Tech Support: Guessing the nominees throughout the Academy's craft categories
In five days, the nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards will be announced. It seems extraordinary that another season has nearly passed. And with a silent film and a somewhat fantastical (not-so-) children’s film poised to dominate the major categories, one realizes how quickly trends can change in Hollywood. The period nature of these films will result in their showing up across the crafts categories as well, along with many other usual suspects. But at the margins, there is definitely room for excitement.
So with that preface, I now embark on my final analysis of the crafts categories for the cinematic year of 2011. This will be done in two parts, five categories covered in each part. Check back later for part two.
BEST ART DIRECTION
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” “Hugo” and “The Artist” all earned BFCA, guild and BAFTA nominations. The latter two are Best Picture frontrunners and this has been the kindest category to the “Harry Potter” series. I think all are locks.
The other Best Picture contender in the running here is “The Help,” which managed guild citation, and also has Mark Ricker (an up-and-comer in my view) behind it. Its lack of showiness, as well as the BAFTA omission, means it is not as assured as the other three, but I still expect it to make the cut.
Lastly, we come to “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” After a slow start to awards season, it managed two guild nominations (this being one) and a plethora of BAFTA nominations. The LAFCA victory (to say nothing of the quality of the work) leads me to believe that a notice here is in the cards. If it is not getting in here, it is not getting in anywhere.
I have likely underestimated “Anonymous” throughout the awards season. Its guild nomination means it is a force to be reckoned with and the work is exactly the sort the Academy likes. So it would be my primary alternate, even if I remain doubtful about how AMPAS has received the film.
“War Horse” earned BFCA and BAFTA nominations in this category and despite Rick Carter relying heavily on exteriors, the work was memorable. That said, the failure to earn a guild nomination, to say nothing of my decreasing faith in the film overall, leads me to think he'll come up short.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
Emmanuel Lubezki’s work on Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” is clearly going down in the history books. It may not win the Oscar but it is certainly headed to a nomination. (The BAFTA snub was odd but it had been the only place the film was even longlisted.) “Hugo” and “The Artist,” meanwhile, are leading the Best Picture race. Robert Richardson’s gorgeous collaboration with Martin Scorsese, as well as Guillaume Schiffman’s black-and-white work on “The Artist,” will certainly end up in the final five as well.
Jeff Cronenweth’s moody work for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was recognized by the ASC and BAFTA. Coming off a nomination for “The Social Network,” I suspect the second-generation DP is in position to benefit from some goodwill from last year and earn a repeat nomination, especially given the respect the film seems to have in the industry. The stark and low-key nature of the photography means he is hardly assured a spot, however.
Hoyte Van Hoytema managed ASC and BAFTA nods for his atmospheric, mood-building work on “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” Part of me wants to say he is good to go but there is usually a variable between the Society and AMPAS and I feel Cronenweth is in somewhat better shape given his film’s overall success at the guilds and that above-mentioned residual respect from last season. We will see though – "Tinker" has been picking up momentum in the last few weeks.
Janusz Kaminski’s lensing of “War Horse” may have seemed a sure bet and it actually tied for a win with the BFCA. However, it has been criticized in certain circles as being over-the-top and I could see his fellow cinematographers finding it annoying. The film’s failure to get an ASC nomination (Kaminski has never been Oscar nominated after a Society snub), in addition to the film’s gradual descent this season, leads me to believe it will come up short.
Rather, I will go out on somewhat of a limb and predict Eduardo Serra for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” Serra’s two previous nominations (“The Wings of the Dove” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring”) also came for efforts for which he was not nominated by the ASC. The Society did not cite Bruno Delbonnel before the Academy's cinematographers branch nominated him for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and given that this is the last chance to recognize the series in this category, I would say Serra could manage a nod her.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 2”
“The Tree of Life”
(alt. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Sandy Powell is a mortal lock for a nomination here for her showy and top-notch work on “Hugo.” Mark Bridges (“The Artist”), Jill Taylor (“My Week with Marilyn”) and Sharen Davis (“The Help”) all strike me as good bets, with precursor attention, showy period clothes and films that will show up elsewhere in prominent places. Davis’s failure to garner a BAFTA nomination, as Taylor's coming up short with the guild, would make me put them third and fourth, but I still think nominations are likely.
Michael O’Connor’s threads on “Jane Eyre” were appropriately period and reminiscent of the work that earned him a victory in this category three years ago for “The Duchess.” It also seems a good place to award the film, so I think he is the fifth nominee.
I am relatively confident in this quintet (probably more than any other category), but I have said before and I will say again that this category does not particularly care about how films are viewed overall. So “Anonymous” (Lisy Christl) and guild nominee “W.E.” (Arianne Phillips) could very well show up. Character-building British work such as that seen in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (Jacqueline Durran) and “The Iron Lady” (Consolata Boyle) should not be ruled out but strikes me as a tad too subtle.
BEST FILM EDITING
Film editing is tremendously tied with the Best Picture category. Therefore, the two films I am most confident in here are “Hugo,” cut by the legendary Thelma Schoonmaker, and “The Artist,” poised to make a hat-trick nominee out of Michel Hazanavicius, who edited the film with Anne-Sophie Bion.
Slightly behind these two titles would be “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” headed up by last year’s winners Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall. This is the sort of film that could score here even without a Best Picture nomination. Its recent ascent in that category, as well as the duo’s guild nomination, not to mention their BFCA win, leads me to believe they are back in the game. (The BAFTA snub can likely be attributed to the film clearly not catching on with the Brits.)
“War Horse,” edited by Spielberg’s regular collaborator Michael Kahn, managed not only BFCA and BAFTA nominations, but also a nod from the guild, one of few for the film. The war scenes and different stories should result in Kahn earning his eighth nomination. But I have some reservations.
Christopher Tellefsen’s piecing together of Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” was fresh, engaging and memorable. I feel the film is headed for a Best Picture nomination, among many others. With an ACE nomination behind him, I would say he is looking good for the final slot.
His principal competitor is likely Kevin Tent’s work on Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants.” Now this was hardly an editing showcase, but editors do love the film. And it's poised for a great deal of major nominations. This could be dragged along.
And then there is Matthew Newman’s work on Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive.” Nominated by the BFCA and BAFTA, the work was undeniably superb, bringing action and riveting suspense into this unique crime tale. So even if the film is hardly Oscar bait, I could see it showing up here.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
(alt. “The Descendants”)
Ah, Best Makeup. The bake-off list provided some clues in this respect with “J. Edgar” and “Green Lantern,” both of which I really thought could score here, failing to make the cut.
That said, we do have great aging efforts in “The Iron Lady” and “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.” Meryl Streep’s transformation on the former effort and the notable prosthetics on the latter make me suspect they are leading the way.
After that, I really do not know, though my inclination is that “Albert Nobbs”’s work was not showy enough, while “Anonymous”’s was not novel enough to stick out. And while “last chance to award” sentiment could put “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” over the top (it made BAFTA’s final five), I am more inclined to think it will also suffer from a perceived lack of novelty.
That leaves the Best Picture contenders and BAFTA nominees “The Artist” and “Hugo” battling for the final spot. The makeup in the flashbacks to the infancy of cinema was very well done in the latter, though I ultimately suspect love of the film, and admiration for the unique makeup challenges prompted by a black-and-white shoot, will bring “The Artist” into the final trio.
Seriously, though, this category never ceases to surprise. No combination of three could be considered a shocker.
“Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”
“The Iron Lady”
Check back later today for part two as we round out the final five crafts fields. In the meantime, what are your predictions for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Makeup? Have your say in the comments section below!