Adam Predicts the Oscars Part 2: Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup, and Short Categories

     February 27, 2014


Continuing on with predictions for this Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, today we take a look at the rest of the technical categories and the shorts—aka where Oscar ballots are made or lost.  I surmised that Gravity would clean up in most of yesterday’s categories, but the love will have to be spread around when it comes to Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, and possibly Production Design.  After the jump, I run through these categories as well as the contenders for Best Animated Short, Live-Action Short, and Documentary Short in Part 2 of my Oscar predictions.


gravity-alfonso-cuaron-emmanuel-lubezkiThe Grandmaster


Inside Llewyn Davis



This category is chock-full of quality, but it’s Gravity’s to lose.  It’s hard to argue with any one of the five nominees here as they all display stellar work, and Prisoners marks Roger Deakins’ 11th nomination—though he still has yet to win.  There’s the gorgeous black-and-white photography from Nebraska to consider, as well as the wonderfully muted tone of Inside Llewyn Davis, but again, this one comes down to Gravity.  It helps that the technology used to photograph the shots in Gravity were actually invented by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, director Alfonso Cuaron, and their team, but even without that piece of trivia it’s obvious that Lubezki’s work is simply extraordinary.  Moreover, the Academy has actually trended towards CG-enhanced camera work in recent years with Avatar, Life of Pi, and Hugo all winning this trophy, so pencil in Lubezki for his first well-deserved win after six nominations.

Will Win: Gravity

Dark Horse: Nebraska

Should Win: Gravity

Should Have Been Nominated: Her and 12 Years a Slave

Production Design

the-great-gatsby-elizabeth-debicki-joel-edgerton-carey-mulligan-tobey-maguireAmerican Hustle


The Great Gatsby


12 Years a Slave

Now here’s a technical category that Gravity doesn’t have sewn up.  The Production Design (or “Art Direction”) category normally favors large-scale fantasy films or lavish period epics, but this year’s nominees reflect a subtler batch of contenders (which makes sense given that the subdued Lincoln won the trophy last year).  The stellar work on Her might just be too understated to take the win, and more contemporary films aren’t usually successful in this category so American Hustle seems like a long shot as well.  That leaves us with a realistic period piece (12 Years a Slave), a more flashy and colorful period piece (The Great Gatsby), and a VFX-heavy “science-fiction” film (Gravity).  Avatar’s win a few years ago gives precedence for those worried that the CG-created environments of Gravity are too tech-heavy to pull off the win, and the film is indeed a serious contender in this race.  I’m afraid 12 Years a Slave is, again, just too restrained to take this one home, which brings us to the obvious frontrunner The Great Gatsby.  Though Baz Luhrmann’s film has its fair share of CG-enhanced environments, it’s the more “flashy” pick between Gatsby and Gravity and it does showcase some incredibly impressive sets (most notably Gatsby’s mansion), so I think it might have the edge here.  This one’s definitely close, though.

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Dark Horse: Gravity

Should Win: Her

Should Have Been Nominated: Inside Llewyn Davis

Costume Design

american-hustle-jennifer-lawrence-amy-adamsAmerican Hustle

The Grandmaster

The Great Gatsby

The Invisible Woman

12 Years a Slave

Hey look, a category in which Gravity isn’t nominated!  This is actually where American Hustle has a shot at pulling out the win for its very plunging 1970s wardrobe, but it has serious competition in the extravagant costumes of The Great Gatsby.  Too few voters have seen The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster so I think we can safely say those two are out, and while it’s certainly excellent work, the costumes in 12 Years a Slave are a bit understated for the Academy’s taste.  That brings us to the two most obvious candidates. No one does opulence like Baz Luhrmann and my head says Gatsby wins this, but given how many nominations American Hustle picked up this could be a way of recognizing the film without giving it the big trophy.  But then again, history strongly favors lavish period pieces.  I’m torn, and while my gut says Hustle, I’ll side with history on this one and go with Gatsby.

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Dark Horse: American Hustle

Should Win: The Great Gatsby

Should Have Been Nominated: Her

Makeup & Hairstyling

dallas-buyers-club-jared-letoDallas Buyers Club

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

The Lone Ranger

It’s a bit surprising that American Hustle failed to land a nomination in this category, but the voting block picked an interesting set of nominees.  Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa would actually be the presumed frontrunner, but the voters love a good narrative and that’s exactly what they have in Dallas Buyers Club, which worked with a makeup budget of just $250.  That story has been percolating in recent weeks as Oscar voting heats up, and combined with the film’s obvious affection as evidenced by its numerous nominations, I think Dallas Buyers Club takes it.

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club

Dark Horse: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Should Win: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Should Have Been Nominated: American Hustle

Animated Short Film


Get a Horse!

Mr. Hublot


Room on the Broom

The Short Film categories can sometimes be a trove of unexpected gems, but that is not the case this year.  The Animated Short category, in particular, is quite lacking, but Get a Horse! and Mr. Hublot appear to be the frontrunners for the win.  I didn’t love either but Hublot is a fairly charming steampunk-esque story about a man and his dog, while Get a Horse! is a throwback Disney short that only works when seen in 3D.  Since Get a Horse! is the one short film that most voters have likely seen (it was attached to Frozen), and since Disney took this trophy last year, I think the Mouse House wins again.

Will Win: Get a Horse!

Dark Horse: Mr. Hublot

Should Win: Mr. Hublot

Live Action Short Film

the-voorman-problem-martin-freemanThat Wasn’t Me

Just Before Losing Everything


Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?

The Voorman Problem

Like the Animated Short category, the Live Action Short category doesn’t really have anything mind-blowing to offer.  That said, The Voorman Problem—the only short in the English language—is quite fun and it has star-power going for it with Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander in the leads, so it feels like the obvious frontrunner.

Will Win: The Voorman Problem

Dark Horse: Helium

Should Win: The Voorman Problem

Documentary Short Subject


Facing Fear

Karama Has No Walls

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

The short The Lady in Number 6 focuses on a 110-year-old Holocaust survivor, and she died two days before the Academy voting period closed.  That about seals this one right up.

Will Win: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Dark Horse: Facing Fear

Check back tomorrow for the final installment of my Oscar predictions, including Best Picture, Best Director, and the acting and screenplay categories.


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