Anyway, onto the visual categories
Cinematography5. Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
4. Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
3. Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
2. Skyfall - Roger Deakins
1. Life of Pi - Claudio Miranda
Analysis: A very strong field but not one of the races that I really think is much in question. The work on Anna Karenina is great, but not winning – ditto that on Django Unchained. Perhaps the Academy will give it to Janusz Kaminski for his natural lighting on Lincoln, but it doesn’t have the GRAND feel they like to go with here. Perhaps enough people will want to give 9 time loser Roger Deakins his Oscar for his 10th nod, but judging on the fact they didn’t reward the Bond film in any of the above the line categories, probably not. Claudio Miranda’s work on Life of Pi however has all the ingredients the love to give an Oscar to, so he’s an easy choice.
Who Will Win: Life of Pi. Skyfall or Lincoln could surprise, but it would be a surprise.Who Should Win: Skyfall. Clearly, the best work of the year in this category was on Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master – how the hell the cinematographers missed that, I’ll never know. But second best was Skyfall’s masterful digital imagery, so give poor Deakins an Oscar already.
Least of the Nominees: Life of Pi. Before you bite my head off, hear me out on this one. Miranda is clearly a gifted visual artist, and Life of Pi is one of the most stunning visual films of the year. And yet, can you honestly sit there and tell me what precisely he did and what was done by computers later on? I can’t. I made the same argument against Avatar winning this award – but it did.
Costume Design5. Snow White and the Huntsman
4. Mirror Mirror
2. Les Miserables
1. Anna Karenina
Analysis: The Academy sometimes confuses Best Costume Design with Most Costume Design, which is why we always get these showy period pieces getting nominated. Still all the work nominated this year is quite good – even when it’s in an awful film like Mirror Mirror. The Academy has been known to give this to a non-Best Picture nominee –hello Marie-Antoinette – but more than likely, they won’t this year.Who Will Win: Anna Karenina. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Les Miserables pull this one out, but they like pretty costumes, and none were prettier this year than Anna.
Who Should Win: Anna Karenina. Every time I see Keira Knightley in a period film, I am simply smitten, often because she wears those period costumes better than anyone else. Anna Karenina was no exception, and the entirety of the work is great. Since they didn’t nominated many of my favorites – Moonrise Kingdom, The Master, Django Unchained and Cloud Atlas – I’m fine with Anna.
Least of the Nominees: Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s between the two Snow White films, and while this was a much better movie, they didn’t have costumes near as interesting as the bizarre getups the palace guards were wearing in Mirror Mirror.
Film Editing5. Silver Linings Playbook
3. Life of Pi
2. Zero Dark Thirty
Analysis: I don’t think Silver Linings or Lincoln are really competing for this one. Zero Dark Thirty was the most honored editing job of the year, but it seems like everyone has forgotten that film existed. Life of Pi will get awarded elsewhere. This is the only one I am SURE Argo wins on Oscar night.Who Will Win: This is the one category I feel completely safe in predicting Argo to win. It cannot win without this one, and since it’s going to win, it will win this.
Who Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty. Truly the best editing job of the year – and it’s not even close since they didn’t nominate Cloud Atlas.
Least of the Nominees: Silver Linings Playbook. I know editing is pivotal to comic timing, but sorry, I do not see what was Oscar worthy about the editing on this movie.
Make-Up & Hairstyling3. Hitchcock
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
1. Les Misérables
Analysis: Interesting that this is seemingly the one branch to overlook Lincoln – and it should have been a lock, considering the category is now called Make-Up and Hairstyling, and the work on the beards alone in Lincoln should have gotten a nomination. But I digress. This branch can go either realistic or fantastical, so it’s really anyone’s guess – but I think the fact that the Hobbit team won for LOTR, and Hitchcock was shown no love elsewhere, makes this Les Miserables’ too lose.
Who Will Win: Les Miserables. The uglified Anne Hathaway, which is an accomplishment in itself, as would be all the crazed work on Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. My guess is they go here.
Who Should Win: Les Miserables. Out of these nominees, Les Miserables has the best work. But anyone want to tell me why the hell Cloud Atlas wasn’t even shortlisted?
Least of the Nominees: Hitchcock. We all known what Alfred Hitchcock looked like. And Anthony Hopkins in this film doesn’t look like him at all. Ditto Johansson’s Janet Leigh, Biel’s Vera Miles. They lucked out on the fact that James D’Arcy looks a lot like Anthony Perkins anyway, but that wasn’t the makeup department’s doing.
Production Design5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
3. Les Misérables
2. Life of Pi
1. Anna Karenina
Analysis: Period pieces almost always win this award fairly easily – and if they’re best picture contenders all the better. Still, they do like to see a lot of glitzy work – and I’m not sure Lincoln or Les Miserables fits the bill – and I’m not sure Life of Pi’s CGI work will get it here either. So, when it doubt go for the prettiest film.Who Will Win: Anna Karenina. Anything but The Hobbit could easily end up taking this award, but they like pretty, and none is prettier than Anna Karenina.
Who Should Win: Anna Karenina. Although I often go against the notion that MOST production design equals BEST production design, I have to say the brilliant work done on Anna Karenina really does deserve this award – especially since they overlooked The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and Cloud Atlas.
Least of the Nominees: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s team did fine work, there is no doubt about that. I just don’t think its Oscar caliber – like the film itself, it pales by comparison to The Lord of the Rings films.
Achievement, visual effects5. Snow White and the Huntsman
4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
2. Marvel’s The Avengers
1. Life of Pi
Analysis: This is one you can take to the bank – Life of Pi is winning this one in a cakewalk.Who Will Win: Life of Pi. Easily the best work of the year, in a BP nominee no less. They win without breaking a sweat.
Who Should Win: Life of Pi. It truly is stunning work.
Least of the Nominees: Snow White and the Huntsman