It's Oscars Week '22! Here is Part 1 of our preview1.
Isaac: This category is loaded. I can't think of a single film here that doesn't deserve to win! As amazing as The Worst Person in the World and Flee are, this really is Drive My Car's award to lose. The indie darling has done nothing but amass critical acclaim and become an awards juggernaut this season. Seeing it win Best International Feature is just icing on the proverbial cake of this awards circuit.
Hopster: What a way to start -- this is an incredible slate of nominees. Ryusuke Hamaguchi really delivered a masterwork with Drive My Car; just last week, I wrote about how this film deserves even more coverage and rather than do that here and now, I think I'll try to double-back and give it its own review in the near future when I've had the chance to rewatch it. For now, let me reiterate this point: while this film deserves to be leading the pack in this category, I'm more interested in seeing if it can make a run at Best Picture. While winning this Oscar would certainly be an immense victory, after the sheer amount of success accolades this film and Hamaguchi have garnered, winning Best International Feature Film might come to feel like some kind of consolation prize. Since I'm still undecided and hedging my Best Picture predictions / hopes / dreams, I'm going to throw my weight behind The Worst Person in the World as a looming sleeper. Joachim Trier's idiosyncratic but deeply romantic portrait on young adulthood through the eyes of a uncertain but perfectly human female character (played marvelously by Renate Reinsve) was one of the best movie-going experiences I had in 2021. While Trier's film winning seems rather unlikely, an unexpected vote split that favors Drive My Car in Best Picture could potentially flip this category in favor of something else. While that outcome seems unlikely, I have to agree with and defer to Paul Thomas Anderson's doting opinions when it comes to appreciating The Worst Person in the World.
Isaac: The Long Goodbye is my big winner here. Riz Ahmed is fantastic as always, and it is (I think) the heavy front-runner as well. On My Mind is probably my second favorite, a beautiful and heartbreaking short that also involves my (drunk) passion of karaoke.
Hopster: Film & Froth is, has been, and will continue to be a supporter of all things that involve Riz Ahmed, so you know damn well I'm pulling for The Long Goodbye here.
Hopster: If I'm remembering correctly, this category is usually fairly unpredictable -- probably because historically fewer people had access to the shorts. That randomness has dramatically diminished as of late due to the influx of streaming services. For those who want to check out the shorts, they have increased access to do so now more than ever before. The odds are in favor of The Queen of Basketball, and that's what I'm anticipating will win as well.
Isaac: This field is insane, all of these topics are such human issues and hard-hitting at that its hard to necessarily pick which one is the best. No matter what I think the big winner here is Netflix who is behind 3 of the nominees: Audible, Lead Me Home, and Three Songs for Benazir. Lead Me Home is one of the harder hitting ones for me living in Seattle a documentary short highlighting the homelessness crisis on the West Coast is extremely close to home for me. A problem in which a solution is pretty far from the present is pretty gut wrenching to watch in documentary format. Audible is the front-runner here as we continue our wonderful exploration and spreading of information on the deaf community this year, but I'm going to put my weight behind The Queen of Basketball which was incredible to see and taught me an incredible amount. Not to mention I'd love to see Shaq get an Oscar for his production credit here.
Isaac: Summer of Soul has been on an absolute tear as of late and might be the unstoppable force here. But I really, really really don't want Flee to come away with nothing. Therefore, I'm throwing my hat behind Flee and praying it comes out on top here.
Hopster: More on Flee in a minute, but I have to go with Summer of Soul in this category. Without a doubt, this was one of the best things I saw in 2021. An argument could've (and maybe should've) been made that Questlove's directorial debut trascended a "consolidatory" category (like Drive My Car) and belonged in the Best Picture hunt, too. Either way, it was brilliantly put together and further proves that everything Questlove does creatively is exceptional (he's a modern-day jack-of-all-trades).
Isaac: I'll admit I've only seen one of these, and it just happens to be the front runner Robin Robin, shouts out to Netflix.
Hopster: For the sake of variety (and from the perspective of someone an almost embarrassingly uninformed opinion), I'm going with The Windshield Wiper, which currently has the second best odds2.
Hopster: On the one hand this feels like it could be a runaway category -- Encanto, the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature Film is not only a delightful film but also an obvious betting favorite. It joins the ranks of Disney/Pixar cannons as another Oscar-favorite Since 2010, Walt Disney Animation Studios has released 11 animated feature films, 8 of which have been nominated for an Oscar in this category (including Raya and Encanto from this year). Of those 8 nominations, they have won 3 times (Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6 (2014), Zootopia (2016)). During that same time, Pixar has released 14 animated feature films (not including this year's Turning Red), 9 of which have been nomianted for an Oscar (including Luca from this year). Of those 9 nominations, they have won 6 times (Toy Story 3 (2010), Brave (2012), Inside Out (2015), Coco (2017), Toy Story 4 (2019), Soul (2020)). Adding that all up, a Disney or Pixar production has won in this category 9 out of the last 11 years (actually the last 12 out of the last 14 years if you want to include a Pixar three-peat leading into that with Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008), and Up (2009)). The only two outliers were Rango (2011) -- which is super underrated -- and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), which is one of the most innovative films in the animated arena of the last decade. While in no ways would Encanto an unworthy winner, I'd like to see the Academy expand its view to films without a Disney watermark attached to them. Though The Mitchells vs. the Machines seems to fit the bill as "outlier animated film with innovative style and a family-centric story and jokes for adults, too," I'm predicting Flee as a slightly-out-of-nowhere and radical upset. The central figure of the story, a man under the alias as Amin Nawabi, and director Jonas Poher Rasmussmen, deserve this award. We mentioned this in our write-up after the Oscar nominations were announced: Flee became the first film to receive Oscar nominations for Best Animated Film, Best Documentary Film, and Best International Film all in the same year (also, Riz Ahmed was an executive producer on this, so you already know how we feel about that). This unprecedented cross-category recognition needs to be rewarded, and I think it winning in this category would not only be the most provocative choice for Oscar voters to make, it would be the right one. Though I'm picking Encanto, I am rooting for Flee.
Isaac: Ugh. Another year another Best Animated Feature Film stuffed with Disney and Pixar films that are probably going to win over much more deserving films. Now look, I loved Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto, and I thought Luca was alright; but what Flee and The Mitchells vs. the Machines has done for the medium of animation is downright marvelous. Flee is a genre-bending heart wrenching masterpiece and The Mitchell's vs the Machines is a new style of animation and a full on blast to watch. If the Academy isn't rewarding new ventures into the animation space then what's the point of innovating? What's the point of doing something new if its not rewarded for how amazing it is?? These movies weren't made just for awards but the recognition is definitely appreciated for everyone that took part in it. I'm ready for the Disney/Pixar supremacy to end and hope voters give Flee or Mitchells the Oscar here, the latter of which I'm predicting will win.