I am already having withdrawal symptoms from this year’s Oscar race. I don’t need to repeat the litany of reasons this has become a unique year in Oscar history. I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it. SO many categories are exceptionally tight races. The crafts categories are no exception and there are many below-the-line artists to cheer for this year.

I think the Oscar Guides have been superb this year, and I don’t mean to duplicate them, so I’ll try to cut to the chase as I give a final preview of the 10 crafts categories set to be awarded at Sunday's 85th annual Academy Awards.


An absolutely gorgeous Best Picture nominee with BFCA and BAFTA victories, it will be hard to deny "Life of Pi" and Claudio Miranda a victory, especially given the recent triumphs of 3D Best Picture nominees “Hugo” and “Avatar” in this category. This is an even more impressive feat behind the camera.

But Roger Deakins’s extraordinary lensing of “Skyfall” wowed virtually everybody, including his fellow cinematographers, who gave him his third ASC win. This masterful DP is on his 10th nomination without a win. If they were the only people voting, I’m guessing he’d triumph. But they aren’t.

Janusz Kaminski could well win a third Oscar one of these years but “Lincoln” would have had to have been a bigger player in the Best Picture race for it to be the one. Seamus McGarvey (“Anna Karenina”) and Robert Richardson (“Django Uncahined”) will also have to be content to enjoy the show.

Prediction: “Life of Pi” (alt. "Skyfall)


CDG-, BFCA- and BAFTA-winning Jacqueline Durran looks poised for a win for her gorgeous period threads for “Anna Karenina.” But beauty and period wasn’t everything – the memorable use of colors and styles showed us quite a bit about the characters. The film may not be the most respected on the whole (not that it was critically maligned), but this category hasn’t minded going its own way in recent years. See: “The Young Victoria,” “The Duchess,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and “Marie Antoinette.”

If there is an upset, it will almost certainly be from “Les Misérables” outfitter Paco Delgado. This also is prestige, period work across many social classes. The film could upset in Best Production Design, to which this category used to be tied at the hip. But Durran seems such a likelier winner, and the two categories have actually gone in different directions in five of the past six years.

Joanna Johnston can celebrate finally being an Oscar nominee for “Lincoln” but as painstakingly detailed and effective as her work is, I can’t see it trumping the other gorgeous and showy films. AMPAS favorite Colleen Atwood is usually either firmly in the race for the win or a happy to be a nominee. She’s in the latter camp this year. It is lovely to see the late Eiko Ishioka get a final nomination for “Mirror Mirror,” but she’s not winning for a March-released children’s movie with no other nominations, posthumous guild award in the fantasy category or not.

Prediction: “Anna Karenina” (alt. “Les Misérables”)


With BAFTA and ACE wins behind him, I think William Goldenberg will be very difficult to stop for his suspenseful cutting of “Argo.” Best Picture winners have a major advantage in this category by virtue of that status alone. Goldenberg’s editing fits the mold of a winner on top of that. This is probably just behind Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song in terms of locked up crafts categories.

Goldenberg's principal competitor is likely himself for “Zero Dark Thirty,” which he co-edited with Dylan Tichenor. The early favorite/BFCA winner faded with the film but it has some of the showiest editing in it's final act. "Showy" was enough for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” last year. But last year didn’t feature a film like “Argo” in contention.

“Lincoln” (Michael Kahn), “Life of Pi” (Tim Squyres) and “Silver Linings Playbook” (Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers) would need to be the beneficiaries of some sort of unexpectedly big night for their films. Not impossible, but not likely.

Prediction: “Argo” (alt. “Zero Dark Thirty”)


I’m sticking with my intuition from the Oscar Guide that “Les Mis” will ride its Best Picture nomination, and now BAFTA win, to a victory here. But it’s not a sure thing. Despite being period and featuring aging, it actually has the least “look-at-me” work of the three nominees. We’ll see what favors hairstyling does. And that’s normally bad news in this category.

I could easily see either the ode to old Hollywood that turned a famous star into a Hollywood icon (“Hitchcock”) or the fantasy movie with lots of monsters (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”) winning. Both those tricks are Academy favorites.

Prediction: “Les Misérables” (alt. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”)


This is not an easy category, but I’m continuing to go with Mychael Danna largely for reasons I stated in my Oscar Guide. Like the cinematography and visual effects, music was key in building the mood for this film. And he’s won the Golden Globe, albeit just the Golden Globe. And being a newcomer in this insular category shows a lot in and of itself. A newbie usually wins when nominated.

But no one can be ruled out. Alexandre Desplat could triumph if “Argo” pulls a sweep of sorts. John Williams’s BFCA-winning “Lincoln” score may be subtle but I’ve remained convinced for years he’s got to win once more, no? And Dario Marianelli’s lush compositions for “Anna Karenina” surely demand the admiration of more ears than just mine.

However, it’s ultimately Thomas Newman, who I originally assumed was a filler nominee, who I’m guessing may have the best chance of pulling off an upset. The film’s music is obviously highlighted by Adele’s song. But Sam Mendes’s insistence on Newman’s work being featured is a nice bonus. Plus, surely some voters must know he’s on his 11th nomination without a victory? He’s already won a BAFTA.

Prediction: “Life of Pi” (alt. “Skyfall”)


I said basically everything that needed to be said in the Oscar Guide. Though maybe I didn’t say it succinctly enough: This is Adele’s. Big star, big hit, great song, easiest place to cite a clearly admired movie? She won’t lose.

Prediction: “Skyfall” from “Skyfall” (alt. n/a)