The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces Tuesday 15 finalists in 10 Oscar categories – feature documentary, short documentary, international feature film, makeup / hairstyle, original music, original song, animated short, short film live action, sound and visual effects – gives us some clues as to how the organization’s 10,000 or so members view the nominations voting period from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1.
Granted, each of these presets was chosen by members of different branches, while all branches will ultimately weigh on the best frame run; Additionally, many of these shortlists by nature tend to showcase larger-scale movies rather than smaller-scale movies, while the reverse is often the case in the higher category. But it is still striking that, say, the Bond film No time to die was on all five lists for which he was eligible, and Dune did it out of four, while, say, Licorice Pizza and go! Go on were totally MIA.
It was not unexpected, but still impressive, that the Danish film To flee both on the list of feature documentaries and international feature films – the eye-catching portrayal of an Afghan refugee’s journey may well become the first film never to get names in these two categories and animated feature film (for which there is no shortlist).
Speaking of the international feature film competition, it is certainly remarkable that this year’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner, Julia ducournau‘s Titanium (France), has not made the last 15. The graphic film is incredibly divisive, but most thought it would make it to at least the second round, even without the executive committee “saving” this year, and I wonder if its snub might actually boost Ducournau’s prospects in the game. the race for the best director. Meanwhile, the two films tied for second place at the two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi‘s A hero (Iran) and Juho kuosmanen‘s Compartment n ° 6 (Finland), the two made the cut. This is disappointing news for Neon, but good news for Amazon and Sony Classics, the respective US distributors of the films.
Their competition will include Drive my car (Japan), the release of Janus which was the best picture choice of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; God’s hand (Italy), which Netflix is pushing hard (the streamer also has the Prayers for the Stolen go forward); Norway The worst person in the world; and three vehicles for well-known actors in Hollywood, Oscar winner Javier bardem (Spain The good boss, which has been the subject of controversy Pedro Almodovar‘s Parallel Mothers, which stars Bardem’s wife Penelope cruz), Downton abbey alum Dan Stevens (Germany I am your man) and Prometheus prominent lady Noomi Raptor (Iceland Lamb).
I was sorry that several other great entrees – including Zatopek (Czech Republic), which this year opened the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and Loosen fists (Russia), which won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes this year, failed.
This year’s original song list is arguably the most star-studded in history, with tunes from Billie Eilish and Finneas (“No time to die” from No time to die), Beyonce (“Being alive” from king richard), Jay Z (“Guns Go Bang” by The more they fall), U2 (“Your song saved my life” from Sing 2), Carole king and Jennifer hudson (“Here I am” from Respect), Ariana Grande (“Just Look Up” from Do not seek), Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Dos Oruguitas” by Encanto), Brian wilson (“Where I belong” from Brian Wilson: long road promised), Van Morrison (“Until the joy” of Belfast), HER (“Automatic woman” from bruised), Pasek & Paul and Amandla Stenberg (“The Anonymous” of Dear Evan Hansen) and Kid cudi (a writer on of them aforementioned songs, “Guns Go Bang” and “Just Look Up”) among those vying for just five spots. If the Academy is feeling enterprising, they should praise the Hollywood Bowl and invite all the finalists to perform their songs – I bet most would show up, and that would be one hell of a gig!
Inevitably, the list also brought bad news for several other notable artists – among them, Camila Cabello (“Million to One”, was bounced back by another tune from Cinderella, Idina Menzel and Laura Veltz‘s “Dream Girl”), Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars (“Fire in the sky” from Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings), Jon batiste (“Breathe” from The first wave), Eddie Vedder (“My father’s daughter” from Flag day), Florence + The Machine (“Call me Cruella” from Cruel) and The National (which had several songs in the running for the musical Cyrano).
Special congratulations to two long-shots which are to advance : Sian Heder, the writer / director of CODA“Beyond the Shore” and the legendary Diane warren, who has lost all 12 Oscar nominees over the past five decades, but never gives up, and whose ‘Somehow You Do’ inspiration from low profile Four good days, stay in the race. (Watch the clip of the oral cover of the song that Warren recruited a friend William shatner to record – that’s pretty good.)
As for the notes, Jonny greenwood, with both The power of the dog and Spencer, and Hans zimmer, with both Dune and No time to die, have the most to celebrate. Other usual suspects given the go-ahead include Alexandre Desplat (The French dispatch), Alberto Iglesias (Parallel mothers) and Carter burwell (Macbeth’s tragedy). And there was also a great performance from rising stars, like Nicolas britell (Do not seek), Kris bowers (king richard) and Jeymes Samuel (The more they fall).
Left outside looking inside, however, were Marco beltrami (A Quiet Place, Part II), Steven Price (Last night in Soho), Nathan Johnson (Alley of nightmares), Dickon hinchliffe (The lost girl) and the aforementioned Le National (go! Go on).
The race for super-competitive documentary feature films, for which 138 titles were eligible, ended up with a diverse group of finalists – powerful films spanning everything from Syrian refugees (Megan Mylan‘s As simple as water) to the pandemic (Matthieu heineman‘s The first wave) elections in Zimbabwe (Camille Nielsson‘s President) – but few surprises. A fifth of those who advance focus on music: RJ Cutler‘s Billie Eilish: The world is a bit hazy, Todd haynes‘ The velvet metro and Ahmir “Questlove “Thompsonthe prohibitive favorite of Summer of the soul (which, from what I hear from voters, might even become the first documentary to make its way into the best picture Category).
Most notable doc omissions were the Oscar winner Morgan neville‘s Roadrunner: a film about Anthony Bourdain, a commercially successful doc who became controversial within the industry after it was revealed he had manipulated his late subject’s voice; Francois, for which Oscar nominee Evgeny afineevsky gained unprecedented access to Pope Francis; Emily kunstler and Sarah kunstler‘s Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America; Oscar nominee Liz garbus‘ Become Cousteau; and two portraits of sick actors, Ting poo and Leo Scott‘s Val (actor Val Kilmer) and Rachel Fleit‘s Introducing Selma Blair (actress Selma blair).
The titles that struck me as MIA in the makeup / hairstyle list were Spencer, The power of the dog, Being the Ricardos and Last night in Soho; from the list of sounds were The last duel, Alley of nightmares and Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings; and from the VFX list were Swan song, Do not seek, The suicide squad, The war of tomorrow and Jungle cruise.
I can’t claim to know most of the short films that were chosen (or were not), but I am pleased to note the inclusion of the Shaquille O’neal-doc supported short The basketball queen; the live action short When Sun sets, the deeply personal Chapman University MFA thesis film by Phumi morare, for which the South African has already been awarded a Student Academy Award; and the Pixar animated short We again, who has performed in theaters before Raya and the last dragon.
Surprisingly enough, given the strong presence of Disney and Pixar employees in the short films and animated feature films branch, Disney’s Far from the tree, who has performed in theaters before Encanto, and Pixar Twenty something and Nona, which are on Disney +, all failed.