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Our Oscars Preview - The Niche Categories [2024]



By: Hopster & Isaac P. Ale
March 05, 2024

It's Oscars Week '24! Maybe this is our year to nail our predictions... Here is Part 2 of our preview.

Mahito and Himi in The Boy and the Heron The Boy and the Heron [2023]

Best Animated Feature Film


Nominees

  • The Boy and the Heron – Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki (+125)
  • Elemental – Peter Sohn and Denise Ream (+2900)
  • Nimona – Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, Karen Ryan, and Julie Zackary (+2300)
  • Robot Dreams – Pablo Berger, Ibon Cormenzana, Ignasi Estapé, and Sandra Tapia Díaz (+3400)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Amy Pascal (-210)

Predictions

Isaac: Look, here's the deal. I absolutely loved Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and was quite vocal on my adoration. The follow-up film to the Best Animated Feature winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was nothing short of a spectacle. The style of the film, voice acting, story, and everything else really, all came together to create one of the biggest events in animated filmmaking of the year. I am also going to ignore The Super Mario Bros. Movie in this regard because that's the third highest grossing animated film of all time and wasn't nominated here, which regardless of quality, feels like a total "fuck off" from the Academy to Illumination. But also, there's the sleeping giant in Hayao Miyazaki who arose from his retirement slumber (once again) to just drop a movie pretty much out of thin air. His latest film, The Boy and the Heron, was released with absolutely zero marketing, only having a trailer to provoke interest. Then of course the movie released to immense critical acclaim and was once again, another movie I absolutely loved. Not to discount these other films, but Neon isn't even releasing Robot Dreams until like two weeks from now so what are we even doing? This is a battle of Godzilla and Kong. A fantastic Spider-Man animated sequel vs. the master of animation himself, Miyazaki. Could there be a better matchup!? The answer is no, and the odds are actually against The Boy and the Heron right now. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has taken home the Critics Choice, Annie Award, and PGA for Animated Feature Film. But, The Boy and the Heron has wrangled away the Golden Globe and BAFTA keeping it well within the mix. Miyazaki's previous film, The Wind Rises, lost in the Oscar race to Frozen, which was a phenomenon all on it's own so can we really compare the races right now? Maybe, but maybe not. The sheer success of The Boy and the Heron from no marketing is a testament to the unstoppable power of Miyazaki's storytelling, and I think that train keeps on rolling. The Boy and the Heron probably could've been in Best Picture this year but that's neither here nor there, but I think it brings home its big prize this year.

Hopster: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Amy Pascal

Letter to a Pig Letter to a Pig [2023]

Best Animated Short Film

Nominees

  • Letter to a Pig – Tal Kantor and Amit R. Gicelter (-180)
  • Ninety-Five Senses – Jared and Jerusha Hess (+850)
  • Our Uniform – Yegane Moghaddam (+2900)
  • Pachyderme – Stéphanie Clément and Marc Rius (+1800)
  • War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko – Dave Mullins and Brad Booker (+175)

Predictions

Hopster: I'm not looking for an 'atta boy' or a well-earned pat on the back, but I just think its important for everyone to know that I have seen EVERY short nominated for this year's Oscars. Please temper your applause, I know what you must be thinking – 'WOW, that's really impressive, you are SO worldly, and MUST have a pretty good idea about which shorts should win in their respective categories!!' Though your praise and kind words are appreciated, I've learned that seeing all of the shorts doesn't necessarily guarantee any level of clairvoyance when making Oscar predictions. My best guess for this category is that the betting frontrunner, Letters to a Pig will win. Perhaps more so than its peers, this film perfectly amalgamates its unique art direction to match the deeply felt and mournful sentiment of its story and characters. It combines real life pictures with abstract doodles and creates an open-to-your-interpretation opportunity for its audience to assess some of the poignant dichotomy that is sketched out on screen (fact vs. fiction, innocence vs. trauma, love vs. violence, etc.). My hunch is that animators may gravitate towards this nominee on their ballot. It would be a great choice.

Isaac: War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko – Dave Mullins and Brad Booker

Best International Feature Film


Nominees

  • Io capitano (Italy) – directed by Matteo Garrone (+2300)
  • Perfect Days (Japan) – directed by Wim Wenders (+1800)
  • Society of the Snow (Spain) – directed by J. A. Bayona (+550)
  • The Teachers' Lounge (Germany) – directed by İlker Çatak (+2900)
  • The Zone of Interest (United Kingdom) – directed by Jonathan Glazer (-1500)

Predictions

Isaac: Much like my companion I am here to casually brag about watching all of the International Features this year. However, unlike Hopster this does in fact bequeath the title of "Worldly" to myself. Let's hold all applause until the end please. I'd love to talk about all of these films and their merits for winning, which is well deserved. But the truth of the matter is, this is a runaway victory for The Zone of Interest. It almost feels like cheating in a way, that The Zone of Interest is nominated for Best Picture which means it must be the best International film? Otherwise if Society of the Snow wins then it should've been in the Best Picture race? I don't think we've ever encountered such a scenario and even though Society of the Snow was an extraordinary film, I don't think it walks away with the win.

Hopster: The Zone of Interest (United Kingdom) – directed by Jonathan Glazer

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar [2023]

Best Live Action Short Film


Nominees

  • The After – Misan Harriman and Nicky Bentham (+1400)
  • Invincible – Vincent René-Lortie and Samuel Caron (+2600)
  • Knight of Fortune – Lasse Lyskjær Noer and Christian Norlyk (+550)
  • Red, White and Blue – Nazrin Choudhury and Sara McFarlane (+1900)
  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Wes Anderson and Steven Rales (-550)

Predictions

Hopster: Very rarely does a filmmaker who is as accomplished and well-known as Wes Anderson get nominated in one of the short film categories at the Academy Awards. More often than not, this category is populated by up-and-coming filmmakers who are working on a shoestring budget to breathe life into their passion projects for what will certainly be a small audience (and if they're lucky, a break-even on their box office returns). In another year, I might've put a bit more weight behind Knight of Fortune, a Danish film I really enjoyed that gracefully juggles grief and comedy with incredible efficiency. But this award is Wes' to lose. I mean this with all due respect to the other nominees in this category, but The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is the equivalent of a Division 1, All-American defensive tackle lining up against four significantly smaller, middle-school-aged offensive lineman playing in their first tackle football game. This Roald Dahl adaptation is something of a vanity project for Netflix and Anderson alike, but that doesn't mean it lacks the ambition or craftsmanship expected of the Wes Anderson brand. Maybe this isn't how we might've envisioned Wes winning his first Oscar, but maybe that means this is, in some ways, the perfect way for him to win.

Isaac: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Wes Anderson and Steven Rales

Best Documentary Short Subject


Nominees

  • The ABCs of Book Banning – Sheila Nevins and Trish Adlesic (-125)
  • The Barber of Little Rock – John Hoffman and Christine Turner (+2200)
  • Island in Between – S. Leo Chiang and Jean Tsien (+2200)
  • The Last Repair Shop – Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers (+170)
  • Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó – Sean Wang and Sam Davis (+430)

Predictions

Hopster: As is often the case, none of these films rely on much subtlety or nuance. A short runtime calls for maximum efficiency in trying to tell a story and get your point across, so the Documentary Short Subject category is often a collection of films that are tightly packaged, thematically heavy, and oftentimes political. For this year's Oscars, I think this group boasts the strongest top-to-bottom lineup of the three short films categories. Island in Between and The Barber of Little Rock are solid entries to this mix of nominees even though they are both longshots to win. There is a case to be made that any of the other three nominees could take home gold on Sunday. I'm predicting that the current polling favorite, The ABCs of Book Banning, comes out on top. It looks and feels the part of an Academy-winning documentary short: it is about a hot-button social-political topic, it involves a bunch of precocious children talking into camera, it moves quickly and covers a lot of ground, and it will absolutely rally (some) viewers to its cause in convincing fashion. This might not be the best film of the bunch, but it is worthy of its received praise and will certainly draw in the most attention.

Isaac: The Last Repair Shop – Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

Best Documentary Feature


Nominees

  • Bobi Wine: The People's President – Moses Bwayo, Christopher Sharp, and John Battsek (+1900)
  • The Eternal Memory – Maite Alberdi (+3400)
  • Four Daughters – Kaouther Ben Hania and Nadim Cheikhrouha (+550)
  • To Kill a Tiger – Nisha Pahuja, Cornelia Principe, and David Oppenheim (+1700)
  • 20 Days in Mariupol – Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner, and Raney Aronson-Rath (-750)

Predictions

Isaac: This is such an insane field this year, even the film with the lowest odds, The Eternal Memory, was a documentary I absolutely loved. But, there's only two films that really have a good chance of pulling through, 20 Days in Mariupol and Four Daughters. The former was the big winner of the BAFTA and DGA whereas the latter pulled through with various independent awards such as the Gotham, César, Spirit, amongst other film festival awards. The odds disparity between the two is a little perplexing because either could really come away with a win. That being said, I've always been a 20 Days in Mariupol truther and I really think Mstyslav Chernov's documentary pulls through in the end. BAFTA and DGA wins are huge steps towards this award and although Four Daughters is a damn great option, 20 Days in Mariupol feels like the right choice.

Hopster: Four Daughters – Kaouther Ben Hania and Nadim Cheikhrouha

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