The Academy Shortlists: Snubs And Shocks Below The Line

As we get closer to the Oscar nominations, we’re going to be hearing more and more about the shortlists that the branches have released. You see, while certain fields (Picture, Actor, Music) allow everything that is eligible to compete for the award (and making for ridiculously long ballots), certain categories narrow things down to smaller and smaller list. And considering I’m way behind on posting predictions for the rest of the categories, I thought I would go ahead and share the Oscar shortlists with you all, so I can get an Oscar update to you later this week, before the Oscars. I will break this article down into three groups for your convenience: the Features (Documentary and Foreign Language), Effects (Makeup and Visual Effects), and the Shorts. So let’s not waste any time here – let’s get down to it.

The Features Shortlists

The Features are always the most controversial categories to release their shortlists. For whatever reason, the most deserving films, and often the frontrunners, get infamously left off the list, like Hoop Dreams or Elle. So it goes without saying that there are definitely some snubs on this year’s lists, as well as some deserving, now-expected frontrunners. Let’s start with Documentary, as it had, perhaps, the biggest shakeup. The two biggest contenders, the Julian Assange exposé Risk and wonderful cat documentary Kedi, both found themselves on the outside looking in. Similarly, big players The Force, Jim & Andy, and Casting JonBenet all missed the cut for Best Documentary. However, several of the other big players earned a slot, including Agnes Varda’s major hit Faces Places, mediocre follow-up An Inconvenient Sequel, a better-executed Chasing Coral, the fantastic Jane Goodall documentary Jane, Netflix’s sole entry Icarus, LA Riots retrospective LA 92, and several documentaries about Syria, including the great City of Ghosts and Last Men in Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Foreign Language only had three major snubs, but one of them is a doozy. For example, it isn’t surprising that Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father didn’t make the cut, nor is it surprising that Haneke’s Happy End missed out. However, it is shocking that BPM, considered to be one of the best of the year, missed out. That’s a big egg on the Academy’s face, and one they’ll wear for quite some time. Instead, the new frontrunner is the bizarre The Square (review coming this week), with the subversive Foxtrot and the groundbreaking A Fantastic Woman close behind. I’d call these three the new frontrunners, and should be amongst the names picked off the shortlist. You can see the shortlists below.

Best Documentary Feature:

  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
  • Chasing Coral
  • City of Ghosts
  • Ex Librus: New York Public Library
  • Faces Places
  • Human Flow
  • Icarus
  • An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
  • Jane
  • LA 92
  • Last Men in Aleppo
  • Long Strange Trip
  • One of Us
  • Strong Island
  • Unrest

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • A Fantastic Woman
  • Félicité
  • Foxtrot
  • In The Fade
  • The Insult
  • Loveless
  • On Body and Soul
  • The Square
  • The Wound

The Effects Shortlists

Technical achievements are amongst the most significant to a film. Sure, the average drama doesn’t put much thought into them, but think about how much they matter to war films (explosions and injuries), period pieces (to resemble the historic figure/period), and sci-fi/fantasy (fantastical creatures). Two of these categories, release a shortlist, and from this list we can deduce how beloved a film will be going into the Oscar race. For example, the fact that I, Tonya and Victoria & Abdul made the Makeup shortlist is a sign that the Academy likes them, while the lack of The Shape of Water or Blade Runner 2049 is a bit troubling. Expected contenders Darkest Hour and Wonder also squeeze their way in, but the most troubling name on the list is the hated Bright. The Academy loves David Ayer, and whenever a weird name like that appears (think Bad Grandpa or Suicide Squad), we sometimes run into trouble later down the line. Keep an eye on that one going forward.

Meanwhile, the Visual Effects field has already whittled down their original list of twenty. The films that missed the cut include the expected, like Ghost in the Shell, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Justice League, Life, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, as well as the big moneymakers that were expected to have some support, like Beauty and the Beast, Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, and Wonder Woman. While this bodes well for Blade Runner 2049, Star Wars, and War for the Planet of the Apes, this could also be a great sign for underdogs (not unlike 2015’s most surprising winner, Ex Machina) like Okja and The Shape of Water. You can see the full shortlists below.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Bright
  • Darkest Hour
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
  • I, Tonya
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Wonder

Best Visual Effects

  • Alien: Covenant
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Okja
  • The Shape of Water
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  • War for the Planet of the Apes

The Shorts

Yeah, I’m not going to write too much here. I really don’t know much about these. No one does at this point. Off the top of my head, I notice that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure isn’t here, which isn’t surprising considering how much people hated it. I also see that World of Tomorrow 2 was egregiously snubbed, which is infuriating. As for the films that are here, I noticed that the Animated Short list features Kobe Bryant’s foray into film with Dear Basketball, as well as the heartwarming short that made its rounds on the Internet, In a Heartbeat. I’d say both of those are safe. But other than that, predictions are a crapshoot. You can see the lists below, and maybe you’ll notice one from a local film festival.

Best Live Action Short

  • DeKalb Elementary
  • The Eleven O’ Clock
  • Facing Mecca
  • Icebox
  • Lost Face
  • My Nephew Emmett
  • Rise of a Star
  • The Silent Child
  • Watt Wote/All of Us
  • Witnesses

Best Animated Short

  • Cradle
  • Dear Basketball
  • Fox and the Whale
  • Garden Party
  • In a Heartbeat
  • Life Smartphone
  • Lost Property Office
  • Lou
  • Negative Space
  • Revolting Rhymes 

Best Documentary Short

  • 116 Cameras
  • Alone
  • Edith+Eddie
  • Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 4015
  • Heroin(e)
  • Kayak: The Living Shopping Baskets
  • Knife Skills
  • Ram Dass, Going Home
  • Ten Meter Tower
  • Traffic Stop

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