The 2019 Oscar race is entering its final stretch, with prognosticators already unveiling their lists of winners. This year two Japanese films are up for Academy Awards — Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters" (best foreign language film) and Mamoru Hosoda's "Mirai" (best animated feature film).

An executive at the Japan office of a U.S. streaming service confidently tells me both films are top Oscar contenders. "'Mirai' is the only film for kids in its category. The other four nominees will split the 'adult animation' vote, and that will make 'Mirai' the winner," he explains.

Meanwhile, "Shoplifters," a drama about a makeshift family that won the Cannes Palme d'Or, faces stiff competition from "Roma," the autobiographical family drama by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron. The latter film has been nominated for 10 Academy Awards including best picture and best director. "Picking 'Roma' for best foreign language film when it is already a favorite for the main awards will strike Academy voters as overkill," the executive says. He predicts they will instead check the box for "Shoplifters."