In case you weren’t paying attention, given Sally Hawkins’s egregious snub and all, Werner Herzog is now an Oscar nominee—and not a moment too soon. Now it remains to be seen if an adventurous cameramen will pick out the maverick director out of the Oscar crowd and lock on to the man’s eternally and blissfully blazed face—assuming, that is, Herzog even shows up. We can’t imagine Herzog expects to win this one, even if he probably has the vote of every academy member who counts Aguirre, Wrath of God as one of their favorite movies. On paper, the excellent Katrina doc Trouble the Water screams a winner, but this enraged examination of social injustice is possibly headier than even Encounters at the End of the World. Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath’s acclaimed The Betrayal and Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s The Garden bring to mind past winners in this category, but this one seems like a knockout punch for Man on Wire, especially with Standard Operating Procedure out of the running. As big a crowd-pleaser as Slumdog Millionaire, Man on Wire has won almost as many awards since the start of the Oscar season, connecting with people first as a thrilling exaltation of high-wire artiste Philippe Petit’s chutzpah, then as a memorial to the similarly superhuman daring responsible for building the stage the man walked across on the morning of August 7th, 1974.
Will Win: Man on Wire
Should Win: Encounters at the End of the World