Tech Support: Is ‘Gravity’ set to dominate the Academy’s crafts categories?

02.27.14 4 years ago

Warner Bros.

Here we are. After months of seeing the films and seeing them campaigned, we”re 72 hours away from the winners being revealed.

In the crafts categories, we”ve already had a race for the ages, where highlights have included some legendary accomplishments (“Gravity's” visual effects anyone?), the makeup artists and hairstylists continuing to prove their eclecticism and the division between the costume designers and the production designers proving uneventful, with each branch pretty much behaving in the same manner as before. This isn”t touching the most bizarre element of this year”s race – the controversy in Best Original Song.

Expect “Gravity” to dominate the crafts categories. Nominated for seven awards, it appears the favorite in many of the fields throughout. But that”s not to say Oscar night won”t have some exciting moments. Will there be any upsets? Will “The Great Gatsby” really become a double Oscar winner? Will “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” really be shut out of the crafts categories? What will Emmanuel Lubezki finally be like up on stage? What will win Best Original Song? And perhaps most telling of all…what will win Best Film Editing?

Here's what I'm thinking…

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Eventually, I feel criticisms of “it was all done by computers” will lead to a frontrunner coming up short here. But I'm pretty sure it won't be this year. Emmanuel Lubezki has had an Oscar coming for a long time and “Gravity” is a visual feast, headed to a host of Oscars, and he's won precursor awards up the wahzoo.

Meanwhile, his competitors all have handicaps: “Inside Llewyn Davis” (too small and evidently not terribly loved by AMPAS), “The Grandmaster” (too foreign and not seen widely enough), “Prisoners” (the film's sole nomination can be attributed to the esteem in which Roger Deakins is held by his peers). I suppose that leaves Phedon Papamichael in second for his black-and-white lensing of “Nebraska.” But it's a very distant second.

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Nebraska”
Should Win: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
I have some reservations about predicting “The Great Gatsby” to become a two-time Oscar winner. But I cannot deny that Catherine Martin seemingly has everything going for her — very showy, very noticeable, very period. Moreover, she's won the BAFTA and BFCA.

“12 Years a Slave” is a better loved film with a legendary costume designer. I suspect the opportunity to honor her put the film on top for the CDG award. But will the whole Academy know that Patricia Norris is on her sixth nomination, awaiting her first win? Meanwhile, Michael Wilkinson”s notably character-building and poster-adorning showiness on “American Hustle” has its fans as well. I suspect the lack of an obvious Best Picture favorite between the two will mean it will make it difficult for either to stand out enough to trump “Gatsby.”

Michael O'Connor's nomination for “The Invisible Woman” just goes to show how much his colleagues respect his takes on 19th Century England while William Chang should take comfort in his extraordinary work for Wong Kar-wai (he also serves as production designer and film editor) finally being recognized.

Will Win: “The Great Gatsby”
Could Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should Win: “The Grandmaster”

BEST FILM EDITING
It's usually foolish to bet against the arguable Best Picture frontrunner, which is a suspense-heavy film. Plus, I have a hunch that Alfonso Cuarón is destined to repeat James Cameron's accomplishment from 16 years ago and win Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing in the absence of a writing nomination. So my money remains on “Gravity.”

But is it just me or do a lot of people simply think that Christopher Rouse deserves it? ACE agreed, giving him the win for “Captain Phillips.” Moreover, “Gravity” hasn't managed to sweep the precursors here the way that it has in other categories. Basically, my gut is pulling me in two directions.

If either “American Hustle” or “12 Years a Slave” win (which is not impossible), then I think we have our Best Picture winner. (For the record, I would NOT feel the same about a “Gravity” win, though it would clearly help immensely.) Martin Pensa and John Mac McMurphy (aka Jean-Marc Vallée) are clearly just along for the ride for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Captain Phillips”
Should Win: “Captain Phillips”

BEST MAKEUP and HAIRSTYLING
The makeup branch, as per usual, gave a nod to a film with no other mentions (“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”) and a film that was a flop (“The Lone Ranger”). While the aging work on each was superb (and “The Lone Ranger” went beyond that with period work and action wounds), I think they're going to have great difficulty beating a Best Picture nominee that is likely headed for two acting wins as well. And given the extent to which they brought Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto's characters to life, I think Robin Mathews and Adruitha Lee are in solid shape for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Will Win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: “The Lone Ranger”
Should Win: “Dallas Buyers Club”

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
I think John Williams will need a better respected film than “The Book Thief” to win again and I think that Thomas Newman will need a more loved film than “Saving Mr. Banks” to finally get there. While “Philomena” has passionate support, I'm not sure Alexandre Desplat's score is as noticeable as it would need to be for him to win.

“Her” is a novel and cool nomination, which means it's passed the toughest test with this branch (getting in the door), but I still think that landing the win will be a challenge. That's because “Gravity's” Steven Price has the advantage of having crafted a suspenseful and plot-serving score to a possible Best Picture winner. Also the beneficiary of first-time nominee status, he's added both the BFCA and the BAFTA awards to his tally. I expect Oscar to follow suit.

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Her”
Should Win: “Philomena”

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
The bizarre “Alone Yet Not Alone” saga has already made this a race for the history books. But I think it remains a tremendously interesting one, in my view ranking alongside Best Film Editing as the night's most open crafts race. Cases could be made for all nominees.

“Let It Go” has been the favorite here since we first heard Idina Menzel belt it out. I still think it'll win, given its importance to the film, its loyal group of fans and its appeal as a theatrical ditty; Robert Lopez would become an EGOT winner by taking the Oscar.

But then there's Pharrell Williams, who can seemingly do no wrong these days. His “Happy” has been delighting everyone who hears it. He could easily win. And while U2's “Ordinary Love” may not be in the most beloved film of the lot (nor is it felt to be a classic from the band), they likely have the strongest claim to being “due” for a statuette and they've been working the campaign trail hard, with their recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon being highly publicized.

That leaves Karen O, but does it really make sense to say the Best Picture nominee is bringing up the rear here? Again, this is a wide open race.

Will Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Could Win: “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
Should Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Again, I am a tad reluctant to predict “The Great Gatsby” to win two Oscars. But it has all three major precursors (BAFTA, BFCA, ADG) in this field and it frankly has the most grandiose and showy sets of the lot, dwarfing the other nominees in that respect.

This is the one crafts category which I'd say “Gravity” is guaranteed not to win, while “Her” is a super-cool nomination but unlikely to win as well. If they feel obliged to reward a Best Picture nominee, “American Hustle” seems much more showy/noticeable than “12 Years a Slave,” but the latter is more “period” and seems closer to Best Picture glory than David O. Russell's film. As is the case in Best Costume Design, therefore, I think the lack of a clear alternative will cement the win for Martin/”Gatsby.” But I think this category is more assured for Baz Luhrmann's adaptation.

Will Win: “The Great Gatsby”
Could Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should Win: “Her”

BEST SOUND EDITING
Sound Editing doesn't have an obvious precursor with MPSE dividing their awards and BAFTA not distinguishing between mixing and editing. Having said that, I'd be very surprised if “Gravity” – a sci-fi movie likely to win Best Picture – doesn't triumph here.

And the competition isn't doing a lot to convince otherwise. “Captain Phillips” was “out-watered” by “All is Lost,” but “All is Lost” didn't even receive a single nomination outside of this category. “Lone Survivor” also failed to get sufficient traction outside the sound categories, while “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is part of a franchise whose best days are behind it.

All five nominees are very fine choices, frankly, but bet on the frontrunner.

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Captain Phillips”
Should Win: “All is Lost”

BEST SOUND MIXING
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is the only film nominated here that isn't also nominated for Best Sound Editing, which isn't surprising given its musical status. I thought the usual Coen crew of Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland did an amazing job creating pure ear candy.

But I digress…who am I kidding? Lievsay is instead destined to win his first Oscar this year for “Gravity” and I won't be able to complain. The sound seemed über-realistic (not that I'd know) and was also integral to building the mood – and just as much for what was appropriately omitted as what was included. The problems facing “Lone Survivor” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” apply equally to both sound categories, and while “Captain Phillips” is likely second here (“Davis” clearly isn't liked enough), it is likely a very distant second.

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Captain Phillips”
Should Win: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Hmmm… I think “Gravity” might win this one…

In all seriousness, this is the year's biggest lock in any category, and justly so.

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
Should Win: “Gravity”

And that's all folks. Tune in Monday for the postmortem, but in the meantime, tell us what you're predicting throughout the crafts categories in the comments section below!

(You can check out my final predictions for the other Oscar categories on the next page.)

Best Picture
“Gravity”

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong'o, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“12 Years a Slave”

Best Original Screenplay
“Her”

Best Animated Feature Film
“Frozen”

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Great Beauty”

Best Documentary Feature
“20 Feet from Stardom”

Best Documentary Short
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved my Life”

Best Short Film (Animated)
“Get a Horse!”

Best Short Film (Live Action)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)

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