Tech Support: Final predictions in Oscar's crafts categories

Posted by · 10:39 pm · January 14th, 2015

Over the past three and a half months, we have previewed the races in all Oscar categories and spoken with many of the leading contenders. For the ninth year here at Tech Support, it's now time to put all of that aside and put forward final predictions. Which craftsmen and craftswomen will be cited by their peers on Thursday?

Best Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki looks in fantastic position to earn his second straight statuette for his very, very long takes on “Bidman.” Robert Yeoman and Dick Pope have earned guild, BFCA and BAFTA nods for their gorgeous period work that blurred the line between camera work and the painted and crafted arts on “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Mr. Turner” respectively. The former will likely rack up a host of nods while this is a perfect chance to recognize Pope”s collaborations with Leigh. They”re in good shape.

Roger Deakins missed a BAFTA nod, where “Unbroken,” was shut out, but I”d still be shocked if AMPAS didn”t give the living legend another citation for the sort of work that usually finds a home in this category. The guild and BFCA saw fit to include him.

This branch has affinity for foreign films and black-and-white. So in the last spot, I”m banking on Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal for “Ida.”

I realize this means betting against leading Best Picture contender “The Imitation Game,” for which Óscar Faura earned an ASC nod. My gut tells me he will make it but someone cannot make it in this group so I have to leave him to the side.

I”d have “Interstellar” in seventh. Hoyte Van Hoytema has been on the cusp of a nomination for years, Christopher Nolan”s films have a great track record here, and he has BFCA and BAFTA nominations. But I think the competition will ultimately prove too stiff for him to get in for a film that many found disappointing.

PREDICTIONS: “Birdman,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Ida,” “Mr. Turner,” “Unbroken”
ALTERNATE: “The Imitation Game”

Best Costume Design

Milena Canonero (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and Colleen Atwood (“Into the Woods”) are locks for nominations for threads that were inspired, have been nominated by BFCA/SAG/ADG, and, well, they”re Colleen Atwood and Milena Canonero!

Jacqueline Durran (“Mr. Turner”) has BFCA and BAFTA nods for her superb work on “Mr. Turner”. I”ll be surprised if she doesn”t make the final five as well.

Steven Noble (“The Theory of Everything”) and Sammy Sheldon Differ (“The Imitation Game”) have scored with the guild and BAFTA for their detailed period work on Best Picture nominees. I”m banking on the latter making the final five with AMPAS, as I anticipate AMPAS will quite like the film. Both are in contention, though this category isn”t the most susceptible to being swayed by the Best Picture race.

Anna B. Sheppard (“Maleficent”) and Mark Bridges (“Inherent Vice”) garnered BFCA and CDG nominations for inspired work. This category will think outside the box and while neither costume designer has had tremendous success outside of leading Best Picture contenders, this year could change that. In fact, I think Sheppard”s costuming of Angelina Jolie will manage to sneak into the final five. It “feels right.”

But why does the “little man” inside of me tell be that Ruth E. Carter will make the final five for “Selma”? Surely she got the film”s sole guild nod for a reason…

PREDICTIONS: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Into the Woods,” “Maleficent,” “Mr. Turner”

Best Film Editing

Talk about a stacked category! Sandra Adair (“Boyhood”) and Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione (“Birdman”) have cut Best Picture frontrunners with unique narratives. “Birdman” the three major precursors (BFCA, ACE, BAFTA), though “Boyhood” missed BAFTA. They”re in.

Tom Cross”s cutting of “Whiplash” has received nothing but praise, now reflected in ACE, BFCA and BAFTA nominations. It will be a tragedy if he doesn”t make it.

“The Imitation Game” is the sort of Best Picture nominee – suspenseful and jumping between time periods – that scores in this category. Billy Goldenberg is also respected, and also has ACE, BAFTA and BFCA nominations. I”d bank on him earning nomination #5.

And in the fifth spot, I simply have a very strong hunch that BAFTA/ACE nominee John Gilroy is going to get the nomination he came so close to for “Michael Clayton,” leaving all three Gilroy Brothers with nominations this year (Tony for producing and Dan for writing).

The problem is that predicting this quintet leaves two seemingly “easy gets” on the outside looking in. Kirk Baxter (“Gone Girl”) has been nominated three times in the past six years for Fincher collaborations. A super-suspenseful film for which he”s also earned the three major precursors, he should be back at it. But is the film fading?

“American Sniper” certainly isn”t fading, as Joel Cox and Gary Roach have peaked at just the right time. I do note that Cox has fared better with the guild than the Academy over the years, though, so I would not read too much into the current zeitgeist.

If Barney Pilling (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) or Jinx Godrey (“The Theory of Everything”) make the final five, those films are in for quite the haul.

PREDICTIONS: “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Imitation Game,” “Nightcrawler”, “Whiplash”
ALTERNATE: “American Sniper”

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Whenever a film makes the bake-off, it cannot be ruled out here. Nor can anything ever be considered a lock. Having said that, now that “Guardians of the Galaxy” made it to this stage notwithstanding the CGI, I”d say a nod is likely. Hollywood seems to have joined the rest of the world in loving this movie. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” also has so much of what this branch loves – aging, battle wounds, period makeup. The esteem in which the film is held should push it over the edge. And a physical transformation usually takes a spot so I”m not going to change my “since Cannes” prediction of “Foxcatcher.”

Now that leaves us with three fairly predictable nominees, which is not par for the course in this category, but I”m not sure what other approach to take. “Maleficent” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” seem to be treading similar ground that “Guardians” does better while “Noah” seems a tad too subtle.

The fact that “The Theory of Everything” made it this far means it”s likely in good shape – disability and subtle aging is something this category adores. But what will it knock out?

PREDICTIONS: “Foxcatcher”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”
ALTERNATE: “The Theory of Everything”

Best Music (Original Score)

This category is notoriously hostile to first-time nominees but Jóhann Jóhannsson fits the mould of a first-timer perfectly, with a prestigious, Oscar-friendly score in a prestigious, Oscar-friendly film. With a Globe win and BFCA and BAFTA nominations, the Icelandic composer should be good shape for his first nomination for “The Theory of Everything.”

Hans Zimmer also has those nominations for “Interstellar.” While I”m not as confident in him given that he has had a very mixed Oscar track record this century, even in the face of relatively weak competition, he seems a good bet this year for this booming score.

Alexandre Desplat has BFCA and Globe nods for “The Imitation Game” and a BAFTA citation for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” For some composers and in some years, I”d say that would run the risk of a vote split, leading to no nominations. But in the face of an open field (“Birdman””s disqualification will be felt), I think he”ll get in for both.

One would think Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won a very inspired statuette in this category for “The Social Network,” would be in good shape, given their BFCA and Globe nods and the disqualification of “Birdman””s Antonio Sanchez. But they remain atypical nominees in this category and I have a hunch they won”t make the cut at the end of the day.

So in the last spot, I”m going to “go wild,” follow BAFTA”s lead, and guess that Mica Levi gets in for “Under the Skin.” Though one-upping Reznor and Ross in terms of “atypicalness,” this may be so novel, they”ll jump at it. And everyone who has heard the score loves it.

Marco Beltrami (“The Homesman”) and Thomas Newman (“The Judge”) should also be considered. Both composers have managed unlikely nominations before. And maybe Alexandre Desplat could make history and make it a trio of nominations for “Unbroken”? As mentioned, this category is open and ripe for surprises.

PREDICTIONS: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Interstellar,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Unbroken”
ALTERNATE: “Gone Girl”

Best Music (Original Song)

Every year, this is difficult category to predict. Having said that, the Golden Globe-winning ballad “Glory” from “Selma” should be difficult to pass up. “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” and “Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie” played key roles in their films, and are not easily forgettable, so they”re probably in good shape as well.

After that, things become more difficult. Golden Globe nominations for “Big Eyes” from “Big Eyes,” “Yellow Flicker Beat” from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I” and “Mercy Is” from “Noah” all could be attributable to a love of stars. But maybe not. Lana Del Rey, in particular, may benefit from goodwill from a high profile snub from last year.

The fifth Globe nominee – “Opportunity” from “Annie” – should logically be considered. I suspect people will forget this song/movie, however. The fact that Coldplay were not nominated for the star-friendlly HFPA is not a good sign for their “Unbroken” chances.

I also think it will also be difficult to get nominations from the likes of “Glen Campbell: I”ll Be Me” and while “Boyhood” contained multiple original songs, who knows which, if any, of them will stick out for the branch.

Ultimately, I”m going with Del Rey (making it up for last year) and “Mercy Is” (because I have the hunch “Noah” will get a nomination and there may be Patti Smith fans in the music branch) but this category is famous for pulling out surprises “the day of”. I”ll watch with interest.

FINAL PREDICTIONS: “Big Eyes” (“Big Eyes”), “Lost Stars” (“Begin Again”), “Everything is Awesome” (“The LEGO Movie”), “Mercy Is” (“Noah”), “Glory (“Selma”)
ALTERNATE: “Yellow Flicker Beat” (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I”)

Best Production Design

Adam Stockhausen (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) will hopefully win this category running away. There is still much excitement in this race, however, as I find the race for the last four spots to be intense.

I think it would be foolish to bet against the great Dennis Gassner (“Into the Woods”) but despite BFCA and ADG nods, he failed to make the cut with BAFTA. While “Interstellar””s underwhelming reception leaves it away from “lock” status, Nathan Crowley”s good track record (“The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight”) and the film”s BFCA, ADG and BAFTA nods make me think he”s a solid bet for spot #3. I”ve also been keen all year on the chances of Maria Djurkovic (“The Imitation Game”) to score her overdue, first nomination. It”s far from a sure bet but I”m not going to bail on her now, with ADG and BAFTA nods to her credit.

I still think that there are no less than nine other titles that could get in here – “Snowpiercer” (would be inspired but it strikes me as too niche), “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (but it seems too “been there, done that”), “Inherent Vice” (but it seems to be stylized too subtly), “Birdman” (but it strikes me as too contemporary), “Mr. Turner” (gorgeous but how many nominations is it really going to get?), “Guardians of the Galaxy” (cool but how many nominations is it really going to get?), “Unbroken” (possible but how many nominations is it really going to get?) “The Theory of Everything” (but it seems to tread on similar territory as “The Imitation Game” and is not as showy), and “Big Eyes” (but it strikes me as not in the same league as the past Tim Burton movies that have scored here).

I”m going to ultimately go with Suzie Davies and “Mr. Turner” in the last spot if only because it is the “film about art”.

PREDICTIONS: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Interstellar,” “Into the Woods,” “Mr. Turner”
ALTERNATE: “Birdman”

Best Sound Editing

I think the late-breaking “American Sniper” is well-suited to take the sound categories by the horns. “Guardians of the Galaxy” also strikes me as the logical summer blockbuster contender, with many comedic sound effects on display. Beyond that, things seem very open. I do think there will be enough friends of Christopher Nolan and Richard King in the sound branch to ensure “Interstellar” gets nomination #3.

Not that there are quotas, but predicting a war film, a summer blockbuster and a late year blockbuster makes me doubtful of the chances of titles such as “Fury,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

The likes of “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game” seem to be more “mixer's films” than “editor's films but we shall see what the wonders of a Best Picture nomination may do. And while I would not be surprised if an animated film made it, none of “The Boxtrolls,” “Big Hero 6,” or “The LEGO Movie” seem “the one.”

In the circumstances, I'd look to two films that do not fit neatly into any of these categories. The first is “Unbroken,” where water, war sounds and prison sounds may lead to a nod. The second is “Noah” because I have a hunch this film will garner a nomination is some category.

PREDICTIONS: “American Sniper,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Interstellar,” “Noah,” “Unbroken”
ALTERNATE: “Birdman”

Best Sound Mixing

Now here is an open category, with most prospective blockbusters being either disappointing films and/or not terribly respected. And none of the musicals set the world on fire either. “American Sniper” is the only prospective nominee in which I have real confidence.

In circumstances such as these, well respected Best Picture contenders are well-suited to jump to the forefront. “Birdman” is just such a piece, with CAS and BAFTA nominations behind it. “The Imitation Game” and even “The Grand Budapest Hotel” could follow suit but it don”t feel totally right to me – I think they would have to be slightly more loved to make it.

“Guardians of the Galaxy”  seems to be the summer blockbuster most respected in the industry so I”ll go with it over titles such as “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (which I think will only score in Visual Effects) and “Interstellar” (where I think the criticism is just too loud, CAS aside).

Musicals ought not to be ruled out but “Into the Woods” and “Annie” were not terribly loved. Instead, I”m perhaps going to think wishfully and guess that “Whiplash” follows its BAFTA nomination with a citation here. The mix was incredible.

Back when I wrote about this category, “Unbroken” seemed a sure thing but upon release, I”m not so sure. It did get a CAS nomination. But in my experience, it”s always foolish to rule out Greg P. Russell in this category, so I ultimately think he and Scott Millan will ride “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (“Get on Up” seems forgotten) to another nomination.

PREDICTIONS: “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Whiplash”
ALTERNATE: “Interstellar”

Best Visual Effects

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Interstellar,” “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” all have some combo of respected series, respected film, respected director, and/or simply extremely revered effects. I”d be surprised if they don”t make the cut, especially with BFCA and BAFTA nods.

I doubt “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (despite its BAFTA nod) and “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” will manage to buck the trends of their series in this category. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is part of a franchise with a poor track record, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is part of a franchise I think they”ll have tired of, and “Godzilla” just doesn”t feel right to me.

I”m counting on “Maleficent” for the final spot, therefore. The quantity of visual effects, and the nod to fairy tales past seems to lead to this being an appropriate place to cite the film.

PREDICTIONS: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” “Interstellar,” “Maleficent”
ALTERNATE: “Godzilla”

That”s the way I see the world today…tune in tomorrow as I hope that the egg I”m wiping off my face is minimal!

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