Tech Support: Analyzing the 2014 craft category Oscar nominations

01.17.14 4 years ago 17 Comments

Warner Bros.

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 (Near)Shut-outs
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.

The (Near)Sweepers
“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.

The In-Betweeners
“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…

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
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.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The hunch of most In Contention contributors (not just yours truly) that Michael O”Connor”s luck would continue for “The Invisible Woman” proved well founded. The surprise, instead, came as William Chang Suk Ping earned a long-overdue first nomination for “The Grandmaster.” Good for him. Alas, Daniel Orlandi is still waiting for his first nod as “Saving Mr. Banks” just didn”t catch on. Michael Wilkinson (“American Hustle”), Patricia Norris (“12 Years a Slave”) and Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby”) were predictable nominees.

WINNER?: Will the veteran Norris FINALLY receive an Oscar? Or will Martin”s glamorous threads on “The Great Gatsby” earn her a second win in this category? Maybe Wilkinson can ride love for his film to a victory for the epitome of 70s outlandishness? We”ll see.

BEST FILM EDITING
We “knew” it would come down to six. We were wrong. Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger (“Gravity”), Christopher Rouse (“Captain Phillips”), Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten (“American Hustle”) and Joe Walker (“12 Years a Slave”) made it in as expected. But the final slot went to neither the great Thelma Schoonmaker for the wild ride that was “The Wolf of Wall Street,” nor branch favorites Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill for the car racing movie “Rush.” Rather, it was John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa for “Dallas Buyers Club.” That film is loved.

WINNER?: “Gravity” is likely the favorite here (and perhaps Alfonso Cuarón”s surest chance to win an Oscar) but I wouldn”t dismiss the contenders just yet. Cases could be made for all of them except “Dallas Buyers Club.”

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
The most original/creative of Oscar categories kept up its reputation this year, giving deserved nominations to “The Lone Ranger” and “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” Those were not surprises to those who watch the race. What was surprising, however, was “American Hustle” being left off for “Dallas Buyers Club.” While I thought highly of the subtle work on Jean-Marc Vallée”s film, this branch is clearly immune to sweeps, even when the work in question is very showy. (See also: “Lincoln.”)

WINNER?: Now that the whole Academy gets to vote on the race for the win, “Dallas Buyers Club” is highly likely to win this. But one never knows.

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Is Hans Zimmer on the outs again? His omission for “12 Years a Slave” is nearly as surprising as Arcade Fire”s inclusion for “Her.” The latter is hardly what one thinks of when thinking about this branch, which is not to say their nomination was not deserved! Alexandre Desplat got in for a lovely “Philomena” score in the absence of precursors, which was a hunch I regret not following up on. Steven Price (“Gravity”), John Williams (“The Book Thief”) and Thomas Newman (“Saving Mr. Banks”) likely sailed to nominations fairly easily.

WINNER?: When first-time nominees are nominated, they usually win, so I”d look to Price or Arcade Fire to take the Oscar. “The Book Thief” and “Saving Mr. Banks” are confined in nominations to this category while I think Desplat will need a bigger movie/score to finally win.

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
Guy Lodge said it all yesterday. I have little to add to the hilarity that is “Alone Yet Not Alone” getting nominated in this category. Pharrell Williams” nod for “Happy” was still pretty surprising but rather refreshing (and the result of an exhaustive campaign). In hindsight, Lana Del Rey should have been an obvious snub for “Young and Beautiful” but the failure of either song from “Lee Daniels” The Butler” to get in here is a little surprising.

WINNER?: We”ll see if Disney”s submitting only one song from “Frozen” (and thus probably costing it an additional nomination) pays off in the race to the win. U2″s personal song could be the chance to get Bono and company on stage. Or maybe this could be where Spike Jonze is rewarded for “Her?”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
I said I”d be glad to be proven wrong about K.K. Barrett”s “Her” being a likely snub. And I am! This film, set in the near future, also ended Middle Earth”s run of good luck in this category as “The Hobbit: The Desolation of ” is on the outside looking in. “American Hustle” and “Gravity,” which I expected to be battling it out for a spot, both ended up scoring as “Saving Mr. Banks” was also left behind in accordance with its film”s general lack of success.

WINNER?: “The Great Gatsby” and “12 Years a Slave” were easy gets. I now expect them to battle it out for the win.

BEST SOUND EDITING
“Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” “Lone Survivor” and “All is Lost” (which mercifully survived here) were relatively easy gets. “Rush,” however, finished its collapse with an omission here, missing for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which becomes only the second of Peter Jackson”s Middle Earth films to score here. There you go.

WINNER?: Expect this to be part of a massive crafts category haul for “Gravity” as Glenn Freemantle gets the Oscar he was likely close to getting for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

BEST SOUND MIXING
“Gravity,” “Captain Phillips” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” with CAS and BAFTA nods, were great bets. “Lone Survivor” was probably an easy get given that it is a sound showcase. I thought the crew, who are all first-time nominees, might pose a problem. I was wrong. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” meanwhile, becomes nominee number five, which shouldn”t be surprising, given its extremely respected crew, but kind of is given its predecessor”s omission here and its lack of precursors.

WINNER?: “Gravity” will be tough to beat.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
If “Gravity” will be tough to beat in the sound categories and Best Cinematography, it will be impossible to beat here. Instead, we merely found out which four films will have the honor of losing to it. After BAFTA and BFCA went for the five films that were also the most acclaimed/successful, it seemed too predictable and indeed it was. While “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” was an easy guess for slot number two, most people suspected “Star Trek Into Darkness” or “Iron Man 3” would ultimately end up sitting out for other films. Alas, it was “Pacific Rim” that yielded to “The Lone Ranger.” This branch doesn”t like Jaegers, evidently.

WINNER?: Again,this is “Gravity’s” in a cakewalk.

So that”s that! Tune in over the next few weeks as we speak to more nominees and continue to analyze the races.

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