Oscars Week — Documentaries and Animated Features


It's Oscars week, and the golden statues will be handed out on Sunday. Until then, it's time to preview the races. Today I'll be looking at Animated Films and Documentaries.

Best Animated Feature:
* Kubo and the Two Strings
* Zootopia
* Moana
* The Red Turtle
* My Life as a Zucchini

About: So the big thing about this category is probably which movie didn't get nominated — namely "Finding Dory," which was a sensation at the Box Office this summer. Instead, we have a different Disney entry, two other films that got major releases and a couple independent features that few will have seen. So who's the favorite here? Well there are a lot of fans of Laika Studios, the group responsible for "Kubo," but that doesn't seem to be pulling it to the lead. "Moana" has had strong staying power at the Box Office, and is also nominated in the original song category. But many are predicting "Zootopia," which had an interesting message about tolerance, to come out on top. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see "Zootopia" or "Moana" walk away with the top prize.

Best Documentary Feature:
* O.J.: Made in America
* 13th
* I Am Not Your Negro
* Life Animated
* Fire At Sea

About: It's an interesting field this year, and a strikingly political one. In this field there is one film about refugees in Europe and three films that, in different ways, look at race relations in America. The final entry is a sweet film about an autistic man who learned to connect to the world through Disney animated films. So it's an interesting slate. I think one of the three films that tackle the subject of race will be the winner. I feel like it comes down to "13th," which takes a hard look at the prison system, and "O.J.: Made in America," which looks at justice and race relations through a single, high-profile case. I think "O.J." is the favorite, and is the likely winner on Sunday.

Best Documentary Short:
* Extremis
* 4.1 Miles
* The White Helmets
* Joe's Violin
* Watani: My Homeland

About:  Four of these films are readily available online and to Netflix subscribers, so those that want to see the films this year have an easier path. And refugee stories are a dominant theme in three of these films. The fourth takes a look at end-of-life care and decisions at a hospital while the final one is a sweet story of a Holocaust Survivor who donates his violin to a New York public school program that provides instruments to under-privledged students. That film, "Joe's Violin," was my favorite, and could pull on enough emotions to win the vote. But it feels like a stretch. The likely front-runner is "Watani," which tells a heart-breaking refugee story. If I had to pick, I'd say that's the likely winner on Sunday night.

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