Predicting the 91st Annual Academy Awards, Part 1: The Minor Categories


At long last we are nearing the homestretch. The 91st Annual Academy Awards are in just a few days, so it's time to lay down my predictions and analysis as to who I think has the best chance of winning each of the 24 categories. It's been a rather crazy season as usual, but let's dive right in and take a look, starting with the smaller categories (The Shorts through Film Editing):

Best Live Action Short

Detainment

Fauve

Marguerite

Mother

Skin

Best Documentary Short

Black Sheep

End Game

Lifeboat

A Night at the Garden

Period. End of Sentence.

Best Animated Short

Animal Behaviour

Bao

Late Afternoon

One Small Step

Weekends

As usual, there’s absolutely nothing to base a prediction on for these short categories, other than the buzz circling around what appears to be the most popular nominee. This year, that buzz would seem to indicate that “Marguerite,” “Black Sheep,” and “Bao” are this year’s favorites, but also as usual, The Academy could feel completely different.

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place

Roma

Best Sound Mixing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

Roma

A Star is Born

Trying to figure out the Sound categories this year has been a little more difficult than usual. Last year we had a big, noisy war film (“Dunkirk”) that was the easy choice for both awards, but this time around, there’s a bit more guess work. For Sound Mixing, a BAFTA win for Best Sound and a major win from the Cinema Audio Society would seem to indicate that “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be the winner.

As for Sound Editing, I’m going out on a limb just a bit here to predict that “First Man” will be the one to take it. It’s true that the Motion Picture Sound Editors Award for Sound Effects/Foley went to “A Quiet Place,” but this doesn’t really feel like a film that The Academy would gravitate towards. On top of that, the last two winners of this MPSE Award have failed to win the Oscar. Looking at “First Man,” we have a big, loud movie with incredible sound, something that The Academy loves for this category and would surely take notice of. However, this is a guess. They could easily just give both to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which did well at the MPSE Awards as well, or they could surprisingly go for “A Quiet Place” as that group did. There’s simply no telling with any certainty.

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Speaking of guesses, after BAFTA randomly gave their Visual Effects award to “Black Panther,” we were left with quite the conundrum for this category, as obviously that film is not nominated here. However, “Avengers: Infinity War” did remarkably well at the Visual Effects Society Awards, including taking the top prize, so it seems to be as good a choice as any. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see “First Man” swoop in to take it after having taking Best Supporting Visual Effects from the VES. This is merely another category where we can only guess based on what little information we have.

Best Foreign Language Film

Capernaum

Cold War

Never Look Away

Roma

Shoplifters

This should be one of the easiest slam-dunks of the night. Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” has dominated this category throughout the season, including the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, and BAFTA, and should easily take it on Oscar night. It would be quite unwise to bet against it.

Best Documentary Feature

Free Solo

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Minding the Gap

Of Father and Sons

RBG

This category contained the single biggest, most shocking snub of the entire season. The fantastic Mr. Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” had been utterly dominating the season, seemingly winning just about every award before it was shockingly ignored by the Documentary Branch. This has left us with the task of attempting to find 2nd place. Luckily, BAFTA opted to go with “Free Solo,” which would seem to indicate that it’s quite popular with the industry and will probably take the award in place of the other.

Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Mirai

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Here we have another category that appears to be all locked up. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has been the surprising frontrunner in this category for most of the season, taking multiple Animated Feature awards, including the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Annie Award. Anything else taking the Oscar at this point would be quite a shock.

Best Original Song

All the Stars, Black Panther

I'll Fight, RBG

The Place Where Lost Things Go, Mary Poppins Returns

Shallow, A Star is Born

When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Speaking of categories that are all wrapped up, “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” has been the clear favorite here, taking both the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards. As a result, we can look forward to seeing Lady Gaga win her first Oscar on the big night.

Best Original Score

Black Panther

Blackkklansman

If Beale Street Could Talk

Isle of Dogs

Mary Poppins Returns

Original Score contained another rather shocking snub. Justin Hurwitz seemed poised to win another Oscar for his outstanding score to “First Man,” having won the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe, but he was inexplicably ignored by the Music Branch. This would seem to point towards “If Beale Street Could Talk” taking the category, as it had been rather popular throughout the critics’ awards. Again, we’re trying to find a 2nd place winner here and this is really the best guess that can be made.

Best Makeup & Hair

Border

Mary Queen of Scots

Vice

Here we have another category with one of the biggest, most embarrassing snubs of the year. For some inexplicable reason, “The Favourite” didn’t even make the shortlist for Makeup & Hair, once again leaving us in a quandary as to who the 2nd place winner would be. After all, “The Favourite” easily took the BAFTA Award for this category, so we’re having to depend on other sources to see who could win the Oscar. With its Critics’ Choice win, I think we can safely assume that “Vice” will triumph here out of these nominees. I suppose “Mary Queen of Scots” could sneak in to take it, being a period drama with fancy makeup like “The Favourite,” but with “Vice” being the more popular film, it certainly seems like the safer bet.

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

The Favourite

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Poppins Returns

Here we have a surprisingly contested category. The obvious answer is “The Favourite,” which easily won the BAFTA Award recently, but you also have “Black Panther,” which won the Critics’ Choice. Both groups have great records when it comes to predicting the Oscar winner, but you also have to consider that one of these groups is made up of industry professionals, while the other is made of critics. That’s not to mention that “Black Panther” wasn’t even nominated for the category at the BAFTA Awards. Because of this, “The Favourite” would appear to be the favorite.

Best Production Design

Black Panther

The Favourite

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns

Roma

This category puts us in the exact same situation. “The Favourite” won the BAFTA Award, while “Black Panther” won the Critics’ Choice. But once again, the latter wasn’t even nominated for the BAFTA Award, which would seem to indicate that the industry professionals prefer the incredible production design of “The Favourite.” Again, it’s the obvious answer, so it’s the most likely nominee for The Academy to choose.

Best Cinematography

Cold War

The Favourite

Never Look Away

Roma

A Star is Born

Here we have another category that’s been utterly dominated by “Roma.” Alfonso Cuaron has been winning just about every Cinematography award out there, including the Critics’ Choice and BAFTA, so don’t be the least bit surprised when he picks up this Oscar on the big night.

Best Film Editing

Blackkklansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Vice

Now we’ve arrived at the top of the tech awards. Film Editing has been a rather wild ride throughout the season. This is another one where it seemed like “First Man” was on its way to a big win after having won multiple awards, including Critics’ Choice. However, “First Man” and its closest competitor, “Roma,” were both shockingly snubbed here, leaving us to somehow find not a 2nd place winner, but a 3rd place winner. The American Cinema Editors chose “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Drama Editing and “The Favourite” for Comedy Editing, but BAFTA ended up choosing “Vice.” From the moment that these nominees were announced, “Vice” jumped out as the film with the most noticeable editing and seemed like the one that The Academy would choose, and with a large voting body like BAFTA going for it, it seemed to confirm that industry professionals were drawn to it. It’s far from certain. For all we know, with “The Favourite” being so widely popular, it could be the surprise winner here, but again, with its major BAFTA win, “Vice” just seems like the more likely option.

Do you agree/disagree with these predictions? Who do you think will be winning in each category?

Part 2: The Major Categories can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.