds but not Precious

So really, what this is telling me, in the age of three precursors, only twice has something missed all the guilds and gotten on Editing, and they’re both movies that were in the Best Picture conversation (Dallas Buyers Club and Precious). Everything has gotten much more uniform in Editing in the past decade, too. So I’m thinking the guilds probably have it.

Here’s what the guilds did this year:

  • ACE Drama: BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born
  • ACE Comedy: Crazy Rich Asians, Deadpool 2, The Favourite, Green Book, Vice
  • BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, First Man, Roma, Vice
  • BFCA: The Favourite, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice, Widows

Breakdown of that:

  • BlacKkKlansman — ACE
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — ACE, BAFTA
  • Crazy Rich Asians — ACE
  • Deadpool 2 — ACE
  • The Favourite — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • First Man — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Green Book — ACE
  • Roma — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • A Star Is Born — ACE, BFCA
  • Vice — ACE, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Widows — BFCA

No one thinks Crazy Rich Asians, Deadpool or Widows is getting nominated for Best Editing. So let’s leave those aside. Eight contenders. That’s not bad.

Now, take your eight contenders and think, which ones are really liked for Best Picture? Roma, Green Book, A Star Is Born, The Favourite. Right? One of them will get left off, but which one? Figure that out later. They have to be in your line of thinking. First Man and Vice hit all the guilds. Tougher calls, but they hit everything.

That leaves two outliers — BlacKkKlansman and Bohemian Rhapsody. And if you think BlacKkKlansman has a legitimate shot to win Best Picture, then you have to put it on Editing. I’m not sure it does, which makes me apt to think about leaving it off. The last option is intriguing, because that’s Bohemian Rhapsody. If this love I’m seeing for it across the board holds, it could end up on Editing. So you’re just gonna have to figure that shit out as best you can.

My gut tells me the three real contenders for the win at this moment are: Green Book, Roma and A Star Is Born. So those three I’m not leaving off no matter what. Especially after that Green Book PGA win. Of course, the minute one of them doesn’t get Editing, then it can’t really win. (I mean, it can, but it seems unlikely.)

Look at last year — all those possible contenders, but what did it come down to? Shape of Water and Three Billboards. Dunkirk was always gonna get Editing regardless, but no one thought it could win. People thought Lady Bird or Get Out could get Editing but neither did. This year you’re either gonna get the herd thinned that way, or they’re gonna go all in on the Best Picture contenders.

The only non-Best Picture contender in the race is First Man, which hit all the precursors and is a space movie. They love that shit here, and I expect that to be nominated regardless. If it doesn’t, then that means Best Picture is wide open. But I still expect that to be one spot and the other four to be Best Picture nominees. Of course, I already set aside three, so that makes my life harder.

If I have First Man, Green Book, Roma and A Star Is Born, that means I only have one spot for, potentially: BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Vice or Bohemian Rhapsody. Of course, there’s also Black Panther, if you think it’s a legitimate contender for a win, despite no precursors. I don’t think anyone thinks that, but if you really think it’s gonna win, you have to put it here. I don’t necessarily think it’s guaranteed a Best Picture nomination, let alone win, so I’m leaving it off.

I don’t think Bohemian Rhapsody is a serious contender for a win, and I feel like while it could get an Editing nomination, I think it’ll get Picture and Actor and stay at that. It’s possible, but I don’t see it. So I’m leaving that off. Let’s let it surprise.

Vice… it could get on. Big Short was nominated, and this is more of the same. Personally I think the editing was more choppy this time around, not that my opinion has anything to do with it. It feels like it could easily get on, especially if it gets a Best Picture nomination. But I’m not 100% sold on that Best Picture nomination, so I’m more apt to leave it off at the moment.

BlacKkKlansman and The Favourite are the two for me. One of the two is gonna get left off Editing. I can just see that situation playing out. And personally, I never thought BlacKkKlansman was headed for any real wins. It was just the nominations. And The Favourite at least has acting love and I’m picking it to get a Best Director nomination. So, given what I’ve laid out so far, and the situation I see playing out in my head, that has to be my fifth choice. I don’t think it’s 100% lock for Editing, because I still think its prospects for a win are dubious, despite the loads of nominations across the board, but I think it’s as solid a choice as anything. It’ll probably end up with the most nominations of anything. I’d feel better about that than most other things.

Best Editing

The Favourite

First Man

Green Book

Roma

A Star Is Born

First Alternate: Vice

Dark Horse: BlacKkKlansman

Surprise: Bohemian Rhapsody; Black Panther; If Beale Street Could Talk

Shocker: Widows; Crazy Rich Asians; Mary Poppins Returns

Don’t even bother: With anything not in the Best Picture Race. Editing is not a category to go out on limbs for with random stuff.

Would love to see: You Were Never Really Here, If Beale Street Could Talk, Widows

This one could go anywhere. I always expect 3/5 and then anything more than that is great. I feel like The Favourite, Green Book or Roma could all be left off. And that’s before you consider First Man not really being much of a lock either. I feel like if there’s one thing I could be overrating, it’s Green Book’s chances at a win. But I don’t think A Star Is Born is winning, so unless it’s Roma’s year, what else is in that win conversation? The Favourite? I guess Editing will tell us. (Also, that PGA win does help me feel more confident in putting it here.)

I feel like you should take five of the top eight choices (my five, BlacKkKlansman, Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody) and just hope for the best. As long as you can justify your scenario in doing it, it’s not that bad a selection. (Though again, probably make sure you deal with it uniformly. Bohemian Rhapsody on Editing but not Picture would be quite a swing for the fences with slim odds of that coming in.)

I think you’re good for 3/5 here no matter what, and then if you do better, awesome. (P.S. I truly would be shocked if we get anything below the ‘surprise’ line up there.)

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– – – – – – – – – –

Cinematography.

Here’s ASC vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017: 5/5.
  • 2016: 5/5.
  • 2015, 4/5. ASC had Bridge of Spies, missed The Hateful Eight.
  • 2014: 4/5. ASC had The Imitation Game, missed Ida.
  • 2013: 5/5.
  • 2012: 4/5. ASC had Les Mis, missed Django.
  • 2011: 4/5. ASC had Tinker Tailor, missed War Horse.
  • 2010: 5/5.
  • 2009: 4/5. ASC had Nine, missed Half-Blood Prince.
  • 2008: 4/5. ASC had Revolutionary Road, missed Changeling.
  • 2007: 5/5.
  • 2006: 3/5. ASC had The Good Shepard and Apocalypto, missed Pan’s Labyrinth and The Prestige.
  • 2005: 4/5. ASC had King Kong, missed The New World.
  • 2004: 3/5. ASC had Collateral and Ray, missed House of Flying Daggers and Phantom of the Opera.
  • 2003: 3/5. ASC had Last Samurai and Return of the King, missed City of God and Girl with a Pearl Earring.
  • 2002: 4/5. ASC had Frida, missed Chicago.
  • 2001: 4/5. ASC had Pearl Harbor, missed Black Hawk Down.
  • 2000: 4/5. ASC had The Perfect Storm, missed Malena.
  • 1999: 4/5. ASC had The Sixth Sense, missed The End of the Affair.
  • 1998: 4/5. ASC had The Horse Whisperer, missed A Civil Action.
  • 1997: 4/5. ASC had The Boxer, missed The Wings of the Dove.
  • 1996: 5/5.
  • 1995: 2/5. ASC had Apollo 13, The Bridges of Madison County, Crimson Tide and Se7en (six nominees), missed A Little Princess, Sense and Sensibility and Shanghai Triad.
  • 1994: 4/5. ASC had Love Affair, missed Three Colors: Red.
  • 1993: 4/5. ASC had Heaven & Earth, missed Farewell My Concubine.

BAFTA:

  • 2015, BAFTA missed Hateful Eight.
  • 2014, BAFTA had Ida.
  • 2012, BAFTA missed Django.
  • 2011, BAFTA had War Horse
  • 2009, BAFTA missed Half-Blood Prince
  • 2008, BAFTA had Changeling.
  • 2006, BAFTA had Pan’s Labyrinth but missed The Prestige.
  • 2005, BAFTA missed The New World
  • 2004, BAFTA had House of Flying Daggers but missed Phantom of the Opera
  • 2003, BAFTA had Girl with a Peal Earring but missed City of God.
  • 2002, BAFTA had Chicago.
  • 2001, BAFTA had Black Hawk Down.
  • 2000, BAFTA missed Malena.
  • 1999, BAFTA had The End of the Affair
  • 1998, BAFTA missed A Civil Action
  • 1997, BAFTA had The Wings of the Dove (which won)
  • 1995, BAFTA had Sense and Sensibility but missed A Little Princess and Shanghai Triad
  • 1994, BAFTA missed Three Colors: Red
  • 1993, BAFTA missed Farewell My Concubine

And BFCA:

  • 2015, BFCA had The Hateful Eight.
  • 2014, BFCA did not have Ida.
  • 2012, BFCA did not have Django.
  • 2011, BFCA had War Horse.
  • 2009, BFCA missed Half-Blood Prince.

So since 2009, when we had three precursors, only twice did all three miss. One was Django, which seemed like it was gonna get nominated that year because of Bob Richardson. And the other was Half-Blood Prince. So yeah. Not so bad, all around. Usually the precursors help lead the way.

This year’s precursors:

  • ASC: Cold War, The Favourite, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born
  • BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody, Cold War, The Favourite, First Man, Roma
  • BFCA: Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, Roma, A Star Is Born

Broken down:

  • Black Panther — BFCA
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — BAFTA
  • Cold War — ASC, BAFTA
  • The Favourite — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • First Man — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • If Beale Street Could Talk — BFCA
  • Roma — ASC, BAFTA, BFCA
  • A Star Is Born — ASC, BFCA

Only eight. So your life is made way easier. Especially since I think we’d all be shocked if Black Panther got on this list. So really, five from seven. Not bad at all, guys. And even more so — Bohemian Rhapsody. You see that one happening? So really, it’s five of six. And there’s not even a shortlist for this category. It just worked out that way.

So look at what you got. The Favourite hit everything. First Man hit everything. Roma hit everything. So that’s 3/5.

The remaining two spots are between Cold War (black and white, gorgeous, and DP was nominated here for his last film, which was also foreign), If Beale Street Could Talk (looks great, but only a BFCA nomination) and A Star Is Born (got BFCA and a guild nomination). Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? Cold War is on, and probably Star Is Born for that last spot, though don’t be surprised if Beale Street sneaks on instead.

Best Cinematography

Cold War

The Favourite

First Man

Roma

A Star Is Born

First Alternate: If Beale Street Could Talk

Dark Horse: Black Panther

Surprise: Bohemian Rhapsody; Green Book

Shocker: Mary Poppins Returns; BlacKkKlansman

Don’t even bother: Most anything else. Twice in a decade did something get on without precursors. You seeing anything that feels like a compositional marvel from this year that’s gonna make it?

Would love to see: If Beale Street Could Talk, but honestly, the category should end up fine on its own.

You’re gonna go 4/5 here unless they savage themselves. The only question for me is if Beale Street gets on. If it doesn’t, you should go 5/5 with the category I picked. Seems pretty straightforward all around, this one.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Original Score.

This is usually where we’re trying to navigate the river without a map. But they decided to give us a shortlist this year. So at least we have guideposts to lead us through this one.

Here’s a list going back to 2005 showing how many of the eventual nominees hit precursors, the idea being that the precursors will pretty much give you everything you need to know, and everything in this one is mostly intuitive (note: Extras means other scores that got precursor nominations but were not nominated):

  • 2017 — The Shape of Water, Dunkirk and Phantom thread hit every precursor. Three Billboards had one precursor (Globes). Star Wars had no precursors. 4/5. (Extras: Blade Runner, Darkest Hour, The Post.)
  • 2016 — La La Land and Lion hit every precursor. Jackie and Moonlight had two precursors (BAFTA, BFCA). Passengers had no precursors. 4/5. (Extras: Hidden Figures, Nocturnal Animals.)
  • 2015 — The Hateful Eight hit all precursors. Sicario had two precursors (BAFTA, BFCA). Carol had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). Star Wars had one precursor (BAFTA). Bridge of Spies had one precursor (BAFTA). 5/5. (Extras: Spotlight, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl.)
  • 2014 — Interstellar and The Theory of Everything hit every precursor. The Imitation Game had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). Grand Budapest Hotel had one precursor (BAFTA). Mr. Turner had no precursors. 4/5. (Extras: Under the Skin, Gone Girl.)
  • 2013 — Gravity hit every precursor. Saving Mr. Banks had two precursors (BAFTA, BFCA). The Book Thief had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). Her had one precursor (BCA). Philomena had no precursors. 4/5. (Note: 12 Years a Slave hit every precursor and was not nominated.) (Extras: 12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, Mandela, Captain Phillips.)
  • 2012 — Argo, Life of Pi and Lincoln hit every precursor. Anna Karenina had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). Skyfall had one precursor (BAFTA). 5/5. (Extras: Cloud Atlas, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom.)
  • 2011 — The Artist, Hugo and War Horse hit every precursor.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had one precursor (BAFTA). Tintin had no precursors. 4/5. (Note: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hit every precursor and was not nominated.) (Extras: W.E., Drive, Dragon Tattoo)
  • 2010 — Inception and The King’s Speech hit every precursor. The Social Network had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). 127 Hours had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). How to Train Your Dragon had one precursor (BAFTA). 5/5. (Extras: Black Swan, True Grit, Alice in Wonderland x2.)
  • 2009 — Up hit every precursor. Avatar had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). Fantastic Mr. Fox had one precursor (BAFTA). Sherlock Holmes had one precursor (BFCA). The Hurt Locker had no precursors. 4/5.
  • 2008 — Benjamin Button hit ever precursor. Slumdog Millionaire had two precursors (Globes, BFCA). Wall-E (BAFTA), Defiance (Globes) and Milk (BFCA) each had one precursor. 5/5.
  • 2007 — Atonement hit every precursor. The Kite Runner had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). 3:10 to Yuma had one precursor (BFCA). Michael Clayton and Ratatouille had no precursors. 3/5.
  • The Kite Runner hit two, 3:10 to Yuma hit one. They missed Michael Clayton and Ratatouille entirely. (Grace Is Gone hit two lists and missed a nomination.)
  • 2006 — Babel hit every precursor. The Queen had one precursor (BAFTA). The Good German had one precursor (BFCA). Notes on a Scandal and Pan’s Labyrinth had no precursors. 3/5.
  • 2005 — Brokeback Mountain hit every precursor. Memoirs of a Geisha had two precursors (BAFTA, Globes). The Constant Gardener had one precursor (BAFTA). Munich and Pride & Prejudice had no precursors. 3/5.

Look at the last ten years… odds are the precursors are gonna get you 4/5 or 5/5. And when you look at what didn’t hit the precursors: John Williams, Thomas Newman, Gary Yershon, Alexandre Desplat, John Williams, Marco Beltrami. So yeah, only one that wasn’t an obvious major composer. John Williams is basically automatic. Last year they swapped him off for a different film and the other time it was because he got a second nomination in the same category. It all kinda makes sense. And this year we have a shortlist, which should make things easier.

Here is that shortlist:

Annihilation
Avengers: Infinity War
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Crazy Rich Asians
The Death of Stalin
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
First Man
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
Vice

Looking at the composers:

  • Annihilation — Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury
  • Avengers — Alan Silvestri
  • BlacKkKlansman — Terrence Blanchard
  • Buster Scruggs — Carter Burwell
  • Black Panther — Ludwig Goransson
  • Crazy Rich Asians — Brian Tyler
  • Death of Stalin — Christopher Willis
  • Fantastic Beasts — James Newton Howard
  • First Man — Justin Hurwitz
  • If Beale Street Could Talk — Nicholas Britell
  • Isle of Dogs — Alexandre Desplat
  • Mary Poppins — Marc Shaiman
  • Quiet Place — Marco Beltrami
  • Ready Player One — Alan Silvestri
  • Vice — Nicholas Britell

And some notes on them:

  • Alan Silverstri has been nominated for two Oscars (Score for Forrest Gump and Song for The Polar Express). Not nominated in this category in 24 years and shortlisted twice here. Meaning, if he’s gonna get it, you have to pick one of the two and toss the other one out.
  • Justin Hurwitz has three nominations (one for Score, two for Song. Two wins, both for La La Land. And he beat himself for the second win).
  • Nicholas Britell has nominated for one Oscar (Moonlight). He’s also shortlisted twice here. So pick one and toss the other.
  • Carter Burwell has been nominated twice (Carol, Three Billboards), but never for a Coen brothers movie.
  • James Newton Howard has eight nominations. Six for Score, two for Song. Three of those nominations came in the 90s, the other three came between 2000-2009. It’s been ten years since he’s been nominated (Defiance).
  • Alexandre Desplat has nine nominations and two wins. All his nominations have come between 2006 and now, and his two wins were for his previous two nominations (and one was for a Wes Anderson movie).
  • Marc Shaiman has been nominated for five Oscars. Three for Score, two for Song. None of his nominations have come in the past 19 years. His last nomination was for “Blame Canada.”
  • Marco Beltrami has two nominations (3:10 to Yuma, Hurt Locker). It’s been almost a decade since he’s been nominated.
  • Brian Tyler has never been nominated.
  • Christopher Willis has never been nominated.
  • Barrow + Salisbury have never been nominated.
  • Terrence Blanchard has never been nominated (though he does have a Globe nomination for 25th Hour, a Spike Lee movie).
  • Lugwig Goransson has never been nominated.

I’m not really sure if that means anything. But it does show you who the favored composers are. This year, it’s kind of open. I feel like this one is a mix of precursors and common sense.

Looking at the precursors:

  • BAFTA: BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns
  • BFCA: Black Panther, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns
  • Globes: Black Panther, First Man, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place

Let’s put the shortlist in descending order of precursors:

  • Isle of Dogs — BAFTA, Globes, BFCA
  • Mary Poppins Returns — BAFTA, Globes, BFCA
  • If Beale Street Could Talk — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Black Panther — Globes, BFCA
  • First Man — Globes, BFCA
  • BlacKkKlansman — BAFTA
  • A Quiet Place — Globes

Isle of Dogs and Mary Poppins hit everything, so might as well have them on. Beale Street has BAFTA and BFCA. That, to me, is probably what should win, so I’m putting that on. And then… Black Panther and First Man have both the Globes and BFCA. So those are probably my last two. It might just be as simple as that.

Let me look at the other ten to see if I have anything else…

I’m not picking Annihilation. Silvestri, I’d expect Ready Player One over Infinity War (they’re not nominating two Marvel movies. One feels like a stretch already). Nicholas Britell — Beale Street over Vice. Fantastic Beasts… if they didn’t nominate the first one, why would the second one randomly get on? Crazy Rich Asians would nearly shock me, so that’s out. Death of Stalin I guess could happen, but it seems unlikely. BlacKkKlansman… I don’t remember a score, and Blanchard isn’t exactly an Academy darling. So I don’t see it.

I feel like, outside of my five, the three contenders are Ready Player One, A Quiet Place and Buster Scruggs.

Without John Williams doing Spielberg, do they care? So I don’t see Ready Player One suddenly getting on. It could, but I’d rather not guess it and see if it gets on. Buster Scruggs — I can see it. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Though Carter Burwell was not nominated for True Grit, Fargo, Miller’s Crossing… every Coen brothers score he’s done. And they’re gonna nominate him for this? I’d rather say no and see if they do it. A Quiet Place feels like the alternate. It has the Globes, Beltrami’s been nominated and is usually in contention, and they liked the film enough to get it on somewhere. That said… I’d rather take my chances assuming Black Panther and be wrong that way. I don’t think Black Panther is a lock, but if they start leaving it off the other categories, this is the one they’ll probably look to nominate it. So I’m putting it on.

Best Original Score

Black Panther

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Isle of Dogs

Mary Poppins Returns

First Alternate: A Quiet Place

Dark Horse: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Surprise: Ready Player One; The Death of Stalin

Shocker: BlacKkKlansman; Avengers: Infinity War; Crazy Rich Asians

Don’t even bother: Annihilation; Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald; Vice

Would love to see: If Beale Street Could Talk actually win the category. And maybe a full list of eligibles before a shortlist next time.

This should be an easy 4/5. Might be an easy 5/5. Something might get left off, but what? If it’s Beale Street, I’m upset. Anything else, okay, but I’m not sure what made it on instead is markedly better. I feel like there are only six major contenders, and the obvious category is the five I chose. Let’s see what they do. The shortlist may have made it impossible to miss this one.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Original Song.

They gave us a shortlist, depriving me of one of my favorite things to do each year, which is go through all 90-something eligible songs and listening to them all. Sure, it made it hard to guess the category, but it was fun. Now, picking 5 from 15, I’m sure we’ll all do well here. Because now you know what they’re considering, and it’ll be easy to narrow it down. Not to mention, this is a year with an automatic winner, so the only intrigue in the category is what’s gonna lose to it.

Here’s your shortlist:

“All the Stars,” from Black Panther
“The Big Unknown,” from Widows
“Girl In The Movies,” from Dumplin’
“I’ll Fight,” from RBG
“Keep Reachin’,” from Quincy
“OYAHYTT,” from Sorry to Bother You
“A Place Called Slaughter Race,” from Ralph Breaks the Internet
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns
“Revelation,” from Boy Erased
“Shallow,” from A Star Is Born
“Suspirium,” from Suspiria
“Treasure,” from Beautiful Boy
“Trip A Little Light Fantastic,” from Mary Poppins Returns
“We Won’t Move,” from The Hate U Give
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

We’ve got two precursors here, which don’t matter as much, but here they are:

BFCA: “All the Stars,” “Girl in the Movies,” “I’ll Fight,” “The Place Where the Lost Things Go,” “Shallow,” “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”

Globes: “All of the Stars,” “Girl in the Movies,” “Revelation,” “Shallow”

We’ll start with the obvious — “Shallow” is winning this category. That’s 1/5 done.

Next, Mary Poppins is a musical, and has two eligible songs. Are you really gonna find a way to decide which gets on and which doesn’t? Just put both on. Nothing is automatic, but those are about as close as you’re gonna get after “Shallow.”

Now just look at what’s left and try to figure how they’re gonna go.

I can tell you that the Sorry to Bother You song will almost certainly not be nominated. So don’t guess that. I don’t think anyone even knows what “Treasure” is, so I’d leave that off and let them just nominate it if they’re gonna. At that point, what could you have done to figure that got on? Then there’s “Keep Reachin’,” whose only real case for being nominated is that it’s Quincy Jones. He’s been nominated seven times, and none since 1985. So I’d tell you to leave that one off too.

We’re down to nine songs now. Now you just look at the ones that feel like they’d come out of nowhere. Like, say, “The Big Unknown.” It’s Sade. But does anyone care? And the movie’s got nothing. That doesn’t feel like this category at all. So leave that off. “Suspirium” is another one. Love Thom Yorke, love the idea of him being nominated, but the movie has absolutely zero support anywhere and might even not get the one nomination it should get, which is Makeup & Hairstyling. This getting on would make no sense at all, and while I expect this branch to throw me curveballs, what gets nominated is what the top five vote-getters are, and I don’t expect that to be a top five vote-getter. So that’s off for me.

I also don’t see why they’d put the Ralph song on there. It’s cute, but it’s is substantive? It’s a Disney princess song about Grand Theft Auto, essentially. It’s nominally okay, but doesn’t feel like them. And the movie has no real juice. That feels like a red herring, and I’m not falling for it. So that’s off for me too. After that — “Revelation”… Globe nomination, but what does that mean? I don’t see it happening and that’s one where I’ll just let them nominate it, because I see stronger cases to be made elsewhere.

So now we have five songs, two spots. The Hate U Give sounds like something that would get on. They nominated Marshall, and it’s one of those anthem songs. But Common was on the last one and Diane Warren wrote it. This one.. I don’t know who Arlissa is. So on that alone, I’m just gonna let them nominate it. You can drive yourself nuts trying to guess this. So I’m just gonna make my choices and make it as simple as I can for myself. And my gut says that doesn’t get nominated. Now we’re at four songs, two spots. Much easier.

Of the four songs left: “All the Stars” is Black Panther and Kendrick Lamar. I feel like they’ll throw it on just because, no matter how they vote for that anywhere else. So I’m guessing it on my list. If it gets left off, I’m not surprised in the least. But I have to guess it. I’d rather be wrong with it than without it. It’s just one of those deals. Odds probably are it gets on, but who the hell knows with this branch.

So now we’re left with three options: the cute western song from Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which is perfect for this category but also feels exactly like the kind of thing they would leave off. Then there’s “Girl in the Movies,” which is Dolly Parton. She was nominated here for Transamerica in 2005, and very much could get on again. And then there’s “I’ll Fight,” a female power anthem, sung by Jennifer Hudson, for a Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary, written by Diane Warren. So yeah, you know where I’m leaning on that.

I’m going Black Panther and RBG on this. Dolly feels like the one everyone will guess and then it won’t get nominated. I’ll just let them do it. Feels to me that it gets left off. Buster Scruggs feels like the one that would be the alternate. But honestly, I think I’m getting this list.

Best Original Song

“All the Stars,” from Black Panther

“I’ll Fight,” from RBG

“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns

“Shallow,” from A Star Is Born

“Trip A Little Light Fantastic,” from Mary Poppins Returns

First Alternate: “Girl In The Movies,” from Dumplin’

Dark Horse: “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Surprise: “Revelation,” from Boy Erased; “We Won’t Move,” from The Hate U Give

Shocker: “Suspirium,” from Suspiria; “A Place Called Slaughter Race,” from Ralph Breaks the Internet; “The Big Unknown,” from Widows

Don’t even bother: “OYAHYTT,” from Sorry to Bother You; “Treasure,” from Beautiful Boy; “Keep Reachin’,” from Quincy

Would love to see: Us getting a full list of eligibles before this shortlist. Where’s the fun in this? (And also Thom Yorke get nominated. Because that would be hilarious.)

You should never expect anything more than 2/5 in Original Song. Maybe this year you can figure for 3/5. But never expect anything more that. This is one of the tricker categories you have to guess, even with a shortlist this year.

I think I have an outside shot at 5/5. 4/5 seems like a decent probability. 3/5 seems certain. I feel like, legitimately, there’s only like eight contenders for this category, so when I think about it that way, I wonder how I could possibly miss more than one. But it’s the music branch. They’re all fucked up. Mostly I’m thinking about which songs will end up on the most ballots, and these five feels like those ones, with the two alternates possibly getting one of the spots, but I doubt two.

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Production Design. No shortlist here. Thank god. It felt like they were making it too easy for us.

We do have a bunch of precursors, so there is that. But that’s how it should be. Precursors and then mystery.

Anyway, here’s ADG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017, 5/5.
  • 2016, 5/5.
  • 2015, 5/5.
  • 2014, 4/5. They missed Mr. Turner.
  • 2013, 5/5.
  • 2012, 5/5.
  • 2011, 3/5. They missed War Horse and Midnight in Paris.
  • 2010, 5/5.
  • 2009, 2/5. They missed Dr. Parnassus, Nine and The Young Victoria.
  • 2008, 3/5. They missed The Duchess and Revolutionary Road.
  • 2007 + 2006, 5/5.
  • 2005, 3/5. They missed Goblet of Fire and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004, 4/5. They missed A Very Long Engagement.
  • 2003, 4/5. They missed Master and Commander.
  • 2002, 4/5. They missed Frida.
  • 2001, 4/5. They missed Gosford Park.
  • 2000, 3/5. They missed Quills and Vatel.
  • 1999, 2/5. They missed Cider House Rules, The Talented Mr. Riley and Topsy-Turvy
  • 1998, 5/5.
  • 1997, 4/5. They missed Kundun.
  • 1996, 3/5. They missed Evita and Romeo + Juliet.

BAFTA:

  • 2014, they had Mr. Turner.
  • 2011, they had War Horse, but missed Midnight in Paris.
  • 2009, they had Dr. Parnassus, but missed Nine and The Young Victoria.
  • 2008, they had Revolutionary Road, but missed The Duchess.
  • 2005, they missed both Goblet of Fire and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004, they missed A Very Long Engagement.
  • 2003, they had Master and Commander.
  • 2002, they missed Frida.
  • 2001, they had Gosford Park.
  • 2000, they had Quills but missed Vatel.
  • 1999, they missed Cider House Rules, Talented Mr. Ripley and Topsy-Turvy.
  • 1997, they missed Kundun
  • 1996, they had Evita.

BFCA:

  • 2014, they missed Mr. Turner
  • 2011, they had War Horse but missed Midnight in Paris
  • 2009, they had Nine but missed Dr. Parnassus and The Young Victoria

They’ve only had a category since 2009, so they’re only so helpful. But since 2009, with three precursors, we’ve only had  total of two nominees that missed all the precursors and got nominated (Young Victoria and Midnight in Paris). It hasn’t happened since 2011. So you’re in good hands with the precursors. Especially in a year like this. It’s not as deep a field as some of the other years.

The precursors:

  • ADG Period: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, First Man, Roma
  • ADG Fantasy: Black Panther, Fantastic Beasts, House with a Clock in Its Walls, Mary Poppins Returns, Ready Player One
  • ADG Contemporary: Crazy Rich Asians, Mission Impossible, A Quiet Place, A Star Is Born, Welcome to Marwen
  • BAFTA: The Favourite, Fantastic Beasts, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma
  • BFCA: Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, The Favourite, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma

Let’s break that down:

  • The Favourite — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • First Man — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Mary Poppins Returns — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Roma — ADG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Fantastic Beasts — ADG, BAFTA
  • Black Panther — ADG, BFCA
  • Crazy Rich Asians — ADG, BFCA
  • Ballad of Buster Scruggs — ADG
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — ADG
  • Ready Player One — ADG

We leave House with a Clock in Its Walls off, because obviously, and we leave the ADG Contemporary list off, because contemporary movies never make it on here unless they are really obvious choices/major Best Picture contenders with multiple precursors. We don’t have any of those this year. We leave Crazy Rich Asians on nominally (it is neither obvious nor major), because it got a second precursor. But you best believe I’m not guessing it at all. Still, not a bad list. Ten movies (really nine), and you have a pretty good chance what the contenders are just by looking at it.

The Favourite, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns and Roma hit every single precursor.

For reference, there have been 29 films since we had three precursors that hit them all. You know how many of them ended up getting nominated? 27. You know what the two outliers were? Inglourious Basterds and Black Swan. Which means it happened in the first two years of the BFCA category, and one of them was contemporary. Still, it’s two. Hasn’t happened since 2010. 27 in a row. So you should probably put those four on.

Also — look at them. Period piece with lush sets. Mary fucking Poppins. Space, which they love (fucking Gravity got nominated, and she’s alone in space for half the movie), and Roma, which feels right. So that’s four. Again, your life is made so much easier by the precursors being uniform. That’s what happens in a weak year. Everyone coalesces around the same stuff.

But again, think about those numbers for a second — 2011-2017, 27 movies hit all three precursors and all got nominated. And only two movies since 2009 have been nominated with no precursors. Both were period pieces, one with regal sets.

That tells me, stick with the precursors, and if you’re gonna throw one movie on (or consider throwing it on) that isn’t mentioned anywhere — Mary, Queen of Scots. Why bother with anything else? That’s the one. MAYBE Green Book. Because it could get that Best Picture love and sneak on with the trickle down, even though I’m not sure anyone was overly in love with those sets. But that fits the Midnight in Paris model, and Mary, Queen of Scots fits the Young Victoria model. Those are the only extra two you want to deal with. But when you have four already covered, why get fancy with the fifth choice unless you don’t like what your alternatives are?

And now’s a good time to mention, here are your alternatives: Fantastic Beasts, with ADG and BAFTA; Black Panther, with ADG and BFCA; Crazy Rich Asians (also ADG and BFCA, but it’s contemporary. Don’t fall for it); Buster Scruggs, with ADG; Bohemian Rhapsody, with ADG; Ready Player One, with ADG.

I can immediately take off Crazy Rich Asians and Ready Player One (because it’s mostly CGI). And looking at the others — Bohemian Rhapsody would need huge support all across the board to make it. And while I won’t rule it out, I also don’t think they’ll do it. So I’ll just leave it off and be wrong. Buster Scruggs… the Coens got nominated for Hail, Caesar, but that was old Hollywood sets. This is a western. It’s outdoors. Westerns do okay here, too. But I feel like I’ve got better choices and would rather go outside the precursors than take that.

So I’m left with Fantastic Beasts, Black Panther, Green Book and Mary Queen of Scots. Green Book I just don’t see. It could happen, but I don’t see it. So I’m leaving it off. If it gets on, much like Bohemian Rhapsody, it would show stronger support than you think and would give it a stronger argument for winning some big stuff. Mary Queen of Scots is a contender, but I’m not sold on the Best Supporting Actress nomination. At best that one feels like Costumes and Makeup & Hairstyling at best. It might only just end up with one of those. So I’ll mention it, just so I can say I did, but it’s my dark horse at best.

Really, it’s Fantastic Beasts vs. Black Panther. Now, of course, the Harry Potter crew has multiple nominations in this category, and the last Fantastic Beasts made it. But will they just automatically nominate them again, even with Black Panther staring them in the face? That’s a choice they’re gonna have to make. Common sense says it should get on over Black Panther, but there’s no common sense this year. Black Panther is a contender for Best Picture. You gotta play the hand that you’ve been dealt. So I’m just gonna take Black Panther and see if they really are gonna nominate it six times. And that’s til now. It could get eight or nine when all is said and done. I feel better assuming they go all in, because at least then getting them right is my silver lining.

Best Production Design

Black Panther

The Favourite

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns

Roma

First Alternate: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Dark Horse: Mary, Queen of Scots

Surprise: Crazy Rich Asians, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bohemian Rhapsody

Shocker: Green Book, A Star Is Born, Ready Player One; BlacKkKlansman

Don’t even bother: With most anything else. I gave you the two non-precursor films. Anything else would shock even the staunchest experts.

Would love to see: Honestly, I’m pretty good here all around. Those top four pretty much are the four. Suspiria would be cool, but I don’t need to see it. 

You should feel confident you’re gonna get 4/5 here. And the fifth spot you have Black Panther. Not a bad one to have for this year. Fantastic Beasts could slip on in its place, so that’s the alternate. I think you’re getting 4/5 no matter how you slice it.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Costume Design.

CDG vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017: 3/5. Missed Darkest Hour and Victoria & Abdul
  • 2016: 4/5, Missed Allied.
  • 2015: 4/5, Missed The Revenant.
  • 2014: 4/5. Missed Mr. Turner.
  • 2013: 3/5. Missed The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster.
  • 2012: 5/5.
  • 2011: 4/5. Missed Anonymous.
  • 2010: 4/5. Missed I Am Love.
  • 2009: 4/5. Missed Bright Star.
  • 2008: 4/5. Missed Australia.
  • 2007: 4/5. Missed Across the Universe.
  • 2006: 5/5.
  • 2005: 3/5. Missed Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice.
  • 2004: 3/5. Missed Finding Neverland and Troy (*single category)
  • 2003: 3/5. Missed Girl with a Pearl Earring and Master and Commander (*four nominees, single category)
  • 2002: 2/5. Missed Gangs of New York, The Hours and The Pianist (*four nominees, single category)
  • 2001: 1/5. Only had Harry Potter. Missed Moulin Rouge, Affair of the Necklace, Gosford Park and Fellowship (*four nominees, single category)
  • 2000: 2/5. Missed Gladiator, Crouching Tiger and 102 Dalmatians (*four nominees, single category)
  • 1999: 2/5. Missed Topsy-Turvy, Anna and the King and Titus (*four nominees, single category)
  • 1998: 1/5. Only had Beloved. Missed Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Pleasantville and Velvet Goldmine (*single category)

BAFTA:

  • 2017, BAFTA had Darkest Hour but did not have Victoria & Abdul
  • 2016, BAFTA had Allied
  • 2015, BAFTA missed The Revenant
  • 2014, BAFTA had Mr. Turner
  • 2013, BAFTA had The Invisible Woman but missed The Grandmaster
  • 2011, BAFTA missed Anonymous
  • 2010, BAFTA missed I Am Love
  • 2009, BAFTA had Bright Star
  • 2008, BAFTA missed Australia
  • 2007, BAFTA missed Across the Universe
  • 2005, BAFTA had Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice
  • 2004, BAFTA had Finding Neverland but missed Troy
  • 2003, BAFTA had Master and Commander (which won) and Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • 2002, BAFTA had Gangs of New York but missed The Hours and The Pianist
  • 2001, BAFTA had Moulin Rouge, Fellowship and Gosford Park (which won), but missed Affair of the Necklace
  • 2000, BAFTA had Gladiator and Crouching Tiger (which won), but missed 102 Dalmatians
  • 1999, BAFTA missed Topsy-Turvy, Anna and the King and Titus (*four nominees)
  • 1998, BAFTA had Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth and Velvet Goldmine (which won) but missed Pleasantville (*four nominees)

BFCA:

  • 2017, BFCA missed Darkest Hour and Victoria & Abdul
  • 2016, BFCA had Allied
  • 2015, BFCA missed The Revenant
  • 2014, BFCA had Mr. Turner
  • 2013, BFCA missed The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster
  • 2011, BFCA missed Anonymous
  • 2010, BFCA missed I Am Love
  • 2009, BFCA had Bright Star

Really you only need to look at those last ten. The category has changed a lot in ten years. And in the past ten years, there are six total nominees that missed all the precursors. More than most, but it’s Costume Design. Does anyone ever assume 5/5 with this one?

Plus, look at the six that got nothing: Australia, which is Baz Luhrmann and he’s assumed a nomination whenever he makes a film. I Am Love… kind of out of nowhere. Anonymous… frilly period garb. The Grandmaster… kind of out of nowhere, but it also got Cinematography. Revenant was definitely in the conversation, but no one was sure if they’d nominate it. I had it as a first alternate just because of lack of precursors. It was right there. And Victoria & Abdul had frilly period garb. Made sense once you saw it even if it wasn’t necessarily on everyone’s guess list.

I think you’re pretty safe going with the precursors. And outside of that, go Best Picture or go frilly.

Precursors:

  • CDG Period: BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Mary Poppins Returns, Mary Queen of Scots
  • CDG Fantasy: Aquaman, Avengers Infinity War, Black Panther, The Nutcracker, A Wrinkle in Time
  • CDG Contemporary: Crazy Rich Asians, Mamma Mia, Ocean’s 8, A Star Is Born, Widows
  • BAFTA: Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Mary Poppins Returns, Mary Queen of Scots
  • BFCA: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Mary Poppins, Mary Queen of Scots

Breaking those down:

  • Bohemian Rhapsody — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Favourite — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Mary Poppins Returns — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Mary Queen of Scots — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Black Panther — CDG, BFCA
  • Ballad of Buster Scruggs — BAFTA
  • Aquaman — CDG
  • Avengers — CDG
  • BlacKkKlansman — CDG
  • The Nutcracker — CDG
  • Wrinkle in Time — CDG

Skip contemporary, because that shit never happens. La La Land is the most recent Costume Design nominee to be contemporary. And even that was a musical with some fantasy sequences. Before that, the most recent, non-fantasy movie to be nominated for costumes took place in 1978 (American Hustle). I Am Love is also contemporary, but you wouldn’t know it while watching. It looks like a Visconti film. You’re not gonna get anything later than the 70s in this category. Not yet. So skip everything contemporary.

Also, you can take off four of the fantasy ones that only got the CDG nomination. You know what that leaves you with?

  • Bohemian Rhapsody — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • The Favourite — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Mary Poppins Returns — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Mary Queen of Scots — CDG, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Black Panther — CDG, BFCA
  • Ballad of Buster Scruggs — BAFTA
  • BlacKkKlansman — CDG

Well that certainly seems manageable, doesn’t it?

I’d say you need to also consider Fantastic Beasts, because the previous entry won this category. And I’d probably say to consider something like Colette, because that’s somewhat frilly. Otherwise, I think you’re probably good with what’s here.

And, just so we can do what we did for Production Design, because they are similar categories, since 2009 when we’ve had three precursors for this category, 28 films have hit all three. Guess how many got nominated. 25 of them. The three that didn’t? Black Swan in 2010, which is contemporary and got beat out by I Am Love and/or The Tempest; Saving Mr. Banks in 2013, which is interesting (but also kind of in that Green Book mode of decent but unspectacular costumes). The Grandmaster seems to have come out of nowhere to take its spot; and Brooklyn in 2015, which got beat out by The Revenant.

So really, the only times it happens is when something without precursors jumps on. And honestly, how you gonna assume that/know what it is? So just go with the numbers and hope for the best.

This is another one where the work is basically cut out for you. Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite Mary Poppins and Mary Queen of Scots hit everything. Two frilly period pieces, one Mary Poppins and the other is Queen. I think you can feel pretty safe there. Do I think Bohemian Rhapsody is automatic? No, but it feels good knowing it hit everything. Then what’s left? Black Panther. Hit CDG and BFCA. Missed BAFTA, but that’s fine. You gotta figure that’s a shoo-in here, of any place. So that’s your fifth.

What are you leaving off? Ballad of Buster Scruggs? Okay. Let them nominate it if they’re gonna nominate it. BlacKkKlansman? Doesn’t seem like them, but maybe it’s got more support than we think. Let them nominate it. Not the worst thing to be wrong about.

This, to me, feels just like Production Design, where the fifth spot is a tossup between Black Panther and Fantastic Beasts. I think that’s your last spot and your first alternate. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Best Costume Design

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary, Queen of Scots

First Alternate: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Dark Horse: BlacKkKlansman

Surprise: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Green Book; Roma

Shocker: Aquaman, Avengers, The Nutcracker, A Wrinkle in Time, Colette

Don’t even bother: With most everything else. You can go for it, but where’s it coming from? Usually it’s very period or a big Best Picture contender

Would love to see: Me get 5/5 here for a change. That would be awesome.

I never assume more than 3/5 in Costume Design. It’s too quirky. I think the top three are pretty set. And between either Bohemian or Black Panther I think I can get 4/5 pretty easily. 5/5… no clue. Doubt it. That never happens. They’ll nominate Fantastic Beasts or something here. They just will. That’s how this branch operates. You just have to do the work, make educated guesses and hope for the best.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Easy, but a crap shoot every year.

They give you a shortlist of seven, from which three will be nominated. So not the worst thing you have to contend with, but also not the most straightforward set of nominees you have. Generally it’s obvious stuff, but it could go one of three ways at any given time. So it’s really just thinking logically about the whole thing.

Here’s your shortlist.

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Stan & Ollie
Suspiria
Vice

We can probably guess just from that list, but we have three precursors here. So let’s let them guide us as much as they can.

Makeup & Hairstylist Guild nominees:

  • Period/Character Makeup: Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins, Mary Queen of Scots, Stan & Ollie, Vice
  • Period/Character Hairstyling: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins, Mary Queen of Scots
  • Special Effects Makeup: Black Panther, Vice

BFCA: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Queen of Scots, Suspiria, Vice

BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Queen of Scots, Stan & Ollie, Vice

Not sure if any of this matters, but here’s them broken down:

  • Black Panther — M+HSG x 2, BFCA
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — M+HSG x2, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Border — nothing
  • Mary Queen of Scots — M+HSG x2, BAFTA, BFCA
  • Stan & Ollie — M+HSG, BAFTA
  • Suspiria — BFCA
  • Vice — M+HSG x2, BAFTA, BFCA

It was kind of intuitive before that, but there you go.

Vice will win this category, so you should not be picking a category without that on.

After that — Border has nothing, and how are you gonna assume it makes it out of nowhere? So leave that off. Just let it get on. Suspiria, while Tilda plays a MAN (not to mention… baby arms), has just one precursor and doesn’t seem to have any real support. Hard to figure it to get on. Gonna have to leave it off and be happy if it gets on. Stan & Ollie… doesn’t that feel like a red herring? It does to me. I guess you could put it on, but something tells me to not. So I’m doing just that.

Really this brings me to how I felt this was gonna go down: two spots, three choices. Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Queen of Scots. Both Bohemian Rhapsody and Mary Queen of Scots got nominated for all three precursors and have multiple guild nominations. And Black Panther is missing BAFTA. Neither really matters that much. BAFTA tends to ignore the American stuff. Usually you can tell when something will make it based on it getting BAFTA.

I’m gonna say they do Black Panther because they’re sheep and they go Mary Queen of Scots. Could be wrong, but that’s what I’m doing. Bohemian Rhapsody did get all the precursors, but I’m just not sure what they’re nominating with it. I guess I do, but I feel like they have better choices. So let’s say they do those three, put Bohemian as the alternate and Stan & Ollie as the dark horse. I feel like any of these can happen, which is why, as much as you have better odds, it’s still a crap shoot.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Black Panther

Mary, Queen of Scots

Vice

First Alternate: Bohemian Rhapsody

Dark Horse: Stan & Ollie

Surprise: Suspiria

Shocker: Border

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: Suspiria get nominated

Assume 1/3 and hope for the best. You can’t do more of anything in this one. No one really has a clue. You know you have Vice. After that, you’re just hoping for the best. At least 1/3 here is a 3/5 elsewhere. So as long as you’re not piling them up everywhere, you’ll do fine overall. Plus, hey, you could go 3/3 and it’ll be a boost for you. Never know.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Visual Effects. We have a shortlist and three precursors. So let’s just go into that. Shortlist is:

Ant-Man and the Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Christopher Robin
First Man
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Mary Poppins Returns
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Welcome to Marwen

Here’s VES vs. the Oscars:

  • 2017, the main category, now known as Best Effects, had 5/5.
  • 2016, Best Effects had 3/5. Deepwater Horizon was nominated in “Supporting Effects.” Kubo was nominated in a bunch of their Animated categories.
  • 2015, Best Effects had 3/5. The Revenant was nominated in Supporting. Ex Machina wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2014, Best Effects had 4/5. Captain America got lesser nominations.
  • 2013, Best Effects had 4/5. The Lone Ranger was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2012, Best Effects had 4/5. Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2011: Best Effects had 3/5. Hugo went Supporting. Real Steel wasn’t nominated by VES.
  • 2010: Best Effects had 4/5. Hereafter was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2009: Best Effects had 3/3.
  • 2008: Best Effects had 2/3. Dark Knight had three lesser nominations.
  • 2007: Best Effects had 3/3.
  • 2006: Best Effects had 1/3. Poseidon got lesser nominations and Superman Returns got one nomination.
  • 2005: Best Effects had 2/3. War of the Worlds got lesser nominations.
  • 2004: Best Effects had 2/3. I, Robot got one nomination.
  • 2003: Best Effects had 2/3. Master and Commander was nominated in Supporting.
  • 2002: Best Effects had 2/3. Spider-Man 2 wasn’t nominated by VES.

BAFTA, by the way, quite good at Visual Effects on their own. I’m gonna show you them vs. the category straight up:

  • 2017, 3/5. Missed Kong and Guardians 2
  • 2016, 3/5. Missed Kubo and Deepwater.
  • 2015, 4/5. Missed The Revenant.
  • 2014, 4/5. Missed Captain America.
  • 2013, 4/5. Missed The Lone Ranger.
  • 2012, 4/5. Missed Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, 3/5. Missed Real Steel and Transformers.
  • 2010, 3/5. Missed Hereafter and Iron Man 2.
  • 2009, 3/3.
  • 2008, 3/3.
  • 2007, 2/3. Missed Transformers.
  • 2006, 2/3. Missed Poseidon
  • 2005, 2/3. Missed War of the Worlds
  • 2004, 2/3. Missed I, Robot.
  • 2003, 3/3.
  • 2002, 2/3. Missed Attack of the Clones

And now BFCA. They’ve only been there just under a decade, but here’s them vs. the category:

  • 2017, 2/5. Missed Star Wars, Guardians and Kong.
  • 2016, 2/5. Missed Deepwater, Kubo and Rogue one.
  • 2015, 4/5. Missed The Force Awakens.
  • 2014, 3/5. Missed X-Men and Captain America.
  • 2013, 4/5. Missed The Lone Ranger.
  • 2012, 3/5. Missed Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • 2011, 3/5. Missed Real Steel and Transformers.
  • 2010, 3/5. Missed Hereafter and Iron Man 2. (Four nominees.)
  • 2009, 3/3.

So no one’s really perfect. Generally you just have to figure which way you think it’s gonna go. But also, you look at what films missed the “major” precursors there (that is, VES Best Effects or Supporting Effects, BAFTA, BFCA), Kubo got a bunch of the animated nominations from VES, Captain America got other VES nominations, and only Snow White and the Huntsman and Real Steel got on without anything. So in the past few years, the bigger category precursors do show everything in some way, shape or form.

I’m gonna do one more thing. I’m not sure if it’ll work/be helpful, but it’s worth trying to have all the information. There are 29 films since 2009 that were nominated across all three precursors. That is, nominated BAFTA, nominated BFCA and nominated either Best Effects or Supporting Effects by VES. 25 of them were nominated for Best Visual Effects. The four that weren’t: Dunkirk last year, Fantastic Beasts in 2016, Battle of the Five Armies in 2014 and Pacific Rim in 2013. So okay. Really what that tells me is, when they’re nominated in the big stuff, go with it. Otherwise, it’s kind of intuitive based on each year.

Let’s see what the precursors have for us this year. (Note: I’m only giving you how the shortlisted films did at the precursors, because, obviously.)

VES:

  • Best Effects: Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, Ready Player One, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Welcome to Marwen
  • Supporting Effects: First Man
  • Animated Character: Avengers: Infinity War (Thanos), Christopher Robin (Tigger), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Indoraptor), Ready Player One (Art3mis)
  • Created Environment: Ant-Man and the Wasp (Journey to the Quantum Realm), Ready Player One (The Shining, Overlook Hotel), Solo: A Star Wars Story (Vandor Planet)
  • Virtual Cinematography: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Gyrosphere Escape), Ready Player One (New York Race), Welcome to Marwen (Town of Marwen)
  • Model: Avengers: Infinity War (Nidavellir Forge Megastructure), Ready Player One (DeLorean DMC-12), Solo: A Star Wars Story (Millennium Falcon)
  • Effects Simulations: Avengers: Infinity War (Titan), Avengers: Infinity War (Wakanda)
  • Composting: Avengers: Infinity War (Titan), First Man, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Welcome to Marwen

BAFTA: Avengers, Black Panther, First Man, Ready Player One

BFCA: Avengers, Black Panther, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Ready Player One

So I guess the prudent thing to do now would be to see how each of the shortlisted films fared at the precursors:

(I’ll refer to the VES awards as VES-FX for the big category, VES-Sup for Supporting, and VES-Extra for the other categories.)

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp — 1 VES-Extra
  • Avengers: Infinity War — BAFTA, BFCA, VES-FX (+5 VES-Extra)
  • Black Panther — BAFTA, BFCA
  • Christopher Robin — VES-FX (+1 VES-Extra)
  • First Man — BAFTA, BFCA, VES-Sup (+1 VES-Extra)
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — 3 VES-Extra
  • Mary Poppins Returns — BFCA
  • Ready Player One — BAFTA, BFCA, VES-FX (+4 VES-Extra)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story — VES-FX (+2 VES-Extra)
  • Welcome to Marwen — VES-FX (+2 VES-Extra)

The big note is that VES will typically give you 4/5 the category on its own. And I think what should be throwing most people for a loop is the fact that VES completely shut out Black Panther. And that the two films no one really expected to see on the category (Christopher Robin and Welcome to Marwen) got on their main category, which typically gives you three of the final category, if not four. This year, First Man got Supporting, so maybe that allows them to go 3/5. Still, something you have to take into account.

But, looking at what you have — Infinity War is the most effects-lauded film, so that has to be on your list. So that’s one. Ready Player One has one less overall precursor nomination than Infinity War, and that’s because Infinity War was on a particular category twice. So that’s two. First Man hit everything in a convincing way and makes a lot of sense. Will they do it? In the era of “Best CGI” I’m not totally sold (especially with Dunkirk being left off last year), but I’d rather have it on and see them leave it off than just assume they won’t nominate it. So that’s three.

Now’s where things get trickier. Looking at the list — I have to keep Black Panther on as a major contender throughout. Which pretty much means Ant-Man isn’t gonna make it. There’s no way they nominate three Marvel movies, and the first Ant-Man got left off. So it’s an easy film to let go, especially with only one token VES nomination (and it’s for the Quantum Realm, which is the one really noteworthy aspect of that movie). So that’s one off.

Now, Jurassic World — the first Jurassic World didn’t make the Oscar category (that was in the 2015 year, same as Ant-Man, where it was all “major” films — Mad Max, Revenant, Force Awakens, Martian and Ex Machina). Weird to me to think they’ll just nominate that second one on here. So I’m gonna leave that off and just let them put it on if that’s what they’re gonna do. It doesn’t seem like them, not with the choices they have here. And it didn’t get the big VES nomination it would have needed for me to strongly consider it. So that’s two off.

Black Panther has BAFTA and BFCA, but weirdly got left off VES. The Visual Effects guild is the one nominating, so I don’t know what to make of that. But my way of thinking about it is — keep it there until the end. So I will.

Then Christopher Robin. It got the big category and one other VES nomination. Do I think they do it? No… but also, wouldn’t that be just like them? I don’t fucking know with that one. Let’s leave it alone for now.

Mary Poppins. That’s the one… that got one precursor. Nothing at VES, no BAFTA nomination. That’s tough. It had really gorgeous effects (and a hand-drawn sequence), but without anyone seemingly caring, I don’t know if they do it. BFCA has never, on its own, had a nominee. So on that alone, I’m saying they don’t do it. I’d love to see it, but the history isn’t there. It’s not a shocker to me if it gets nominated, but it is bucking a lot of historical trends. So let’s leave it off and see if it manages to get on.

Solo got the big category in VES and a couple of other nominations there. It missed the other precursors, but also… Star Wars has never not been nominated. So that’s a big assumption that it’ll all of a sudden get left off. I mean, yeah, I feel like it probably could (and might even), but I’m not sure I wanna go there on my guesses.

And then there’s Welcome to Marwen. It’s got the big VES category and two other VES nominations. No other precursors, but really the big category is all you need to be considered a major contender for this.

Okay, so I have as a given, Infinity War, First Man, Ready Player One. And then the last two spots will be either Black Panther, Christopher Robin, Solo or Welcome to Marwen. I’ll let Poppins get on and I’m not going near Ant-Man or Jurassic World. This is doable.

I’m not getting caught with my pants down on Black Panther, no matter how much I don’t think it should be nominated. But having the two non-VES precursors is enough for me to put it on, even though I do feel like they might leave it off. That said, I’m not not having it. So that’s one. And then, Star Wars. They haven’t left that off yet, so let’s assume it gets on. Put it this way — Mary Poppins is a tough call on its own, and if you don’t have Black Panther and Solo, then you’re putting your money on either or both Christopher Robin or Welcome to Marwen. I feel better with Black Panther and Star Wars.

My way is a strategic bet to pick what seem to be the obvious choices, but also get you 4/5 in the very likely event that either Christopher Robin or Welcome to Marwen makes the final category. Right now, my gut says Christopher Robin is that one that could so easily make this. It’s got that Ex Machina type of effect going on, where the characters are just there and it’s totally normal. It just feels like that one they’re gonna love and nominate. But I think my five are the ones that feel the best and the safest for me to take. So I’m going with those.

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

First Alternate: Christopher Robin

Dark Horse: Welcome to Marwen

Surprise: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Mary Poppins Returns

Shocker: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: First Man actually win this category.

Visual Effects is one where you assume 3/5 and then take anything else you get over it. It’s really not possible to do that badly on this. They usually throw you one curveball (Kong, Deepwater, Lone Ranger, Snow White and the Huntsman). Rarely are there two. So if you play it completely safe, you’ll probably go 4/5. If you take one of the outside contenders on a hunch (Mary Poppns, etc), then it’s risk/reward. If you don’t expect more than 3/5, then it’s okay if you miss. I feel like we can all get the main three, and then Black Panther just feels like a bonus because we just assume it’ll get on everywhere. Honestly I almost would say I feel confident assuming 4/5. But I know this category. You can never assume more than 3/5, no matter how solid it looks. I feel like I can tell you right now that either Black Panther, First Man or Solo will be left off and something you weren’t expecting will get on in its place. And if it’s more than one, well, that’s Visual Effects or you, and that’s why we don’t assume more than 3/5 here. If you get 5/5 here, mostly you just feel like you got away with one. So here’s hoping we can get away with one this year.

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Sound categories. The tricky thing here is that the Sound categories have to be taken together. We’re starting with Sound Editing, but you kind of have to look at Mixing while also dealing with Editing. I’ll try to do my best to give you the skinny on both, but you should read both categories before picking either. If that makes sense. (Honestly, does anything make sense at this point? I’m so deep down the rabbit hole I don’t know what the fuck is going on anymore.)

We’ll start by showing how MPSE matches the Oscar category (and throw in CAS because they have to be taken together).

  • 2017, Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Dunkirk and The Shape of Water hit all three categories. The Last Jedi was nominated in SFX+Foley. (All but Blade Runner were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2016, Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge hit all three categories. La La Land was nominated in the Musical category, Sully was in Dialogue+ADR and Deepwater Horizon was in SFX+Foley. (All five were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2015, Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant and Star Wars hit all three categories. Sicario hit the main two (Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley). (All five were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2014, Birdman hit all three categories. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hit Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley. Interstellar hit SFX+Foley and Music. Unbroken hit SFX+Foley. The Hobbit was not nominated by MPSE. (Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2013, Gravity hit all three categories. Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor hit Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley. The Hobbit hit SFX+Foley and Music. All Is Lost hit SFX+Foley. (Gravity, Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2012, Argo, Life of Pi and Skyfall hit all three categories. Django hit SFX+Foley and Music. Zero Dark Thirty was not nominated by MPSE. (Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2011, War Horse was nominated for Dialogue+ADR and SFX+Foley. Dark of the Moon and Drive were nominated for SFX+Foley and Music. Hugo was nominated in Music. (All five were nominated by CAS.)
  • 2010, Inception hit all three categories. True Grit hit Dialogue+ADR. Tron hit Dialogue+ADR. Unstoppable hit SFX+Foley. Toy Story 3 hit Animated. (Inception and True Grit were nominated by CAS.)

Generally, by looking at both categories, you can figure out what’s gonna make it on which category. It’s pretty intuitive, even though it may look like a mess of crap. Looking back to 2010, Battle of the Five Armies is the only movie that didn’t get nominated by either guild and ended up on the Editing list. And hey, for “shit happens,’ that’s a very limited scope.

The way to do this is look at MPSE, then use BAFTA and CAS to hone it. So let’s look at what we’ve got. This year, the MPSE nominees are:

  • SFX+Foley: A Quiet Place, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Deadpool 2, First Man, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Ready Player One, Roma, The Favourite
  • Dialogue+ADR: A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Green Book, Mary Poppins Returns, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Roma, The Favourite
  • Music Underscore: Aquaman, A Quiet Place, Black Panther, First Man, Isle of Dogs, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Musical: A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns
  • Animation: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Peter Rabbit, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Smallfoot, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Grinch

BAFTA (which has a single Sound category): Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Mission Impossible, A Quiet Place, A Star Is Born.

CAS: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place and A Star Is Born.

The important thing to note, before we go further — Editing is the compilation of sounds that are created, including dialogue, sound effects and music. Mixing is the entire blend of the two together. So something dialogue-heavy is more likely to be on Editing. But something with music or complex sounds is more of a Mixing thing. Last year was totally bizarre, because Arrival (which is all about the mix) ended up winning Editing and Hacksaw Ridge (which is a war movie and all-but guaranteed to win Editing) won Mixing. Completely bizarre. But that’s wins. Here, we’re only talking nominations.

So precursor breakdown:

  • First Man — MPSE (x3), BAFTA, CAS
  • A Quiet Place — MPSE (x3), BAFTA, CAS
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — MPSE (x2), BAFTA, CAS
  • A Star Is Born — MPSE (x2), BAFTA, CAS
  • Black Panther — MPSE (x2), CAS
  • Mission: Impossible — MPSE (x3), BAFTA
  • Roma — MPSE (x3)
  • The Favourite — MPSE (x2)
  • Mary Poppins Returns — MPSE (x2)
  • Aquaman — MPSE
  • Avengers: Infinity War — MPSE
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — MPSE
  • Deadpool 2 — MPSE
  • Green Book — MPSE
  • Ready Player One — MPSE

Of note: The Mission: Impossible franchise has not once been nominated for an Oscar. So just take that into account before picking it. As much as it probably should be nominated at some point. And Mary Poppins — the MPSE nominations were for Music Underscoring and for being a Musical, so that’s kind of one nomination like the rest (and more likely a Mixing thing than an Editing thing). Seems unlikely for it to get on Editing.

One thing to note, though — the big Best Picture films do tend to make it on either or both Sound categories. Consider some recent Sound Editing nominees you might not figure for Sound Editing: The Shape of Water, La La Land, Birdman, Captain Phillips, Argo. You see what I mean? If they like a movie enough, they will find a way to nominate it on the Sound categories. So do not rule out Roma or A Star Is Born in both. Or, I guess, Bohemian Rhapsody. Black Panther kind of crosses over into that “action” movie category that fits regardless of its Best Picture status.

The two Sound categories are also, as I said, intertwined. All my lists and shit are confusing the hell out of me now, because they’re all over the place. Go down and read Mixing before you go any further, because I’m using all of this data to figure this out. Mostly what I’m doing is giving myself too much to think about and then I’m just gonna say “fuck it” and guess wildly. Because you can drive yourself insane with the amount of information you have at your fingertips, wondering how much of it actually means something.

Okay, so one last thing I want to look at: how many Mixing or Editing nominees had no precursors and still got nominated? That seems like something I’d want to know.

First off — here’s a table going back to 2006 of everything nominated in both Mixing and Editing. If it’s underlined, it was nominated in both.

  • 2017: Dunkirk, Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Shape of Water, Last Jedi
  • 2016: La La Land, 13 Hours, Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Rogue One, Deepwater, Sully
  • 2015: Revenant, Bridge of Spies, Mad Max, Force Awakens, Martian, Sicario
  • 2014: Birdman, American Sniper, Whiplash, Interstellar, Unbroken, Hobbit
  • 2013: Gravity, Captain Phillips, Inside Llewyn Davis, Hobbit, Lone Survivor, All Is Lost
  • 2012: Les Mis, Lincoln, Skyfall, Life of Pi, Argo, Zero Dark, Django
  • 2011: Hugo, Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Dark of the Moon, War Horse, Drive
  • 2010: Inception, King’s Speech, Salt, Social Network, True Grit, Toy Story, Tron, Unstoppable
  • 2009: Hurt Locker, Avatar, Basterds, Star Trek, Transformers, Up
  • 2008: Wanted, Wall-E, Benjamin Button, Dark Knight, Slumdog, Iron Man
  • 2007: Bourne, Ratatouille, Yuma, Transformers, No Country, There Will Be Blood
  • 2006: Dreamgirls, Apocalypto, Blood Diamond, Flags, Dead Man’s Chest, Letters from Iwo Jima

Before 2006, there were only 3 nominees in Editing. Notice how most years there’s only one difference between the categories. We get to that in Mixing, but it’s just another way to see it.

Now, taking that table and taking off everything that managed a precursor, either in MPSE or CAS, we’re left with: 2014, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and 2007, There Will Be Blood. And, you know what? BAFTA had There Will Be Blood in 2007. So yeah, that’s really all you need to know. Your answer is somewhere on these precursors. If not, shit happens. (Also, in the one time it’s happened since 2006, it was a fucking Middle Earth movie. So you know what? If you wanna go outside of these precursors, be my guest.)

But again, here’s the list we’re working off of:

  • First Man — MPSE (x3), BAFTA, CAS
  • A Quiet Place — MPSE (x3), BAFTA, CAS
  • Bohemian Rhapsody — MPSE (x2), BAFTA, CAS
  • A Star Is Born — MPSE (x2), BAFTA, CAS
  • Black Panther — MPSE (x2), CAS
  • Mission: Impossible — MPSE (x3), BAFTA
  • Roma — MPSE (x3)
  • The Favourite — MPSE (x2)
  • Mary Poppins Returns — MPSE (x2)
  • Aquaman — MPSE
  • Avengers: Infinity War — MPSE
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — MPSE
  • Deadpool 2 — MPSE
  • Green Book — MPSE
  • Ready Player One — MPSE

First Man and A Quiet Place hit everything I’d want to see them hit, so they’re on.

I can also take off Aquaman, Deadpool, Green Book Infinity War and Buster Scruggs. Scruggs I guess wouldn’t shock me if they nominated it, but I’ve got way more convincing arguments for everything else, so that’s staying off until they nominate it. I also feel like Mary Poppins would really surprise me in Editing over Mixing, so that’s not making my list. Because something like that, unless it’s gonna make both, it’s Mixing only. So that’s off.

That leaves me with seven options for three spots. That’s not so bad. And since Mission: Impossible has never been nominated anywhere, I’m not sure that trend starts now. So I think I leave that off and see what they do with it. I’d love to see it, but it’s also one where — no CAS, so that’s not giving me a lot of confidence. BAFTA is nice, but not something I’m using as a guarantee. If anything, that feels like Editing only and not Mixing. So i you are gonna play the hunch and put it on, only put it in Editing. (Especially with three musicals this year. Mixing is tighter than usual.) So that’s three spots, six contenders left.

Of the six contenders left — two of them are musicals and two of them are “Best Picture” films. Technically all four are Best Picture films, but two are decidedly musicals and will factor much more heavily in Mixing. Meaning, if you’re looking for an Editing surprise or difference (since generally the two categories tend to have one movie not the same), they’re the most likely cast-offs.

But also, only two movies were not nominated at all at MPSE and managed a nomination in Editing in the past decade. One was The Hobbit in 2014, which missed everything, and Zero Dark Thirty, which hit CAS and was enough of a war movie to think it was obviously a contender in both categories (especially since The Hurt Locker won both Sound categories). So I’m thinking they might just go with most of the same stuff here.

Back Panther hit both Sound guilds. It missed BAFTA, but that doesn’t mean as much to me. I’m putting it on both Sound categories, because I assume it’ll get on one at the very least, and I’m not getting caught not having it on my lists. So that’s three down, and four contenders for two spots.

Ready Player One only has the one MPSE nomination, but it is in the one category I’d want to see it in. So that’s a help. And it makes a shit ton of sense here, and is Spielberg, who got both Bridge of Spies and Lincoln on in Mixing in recent years. A nomination for this is not out of the cards by any stretch of the imagination.

The last four contenders are interesting: Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, Roma and The Favourite.

The Favourite did get SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR nominations, which are the two big ones for MPSE. And Roma got both of those and Music to boot. It hit the trifecta.

Bohemian Rhapsody, meanwhile, got Dialogue+ADR and Musical. BAFTA was gonna happen because it’s one category and it’s a British film. So that doesn’t mean as much. And CAS helps, but how much for Editing over Mixing. But it didn’t get SFX+Foley, which is the big category to hit at MPSE. A Star Is Born did the same thing. Dialogue+ADR and Musical, along with BAFTA and CAS. If I’m already assuming both Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born get on Mixing, I have a hard time assuming they’re both gonna get on here too.

But that’s what’s so interesting about this year. There’s kind of a consensus going on, but also… musicals.

My gut is telling me, take First Man, take A Quiet Place. and put Black Panther on both Sound categories. My gut is also telling me not to put Bohemian Rhapsody on in Mixing. Because why the fuck would they do that? Usually you need obvious sound design to make both, or be a huge Best Picture movie. Which that is not.

A Star Is Born I could make the case for as a huge Best Picture film. But for me, The Favourite or Roma make more sense as the Best Picture contender that makes Editing. And Roma hit all three MPSE categories. So yeah, I’ll put Roma on, playing that hunch. It makes no sense, but nothing makes sense this year. I also think A Star Is Born may have peaked too soon and will get its nominations, but not those extra nominations that major Best Picture contenders get. So my hunch says Star Is Born does not make both Sound categories. Maybe I’m insane, but that’s what I’m doing. And Ready Player One makes all the sense in the world as a Sound nominee in at least one category. So I’ll put that on here, because this one’s more open. Probably the biggest hunch I’m playing, but I, for some reason, feel totally okay about it. No idea why, but I do.

Honestly, I don’t know at all. So this is one where, you have a shit ton of information and it’s Sound, so no one has any real idea. Just go for it and hope for the best. This is probably, admittedly, the one place where most people would stray from my picks for sure, just because I’m doing something that doesn’t logically fit with the precursors. But if there’s one thing we know, they never fully go with precursors and crazy shit happens. I’m just trying to see if I can guess where something slightly out of the box happens. Which might even be crazier. Look, none of this fucking matters. Just pick the damn category. What’s the worst that happens? You guess poorly? Just go for it.

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther

First Man

A Quiet Place

Ready Player One

Roma

First Alternate: A Star Is Born

Dark Horse: The Favourite

Surprise: Bohemian Rhapsody, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Mary Poppins Returns

Shocker: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Aquaman, Avengers: Infinity War

Don’t even bother: Deadpool 2, Green Book, Solo: A Star Wars Story

Would love to see: Mission Impossible finally get an Oscar nomination, honestly. Otherwise I’d just say ‘me go 5/5 here’ like I do every year.

I’m not totally confident with my choices. I feel like I can get 3/5 here, but those last two, no fucking clue. Maybe Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody get on. Maybe The Favourite and/or Roma get on. This is the one category where I’m taking the biggest leaps with my guesses. But I think Roma will sneak an extra nomination somewhere. It’s at about 7. I think it gets to 8 somewhere, and one of the Sound categories makes the most sense. And since Mixing is more clear cut than this, I’ll put it here. So yeah, I’ve convinced myself of my own stupidity, but I truly don’t know how this is gonna turn out. Go nuts and hope for the best.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Sound Mixing. We already covered MPSE and all that. So let’s start by showing just how many times Mixing and Editing have matched as categories (whcih we sort of did up there in a different way).

  • 2017, they matched 5/5.
  • 2016, they matched 3/5. Arrival, Hackasaw Ridge, La La Land. (Deepwater Horizon and Sully got on Editing and Rogue One and 13 Hours made Mixing.)
  • 2015, they matched 4/5. Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars. (Sicario got on Editing and Bridge of Spies got on Mixing.)
  • 2014, 4/5. American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken got both. (Mixing had Whiplash and Editing had The Hobbit.)
  • 2013, 4/5. Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Hobbit and Lone Survivor got both. (Mixing had Llewyn Davis and Editing had All Is Lost.)
  • 2012, 3/5. Argo, Life of Pi and Skyfall got both. (Editing had Zero Dark and Django, and Mixing had Les Mis and Lincoln.)
  • 2011, 4/5. Hugo, Dragon Tattoo, Transformers and War Horse got both. (Editing had Drive and Mixing had Moneyball.)
  • 2010, 2/5. Inception and True Grit had both. (Editing had Toy Story 3, Tron Legacy and Unstoppable. Mixing had The King’s Speech, Salt and The Social Network.)
  • 2009, 4/5. The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek got both. (Editing had Up and Mixing had Transformers.)
  • 2008, 4/5. Dark Knight, Slumdog, Wall-E and Wanted got both. (Editing had Iron Man and Mixing had Benjamin Button.)
  • 2007, 4/5. Bourne Ultimatum, No Country, Transformers and Ratatouille got all four. (Editing had There Will Be Blood and Mixing had 3:10 to Yuma.)
  • 2006, 4/5. Apocalypto, Flags of Our Fathers, Blood Diamond and Pirates got all four. (Editing had Letters from Iwo Jima and Mixing had Dreamgirls.)

Before then, Editing only had three nominees. But we’ll go back to 2002 anyway.

  • 2005: King Kong, War of the Worlds and Memoirs of a Geisha got both.
  • 2004: The Incredibles, The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2 got both.
  • 2003: Master and Commander and Pirates got both. (Editing had Finding Nemo.)
  • 2002: Two Towers and Road to Perdition got both. (Editing had Minority Report.)

Basically what this means is… they’re mostly gonna match. 4/5 is the typical match, but some years you get 3/5.

Here’s CAS vs. the Mixing category, straight up:

  • 2017, 4/5. They had Wonder Woman and missed Blade Runner.
  • 2016, 3/5. They had Doctor Strange and Sully and missed 13 Hours and Arrival.
  • 2015, 4/5. They had Hateful Eight and missed The Martian.
  • 2014, 4/5. They had Guardians and missed Whiplash.
  • 2013, 4/5. They had Iron Man 3 and missed The Desolation of Smaug.
  • 2012, 3/5. They had The Hobbit and Zero Dark Thirty and missed Argo and Life of Pi.
  • 2011, 2/5. They had Hanna, On Stranger Tides and Super 8 and missed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dark of the Moon and War Horse.
  • 2010, 3/5. They had Black Swan and Shutter Island and missed The King’s Speech and Salt.
  • 2009, 4/5. They had District 9 and missed Inglourious Basterds.
  • 2008, 3/5. They had Iron Man and Quantum of Solace and missed Benjamin Button and Wanted.
  • 2007, 3/5. They had Into the Wild and 300 and missed Ratatouille and 3:10 to Yuma.
  • 2006, 4/5. They had Babel and missed Apocalypto.
  • 2005, 4/5. They had Crash and missed Chronicles of Narnia.
  • 2004, 3/5. They had Bourne Supremacy and Finding Neverland and missed Incredibles and Polar Express.
  • 2003, 5/5.
  • 2002, 4/5. They had Catch Me If You Can and missed Gangs of New York.
  • 2001, 4/5. They had Shrek and missed Amelie.
  • 2000, 5/5.

That’s 18 years. And in 18 years, they’ve matched 5/5 twice, matched 4/5 nine times, matched 3/5 six times and matched 2/5 once. So 4/5 from CAS seems pretty solid.

Now I want to compare CAS to Sound Editing. I want to know if any of the missed CAS nominees hit Editing instead of Mixing and how many of them in general were nominated for Editing. This is a lot, I know. I’m nuts. But hopefully it’ll all make sense by the end.

CAS vs. Best Editing:

  • 2017, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Baby Driver, Dunkirk, Shape of Water and Last Jedi. They had Wonder Woman and missed Blade Runner. (Blade Runner was nominated for 3 MPSE awards, as we said.)
  • 2016, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge and Sully. They had Hateful Eight and Bridge of Spies instead of Deepwater Horizon and Arrival. (Arrival had 3 MPSE nominations. Deepwater Horizon had 1.)
  • 2015, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Mad Max, The Revenant and Star Wars. They had The Hateful Eight and Bridge of Spies instead of The Martian and Sicario. (The Martian was nominated for 3 MPSE awards and Sicario 2.)
  • 2014, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken. They had Guardians and missed Battle of the Five Armies (which went un-nominated by MPSE.)
  • 2013, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Gravity, Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor. They had Inside Llewyn Davis and Iron Man 3 and missed All Is Lost and Desolation of Smaug. (Smaug was nominated for 2 MPSE awards and All Is Lost 1.)
  • 2012, 2/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty. They had Les Mis, An Unexpected Journey and Lincoln and missed Argo, Django and Life of Pi. (Argo and Life of Pi were nominated for 3 MPSE awards and Django 2.)
  • 2011, 1/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Hugo. They had Hanna Moneyball, On Stranger Tides and Super 8 and missed Drive, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dark of the Moon and War Horse. (War Horse, Dark of the Moon, Dragon Tattoo and Drive were nominated for 2 MPSE awards.)
  • 2010, 2/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Inception and True Grit. They had Black Swan, Shutter Island and The Social Network and missed Toy Story 3, Tron and Unstoppable. (Tron and Unstoppable were nominated for 2 MPSE awards and Toy Story 1.)
  • 2009, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Avatar, The Hurt Locker and Star Trek. They had District 9 and Revenge of the Fallen and missed Inglourious Basterds and Up. (Inglourious Basterds was nominated for 2 MPSE awards and Up 1.)
  • 2008, 4/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, Wall-E and Iron Man. They had Quantum of Solace and missed Wanted. (Wanted was nominated for 1 MPSE award.)
  • 2007, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched No Country, Bourne Ultimatum and Transformers. They had 300 and Into the Wild and missed 300 and Ratatouille. (Ratatouille was nominated for 1 MPSE award and 300 was not nominated.)
  • 2006, 3/5 were nominated in Editing. They matched Flags of our Fathers, Dead Man’s Chest and Blood Diamond. They had Babel and Dreamgirls and missed Letters from Iwo Jima and Apocalypto. (Letters from Iwo Jima and Apocalypto were nominated for 2 MPSE awards.)

This is showing you just how intertwined these two categories are. We may have already showed that, but it’s giving you all the different permutations.

This year:

  • CAS: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, A Star Is Born
  • BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Mission Impossible, A Quiet Place, A Star Is Born

And then, a reminder of MPSE:

  • SFX+Foley: A Quiet Place, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Deadpool 2, First Man, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Ready Player One, Roma, The Favourite
  • Dialogue+ADR: A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Green Book, Mary Poppins Returns, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Roma, The Favourite
  • Music Underscore: Aquaman, A Quiet Place, Black Panther, First Man, Isle of Dogs, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Musical: A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns

You have First Man and A Quiet Place hitting everything and getting three MPSE nominations. So you should for sure have those on your Mixing list regardless.

Now, A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody hit CAS, the one BAFTA Sound category and got nominated for Musical and Dialogue+ADR at MPSE. So they’re a pretty solid bet for Mixing. They’re musicals. They love musicals here.

That leaves one more spot, and Black Panther got BAFTA and Music at MPSE along with SFX+Foley. I’m not leaving it off my Sound categories. So, without really trying, my Mixing category is already filled.

However, it’s important to note what other films could get on here, because rarely (last year being a major exception) are you gonna have 5/5 in both Sound categories matching and basically your precursors spelling out that those are the nominees.

  • I feel like Ready Player One is a legitimate contender for both Sound categories. Editing makes so much more sense than Mixing, but when it’s a contender in one, likely it’s a contender in both. And that one feels like a contender in both.
  • Mary Poppins. It’s also a musical, and got two MPSE Music nominations. Could happen. Tight category, but it could sneak on at something else’s expense (I’m thinking Black Panther or A Quiet Place, personally).
  • Mission: Impossible. Tough call. Never been nominated at the Oscars and much more of an Editing type of movie. But when it’s a contender in one, it’s a contender in both. So we mention it. Still, never being nominated… I feel okay thinking it doesn’t get on Mixing at the very least.
  • Roma. Best Picture frontrunner. These movies get Sound nominations. What the hell did Birdman have, sound-wise that was so amazing. Mixing and Editing? I can see one, but both?
  • The Favourite. Same as Roma. If they like it enough, they’ll just nominate it up and down all the categories. Could happen in one or both Sound categories. You never know.

Still, I feel okay with the category I’ve got.

Best Sound Mixing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place

A Star Is Born

First Alternate: Ready Player One

Dark Horse: Roma

Surprise: Mary Poppins Returns, The Favourite, Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Shocker: Green Book, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Don’t even bother: Aquaman, Green Book, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story

Would love to see: Ready Player One make it. (Oh, and the 5/5 thing, I guess.)

I’m feeling much better about Mixing than Editing, which I guess isn’t saying much, but also if there’s one category I think I’m most solid on a 3/5 with a possible 4/5, it’s definitely this over Editing. So I’ll take it. Still, I think if these five are not your 5, then in all likelihood Ready Player One gets on or it’s a Best Picture movie like Roma or The Favourite. I’m not sure there’s another option for this one. But this is where the curveballs come, so my feelings mean absolutely nothing.

Also, Mixing and Editing tend to usually match 4/5. So probably you wanna take one of these over one of the ones I took off in Editing. Though really what I think is gonna happen is one of the Editing ones no one’s expecting (Roma, Ready Player One) gets on in Mixing and Editing, and that’s the 4/5. But we’ll see. Either this year is gonna undo all the uniformity the Sound categories have given us over the years or just make it even more so and make it seemingly easier for us going forward.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Time for Best Animated Feature. There are 25 eligible films. Here they are:

Ana y Bruno
Early Man
Fireworks
The Grinch
Have a Nice Day
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
The Laws of the Universe – Part I
Liz and the Blue Bird
Lu Over the Wall
MFKZ
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Mirai
The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl
On Happiness Road
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Ruben Brandt, Collector
Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
Sherlock Gnomes
Smallfoot
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Tall Tales from the Magical Garden of Antoon Krings
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Tito and the Birds

Only eight of these really have any shot for a nomination. But let’s break them all down.

Of the 25 films, I can tell you right now, these ones for sure will not be nominated:

Fireworks, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, The Laws of the Universe – Part I, Liz and the Blue Bird, Lu Over the Wall, MFKZ, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, On Happiness Road, Sherlock Gnomes, Tall Tales from the Magical Garden of Antoon Krings, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

That’s about half the list. There are 14 films left. I was trying to be as exclusive as possible. I doubt anyone actually believes the films listed above have any real shot at it. And looking at how they’ve altered the voting in the category the past year, I’d probably put more on there automatically. But let’s say some of these other ones have a nominal shot.

These next ones are the ones, for whatever reason, could happen, but I don’t think anyone really sees:

Ana y Bruno, Have a Nice Day, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, The Night Is Short Walk on Girl, Ruben Brandt Collector

That leaves nine real possibilities. I threw one extra one on just in case they decide they want to be artistic again. Which, after last year, seems doubtful. Let’s run them down in alphabetical order:

  • Early Man — It’s Aardman. They get nominated here. They missed Arthur Christmas in 2011 and Flushed Away in 2006. But they have a win with Wallace and Gromit in 2005, and nominations for both The Pirates! and Shaun the Sheep. You can’t rule them out.
  • The Grinch — Illumination has only been nominated once, for Despicable Me 2. They generally don’t make movies that wind up here. The Grinch made money and got the reviews to theoretically make it. But is this the kind of movie they’d vote for? I was surprised Ferdinand made it on last year. The Boss Baby also made it. Is this another one of those? I don’t know.
  • Incredibles 2 — This has hit every list so far, and unless they totally reject Pixar as they have in sequel years, this gets on. The change in the voting system only helps this. I’d leave it on until they leave it off.
  • Isle of Dogs — It’s Wes Anderson. It’ll be nominated. Of course, once it does, it’ll be an afterthought in the category. But they will nominate it. This has hit every precursor thus far. It’s on.
  • Mirai — There’s something like seven or eight animes eligible this year for the first time ever, and this is the only one that has any kind of a shot at the category. They’ve never nominated a non-Ghibli anime in this category, so it’s a very tall order. And the voting system does not help something like this. The new system benefits American studio movies. So it’s 50/50 as to whether this makes it on. Maybe not even that high.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet — if this weren’t such a weird year, I’d be adamant that this wasn’t gonna make it. Disney and Pixar very rarely make the same category. Especially when it comes to sequels. Toy Story 3 is the only Pixar sequel to be nominated until this point, and this is Disney’s second sequel ever. There is no precedent for this, but this branch used to soundly reject these sequels. But the voting system is the way it is. I don’t know if this makes it or not. I’m still not sure if it does.
  • Smallfoot — This hasn’t really gotten any precursors, and has mostly flown under the radar. Could they nominate it? Sure. Will they? No clue. Seems unlikely, but at this point, two spots are solidly open, and this voting system has not revealed itself to have a pattern just yet. So we’re pretty much in wait and see mode, with this as a possible contender.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — This is nominated, and it will probably win. It’s this vs. Incredibles. The issue you run up against are the people who automatically vote Pixar regardless because they haven’t seen anything and just assume the Pixar movie is the best. Still, it’ll get on. That’s all you need for now.
  • Tito and the Birds — this is the most “artistic” of the rest of the nominees. That would have gotten it a stray nominee in place of one of the Disney/Pixar films if this were three years ago. Now, it feels like a complete afterthought. But we’ll mention it because maybe they still have that artistic space inside of them.

You’ve got your top three pretty much figured out: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs and Into the Spider-Verse. They hit every precursor and in a year as weak as this, why would you even think any of those gets left off? So that’s 3/5. Now you just have to pick two more. Your choices:

  • Early Man
  • The Grinch
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Smallfoot
  • Tito and the Birds

It’s two of them. If this were 2015, the two would be Tito and the Birds and Early Man, and you wouldn’t be sure if Incredibles 2 would actually make it on. 2018, for all we know it could be Smallfoot and The Grinch. Nobody has any idea, and if they say they do, they’re lying.

Here are the precursors, in case you put stock into those:

  • Globes: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • BAFTA: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • BFCA: The Grinch, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Annie Awards: Early Man, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Also at the Annies… MFKZ, Mirai, Ruben Brandt and Tito and the Birds got nominated for Best Animated Independent.

Total Annie nominations:

  • Incredibles 2 — 10
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet — 10
  • Into the Spider-Verse — 7
  • Early Man — 7
  • Isle of Dogs — 4
  • Hotel Transylvania — 3
  • The Grinch — 3
  • Mirai — 2
  • Ruben Brandt — 2
  • Smallfoot — 1
  • Teen Titans Go — 1

Incredibles, Isle of Dogs and Spider-Verse hit everything. They even got BAFTA, and one would assume they’re stingier than most when it comes to this sort of thing. I haven’t looked, but it feels like they have standards. Ralph Breaks the Internet has a Globes nomination, a BFCA nomination and has 10 Annie nominations including the big category. Mirai has the Globes and BFCA. The Grinch has BFCA, and Early Man has 7 Annie nominations including the big one.

The precursors are generally only gonna get you the obvious, major choices. They don’t really reflect the quirkiness of the voting of the Academy. So they’re only gonna take you so far. And I’m sure if I looked, the Annies are loaded with movies that get a bunch of nominations and never get on the Oscar list. So really, you’re just gonna have to figure that shit out for yourself.

Here’s how I’m figuring out these last two spots. One: I’m putting Ralph Breaks the Internet on. Why? Because I feel like people who can vote for this category will just blindly nominate Disney on reflex when they run out of spots for the stuff they want to get on. Plus, 10 Annie nominations, plus general acclaim. And, selfishly, I want to laugh if and when it doesn’t get nominated. Granted, that’s below all the other stuff, but it does factor into it a little bit for me. I’d rather have it and be happily wrong than not have it and “of course it got on.” So that’s one spot.

The other spot — Early Man, The Grinch, Smallfoot, Mirai.

Smallfoot, I don’t see any reason to guess it, so I won’t. It’s got no precursors, and I don’t think there’s real history for that happening. Even last year, Ferdinand and The Boss Baby were Globe nominees. So that’s not the guess. The Grinch just has BFCA, and no one seems to really care about Illumination in this category. So I’ll just be wrong.

That leaves Early Man and Mirai. And you know what? Early Man also has no precursors. And looking at Aardman’s history… I guess Pirates! had no precursors, but Shaun the Sheep did, and that was more recent.

I’m gonna go Mirai. It hit the Globes, it hit BFCA and it did get some presence at the Annies. So yeah, that’ll be the fifth. Let’s say this is the year. If anything, what’s the fifth movie? The Grinch? That’s boring. I’m not picking boring.

Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Mirai

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

First Alternate: Early Man

Dark Horse: The Grinch

Surprise: Smallfoot, Tito and the Birds

Shocker: Ana y Bruno, Have a Nice Day, The Night Is Short Walk on Girl, Ruben Brandt Collector

Don’t even bother: Fireworks, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, The Laws of the Universe – Part I, Liz and the Blue Bird, Lu Over the Wall, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, MFKZ, On Happiness Road, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, Sherlock Gnomes, Tall Tales from the Magical Garden of Antoon Krings, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Would love to see: The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl get nominated.

I think you’ve got 3/5 locked and a pretty good chance at 4/5 assuming Ralph gets on. And with the new system, it seems like more of a likelihood than previous years. The real question is that fifth spot. Maybe Mirai breaks the anime trend, maybe they broke a good system by opening it up and now The Grinch is on. No clue. Maybe it’s just Early Man instead of Mirai and then nobody really knows anything about what the state of the category is. We truly don’t know. I think I’ve got a decent shot at 4/5 here.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Foreign Language Film. Here’s your shortlist:

Birds of Passage (Columbia)
The Guilty (Denmark)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Shoplifters (Japan)
Ayka (Kazakhstan)
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Roma (Mexico)
Cold War (Poland)
Burning (South Korea)

Nine films, five will be nominated.

I’ve seen six of these. I still need to see Birds of Passage, Shoplifters and Ayka. Of what I’ve seen — Roma is a top ten film for me, Cold War was very good, The Guilty was a very solid thriller, Capernaum was quite good, Never Look Away was ehh, and Burning was decent. Means nothing for the category, but there you are.

Here are the other precursors and what they did:

  • BAFTA: Capernaum, Cold War (also nominated for Director, Cinematography and Screenplay), Roma, Shoplifters
  • BFCA: Burning, Capernaum, Cold War, Roma, Shoplifters
  • Globes: Capernaum, Never Look Away, Roma, Shoplifters

This feels like a lot of shortlisted movies for them. Usually it’s like, two or three at most. Here they seemed to agree on a lot of the choices.

I don’t think any of us are gonna be caught not having Roma and Cold War on our lists. So that’s 2/5 of the category right there. Mexico and Poland. Now we’re left with three spots and six films. Capernaum hit everything, so I’d put that on too. So 3/5 done.

Two spots, and the films left are: Ayka, Never Look Away, The Guilty, Birds of Passage, Shoplifters, Burning.

I feel like Never Look Away is the weakest of the bunch, and is three-hours long. Not sure if that matters, but it’s the one I feel most confident in saying they won’t nominate. It just doesn’t feel like them. Burning is the slowest of the remaining films and I’m just not sure if they’re gonna go there. So that’s another one I’m leaving off to see if they go for it.

The Guilty is a strong contender, and is basically a one-man show, with the lead actor being the only person primarily on screen the whole time. I heard they’re trying to remake it in English with Jake Gyllenhaal. Of course, it probably won’t happen, but an American remake potential is a good sign for things to possibly get nominated. Still, I’m leery that they’d actually go there. It’s like an 85 minute thriller in a single location. This is one that I wouldn’t normally expect them to go with, even though I’d say it would be one of the three or four most popular films if you had a large group of people watch all the contenders. Still, my gut tells me they leave it off. That’s more of an instinct than anything else. I have no clue.

Birds of Passage I haven’t seen, but they did nominate Embrace of the Serpent. No idea if that helps it or hurts it, but it’s there. Shoplifters, meanwhile, won Cannes, and Ayka won Best Actress at Cannes. These are the three I think are most likely to make it on.

Now, at the moment, I put Mexico, Poland and Lebanon on my list. If I’m assuming Germany doesn’t get on and South Korea doesn’t get on, and I’m not crazy about Denmark’s chances, that leaves Columbia, Japan and Kazakhstan. Okay, so that’s pretty diverse no matter how you slice it. I don’t generally put stock into that, but when you look at how the committee forcibly shortlists certain films to get the diversity quota up, you almost have to look at it a little bit. I like to think it’s about quality, so I try not to look at what the countries are at all in this stage. (Shortlist, sure, because they can force 3 films on without getting votes. But here, it’s gotta be about quality or else it’s completely broken, as opposed to flawed, which we all believe it to be.)

I think I’d put Shoplifters on, just because it won Cannes and feels like something people would like. And then the fifth spot — Birds of Passage or Ayka… I don’t know, give me Ayka. Complete coin flip. Without having seen them I have nothing to go by.

Best Foreign Language Film

Ayka

Capernaum

Cold War

Roma

Shoplifters

First Alternate: Birds of Passage

Dark Horse: The Guilty

Surprise: Burning, Never Look Away

Shocker: N/A

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: No real rooting interest here. Just don’t go rogue on me like last year.

I think we can feel confident about 3/5 here (can never expect more than that, really). I think I have a good shot at 5/5. But I also think there’s less than a 10% chance I go 5/5. That is never something I pull off, so I automatically assume 1 will be wrong at the very least. (10% or less is, in this category, a “good” shot at 5/5.) As long as this isn’t a repeat of last year, where they screwed me by nominated one of the weakest films on the shortlist, I think I can get 3/5 for sure, and possibly 4/5 if I get lucky.

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– – – – – – – – – –

Best Documentary. Shortlist is 15:

Charm City
Communion
Crime + Punishment
Dark Money
The Distant Barking of Dogs
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
On Her Shoulders
RBG
Shirkers
The Silence of Others
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I’ve only seen nine of these. For some reason like three of them aren’t even out yet. Which is a great way to build excitement for a category. Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on all of them:

  • Loved: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • Liked a lot: RBG, Free Solo, Three Identical Strangers
  • Was fine: Shirkers, Crime + Punishment
  • Ehh: Communion, Minding the Gap
  • Did not like: Dark Money
  • Haven’t seen: Charm City, The Distant Barking of Dogs, Hale County This Morning This Evening, Of Fathers and Sons, On Her Shoulders, The Silence of Others

I don’t really pay attention to the precursors, but just about every list I’ve seen has Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Three Identical Strangers, RBG and Free Solo on it. Usually all four, sometimes three of the four. At that point, I’m just gonna put them all on and be wrong about whatever I’m wrong with. Because what else can you do? They shortlisted like three or four foreign ones, a couple that can’t be seen unless you’re voting… it’s like they want us to check out of this category more than we already do. So I’m just gonna vote for what I think are the best ones and hope quality wins out.

This category has become such a mystery to me, especially in recent years. I don’t know what the criteria is for voting. I guess I’m just gonna go through what they’re all about and pick randomly for that last spot. I’m sure I’ll get at least one of my four wrong, but at least I’m comfortable with them.

Here’s what the rest of them are about.

  • Charm City — Delivers an unexpectedly candid, observational portrait of those left on the frontlines. With grit, fury, and compassion, a group of police, citizens, and government officials grapple with the consequences of violence and try to reclaim their future.
  • Communion — Ola, a 14-year-old girl, takes care of her dysfunctional father, autistic brother, and a mother who doesn’t live with them and tries to reunite the family.
  • Crime + Punishment — This is about police officers who speak up against the city’s illegal and continuing practice of forcing them to meet ticket quotas and the retribution they face for doing so.
  • Dark Money — Examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana–a front line in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide–to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impact of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
  • The Distant Barking of Dogs — Follows the life of 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg throughout a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence beneath the pressures of war. Oleg lives with his beloved grandmother, Alexandra, in the small village of Hnutove. Having no other place to go, Oleg and Alexandra stay and watch as others leave the village. Life becomes increasingly difficult with each passing day, and the war offers no end in sight. In this now half-deserted village where Oleg and Alexandra are the only true constants in each other’s lives, the film shows just how fragile, but crucial, close relationships are for survival. Through Oleg’s perspective, the film examines what it means to grow up in a war zone. It portrays how a child’s universal struggle to discover what the world is about grows interlaced with all the dangers and challenges the war presents.
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening — Composed of intimate and unencumbered moments of people in a community, this film is constructed in a form that allows the viewer an emotive impression of the Historic South – trumpeting the beauty of life and consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously a testament to dreaming.
  • Minding the Gap — Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust-Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.
  • Of Fathers and Sons — Talal Derki returns to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera is providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up in an Islamic Caliphate.
  • On Her Shoulders — Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi, survived genocide and sexual slavery committed by ISIS. Repeating her story to the world, this ordinary girl finds herself thrust onto the international stage as the voice of her people.
  • Shirkers — About a woman who made a film in Singapore twenty years ago and her and her friends looking back on it, and their mysterious film teacher who helped them.
  • The Silence of Others — Reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day. Filmed over six years, the film follows the survivors as they organize the groundbreaking ‘Argentine Lawsuit’ and fight a state-imposed amnesia of crimes against humanity, and explores a country still divided four decades into democracy.

Also what’s interesting about this category in recent years: Netflix wins this category last year and has two nominations. They have one nomination in 2016. Two nominations in 2015. One nomination in 2014. One nomination in 2013. They’ve managed a nomination every year. This year, only one documentary of theirs is on the shortlist. And that’s Shirkers. Does that mean it gets on? Or has Netflix overlooked this category this year in favor of bigger aspirations? Don’t know, but it’s worth mentioning. However, this category has gotten very political in recent years, and arguably the four I have (at least three of the four) are more “populist” choices. Shirkers would be a fifth. That’s very unlike them and really is only serving to make me think this category is, like last year, gonna be a bloodbath.

I don’t think this category is going to go the way we think it’s gonna go. But also, with so few films having even come out before now, how can you even begin to figure how it’s gonna go? Especially with the documentary branch so mysterious in their methods (and clearly broken, given how few times the consensus best documentaries even get shortlisted, let alone nominated)? I feel like they’ve decided to get overly political in their nominations, and then the open vote produces a populist winner most of the time. That’s been the last five years of this category.

Honest at this point — watch them leave Won’t You Be My Neighbor off. Would that honestly surprise you, knowing them? At this point I’m half expecting it. That’s who they are, and that’s why I can’t ever expect to do well in this category come nominations time.

That said, looking at that list up there — I didn’t like Dark Money. Doesn’t mean they won’t nominate it, but it might be too raw a topic for them. Basically how all this secret money pours into local elections and influences them. Elections are basically bought and sold and the voting process barely means anything anymore (as if we didn’t already know that). Plus, would they go there, knowing that Netflix is basically the same thing for Oscar nominations? What are we doing here? Is this not how things get nominated and have gotten nominated? What, you think Weinstein just knew how to talk to people? They fucking funneled money into a campaign to get things nominated. That’s exactly what the documentary is about. Though honestly, on that level, I kinda hope they nominate it, because how fucking tone deaf would that shit be?

Communion was pretty good, but I feel like they need at least one political entry on this list, and this isn’t it. Charm City sounds like a possibility. Crime+Punishment could happen, but I saw it and I’m not sure I’d nominate it. I like the issue (because I grew up around it), but I’m not sure if the branch at large cares. Minding the Gap people seemed to like, but I didn’t particularly care. Also though, if I saw it, then it’s out there, so at least I can see why it would have some sort of shot.

The Distant Barking of Dogs sounds interesting, but have enough people see it/do enough people care? I feel like I have to leave it off on principle. Because if they nominate it, how the hell were you gonna pick that outside of “sounds good”? At that point, it’s one of the shorts categories. Is that how far this category has fallen? The Silence of Others — I don’t know why they would ever nominate that here, so that’s one I’m saying for sure don’t even bother with. Just let them nominate it. What the hell are you gonna do? It legitimately did not play anywhere yet. How can you guess that?

On Her Shoulders sounds like the kind of documentary I’d think they’d nominate. But they also ignored the Malala documentary a few years ago. I don’t know where their interests lie, so again I’m just gonna have to let them nominate it. Because I can’t figure one way or the other on it. Of Fathers and Sons sounds like them. But how do you know for sure? What do you do with that? And Hale County, I heard it was very good, and it came out, so I guess that has a shot?

No fucking clue. Honestly, I’m just washing my hands of this category and putting Shirkers as the number five. Just going full populist and am gonna let them do what they want. Does that mean 1/5, 2/5? Maybe. But you know what? I expect to do that in Live-Action Short or Documentary Short. And I legitimately feel more comfortable about my guesses in those categories than I do here. Which is saying something. I’m pretty much done with you documentary fucks. You gotta clean this shit up. This is messy.

Best Documentary Feature

Free Solo

RBG

Shirkers

Three Identical Strangers

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

First Alternate: Crime + Punishment

Dark Horse: Minding the Gap

Surprise: Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Of Fathers and Sons; Dark Money

Shocker: Charm City; The Distant Barking of Dogs; On Her Shoulders

Don’t even bother: Communion; The Silence of Others

Would love to see: Won’t You Be My Neighbor and RBG make it. I can do without the others, but at least leave those two on. Otherwise absolutely nobody cares about your category.

It’s documentary. I think I went 2/5 here last year. It’s always a disaster zone, because you never know what they’re gonna do. The ones that seem like the best ones they just don’t nominate. And then you get a pseudo political documentary that makes you wonder “Why is this here?” The Netflix influence only goes so far, and this year will only possibly affect one spot. That’s when you’re gonna see some interesting stuff. I know I have to put some stuff up there in the ‘shocker’ category, but truly nothing shocks me in this category anymore. That’s just me trying to figure which are “lesser” contenders. But honestly, I don’t think I can ever eliminate more than like three or four total documentaries from my guesses. You never know where the hell they’re gonna pull their nominees from. But also, I’m secretly hoping they go with my list, or most of it, because at least that way I’ll have some sort of interest in this category. Otherwise it’s basically just a piss break.

I’d also say that this is the one category I might go back and think different of and edit between now and midnight, but what am I gonna do, stop in the middle of dinner and go, “That’s it! The Hungarian war documentary is gonna make it!” based on nothing? Seriously, what the fuck do you do with this category? It’s not even like the precursors help us, because they willfully ignore those most years, to the point where I’ve never even learned what they are. Because they don’t matter that much.

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Documentary Short. Shortlist of ten, and we pick five.

Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
Los Comandos
My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.
’63 Boycott
Women of the Gulag
Zion

Linked in all of those is either the full doc, a trailer or a clip, depending on what I could find.

  • Black Sheep — Cornelius’ mother, scared for her son’s safety, moved their family out of London. Cornelius suddenly found himself living on a white estate run by racists. Rather than fight back, Cornelius decided to become more like the people who hated him. But as the violence and racism against other black people continued, Cornelius struggled to marry his real identity with the one he had acquired.
  • End Game — Facing an inevitable outcome, terminally ill patients meet extraordinary medical practitioners seeking to change our approach to life and death.
  • Lifeboat — Volunteers from a German non-profit risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts pushing off from Libya in the middle of the night. LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary, global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way.
  • Los Comandos — Violence has overrun El Salvador. The emergency medical unit Los Comandos de Salvamento is standing up to the gangs’ reign of terror. Sixteen-year-old Mimi is a dedicated Comando caught in the cross hairs. When her fellow Comando, 14-year-old Erick, is gunned down while serving, she faces pressure to flee El Salvador and head north.
  • My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes — A short documentary that follows director Charlie Tyrell as he tries to uncover a better understanding of his deceased father through the random objects he inherited, including a pile of VHS dirty movies.
  • A Night at the Garden — Archival footage of an American Nazi rally that attracted 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden in 1939, shortly before the beginning of World War 2.
  • Period. End of Sentence — In an effort to improve feminine hygiene, a machine that creates low-cost biodegradable sanitary pads is installed in a rural village in Northern India. Using the machine, a group of local women is employed to produce and sell pads, offering them newfound independence and helping to de-stigmatize menstruation for all.
  • ’63 Boycott — In 1963, 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. ’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest Northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, and youth activism.
  • Women of the Gulag — The film tells the story of the last known group of women who survived being held in the Soviet-era forced labor camps called Gulag. The Gulag was a brutal system of repression and terror that devastated the Soviet population during the regime of Joseph Stalin and was first described by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in “The Gulag Archipelago”.
  • Zion — Born without legs and stuck in foster care for years, teen Zion Clark finds his calling when he pursues competitive wrestling. A documentary short.

I’ve seen Black Sheep, End Game, My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, A Night at the Garden and Zion. So half the list. That’s not bad for this category.

A Night at the Garden is literally seven minutes of footage from a Nazi rally and nothing more. To that end, I’d be surprised if they nominated it. Because they didn’t even intercut it with clips of a Trump rally or anything like that. They just left it to the imagination. So at that point it’s basically a restoration project more than it is a documentary. So I don’t think they go there, but the one thing you have to hold sacred about this category is: you don’t know shit. So grain of salt.

Zion is fine, but there’s no real story there. It’s “he has no lower body and he’s a wrestler, and isn’t that inspiring?” And it is. But you don’t know anything about his life outside of the ring, really, and I feel like that’s a major drawback to wanting to nominate it. They like uplifting stories and political stuff. This is kind of uplifting, but doesn’t go the full nine. They like people overcoming disabilities with art. Not sure they go here.

Black Sheep is solid. Immigrant family lives in London. They see that an immigrant child was murdered on his way home and decide to move. Only when they move, the new place is just as racist, if not more. So you see how racism affected this kid’s life and sort of changed who he is. Definitely something I’d look to them to nominate. Keep that in your top grouping.

End Game is Netflix. They’ve gotten a nominee on the past couple years, and it’s always felt like this sort of documentary. Like Extremis, about people in ICUs making life-altering decisions. This is people dealing with end of life care. I’m putting that on my list automatically because Netflix has the money to get stuff like that on the list.

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, on title alone, is the best thing we have this year and I am rooting for this to make it. It’s a NY Times Op Doc, which… a bunch of those have gotten shortlisted in the past. But generally only the important ones make it on. Like, last year the one called Ten Foot Tower, I think it was called, got shortlisted. And it was basically ten minutes of a camera positioned on a high dive board, with people standing up there and showing whether or not they would jump. Fascinating, but not really something they like in this category. This one… 50/50. Because it’s about a guy dealing with his father’s death by going through all his things and trying to figure out who the man was. On the other hand, we don’t really get any answers and the aforementioned porno tapes get zero play. They’re just there for a catchy title. So while I’d love if they nominated it, I feel like people watching all these documentaries might not be so emotionally swayed by this one. Because for me, what they want out of this category is to feel either, “I’m doing something good by nominating this” (be it bringing attention to an issue or feeling like they’re combatting an issue by acknowledging that it’s bad) or “Wow, that’s really inspiring (you think I can get the rights to that as a feature?)” (see: The White Helmets, Freehold and probably more. But I just came up with two off the top of my head). So I’m not totally sold they nominate this, as thrilled as I would be if they did.

So those are the five that I’ve seen. As for the other five:

Period. End of Sentence. is not only something that sounds like it’ll get on based on subject matter alone, but it’s produced by Netflix’s publicist in charge of getting them Oscars (though not a Netflix documentary at the moment). So yeah, pretty good bet this one gets on.

Los Comandos is about an emergency medical service that continues to fight in the face of gang violence and drug violence in El Salvador. Definitely sounds like something they go for.

’63 Boycott is a documentary that talks about the boycott of schools in Chicago 55 years ago over racial inequality versus all the protests by young people today over the same issue. Does that sound like something they might be interested in?

Women of the Gulag is a story about women in Russia who were put into labor camps. Definitely sounds like something they’d go for. So leave that in contention too.

Lifeboat is a Syrian refugee crisis film. I feel like they’re over that, as an industry. They nominated a bunch two years ago, like one last year, but I feel like they’re over it. They churn up new issues the way the Golden Globes picks a new winner for Best Comedy/Musical TV show every year (“New issue, who dis?”)

So looking at that, my personal feeling (and really all I have in this category is my history of doing it and my gut feelings about what they tend to like. It usually serves me pretty well here, all things considered) is that you have six major contenders:

  • Black Sheep
  • End Game
  • Los Comandos
  • Period. End of Sentence
  • ’63 Boycott
  • Women of the Gulag

The other four I’d guess are less likely. Could Zion or Lifeboat be nominated? Absolutely. My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes? Hope so. Night at the Garden? Sure. But these six fit what this category is all about, and I feel like if you limit yourself to those you have a much higher chance of getting more of them right. How do you pick your six? No clue. But here’s what I’m doing.

I’m taking End Game because it’s Netflix. It fits. They’ve gotten one of these on the past two years and they have the money to get something like that on this list. So that’s one. I’m putting Period. End of Sentence. on because it feels like the kind of thing that wins this category most years. And, as I said, one of the producers is the publicist in charge of getting Netflix Oscar nominations, so basically the same kind of reach. Wouldn’t be surprised if you called this the winner of the category right now. So that’s two. ’63 Boycott is everything I want to see out of this category and everything they like. I’m putting it on. Not 100%, but as close as you’re gonna get. This is the issue du jour, so I’d figure they’d lap it up. That’s three.

Now, three docs, two spots. Los Comandos, Women of the Gulag, Black Sheep. Los Comandos I’m putting on, because that just feels like everything this category is about. It’s one of those things where, if you guess this category every year, you look at it and go, “Of course that’s on.”

The last spot — I’ll tell you how this would usually go. I’d say, “Women of the Gulag, that sounds interesting as hell. I’m putting that on because it sounds really good.” And then I’d leave Black Sheep on as the alternate, and of course that would get on instead. So I’m just gonna flip them this year. I’ll put Black Sheep on and take Women of the Gulag off. Black Sheep is also on Amazon, so that makes me feel like it might have a bit more exposure. Does that matter? Not really. But I’m expecting to get everything wrong anyway. So this year I’m gonna go opposite what I’d normally do and see what that does. Either way, I’m expecting to get 3/5 here maximum. So everything above that is a bonus.

Best Documentary Short

Black Sheep

End Game

Los Comandos

Period. End of Sentence.

’63 Boycott

First Alternate: Women of the Gulag

Dark Horse: Lifeboat

Surprise: Zion, My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes

Shocker: A Night at the Garden

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: A documentary called My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes be nominated for an Oscar. Otherwise I’m good.

I feel like there are only six major “contenders” here, so you’re sitting okay regardless. That said, I’m sure I’m way wrong about that and everything I didn’t say to nominate will be nominated and you’ll just be fucked. You have no idea. It’s all just guesswork. But I’ve seen half the contenders and I know generally what they like. So I think I can get 3/5 here pretty easily. Anything above that I’m just getting lucky.

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

Live-Action Short. Five of ten again. Shortlist is:

Caroline
Chuchotage
Detainment
Fauve
Icare
Marguerite
May Day
Mother
Skin
Wale

Links to trailers/clips (though three have links to the full shorts). Here’s what they’re all about:

  • Caroline — When plans fall through, a six-year-old is faced with a big responsibility on a hot Texas day.
  • Chuchotage — During a professional conference in Prague, two interpreters in the Hungarian booth realize that only one person is listening to them. They vie for her attention.
  • Detainment — Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. A true story based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case which shocked the world in 1993.
  • Fauve — Set in a surface mine, two boys sink into a seemingly innocent power game with Mother Nature as the sole observer…
  • Icare — On a tiny island encircled by steep cliffs, a unique house stands alone facing the sea. Obsessed by the dream that, one day, man may be able to fly just like a bird, an inventor experiments with machines on this abandoned piece of land. For this man, only a pure, light and naive soul is capable of such a feat. Recruited from the continent, 11-year-old Joseph seems to be the perfect candidate.
  • Marguerite — An aging woman and her nurse develop a friendship that inspires her to unearth unacknowledged longing and thus help her make peace with her past.
  • May Day — A dozen desperate job seekers find themselves trapped in the most awkward job interview ever.
  • Mother — While at home in her apartment with her own mother in Spain, a woman gets a phone call from her six-year-old son, who’s on holiday in France with his father. Every parent’s nightmare ensues.
  • Skin — A small supermarket in a blue collar town, a black man smiles at a 10 year old white boy across the checkout aisle. This innocuous moment sends two gangs into a ruthless war that ends with a shocking backlash. (Note: This is actually already becoming a feature with Jamie Bell starring. It premiered at Toronto last year Which might be a first for this category, that a short has already gotten the feature treatment before it was shortlisted.)
  • Wale — An 18 year old youth offender is trying to get his own business going as a mechanic. But enterprise isn’t so easy when you’re a young, black male with a criminal past. And it doesn’t get any easier when you’re framed by one of your new clients for a harrowing crime.

I’ve seen only three of these. Fauve was very solid. Icare was whatever (looked good though). And Caroline was very engaging, but felt a bit short and not complex enough for me (I wanted more). Other things to note — Skin already has been turned into a feature and it played Toronto a few months ago. And Chuchotage and May Day are the two comic shorts of the bunch. Generally there’s one comedic short they nominate each year.

Okay, that’s what I’ve got. The rest is all just guesswork. This is the category you expect to do horribly on and just roll the dice.

I am not guessing Icare, so that’s one off for me. Caroline… I can see them nominating it, but I’m gonna leave it off. We’ll see how that goes. Fauve, another one I can see them nominating. 50/50 for me right now.

I think at least one of the comedy shorts gets on. Chuchotage or May Day. Not sure which, but I’ll put both. Why not. Detainment sounds intense, so I’ll put that on. Wale just sounds like the kind of thing they’d nominate that I’d never have. Mother — sounds intense. Not sure hat to make of it though. 50/50.

I’m leaving Skin off because it just doesn’t seem like something that gets on. Mother I’ll put as a dark horse. Marguerite could easily make it, but I don’t know what the whole thing is really about, so let’s just call that the alternate. And I’ll put Fauve on just because I heard about it before the shortlist even came out so that must mean festivals or something.

So there we are. This category is the one that’s the most guesswork. You pretty much just have to figure it out and hope for the best. No one can really guess this. The most you have going for you is, “They like ones with kids, particularly uplifting ones” and “one comedy one usually makes it.” There’s no real romantic one or anything like that this year. So you’re kinda flying blind. Just pick and hope you do well.

Best Live-Action Short

Detainment

Chuchotage

Fauve

May Day

Wale

First Alternate: Mother

Dark Horse: Fauve

Surprise: Caroline, Skin

Shocker: Icare

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: N/A

Assume 2/5 and hope for the best. What can you do here?

– – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – –

And finally, Animated Short. I always like to end with a fun one.

Here are the ten shortlisted films:

Age of Sail
Animal Behaviour
Bao
Bilby
Bird Karma
Late Afternoon
Lost & Found
One Small Step
Pépé le Morse
Weekends

All of these were, for a time, available to watch online, which allowed me to see them all. Now, most of them have been taken down, but a bunch still are up there to see.

Pepe le Morse, Lost & Found and Weekends were nominated at the Annies, for what that’s worth. Typically that does mean they make it, though I do see a couple of notable omissions over previous years.

  • Age of Sail — Set on the open ocean in 1900, Age of Sail is the story of William Avery (voiced by Ian McShane), an old sailor adrift and alone in the North Atlantic. When Avery reluctantly rescues Lara, who has mysteriously fallen overboard, he finds redemption and hope in his darkest hours.
  • Animal Behaviour — Animated anthropomorphized characters in a therapy session.
  • Bao — A Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from empty nest syndrome gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive.
  • Bilby — Set in the Australian outback, ‘Bilby’ follows the desert-dwelling marsupial Perry through the trials and tribulations of “parenthood” after he saves a defenseless chick from predators and inadvertently becomes her protector.
  • Bird Karma — A tale of a long-legged bird’s journey of blissful joy, inescapable greed and the accidental discovery of the consequences when too much is not enough.
  • Late Afternoon — An elderly woman drifts back through her memories. She exists between two states, the past and the present.
  • Lost & Found — A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.
  • One Small Step — The story of Luna, a Chinese American girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut.
  • Pepe le Morse — On the windy and cloudy beach, Granny is praying, Mum is shouting, the sisters don’t care, Lucas is alone. Grandpa was a weird guy, now he’s dead.
  • Weekends — ‘Weekends’ is the story of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents. Surreal dream-like moments mix with the domestic realities of a broken up family in this hand animated film set in 1980’s Toronto.

I’ve seen all ten. I can say for certain that Bao will make it. Bilby is DreamWorks and I’d rather have that on than not have it. So that’s two.

One Small Step is absolutely incredible and I’m putting on my list purely because I feel like, if I could watch it and cry, so could everyone else. And they like that. Will it get on? Don’t know. They’ve left emotional stuff like this off before (remember the gay romance one with the heart from last year?). So I don’t know. But I’m putting it on. It’s worth as much of a shot as anything else. Lost & Found is stop motion and gorgeous, so I’ll put that on too. So that’s four right there. One spot left. That’s tough.

Animal Behaviour I didn’t much care for and I don’t think I’d guess it. It doesn’t amount to a whole lot. Won’t stop them from nominating it, but I’m just not going there myself. Bird Karma was nice, but felt a bit slight. So I’m leaving that off too for sure.

So what’s left? Late Afternoon was gorgeous and feels like it’ll get on. But then there’s also Weekends, which was really good too. And Pepe le Morse, which fits the category as well. And then Age of Sail, which is the Google VR short. Jesus. This is tough. Good year.

I feel like they’re gonna leave One Small Step off, but I don’t want to admit it. So many of these could get on. Age of Sail is by the guy who did Paperman. How do you leave that off you guess list? Late Afternoon is quite solid and has great animation by one of the animators on Song of the Sea.

Okay, screw it. I’m leaving Age of Sail and Late Afternoon off and putting Weekends on. I had to choose somewhere. I think this category goes at least eight deep. So you’re just gonna have to go for it and hope for the best. I’m kinda hoping they leave Bilby off and don’t just nominate it because it’s DreamWorks. That would open it up to some of the more interesting things, animation-wise.

Best Animated Short

Bao

Bilby

Late Afternoon

Lost & Found

One Small Step

Weekends

First Alternate: Age of Sail

Dark Horse: Late Afternoon

Surprise: Animal Behaviour, Pepe le Morse

Shocker: Bird Karma

Don’t even bother: N/A

Would love to see: My ideal category here is Lost & Found, One Small Step, Bao, Weekends and Late Afternoon. Even Age of Sail would be okay. If they can mix those in, which I think are the best examples of short animation from the shortlist, I’ll be happy.

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