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Tech Support: Final thoughts on Oscar’s crafts as ‘Budapest’ and ‘Sniper’ aim for gold

The guilds, British Academy (BAFTA) and critics have all had their say. We're now four days from the 87th annual Academy Awards, so it's time to finally analyze the race for the wins. Most categories are fairly predictable, but there are some wildcards.

While I expect “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to take more than its share of craft categories, with “American Sniper” and possibly “Birdman” doing well, too, it's fair to say we won't be seeing a year like last year, where “Gravity” took six of 10 categories, and “The Great Gatsby” took two more.

More interesting is what I suspect will be a trend of repeat Oscar winners. I'm guessing the winners in most categories (Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects) will have already thanked the Academy before. While most of these winners would be deserving, several big names will still be waiting for their first statuettes. I'm hoping I'm wrong about some of this.

Let's consider…

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Emmanuel Lubezki undoubtedly came close to winning this category for “Children of Men” and “The Tree of Life.” Last year, he finally won an Oscar on his sixth nomination, for “Gravity.” It seems all but certain that he'll now win two statuettes in a row for his BFCA/BAFTA/ASC-triumphant lensing of “Birdman.” In addition to precursors, the fact is the film's photography is a tremendous part of its success and will live in film history.

Some day, Roger Deakins will win this category. He has to, right? And I'd say his epic lensing of “Unbroken” is second, if only because it is so epic. But it's a very distant second in a category where Lubezki is so far ahead. Dick Pope will have to be content with one of his Mike Leigh collaborations finally being recognized (“Mr. Turner”) while Robert Yeoman (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and the duo of Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski (“Ida”) should simply savor their first nominations.

Will Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Could Win: “Unbroken”
Should Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (But I really, really want to see Deakins with a statue in his hands.)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The legendary Milena Canonero is far ahead in this category for creating the world of the “Grand Budapest.” (That purple is iconic.) Having won BAFTA, Costume Designers Guild and BFCA awards for this likely crafts category sweeper, I'm very confident Canonero will pick up statuette number four.

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