OSCARS 2013: Analysis & Prediction (Part 1 of 7)

This is the first of seven parts devoted to my analysis and prediction of each category for the Academy Awards 2013 celebrating films from 2012. This section will cover three categories: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Animated Film, and Best Documentary.

Amour (Dir. Michael Haneke, Austria)
War Witch (Dir. Kim Nguyen, Canada)
No (Dir. Pablo Larrain, Chile)
A Royal Affair (Dir. Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark)
Kon-Tiki (Dir. Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg, Norway)

Will Win: Amour
Dark Horse: War Witch
Should Win: Amour

This is perhaps the second easiest category to predict after the Best Leading Actor category. The front runner by many, many miles is Haneke's Amour, a film that I feel is not the auteur's best work, but it is still an excellent and challenging one. Like last year's straightforward win for A Separation (2011), a win for Haneke in this category is a foregone conclusion. In fact, with additional nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, Amour is guaranteed a win, barring one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history. I am sure the rest of the pool are just happy to be nominated, though War Witch and A Royal Affair performed particularly strongly at the Berlin International Film Festival. Apart from Amour, I have not seen the other four films at this juncture. But if there is even a dark horse for this category, I will put a little bit of my money on War Witch. Why? For the simple reason that it interests me more than the others.

Brave (Dir. Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman)
Frankenweenie (Dir. Tim Burton)
ParaNorman (Dir. Sam Fell & Chris Butler)
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Dir. Peter Lord)
Wreck-It Ralph (Dir. Rich Moore)

Will Win: Brave
Dark Horse: Wreck-It Ralph
Should Win: ParaNorman

As far as I see it, this is a two-way fight between Brave and Wreck-It Ralph. Either way, Disney wins. Brave has the slight edge simply because it is a good Pixar film, albeit quite a different one with a female protagonist. It also won the Golden Globe in the same category. Wreck-It Ralph is competent enough and is the category's 'dark horse'. ParaNorman, however, deserves to win because I feel it is the best animated film of 2012, an unconventionally striking stop-motion feature. The Pirates! Band of Misfits is the weakest of the lot, though it is still a half-decent film from Aardman Animations. Tim Burton's Frankenweenie is a straightforward tale imbued with the auteur's signature touches, but it may prove to be a bit of an oddball to be a hit with voters.

5 Broken Cameras (Dir. Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi)
The Gatekeepers (Dir. Dror Moreh)
How to Survive a Plague (Dir. David France)
The Invisible War (Dir. Kirby Dick)
Searching for Sugar Man (Dir. Malik Bendjelloul)

Will Win: The Invisible War
Dark Horse: Searching for Sugar Man
Should Win: The Invisible War

I have not seen any of these films, so it will be guesswork for me. But I shall try to justify my picks. All the documentaries except The Gatekeepers competed at Sundance Film Festival (which I feel is currently one of the world's most important film festivals after traditional favourites Cannes, Venice and Berlin). With the exception of How to Survive a Plague, the other three films snagged awards at Sundance. I am going to pick The Invisible War for the win because of its taboo subject matter - the epidemic of rape within the US military. In addition, rape has been one of the world's hottest topics of the last couple of months with India putting the spotlight on the issue. Voters are likely to vote for the film that hopes to seek change by bringing the ghastly treatment of women to the forefront. That being said, Searching for Sugar Man is a dark horse. It has competed in more festivals that the rest and has a BAFTA nod in the same category as well.


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