The Best Animated Feature Film category can sometimes be tricky. You can almost always be sure of a Pixar nominee. Usually a Disney picture is present. One or two foreign films sneak into the race. But sometimes a front-runner is hard to pin down. Putting your money on Pixar is not always a sure-thing.
And this year, in particular, the crop of films is particularly strong.
Across the two 2019 writing categories, I think there are seven high quality scripts. There are two-to-three that are damn near brilliant. But that holds no bearing on the task at hand, which is to suss out exactly which scripts have a chance at taking home the trophy.
Four of the five Oscar nominees for Best Cinematography have received nominations before. Alfonso Cuaron has won two, albeit not for cinematography. Caleb Deschanel has been nominated a whopping six times. The only outlier here is Robbie Ryan, who makes a convincing case for himself in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.
It is a category stacked to the gills with talent. Somehow, though, I believe it is not that close of a race.
Editing can be a tricky category to judge when it comes to the Academy Awards. The Academy likes flashiness. It likes showmanship. But often the best editing constitutes a lack of flash and show.
The Best Editing Oscar winner often splits the difference in this regard: visible yet functional. Dynamic editing that doesn’t hinder the film itself. Films with challenging editing tasks, like war films and action films. Editing that is visible enough for the Academy at large to understand and, thus, vote on, yet subtle enough for the Editing branch to nominate in the first place.
The nominees in the Best Director category are all very good. After not getting Best Director nods for Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, Spike Lee finally gets his due. Pawel Pawlikowski returns to the Oscar sphere with his follow up to the Best Foreign Language winner Ida. Adam McKay returns, as well, with his follow-up to The Big Short. Yorgos Lanthimos makes his debut in the Best Director category after receiving nominations in other categories for The Lobster and Dogtooth.
And then there is two-time Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron.