Tech Support: Final predictions for Best Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design and Sound

01.10.14 3 years ago 10 Comments

Universal Pictures

We’re within a week of the big moment. Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday next week and we’ll find out which films are the dominant forces throughout the Academy’s various craft categories. Yesterday we began final Tech Support analysis of the field with the categories of Best Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Original Song and Visual Effects. Today we round out the field with the rest.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (Tech Support Analysis)

I reckon Patricia Norris (“12 Years a Slave”) and especially Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby”) are pretty assured of nominations for detailed period work, the sort of which this branch eats up. The former’s omission at BAFTA was strange but I also note BAFTA nominated the AMPAS-ineligible “Behind the Candelabra.” Daniel Orlandi (“Saving Mr. Banks”) and Michael Wilkinson (“American Hustle”), meanwhile, have prestigious films with showy costumes. Both probably have a first nomination coming and both have earned BAFTA nods. All four of these costume designers received BFCA and CDG nods.

Another CDG (period) nod went to Kurt & Bart for “Dallas Buyers Club.” As fine as this work was, I think this is mostly just an American guild in love with the film. Instead, I’d look to Michael O’Connor to get the last nomination for “The Invisible Woman.” He’s managed two nominations for 19th Century England work before, on films that earned just one other nomination between them. BAFTA cited him. I expect AMPAS to follow suit.

However, my gut continues to tell me that Trish Summerville may get in for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” an outlandish display of color and creativity. This branch sometimes goes for that. But at the expense of period prestige? Hit-and-miss. I do think Summerville has a better chance than her fellow fantasy CDG nominees Gary Jones & Michael Kutsche for “Oz the Great and Powerful” (I think the film is forgotten, not that that always matters with the costume designers) or Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (notwithstanding their BFCA nomination, I feel the novelty has worn off of the threads of Middle Earth).

Final Predictions
“American Hustle”
“The Great Gatsby”
“The Invisible Woman”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“12 Years a Slave”
(alt: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”)

BEST FILM EDITING (Tech Support Analysis)

Now here is a six-film race if there ever was one. The BFCA cited “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Gravity,” “Rush,” “12 Years a Slave” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” BAFTA dropped “Hustle.” The American Cinema Editors (who divide into drama and musical/comedy) somehow missed “Rush” but that doesn’t mean I don’t think these six films will still be battling it out for the next six days.

“Gravity” certainly seems safe, being a post-production showcase at heart of the Best Picture race, and with suspense being so integral to its plot. Alfonso Cuarón (who edited with Mark Sanger) is likely to get his second nomination in the category. In second I would place Christopher Rouse. Not only does he seem incredibly respected by his colleagues, but “Captain Phillips,” like “Gravity,” is absolutely reliant on suspense.

Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers became surprising nominees last year for “Silver Linings Playbook,” showing the esteem in which they are held by their colleagues (or at least, how beloved that film was). “American Hustle,” where Alan Baumgarten joined their team, is more of an editing showcase. The only reason they would miss this year would be the competition. But I’m guessing they won’t. I’ll also go with “12 Years a Slave,” my bet for the likely Best Picture winner, if only because it’s so unusual for a Best Picture winner to miss a nomination here. But maybe it’s not so safe?

Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill are enormously respected by their colleagues, and this year they have edited one of the baitiest films in this category: a car racing feature. Logically, they should be assured, especially with BAFTA and BFCA nominations behind them. Their biggest potential pitfall is the fact that the film didn’t catch box office fire – plus the competition. And then there’s that strange ACE omission. While they’ve overcome that before (“Cinderella Man”), I’m guessing it’ll be too much this year.

And of course there’s the highly respected Thelma Schoonmaker. While the film is obviously divisive, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is clearly making waves. Moreover, she has to tie Michael Kahn’s record for most Best Film Editing nominations among working editors eventually, right?

Final Predictions
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Gravity”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
 (alt.: “Rush”)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN (Tech Support Analysis)

For months, I’ve said “12 Years a Slave” and “The Great Gatsby” are assured of nominations in this category and I’m sticking by that. The precursors have seemingly centered around six other films – “American Hustle,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Her,” “Gravity” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” – for the final three spots. Each are acclaimed, find themselves in other races and have characteristics this branch tends to embrace. But I think “Inside Llewyn Davis” is too subtle and “Her” just isn’t the sort of work this branch goes for (I’d love to be proven wrong about this, though).

Of the other four, I’m comfortable putting “Saving Mr. Banks” in third. It’s been a while since Michael Corenblith has been in the game and a tribute to Old Hollywood seems something that will be eaten up. Elsewhere, I do think Middle Earth’s luck here will have to run out eventually. And it finally did this year at BAFTA, as “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” came up short. Having said that, Dan Hennah continued to break new ground on this feature and I suspect that they’ll want him back for a movie where the production design comparatively sticks out.

That leaves “Gravity” vs. “American Hustle” for slot number five. I’m going with the former because this branch does have an affinity for prestigious Best Picture nominees set in outer space, it’s warming up to CGI-complemented work and because I have a hunch that Judy Becker will need more of a production design showcase than “American Hustle” to ultimately get in. The work is sparser in “Gravity” but it’s also heavily detailed within that and, ultimately, more noticeable.

Final Predictions
“Gravity”
“The Great Gatsby”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“12 Years a Slave”
(alt.: “American Hustle”)

BEST SOUND EDITING (Tech Support Analysis)

I’d begin by looking at what I view as the six leading contenders in Best Sound Mixing (“All is Lost,” “Captain Phillips,” “Gravity,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Rush” and “12 Years a Slave”) and then eliminating “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “12 Years a Slave.” This leaves us with one lock – “Gravity” – and three films that seem solid. “All is Lost,” “Captain Phillips” and “Rush” all have disadvantages (perhaps too small in case of “All is Lost,” perhaps too subtle in the case of “Captain Phillips” and perhaps too, well, forgotten in case of “Rush”) but each is prestigious, with top-notch sound editing, and, prima facie, each seems to be the sort of movie this category embraces.

The fifth spot is tricky. “Monsters, Inc.” started a decade-long trend of animated films in this category. Could the sequel revive it? Or could it pave the way for “Frozen”? There is usually a blockbuster of sorts (more mainstream than “Gravity”) nominated here, but which one? “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is part of a franchise that has had mixed success here (only one nomination out of four films) while there isn’t an obvious summer blockbuster to rise up (“Pacific Rim” is likely the best bet but “Iron Man 3,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Man of Steel” are all floating around). Heck, maybe “12 Years a Slave” could actually score here?

I’ll instead go with “Lone Survivor” in the last spot. It caught a stride at the right moment (set to top the box office this weekend) and is a sound showcase. Also, Wylie Stateman is incredibly respected by his peers. It would be a fitting nomination.

Final Predictions
“All is Lost”
“Captain Phillips”
“Gravity”
“Lone Survivor”
“Rush”
(alt.: “12 Years a Slave”)

BEST SOUND MIXING (Tech Support Analysis)

I think it’s fair to say that “Gravity” is leading the way in this category, with its combination of prestige, sci-fi and unique score integration. The soundtrack of “Inside Llewyn Davis” was superb and has a respected crew. Even with its recent guild troubles, I’m comfortable ranking it second.

After that, things get trickier. I see four titles – “All is Lost,” “Rush,” “Captain Phillips” and “12 Years a Slave” – hot in the race for these final three nods. In my opinion, “All is Lost” certainly *should* receive a nomination here and the fact that it received a BAFTA nod even without any accompanying nominations suggests to me those in the industry can see this. “Captain Phillips” wasn’t quite the sound showcase as the other film set on the Indian Ocean, but it does have a broader appeal to the Academy. While I’m more comfortable predicting it in Best Sound Editing than Best Sound Mixing, I’m willing to chalk it up for two nominations from the branch. Similarly, “Rush” is exactly the sort of feature the sound categories tend to eat up. I don’t want to drop a prediction that I’ve had all year at the 11th Hour.

It may seem foolish to bet against “12 Years a Slave.” It’s clearly going to get a plethora of nominations. Sound mixing frequently joins a sweep and this did have some great sound work. To be totally honest, I expect it to make it in. But I’ve predicted the same quintet for months and I’m not sure which one to drop. The fact that BAFTA went for the five I’ve been predicting assuages my nerves – ever so slightly.

“Lone Survivor,” despite its acclaim, doesn’t have a crew with a history of awards. But it actually may have caught that aforementioned stride a bit too late. If the category is going more in the realm blockbusters, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” has a tremendously respected crew so I wouldn’t cross it out of contention just yet. Of the summer blockbusters (of which there is usually one), “Pacific Rim” seems the likeliest contender in my opinion, but I wouldn’t rule out “Iron Man 3,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” or “Man of Steel.” Like in Best Sound Editing, I think the lack of an obvious “best bet” may ultimately doom this blockbuster group of contenders.

Final Predictions
“All is Lost”
“Captain Phillips”
“Gravity”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Rush”
(alt.: “12 Years a Slave”)

And that’s that for another year. Tune in Thursday for my reactions to the nominees, but in the meantime, feel free to chalk up your predictions in the crafts categories below or at HitFix Oscar Picks!

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