Oscarathon 2017: Oscar Forecast Megathread – Other Best Film Awards

In All, Movies by David

Now that Oscar nominations and some of the bigger awards have rolled out, true Oscar prognosticating can begin, as Oscarathon 2017 continues. This year we are going to try something a bit different, as there are going to be four major posts that are just going to be continuously updating once they are up. After different major awards, I’ll be adding new thoughts on each race so you can see how each event changes the race as we go along. This final post is going to be covering the individual Best Film categories.

It has quite the slogan, “Choose heart. Choose Kubo.”


Current Rankings

  1. Zootopia
  2. Kubo and the Two Strings
  3. The Red Turtle
  4. My Life as a Zucchini
  5. Moana

Will Win: Zootopia

Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings (once again, as with my thinking for Best Picture, while I think Moana is actually the best in this category by a slight margin, it is way more important to this category that a non-Disney film win–especially when the films are this close in quality)

Should Have Been Nominated: Your Name (sigh… you had a good run, but you were always destined to be left behind, because the category sucks even when it is trying not to)


Initial Thoughts:

Look, this is about as good an outcome for this category as I could have hoped for. This is a rather diverse field in a year that saw a record 27 nominations from all sorts of filmmakers, and probably had about 13 or so that were worth consideration for the final five slots. The biggest takeaway is that the Oscars finally made a small stand by not simply putting Finding Dory in because it’s Pixar. This also confirmed that in general they are not fans of Pixar sequels or prequels, seeing as the studio’s franchise continuation to pull a nomination yet is Toy Story 3. I wonder if this will extend to Disney proper once their films’ sequels start rolling out (I kind of doubt it). Meanwhile, my brief dream that Your Name would get the nomination it rightfully deserved were dashed because Japanese films can only get nominations if Studio Ghibli is attached. Miss Hokusai also fell short, as did other GKids films Mune and April and the Extraordinary World. Netflix made a valiant bid with The Little Prince that came up short in the end, while Sony’s Sausage Party probably picked the wrong year to come out. With next year’s animated field looking to be, well, shit, you have to think a lot of these smaller films are going to be kicking themselves for not figuring out a way to hold off until next year.

The Forgotten Disney Film


  • The late release date for Moana did this film no favors, but even more than that, Zootopia just took too much of this film’s buzz. You would think the chances of a Disney film would be higher just because it is a Disney film, but the Mouse stopped caring about this movie, and instead threw all of its weight behind Zootopia. Moana consistently got key nominations this season, such as at the Annies, Critics’ Choice Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globes and PGAs, so it could have been a real contender if Disney had really pushed for it, but instead Disney has backed Zootopia. A lot would have to happen for me to really buy that this film could win here; it’s better chance for a statue is for Best Original Song. This is somewhat a shame, because this is my favorite film of this group, but at the same time this is a brutal category this year, so this is what happens.

<insert Studio Ghibli film>

The Red Turtle

  • The Oscars continues to believe that only one Japanese studio makes animation, as this film stole the spot that rightfully belongs to Your Name. I am tempted to not even bother talking about this film in favor of more discussion of Your Name, but that is probably a bit too petty. If The Red Turtle had been made by Miyazaki himself it probably would have a better chance of winning; instead, this is the first time that Studio Ghibli has outsourced its work to a non-Japanese filmmaker. This film is the kind of pretentious and beautiful work that Oscar viewers will love, but it is going to have a hard time competing with the other films in this category. It did get BAFTA and Critcs’ Choice Award nominations, plus the bullshit JV Independent Annie nomination that was added so the Annies could pretend they cared about animation that is not from major studios. An Annie and BAFTA win could at least make things interesting, but the nomination is probably the best this film could hope for.

The Prestige Indie Darling

My Life As A Zucchini

  • GKIDS proves once again that they have figured out this whole nomination game, and at this point they should just be slotted in as always having a spot on the nomination table as long as this category can meet the threshold to reach five nominations. At some point it will likely even win, but that will not be this year. The one feather this film does have in its cap is it also made the shortlist for Best Foreign Film, so it has a degree of support beyond simply the animation branch that could serve it well. In a weaker year, in which this film could be the main alternative to a heavy Disney/Pixar favorite, Zucchini might have had a real shot. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year, especially considering that unlike the rest of the films in this category, Zucchini has no other award shows it can possibly build momentum on from here, even if it might have more initial Academy support than some of the other films.

The Dangerous Underdog

Kubo and the Two Strings

  • A lot of what I said about GKIDS also applies to Laika, which has emerged as a real animation powerhouse. This film has been lurking up high as the top non-Disney alternative in a year when Zootopia, Moana, and Finding Dory have been in an all out slugfest as Disney has tried to figure out who to put the right level of support behind. Kubo has gotten nominations from the Annies, Critics’ Choice Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globes, and the PGAs while getting tons of critical acclaim. Zootopia has so far managed to hold it off, but if it can pick up a couple of wins, this race is primed for Kubo to move into the pole position.

The Disney Frontrunner


  • What at first looked to be a B Disney film released in March to get it out of the way is now appearing to be an unstoppable juggernaut. In fact, only an extraordinarily strong year in animated film is keeping this race from being over, as Zootopia seems to be exactly the right movie for the moment considering how much of a social issue movie it ended being. The March release date ended up being a boon, as it meant that any criticism for the movie was basically behind it by the time award season came around. Disney took a little time to fully get behind this movie, but now it is firmly on team Zootopia, and considering how the category had already become the dominion of Disney/Pixar even when films for each didn’t deserve the recognition (hello Brave, Big Hero 6, and to some extent Frozen), it hard to see a film that is actually quite good losing. This film already picked up a Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globe win, and got nominations from the Annies, BAFTA, and PGA so it is a couple wins away from really salting away this race.

PGA Awards Update:

Zootopia picks up the win, and widens its lead from the field. The PGA’s track record with the Oscars isn’t as great for animation as it is for Best Picture, but 7 of the 11 winners of this category have gone on to win, so this is a big boost for Zootopia.

Annie Awards Update:

As little respect as I have for the animated feature category at the Oscars, I might have even less for the Annies, which are basically a gloried pep rally for Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks (with appearances by Laika, Illumination, and Sony). Still, these voters and the Academy voters generally match up in picking the film that everyone’s kids saw, so the winners do matter–10 of the last 15 winners have gone on to win Best Picture. Zootopia cleaned up at these with six wins, including for Best Animated Film. The Red Turtle did pick up the best Independent Film Award, so that helps it, but the big story here is Zootopia.

BAFTA Update:

Well, this is an unexpected turn. Kubo and the Two Strings actually pulled off a major win, and actually against Zootopia (or Zootropolis in this case). It is likely too little too late, but as the last major award for animation before Oscar voting begins, this could make this race closer than expected. Not to mention that outside of The Lego Movie (which didn’t even get an Oscar nomination) no film that won the BAFTA has ever lost at the Oscars. Kubo‘s really stellar awards campaign, and the fact that Kubo has always been neck and neck with Zootopia the entire awards season even if it constantly came up short, means this is a very tight race. If I actually trusted this category I would actually say that Kubo should be the real favorite now, but I simply don’t, so it is still really hard to see Disney losing this race. But the House of Mouse is certainly not feeling comfortable right now.

This film has been really overlooked.


Current Rankings:

  1. 13th
  2. O.J.: Made in America
  3. Fire at Sea
  4. I Am Not Your Negro
  5. Life, Animated

Will Win: 13th

Should Win: I Am Not Your Negro

Should Have Been Nominated: Yeah, umm, I am going to pass here. I do not watch enough documentaries for this to not be insulting.


Initial Thoughts:

This was a rather competitive category, as all 15 films that made the short list had a real chance of getting nominated. Two films have generally stood out among everything else, 13th and O.J. Made in America, but after that, the rest have all been considered pretty interchangeable. The biggest surprise omissions were probably The Eagle Huntress, which had picked up a number of other nominations this season; Weiner, which had a real political resonance after the 2016 Presidential election; and Gleason, which is the kind of film the Academy tends to love. The final five nominations are rather solid, so there’s not likely to be too many complaints.

A Different Type of Issue Film

Fire at Sea

  • This film dealing with the European migrant crisis is the type of issue movie that tends to get a nomination in this category, but at times can struggle to win. Not helping it this year is that it is going up against a trio of documentaries all about the complicated racial issues in America in some shape or form, so Fire at Sea may not feel as resonant. It also doesn’t have the flash that the top two movies especially have. Fire at Sea could benefit from a split vote if enough people can’t decide between the top two films, and are looking for an issue film that doesn’t deal as heavily with race because they suck but don’t want to look like it.

If The Academy Wants to Lose All of the Respect

Life, Animated

  • The other four films in this category are really heavy, while Life, Animated is the opposite, the inspirational story of a autistic boy that learned to become a functional adult through the power and inspiration of Disney films. This is a movie about the power of cinema, and as we have discussed, Hollywood loves patting itself on the back. So is it totally possible a number of voters (fuck it, a number of older voters, because I am getting tired of being nice) could decide that the rest of the films in this category are just too sad or troubling and so instead go with the happy film about movies transforming a man’s life. Now, I am not trying to say that picking an inspirational film is inherently wrong, and there is nothing wrong with wanting a film to make you happy instead of being reminded about the troubles in the world, but man, this would be a bad look considering the subjects of the other films. This would be far more damaging to the credibility of these awards than the similar narrative that has started to dog the race between La La Land and Moonlight. Still, if you are cynical as fuck, this is an easy way to zig when others zag in your Oscar pools.

The Unheralded Social Justice Film

I Am Not Your Negro

  • This film is a bit under the radar, but honestly it is possibly more effective than either 13th or O.J. at getting its message across. Using a strong narrative thread, this film looks at the racial issues in America through the prescient words of James Baldwin. It has been overshadowed by 13th and O.J., but it is exactly the kind of film that can sneak up and win. Likely it just picked the wrong year to get nominated.

The Two Heavyweights


O.J.: Made in America

  • These two have remained in front of the pack. 13th picked up a BAFTA nomination while O.J. picked up a PGA nomination. They are certainly the buzziest of the two films, with O.J. bringing the flash of being about one of the most controversial trials of all time, while 13th brings the racial issues in America under a focused microscope along with star power of Selma director Ava DuVernay. These two movies are likely to stay neck and neck until the end even if one manages to win more than the other the rest of the way.

Donald Trump is President of the United States:So, yeah, this is where we are. With the Muslim Ban in effect, things could be trending Fire at Sea‘s way. The subject of this film becomes highly resonant in America, right as we are heading into final Oscar voting, so Fire At Sea has a real chance of being a political statement win. Considering how sizable a lead both 13th and O.J. have, this still feels like a long shot, but a definite possibility nonetheless.

PGA Awards Update:

O.J. pulls out the win, but it is hard to say how much that means. The PGAs aren’t the best predictor of Oscar success in this category, with only a 4 out of 9 success rate. The fact that only one other nominated film in Life, Animated even made the nomination field against O.J. also doesn’t help matters. Still, a win is a win, so chalk one up for O.J.

BAFTA Update:

Another win for O.J. in another award group that is not the greatest Oscar predictor. In a lot of ways, Documentaries are treated how some wish the rest of the awards would be, with little consensus and people honoring a wide range of movies. You can’t say this hurts O.J., but it doesn’t really make the film any more of a top contender than it already was.

BAFTA Update:

The big winner is 13th as it finally picks up a major awards win, even if it was in a field without O.J.: Made in America. This highlights the issue O.J. is facing, as a lot of people are going to have trouble really treating it like a movie, and the last winner people will see is 13th, which Netflix is going to milk for all it can (which is quite a bit, because they have, you know, all the money). Like the other predictors this doesn’t really say all that much about who will win at the Oscars, because in this category at least, the Oscars like going their own way.

You probably aren’t winning anymore, but smile you are getting an American remake that will totally be worse, but treated like it is much better…


Current Ranking

  1. The Salesman
  2. Toni Erdmann
  3. A Man Called Ove
  4. Land of Mine
  5. Tanna

Will Win: The Salesman

Should Win: Toni Erdmann (The Salesman is totally going to win for reasons that aren’t entirely quality based, so I feel for Toni Erdmann… but as consolation it will just win a bunch of awards for the upcoming American remake that is sure to be much worse, but Hollywood won’t care or notice)

Should Have Been Nominated: The real answer is The Handmaiden, but since that wasn’t even submitted, the answer is instead Elle


Initial Thoughts:

When it comes to this category, the bigger snubs were honestly the films that didn’t even make the shortlist, like Elle or Neruda, or couldn’t be nominated at all because its country went with a different film, like in the case of The Handmaiden. Of the nine actual shortlist films, Toni Erdmann and The Salesman were pretty much locks, while It’s Only the End of the World seemed to have no shot of being nominated. My Life as a Zucchini would be the most notable of the films that missed out, seeing as it got a nomination in Animated Film, but Paradise and The King’s Choice were also strong contenders. There really isn’t much else to say about this category without getting into how generally fucked up the process of picking foreign language nominations generally is, which is honestly another discussion for another day.

Thanks for Coming

Land of Mine


  • These films aren’t winning, and their nominations are really just an excuse for the people associated with them to dress fancy and have fun getting drunk. Land of Mine does have the whole WWII thing going for it, which is something, but let’s just move on.

A Twinge of Oscar Respect

A Man Called Ove

  • This film really has no chance of winning as well, but deserves separate praise for pulling off two Oscar nominations with another in Makeup and Hairstyle. That at least shows it has a bit more broad support, which can be helpful in this category.(The same hair and makeup team, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr, was also responsible for the 2015 nominated film The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, which may explain this year’s support for Ove.) In a more wide open year that might help, but this is not that year.

Farhadi Is Beloved

The Salesman

  • As a prevous winner for the universally acclaimed A Separation, Asghar Farhadi is a true auteur and one of the best working directors alive. That alone got him this nomination, and will likely continue to get him nominations as long as he doesn’t get stuck in a weird country designation situation like he did with his previous film, The Past. The love for Farhadi could help him pull off this win, but as it stands the film is squarely in the number two spot right now.

The Favorite

Toni Erdmann

  • As one of the more universally beloved films of this year, the clear favorite at the point is Toni Erdmann, especially since its closest competitor Elle couldn’t even make the shortlist. This film has found itself coming up short in a number of places, most notably at Cannes, but it looks like it will finally be this film’s, time unless something rather massive happens, as for the most part no other films in this category have been considered to be in Toni Erdmann‘s league for most of the awards season.

Donald Trump is President of the United States:

So you remember how I said it would take something pretty massive to change this race? Well… yeah, the Muslim Ban happened, and suddenly it was unclear if anyone who was a part of The Salesman would even be allowed to come to The Oscars. Eventually it was determined that they could, but everyone including director Asghar Farhadi basically decided to pass on attending. The ban and subsequent Oscar controversy has had an outsized impact on the national political conversation, but in the narrow focus of this article, it’s also changed the state of this race for Best Foreign Film. The Academy is probably going to go out of its way to stick it to Donald Trump at this Oscars, and unlike Best Documentary, they can do it much more justifiably and effectively here. At this point The Salesman feels like a rather sure thing, unless a huge contingent of people don’t want to feel like they are being forced to vote for a movie, and instead stick with Toni Erdmann. That could totally happen, but for the first time Toni Erdmann is firmly in the number two spot.

BAFTA Update:This is a weird category, because BAFTA uses a different timeline than the Oscars, so the nominees in this category end up being a mix of movies that qualified in different years for the Oscars. In this case the winner was Son of Saul–you know, last year’s Best Foreign Film winner at the Oscars. Toni Erdmann was nominated, which I guess helps, but a win was probably needed to show the love for it can overcome the overwhelming narrative for The Salesman. It looks more and more likely that Toni Erdmann is destined to come up short once again.

Music and a Holocaust adjacent figure in one film? Sign me up for that Oscar.


Current Ranking

  1. Joe’s Violin
  2. Extremis
  3. The White Helmets
  4. Watani: My Homeland
  5. 4.1 Miles

Will Win: Joe’s Violin (never bet against the Holocaustesque choice when it is an option here)

Should Win: The White Helmets

Should Have Been Nominated: Hahahahaha, like anyone could say this without just flat out lying to you


Initial Thoughts:

There is not much to say here, especially seeing as this is usually the category that I find impossible to actually see, because its screenings are so much less accessible than the other short programs. If I can see it, I will add something, but for now the most I can say is that this category tends to follow the idea that if it involves WWII or is about a really pressing social issue it will probably win. Trust me, you generally know by looking at the very least which two films are likely to win just by doing that.

Not winning, but so pretty.


Current Ranking

  1. Pearl
  2. Piper
  3. Blind Vaysha
  4. Pear Cider and Cigarettes
  5. Borrowed Time

Will Win: Pearl

Should Win: Blind Vayasha

Should Have Been Nominated: Once Upon a Line


Initial Thoughts:

The only thing to really say here is that it was a bit surprising that Disney’s Inner Workings failed to get a nomination, because unlike Pixar, Disney has tended to get a lot of respect in this category lately. Once I have seen all of these I can say more, but generally Pixar does not do well in this category, which makes me kind of think they are a bit due. This could be the year, but then again that kind of logic usually ends poorly, so who knows?

Might you be walking to an Oscar?


Current Ranking

  1. Ennemis Intérieurs
  2. Timecode
  3. Sing
  4. Silent Nights
  5. La Femme et le TGV

Will Win: Ennemis Intérieurs 

Should Win: Ennemis Intérieurs 

Should Have Been Nominated: Yeah, no…


Initial Thoughts:

This may sound like a broken record, but until I see these I can’t comment too much. A lot of the rules for the Short Doc apply here. Though lately the real determining factor has been if the short is British or not. That and how saccharine or maudlin the film can be, so if one sticks out for being either it is always a good pick.

That’s it for the the other best film categories. Hopefully, all of this analysis has been helpful to you. On Oscar Sunday I will give a final, definitive set of predictions.