I’m predicting it for:
And maybe Editing.
In a perfect world, Yes. Both Amour and Son of Saul are difficult to watch because of their subject matter and we know that Academy voters most often vote for films that are rather unchallenging and easy to watch. Sony Pictures Classics distributes Son of Saul in the US and they also handled Amour, which they did extraordinarily well. If anyone manages to get Son of Saul in, it is SPC.
However, the big difference is that Amour had far more elements playing in its favor: Winner of the Palme d’Or, an established and hugely respected (and even kind of overdue) director with Michael Haneke that had the support of the directors branch, a cast consisting of two legendary French actors, a story covering the life of old people, early critics’ awards success etc. All these aspects turned Amour into a title enough voters wanted to watch. Son of Saul does not have any of these advantages. It will need some early wins at the critics’ awards to get the buzz going and afterwards a smart campaign by SPC that convinces Academy members to watch their screener. For the moment, my guess is: foreign language (very likely) and cinematography, although it would deserve far more nominations.
I loved every second of Amour. The direction is beautifully executed, the performances are top notch (Trintignant deserved a nomination over Day-Lewis or Washington, at least in my books) and the story itself is painfully magnetic and realistic. An absolute pearl who definitely deserved all the accolades it got.
Son of Saul is going to strike me and affect me as much as Amour did, I’m sure of it. However – and like Dr. Fabe correctly pointed out – it faces a much more difficult mountain to climb. The director is unknown (even though the fact that he’s the disciple of the brilliant Béla Tarr won’t hurt him), the story is harder to swallow and the competition seems stronger. I’m hoping for the best because the movie appears to be a very special thing of beauty but right now I’m not predicting much outside of the Best Foreign Film category.