Tech Support: Analyzing the 2014 craft category Oscar nominations
A day after the Academy dropped its array of surprises throughout its 24 categories, and notably the 10 crafts fields, it's time to reflect on what the months of build-up have left us with. A few trends come to mind…
The lack of love for "Saving Mr. Banks" (already discussed at length) went through the crafts categories in a big way, leaving only Thomas Newman standing, despite costumes and sets that were the stuff the branches usually embrace. Expectations for "All is Lost" weren't as high, but it was similarly left with just a single nod, for Steve Boedekker and the great Richard Hymns in Best Sound Editing. "Rush" and "Lee Daniels’ The Butler," meanwhile, found themselves completely shut out. One would have thought the former would have been a shoo-in for at least the editing and sound categories, while the latter had songs, makeup (which failed to make the bake-off stage), costumes and sets that evidently didn’t interest AMPAS.
"American Hustle," on the other hand, scored in virtually every category imaginable, with only a single strange omission in Best Makeup and Hairstyling (I'll get to that). But it landed more difficult to come by nominations in Best Film Editing and especially Best Production Design. "Gravity" got a clean sweep in every plausible craft category. Best Costume Design, Original Song and Makeup and Hairstyling were never going to happen. "Dallas Buyers Club" missed Best Costume Design after landing a guild nod but its nominations in Best Film Editing and Best Makeup and Hairstyling show the esteem in which it is clearly held by AMPAS members.
"12 Years a Slave," with nine nominations, could not complain. But what should we make of the omissions in Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and the sound categories? Very unusual for a film that many think is set to win the big prize. Meanwhile, "Inside Llewyn Davis" can’t be too devastated about its crafts category tally – it got in a few places where expected. But the fact that Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing are its only two nominations will likely, as Kris noted yesterday, be a source of embarrassment for years to come. "The Lone Ranger" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" were probably expected to score in Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Visual Effects respectively. But their respective nods in the latter category and for "The Hobbit" in the sound fields were very unexpected. And "Prisoners," "The Book Thief," "The Invisible Woman," "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "Iron Man 3" also grabbed nods, but they weren’t altogether surprising, being anticipated at this very outlet.
Turning to the particular categories…
Well, I was right that Roger Deakins would get yet another nomination that will yield yet another loss. His citation for "Prisoners" marks his 11th trip to the Oscars. The surprise in this category, however, came from Philippe Le Sourde getting in for "The Grandmaster" over Sean Bobbitt and "12 Years a Slave." I guess a Wong Kar-wai movie had it coming, but it’s an unusual miss for an arguable Best Picture frontrunner. Emanuel Lubezki ("Gravity") got a very predictable nomination, Bruno Delbonnel ("Inside Llewyn Davis") survived the collapse of support for his film and Phedon Papamichael ("Nebraska") proved yet again that lensing a black-and-white Best Picture nominee will lead to a nomination as he earned a long-coming first nod for "Nebraska."
WINNER?: Lubezki was always going to be difficult to beat here. With fellow nominees from films with not a lot of love ("Prisoners," "The Grandmaster", "Inside Llewyn Davis") or that might be considered too subtle ("Nebraska"), it’s looking even likelier, criticisms around the role of computers aside.