It’s that time of year when people gather around their television sets for four hours on a Sunday evening, to eat lots of food, critique short films, and give some snark! No, it’s not the Super Bowl (which some would argue has better performances)… it’s time for the Academy Awards!

For me and other non-Sportsball geeks, the Oscars is lots more interesting! Who wears whom? What’s the opening monologue/number? Will Marvel continue their Visual Effects losing streak? Will ABC ever start the Oscars at 8 PM Eastern Time, and use the full four hours of prime time for the show, instead of wasting it on the red carpet which should be part of the pre-game broadcast? Will any nerdy/geeky/popular films win? Will Netflix? Amazon? MTV? Barack Obama?

For those who like to make the Oscars more competitive, there’s always the Oscar office pool. It’s a chance for cinephiles to show off their acumen, and maybe win a few bucks. But what if you spent more time at the library than the movie theater last year? How do you pick Best International Picture? Short Subject? Make Up and Hairstyling?

Well, I don’t know, exactly. (And if I did, I’d go professional, making book in Vegas, hanging out poolside at the Beverly Hills Hilton, hosting a YouTube channel.) But thanks to the Internet, we’ve got access to lots of information, and I, professional librarian, will share my mighty Web-Fu to help you!

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My first technique: Hollywood Guilds. Almost everyone who works on a Hollywood production belongs to a professional guild. Writers Guild of America. Directors Guild. The American Society of Cinematographers. These are the alphabet soup of letters that appear after a person’s name in the credits, or at the bottom of movie ads in December and January.

Almost all have their own awards, all of them before the Oscars. By looking at who wins the top award at these award dinners, one can narrow the possible winner. Why does this work? Because the Academy’s members who specialize in that category select the nominees. Why might this not work? Because the entire Academy membership votes on the final ballot.

Let’s begin!

Screen Actors Guild

Website: https://www.sagaftra.org/
Awards: https://www.sagawards.org/

  • Actress: Renée Zellwegger, “Judy”
  • Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
  • Ensemble: “Parasite”
  • Actress in a supporting role: Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
  • Actor in a supporting role: Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
  • Stunt Ensemble: “Avengers: Endgame”

Ensemble is a good indicator for Best Picture (more on this film later).

Producers Guild of America

Website: https://www.producersguild.org/default.aspx
Awards: https://yg.producersguildawards.com/en [not very helpful]

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
1917      Producers: Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne‐Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Toy Story 4      Producers: Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Picture
Apollo 11      Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen [not nominated for Documentary Feature]

Writer’s Guild of America

Site: https://www.wga.org/
Awards: https://awards.wga.org/awards/nominees-winners

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Parasite, Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Story by Bong Joon Ho; Neon

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Jojo Rabbit, Screenplay by Taika Waititi, Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens; Fox Searchlight

Directors Guild of America

Website: https://www.dga.org/
Awards: https://www.dga.org/Awards/Annual.aspx

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film
SAM MENDES   1917   (Universal Pictures)

The American Society of Cinematographers

Theatrical Release
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for 1917

Documentary
Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma for Honeyland

International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood

Website: https://www.asifa-hollywood.org/
Awards: https://annieawards.org/

Best Feature
Klaus   Netflix Presents A Production of The Spa Studios and Atresmedia Cine
[Klaus won seven awards total.]

Best Short Subject
Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days   Ciclope Filmes, National Film Board of Canada, Les Armateurs

[None of the nominated short films, including the winner, were nominated for an Academy Award. Klaus might beat Toy Story 4. TS4, however, got a lot of love from a variety of guilds, so given that the entire Academy membership votes, I’m going with Pixar.]

Costume Designers Guild

Website: https://costumedesignersguild.com/
Awards: https://costumedesignersguild.com/awards/current-awards/

Excellence in Contemporary Film
Knives Out – Jenny Eagan [Not nominated for an Academy Award]

Excellence in Period Film
Jojo Rabbit – Mayes C. Rubeo

[Note that of the ten nominees in the above two categories, only two are listed on the Academy ballot for Costume Design. This century, historical movies have won this Oscar fourteen times, with the other five going to fantasy films.]

American Cinema Editors

Website: https://americancinemaeditors.org/
Awards: https://americancinemaeditors.org/eddie-awards/

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC):
Parasite   Jinmo Yang

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY):
Jojo Rabbit   Tom Eagles

BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Toy Story 4   Axel Geddes, ACE

[Both Jojo Rabbit and Parasite are nominated in this category. My gut says Parasite.]

Motion Picture Sound Editors

Website: https://www.mpse.org/
Awards: https://www.mpse.org/golden-reel-awards

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Animation
Toy Story 4

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Foreign Language Feature
Parasite

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Motion Picture – Music Underscore
JoJo Rabbit

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Motion Picture – Musical
Rocketman

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Motion Picture – Dialogue/ADR
1917

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Effects / Foley
Ford v Ferrari

[Ford v Ferrari and 1917 are both nominated in the Sound Editing category.]

Cinema Audio Society

Website: https://cinemaaudiosociety.org/
Awards: https://cinemaaudiosociety.org/56th-cas-awards-nominees/

MOTION PICTURE – LIVE ACTION
Ford v Ferrari

MOTION PICTURE—ANIMATED
Toy Story 4

Visual Effects Society

Website: https://visualeffectssociety.com/
Awards: https://visualeffectssociety.com/awards/

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
THE LION KING

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
THE IRISHMAN

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature
MISSING LINK

[Lion King won three VES Awards, Irishman won two. My gut says Lion King, which should have been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.]

Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild

Website: http://www.local706.org/
Awards: https://www.muahsawards.com/

Feature-Length Motion Picture – BEST CONTEMPORARY MAKE-UP
Bombshell
Feature-Length Motion Picture – BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER MAKE-UP
Joker
Feature-Length Motion Picture – BEST SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS
Bombshell
Feature-Length Motion Picture – BEST CONTEMPORARY HAIR STYLING
Bombshell

[Bombshell seems too boring. I’ll go with Joker, as I think most of the Academy members will consider that makeup worthy of an award.]

Society of Composers & Lyricists

Website: https://thescl.com/
Awards: https://thescl.com/scl-awards/  [2020 marks their inaugural year.]

Outstanding Original Score for a Studio Film: Hildur Guðnadóttir: Joker

Outstanding Original Song for Visual Media: Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo: “Stand Up” from Harriet

[Note that 1917 was too late to qualify for these awards. My gut says go with Joker. As for Best Song…I think the Academy voters might give it to Sir Elton, although he did win previously for The Lion King.]

Art Directors Guild

Website: https://adg.org/
Awards: https://adg.org/awards/

EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR A FEATURE FILM:

  • PERIOD FILM: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • FANTASY FILM: Avengers: Endgame
  • CONTEMPORARY FILM: Parasite
  • ANIMATED FILM: Toy Story 4

[Two of those winners are nominated for Best Production Design. I think Parasite will win.]


What’s left?

  • Documentary Feature
  • Documentary Short Subject
  • International Feature Film
  • Animated Short Film
  • Live Action Short Film

Let’s start with the easy one: International Feature Film, formerly Best Foreign Language Film. When a film is nominated for both Best International Feature Film and Best Picture, it will win Best International Feature Film.  Why?  I think it’s because Academy voters split their vote between two difficult choices. So I expect Parasite to win BIFF.

This might also factor into Documentary Feature, as Honeyland is also nominated for Best International Feature Film. American Factory gained some publicity for Barack Obama, whose production company financed the movie. (The directors get the award, not the producers.) Honeyland got a lot of notice when it was released theatrically (!), and it did earn an award from the Cinematographer’s guild, as well as a nomination from the Directors guild.

Then there’s Documentary Short Subject. Ideally, your local arthouse cinema will screen them, and you can watch them all and make your choice. It might be cynical, but usually the winner is a reflection of the Zeitgeist. St. Louis Superman seems to be the frontrunner.

The most difficult category to pick is Live Action Short Film. If you can’t watch them in a theater, aggregate analysis from numerous websites. Those people get paid to watch a lot of movies and write about them. Or pick for the most “serious” film, using the Zeitgeist as a virtual Ouija board.

Then there’s Animated Short Film… Again, try to watch them…most of them are available on YouTube. Pixar is usually the favorite, but it’s interesting to note that Pixar and Disney don’t screen animated shorts in front of their animated features anymore. Kitbull is a fine cartoon, but I feel I’ve seen this before. I’m going with Hair Love.

Oh… and there’s Best Picture. The Producer’s Guild selected 1917. The Screen Actors Guild selected Parasite. Me… I don’t know. What’s interesting…almost all of these films are popular, or aimed at a general audience. The Irishman and Marriage Story, both by Netflix, are the only “serious” movies here. Maybe that’s the new S.O.P.; screen a serious movie so that it qualifies for awards consideration, then stream it to subscribers (and maybe press a few DVDs for libraries, collectors, and the few Netflix subscribers who still get DVDs in the mail). 65 of 91 Best Picture winners also won Best Director. So I’m going with 1917.


So, what are the results from all these guilds and techniques?
Here’s my Oscar poll:

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE    Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE    Brad Pitt, Once upon a Time…in Hollywood
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE    Renée Zellweger, Judy
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE    Laura Dern, Marriage Story
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM    Toy Story 4
CINEMATOGRAPHY    1917
COSTUME DESIGN    Jojo Rabbit
DIRECTING    1917
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE    Honeyland
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT    St. Louis Superman
FILM EDITING    Parasite
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM    Parasite
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING    Joker
ORIGINAL SCORE    Joker
ORIGINAL SONG    “Stand Up,” Harriet
BEST PICTURE    1917
PRODUCTION DESIGN    Parasite
ANIMATED SHORT FILM    Hair Love
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM    Brotherhood
SOUND EDITING    Ford v Ferrari
SOUND MIXING    Ford v Ferrari
VISUAL EFFECTS    The Lion King
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY    Jojo Rabbit
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY    Parasite


What are your favorites? Where do you think I went wrong? Got any tips to share?

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