Now that Oscar nominations and some of the bigger awards have rolled out, true Oscar prognosticating can begin as Oscarathon 2017 continues. This year we are going to try something a bit different, as there are going to be four major posts that are just going to be continuously updating once they are up. After different major awards, I’ll be adding new thoughts on each race so you can see how each event changes the race as we go along. This second post is going to be covering the action for the creative awards at the Oscars.
Could Greig Fraser’s great year overcome the La La Land freight train?
- Linus Sandgren, La La Land
- Greig Fraser, Lion
- Bradford Young, Arrival
- James Laxton, Moonlight
- Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: La La Land
Should Have Been Nominated: I am kind of tempted to continue my support for all visual based marvels with Kubo and the Two Strings, but that may be pushing it at this point, so instead I will go with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
After three straight years of living in Emmanuel Lubezki’s world (once everyone realized he was the greatest cinematographer alive), this category is finally freed to award someone else since Lubezki took a well-deserved year off. This still ended up being a pretty easy category. The top five choices were all pretty clear, and each also got guild nominations, so saying there were any snubs is kind of disingenuous. Still, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
had some stellar cinematography and it would have been nice to see it get awarded again, but on the other hand, that film’s Greig Fraser did get nominated for Lion
. A case could be made for Nocturnal Animals
as well, if, you know, half the movie wasn’t Amy Adams reading a God damn manuscript. The bigger deals for this year were twofold. First, Bradford Young became the second African American ever to get a cinematography nomination, and outside of Rodrigo Prieto, everyone here is a first time nominee. This high amount of new blood is good for the category, even if that means there will be yet another person that will win an Oscar before Roger Deakins.
They Had To Give Silence Something
- So Martin Scorsese’s passion project ended up with one measly nomination, and it is certainly a well-deserved one. Prieto benefits from being the only multiple time nominee, but that is about all he has going for him, considering his film has no buzz and should just be happy it gets to have any Oscar nominations at all.
Should Have Been A Bigger Threat Than It Was
- I am surprised this film seemingly got lost in the shuffle. So much of the cinematography in this movie is amazing, and yet it just never quite got the support I expected it would. Honestly, that probably is a good way of describing Moonlight‘s whole journey through awards season. Moonlight likely being the only film that can actually beat La La Land for Best Picture can only help here, so that is how James Laxton gets a better chance of winning than Prieto.
Award for Outstanding Year as a Whole
- Now we are entering the area of potential winners. Greig Fraser has had quite the year, and at some level you wonder if he might pull off the win for being the man behind two of the best shot films of the year, Lion and Rogue One. This campaign took a while to get going, however, as Fraser failed to land a Critics’ Choice Awards nomination, and the later release of both of his movies might have hurt him a bit. Still, the Oscars have been known to give out awards that effectively reflect an appreciation for a year of solid work over one really good film. If he can win at the ASC Awards and BAFTA this could get interesting.
La La Land be Pretty Y’all
- The cinematography in this film is an unexpected treat, and really helps the movie flow. This film has the biggest hardware so far with a win at the Critics’ Choice Awards. If it can pick up either the ASC or BAFTA it probably becomes the real favorite, no matter what else happens. This is one of the only films (along with Arrival) that has been nominated in all the big categories, and there’s a good chance the modern musical will add Best Cinematography to its Oscar haul.
Welcome to the Denis Villeneuve Stable of Pretty
- This is more of a feeling, seeing as La La Land is technically more accomplished at this point, but this feels like the kind of movie the Oscars is more inclined to go with. Add in the chance to reward the first African American cinematographer with an Oscar, and it seems to fit. Arrival has been nominated in the major cinematography awards this season just like La La Land, although it lacks the key win. A lot of this comes down to ASC and BAFTA once again. If Arrival can win either, this could be its race to lose.
ASC Awards Update:
Greig Fraser pulls off the win, and makes Lion a real threat. With that said, the ASC is really the most likely of the groups to reward Fraser’s all-star year, so Lion won’t necessarily be clearly at the top of the list unless it can follow-up this win with another at the BAFTAs. Still, this is the kind of shot in the arm most of these films needed, and unless something else wins at BAFTA, likely makes this a two-person race between La La Land and Lion.
La La Land and Linus Sandgren are back with a vengeance. Even on a day where La La Land did poorer than expected it still pulled this win off, and regained its footing as the sole favorite in this category. Lion still has a shot, but it’s not a good sign that it lost here, considering how much affection the BAFTA has for Lion. This is definitely a two-person race now, as the other films really needed a win to get in the game, so the dream for Arrival is dead. This will come down to the Best Picture frontrunner versus the phenomenal year of Greig Fraser.
Is this where Hacksaw Ridge could make a big statement?
- Tom Cross, La La Land
- Joe Walker, Arrival
- John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge
- Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, Moonlight
- Jake Roberts, Hell or High Water
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Moonlight
Should Have Been Nominated: Lion
The biggest thing that came from these nominations is that this is where it became clear that whatever chance Manchester by the Sea
had of winning Best Picture was basically gone. Since editing became a category in 1934, only ten film have won Best Picture without at least an Editing nomination. The last to do so was Birdman
, which honestly only technically counts because a big conceit of that film was that it was all one shot (or at least looked like it was one shot), so it couldn’t very well be nominated for an Editing award. So somewhat discounting Birdman
, the last film to pull this feet off was Ordinary People
in 1980. There is a strong argument to be made that the five films nominated here are the only ones that are likely to win Best Picture (and considering one of them is La La Land
, this is almost certainly true). But this was an interesting year for editing, since all five nominees are also Best Picture nominees, unlike many years where another film has been able to sneak in. This year that film figured to be Rogue One
, but it just wasn’t able to build the support Force Awakens
was able to last year. Nocturnal Animals
also had support here, but as in all cases with this film, it was more or less thankfully passed over (I continued to be impressed at how much I have soured on this movie–like, this time next year its name is going to make me cringe). The remaining best picture nominees, Lion
, Hidden Figures
, and Fences
, were close misses as likely was PGA nominee Deadpool
. Rather strong field though, so the only even kind of surprise is Hell or High Water
Overlooked, but Happy to Be Here
Hell or High Water
- This was a bit of a surprise, simply because it hadn’t seem to be getting as much traction as other films. It got an ACE nomination, but there are two categories there. It didn’t pull off either a BAFTA or Critics’ Choice nomination, so it is really hard to see a world in which this film can win. It’s still a well-deserved nomination, but just like most of the other nominations for this film, winning is not going to happen.
- War movies tend to do well in this category. That makes sense, as so much about these movies relies on editing. Hacksaw Ridge has gotten ACE, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice awards nominations, and there is a real chance it could win if things break its way. Right now it needs to get a win to feel like a real threat, because unlike the remaining three films in this category, Hacksaw Ridge has no chance of winning Best Picture.
Should Be Talked About More
- Moonlight has less of a profile than Hacksaw Ridge, only securing nominations at the ACEs and Critics’ Choice Awards. But Moonlight being the biggest non-La La Land threat to win Best Picture helps it a lot in this category, especially since the film’s editing is so central to the movie’s structure. Moonlight has often been overlooked this awards season, and editing is one place where it probably should have been more of a contender than it has been.
The Sci-Fi Wonder
- This feels like a really good place for Arrival to get an Oscar. Joe Walker got nominations from the ACE, Critics’ Choice Awards, and BAFTA, and may be in position to pull off the same feat that got pulled off him when his previous nomination, 12 Years a Slave, won Best Picture but lost Editing to Mark Sanger and Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity. Arrival being considered one of the four most mentioned films in the Best Picture race is very helpful, and this would be one of the few ways to meaningfully award this film. If it can get some wins along the way, that could make the race really fascinating.
Hey, Look, It’s La La Land!
La La Land
- As in many other races, La La Land is the likely favorite here. Tom Cross won the Critics’ Choice Awards, and picked up BAFTA and ACE nominations. Cross also won the last time he was nominated for Whiplash, where he brought his distinct style of editing to music that really ties his films together. La La Land‘s editing isn’t quite on the level that Whiplash‘s was, which is why this race is not yet over. But it probably needs to start losing in order for this to feel like a real contest.
ACE Awards Update:
This seems to have become a two picture race with La La Land and Arrival picking up wins in the Comedy and Musical and Dramatic categories, respectively. BAFTA could still offer some more chaos, but likely if either of these films win it will create a real favorite going into Oscar Sunday.
Ooh, this is something. Hacksaw Ridge pulled off the win, and likely stopped either La La Land or even Arrival from ending this category, and made this a really compelling three-picture race come Oscar Sunday. Likely this chaos still favors La La Land, but this race could go in a number of directions as the pattern continues of the non-major categories becoming compelling races right as the voting period happens.
This nomination is better than getting none at all, at least.
- Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright, Hacksaw Ridge
- Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan, La La Land
- Sylvain Bellemare, Arrival
- Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli, Deepwater Horizon
- Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, Sully
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Should Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Should Have Been Nominated: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This is always a strange category, since most people can’t tell the difference between this and the Sound Mixing category, which is why a lot of years whatever wins one will win the other. It is also why a lot of award shows don’t bother with these being separate categories, but instead just make a Best Sound category. Just as a note: Sound Editing concerns itself with anything involving sound in a movie that is not recorded and mixed on set, whether that is Foley, sound effects, ADR, etc. This year’s nominees come from a wide gambit of genres that usually do well here–musicals, action films, war movies, and sci-fi films. This is also one of the categories where things can get a bit weird, as people are less beholden to simply picking the Best Picture contenders. The biggest snubs in this category were a quintet of spectacle movies, the sort that generally do well in technical categories: Rogue One
, The Jungle Book
, Fantastic Beasts
, Doctor Strange
, and Captain America: Civil War
. In other years, any of these films could have actually won, so that tells you how tough things were this year.
Just Slipping In With A Nomination
- Sully probably hoped to have a lot more attention come Oscar night. Instead this is it, and its chances of winning are pretty low to boot. While it did get some guild support, that is about it, and it looks decidedly looks number five out of five in the hierarchy for this award, so let’s just move on.
Has More Support Than You Might Think
- Along with a Visual Effects nomination, this movie has proven to have a bit more support with the Academy than a lot of people might expect. It also got both an MPSE nomination and a BAFTA nomination. Deepwater film could certainly win, but it definitely feels like it is lagging behind the other top contenders. A guild win or two could change that, but it seems like it will be awfully hard for this film to take the Oscar at this point.
- Okay, this is where things pick up. Arrival‘s an auditory and visual experience above anything else, so this is definitely a place it could win. It has MPSE and BAFTA support, and it could easily be a threat even without a win or two because of its Best Picture nomination status. It doesn’t have quite the buzz of La La Land nor the shine that war movies usually get like Hacksaw Ridge will have, but it definitely feels like a co-favorite at this juncture.
- War movies do well in the sound categories, and a war movie with a Best Picture pedigree is in an even better place. The sound categories are likely the only place that Hacksaw Ridge could really pull off a victory, so that may help its cause. It has MPSE and BAFTA support, and looks like the best alternative if the La La Land backlash costs that film in some places.
La La Land
- Listen, this whole film is about sound, so it is going to get play in these categories. Many might argue that the chances of a musical like this not getting all the sound awards seems ludicrous. But if the sound categories were to split, this definitely is the weaker of the two positions for La La Land. Sure, it has MPSE support, but simply on the musical side; and it also has BAFTA support, but that is for overall sound. So while it has support, it is a bit lacking in Sound Editing. La La Land is going to win the MPSE for musical, and has a great chance for the BAFTA, so if it picks up enough wins, none of this will matter and the sweep can begin.
MPSE Awards Update:
The Golden Reels saw Hacksaw Ridge pick up two wins in Sound Effects & Foley and Dialogue & ADR to help establish itself as the best non-La La Land shot at this time. La La Land picked up a win as well in the musical category to continue its success at the guild awards. BAFTA will possibly help to clarify things if either of these films win there.
And of course Arrival picks up the win to keep this a three picture race. Like I have said before, chaos probably favors La La Land, because when in doubt people are likely just to vote straight-ticket, but Arrival is a force to be reckoned with. Hacksaw Ridge loses some ground here, but its guild wins likely still mean more than this BAFTA win for Arrival.
Even I am a bit tired of hearing about La La Land.
- Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow, La La Land
- Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace, Hacksaw Ridge
- Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye, Arrival
- David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: La La Land
Should Have Been Nominated: Sing Street
And now we have Sound Mixing, which unlike Editing deals with all the sound that is recorded on set. This category also features the two greatest examples of Oscar futility, with Kevin O’Connell and Greg P. Russell having 21 and 17 nominations and zero wins, respectively. Both will once again get a chance to win that elusive Oscar, and both have to deal with La La Land
, which is in a much stronger place in this category, as musicals generally do much better in Sound Mixing than Sound Editing. Both Sully
and Deepwater Horizon
were surprise omissions considering they got Sound Editing nominations, but at least it shows the nominations process hasn’t become so lazy that there no longer needs to be two categories. This category’s love for musicals would have made this another great place to get Sing Street
a nomination, but alas, it was not meant to be.
Wild Card For Redemption
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
- Considering how early in the year and how well relatively small this film was, this is a bit of a surprise nomination. I say a bit because Russell is involved (and other talented people to be fair, but let’s be honest, Russell is going to get top billing), so that bumps its profile. Michael Bay is also involved, so that further gave it a boost. 13 Hours lacks any other real support with the guilds or anywhere else, so in those terms this is a very out there pick. Russell is likely going to be left looking on the outside again, as just like Thomas Newman in Score he was likely simply brought here to lose.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- These two films are probably in the same boat. Arrival got BAFTA support while Rogue One got guild support. Arrival benefits from being a top Best Picture nominee while Rogue One benefits from being both a sci-fi and war movie in a category that likes both. They both just lag compared to Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land. But a case could be made for either one to win, and if either picks up a win on the way to the voting period that could change things for each.
- And here is the real sentimental favorite of the entire Oscars for anyone that doesn’t enjoy watching a person lose 21 times. Kevin O’Connell headlines this team, and is looking to finally end his massive drought–and with a war movie that has Best Picture buzz, he has a real shot. The film has both BAFTA and guild support, and this could finally be the year for him, if not for the fact that his team and him have the misfortune of being up against a beloved musical.
Musical (wait a second, these look familiar..)
- Of the two sound categories, this is where La La Land really shines, and is likely to crush both O’Connell’s and Russell’s dreams once again. La La Land has both guild and BAFTA nominations, and it really seems hard to believe it can lose here. The only real issue with it is that historically both sound categories tend to vote for the same movie if possible, and even though there is a real difference between the quality of this film’s sound editing and sound mixing that could be an issue if, say, something like Hacksaw Ridge wins sound editing. Even if this looks like a year to split the sound awards, that is easier said than done.
CAS Awards Update:
The Cinema Audio Society kept the La La Land train rolling, as it beat both Hacksaw Ridge and Rogue One in a direct competition. This makes La La Land the clear favorite, and a BAFTA win would make this a lock. Of course, the weirdness of the dual audio categories makes hard to be completely confident that La La Land can win one if it isn’t going to win the other, but this feels like a year that could definitely happen.
Arrival pulled off the win in the combined sound category, which at least shows it has some signs of life, and is at least a better bet than Rogue One, but it is hard to say how much of a predictor this really is, with Arrival winning a combined Best Sound category as opposed to a split one like the Oscars. If nothing else, just like in editing, this means that La La Land isn’t a complete auto-win at this point.
Kubo has already defied a lot of history. Can it keep doing so?
- Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon, The Jungle Book
- John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould, Doctor Strange
- Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff, Kubo and the Two Strings
- Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton, Deepwater Horizon
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings
Should Have Been Nominated: Arrival
The thing that stands out most here is that there are no Best Picture nominees in this category, which opens things up quite a bit. This category usually seems to reflect a lot more the kind of films people are actually going to the theatres to see, although there is sometimes an overlap, such as last year with Mad Max and The Revenant. I would have expected this year for that to be Arrival, but it was left out. Other surprise snubs are Fantastic Beasts and Captain America: Civil War. Warcraft was also rather underrated in this category (yep, I put Warcraft in an Oscars article), and A Monster Calls was also very overlooked by most (in more ways than just this category). The biggest news for this category was Kubo and the Two Strings pulling off the first nomination for an animated film in this category since The Nightmare Before Christmas (the Academy loves that stop motion). Last year this category had the biggest surprise of the night when Ex Machina pulled off the win. Can it match that level of surprise this year?
There Is A Lot Of Fire
- This is a pretty standard film for this category, a disaster film that did well financially. It got two VES nominations, but not much else. At this point it is lagging pretty far behind, but it does have a bit of technical support in general, with a sound nomination as well, so it is entirely possible it could still sneak in for a win. But that seems unlikely at this point.
Probably Asking For Too Much
Kubo and the Two Strings
- This nomination is an achievement in itself, so asking for more is a bit much, but the immense beauty of this film is something to behold, and the novelty of this nomination could really help this film pull off a win. It also benefits because a lot of people really think it should win Best Animated, but don’t know how they can vote for it over Zootopia, so this would allow the movie to get an Oscar anyhow. It is going to be hard for Kubo to overcome the animation stigma–for example, it did nab six VES nominations, but those were all for animation. This is a nice little story, but Laika’s latest is likely coming up short against Disney once again
The Disney Trio
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Jungle Book
- This is where the winner is coming from. Disney offers three different variations of its brand in this category, and each has been well represented so far. The Jungle Book and Doctor Strange each got BAFTA and Critics’ Choice Awards nominations, with The Jungle Book winning. Rogue One got a BAFTA nomination, and then led the way with seven VES nominations while the other two each received six. The Jungle Book is definitely the favorite of the three, because it anointed the trend of Disney continuing to adapt its animated classics as new, CGI-filled live action crowd-pleasers. That said, the other two here shouldn’t be counted out quite yet until a couple more awards have been given out.[/expand]
VES Awards Update:
The Jungle Book came out the big winner with a massive haul of five trophies including the top prize, but everyone except for Rogue One got something. Deepwater Horizon picked up two awards, Kubo picked up the top animation award, and Doctor Strange won for Best Created Environment. This definitely establishes The Jungle Book as the clear favorite, but does show that all these films have support except for Rogue One (which is still a Star Wars film, so that counts for something). This category could still surprise, but everything is trending toward The Jungle Book.
Another win for The Jungle Book, which looks to be stalking toward victory. It would be a pretty big upset for it to lose at this point, and more than likely Disney has put its full weight behind this film.
That’s it for the technical categories. There will be one more of these posts so be on the lookout.