We kick off our Oscars week coverage with our analysis of the technical awards, which often go under the radar on the evening. Below are our thoughts on each category, on who will win, on who should win, and on who was snubbed from the nominations. The links will take you to the individual film reviews. Enjoy!
Roger Deakins receives his 12th Academy Award nomination for Cinematography for ‘Unbroken’ but it’s not likely to be his year once again. Emmanuel Lubezki’s terrific work in ‘Birdman’ has won most of the other industry prizes and it looks likely to fight off the competition from ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and the three outsiders in ‘Ida’, ‘Mr. Turner’ and ‘Unbroken’. ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Nightcrawler’ are the two obvious omissions from the category.
Best Film Editing
‘American Sniper’ has came late to the Oscars party, and whilst it’s probably not going to make a breakthrough in the major categories, it’s a good bet to pick up some of the technical prizes. Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach’s work is strong, but this category really ought to be a straight shoot out between Barney Pilling’s excellent work in ensemble piece ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and Tom Cross’s work in ‘Whiplash’. ‘Boyhood’ is the odd one out here, with ‘Birdman’ or ‘Gone Girl’ a more deserving nominee in this category.
Best Original Score
There’s been an element of controversy about the ‘Original Score’ category this year, with Antonio Sanchez’s jazzy score for ‘Birdman‘ being ruled ineligible. It’s a shame, as it would have been a more than deserving winner in a category that has mostly went with safe choices this year. Alexandre Desplat’s excellent score for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ will likely miss out due to his score for ‘The Imitation Game’ potentially splitting his vote, leaving the unremarkable score for ‘The Theory of Everything’ the favourite to triumph.
Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock)
The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald)
Interstellar (Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis)
Into The Woods (Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock)
Mr. Turner (Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts)
‘Birdman’ is perhaps a surprising omission from this category, but it’s not likely to make any difference. Wes Anderson’s work can often leave me feeling cold, but one area where he always excels is in the way his worlds are meticulously crafted. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is one of his finest in that regard and expect to see Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock up to take the prize.
Best Costume Design
‘Best Costume Design’ is a tough category this year, with showy fantasies ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Into The Woods’ coming up against period pieces such as ‘Mr. Turner’ and ‘Inherent Vice’. The subtle work in ‘A Most Violent Year’ is the one obvious omission against showier efforts, but ultimately the winner should be and will be ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, which features an array of exquisite costumes, both over the top and mundane that help to colour Wes Anderson’s world.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
This category always feels a little slight, and with three nominees this year (including one for ‘Foxcatcher’, ostensibly for Steve Carell’s nose alone), the same pattern follows. It’s a two horse race, and either ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ or ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ would be deserving. I’d give the edge in my view to the ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, but I suspect the Academy will lean the other way.
Best Original Song
‘Lost Stars’ is great and John Carney has won in this category before for ‘Once’, but I think the supremely catchy ‘Everything Is Awesome’ from ‘The Lego Movie’ should take the prize (and not just for its snub in the Animated Film category!). As it turns out, ‘Glory’ from Selma will likely take the prize, in no small part due to the film’s perceived snub in many of the other categories. Overall, I’m generally not a fan of tracks played during the credits winning the prize, but it seems a likely winner here.
Best Sound Editing
American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman)
Birdman (Martin Hernandez and Aaron Glascock)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Brent Burge and Jason Canovas)
Interstellar (Richard King)
Unbroken (Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro)
Richard King’s fantastic work in ‘Interstellar’ is the standout in the category, but it appears likely that the surge towards ‘American Sniper’ will see the work of Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman recognised
Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin)
Birdman (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montano and Thomas Varga)
Interstellar (Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten)
Unbroken (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montano and David Lee)
Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley)
‘American Sniper’ is likely to complete a double in the sound categories with this award too, but the deserved winner would be the excellent work in ‘Whiplash’ which is such a big reason as to why the film is so good.
Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winguist)
Guardians of the Galaxy (Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould)
Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer)
In the ‘Best Visual Effects’ category, we’re often treated to a collection of films shunned for the major awards, with comic book, sci-fi and fantasy movies getting some credit. This year is no surprise, with 3 comic book movies and 2 pieces of science fiction filling the 5 slots. Whilst ‘Interstellar’ looks likely to take the prize, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ for me is the standout, showcasing a remarkable use of motion capture technology to bring the ape characters to life. ‘Interstellar’ features great work, but ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is groundbreaking.