The Animated Feature race has shaped up to have four solid contenders: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and Turning Red. All landed Annie Awards and BAFTA nominations, plus Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe nods. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is the frontrunner with CCA and GGA wins and as not just the top critics’ pick of the season, the one film here that will earn nominations outside of this category.
Looking for what what might earn that fifth spot (if those four are locked) gets a little trickier as three films have a smattering of supporting amongst the precursors: Netflix’s Wendell & Wild, DreamWorks’ Minions: The Rise of Gru and GKIDS’ Inu-Oh. Each come with benefits and disadvantages but I think I might be looking outside of that group to zero in on My Father’s Dragon. Not only is it a stealth Netflix contender but it’s from Cartoon Saloon, and they just don’t miss. The Secret of Kells, The Breadwinner, Song of the Sea and Wolfwalkers provide enough to want to predict it but in those years all of those films also made a dent in the critics and precursor races where My Father’s Dragon has not. It makes it a riskier 5th pick than some but I’m going with my gut here. Yet another Netflix contender, The Sea Beast, made a big showing with the Annie noms, including the top feature award. But then also I’m wondering about Minions: The Rise of Gru, one of the few franchises whose sequel entries have proven themselves here before and earned top 5 PGA placement over several other contenders.
The massive Animation Branch (which also includes short films) has a 867 voting members, the second-largest Academy branch after actors. Normally that would mean that 145 votes would secure a nomination. Voting here open to all Academy members outside the branch who volunteer to take part, like Best Picture. With that, the number needed to secure a nomination is unknown as it depends entirely on how many members choose to vote in this category.
The Documentary Feature branch usually give us a pretty big snub but they kind of already did that with their longlist, where the Critics’ Choice curse returned and Good Night Oppy was left off the shortlist. There is a chance that another frontrunner here, Fire of Love, finds itself lost in the volcano of snubland for its primarily being archival footage (something the branch has said no to before) but after last year’s Summer of Soul bypassed that stigma, it should be in. It and Navalny are the only films to hit the several precursors available to us in the documentary category: BAFTA, CCA, Cinema Eye Honors, International Documentary Association and the Producers Guild of America.
While All the Beauty and the Bloodshed lead the critics’ wins for eligible films, All That Breathes has silently been gathering steam with upset wins at CEH and IDA. The film only missed CCA (as did AtBatB). This is a dizzyingly wide open race at the nomination stage with Descendent, The Territory, Moonage Dream and Retrograde probably having the strongest cases to get in. But watch out for Bad Axe.
After the first round gave us the 15-film shortlist (of 144 eligible features), the 648 members of the Documentary Branch chooses the five nominees. If they all cast ballots, it’ll take 108 votes to secure a nomination.
The International Feature Film shortlist may be one of its strongest and most competitive in years but changes (again) in the voting process did a bit to remove the chances of a real surprise in the way that Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom provided us last year. Instead, we are going to have a bit of a bloodbath to get to our five nominees here and one of the reasons is RRR. After India decided to go with Last Film Show as its submission, critics’ groups who had championed the film all year fought back, giving it wins left and right (it just won CCA last weekend). Of course, it’s not eligible here, but interestingly, their submitted film is and it’s been over 20 years since India has had a film in this category. Will there be some residual love from RRR transferred to LFS? And what does the shocking win at the Golden Globes for Argentina, 1985 mean?
Four films have locked in precursors: All Quiet on the Western Front from Germany (which led the BAFTA nominations and Oscars shortlists), Argentina, 1985 from Argentina, Close from Belgium and Decision to Leave from South Korea. Bardo has made a good showing, but missed the Globe (to RRR, probably). Decision to Leave has the most critics’ win for eligible films, followed by Poland’s EO.
The compelling story of Pakistan’s Joyland, which features a trans storyline, being banned in its country and without distribution for Oscar eligibility until the last minute could find some voters gravitating towards it. France and Austria, normally two of the strongest performers in this category, have weakened in recent years and even their respective films, Saint Omer and Corsage, don’t feel like easy picks as they would have just five or ten years ago.
We’re probably in a similar situation as we are in Animated Feature; four films that feel pretty secure and looking for what will take that last spot. Even looking at the films that have only made the Oscars shortlist, it’s anyone’s game.
Also like Animated Feature, this category is open to all Academy members from any branches who volunteers to participate. After the field of 92 eligible contenders was narrowed to the 15-film shortlist, voting is open to any member who sees all 15 of those films (on their word), which are available on the Academy’s members website. With that, the number needed to secure a nomination is unknown as it depends entirely on how many members choose to vote in this category.
Oscar nominations for the 95th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 24. Here are my final 2023 Oscar nomination predictions for Animated Feature, Documentary Feature and International Feature Film.
|1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix) – Annie, BAFTA, CCA, GG, PGA|
|2. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24) – Annie, BAFTA, CCA, GG, PGA|
|3. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (DreamWorks/Universal) – Annie, BAFTA, CCA, GG, PGA|
|4. Turning Red (Walt Disney/Pixar) – Annie, BAFTA, CCA, GG, PGA|
|5. My Father’s Dragon (Netflix/Cartoon Saloon) – Annie|
|6. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal Pictures) – PGA|
|7. The Sea Beast (Netflix) – Annie|
|8. Inu-Oh (GKIDS) – GG|
|9. The Bad Guys (DreamWorks/Universal) –|
|10. Wendell & Wild (Netflix) – Annie, CCA|
|1. Navalny – BAFTA, CCA, CEH, IDA, PGA|
|2. All That Breathes – BAFTA, CEH, IDA, PGA|
|3. Fire of Love – BAFTA, CCA, CEH, IDA, PGA|
|4. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed – BAFTA, CEH, IDA|
|5. The Territory – CEH, PGA|
|6. Bad Axe|
|7. Descendant – CCA, PGA|
|8. Retrograde – PGA|
|9. Moonage Daydream – BAFTA, CCA|
|10. A House Made of Splinters|
|11. The Janes – IDA|
|12. Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song – BAFTA longlist|
|13. Last Flight Home|
|14. Children of the Mist|
|15. Hidden Letters|
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
|1. Germany, All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix) – BAFTA, CCA, GG|
|2. Argentina, Argentina, 1985 (Amazon Studios) – BAFTA, CCA, GG|
|3. Belgium, Close (A24) – CCA, GG|
|4. South Korea, Decision to Leave (MUBI) – BAFTA, CCA, GG|
|5. Poland, EO (JanusFilms/Sideshow)|
|6. Mexico, Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Netflix) – CCA|
|7. Ireland, The Quiet Girl (Super/NEON) – BAFTA|
|8. Denmark, Holy Spider (Utopia)|
|9. India, Last Film Show (Samuel Goldwyn Films)|
|10. Cambodia, Return to Seoul (Sony Pictures Classics)|
|11. France, Saint Omer (Super/NEON)|
|12. Pakistan, Joyland (Oscilloscope)|
|13. Morocco, The Blue Caftan (Strand Releasing)|
|14. Austria, Corsage (IFC Films) – BAFTA|
|15. Sweden, Cairo Conspiracy (Samuel Goldwyn Films)|