Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Other Contenders - Finding Dory, Miss Hokusai, Your Name., Sausage Party, April and the Extraordinary World, The Secret Life of Pets, Phantom Boy, The Long Way North, Sing, The Little Prince
Commentary - This category has stumped us Oscarologists for years. Look no further than the nominations for The Secret of Kells and Boy and the World. There are three big films I feel safe predicting: Kubo, Moana, and Zootopia. Yes that leaves out Finding Dory, but they are not afraid to snub Pixar any more. So that leaves two slots for the art house choices. I have literally no idea which will take this slot. The buzz has kept up for The Red Turtle, and the top nine finish in the Foreign Language Film race for My Life as a Zucchini shows a lot of support. But part of me thinks I am stupid for not picking a something like Miss Hokusai, Your Name, or April and the Extraordinary World, as they fit the When Marnie Was There mold. This is one where I am fully ready to admit defeat, and excited to see how these quirky voters shock us on nomination morning.
Best Documentary Feature
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Other Contenders - Weiner, Life, Animated, Fire at Sea, The Eagle Huntress, Tower, The Witness, Hooligan Sparrow, Command and Control, Zero Days, The Ivory Game
Commentary - A year after #OscarsSoWhite, there is a very good chance that three documentaries about race in American and the black experience enter the Oscar documentary race. O.J.: Made in America, I Am Not Your Negro, and 13th all feel like strong contenders, and have the reviews and buzz to back it up. Cameraperson is visually stunning, beautifully edited, and I think will really appeal to the auteurs in the Doc branch. In the last slot, I am picking a more populist heart-tugger, but so popular and well done. Gleason is a truly emotional experience, and after this election, I'm not sure voters are ready to have Anthony Weiner's name anywhere near their ceremony, although don't discount that fascinating doc, or Life, Animated, Fire at Sea, The Eagle Huntress, or the incredible Tower.
Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine (Demark)
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
My Life as a Zucchini (Switzerland)
The Salesman (Iran)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Other Contenders - Paradise (Russia), Tanna (Australia), The King's Choice (Norway), It's Only the End of the World (Canada)
Commentary - This group of nine brought a lot of surprises, and a slew of high-profile snubs like Neruda, Julieta, and Elle. So this lineup is going to look a lot different from the same category at other major awards. Toni Erdmann is considered by critics to be the front runner, and I think it is in for a nomination. But don't discount A Man Called Ove, a blockbuster among these nominees, and based on a widely popular novel. My Life as a Zucchini is clever, and could get double nominations this year. Asghar Farhadi has won here before, and Land of Mine is getting a lot of buzz.