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Awards Season 2021: Breaking Down the ‘Features’

As part of the Oscar voting week, I will be breaking down the potential nominees in numerous categories, and giving my official predictions as of right now of what will make it into the line-up. For this post, I will be breaking down the three ‘Feature’ categories: Best International Feature, Best Animated Feature, and Best Documentary Feature.

Best Documentary Feature

It is clear from the shortlisted films that there is a lack of care for the COVID-19 documentary. With 76 Days being the only COVID-19 documentary to qualify, do not expect it to go further. Right now, when we are still very much in the midst of the pandemic, it is not the right time to tell these stories and to be able to relive the terrors of the first few days of the pandemic.

One film that showed all the way back in the summer that you should be keeping an eye on, however, is Netflix’s Crip Camp. Even though the big Netflix documentary of the year seems to be Dick Johnson is Dead, another film I do have predicted as of right now, Crip Camp is another documentary from the Obama production company, Higher Ground Productions. Considering the Academy gave the Oscar last year to American Factory, Crip Camp has the chance to go two for two.

The inauguration of Biden is certainly going to have an impact on this year’s voting, and there are some political and social films that focus on the US Justice System and political system. Time has been sweeping up nominations almost everywhere, whilst Boys State is extremely relevant to today’s society in politics and the leadership of the future. Expect both to inspire and empower voters over the next few days.

Last year, there was an International Feature and Documentary Feature overlap with Honeyland, and expect that to happen again this year. Romania’s Collective is not only one of the strongest films of the year in both categories, but being featured in both for the shortlist will make it a compelling case for voters to have it on the top of their watchlist. Once they see it, they will simply have to vote for it.

My Current Nominations:
Boys State
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson is Dead

Best Animated Feature

In a year when many animated films were pushed back and out of the race, such as Disconnected (now titled The Marshalls vs. the Machines), this is a weaker line-up than usual. However, we do have two very strong contenders in Soul and Wolfwalkers, making this a two-horse race. If you aren’t predicting these two in this category, I simply don’t know what you are doing.

It wasn’t clear if releasing the film in March would have an impact on nomination day, but it looks like Onward is holding on strong with the third-most nominations at the Annie awards and getting in for Best Animated Feature everywhere. It looks to be a good year for Pixar to get two nominations, even if it is clear they only care about pushing Soul.

It seemed like the final lock of the category was Netflix’s Over the Moon, especially after strong showings for the company over the past two years. However, with the momentum falling for the film, not getting a Best Animated Feature nomination for the Annie awards and not even being shortlisted in Best Original Song for the Oscars, the passion seems to be gone.

So, what other films can take the final two spots? Well, it ended up being a surprise that The Croods: A New Age performed well in cinemas over the past few months, so it might end up being a contender. I am also putting my bets on Trolls: World Tour, which made positive headlines about great PVOD numbers right at the start of the pandemic, taking a risk and helping out the movie industry. Academy members may feel like that deserves recognition.

My Current Nominations:
The Croods: A New Age
Trolls: World Tour

Mads Mikkelsen – Another Round

Best International Feature

Unlike last year, where we have big directors, Cannes winners and the eventual Best Picture all in the race, this year feels incredibly hard to predict. As of now, I would predict two locks, but there is really only one major one that is destined to win the award on the night. Denmark’s Another Round not only has a big name tied to it with Mads Mikkelsen, but has done the festival season and had the big promotional push unlike any other film this year.

As stated before, I feel confident also predicting Collective here, as the two categories go hand in hand. A double nomination for the film will make a huge difference in its campaign, and with the sort of year International Feature has had, I will be more surprised if it misses here than in Documentary Feature.

There is a need to continue to give representation and nominations to films outside of Europe. South Korea was nice last year, but even then the rest of the films were European. This year, we have shortlisted films across the world, covering Central America, Africa and Asia, and it will be nice to see a few of those films make it into the list this year.

It is the films that get distribution and have the festival push that will benefit from the most eyes on their films. Quo Vadis, Aida? has finally got American distribution and with how much buzz that film had all year, it might actually make the final push into the International Feature category. Another film to keep your eye on is Night of the Kings, which is being distributed by NEON and had a showing at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

My Current Nominations:
A Sun (Taiwan)
Another Round (Denmark)
Collective (Romania)
Night of the Kings (Ivory Coast)
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

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