Gold Standard writer Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, assessing the races, predicting the winners and helping you prevail in your Oscar pools. If you missed previous entries, you can find the shorts races here, the sound categories here, visual crafts right here, the Adele-rific song and score here and screenplays and editing here. Now: On to the animation, documentary and foreign-language contenders.
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
And the winner is ... “Wreck-It Ralph.” The season’s animation awards have been evenly split between Disney’s “Ralph” and Pixar’s “Brave.” Both feature poignant parent-child stories: “Brave” between a mother and daughter and “Ralph” with its faux-father and pixie glitch girl. Both received equally strong reviews. Our hunch is that “Ralph,” which arrived in theaters in November, will be a bit fresher in the minds of voters in a category that isn’t as thoroughly viewed as you would hope.
Unless ... the academy goes Pixar for the seventh time in the past decade.
“5 Broken Cameras”
“How to Survive a Plague”
“The Invisible War”
“Searching for Sugar Man”
And the winner is ... “Sugar Man.” The academy opened up this category (as well as the live action and animated shorts) to its entire membership this year, sending out DVDs of all five nominees. We’ll need a few years to see some patterns emerge, but it’s reasonable to assume that adding more voters will help popular titles like “Sugar Man,” the story of the resurrection of an obscure early ‘70s troubadour. The doc has already taken awards from the Directors and Producers guilds. It feels like one of the night’s safer bets.
Unless ... voters decide to go in a more provocative direction. Then we’d bet on “The Gatekeepers,” a movie that interviews the six surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, delivering a timely and challenging portrait of the conflict in the Middle East. Kirby Dick’s “The Invisible War,” which has already affected change for its examination of sexual assault in the U.S. military, looms as a potential spoiler too.
“A Royal Affair”
And the winner is ... “Amour.” No film nominated for both foreign language feature and best picture has failed to take this category. And none of the other nominees -- all pretty good, by the way -- caught on with the academy to the point where they could break that historical precedent.
Unless ... it’s deja vu all over again, such as when, three years ago, “Amour” filmmaker Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” came in as a clear favorite and somehow lost to “The Secret in Their Eyes.” But “The White Ribbon” wasn’t also nominated for best picture, so Haneke can’t possibly be snubbed this year. Can he?