While many concerned moviegoers remain irate at the Academy’s decision to pre-tape the presentation of eight categories an hour before the live broadcast, then sprinkle edited highlights of the winners’ speeches throughout the main event, we eternal optimists at Crooked Marquee see gold in them hills — and the year’s most exclusive party.
Rather than serve as their usual opportunities for viewers and attendees alike to visit the restroom and/or refill their beverages, these technical and short film prizes are valued so much this year that the Academy is giving them their own ceremony! We plebs certainly won’t get more than what the producers choose to show us of The Grateful Eights, and most of the A-listers will be too busy with red carpet obligations to pop in and support their colleagues. Whatever the opposite of bait-and-switch is, it’s this.
As we inch towards the most wonderful night of the year, here’s a look at how things are likely to go down at the event you won’t want to miss (but inevitably will).
Documentary (Short Subject):
The Queen of Basketball
Lead Me Home
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies
Homelessness: we’re all on the verge of it! While that hyper-relevance could be enough to catapult Lead Me Home to victory, there’s also the not-exactly-passé matter of Afghan refugees (Three Songs for Benazir); Audible carrying on CODA’s good work by representing the deaf community — in tandem with an inspirational sports story; and When We Were Bullies proving accurate in its advertising with a long-gestating tale of schoolyard trauma. But with director Ben Proudfoot nominated in this category for a second year in a row, subject Lucy Harris’ death in January adding a feel-good memorial element to an already enlightening profile, and March Madness in full bloom, The Queen of Basketball seems like a slam dunk.
Don’t Look Up
The Power of the Dog
Tick, Tick … Boom!
Cinephiles angry at the Academy for Dune director Denis Villeneuve’s directing snub — this pre-ceremony is for you! The spicy film is likely to win half of the Grateful Eights’ awards, including here for Joe “Scissorhands” Walker. Please pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, proclaiming that King Richard and Tick, Tick … Boom! won the ACE Eddie Awards. There’s some complicated mathematical/historical formula dreamed up by can’t-miss kid Nate Silver that explains why Dune is a sure thing.
Makeup and Hairstyling:
Coming 2 America
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci
The Grateful Eights are so select that you can bet on party girl Jessica Chastain ditching the fun of posing for photos and answering reporters’ insightful questions to cheer on the team of Stephanie Ingram, Linda Dowds, and Justin Raleigh for doing the real heavy lifting on The Eyes of Tammy Faye. (And possibly to atone for that quote about the daily makeup regimen doing “permanent damage” to her skin.) Apologies to the House of Gucci team for making Jared Leto look like Italian Jeffrey Tambor and going home with merely a participation trophy.
Music (Original Score):
Don’t Look Up, Nicholas Britell
Dune, Hans Zimmer
Encanto, Germaine Franco
Parallel Mothers, Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog, Johnny Greenwood
People hate Don’t Look Up, and yet Britell’s Succession theme is their favorite thing ever, so those sentiments cancel each other out — a situation Greenwood fortunately doesn’t have to contend with, since his work on Spencer didn’t make the cut. Elsewhere, we don’t talk about how Franco’s contributions play second fiddle to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s original songs or how Iglesias’ score is by far the best of the bunch, but this is Zimmer’s statuette all the way. Cultural appropriation and forehead-slapping obviousness aside, the man literally went to Utah and listened to how the desert sounds. Utah!
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story
These are all extraordinarily, exclamatory, extremely worthy finalists, but only one features a vat of tarry goo into which Stellan Skarsgård’s
Colonel Kurtz Baron Harkonnen submerges himself to heal. That’s not to discount the building of a complete circus (Nightmare Alley), a working farm (The Power of the Dog), minimalist Shakespearean surroundings (The Tragedy of Macbeth), or a thoroughly convincing post-WWII New York City (West Side Story), but the tactile sci-fi craftsmanship of Dune production designer Patrice Vermette and set decorator Zsuzsanna Sipos is likely to influence the look of such films for years to come.
Short Film (Animated):
Affairs of the Art
The Windshield Wiper
This year’s nominees have it all: Middle-aged women running naked around their houses for the sake of their craft (Affairs of the Art); beastiality with a dash of fact-based contract killings (Bestia); romance between star-crossed Russian athletes and #MeToo commentary from a country currently at war with the Ukraine (Boxballet); a bird who thinks she’s a mouse (Robin Robin); and pretentious musings on love and missed connections (Windshield Wiper). While the lack of a Disney and/or Pixar entry suggests a fairly wide-open competition, it’s not like the Academy is going to give this award to a film with sex/nudity, and the optics of anything Russian receiving more than a pat on the head right now is downright laughable, so congratulations to Aardman on Robin Robin, its fifth overall Oscar and the lone nominee that parents can watch with their children without having Child Services called on them.
Short Film (Live Action):
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Ala Kachuu — Take and Run
Have you given up on hope in your fellow man but still hold on to a sliver of optimism that the human race will eventually come around? These five finalists are here to shut that door for good. One of the category’s bleakest groups in the past decade offers a consistent “Things could always be worse” perspective across tales of abduction and forced marriage (Ala Kachuu – Take and Run); a man desperate to sing karaoke for A Very Important Reason (On My Mind); unlawful imprisonment in a dystopian near-future (Please Hold); a chain-smoking little person’s long-delayed chance at love (The Dress); and Riz Ahmed in the obligatory “nominee with a movie star” (The Long Goodbye). The last time a film with someone your grandparents might recognize won was the Sally Hawkins vehicle The Phone Call in 2014, and since Ahmed didn’t win last year for Sound of Metal, consider this a consolation prize.
No Time to Die
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
Do you hear what I hear? It’s House Atreides with another win, this time for a clarity of dialogue that makes Frank Herbert’s intergalactic mumbo jumbo far more intelligible than it was in David Lynch’s Dune. The youths aren’t out here talking about Bronco Henry or The Troubles. It’s all about the Kwisatz Haderach.
And for those other categories trying in vain to shine like The Grateful Eights, despite the late CODA surge, The Power of the Dog is poised to win the top categories with Jane Campion taking Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. Acting prizes will go to Will Smith, Chastain, Ariana DeBose, and Troy Kotsur, while Drive My Car cruises to International Feature; Dune further cleans up on the technical side with Cinematography and Visual Effects; Belfast nets Original Screenplay; Encanto racks up Animated Feature and Original Song; Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) secures Documentary Feature; and Cruella sews up Costume Design.
Tune in on Hollywood’s starriest starry night and you too will know what it feels like to be a winner!