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Handicapping The Nominees For The 4th Annual Golden Kitty Award

The winner of the coveted statuette will be revealed this Wednesday at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minnesota!

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The 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival at the Minnesota State Fair (Image courtesy of Walker Art Center)

Cat videos are the coin of the realm here on the Internet, but sheer volume makes sorting out the best ones a chore (the struggle is very much real, friends!). Enter then the Internet Cat Video Festival, which edits the pick of the YouTube litter into one epic kitty supercut (this year's reel will include 100 clips spread over 70 minutes!). Now in year 4, the annual event is hosted and organized by Minneapolis' Walker Art Center, one of the nation's preeminent modern art institutions.

This year's edition is scheduled for August 12th — that's this Wednesday — and tickets run a measly $10, fair value for a night of art, fashion, and music that's both family-friendly and hipster-approved. And a huge part of the event's appeal rests very much in its communal element. As then-curator Scott Stulen remarked in his introductory remarks in 2013, it's not about watching cat videos, it's about watching cat videos together.

Grumpy Cat accepts her prize in 2013 and no, she was not impressed (Image courtesy of Walker Art Center)

Befitting of the digital milieu in which we live, the festival is equal parts crowdsourcing and curation: videos are nominated by fans and sourced from all around the world, while the final cut is sequenced with a measure of professionalpurrfessional rigor and presented in the context of a contemporary art museum.

Borrowing a page from the Oscars, the festival honors one entry with the prestigious Golden Kitty Award. In 2012, Seattle filmmaker Will Braden took the top prize with the second of his wildly popular Henri, Le Chat Noir videos (and in a neat twist of fate, he is now Cat Fest's "programmer"). The so-called celebricat trend accelerated even faster one year later when the Internet's favorite sourpuss, Grumpy Cat, punctuated her meteoric rise to the top. Last year's installment brought an upset of sorts, with Shorty, a relative unknown, slinking away with the crown on the strength of a scripted vid that put addiction in a comedic light. (Note: those videos are viewable here, here, and here, respectively.)

This year's field arguably lacks a commensurate degree of star power but that's not to say the competition will be any less fierce (or adorable!). Below, I handicap the 5 contenders for this year's award — for those playing along on Twitter, hashtag #catvidfest — and hazard some predictions along the way.

"Pavlov's Kitty"

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com / Via blogs.walkerart.org

Date published: Apr 27, 2015

Views as of right now: 789,004

Basic concept: Genius cat rings bell to signal he's ready for treats.

GIF potential: Adorable cat + handsome outfit + human butler = the stuff that Tumblr dreams are made of.

Why it will win: That dapper plaid shirt, his name is Pecan, he knows what he wants (and he knows how to get it). Remember: you can't spell feline overlords without LOL.

Why it won't win: How could anyone say no to that face?

Featured previously on BuzzFeed: Yes

Odds of winning: 30%

"Back Off!!"

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com / Via blogs.walkerart.org

Date published: Jun 22, 2015

Views as right now: 4,207,122

Basic concept: Territorial cat bullies curious bear, who promptly beats a hasty retreat. There's a door between them, but even so, that's one badass kitty.

GIF potential: Unbearably high (sorry, I'll just show myself out now ... ).

Why it will win: Huge viral audience, it's the most spontaneous (read: authentic), and everyone loves an underdog, ehhh, undercat? To paraphrase a famous writer dude, "It's not the size of the cat in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the feline." Or something something like that.

Why it won't win: Two words: Vertical. Video.

Featured previously on BuzzFeed: No

Odds of winning: 20%

"Cat Behavior Finally Explained"

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com / Via blogs.walkerart.org

Date published: Mar 31, 2015

Views as of right now: 127,674

Basic concept: Scripted treatment that skewers those MasterCard "Priceless" commercials, only as told from a cat's perspective.

GIF potential: Good, but not, like, really pawesome (*groans loudly*). Is there a singular, standout moment here? I'm not seeing it.

Why it will win: Good production values and the satire is, while not entirely original, executed with care. It's also recorded from a cat's POV, which people like ...

Why it won't win: ... but then there's also no actual real cat at play here (those paws are fake, obviously, and I'm not counting the gray kitty at the :34 second mark who makes but a fleeting appearance). It also has the smallest view count of the nominees so it might struggle to overcome the name recognition and social buzz of its competitors.

Featured previously on BuzzFeed: No

Odds of winning: 10%

"Brain Freeze"

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com / Via blogs.walkerart.org

Date published: Jul 22, 2014

Views as of right now: 3,597,164

Basic concept: Napoleon the cat noms ice cream, can't even deal.

GIF potential: Mixed. The money shot comes at the :04 second mark but the audio here really sells the clip and that's lost when you cut a GIF.

Why it will win: It's the most relatable. I've been this cat. You've been this cat. We've all been this cat.

Why it won't win: No plaid shirt. :(

Featured previously on BuzzFeed: Yes

Odds of winning: 27%

"Hover Cat (Episode 1)"

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com / Via blogs.walkerart.org

Date published: Oct 14, 2014

Views as of right now: 219,398

Basic concept: Rising cat gifted with extraordinary talents.

GIF potential: About as high as the smush-faced kitty levitates above the floor.

Why it will win: Superheroes are hot these days.

Why it won't win: Origin stories, though? Not. So. Much.

Featured previously on BuzzFeed: Yes (Community post)

Odds of winning: 13%

So there you have it, Pavlov's Kitty FTFW. Mind's made up and I'm sticking with it. Disagree? Think one of the others should snag the Golden Kitty? Vote for your fave in the poll embedded below!

  1. So ... who's gonna win?

    Pavlov's Kitty
    Back Off!!
    Cat Behavior Finally Explained
    Brain Freeze
    Hover Cat
    tl;dr

Handicapping The Nominees For The 4th Annual Golden Kitty Award

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So ... who's gonna win?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Pavlov's Kitty
  2.  
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    Back Off!!
  3.  
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    Cat Behavior Finally Explained
  4.  
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    Brain Freeze
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    Hover Cat
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    tl;dr

For the local's perspective on this year's Cat Fest, click here. For an in-depth recap of 2013's programming when appearances by Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, and the creators of both Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat, drew a whopping 15,000 feline fanatics to the grandstands at the Minnesota State Fair, click here.

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