Monday, February 24, 2014

2013 Oscar Winner Predictions: Below the Line Categories

Over the next four days, I will post my Oscar Predictions. Today, it’s the “Below the Line” Categories, tomorrow will be Directing and Writing, Wednesday Act, and Thursday Best Picture.

It’s insulting to call all these categories “Below the Line” – but I’m not sure there’s another name for it, so that’s what I’m call them. Essentially, this is everything that isn’t Picture, Director, Acting or Writing – save the shorts, because I didn’t get a chance to see them this year, so I’m not predicting them (it would be a crapshoot even if I did seem them, and an even bigger one since I didn’t). These categories all merit respect for the artists who get nominated and win these awards – but unfortunately they don’t get much other than by Oscar watchers and film buffs. They usually make up the long middle section of the show when casual viewers get bored, and the winners get about 20 seconds before the Jaws theme plays them off. That’s too bad, but it’s the reality of the show. Basically, I list them for least likely to win, to most likely, and then will give my reasons why below. The rest of the categories throughout the week will have more detailed analysis. Anyway, here they are.

Animated Feature Film
5. Ernest & Celestine
4. The Croods
3. Despicable Me 2
2. The Wind Rises
1. Frozen

Who Will Win: While I think the narrative of Disney’s epic comeback with Frozen is a little overblown (Tangled was better), there’s no real denying it exists, and that the film will be swept to victory because of it – unless the Academy decides to give a final Oscar to the greatest animator of all time in Hayao Miyazaki – but the buzz on that one seems pretty much non-existent at this point.
Who Should Win: It was a weak year for animation, but The Wind Rises, would be a fitting choice to win this award pretty much any year.
Least of the Nominees: How the hell anyone could watch The Croods and decide it’s better than the delightful Monsters University is beyond me.

5. Dirty Wars
4. Cutie and the Boxer
3. The Square
2. 20 Feet from Stardom
1. The Act of Killing

Who Will Win: This is always a tough race, because the Academy often goes their own way and ignores the critics (which they already did by shamefully omitting Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell). Since it has won the most precursor awards, I’ll go with The Act of Killing  - although I can make a case just as easily for 20 Feet from Stardom, which is the audience pleaser in the bunch or The Square, which feels important, and doesn’t have the controversy that The Act of Killing has. Basically, I'm saying it's a tossup.
Who Should Win: The Act of Killing
was the best doc of the year – and the best doc nominated by a long shot.
Least of the Nominees: I liked Dirty Wars enough – it just feels like something I’ve seen before and done better.

Foreign Language Film
5. The Missing Picture -Cambodia
4. Omar - Palestine
3. The Hunt - Denmark
2. The Great Beauty - Italy
1. The Broken Circle Breakdown - Belgium

Who Will Win: A tough one to call, since you’re never quite sure which way they will go here. Typically, you are safe going with the film that feels most like a Hollywood film – but that could be either The Broken Circle Breakdown or The Hunt. If the critics voted, it may well be The Great Beauty or The Missing Picture (but they don’t). I’ll go with The Broken Circle Breakdown but I have zero confidence in that pick, so it will probably end up being Omar – the only one I didn’t already mention.
Who Should Win:
I feel like I’m at a major disadvantage here, since everything I have heard about The Missing Picture and Omar suggest that either one may end up being my favorite once I get a chance to see them. So with that major exception noted, I’ll say of the other three, I liked Belgium’s The Broken Circle Breakdown the best.
Least of the Nominees: I know many loved Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty – and although I am usually a fan of his work, I wasn’t this time.

5. The Grandmaster - Philippe Le Sourd
4. Inside Llewyn Davis - Bruno Delbonnel
3. Nebraska - Phedon Papamichael
2. Prisoners - Roger A. Deakins
1. Gravity - Emmanuel Lubezki

Who Will Win: Since 2009, Visual Effects and Cinematography have gone hand-in-hand, and while I don’t like this new tradition that much, it would be silly to bet against Gravity continuing it. Besides, it is stunning work, and it’s almost embarrassing that Lubezki doesn’t have an Oscar by now (it’s hugely embarrassing Deakins doesn’t have one – but he’ll once again be the bridesmaid and not the bride on Oscar night).
Who Should Win:
Bruno Delbonnel’s work on Inside Llewyn Davis was far and away my favorite of the year – although I almost don’t want it to win, since it would mean the Academy finally gives a Coen brothers movie a richly deserved cinematography Oscar – for one of the few not shot by Deakins.
Least of the Nominees: It is all wonderful work, and I don’t really want to pick a “least of”, so I’ll cheat and not do so.

Costume Design
5. The Invisible Woman
4. The Grandmaster
3. American Hustle
2. 12 Years a Slave
1. The Great Gatsby

Who Will Win: This is a tough three way race, and honestly I have no real idea where this one is going. I’m betting on The Great Gatsby. Here, more than most, they often go with the prettiest clothes, whether or not it’s a Best Picture nominee – and that’s Gatsby.
Who Should Win: I am not a huge fan of the film, but the costume in The Great Gatsby were absolutely stunning.
Least of the Nominees: I’ll go with The Invisible Woman – which is still fine work, but it’s also the type of costume drama they nominate without thinking, which I don’t really like.

Film Editing
5. Dallas Buyers Club
4. 12 Years a Slave
3. American Hustle
2. Captain Phillips
1. Gravity

Who Will Win: It is probably going to take many tech prizes without the Academy thinking too hard about it – so I’ll go with Gravity. However, I could see anything except Dallas Buyers Club winning – if 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle take the prize, it could well be a sign that the film will win Best Picture – but Greengrass’ films have won here before, so beware of Captain Phillips – it may be their only chance to award the film.
Who Should Win:
I could make a case for Gravity or Captain Phillips easily, but I’ll go with 12 Years a Slave which has masterful, subtle work here – especially since everything I would have nominated didn’t make the cut.
Least of the Nominees: American Hustle. I know it sounds like I’m picking on the film a lot in this post – and I guess I sort of am – but I really thought the editing of the film was a complete and utter mess.

Makeup and Hairstyling
3. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
2. The Lone Ranger
1. Dallas Buyers Club

Who Will Win: I have a feeling the Academy will not want to give Oscars to either Jackass movie or what was considered one of the biggest bombs of the year in The Lone Ranger – which leaves Dallas Buyers Club as your default winner.
Who Should Win:
It is subtler work than the other two, but I will go with Dallas Buyers Club, which is realistic and effective.
Least of the Nominees: To be honest, all the work in this category was stellar – even if the films themselves are not. Perhaps The Lone Ranger?

Production Design
5. Gravity
4. Her
3. American Hustle
2. The Great Gatsby
1. 12 Years a Slave

Who Will Win: I think this is a very interesting race, and I think all five nominees are going to have their supporters. I think though that 12 Years a Slave needs to win at least one below the line category, and to me this seems like the safest bet.
Who Should Win:
It is the type of work that never wins, but to me the work on Her truly is exceptional and helps Spike Jonze's film immensely by buildings its near futuristic world.
Least of the Nominees: I will go with American Hustle as the weakest – where it is not quite as noticeable as the hair and costumes in re-creating the 1970s.

Visual Effects
5. The Lone Ranger
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
3. Iron Man 3
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
1. Gravity

Who Will Win: Not to insult any of the other nominees, but this one isn’t even close – Gravity is perhaps the biggest lock of the night in this category.
Who Should Win:
There is a reason that Gravity is the biggest lock of the night here – it is stunning work, and nothing else comes close.
Least of the Nominees: Probably The Lone Ranger which isn’t quite as impressive as the other nominees,

Original Score
5. The Book Thief - John Williams
4. Her - William Butler and Owen Pallett
3. Saving Mr. Banks - Thomas Newman
2. Philomena - Alexandre Desplat
1. Gravity - Steven Price

Who Will Win: Except for John Williams and his work on The Book Thief and Arcade Fire for Her, I honestly could see this going any which way. Newman and Desplatt are two oft-nominated composers (11 and 6 noms respectively) who are still looking for their first wins, so you can never really  count the sympathy factor out. Still, I think newcomer Steven Price should win this one without much of a fight for Gravity.
Who Should Win:
Not the strongest lineup to me, but I will go with the work on Her which was the best of the nominees.
Least of the Nominees: Probably Saving Mr. Banks – which is overshadowed in its own movie by all the music from Mary Poppins.

Original Song
5. Alone Yet Not Alone – Alone Yet Not Alone (Rescinded)
4 Her – The Moon Song
3. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Ordinary Love
2. Despicable Me 2 - Happy
1. Frozen – Let It Go

Who Will Win: Unless the Academy wants celebrities on stage winning awards, Frozen should walk away with this one fairly easily over U2’s song from Mandela, and Pharrell’s song from Despicable Me 2. It doesn’t help that the Academy clearly didn’t like Mandela very much.
Who Should Win:
Let It Go from Frozen truly was one of the most memorable musical moments of the year – and given this slate of nominees it is an easy choice.
Least of the Nominees: The Academy should be embarrassed that the song from Alone Yet Not Alone was nominated – but they should not have taken the Oscar nomination away, which simply made them look like hypocrites. Out of the now official four nominees, I’d say the U2 song from Mandela is the weakest.

Sound Editing
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
4. Lone Survivor
3. All Is Lost
2. Captain Phillips
1. Gravity

Who Will Win: This one is locked for Gravity. It probably isn’t even be close.
Who Should Win:
As much as I love the work on All is Lost, I still have to go with Gravity on this one.
Least of the Nominees: Probably The Hobbit.

Sound Mixing
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Lone Survivor
2. Captain Phillips
1. Gravity

Who Will Win: I really do not see anything really challenging Gravity here. It cruises to victory.
Who Should Win: Gravity
is clearly the best work here – even if I also think Inside Llewyn Davis has great work.
Least of the Nominees: For me, it would probably be The Hobbit – its fine work, but not quite as good as the others.

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