Oscars Predictions: Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, Visual Effects, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling
The average person doesn’t know the difference between sound mixing and sound editing, and with both categories oftentimes having the same winner it only seemed natural to combine the two, which is exactly what the Academy decided to do after last year’s awards show. The Oscars have tried in the past to shorten the show, to clean it up a bit for the average consumer, and while I’d argue that half of the fun of the Oscars is seeing the artists recognized that we normally take for granted, it is a three hour show that can feel a little long at parts. While sound designers in Hollywood obviously know the differences between sound editing and mixing, to nearly every other individual all we know is sounds. We hear sounds, the sounds help tell a story, but we aren’t too interested in knowing the difference. So this year will see the first use of the “Best Sound” category, while the number of awards drops down from 24 to 23, possibly leaving room for another to be added in the future.
Judas and the Black Messiah - Sean Bobbitt
Mank - Erik Messerschmidt
News of the World - Darius Wolski
Nomadland - Joshua James Richards
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Phedon Papamichael
And the Oscar goes to… Joshua James Richards for Nomadland. While this category is usually dominated by legends of the craft there is only one director of photography here who has been nominated before: Phedon Papamichael who was previously nominated for Nebraska in 2014. Richards seems like the obvious choice here, with his use of natural lighting to capture the barren American west and the real lives of nomads. Cinematography is about so much more than just camera angles and shots. It’s the look of the film, the feel of the film, the colors and ambience. The itinerant lifestyle of the nomads feels so real because of Richards work and the effort he put in to make it look as natural as possible.
Upset: Erik Messerschmidt for Mank. Not many films are released in black and white let alone shot in them but that challenge was undertaken by Messerschmidt and the meticulously precise David Fincher. The sheer amount of work that went into getting Mank to look right and to recreate 1940s Hollywood could be enough to get this film the win and that’s why it’s my dark horse in this category.
The Father - Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland - Chloé Zhao
Promising Young Woman - Frédéric Thoraval
Sound of Metal - Mikkel E. G. Nielsen
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Alan Baumgarten
And the Oscar goes to… Sound of Metal. At every Oscars there is one film that usually cleans up the technical categories and I think that this year that film is Sound of Metal. 6 of the last 7 winners for film editing and sound mixing have gone hand in hand and with how tightly both intertwine in Sound of Metal I find it hard to pick another film. The Trial of the Chicago 7 might be the frontrunner in this category but I am predicting somewhat of an upset. I’m not much of a risk taker when it comes to predicting award shows but this is one I’m willing to take.
Upset: The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Father. The Father makes a very compelling case in this category, with the editing so crucial to putting us inside of Anthony Hopkins' head and viewing his life the way that a man suffering from Alzheimer’s would see it. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a film that balances nearly a dozen main characters and their storylines but keeps the audience focused on the big picture. I think the two along with Sound of Metal are each a solid pick in their own right, but I’m going Sound of Metal on this one.
Greyhound - Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman
Mank - Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin
News of the World - Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett
Soul - Ren Klyce, Coya Elliot and David Parker
Sound of Metal - Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michellee Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh
And the Oscar goes to… Sound of Metal. It’s a bit ironic that the film about a heavy metal drummer losing his ability to hear is the one that would win best sound at the Oscars, but it’s much less the film’s lack of sound and more how the sounds that were available were used. I think this is the biggest shoo-in of any of the craft awards and I won’t waste any more time talking about it.
Upset: none. Sound of Metal has sound in its name. Let’s move on.
Love and Monsters - Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
The Midnight Sky - Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
Mulan - Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Murray and Steve Ingram
The One and Only Ivan - Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez
Tenet - Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher
And the Oscar goes to… Tenet. With nearly every studio blockbuster release being pushed back a year because of the pandemic, that opened the door for smaller films that would normally have no shot at being nominated. Tenet has the BAFTA to its name along with the Critics Choice which I think is enough to separate it from the rest of the field. I don’t have any strong feelings about this award any way I look at it. There’s no groundbreaking VFX included or any film that really pushes boundaries visually but I think Tenet’s production design nomination means something here compared to the other nominations for the other 4. The only other film with a nomination outside of visual effects is Mulan for costume design.
Upset: The Midnight Sky. While the chances of an upset here are low there’s still a possibility, especially considering the weak field, and The Midnight Sky could take advantage of that. By a simple process of elimination I’ve removed Love and Monsters, Mulan, and The One and Only Ivan from the equation, leaving the George Clooney led post-apocalyptic film as the next possible candidate after Tenet.
The Father - Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton
Mank - Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
News of the World - Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
Tenet - Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
And the Oscar goes to… Mank. I feel real good about this one. Mank is the most nominated film this year with 10 nominations, the second closest only having 6. However, besides a possible win in cinematography this could easily be the only gold Mank takes home on Sunday night. Mank looks to be in prime position with wins earlier this year at the Critics Choice Awards, BAFTAs, and the Art Directors Guild, so an Oscar win here is the next logical step. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood won this award last year for its recreation of 1960’s Los Angeles and I think Oscar voters will simply rewind some 30 odd years and give it to another recreation of the beloved hometown of Hollywood.
Upset: Tenet. Of Nolan’s last 7 films (Tenet included) only 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises has failed to be nominated for best production design, yet Nolan is still yet to see a winner in this category. I don’t think an upset is likely here, but with a win at the Art Directors Guild, I’d put Tenet squarely behind Mank, with a possible Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in the background.
Emma - Alexandra Byrne
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - Ann Roth
Mank - Trish Summerville
Mulan - Bina Daigeler
Pinocchio - Massimo Cantini Parrini
And the Oscar goes to… Ann Roth for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Ann Roth is a legendary costume designer who has been designing for films since the 60s, has 4 previous Oscar nominations and one win for The English Patient in 1997. When I think of costumes from the past year my mind immediately goes to those of Ma Rainey and the 1920s dresses adorning Viola Davis and the outfits of her party.
Upset: Emma, Mank. Emma is the period piece that very often takes this one home. Like most categories, costume design very often goes to the film that does the most, and Emma could pull out a win based on the sheer volume of costumes created. Mank is an outlier but one that could sneak in with all of Amanda Seyfried’s dresses and the classic Hollywood outfits adorning the entire cast.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Emma - Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze
Hillbilly Elegy - Eryn Kreuger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
Mank - Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen Labaff
Pinocchio - Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti
And the Oscar goes to… Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This film won the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards (MUAHS) for best period and/or character make-up and best period and/or character hair styling, beating out the likes of Hillbilly Elegy and Mank. Since the inception of the award in 2013, there has been only one time that the best period and/or character make-up winner has not lined up with the Oscars, last year where Joker won the MUAHS and Bombshell won the Oscar. The best period and/or character hair styling award winner has only gone on to win the Oscar once in the last 8 years but seeing as Ma Rainey beat out the other nominees in this category I have no reason to think that won’t translate to the Oscars. Looking back at the winners of this award over the last decade you can see a trend where the winner is the film that has the biggest physical character transformation. I would look no further than Viola Davis’ transformation into the “Mother of Blues” and call it a night.
Upset: Hillbilly Elegy. Speaking of transformations, the make-up crew for Hillbilly Elegy did one hell of a job turning Glenn Close and Amy Adams into disheveled hillbillies. While not a critical success, that’s never mattered to the Oscars, who gave this award to Suicide Squad 4 years ago. If there’s an upset here it’s gotta be Hillbilly Elegy.
The Oscars air live on ABC on Sunday, April 25th at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. Follow along during the ceremony on the LoveCinema Twitter and stay tuned to LoveCinema for more Oscar predictions in the coming days.