State of the Race: Part 2

This is the second part of my “State of the Race” series, in which I break down each Oscar’s category and give you the odds and stats of who is looking to take the Gold this year. So let’s just jump right back in…

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Let’s start with a no -brainer. This another category this is as close to locked-up as you can get. If Birdman isn’t called it would be a huuuuuge upset.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

For a long time during the season, this was looking like a race between the two fantasy films “Maleficent” and “Into the Woods.” The costumes were unique, big, over-the-top… what this branch of the Academy usually loves. Then “The Grand Budapest Hotel” jumped into the race. The thing that “Budapest” has on it’s side is that it is a period piece (which the Academy also adores) but it takes a clever twist on a period and really makes the costumes unique. Plus, the costumes and production design of Wes Anderson’s films are one of the main focal points you acknowledge right off the bat.

At the Costume Designer’s Guild Awards, “Budapest” took home the Best Period Costumes, “Into the Woods” took home the Best Fantasy Costumes, and “Birdman” took home Best Contemporary Costumes. The best bet is “Budapest” with “Into the Woods” being the dark horse in this race. This also shows us that Birdman was liked by yet another  another Guild and could be another clue to Best Picture.

BEST FILM EDITING

This will be an award that tells a lot before the Best Picture envelope is opened. Boyhood won the American Cinema Editor’s Eddie Award which usually is a great predictor of who will take the Best Editing Oscar. This looked all but locked up for them.

However, at BAFTA, where Boyhood took Best Film, Whiplash shocked many and walked away with this award.

Whiplash is now a very serious contender in this contender, and for a good reason – the editing is brilliant! If Whiplash takes this award on Sunday night, Boyhood can all but kiss it’s Best Picture hopes goodbye. However, if Boyhood wins this (which it probably will) we’ll still have a neck-and-neck race to that last award.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

The thing about the Makeup and Hairstyling branch of the Academy is that they tend to not lean for the showier nominees (Guardians of the Galaxy) and go for the more prestigious films in the category (Foxcatcher and Grand Budapest Hotel.) We can see this in recent years, where films like Dallas Buyers Club and Les Mis have won over showier Makeup displays like Jackass and Hitchock.

The better bet in this category is The Grand Budapest Hotel and assume that this category is just going to ride with the wave of tech categories this film will win. But lookout for Steve Carrell’s nose to be a dark horse.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

The production design for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was one of the best aspects of the film and pretty much has this category locked up. Wise to not vote against it…

BEST SCORE

This is a category I love because I love music in films. I wasn’t incredibly pleased with all the nominees in this category and I detested the exclusion of “Gone Girl” in this category, but life goes on…

Alexandre Desplat is a 6-time nominee in this category and a genius. However, having two scores in this race will probably work against him and split votes. (The Imitation Game is far superior in my opinion.) Interstellar was looking like the clear favorite at the beginning of the season because the score is present throughout the film, but judging by how much the Academy clearly did not like Interstellar apart from it’s technical achievements, the hype has kind of gone down.

The favorite for this category is now the Golden Globe-winning score of “The Theory of Everything.” Another score that was particularly memorable and will probably be the victor on Sunday.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

This category looks pretty much wrapped up as well. This will be the conciliatory prize for “Selma.” Not to mention it’s a pretty weak category. “Glory” has it in the bag.

BEST SOUND EDITING

Many people watching the Oscars could not tell you the difference between a Sound Editor and a sound mixer. Sound editors are in charge of making those effects that don’t necessarily come out well while actually filming. A door closing, footsteps in the hallway, etc. They prep all the sounds that are then given to the sound mixer who is in charge of the final full mix of dialogue, sounds, and music.

The Academy tends to lump these two categories together and give them to the same film. However, if there’s no real standout in the crowd (like this year,) they tend to split them up. The other problem with this category is while there are precursor awards for these categories, they don’t have the best track record on predicting them.

At the Motion Picture Sound Editor’s Golden Reel Awards a few days ago, Birdman walked out as the winner. However, while it is a strong contender at the Oscars, they also tend to love their war movies. And this could be the one spot where American Sniper may actually get recognized come Sunday night.

BEST SOUND MIXING

This is another tough one. Much was made about the Sound Mixing of Interstellar (loud music, hard to hear dialogue.) If the voters understood what the filmmaker’s were going for in the film, then this could be their chance to reward them. However, at the precursors, Birdman also took the top prize for this award. BUT, at BAFTA, Whiplash ended up shocking many and winning Best Sound. This race is really between Whiplash and Birdman and really could go either way.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

This is going to be a very close race. The prestigious vote is going to go to Interstellar which really would be the traditional winner in this category. However, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the big award over Interstellar at the Visual Effects Society Awards. 3 years ago the first “Apes” looked like the frontrunner in this category, but lost to “Hugo” ultimately. Could this be another repeat of that with “Interstellar” winning?

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Lego Movie being snubbed was huge this year. It was clearly the frontrunner and has basically won every award this season. But it’s exclusion from this category has kind of opened the field, but not that much. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has clearly become the favorite in this category (a fact which I looooove.) You never know when Disney is in the race if they can make a push against Dreamworks, but the clear favorite for now is Dragon.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Citizenfour has pretty much had a firm hold on this trophy for a while now. When they opened up voting in this category to the whole Academy a couple years ago, we’ve seen less surprises in this category and more people voting for the popular film (aka 20 Feet From Stardom last year.) It helps Virunga that it’s on Netflix and it’s more accessible for voters, but I don’t see it happening.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

When Ida received a nomination for Cinematography, it pretty much locked this race up. If a foreign film is competing in another race, it generally means a win in this category. That wasn’t the case for Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006, but it usually means a win. Ida is the clear favorite here.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

Having just recently watched all the shorts and not finding them a particularly wonderful batch this year, I’m just gonna go with the popular opinions on these. The Phone Call has the star power of Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

Feast has the popular vote because it’s Disney and it was seen by many people in front of Big Hero 6.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is the frontrunner here.

And that’s all the categories! I’ll make all my final predictions this weekend and post them, but for now… these are all the battles that are going on in my nerd head for the next 48 hours haha. It’s OSCAR WEEKEND!! GET EXCITED!

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