For those who have been following my prediction posts in the last two months, you may have noticed that I have been focusing on the top eight Oscar categories only. That changes now. Since we are now in the second phase of the awards season, it’s time to put down predictions for the technical categories. For those who don’t know, the tech categories are the behind-the-scenes work, like cinematography, production design, sound, and makeup. Also, I’ve neglected the animated feature and documentary feature categories, so I will also jump into that as well.
Best Animated Feature
This category always seems to be dominated by Pixar or Disney, and if you were looking for a change of pace, unfortunately it doesn’t look like that will be the case this year. After reaching over $1 billion worldwide as well as being a critical hit, Incredibles 2 will likely take this category by storm. Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs I think is a shoo-in, and I have Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Mirai in my predictions. Japanese animations usually take up at least one spot on the list if they qualify, and Mirai seems a likely bet. Some other possible nominations include Early Man, Smallfoot, Hotel Transylvania 3, and The Grinch.
Best Documentary Feature
I believe I’ve already noted that the Fred Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor is out front here, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. However, when looking at the rest of the field this year, I’ve got a close eye on Free Solo, which, like Neighbor, is also making a lot of money at the box office for a doc, which most of the time play in limited runs only. Another doc making money is Three Identical Strangers, which I also see making the list. Minding the Gap is one that is picking up steam, and we just saw Amy, the Amy Winehouse doc, win this category three years ago, so another music icon, Whitney, is my fifth place bet. (And this movie is about Whitney Houston, to clarify.) Some other docs on the docket this year are RBG, Crime + Punishment, and The Price of Everything.
For this category, I’m thinking Alfonso Cuaron will have the starpower to win here since he also shot Roma. Remember, he could be nominated five times this year. In second place, I have Linus Sandgren for First Man. He just won two years ago for Damien Chazelle’s last effort, La La Land. In third place, If Beale Street Could Talk, and the DP there, James Laxton, is also looking at his second nomination, the first being, you guessed it, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. Fourth place is The Favourite, and cinematographer Robbie Ryan is looking at his first nomination. My fifth place pick is Rachel Morrison for Black Panther. She was a big nominee last year for Mudbound, being the first woman ever nominated in the category, and I think Black Panther will be a hit through most of the techs, so she’ll fall in line there. Some other possible nominees this year are A Star is Born (Matthew Libatique), Cold War (Lukasz Zal), and Green Book (Sean Porter).
Best Film Editing
I’m taking a gamble on this category right now by putting Widows out front. Editor Joe Walker has received two nominations in the past for 12 Years a Slave and Arrival, and the former was a huge player that year for the top prize. Now with the re-teaming with Steve McQueen and the heist angle, I feel he’ll be formidable in this category. I have If Beale Street Could Talk in second place, and the two editors from Moonlight, Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders, are back at work on this one. Roma is my third place pick, and it’s edited by Alfonso Cuaron and Adam Gough. Cuaron shared the editing prize with Mark Sanger on Gravity. Fourth place is A Star is Born, edited by Jay Cassidy, who is looking for his fourth nomination after Into the Wild, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle. For fifth place, The Favourite, whose editor, Yorgos Mavropsaridis, is looking for his first nomination. He’s been the standard choice for director Yorgos Lanthimos on his other projects. Some other editors to keep in mind here are Tom Cross for First Man, Michael P. Shawver and Debbie Berman for Black Panther, Hank Corwin for Vice, Patrick J. Don Vito for Green Book, and Barry Alexander Brown for BlacKkKlansman.
Best Costume Design
The costume design category is led, for me, by The Favourite, and designer Sandy Powell is looking at a fourth Oscar win if she pulls through. Regardless, it’ll be her 13th nomination. Black Panther is in second place for me, and its costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, is another legend in this branch, though this would only be her third nomination. Mary Queen of Scots is in third place, costumes by Alexandra Byrne. This would be Byrne’s fifth nomination, and she won for Elizabeth: The Golden Age over a decade ago. In fourth place, Colette, which is the only nomination I see coming for the film. It would be the first nomination for designer Andrea Flesch. I have Sandy Powell being a double nominee in this category with Mary Poppins Returns in fifth place. While it might sound dangerous to put her in twice, she’s been nominated twice in the same year on two separate occasions. Some other films to keep an eye out for are Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, costumes by Colleen Atwood; Bohemian Rhapsody, costumes by Julian Day; and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, costumes by Jenny Beavan.
Best Production Design
I also have The Favourite winning this category for the moment, and Fiona Crombie is looking for her first nomination this year. Black Panther is again my second place pick for this one, and Hannah Beachler is also looking to be a first-timer. First Man is my third place pick, and Nathan Crowley, whose four previous nominations come from Christopher Nolan films, is looking at number five here. Mary Poppins Returns strikes again here with legend John Myhre, who’s won two Oscars in the past, and this would mark his sixth nomination if he gets in. At the bottom in fifth place is Mary Queen of Scots, with production design by James Merifield, who would be the third first-time nominee in this category this year. A few production designers also in the hunt this year are Stuart Craig for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Nelson Coates for Crazy Rich Asians, Guy Hendrix Dyas for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and maybe Paul Harrod and Adam Stockhausen for Isle of Dogs.
Best Original Score
For this category, I have First Man out front. Justin Hurwitz is back in action from his Oscar wins for La La Land, and I feel nomination number four is inevitable. Second place is Black Panther, music by Ludwig Goransson, who would be a first-time nominee. In third place, If Beale Street Could Talk, whose composer, Nicholas Britell, is looking for nomination number two after Moonlight’s nod two years ago. Fourth place is Mary Poppins Returns, and we’ll have to see about this one. Composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman may run into trouble since it has two composers, which this branch usually frowns upon, and we don’t know how much of the score will be original and how much will be lifted from the original film. In fifth position, Hans Zimmer for Widows. A big legend in this branch, Hans would see his 12th time up to bat if nominated again this year. Some other possible nominees include Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, Alan Silvestri for either Ready Player One or Avengers: Infinity War, Michael Giacchino for Incredibles 2 and Brian Tyler for Crazy Rich Asians.
Best Original Song
I expect to see Lady Gaga dominate this category. Three songs from A Star is Born were submitted this year, and while I doubt all three of them get in, two landing nominations are likely, and I’m putting my money on “Shallow” being the frontrunner here, then “I’ll Never Love Again” being the other nominee. The third entry, “Always Remember Us this Way”, could swap in for “Never Love Again”. We know Sia is bringing in a song for Vox Lux, but we don’t know the title yet. Regardless, I’m putting that one in. There will likely be at least one song from the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack to make the list, and while a number of the songs in the film have been released, I’m not sure which one to bet on yet, so throw in any one of them and I’ll say, “sure”. And to fill out the category, I’ll put Kesha on the list for the song “Here Comes the Change” from On the Basis of Sex. It seems like one that fits the bill for empowerment songs.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
For whatever stupid reason, this branch only elects three nominees each year, and in previous years they like to throw a few deserving nominees off the list early. This and the Visual Effects category will be releasing a shortlist in the next few weeks of who will be eligible in each category. For now, though, all options are open, so we’ll start this category with Vice, which I see as the frontrunner. While Christian Bale’s transformation in the film wasn’t reliant on makeup, so far as we know, the changes made to Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Carell, to name a few, look like deserving work. My next pick here is actually The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which looks like a makeup-heavy film. For third place, Mary Queen of Scots, which makes Margot Robbie look unrecognizable, at least from the trailer. Some other possible nominees here include The Favourite, Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Chappaquiddick, Deadpool 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Mary Poppins Returns, and Destroyer.
Best Sound Mixing
The distinctions between sound mixing and editing are really best known only by those who work in sound in the industry, but for our purposes, think like this: sound editing is explosions, war films, action films, etc. Sound mixing is also for explosions, war films, and action films, but also for musicals. So for me, I have First Man out front for its space work. Gravity swept both sound categories five years ago, Interstellar was a nominee in both categories four years ago, and The Martian was nominated in both three years ago, so it joins good company. Second place for me is A Star is Born, which has a lot of music to mix in with crowd noises and so on, so that’s a likely bet. Black Panther is my third place pick, and superhero movies are no stranger to this category, either. Fourth place is Mary Poppins Returns, which fits the bill as well on the musical front. In fifth, A Quiet Place, which could break into both categories this year as a monster film. Some other possible nominees include Incredibles 2, Roma, Widows, The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, Ready Player One, Avengers: Infinity War, and Mission: Impossible-Fallout.
Best Sound Editing
Going off of the idea of explosions, car chases, action scenes, and superhero films, I see this category being filled with more of those. However, I have First Man out front here, too, then Black Panther, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Incredibles 2, and Avengers: Infinity War. Some others to consider are A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Roma, Ready Player One, and Widows.
Best Visual Effects
This is another category where we’re waiting for a shortlist to help guide us to what films will make the list. But for now, I’m thinking Black Panther is out front to win. Another Marvel entry, Avengers: Infinity War, is my second place pick. Also on the list are Ready Player One, Aquaman, and Mortal Engines. If you’re scratching your head on this last pick, let me explain. The film is produced by Peter Jackson, and digital effects giant Weta is behind the film, so I’m putting it on the list for those reasons. A couple other effects-heavy films to keep in mind are Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Bumblebee, Mary Poppins Returns, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and maybe A Quiet Place or Mission: Impossible – Fallout.