By Alex McPherson

A disturbing story of greed, prejudice, and the American Dream soaked in venom, director Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” raises awareness of heinous crimes committed against the Osage People, and contains outstanding craftsmanship, but remains limited in perspective. Scorsese’s film is a reminder of the hardships and resilience of the Osage framed largely through the eyes of White evildoers, to emotionally compromised effect.

Based on David Grann’s bestselling nonfiction book of the same name, “Killers of the Flower Moon” centers around the “Reign of Terror” that befell members of the Osage Nation in the early 1920s. After being forced to relocate to supposedly desolate land in Oklahoma, members of the Osage Nation discovered that their new surroundings contained oil — rendering them the richest people per capita on Earth, but also targets for manipulation by those eager to strip them of all rights and privileges.

Such is the case of William “King” Hale (Robert De Niro), a wealthy cattle rancher and businessman, who feigns love for the Osage but seeks to take control of their oil-rich lands via any means necessary, including murdering them for oil rights.

Hale’s nephew, the infuriating and slow-witted Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), returns from working as a cook in World War I, looking to Hale for a job, unabashedly admitting his love for women and money. Ernest, having injuries that prevent him from doing much manual labor, starts working as a cab driver, where he meets Mollie Kyle (an incredible Lily Gladstone) — a beautiful, sharply intelligent woman quietly enraged at the ways she’s treated by White-dominated authority — and becomes smitten with her. 

DiCaprio and Gladstone as Ernest and Mollie

Hale encourages Ernest to seduce and marry Mollie, who also happens to be an heir to a large fortune in oil royalties held by her mother, Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal) — so long as Mollie’s sisters and their husbands aren’t around to inherit it first. Thus sets the stage for brazen brutality, as Hale and Ernest’s schemes grow ever more elaborate, and Ernest becomes a part of Mollie’s family — developing genuine love for her while simultaneously killing her family behind her back: infuriatingly ignorant and/or unwilling to reckon with his own bloodthirstiness and lack of humanity. Eventually, a J. Edgar Hoover-ordered FBI investigation gets underway, led by agent Tom White (Jesse Plemmons), but the grisly damage has already been done.

Indeed, “Killers of the Flower Moon” tells a sobering, insidious story that needs to be told, taking plenty of time to set the scene, emphasize the devilish machinations of its villains, and educate viewers on the hardships and resilience of the Osage Nation. What’s sacrificed by Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth’s screenplay, however, is a more intentional, meaningful focus. 

The film spotlights Ernest’s crisis of conscience (or lack thereof) above diving into the individual tragedies committed against the Osage — illuminating themes that, regardless of relevance, have persisted throughout American history. Scorsese misses an opportunity to explore new, informative points-of-view that have previously been sidelined in mainstream storytelling of this scale.

Stylistically, “Killers of the Flower Moon” excels, but viewers shouldn’t expect anything less from Scorsese. On a big screen, the film is unquestionably immersive, with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto capturing expansive plains and claustrophobic interiors, blinding sun and menacing, pitch-black darkness, in beautiful compositions that rarely draw too much attention to themselves.

Longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker lets scenes breathe and marinate — giving the incredible ensemble, including numerous Indigenous actors, room to stretch their wings, with Scorsese taking a noticeably sparse directorial style that eschews flashiness for intimate contemplation: sometimes taking a more spiritual, matter-of-fact approach in depicting Osage customs.

Acts of violence against the Osage are depicted with cold remove — coming seemingly out of nowhere, shocking in their immediacy and grotesque without being gratuitous. The late Robbie Robertson’s score is particularly effective as an omnipresent heartbeat to the monstrous acts unfolding before our eyes.

DiCaprio delivers a characteristically engaging performance as Ernest, with a rough-hewn look, disastrous dentistry, and playful swagger that belies a dark heart of greed and moral bankruptcy.

Viewers going into “Killers of the Flower Moon” with expectations for Ernest to be “redeemed” won’t find that arc here, as his love for Mollie is always offset by the cruelty he exhibits behind her back: a buffoon resistant to the shred of goodness located somewhere deep within his corrupted heart.

As our primary vessel for this story, he’s frustrating, if not outright idiotic, being manipulated by Hale and giving into base instincts that cannot coexist alongside his life with Mollie, try though he might.

DeNiro is frighteningly unhinged as Hale, swerving between Hale’s public and private personas with precision. Hale enlists henchmen to do his dirty work for him, but he remains a powerful presence, and Scorsese’s film gives us plenty of time to observe him pulling strings and explaining his schemes, hiding his conspiracies behind seemingly benign smiles and a culture of complicity.

 Gladstone is, without a doubt, the film’s MVP, conveying warmth, quiet rage, crushing sadness, and persistent hope with minimal dialogue. Through it all, Mollie’s bravery shines through — her resistance to accepting Ernest’s betrayal is heartbreaking to watch.

It’s too bad that “Killers of the Flower Moon” fades her into the background after a certain point, though, as well as giving her siblings and other members of the Osage Nation — featuring powerful performances from Cara Jade Myers, Janae Collins, Jillian Dion, and William Belleau, among others — only a handful of sequences (in the span of a mammoth 206-minute runtime) to divert the spotlight from White evildoers.

That extended runtime exacerbates this issue, especially in the third act, full of legal histrionics and prolonged sequences where viewers watch Ernest and co. squirm under interrogation by the FBI; their incompetence and stupidity on full display, even as the “justice system” fails to live up to its name. 

A last-minute framing device at the conclusion paints the proceedings in a somewhat new light (commenting on the twisted appeal of true-crime stories to begin with and bringing attention to the limitations of Scorsese’s directorial viewpoint, ending with a notable shift back to the Osage in its closing moments), but perhaps “Killers of the Flower Moon” could have been better told by a filmmaker more willing to buck tradition.

It’s admirable that Scorsese takes on the challenge here, and will undoubtedly raise awareness to these real-life happenings, but “Killers of the Flower Moon” is also ham-strung by his own storytelling patterns. It’s an important film brimming with technical mastery and exceptional performances, but one that’s not nearly as enlightening or emotionally gripping as it believes it is.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a 2023 historical western true crime drama directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons. Cara Jade Myers, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Tommy Schultz
Rated: R for violence, some grisly images, and language, the run time is 3 hours, 26 minutes. It opens in theatres Oct. 20 and will stream on Apple TV+ at a later date, to be announced. Alex’s Grade: B

By Lynn Venhaus
A sprawling saga exploring the horrific exploitation of Native Americans and how the entitled white interlopers of Fairfax, Okla., manipulated, stole, extorted, and killed them is a true story that needs to be told.

While I’m not declaring “Killers of the Flower Moon” a modern masterpiece like many of my colleagues, I admire the efforts and care that the filmmakers brought to this explosive, gut-wrenching tale of injustice.

Members of the Osage tribe in the U.S. are murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, after oil is found on their land, and finally, after too much time — and death — has elapsed, it sparks a major F.B.I. investigation started by J. Edgar Hoover.

Martin Scorsese is such a visceral director, with his keen eye for visuals and distinctive way music organically becomes part of his storytelling, that his sweeping view of the prairie and respect for the indigenous people of the land is breath-taking.

And in his expert way, captures the ugly, insidious greed and power plays that overtake this locale in moody, murky images and unsavory incidents. But the decision to concentrate mostly on the villains, who keep getting away with these awful crimes, is hard to watch for 206 minutes. I know, how he depicts corruption is a Scorsese trademark. (But blasphemy — is he the right person to tell this story?)

A densely layered plot becomes one long slow death march, and yes, it’s disturbing. We get to the point quickly about the amoral criminal behavior underway, but the repetitiveness, slow-burn style, makes one impatient for any sign of justice.

Do we need 3 hours, 26 minutes to tell this story? No. Based on American journalist David Grann’s best-selling 2017 nonfiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” the work would likely be better served as a mini-series.

The Kyle sisters

Many characters get the short shrift. You may be hard-pressed to recall their characters or the way they fit into the puzzle: Tantoo Cardinal, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion, William Belleau, Louis Cancelmi, Tatanka Means, Michael Abbot Jr., Pat Healy, Scott Shepard, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, although you’ll remember Cara Jade Myers as Mollie’s wronged sister Anna, who is brutally murdered, and Tommy Schultz as Blackie Thompson, who figures in to some of the earlier shenanigans.. And then, Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow show up, ever so briefly, as attorneys near the end.

With its $200 million price tag, it is technically brilliant, with exceptional cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (who also did “Barbie” this year!), and stunning production design by Jack Fisk. 

Yet, I can’t ignore the flaws in the storytelling. At times, it’s cold, flat, and airless because it’s hard to root for people. As the Osage daughter Mollie, Lily Gladstone is the heart of the film, but that’s a lot to carry on her shoulders – although she’s definitely the secret weapon. She will be in the awards conversations at year’s end.

Scorsese, and co-writer Eric Roth, concentrated on the improbable romance of opportunistic Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Gladstone’s Mollie Kyle, and what happens in their orbit is indicative of the behaviors of the time.

By 1872, the U.S. government had forced the Osage from their ancestral homeland to Oklahoma, and at the turn of the century, oil was discovered, which brought a fortune to the Osage nation. Because they became some of the wealthiest people in the world overnight, that didn’t sit well with the old-white-guys network, who would systematically destroy and take over any way possible to get their hands on that money from the ‘black gold.’ For some, that involved marrying an Osage, and becoming the heir.

DeNiro as William Hale and DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhardt

Robert De Niro is sensational in a strong sly performance as William Hale, the town’s kingpin — interestingly enough, nicknamed “King.” He controls everything, and pretends to be a great friend to all. Those in his employment do his dirty work, and the despicable deeds start piling up, too many to ignore. Scorsese brings out DeNiro’s best, and since 1973, they have made 10 films together.

Hale is Ernest’s uncle. And Ernest has arrived after serving in World War I, as a cook, who can’t do manual labor but is eager to make money. He starts out as a taxi driver, where he meets Mollie, and hopes sparks will fly. They eventually marry and have three children. DiCaprio, always interesting, goes to the dark side here, disheartening for his loved ones when the truth eventually comes out. It’s DiCaprio’s sixth feature collaboration with Scorsese, since “The Gangs of New York” in 2002.

Enter Jesse Plemons as FBI agent Tom White, who seems like he could be intimidated, but is brave enough to pursue righting wrongs. He comes in later in the second act, which is interesting because the book concentrated on his narrative.

The performances are superb, although Leo’s bulldog grimace wears thin as does his period-appropriate dental work (yikes). Does subtly sinister suit the golden boy? Jury’s out, but thankfully, his portrayal is more conflicted than sympathetic.

But Gladstone is remarkable, her fierce intelligence shining through as the betrayed wife. I was impressed with her work in Kelly Reichardt’s 2016 indie movie “Certain Women,” so happy to see attention being paid.

Robbie Robertson’s music score is so organic that at times, you will not notice it. As a member of The Band and a great friend of Scorsese, they have worked together on soundtracks before – “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “The Color of Money” and “The Irishman,” after their legendary documentary collaboration “The Last Waltz” in 1978.

Now that Robertson has passed (Aug. 9), the film is dedicated to his memory. He was a Native American as well – the son of a Cayuga and Mohawk mother and lived on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada southwest of Toronto during his youth. So that’s a special connection.

For its unusual finale, the film jarringly shifts to a radio show, which gives a razzamatazz wrap-up of all the corruption and dastardly deeds that have transpired.

Overall, the film is a haunting reminder of the atrocities committed against the Osage Nation specifically and indigenous people in general, and for that, it should spark outrage, which is necessary.

Perhaps watching it again when it streams on the small screen (No date as yet, just ‘later on Apple TV+), I will find more nuance and make a stronger emotional connection. It is a story that needs to be told.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a 2023 historical western true crime drama directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons. Cara Jade Myers, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Tommy Schultz
Rated: R for violence, some grisly images, and language, the run time is 3 hours, 26 minutes. It opens in theatres Oct. 20 and will stream on Apple TV+ at a later date, to be announced. Lynn’s Grade: B-

DeNiro, Jesse Plemons

By Lynn Venhaus
This is the future.

Formula E Championship Racing is the world’s fastest growing motorsport since its inception in 2014. “And We Go Green” is a behind-the-scenes look at the groundbreaking series, showing racing footage interwoven with candid interviews with the elite drivers Jean-Eric Vergne, Nelson Piquet Jr., Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi and Andre Lotterer as they race for victory across 10 major cities during the 2017-2018 season.

While it might not seem as exciting as Formula One, the film explains its formation and looks at some of the drivers currently on the circuit. We travel to 12 of the world’s greatest cities to witness the racers’ adventurous road.

Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, among others, he is seen discovering the Aquafuel that runs the cars, along with high-tech and complex batteries and operations. He is a well-known environmental activist.

Screenwriter Mark Monroe concentrates on the redemption stories, the drivers whose need for speed has led them on complicated journeys.

Smoking a cigar and perched on a yellow couch, founder Alejandro Agag tells his equally fascinating story. An aide to the prime minister of Spain, he became the youngest man elected to Parliament. He resigned when he married the prime minister’s daughter. A character – and an entrepreneur – he founded Formula E. Turns out the environment wasn’t his guiding passion, but of course, he supports going green.

The moody, temperamental Jean-Eric Vergne, nicknamed “Jev,” has something to prove while he seeks the championship. So does Britain’s Sam Bird, always a bridesmaid. Then there is a legacy, Nelson Piquet Jr., whose dad was a frenemy of Senna, Brazil’s greatest sportscar driver. He has his share of troubles.

Their rivalry helps fuel this documentary, which is fairly standard as sports documentaries go. The sport, in its infancy, will only grow in stature now that Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porche joined as sponsors in the fifth year. That’s a coda tacked on to the end.

Like “Ford vs. Ferrari,” you don’t need to be a gearhead to enjoy this movie. It may help to understand the intricacies and mindset, but not required.

“And We Go Green” is a Documentary directed by Fisher Stevens and Malcolm Venville. It is not rated and is
Not Rated and is 1 hr. 39 min. long. Lynn’s Grade B. Available on Hulu on June 4.

A version of this review ran in the Webster-Kirkwood Times online.

By Lynn Venhaus
We still have a race for Best Picture and Director, as we try to gauge the momentum going into Sunday. Will it be “Parasite” or “1917,” or will fading frontrunner “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood regain its luster? After all, Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood.

The 92nd Academy Awards take place Feb. 9, with ABC broadcasting red carpet live coverage at 5:30 p.m. and the ceremony underway at 7 p.m. CST. This year is the second in a row where there is no host, and it seemed to speed up the proceedings last year. We shall see.

The acting Oscars were apparently sown up weeks ago, as awards season began. If there is any movement, it may be in Supporting Actress, where newcomer Florence Pugh is coming on strong.

The shoo-ins this year? You can safely bet on “Parasite” as Best International Feature, Brad Pitt as Best Supporting Actor in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” his fourth performance nomination (and he’ll likely give the best speech of the night) and Roger Deakins as cinematographer for “1917.”

Will there be surprises and upsets? Or will it be as the pundits predict? Only time will tell. Let’s just hope it’s a fun watch and deserving wins to put the finishing touches on 2019 in film.

And afterwards, we’ll have memes, fashion debates and acceptance speeches to remember.

Here are my picks for the 24 awards:

Best Picture


1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, JoJo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and Parasite

My original frontrunner, “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood” has faded, and the big momentum is with either “1917” or “Parasite.” I think Oscar voters, with the older voting block, will go with the heart-wrenching World War I epic and be content for “Parasite” to win Best International Feature. While there is always the possibility of an upset, I think the massive endeavor “1917” is deserving.

Best Director

Sam Mendes, (Photo by Richard Goldschmidt)

Sam Mendes, “1917”; Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”; Todd Phillips, “Joker”; Quentin Tarantino “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

I am in the “Sam Mendes is a genius” camp but Bong Joon-Ho’s work in “Parasite” is worthy too. Both are innovative, visual artists. I’d like a tie, like Critics Choice Association. I’m going with Mendes, as he won Directors Guild of America, the big prognosticator.


Best Actor

Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”; Leonardo DiCaprio “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”; Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”; Joaquin Phoenix “Joker”; Jonathan Pryce “The Two Popes.”

Hands down, Joaquin Phoenix. He gave us pathos as he showed Joker’s pain behind the façade and made his descent into madness frightening. Nobody is more fearless working in film today. Adam Driver would be a close second for his acting showcase in “Marriage Story.”


Best Actress

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”; Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”: Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”; Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”; Renee Zellweger’s “Judy.”

Not a fan of Renee Zellweger’s “Judy” but she has won all earlier awards, and I see no reason why she wouldn’t. However, my pick would be the radiant Saoirse Ronan for “Little Women.” If there is an upset, Scarlett Johansson – finally nominated – would be a worthy winner for her tour de force in “Marriage Story.”

Best Supporting Actor

Ozark’s own Brad Pitt

 Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”; Al Pacino “The Irishman”; Joe Pesci “The Irishman”; Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.”

Perhaps the only sure thing Oscar night, Brad Pitt is a lock as stuntman Cliff Booth. He’s not just deserving but overdue. Besides, he’s certain to give the best speech of the night, given his track record this awards season.

Best Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates “Richard Jewell”; Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”; Scarlett Johansson, “JoJo Rabbit”; Florence Pugh, “Little Women”; Margot Robbie “Bombshell.”

While I think the acting Oscars have already been nailed down, this might be the upset category. Laura Dern as the shark lawyer in “Marriage Story,” obsessed with winning at all costs, is my pick, and she was also terrific in “Little Women,” but Margot Robbie’s ambitious Fox News staffer could edge her out or first-time nominee Scarlett Johansson could finally get Oscar love as the mom in “JoJo Rabbit.”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”;  Andrew McLaren, “The Two Popes”; Todd Phillips, “Joker”; Taika Waititi, “JoJo Rabbit”; Steve Zaillian “The Irishman.”

My favorite is Taika Waititi for the sharp social satire “JoJo Rabbit,” but the revered Steve Zaillian’s adaptation of “The Irishman” could be the film’s only win for its masterful storytelling.


Best Original Screenplay

Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, “1917”; Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”; Rian Johnson, “Knives Out”; Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”; Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin Wan, “Parasite.”

Best Cinematography

1917, The Irishman, Joker, The Lighthouse, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

What Roger Deakins did with “1917” is remarkable and propels him to his second win in three years. He had been snubbed for decades for his tremendous work in Coen Brothers’ films, then started working with director Denis Villeneuve a few years back – and finally won in 2018 for “Blade Runner 2049.” What he achieved with making “1917” appear to have been shot in two takes is incredible.

Best Editing

Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, JoJo Rabbit, Joker, Parasite.

How can “1917” be omitted here? I think a bone should be thrown to crowd-pleasing “Ford v. Ferrari.” This film was a challenging shot, and the editors captured both the thrill and danger of endurance racing.

Best Production Design

1917, The Irishman, JoJo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Parasite.

For its meticulous research and replica of 1969 Hollywood, it must be “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” However, the house in “Parasite” and all the trenches and realistic war landscape in “1917” make the case for those films.

Best Music Score

1917, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Previously, I thought it was a battle between the Newman generations – Randy for “Marriage Story” and Thomas for ‘1917.” But now I’m in support of Hildur Gudnadottir winning for “Joker.’ From Iceland, Gudnadottir won the Emmy and Grammy for HBO’s “Chernobyl” and the Golden Globe and BAFTA for “Joker.” She’d be the first solo woman to win this Oscar, and I can get behind that.

Best Song

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away Again,” Toy Story 4; “I’m Going to Stand with You,” Breakthrough; “Into the Unknown,” Frozen II; “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman; “Stand Up,” Harriet.

After much debate — and enjoying the Panic! At the Disco version of “Into the Unknown” a lot, I’m now resigned to Elton John winning for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” his fourth nominated song but his first with longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Best Costume Design

Little Women

The Irishman, JoJo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

“Little Women,” of course.


Best Hair and Makeup

1917, Bombshell, Joker, Judy, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
“Bombshell” for making the actresses look uncannily like the Fox women they portray, and for turning John Lithgow into a convincing Roger Ailes.

Best Sound Mixing

 1917, Ad Astra, Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

“1917” is the likely winner but “Ford v Ferrari” would be a justifiable winner.

Best Sound Editing

1917, Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.

Ditto as to what I said about sound mixing.

Best Visual Effects

The Avengers Endgame

1917, The Avengers; Endgame,” “The Irishman,” “The Lion King” and “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.”

“The Avengers: Endgame” was so smooth and seamless, and the CGI not overdone, that I can’t imagine another movie winning. But there is that ninth little movie in a galaxy far, far away.

Toy Story 4

Best Animated Feature

The Hidden Link, How to Drain Your Dragon, I Lost My Body, Klaus, Toy Story 4.

The fitting and grand finale to one of my all-time favorite franchises, Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” should win, especially since “Frozen II” was snubbed. But Laika’s “The Missing Link” is adorable and the final chapter of “Dragon” is its most captivating.

Best International Feature

Corpus Christi, Honeyland, Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Parasite.

The safest bet is South Korean’s “Parasite.” What a genre-bending masterpiece – its mix of comedy, drama, thriller and horror is one that will linger in your head for days.

Best Documentary Feature

American Factory, The Cave, The Edge of Democracy, For Sama, Honeyland,

Without the magnificent “Apollo 11” even nominated, I’ll give “American Factory” the edge, although “Honeyland,” about ancient beekeeping traditions in has a lot of love (which I don’t share).  Netflix’s “American Factory” is about a re-opened plant in Ohio now owned by Chinese businessmen, and the culture clash that develops. It is produced by Michelle and Barack Obama’s company Higher Ground.

Best Documentary Short

In the Absence, , Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone if You’re a Girl, Life Overtakes Me, St. Louis Superman, Walk Run Cha Cha.

As much as we’d love to see “St. Louis Superman” get national attention, it does have a questionable ending – and really, “Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone If You’re a Girl” appears to be headed for the win.

Best Live-Action Short

Brotherhood, Nefta Football Club, The Neighbors’ Window, Saria, A Sister.

This is one of those Oscar pool contest busters –usually the wild card. Although I’ve read “Saria” is gaining traction, I’m going with “The Neighbor’s Window” because, while its less of a gut-punch than the others, it seems the most unconventional. Overall, it’s a really depressing bunch.

Best Animated Short

Dcera, Hair Love, Kitbull, Memorable, Sister.

Often whatever Pixar short is before Disney’s blockbuster is the safe choice, but the studio didn’t put anything before “Toy Story IV” or “Frozen II.” Pixar’s “Kitbull” is hand-drawn and about the friendship of a kitten and an abused pitbull. Adorable, right? But “Hair Love,” about a dad’s effort to braid his daughter’s hair, which was shown before “Angry Birds 2,” is my choice for the gold.