Sunday, January 10, 2016

Final Oscar Predictions: The Visual Categories

It's going to be a day of predictions so that I can get all of the Oscar guess articles out before Thursday morning when they are rendered moot.  Since we already covered the actors (click through if you so choose), it's time to turn our attention over to the visual categories.  In the past week, most of the guilds came out with their nominees, and as a result we have a pretty solid idea of where each of the six visual categories will take their turn, so why don't we dive right in (and for symmetry's sake, go alphabetically):

Best Cinematography

The ASC came out this past week with what looks suspiciously like the Oscar lineup.  Five titans in the industry (all five former Oscar nominees or winners) were amongst the contenders: John Seale (Max Max: Fury Road), Edward Lachman (Carol), Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant), Janusz Kaminski (Bridge of Spies), and Roger Deakins (Sicario).  These all are very likely Oscar nominees, but the ASC doesn't typically match up exactly with Oscar so I suspect that one of them disappears.  While on the surface Deakins seems the most vulnerable (he is the one with the film least likely to score elsewhere), he's an Academy legend and I'm betting that Kaminski (whose film's strength is hard to read) or Lachman (who is the least established of the contenders) are more vulnerable than Sicario.  As for who will take over, it appears most likely that it would be another Academy favorite Robert Richardson, who has the Panascope trick that will surely draw attention from this branch in The Hateful Eight.  Other contenders include Dariusz Wolski (The Martian), Yves Belanger (Brooklyn), and Maryse Alberti (Creed), the latter of whom would be the first woman to ever be nominated in this category should she surprise, but none of them have been cited before and this is one of the tech branches that gets awfully chummy about whom they ask to join the club.

My Predictions: Carol, The Hateful Eight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Sicario

Best Costume Design

The question here is which nominations won't go to Sandy Powell.  The costuming goddess, who has three Oscars to her name (and gave a famously flippant Oscar speech on the third go-around), is all but certain to land two nominations this year, for Carol and Cinderella.  The work in these two films is both mesmerizing and both are well-deserved so it's hard to begrudge Powell.  Her biggest threat for the actual trophy (aside from herself) is the work done by Paco Delgado in The Danish Girl, which is showy and a feature-point of the film.  Delgado has never won before, which may give him a bit of a leg if this is a spread-the-wealth kind of a year.  There's usually at least one first-timer in the bunch, which could result in spots for either Odile Dicks-Mireau (Brooklyn) or Daniel Orlandi (Trumbo), or perhaps both, but predicting newcomers is always a challenge, especially when you have the likes of Jacqueline West (The Revenant) and Janty Yates (The Martian) also in contention.  I've read a lot of pundits are going with Kate Hawley for the demented Crimson Peak, but she's never been here before and hasn't most everyone forgotten about that film?  Finally, at the end of the nominations list is Jenny Beaven, a designer with a nomination count to rival Powell's whose work in Max: Fury Road is showy if non-traditional.  If the film is a big hit, it's hard to imagine the Costume branch turning down a chance to nominate Beaven for a Best Picture contender.

My Predictions: Brooklyn, Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Editing

The Eddie Awards earlier this week threw us for a bit of a loop, with Spotlight randomly getting tossed out in favor of Sicario, which has gained a slight comeback between this and the surprise nomination for Benicio del Toro at the BAFTA Awards.  This has caused a lot of people to randomly second-guess its inclusion, but the Best Picture frontrunner nearly always lands a spot here so I'm going to assume that Spotlight continues on with that position long enough to nab one of the five slots here, and the rest are contenders that came out of the Eddie Awards.  That includes the other Best Picture contender The Big Short, which has the gimmicky editing tricks of cutting to famous movie stars that will likely catch on and may make it a threat for the actual trophy.  All three of the major Sci-Fi contenders for Best Picture are amongst the Eddie nominees (Mad Max, Star Wars, and The Martian), as is The Revenant, which has come on strong in the past few weeks despite having no Box Office buzz until this weekend.  It's worth noting that Ant-Man got a Comedy nomination, despite the Eddie Awards not loving superhero films (perhaps that film is being under-estimated for the tech awards?).  If another film that isn't Eddie-nominated makes it, it could be either the showy boxing of Creed (it does have that famed one-shot boxing match that everyone was wowed by early in the film) or a Best Picture hanger-on (Bridge of Spies or Carol, perhaps?).  Either way, I think anyone who cuts Spotlight due to a surprise exclusion at the Eddie Awards is being blinded by in-the-moment predicting.

My Predictions: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Spotlight

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

If there is any branch of the Academy that gives zero craps about Best Picture nominees, box office, or prestige of any kind, it's the branch that gave Norbit an Oscar nomination, so don't just assume that we'll see prestigious fare here.  The one thing you can assume we'll see, however, is Tom Hardy.  The ridiculously beautiful actor has three films that made the shortlist (Legend, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road), and so it seems likely that he'll be seen here (wouldn't it be a hoot if all three were nominated and he was asked to present the category?).  In addition to Hardy's trio of contenders, we have Johnny Depp's ridiculously hideous makeup work in Black Mass (Depp has done well in this category before, though like many people they may be over Depp becoming grotesque in every film he makes), and Ian McKellen getting even older in the summer hit Mr. Holmes.  Concussion randomly got shortlisted over more likely contenders like Star Wars and The Danish Girl (Concussion is hardly a film you'd think of when you go to Makeup), but I partially wonder if everyone is underestimating The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.  Yes, the title is ridiculous and you would think that transforming the likes of Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio would get you more press, but this branch loves obscure pictures (remember when Il Divo got nominated), and does their prosthetic homework, and this film does have impressive aging techniques.

My Predictions: Mad Max: Fury Road, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, The Revenant

Best Production Design

If you've been noticing a theme here, it's that Mad Max is pretty much everywhere for me in the visual categories, and that will continue with Production Design, where the critical position of the film, combined with the lush look of the picture will probably be enough for it to gain what might be the toughest sell of the six categories for a nod, as the desert is principally what is taking up much of the room in this set.  Partially what is driving my prediction of the film is that no movie appears completely safe in this field.  In a normal race, for example, being a Best Picture contender with a lot of showy sets like Carol or Bridge of Spies would be enough, but neither of these films are guaranteed come the Best Picture category in the way that Spotlight or The Big Short are, and the latter films are too conventional to make this race.  The Danish Girl is very much in the wheelhouse of the art directors, but it's such a small film will it theoretically be forgotten (the same can be said for Cinderella, which wasn't small but certainly feels like it was released eons ago)?  Jack Fisk is a film stalwart, but The Revenant takes place entirely outdoors which could hurt it, as could the fact that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is so frequently entirely CGI or recreating ideas we've already seen.  The Martian makes sense considering Gravity and Interstellar both made this category but is AMPAS done with nominating space films (the movie has lost a bit of steam in the past month)?  Finally, there's Crimson Peak, where the house is gorgeous and the sort of gothic treat that occasionally is this category's cup-of-tea, but the film flopped and few people remember it-could AMPAS bring it back to life?

My Predictions: Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian

Best Visual Effects

Did anyone else miss a few weeks ago when they cut this category down to ten in the bake-off rather than the initial twenty?  I know I sure did, and watched some legitimate threats like Furious 7 and In the Heart of the Sea disappear from the contest this morning when I did a google search.  Left behind are a few contenders that seem near certain, namely Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  It's not quite known yet which of these three actually nab the actual trophy, but it seems next-to-impossible for one of them to falter enough to not be in the contest.  That leaves two contenders amidst seven films.  Joining them in the prestige position would be Judy the Bear in The Revenant, an effect that is impressive enough that it landed the film a slot despite the rest of the picture not being nearly as effects-driven; that lack of effects may not matter, however, if they do well in choosing the clips for the film.  That also could help something like The Walk or Ant-Man, both of which underperformed compared to Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron in terms of Box Office, but might have cool enough effects to work into the VFX branch in terms of picking an eventual nominee (the 10-minute reel rule surely helped last year for a movie like X-Men: Days of Future Past).  Ex Machina would be a classy way to round out the category, and the effects, while hardly as expensive as a Jurassic World, are wonderful and would be a surprise inclusion.  All of this is to say that Tomorrowland, the forgotten finalist of the ten, is probably just going to have to be thankful that it didn't lose its spot at Disneyland after such weak Box Office numbers.

My Predictions: Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

And there you have it folks, my predictions in the visual categories!  Do you think that Mad Max will also score in all six of these fields?  Are you equally unsure about Production design?  And what are your predictions for Thursday in all of these categories?  Share your thoughts down below in the comments!

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