Mister Tee wrote
Having been disappointed in Moana, I was thinking Zootopia would be the default choice for best animated feature this time around. But now I've caught up to Kubo and the Two Strings, and I wonder if it has a chance. It's far from brilliant, but it has a more magical quality than Zootopia, and might hold greater emotional appeal. I find them apples and oranges, basically -- I like both at a medium level -- but I wonder if voters might surprise us this year. The race is certainly not a Frozen/Inside Out sort of runaway.
I'm watching both at some point in the next couple of weeks, but this would be Laika's fourth nomination. Considering there is no Frozen/Inside Out sort of runaway, why not? The closest thing I can think of is when Ice Age and Lilo & Stitch, (one an instant franchise and the other a warmly received island tale) were nominated and the Academy went with Spirited Away.
Mister Tee wrote
I know it's what everyone thinks of as an Oscar movie, and I know it's Harvey Weinstein (albeit a weaker version), and I know The Reader looked like a flop at this point in the cycle...but, how poorly does Lion have to do to get downgraded in the best picture sweepstakes? Everyone worries about Jackie's low gross, but it's ahead of Lion in almost every box-office metric (current gross, per-theatre) -- and Lion's great appeal is supposed to be it's a huge crowd-pleaser. Granted, I haven't seen the film (it's the annual "playing at the Paris Theatre only, making it a pain in the butt to get to" entry), and maybe my eyes will be shocked open when I do. But right this moment it feels like Saving Mr. Banks: the movie everybody thought SHOULD be a Oscar special but turned out not to be.
Is Lion doing that poorly? I guess I haven't been tracking its box office that closely. I'm not really a fan of it but I assumed it was more or less doing okay, and with four Golden Globe nominations it's clearly in the race more than Jackie.
The Original BJ wrote
Jackie seems to have seriously dipped in potential beyond Natalie Portman, but at least until the Guilds chime in, I'd have to ask, do its chances really seem all that much worse than most of those above movies, given some of their vulnerabilities? (At this point last year, Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn seemed a bit on life support, only to be resuscitated by PGA). Pablo Larraín still strikes me as a very possible Director nominee -- in the vein of Lenny Abrahamson/Bennett Miller -- simply because it's hard to imagine a lot of the above candidates making much impact with that branch, and his profile (foreign auteur making an American biopic) could be the sweet spot.
I agree. I also think Jackie could end up making a strong comeback and Pablo Larrain makes a lot of sense as a Best Director nomination. But something I try not to do is make predictions on what could happen rather than what is happening. Currently, Jackie's not doing as well as it could be doing with the precursors, but also in the sense that unlike Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn I don't have faith that everyone is going to like it. It seems to be a little divisive.
The Original BJ wrote
I also feel pretty good about Arrival's chances, partly because it's the kind of movie that seems certain to do very well down-ballot -- it's one of the few movies in the conversation that's genuinely a technical wow -- and because of that, I feel like Villeneuve stands a stronger shot than most at a Director nomination. His movies have been getting scattered nominations for years, he's directing a hugely anticipated upcoming sequel, and it feels like it's time for the directors' branch to welcome him into the club.
That's more or less my thinking. Villeneuve has been on the verge for a moment and there's so much craftsmanship in the film. The only knocks against it I have are: 1) unlike Inception, Interestellar, and Gravity, it may be too much for the sci-fi crowd, and 2) it plays infinitely better on the big screen than the small. I've never encountered a movie where there is such a stronger divide between loved it!/it's okay than those who saw Arrival on the big screen and those who saw it on the small screen.
Normally, getting assigned to a sci-fi blockbuster remake wouldn't inspire Oscar recognition but when everyone found out it was Villeneuve, the reaction was like "Oh thank God."
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