Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oscar Winner Predictions: The "Below the Line" Categories

Over the next few days I’ll do a series of posts picking this year’s Oscar winners (except for the shorts). I have no idea how good I’ll do this year – I’m sticking with my gut over my head on a few, and that usually leads me into being wrong. But I’ll stick with it anyway.

5. Ida – Ryszard Lenczweski & Lukasz Zal
4. Unbroken – Roger Deakins
3. Mr. Turner – Dick Pope
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert D. Yeoman
1. Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Analysis: The bad news here is that Roger Deakins, arguably the best cinematographer working today, will lose yet again – for the 12th time. The good news is that Unbroken is the weakest work he’s ever done that got nominated – so when he eventually wins (and he will, won’t he?) it will be for something better. As for who will this year, I think we’re looking at an Emmanuel Lubezki repeat – he won for Gravity last year, and arguably the long tracking shots in Birdman is even more complicated. Yes, I could see The Grand Budapest Hotel sneaking in – but I think it’s safe to win a few of the other awards, so there will be no need. Mr. Turner would be a great choice – I’m just not sure they like the movie enough.

Who Will Win: Birdman. This is probably a fairly easy win here – he has dominated the precursors, and when he hasn’t won, no one can really agree on who should win instead.

Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I always love the way Anderson films look – and that starts with Yeoman’s great work – never better than here.
Least of the Nominees: Unbroken.
I love Roger Deakins – but for the man who shot Fargo, Kundun, The Assassination of Jesse James, No Country for Old Men and Skyfall among many, many other, this isn’t exactly his best hour.

Who Should Have Been Here: Inherent Vice or Nightcrawler – Robert Elswit. Robert Elswit shot two very different movies set in L.A. – in different eras, with different styles, one digitally, one on film – and both are equally brilliant. Surely they could have found room for one of them, no?

Costume Design
5. Inherent Vice
4. Maleficent
3. Mr. Turner
2. Into the Woods
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Analysis: As fine as the work on Inherent Vice, Maleficent and Mr. Turner is – I think this is a two horse race. Into the Woods may well be able to pull it off – despite the embarrassing work on Johnny Depp’s costume (which, it is my understanding, wasn’t done by the nominee here – but by Depp himself). But I think the bright colored costumes on Grand Budapest will rule the day here. It could be close though.

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. A number of Wes Anderson films probably should have won this award – or at the very least been nominated here – and they look to finally get their due here.

Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. A really easy decision here – no matter how much I love the work on Inherent Vice and Mr. Turner.
Least of the Nominees: Maleficent.
It is fine work to be sure – but I just didn’t see much that deserved a nomination.

Who Should Have Been Here: Snowpiercer. Strong work, deftly divides the different classes, with some inventive work in this movie – which could have used a push to get in.

Film Editing
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
3. Whiplash
2. American Sniper
1. Boyhood

Analysis: This award will depend on what they define as great editing. If they want flashy editing, then American Sniper or Whiplash could easily win this. If they want editing that moves like clockwork, than The Imitation Game wins. But if they look at what a mammoth undertaking it must have been to assemble 12 years of footage into one, three hour movie, than Boyhood has to win.

Who Will Win: Boyhood. I think Boyhood wins this one fairly easily – if it doesn’t, then I think we will know it’s in trouble for the Big One.

Who Should Win: Boyhood. Again, just the thought of taking all that material and crafting a coherent movie is mind boggling.
Least of the Nominees: The Imitation Game.
Much as I have said before for this film – its fine work, but not particularly great or memorable.

Who Should Have Been Here: Birdman. It is odd that they nominated Birdman everywhere except here – probably because the editing work in the film is made to look invisible so the film could look like one continuous take. That just makes it even more impressive to me though.

Makeup & Hairstyling
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Foxcatcher
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Analysis: Guardians of the Galaxy is fine work – but it’s the type of fantasy, comic book work that gets nominated but doesn’t actually win. The nose in Foxcatcher is great – and the most memorable makeup in the film, but I don’t think it’s enough. Meanwhile, the work on Grand Budapest is brilliant – they could win for Tilda Swinton alone, and there is a hell of a lot more to the film than that.

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I have Grand Budapest winning quite a few below the line categories – but this is probably the one I feel most confident of.

Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Just look at Swinton – that alone should win it.
Least of the Nominees: Guardians of the Galaxy.
Fine work to be sure – but Oscar good.

Who Should Have Been Here: Inherent Vice. Especially since the category is now Makeup and Hairstyling, I have a tough time not thinking the work on Inherent Vice should not have squeezed in here.

Original Score
5. Mr. Turner – Gary Yershon
4. Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
3. The Imitation Game – Alexandre Desplat
2. The Theory of Everything – Johan Johansson
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat

Analysis: Alexandre Desplat got nominated for his 7th and 8th Oscars this year, and is well overdue for an Oscar. Vote splitting isn’t a real problem in this category, and I think his memorable work on The Grand Budapest Hotel will end up winning. But Johan Johansson's work on The Theory of Everything was constantly praised, Desplat himself could win for The Imitation Game instead – and Zimmer's score for Interstellar was also praised. And they often go their own way here, so really, it could be anyone.

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I think Desplat finally gets his win – but it’s going to be tight.

Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It really is the best work nominated this year – and could hardly go to a better, more overdue composer.
Least of the Nominees: The Imitation Game.
Having said that, I thought Desplat's work on The Imitation Game, like the movie itself, was safe, predictable and not very memorable.

Who Should Have Been Here: Gone Girl – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. After winning this award for The Social Network, the Academy has failed to nominate their two follow-up scores for David Fincher – for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl – despite the fact that they were both the best of their respective years. Gone Girl is stunning work – and I have a feeling if they liked the movie more, this would have got in.

Original Song
5. Beyond the Lights- Grateful
4. Begin Again – Lost Stars
3. The Lego Movie – Everything is Awesome
2. Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – I`m Not Going to Miss You
1. Selma – Glory

Analysis: I have a feeling that the moment the nominees were announced – and everyone saw how few Selma got (just here, and for Best Picture), the win for Glory was pretty much secured. Yes, Everything is Awesome is the catchiest song, Glenn Campbell is a legend and a sentimental favorite, and John Carneys last film, Once, won in this category – but all would considered an upset.

Who Will Win: Selma – Glory. The only thing that could derail Glory’s win here would be if the Academy is angry at all the accusations of racism thrown at them since Selma’s disappointing nomination haul (and there is some evidence that they are) – which could allow something else to sneak in.

Who Should Win: The Lego Movie – Everything is Awesome. Nearly a year later, the film is still stuck in my head – and I don’t mind at all.
Least of the Nominees: Beyond the Lights – Grateful.
I loved the movie, and most of the music in it. I did not like this song.

Who Should Have Been Here: Beyond the Lights – Masterpiece. The studio decided not to muddy the water, and only submitted Grateful to be considered. What’s most disappointing about this is that Masterpiece – the song that opens the movie – is wonderful.

Production Design
5. The Imitation Game
4. Interstellar
3. Mr. Turner
2. Into the Woods
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Analysis: The Imitation Game is safe, unspectacular work. While the work in Interstellar is strong – they usually do not go with sci-fi films here. Mr. Turner is very good – but I don’t think they like the film enough. Into the Woods probably doesn’t quite have enough to push through. And The Grand Budapest Hotel is the best work this category has seen in years.

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I really do not understand how anything else could win – but then again, I don’t understand how no other Wes Anderson films have been nominated here before, so what do I know.

Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Both versions of the hotel – the brightly colored 1930s version, and the drab 1960s version – was brilliant, and this really is the best work in a long time.
Least of the Nominees: The Imitation Game.
There is nothing wrong with the work done in The Imitation Game. It’s just not all that great either.

Who Should Have Been Here: Snowpiercer. One train car at a time, each brilliantly designed, and immensely different, as it helps to tell the story. For some reason this never got much serious consideration in this category –despite several critics groups singing its praises.

Sound Editing
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4. Unbroken
3. Birdman
2. Interstellar
1. American Sniper

Analysis: A three way race, that could go any which way. But here, they usually go loud - action movies, war movies, special effects laden spectacles, etc. Guess accordingly.

Who Will Win: American Sniper. A genuine three way race – there is no appetite for another Oscar to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth team, and no one really likes Unbroken. The could go with Birdman here if it’s on its way to a Best Picture win – but I consider that a longshot. I think Interstellar and American Sniper are neck and neck – with American Sniper winning by a nose – the urge to give the Best Picture nominee something will be too much.

Who Should Win: Interstellar. This really is stellar work, and would get my vote – although American Sniper does come close.
Least of the Nominees: Unbroken.
Sorry, I don’t really see why this one made it into the race.

Who Should Have Been Here: Godzilla. I have no idea how Godzilla’s brilliant sound editing didn’t find its footing here – it’s great when Godzilla is onscreen, but perhaps even better when he’s not. It may well be the best of the year.

Sound Mixing
5. Interstellar
4. Unbroken
3. Birdman
2. Whiplash
1. American Sniper

Analysis: I really do think this is a genuine three way race. Count out Interstellar – people had complaints about the mix, and Unbroken – since no one really likes it enough. But Birdman, Whiplash and American Sniper are all fine contenders, and it really could go anyway.

Who Will Win: American Sniper. The often go with action films or war films in this category – so American Sniper gets my vote. But they also like music – so perhaps Whiplash could sneak in. And if they are really going hard for Birdman, who knows. But American Sniper is the safe choice.

Who Should Win: Whiplash. Out of the nominees, I loved Whiplash’s sound mix – particularly in that frenzied finale – more than others. But it’s close with American Sniper.
Least of the Nominees: Unbroken.
I really don’t see what was so memorable about the sound work on Unbroken. Really, it’s solid work – but nothing compared to another WWII movie – Fury.

Who Should Have Been Here: Under the Skin. There are quite a few films I could have put here – Fury and Godzilla come immediately to mind. But no film had a more complex, brilliant sound mix this year than Under the Skin – the type of film that never gets nominated, but should.

Visual Effects
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
1. Interstellar

Analysis: Interstellar was, sight unseen, the favorite to win this category all year. Yes, the film underwhelmed somewhat, but no one questioned its visual effects – and of the nominees, it had the most support within the Academy. I could see Dawn upsetting, but probably not.

Who Will Win: Intetstellar. No one really questioned the visual effects in Interstellar – everything else, yes, but not those, so it probably holds off the competitors.

Who Should Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The first film in the series was also nominated here – but lost to a Best Picture contender (Hugo). To me, the work here is even more impressive, as more ape characters had more to do – and it would get my vote.  
Least of the Nominees: X-Men: Days of Future Past.
They have not usually embraced this series in the past, and the inclusion this year was kind of curious. Yes, it’s fine work, but I don’t see why it was Oscar worthy.

Who Should Have Been Here: Godzilla. Come on people – the work on Godzilla was brilliant. It may even had gotten my vote had they nominated it. I have no idea how this got left out of the final five.

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