Here’s the part of the Academy Awards that will make or break your Oscar pool ballot: The specialty categories.
They don’t always play by the same rules. For most, Academy voters have to prove they’ve seen them — though that’s getting easier, as the documentary branch now sends DVD copies of the features to people’s homes, and the short-film nominees are compiled for a theatrical presentation that plays nationwide. (They’re all playing through Thursday at the Tower Theatre.)
The Cricket predicted the technical categories on Tuesday, and the craft categories on Wednesday. The major categories will get their due Friday, on this blog and in the print edition of The Salt Lake Tribune (or you can take a peek now).
The Cricket will be live-tweeting the Oscar ceremony (which starts at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time, with the pre-show red carpet coverage starting on ABC at 5 p.m.) on Sunday, at @moviecricket.
The nominees are: "Brave," "Frankenweenie," "ParaNorman," "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," "Wreck-It Ralph."
Who will win: It’s been said that this is the year Disney made a Pixar film ("Wreck-It Ralph") and Pixar made a Disney film ("Brave"). The Pixar film, "Wreck-It Ralph," looks like the winner.
Who should win: The Cricket has a fondness for the hand-crafted charms of the clay-animated "The Pirates" and the stop-motion work in "ParaNorman" and "Frankenweenie." But "Wreck-It Ralph" was the most fun, and most inventive, of the lot.
Animated short film
The nominees are: "Adam and Dog," "Fresh Guacamole," "Head Over Heels," "Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’," "Paperman."
Who will win: Disney’s charming romance "Paperman" (which played in theaters ahead of "Wreck-It Ralph") is the favorite here, though the student film "Head Over Heels" — which plays a bit like the first 10 minutes of "Up" — could surprise.
Who should win: All five are wonderful, from the gorgeous images of "Adam and Dog" to the inventive stop-motion of "Fresh Guacamole." But "Paperman" is a movie that will win your heart.
The nominees are: "5 Broken Cameras," "The Gatekeepers," "How to Survive a Plague," "The Invisible War," "Searching for Sugar Man."
Who will win: Soft and sentimental tends to win this category (e.g., last year’s winner, "Undefeated"). That means "Searching for Sugar Man," about the lost work of ‘70s rocker Rodriguez, is a sure thing.
Who should win: Kirby Dick and Amy Zeiring’s "The Invisible War" should win, but it’s already taken a more important honor: It prompted needed change to U.S. military policy in handling sexual assault cases. By the way, Utah Film Center founder Geralyn Dreyfous is among the movie’s executive producers. (Disclaimer: The Cricket has not seen "5 Broken Cameras" or "The Gatekeepers.")
Documentary short film
The nominees are: "Inocente," "Kings Point," "Mondays at Racine," "Open Heart," "Redemption."
Who will win: Sentiment reigns in this category, whether it’s women cancer survivors in "Mondays at Racine," young African cardiac patients in "Open Heart" or the elderly folks who populate "Kings Point." The other two, "Inocente" and "Redemption," are intriguing looks at poverty in America; one centering on a homeless teen artist, the other focusing on the micro-economy of people collecting cans and bottles from New York’s trash. Again, going with sentiment, "Open Heart" looks like the winner. (Again, Geralyn Dreyfous is one of the executive producers. She gets around, that one.)
Who should win: "Redemption," an unflinching look at a corner of America most of us choose not to see, is the best of the bunch.
The nominees are: "Amour" (Austria), "Kon-Tiki" (Norway), "No" (Chile), "A Royal Affair" (Denmark), "War Witch" (Canada)
Who will win: In the three previous incidents where a movie was nominated both for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Picture, it won for foreign-language film. (Those are "Z," "Life Is Beautiful" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.") Michael Haneke’s "Amour" (which is also nominated for original screenplay and Emmanuelle Riva’s leading performance) will likely make it four.
Who should win: The Cricket has not seen "Kon-tiki," "No" or "War Witch," so it’s hard to say which of these five is the best. "Amour" was in The Cricket’s top 10 last year, though.
The nominees are: "Asad," "Buzkashi Boys," "Curfew," "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)," "Henry."
Who will win: Each has something to offer. "Asad" and "Buzkashi Boys" offer boy’s-eye views of war-torn lands (respectively, Somalia and Afghanistan). "Curfew" is a wry American tale of a fractured family. The Belgian "Death of a Shadow" The French-Canadian drama "Henry," about an Alzheimer’s-afflicted musician, could open for "Amour." Oscar voters are likely to go for the surreal science-fiction of "Death of a Shadow."
Who should win: The images of "Death of a Shadow" are too haunting to ignore. Now we just have to wait for Hollywood to make a bad feature-length version.
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