TECH SUPPORT: Final predictions

Posted by · 5:27 pm · February 18th, 2009

Tech Support at In ContentionAfter six months of Tech Support previews and interviews, the films have arrived, the nominations have been announced and the guilds, the critics and BAFTA have all announced their preferences.  Today we take a final look at the races before the envelopes are opened on Sunday.

After guild and BAFTA wins, I would say “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” has cemented its frontrunner status in this category. Spanning decades of the 20th Century, Donald Graham Burt’s production design was impossible not to notice and gave us gorgeous backdrops for its character’s predicaments.

The other nominees all have the odds stacked against them, whether similar work has been seen before (Michael Carlin’s “The Duchess” and Kristi Zea’s “Revolutionary Road”), is just not showy enough (Nathan Crowley’s “The Dark Knight”) or the nominee is otherwise along for the ride (James Murakami’s “Changeling”).

Will win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Could win: “The Duchess”
Should win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Having also won both guild and BAFTA awards, not to mention NYFCC and NSFC citations in this category, Anthony Dod Mantle must be considered the frontrunner for “Slumdog Millionaire.” Nonetheless, despite considering the cinematography the best thing about “Slumdog Millionaire” (I’m no huge fan of the film), I don’t sense this as a lock.

Claudio Miranda’s lensing of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is bea-ut-i-ful, nd “bea-ut-i-ful“ often wins this category.

Wally Pfister’s day will come but “The Dark Knight” will not be it, I feel. Tom Stern should be happy with his nomination while Roger Deakins is poised to lose for the eighth time for “The Reader.” (Though Chris Menges shot the vast majority of the film.)

Will win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Could win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Should win: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Here is the category where I am going against conventional wisdom and betting against Michael O’Connor’s corsets and high fashion of England 200 years ago, which was on display in “The Duchess.” Wins from the guild and BAFTA would appear to confirm he is the frontrunner.

I nevertheless cannot shake off my strong hunch that Jacqueline West will prevail for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” The film is clearly more loved and more viewed than “The Duchess” and the work is much more novel than O’Connor’s.

I admit odds are against this theory but I have had it for so long that I am not going to abandon it.

Will win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Could win: “The Duchess”
Should win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Cutting the showiest film, the near-certain Best Picture winner, and winning virtually every competitive editing award, I think that Chris Dickens has this in the bag for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Will win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Could win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Should win: “Slumdog Millionaire”

In addition to having incredibly pivotal aging and being the most popular nominated film, I suspect “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” will triumph in this category, if only due to lack of competition. I cannot imagine “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” as an Oscar winner and “The Dark Knight”’s most notable makeup is fundamentally confined to one character (even if the work is iconic.)

Will win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Could win: “The Dark Knight”
Should win: “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Given the love of the music from “Slumdog Millionaire,” I would be very surprised if BFCA/Globe/BAFTA winner A.R. Rahman did not take this award.

Alexandre Desplat will win one eventually but I suspect that, in the unlikely event of an upset, it will come from Thomas Newman, who might finally have his day for his work on “WALL-E.”

Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard will also have to wait.

Will win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Could win: “WALL-E”
Should win: “WALL-E”

“Jai Ho” has become a staple of this awards season and I suspect it will give Rahman his second Oscar Sunday evening. It’s catchy, from the likely Best Picture winner and I also do not buy the notion that it will split its votes with “O…Saya” given that I doubt many voters are voting for the M.I.A/Rahman collaboration in the first place.

Nonetheless, I feel this is not a locked award and that Peter Gabriel could yet triumph for “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E.” It would be a great way to reward the film, Gabriel and finally give a statue to Thomas Newman.

Will win: “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
Could win: “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”
Should win: “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”

When the nominations were announced, I felt that “WALL-E” and “The Dark Knight” would be battling it out for this statue. Since then, however, “Slumdog Millionaire” has won virtually every award in existence, leading me to believe this is a three-way race.

I still feel that “WALL-E” will manage to triumph given the importance of the sound effects in the film and the fact that the movie is clearly well loved. “The Dark Knight,” however, would be a slightly more typical winner and I suspect closely behind. “Slumdog Millionaire” would be a very atypical winner but if “Slumdog Millionaire” does triumph here, I think it will indeed win all nine of its categories.

Will win: “WALL·E”
Could win: “The Dark Knight”
Should win: “WALL·E”

I accept the argument that “Slumdog Millionaire,” being the Best Picture frontrunner and the winner of both the BAFTA and the CAS awards, would appear the odds-on favorite in this category.

The fact remains, however, that it does not have the loudness that tends to be characteristic of winners here. Moreover, the CAS/BAFTA combination does not guarantee an Oscar win. (see “Walk the Line,” “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” and “The Fugitive”).

Thus, I am sticking with my original instinct that “The Dark Knight” will prevail in this category as a second statue for the film. It is a loud and a respected popcorn movie, the sort that usually takes this prize.

Will win: “The Dark Knight”
Could win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Should win: “WALL-E”

(I’m still curious how “Wanted” managed to get nominations in these two categories.)

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” almost certainly has this one wrapped up. The effects carried much of the film and were seamlessly integrated.

Will win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Could win: “Iron Man”
Should win: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

That’s it. I’ll be back next week with one final column, wrapping up the year.

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10 responses so far

  • 1 2-18-2009 at 6:27 pm

    N8 said...

    Those sound categories are indeed tricky, but I feel that whoever wins one will win the other.

    As much as I love Slumdog, I’ll be sick to my stomach if it wins both of these awards over WALL-E.

  • 2 2-18-2009 at 8:19 pm

    Ryan said...

    Wall-E completely deserves to sweep this year.

  • 3 2-18-2009 at 10:08 pm

    The Other Ryan said...

    I’m with N8. Slumdog is taking both Sound categories, though TDK should win Mixing and WALL-E should take editing.

  • 4 2-18-2009 at 10:11 pm

    Denise said...

    I would love to see Wall-E sweep the awards this year, if for no other reason than it wasn’t picked as a nomination for best picture instead of only best animated feature.

  • 5 2-18-2009 at 11:40 pm

    Gustavo Silva said...

    I truly, honestly believe Wall-E will win everything it is nominated for and I am predicting that.

  • 6 2-19-2009 at 1:39 am

    Ross said...

    I think that WALL-E has only animated feature as a LOCK!

    But it could very well win all six awards it’s up for. I’m predicting sound editing, original song and I really want to predict original score. I don’t think Slumdog is all that strong in these categories and an upset is really possible there. Anyway, I don’t buy screenplay. It could happen, but with Mickey Rourke having everything going for him to win best actor, do you think they’ll snub Milk? It has 8 nods and is a best picture nominee.

  • 7 2-19-2009 at 4:12 am

    karol said...

    i’ll vomit if Jai Ho wins ;/

  • 8 2-19-2009 at 4:15 am

    ali said...

    I hope Gabriel & Newman will win!!
    They won Grammy for it + vote splitting between 2 Slumdog’s songs may lead to their victory.
    What do you think?

  • 9 2-19-2009 at 9:42 am

    Matt said...

    I really want Newman and Desplat to take one each…. both have racked up a number of noms, they have an amazing catalogue, yet still haven’t been recognized.

  • 10 2-19-2009 at 11:50 am

    Rob said...

    It will be a travesty if Ben Burtt goes home empty handed for his work in Wall-E, which imho, surpasses his work in Star Wars and the like. I think he’ll go home with at least one of the sound awards, and maybe even both if there’s any justice left in this world. Wall-E will win at least 2 Oscars but it could very well win all 6 it was up for. Also, I can easily see Button getting nothing at all.