Tech Support: 'Life of Pi' and 'Lincoln' lead the crafts category nominations

Posted by · 12:04 pm · January 10th, 2013

And they”re here. Another year come and another set of nominees in the Academy”s crafts categories, highlighting the invaluable contributions to our movies by behind-the-lines, “below the line” artists.

While most Oscar-watchers are still picking their jaws up off the floor after what happened in the Best Director category, several have also noticed the over-performing of “Life of Pi” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” In the case of “Pi,” that led to its leading the way among the crafts category contenders, with 8 nominations. “Lincoln” landed in second place with six nods.

“Skyfall” crushed the previous record for nominations among Bond films, with five (“The Spy Who Loved Me” earned three). “Les Misérables””s tally of five is the only other dominator, though “Argo” (4), “Anna Karenina” (4) and “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2) did respectably.

“Django Unchained” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” however, must be considered mild under-performers, each garnering only two crafts nominations. But “The Avengers” (with one) and especially “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Cloud Atlas” (both shut out) are the ultimate disappointments.

And like the acting categories this year, there are also a lot of returning nominees. Relatively few newcomers tickled the branches” fancy this year.

I didn”t have a perfect record in any of these fields but I went 3 or 4 out of 5 in all but Best Makeup and Hairstyling. (As for the top eight, including foreign and animated, I had a perfect record in Best Actor and went 4 out of 5 in all the others except Best Director, where my 1/5 score is my worst in 13 years of predicting!)

Let’s take a closer look…

Best Cinematography

I went only 3/5, erring at the last minute. Claudio Miranda (“Life of Pi”), Roger Deakins (“Skyfall”) and to a lesser extent Janusz Kaminski (“Lincoln”) all seemed to be obvious picks. They”ll be competing with each other for the statue.

My last minute swap-in of ASC/BAFTA nominee “Les Misérables” was a mistake as I should have gone with Seamus McGarvey”s ASC/BAFTA-nominated work in “Anna Karenina.” Oh well. I”m not sad about this miss.

I also left the wrong film in, as Greig Fraser”s work in “Zero Dark Thirty” was skipped over for Robert Richardson”s gorgeous lensing of “Django Unchained.” I do have more qualms with this choice but so be it. Richardson is an extraordinary DP and I”m confident Fraser”s time will come.

This category has five previous nominees, for the first time in recent memory. I haven”t had time to check if it is the first time ever, but certainly the past 20 years.

Best Costume Design

I went 3/5 here as well. Jacqueline Durran”s nomination for “Anna Karenina” was obvious and she”ll be difficult to beat for the statue. Joanna Johnston, meanwhile, FINALLY earned her first nomination, for “Lincoln,” having done high profile work for Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis for over a quarter-century. Paco Delgado”s first nomination for “Les Misérables” was predictable as well.

Jacqueline West, like many of “Argo””s crafts artists, may have suffered from too much subtlety. As for poor Sharen Davis, I can”t believe she was snubbed for “Django Uncahined.” The Designers branch mustn”t get Tarantino. None of his films have ever been nominated in either Best Costume Design or Best Art Direction/Production Design.

The category”s affinity for films otherwise unrecognized, arguably of poor quality and/or those that were thought forgotten continued. Both “Snow White” films of 2012 showed up, as Eiko Ishioka was posthumously cited for “Mirror Mirror” and Colleen Atwood earned her 10th nomination to date for “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Best Film Editing

I went 4/5 here. William Goldenberg earns his third and fourth nominations for “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” (the latter shared with Dylan Tichenor). I expect him to be competing with himself for the win, though the films” director snubs give me pause.

With his nomination for “Lincoln” (his eighth), Michael Kahn sets a new record among film editors for nominations, while Tim Squyres finally earned a second nomination for “Life of Pi.”

The complaints about “Les Misérables””s editing must have resonated as Chris Dickens ended up being passed over for Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers”s crisp work on “Silver Linings Playbook.” David O. Russell”s film truly scored everywhere it was plausible.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Ouch. I went only 1/3 here as my “no-guts-no-glory” prediction of “Men in Black 3” over “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” backfired. There was a surprise (nonetheless foreseen by Kris) as “Hitchcock” made it in over “Lincoln.” Only “Les Misérables” was a truly predictable nominee.

This category is crazily difficult to call, and cases could be made for each contender, but I suppose I”d give the edge to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Best Music (Original Score)

I went 4/5. I am happy to say that my confidence in John Williams (“Lincoln”), Alexandre Desplat (“Argo”), Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”) and Dario Marianelli (“Anna Karenina”) was not misplaced. My reservations about the previously un-nominated composers of “The Master,” “Cloud Atlas” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” also turned out to be justified.

Alas, Desplat did not become a nominee for “Zero Dark Thirty” but Thomas Newman pulled off his 11th nomination for “Skyfall,” which I found somewhat surprising given that “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was also in contention, but there you go.

This is a truly open race, but I can”t help but wonder if it”s time for Williams to win again? Then again, first time nominees frequently win when nominated, so I”d keep my eye on Danna. Or could it finally be Newman”s turn? But isn”t Marianelli”s score most memorable?

Best Music (Original Song)

I went 3/5 here. “Suddenly” and “Skyfall” were obvious bets and I fully expect them to now be battling out for the win.

“Pi”s Lullaby” managed to sneak in but “Ancora Qui” from “Django Unchained” and “Learn Me Right” from “Brave” did not. Rather, the branch went for the Seth MacFarlane-penned and Norah Jones-performed “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted.” In hindsight, this seems patently obvious as a way to get Jones to the ceremony and to honor MacFarlane — not that that is ever a real concern with this branch, though. Plus, it”s actually a good song that plays very well in the opening credits.

As for “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice?” I did not see that one coming. I”d go so far as to rank it alongside Jacki Weaver”s nod as the day”s biggest surprise.

Best Production Design

I went 4/5 here, but I”m very content as my alternate also made it in. “Anna Karenina,” “Lincoln,” and “Les Misérables” were obvious nominees. Cases could be made for any of them winning, but I”ll come back to that in the weeks ahead.

“Django Unchained” represented the last opportunity to honor the late J. Michael Riva. The branch passed up on that – as I said, they clearly don”t go for Tarantino in this branch. Fantasy instead ruled the day as both “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (which I predicted) and “Life of Pi” (which was my alternate) made it in.

Best Sound Editing

I went 3/5 here, with my faith in “Django Unchained,” “Skyfall” and “Zero Dark Thirty” turning out to be well placed.

But my bet on both “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” backfired badly, as they both missed. Instead, “Life of Pi” continued its dominance (one of five categories where I underestimated it) and “Argo” managed to sneak into the final five, which truly did surprise me, especially given Affleck”s strange omission in Best Director. There you go.

This is also an open race for the win, though my gut leads me to give the edge to “Skyfall.”

Best Sound Mixing

I went 3/5 here as well, again missing both “Argo” and “Life of Pi.” The omission of “Django Unchained” doesn”t bother me, but “Zero Dark Thirty””s missing does upset me profoundly. Oh well. Life goes on.

“Lincoln””s nomination here shows its support runs deep and it is clearly leading the way for Best Picture. But this crew, anchored by Gary Rydstrom, Ben Burtt and Andy Nelson, also demands extraordinary respect. This is one of two horses that Nelson has in this race, as he was also predictably nominated for “Les Misérables.”

But expect “Les Mis” to get some competition for the win from the other easily predictable nominee in this category. Greg P. Russell earned his 16th nomination to date for his collaboration with four-time winner Scott Millan on “Skyfall.” We”ll see if he can get his long overdue first win. Musicals have beaten Russell thrice before, but not for a film as nominated and respected as “Skyfall.”

Another real surprise here, even though I predicted it, was in what was not nominated. Not a single summer blockbuster was in the line-up for the first time in 20 years.

Best Visual Effects

I went 3/5, getting the easy calls of “The Avengers,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Life of Pi.” The latter’s stranglehold on this category is probably rivaled only by those of Daniel Day-Lewis in Best Actor and Anne Hathaway in Best Supporting Actress.

“Cloud Atlas” missing for “Prometheus” is in hindsight predictable and I’m kicking myself for not seeing it coming. Though I certainly didn”t expect “Snow White and the Huntsman” to score here, and as such to contribute to “The Dark Knight Rises” being shut out.

So that”s it. Kris, Guy, Greg and I will continue to monitor the crafts categories until the envelopes are opened announcing the winners in these categories next month. Congratulations to all the nominees.

What are your predictions throughout the crafts categories? Have your say in the comments section below!

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