Friday, November 13, 2015

The Oscar Narrative: November Predictions - Best Documentary Feature and Foreign Language Film

Best Documentary Feature - November Predictions
Cartel Land
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
He Named Me Malala
The Look of Silence

Other Contenders - The Hunting Ground, Listen to Me Marlon, Where to Invade Next, What Happened, Miss Simone?, The Wolfpack, The Russian Woodpecker, Meru, In Jackson Heights, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Stray Dog, Best of Enemies, Heart of the Dog, Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, The Black Panthers: The Vanguard of a Revolution, Dark Horse, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Iris, All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records, Prophet's Play, Meet the Patels, An Open Secret

Commentary - The last couple of years have been a boon for nonfiction filmmaking and this year is no exception. In fact, it has prompted me to do what I should have done a long time ago, and that is introduce a documentary award at The Awards Psychic Awards! So let's rundown just how deep this list really is. Already making its way on the European side of things, Amy, the Amy Winehouse doc is set to be the front runner going into December. Not far behind is Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence (hoping to go where Act of Killing couldn't) and Cartel Land, both of which cleaned up at the Cinema Eye nominations just this week. He Named Me Malala is such a popular documentary and definitely has the zeitgeist to go all the way. Finally, HBO's Going Clear might follow up its Emmy wins with an Oscar as well. That one might have some trouble because it really goes after Hollywood and a lot of its biggest stars. But then again, it didn't stop it from winning Emmys, so there is a definitely a movement for it. But that leaves off The Hunting Ground, Michael Moore's latest, Listen to Me Marlon, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Meru, The Russian Woodpecker, and The Wolfpack, along with probably a dozen other films that could compete. Like Foreign Language below, a lot of this race depends on who makes the top 15 short list, which should be out in a few weeks.

Best Foreign Language Film - November Predictions
The Assassin (Taiwan)
Labyrinth of Lies (Germany)
Mustang (France)
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Sweden)
Son of Saul (Hungary)

Other Contenders - Rams (Iceland), The Second Mother (Brazil), Goodnight Mommy (Austria), Arabian Nights Volume 2 - The Desolate One (Portugal), Felix et Meira (Canada), A War (Denmark), Theeb (Jordan), Aferim! (Romania), Home Care (Czech Republic), The Club (Chile), The Clan (Argentina), Ixcanul Volcano (Guatemala), The Brand New Testament (Belgium), Viva (Ireland), Void (Lebanon), Loreak (Spain), The Last Reel (Cambodia), 1944 (Estonia), Twilight of Shadows (Algeria), Sivas (Turkey), Court (India)

Commentary - This race will become a lot clearer when the second round short list is announced. Right now there are so many titles, and it will be hard to determine which of the dozens of options will gain enough traction to spark the Academy's interest. Song of Saul seems to be the only safe bet here, as it is also trying to gain traction in other races besides this one. Early word is that Academy voters are more mixed on it than the festival goers, but I still feel like it is going to be nominated here. Labyrinth of Lies out of Germany is the other film, so far, that seems to be gaining consensus as a major front runner. Mustang out of France just did well at AFI Fest, and has been gaining good traction out of the fests, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence cleaned up at the European Film nominations, so it will have a lot of support going into Oscar season. Finally, there is usually at least one representative from east Asia , and Taiwan's The Assassin seems to be the one to look out for this time around. Rams, Second Mother, Goodnight Mommy, A War, Home Care, The Clan, Arabian Nights, and Theeb also look strong, but this list could, and probably will change dramatically once the short list rolls in.

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