Will Win - Ida
Could Win - Wild Tales or Leviathan
Should Win - Wild Tales
Commentary - Ida was my personal favorite of the bunch until I saw Wild Tales, which is such an energetic and fun film that I was enraptured in it. I think that this race, which appears to many to be over, will actually be a fun three-way battle. Ida has been dominating the season so far, and has been on DVD for months, so it is probably the most widely seen contenders. It also is the only film of the five to have a nomination outside of this category (it got a well-deserved cinematography nod). But there are two lurking that are going to put up quite a fight. The first is the aforementioned Wild Tales, which is certainly going to have a lot of passionate supporters, it's just that kind of film. The other one to watch for is this year's Golden Globe winner Leviathan. I personally had trouble getting through it, but it does have an artistry that will appeal to a lot of voters. I still think Ida comes out on top, but I don't think it is the slam-dunk that others are proclaiming it to be.
Best Documentary Feature
Will Win - Citizenfour
Could Win - Virunga or Finding Vivian Maier
Should Win - Finding Vivian Maier
Commentary - Of the bunch, Finding Vivian Maier was one of the most intriguing and also most frustrating documentaries this year. It wasn't the fault of the film makers, it was that there was still so much left unknown about this strange and talented figure. And if you are looking for the doc that will cause the most tears, look no further than Virunga. In recent years, voters have kind of rotated back and forth between emotionally powerful docs (Undefeated, Searching for Sugar Man., and 20 Feet From Stardom), and harder-hitting pieces (Inside Job, The Cove, Inconvenient Truth), This year they have the unique explorations docs in Finding Vivian Maier and The Salt of the Earth, the historical doc with Last Days in Vietnam, the heart-tugger in Virunga, and then their is the juggernaut. I don't see anybody taking down Citizenfour. It has won so many precursors to be ignored, and probably its stiffest competition Life Itself was left off. It goes after a timely subject that will have incredible impact on voters. It wins in a landslide.