Oscar finalists are coming: here’s what to expect
This Tuesday should bring the last great novelty of the Academy in 2021: the list of films that have been part of the Oscar preselections.
While most Oscar categories go directly to the nominations vote, which will take place from January 27 to February 1, 10 categories use this intermediate stage: Best International Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Best Original Song. , Best Original Music, Best Makeup & Hairstyle, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Live Action & Animation Shorts.
This year, 93 international films, 138 feature-length documentaries, 84 songs and 137 scores are in the running. The presets will include 10 films in the visual effects, sound and makeup categories, and 15 in all others.
Here are some thoughts on what might go to the next round in some of the categories:
Best international feature film
For the second year in a row, you shouldn’t really expect the most difficult and disturbing films to make the international selection. These films were typically added to the shortlist by a handpicked executive committee that would review the top picks from general voters and add three (usually adventurous) picks to complete the list – but when the list was expanded from 10 to 15 films for the last time this year, these “savings” from the executive committee have been wiped out. The vote is now entirely in the hands of the so-called General Committee, members who volunteer to look at at least 12 of the 93 nominations and rate them on a scale of 6 to 10.
We don’t know how many members have volunteered for this task (rumors say the number is around 900) or how many will follow along and see enough movies for their scores to count (one-third to half of them, may -to be ?) . But the system means dark, uncompromising movies just might struggle.
Scandinavia, on the other hand, looks very good in the ballot. Danish animated documentary ‘Flee’ and ‘The Worst Person in the World’ in Norway will certainly make progress, while Finland’s ‘Compartment # 6’ will as well. Icelandic ‘Lamb’ is more controversial, but the presence of Noomi Rapace and a distribution deal with A24 could give it an extra boost, while Swedish sports drama ‘Tigers’ is the longest shot in the region.
Joining Denmark and Norway at the top of the odds are “A Hero” in Iran, by two-time winner Asghar Farhadi, and “Drive My Car” in Japan, which was recently named Best Picture of the Year by New York Film Critics. Circle. “The Hand of God” in Italy also seems likely, despite lingering murmurs that director Paolo Sorrentino’s latest Oscar nomination, “The Great Beauty” (who won), was only selected through the intercession of Executive Committee.
One of the most viewed contenders is “I’m Your Man” in Germany, a romantic comedy starring British actor Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”) as an android programmed to be the perfect companion. of a German workaholic. If you are by the fact that it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the French film “Titane” appears to be a slam dunk for the preselection – but the deeply transgressive and violent film about a young woman (disguised as man) who gets pregnant after having sex in a car may need (and likely will get) strong support from adventurous voters and the Academy’s foreign contingent. And in Mexico, “Prayers for the Stolen” received wide-ranging support, including an LA screening hosted by Guillermo del Toro; It also doesn’t hurt that it’s available on Netflix.
Entries from Czech Republic (“Zatopek”) and South Korea (“Escape From Mogadishu”) are more crowd-pleaser, while “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” from Bhutan will likely outperform the “Pebbles” more tough India (a Globe nominated Golden) as Southeast Asia’s strongest entry. Georgia’s “Brighton 4th” could be the other Asian film with a decent shot in the shortlist.
It’s a safe bet that the list will be predominantly European, with other strong contenders from this continent including “La Grande Liberté” from Austria, “The playground” from Belgium, “The good boss” from Spain. (a black comedy by Javier Bardem chosen from “The Parallel Mothers” by Pedro Almodóvar “),” Olga “from Switzerland and” Beehive “from Kosovo.
Finally, two African films – “Lingui, les ties sacrés” from Chad and “The Gravedigger’s Wife” from Somalia, her country’s first submission – could remain in the running to be only the fourth African nominee during the competition. last decade.
And while “Memoria” in Colombia and “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” in Romania have garnered a lot of attention, these are the kind of films that have been tailor-made for those now-defunct executive committee backups.
Best Feature Documentary
Back in the days when every eligible film was screened and rated by small committees, the Documentary Directorate routinely produced puzzling shortlists that left out many of the year’s most notable non-fiction films. It rarely happens now that voting is more open, but increased democratization also makes it harder for under the radar movies to squeeze into the shortlist. Most of the time, those who do the last 15 are the hottest docs of the year.
This year that means “Summer of Soul”, “Ascension”, “The First Wave”, “In the Same Breath”, “The Rescue”, “Attica”, “Fayi Dayi” and Flee “are in good shape. As of 2019, no film has ever been nominated in the Documentary and International categories, but “Flee” will likely follow “Honeyland” and “Collective” to become the third film in a row to do so.
The next row of nominees includes “Simple as Water”, “Not Going Quietly”, “The Lost Leonardo” and three religion-focused films, “Procession”, “Rebel Hearts” and “Francesco”.
A wide variety of high profile musical documentaries have been released in 2021 – but despite the victories for “Searching for Sugar Man,” “20 Feet From Stardom” and “Amy,” the Academy has a habit of ignoring most of the material. musical films, at least when it comes to nominations. Todd Haynes’ immersive “The Velvet Underground” will likely join “Summer of Soul” as an exception to this rule, while the odds are a bit longer for Edgar Wright’s “The Sparks Brothers,” “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little “by RJ Cutler Blurry” and “Listening to Kenny G” by Penny Lane.
Character studies also tend to be less prevalent among nominees and shortlisted films than more problem-oriented work, but this year had a strong harvest and could find niches for “Introducing Selma Blair,” “Becoming Cousteau, “” Julia, “” Citizen Ashe, “” Rita Moreno: Just a girl who decided to go, “” Ailey, “” Val “and, if voters want to send a message,” Fauci. ” Oscar winner Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain could be touched by the controversy over using an AI voice to create a few quotes from Bourdain.
Other films potentially in the running include “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” “President,” “Cusp,” and “Bring Your Own Brigade” – although, to be fair, even a field of 138 films. eligible (100 less than last year) is large enough to contain many potential surprises, if enough voters see them.
The 84 songs that qualified in the Best Original Song category include entries from many big names: Billie Eilish (“No Time to Die”), Beyoncé (“King Richard”), U2 (“Sing 2”), Van Morrison (“Belfast “), Ariana Grande (” Don’t Look Up “), Lin-Manuel Miranda (” Encanto “,” Vivo “and” In the Heights “), Jennifer Hudson and Carole King (” Respect “), HER (” Bruised “), Jay-Z (” The Harder They Fall “) and Brian Wilson and Mary J. Blige, two legends who wrote new songs for documentaries about themselves (” Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road “and” Mary J. Blige’s My Life “). Plus of course, Diane Warren, 12 times nominated.
Their visibility wouldn’t have made so much sense in the past, when voters had to attend special screenings and watch clips of eligible films, rating each song on a scale of 6 to 10; This system made it easier to enter left-field entries, as the only votes that counted were those who listened to and marked each song. But nowadays voters have access to the clips but only need to list their five favorites, which means the top songs probably get the most views and possibly the most votes.
The best original music should include two spots for Jonny Greenwood (“The Power of the Dog” and “Spencer”) and maybe two for Hans Zimmer (“Dune” and “No Time to Die”); they will likely be joined by Nicholas Britell (“Do not seek”), Carter Burwell (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”), Alexandre Desplat (“The French Dispatch”), Alberto Iglesias (“Parallel Mothers”) and Nathan Johnson (“Nightmare Alley ”).
Other shortlisted categories include makeup and hairstyle, where “Tammy Faye’s Eyes” has nothing to worry about; visual effects, which should include “Dune” and “Eternals”; and live, animated and documentary short films.
After the announcement of the shortlists on Tuesday, December 21, voters will have more than five weeks to catch up with the semi-finalists before the nomination vote begins on January 27.
FOR REGISTRATION: The original version of this story said that nine categories used shortlists. The Best Sound category was added to the list of shortlisted categories for the first time this year, adding a 10th category to use the stage.