Final Oscar Predictions Part II: The Visual Crafts

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Moving on to the Visual-centric craft categories. This article will cover Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Film Editing.

 

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Nominees:
Roger Deakins – Unbroken
Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman
Dick Pope – Mr. Turner
Robert Yeoman – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski – Ida

 

This is an easy one. Emmanuel Lubezki’s work on Birdman has won nearly every cinematography prize since its premiere at Venice back in August. Between a near sweep of the critics groups in December and the industry groups over the last month, it’s the closest thing to a lock in the craft categories this year. Sure, it’s a gimmick that screams “LOOK AT ME, MAMA!” but that’s the attention-starved nature of his director, not Lubezki. Yes, his work here pales in comparison to Children of Men or The Tree of Life or even Gravity but I’m not going to pooh-pooh this guy his second Oscar. By my count, he should be at Oscar number five by now. I only pray that the great Roger Deakins (Unbroken) will one day receive his buffet of Oscars too because 12 nominations and no wins is a bloody travesty! As for who should win, I’m partial to Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski’s exquisite black-and-white lensing of Polish drama Ida. Now that’s smart cinematography!

WILL WIN: Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)
COULD WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)
SHOULD WIN: Ida (Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski)
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: A Most Violent Year (Bradford Young)

 

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Nominees:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

 

As I’ve noted in previous years, the Academy tends to equate “best” with “most.” As such, films with opulent and flashy costumes (read: period pieces, fantasy movies) bat at a 1000 here. The last five winners in this category were The Young Victoria (2009), Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Artist (2011), Anna Karenina (2012), and The Great Gatsby (2013). By that rationale, I’m going to automatically eliminate Inherent Vice from the conversation. It’s too bad because the threads by Mark Bridges (who won for The Artist in 2011) are some of the year’s most memorable (Katherine Waterson’s orange crochet dress, anyone?). In most other years, I’d go with one of the flashy fantasy blockbusters—Maleficent or Into the Woods—but I fear they’ll cancel each other out. Mike Leigh’s previous foray into costumed drama territory, Topsy-Turvy, was a winner in this category in 1999 but I don’t see Jacqueline Duran, who won for Anna Karenina, winning her second Oscar for Mr. Turner. Instead, I think it’s going to be Milena Canonero winning her fourth for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, the only Best Picture nominee in the category. It’s also the one that I think should win here.

WILL WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
COULD WIN: Into the Woods
SHOULD WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: The Immigrant

 

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BEST FILM EDITING

Nominees:
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

 

This is a tricky one. In most years, Best Film Editing goes hand-in-hand with Best Picture. See wins for Crash (2005), The Departed (2006), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), The Hurt Locker (2009) and Argo (2012) as examples. But it also goes to films that end up being runners-up to the eventual Best Picture winner (Gravity in 2013, The Social Network in 2010, The Aviator in 2004) or those technically dazzling feats in editing that just scream out EDITING, BABY! (See The Matrix, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). From this year’s crop, The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel fall under none of the aforementioned three categories so I’m dumping them. Boyhood is one of the Best Picture frontrunners alongside American Sniper, which just so happens to be a war film—a genre favorite in this category. There’s also Whiplash which qualifies as that big editing achievement. While I’m tempted to go with American Sniper or BAFTA winner Whiplash, Boyhood editor Sanda Adair had to compile 12 years of footage into an organic narrative. That should give it the edge… a very slim edge. Oh, and a side note… Just because Birdman isn’t nominated here doesn’t mean it can’t win Best Picture. Academy voters aren’t going, “Oh man, I can’t vote for Birdman… it’s not nominated for Best Film Editing! Oh God, Noooo!”

WILL WIN: Boyhood
COULD WIN: Whiplash
SHOULD WIN: Whiplash
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Edge of Tomorrow

 

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BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

Nominees:
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Rule of thumb for Best Makeup & Hairstyling: When predicting this category, my thought process goes something like this: (1) Is there a Best Picture nominee contending for the prize? (2) If there’s no Best Picture nominee, which nominee is also nominated in one of the top five categories? (3) If all or none of the nominees are nominated in the top categories, which one of them has the largest nomination haul? (4) If the nomination tally is also equal, then ask yourself… which one has the most obvious use of makeup? You’ll have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a film that bucked that methodology. Of this year’s crop, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the answer to the first three questions so that should be enough for it to win the prize. Just don’t be surprised if Steve Carrell’s liver-spotted beak or Dave Bautista’s crop circled head snuck in and grabbed the gold from Tilda Swinton’s rotting corpse.

WILL WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
COULD WIN: Guardians of the Galaxy
SHOULD WIN: Guardians of the Galaxy
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Snowpiercer

 

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Nominees:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

 

Like Best Costume Design, the Academy tends to award this award to the most lavish, most polished productions; the key word being “most” not “best.” With that said, I’m dropping The Imitation Game. A World War II-set movie hasn’t won this prize since The English Patient in 1996, and that film was an across-the-board crafts behemoth. I’m applying the same rationale to Interstellar which is a science fiction film. Only three science fiction films have won here in the last fifty years: Fantastic Voyage (1966), Star Wars (1977) and Avatar (2009). Interstellar is a technical breakthrough but it’s not a triumph of set-design the way the other three winners were. I fear not enough members will have bothered to see Mr. Turner to give it much of a chance so the Oscar will be between Into the Woods, which fits the bill of the fantasy film winner quite nicely, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which comes from perhaps the most design-attentive auteur in Hollywood. Think about The Grand Budapest Hotel, or any Anderson movie for that matter. Chances are strong that the meticulous set-design comes to mind. The fact that this is the first of Anderson’s films to receive a nomination in this category is shocking! Budapest’s mass popularity, period trappings, and the fact that the eponymous hotel is a character in and of itself, should make this a comfortable win.

WILL WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
COULD WIN: Into the Woods
SHOULD WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Inherent Vice

 

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Nominees:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

For the last six years, the Best Visual Effects Oscar has gone to a film also nominated for Best Picture. That’s not going to happen this year because there isn’t a single Best Picture nominee in the bunch—the first time since 2007. I think it’s safe to brush off the chances of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past, despite the deserving work here. Being the film’s only nomination really cramps your chances. I’ll apply the same rationale to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. While the work on this film is definitely stupendous, it doesn’t feel as revolutionary as its predecessor. That leaves Guardians of the Galaxy and Interstellar. The former is one of the year’s most beloved movies and some voters would want to honor it somewhere but with its numerous outer space vistas, alien planets and space stations, I think Christopher Nolan’s film has all the hallmarks of a classic winner. It also happens to have as many nominations as the tally of the other four nominees combined! That tends to count.

WILL WIN: Interstellar
COULD WIN: Guardians of the Galaxy
SHOULD WIN: Interstellar
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Godzilla

 

PART 3: FOREIGN, ANIMATED, DOCS & THE SHORTS

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