The First Cuts – 93rd Oscars Shortlists Announced!

A year ago today, Parasite shocked the world by winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. For a lot of film lovers out there, that was the last pleasant memory before the world went to Hell. Today, in the slimmest sign of a return to normalcy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the shortlists for nine categories for this year’s Oscars, which will take place in April. Nominations will come out on March 15, just under five weeks from now. Today we take the all-important first step in narrowing the field in many of the specialty categories, and as such we can start planning our viewing schedule for the next few weeks.

The Academy had itself a little bit of fun in announcing the shortlists this year, teasing the release on Twitter an hour beforehand with a GIF of Hannibal Lecter saying “All good things to those who wait.” It’s a bit cheeky, but it put a smile on my face, a welcome moment of self-awareness.

Anyway, here are the lists. As always, I’ll provide links to any reviews I’ve done and any release information I can find. I’ll also opine briefly at the end. You can find the Academy’s official release here.

Here are the nine shortlists for the 93rd Academy Awards!

Documentary Feature – 15 Films
All In: The Fight for Democracy – Amazon
Boys State – Apple TV+
Collective – Virtual Cinemas
Crip Camp – Netflix
Dick Johnson is Dead – Netflix
Gunda – Was on Virtual Cinemas, currently unavailable
MLK/FBI – VOD services
The Mole Agent – Amazon
My Octopus Teacher – Netflix
Notturno – Virtual Cinemas
The Painter and the Thief – VOD services
76 Days – Virtual Cinemas
Time – Amazon
The Truffle Hunters – Limited Theatres March 5
Welcome to Chechnya – HBO Max

Documentary Short – 10 Films
Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa – VOD services
Call Center Blues – Vimeo
Colette – VOD services
A Concerto is a Conversation – YouTube/New York Times
Do Not Split – Vimeo
Hunger Ward – Currently Unavailable
Hysterical Girl – New York Times
A Love Song for Latasha – Netflix
The Speed Cubers – Netflix
What Would Sophia Loren Do? – Netflix

International Feature – 15 Films
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Quo Vadis, Aida? – Limited Theatres February 11
Chile – The Mole Agent
Czech Republic – Charlatan – Unknown
Denmark – Another Round – VOD services
France – Two of Us – Virtual Cinema
Guatemala – La Llorona – Amazon (requires trial of Shudder or AMC+)
Hong Kong – Better Days – Amazon
Iran – Sun Children – Unknown
Ivory Coast – Night of the Kings – Streaming March 5
Mexico – I’m No Longer Here – Netflix
Norway – Hope – Unknown
Romania – Collective
Russia – Dear Comrades! – Virtual Cinema
Taiwan – A Sun – Netflix
Tunisia – The Man Who Sold His Skin – Unknown

Makeup & Hairstyling – 10 Films
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – VOD/DVD
Emma. – VOD/DVD
The Glorias – Amazon
Hillbilly Elegy – Netflix
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – Netflix
The Little Things – HBO Max
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Netflix
Mank – Netflix
One Night in Miami… – Amazon
Pinocchio – Netflix, Date TBD (deadline 2/28)

Original Score – 15 Films
Ammonite – VOD services
Blizzard of Souls – Virtual Cinema
Da 5 Bloods – Netflix
The Invisible Man – VOD/DVD
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
The Life Ahead – Netflix
The Little Things
The Midnight Sky – Netflix
Minari – Theatres and Amazon 2/26
Mulan – Disney+ and VOD
News of the World – VOD services
Soul – Disney+
Tenet – VOD services
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Netflix

Original Song – 15 Films
“Turntables” – All In: The Fight for Democracy
“See What You’ve Done” – Belly of the Beast – Limited Theatres
“Wuhan Flu” – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Amazon
“Husavik” – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Netflix
“Never Break” – Giving Voice – Netflix
“Make it Work” – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
“Fight for You” – Judas and the Black Messiah – HBO Max
“Io Si (Seen)” – The Life Ahead
“Rain Song” – Minari
“Show Me Your Soul” – Mr. Soul! – PBS/YouTube
“Loyal Brave True” – Mulan
“Free” – The One and Only Ivan – Disney+
“Speak Now” – One Night in Miami…
“Green” – Sound of Metal – Amazon
“Hear My Voice” – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Animated Short – 10 Films
Burrow – Disney+
Genius Loci – Unknown
If Anything Happens I Love You – Netflix
Kapaemahu – Vimeo
Opera – Unknown
Out – Disney+
The Snail and the Whale – BBC
To Gerard – Unknown
Traces – Unknown
Yes-People – Unknown

Live Action Short – 10 Films
Bittu – Vimeo
Da Yie – Unknown
Feeling Through –
The Human Voice – Unknown
The Kicksled Choir – YouTube
The Letter Room – Unknown
The Present – Unknown
Two Distant Strangers – Unknown
The Van – Vimeo
White Eye – Unknown

Visual Effects – 10 Films
Birds of Prey
Bloodshot – VOD services
Love and Monsters – VOD services
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan
Welcome to Chechnya

Okay, my first thought is one of regret, because it looks like I’m going to have to watch The Little Things, despite the negative reviews, and the fucking Mulan remake. I’ll hold off as long as I can, but if either gets nominated, I will be duty bound to hold my nose.

Aside from that, I’m a little upset that True Mothers didn’t make the International Feature shortlist, as it’s a truly beautiful film, but you can’t win them all. Academy voters had to watch a certain number of the 93 submissions (rumored to be 12 but no official word) in order to vote for the shortlist, and they have to watch all 15 semifinalists to vote for nominations. I just wish they had picked movies that were readily available. I’ll keep an eye out and if anything pops up, I’ll watch, review, and let you know where you can see it. There’s a lot of overlap and overflow from the International submissions, though, with Blizzard of Souls being up for Original Score and Notturno being up for Documentary Feature without making the foreign shortlist.

I’m glad that a good deal of the Documentary Short candidates are available online, as the normal ShortsTV screenings of the eventual nominees remain up in the air, since there won’t be theatres to go to in order to see them. Still, we have five weeks before nominations, and a further five weeks before the Oscars themselves, so maybe we’ll get lucky and the pandemic will clear up enough to allow the normal screenings to happen. If not, you can clear all but one of the 10 candidates for Documentary Short and hope that last one isn’t nominated to throw us all off.

That said, I really hope the screenings go on in some form, especially for Live Action Short. I’ve seen interviews for the makers of Two Distant Strangers, and there’s some real star power elsewhere in the group, with The Letter Room featuring Oscar Isaac and The Human Voice directed by Pedro Almodovar. It’s an usually Hollywood heavy category this year.

I’m amazed at how many of these movies I haven’t heard of. Normally there’s one or two, but this time there’s a bunch. Thankfully most are available through one service or another, but damn. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Priority will be given to documentaries and foreign films for the time being, as their availability is much more limited. Then I’ll go for non-Mulan movies that are up in multiple categories.

The battle is well and truly joined, and I finally have something to look forward to, a reason to get out of the bed in the morning. We’ve got five weeks until nominations, so let’s cram in as much as we can. Pregame Blitz is on!

Join the conversation in the comments below! Which films have you seen on these lists? Which ones are you most looking forward to? How hilarious would it be for “Wuhan Flu” to win a freaking Oscar? Let me know!

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