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Oscar predictions: Animation, foreign language and documentary

February 24, 2012 |  6:00 am

Rango
The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, predicting the winners. Check previous posts for tips on marking your Oscar pool ballots for the music categories, short films, sound races and the visual crafts. Now
, predictions for the winners for animated feature and two categories in which academy members often defy conventional wisdom: foreign-language film and documentary.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

The nominees:

“A Cat in Paris,” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita,” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2,” Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots,” Chris Miller
“Rango,” Gore Verbinski

And the winner is … “Rango.” “Tintin” won the Producers Guild and Golden Globe awards, but the animation nominating committee fixed "Tintin's" motion-capture wagon but good, leaving it off the final ballot. So “Rango,” flaws and all, it is. And let’s hope for a better slate of nominees next year.

Unless … the academy’s older-skewing membership boasts a proud Crazy Cat Lady contingent and the group coalesces behind a feline tale (say, “Puss in Boots” over “A Cat in Paris”).

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

The nominees:

“Bullhead” (Belgium)
“Footnote” (Israel)
“In Darkness” (Poland)
“Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)
“A Separation” (Iran)

And the winner is … “A Separation.” Yes, we’re aware that critical acclaim sometimes means bupkis here. “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “White Ribbon,” “Waltz With Bashir” all lost to lesser films. Last year, the high-profile “Biutiful” had both Javier Bardem’s celebrated, Oscar-nominated acting and Julia Roberts, Sean Penn and a number of A-listers singing its praises. And then it lost to the middlebrow “A Better World.”

So why should this year be different? The fact that Asghar Faradi’s deeply involving  masterwork also received a screenplay nomination might be a good indicator of broad support. “A Separation” also won the Golden Globe and a number of critics prizes. And it’s the clear standout among the nominees.

Unless … many of the voters who love “A Separation” haven’t seen the other four nominated films in exhibition and thus, by academy rule, can’t cast a ballot here. That’s where spoilers come into play. Agnieszka Holland’s third Holocaust drama, “In Darkness,” fits the model and could well pull off an Oscar night upset that, given the category, wouldn’t really be all that shocking. Enraging, yes. But not shocking.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The nominees:

“Hell and Back Again,” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
“Pina,” Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
“Undefeated,” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas

And the winner is … With the West Memphis Three case fresh in voters’ minds (and fresh off another doc that premiered at Sundance), “Paradise Lost 3” could eke out a win, though it’s nowhere near as powerful as the trilogy’s first film, which, of course, wasn’t nominated in 1996.

Unless … academy members go with another topical, buzzed-about doc, the photojournalistic “Hell and Back Again,” which follows a Marine as he returns home from a harrowing tour of duty in Afghanistan.

RELATED:

Reluctantly, an Iranian director becomes a symbol

Rango wins the Annie Award for animated feature

Sundance 2011: At war and home in 'Hell and Back Again'

Oscars 2012: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

— Glenn Whipp

Photo: Scene from "Rango." Photo credit: Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount Pictures.


 
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