OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2018: The visual and artistic categories

(Image: hypable.com)

(Image: hypable.com)


This year returning host Jimmy Kimmel gets to redeem himself and likely make seven or more Moonlight envelope flub jokes for the banner 90th Academy Awards.  With less than a week to go, let’s breakdown predictions.  Throughout the awards season, I’ve been tallying the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories on the 2018 Awards Tracker as a big source of my prognostication data. In this third post, we look at the visual and artistic categories that include cinematography, production design, editing, visual effects, costume design, and makeup and hair-styling.  As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!


The nominees:  Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049, Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk, Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water, Rachel Morrison for Mudbound, and Bruce Delbonnel for Darkest Hour

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  28- Deakins, 5- van Hoytema, 3- Laustsen, 1- Morrison, 1- Sayombhu Mukdeeprom for Call Me by Your Name, and 1- Mart Taniel for November

Who was snubbed:  This is an extremely solid field.  Even though I’m not a Dunkirk flag-waver, Hoytema’s work is excellent.  Honestly, the most pedestrian-ish work of the five could be Laustsen, but, gosh, it would be hard to replace him with Baby Driver, Wonderstruck, War for the Planet of the Apes, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or Wonder Woman.  

Happy to be there:  This is normally the section where I’m sarcastic about some lesser nominee squeaking in.  In a legitimate “happy to be there” story, huge congratulations go to Mudbound's Rachel Morrison in becoming the first female Best Cinematography nominee in Oscar history.  Her work deserved this recognition and it’s wonderful to see her inclusion.  If there wasn’t a legend waiting to win his first Oscar, a win for her would be wonderful.

Who should win and will win:  Roger Deakins is the best cinematographer in the game right now and it’s borderline preposterous that he hasn’t won an Oscar in 13 previous nominations over the course of his career.  Blade Runner 2049 feels like the right work and the right colossal film for Deakins to finally get over.  


The nominees:  Baby Driver, Dunkirk, I, Tonya, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  10- Baby Driver, 8- Dunkirk, 2- I, Tonya, and five other films with one win

Who was snubbed:  This is a rare place where The Post deserved another Oscar shot.  Steven Spielberg’s longtime editor Michael Kahn deserved what would have been his 8th career nomination for the peppy cuts to make the newsroom sizzle.  Even though the tasks are different, animation never gets due credit in this category.  One of the more kinetic films of the year was The LEGO Batman Movie where that’s an editing triumph.

Happy to be there:  With its exhaustive monologues and simple structure, I have no idea why Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is up for this category.  I’m not saying it needed gimmicks to be here like the eventual winner, but a little more pep-in-its-step to keep some of us from dosing off might make it more worthy.

Who should win and will win:  Dunkirk could surprise here with its rendition of another Christopher Nolan Mobius strip, but the best editing work of the year belongs to Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss of Baby Driver.  The synchronization of music, film, and performance was out of this world.  Choreographer Ryan Heffington deserves a piece of this award credit too.


The nominees:  Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner 2049, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  11- Blade Runner 2049, 9- The Shape of Water, 1- Logan, 1- Coco

Who was snubbed:  No offense to the domination of period pieces this year, but I think the fantasy and genre efforts in art direction and production design were superior to several of these final five nominees.  Give me War for the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Wonder Woman over a few of these.

Happy to be there:  If I was trading those three fantasy films in, I would bounce Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, and The Shape of Water.  Those three feel a shade or two lesser than the superior looks of the blockbusters.

Who should win:  The set design on Blade Runner 2049 was incredibly massive and deserves to win this award handily.  The variety of sheer styles across the practical sets and seamless special effects combinations were so on point in every scene.  Combine that with Deakins’ cinematography and you have the most visually appealing film of the year.

Who will win:  Boasting its own unique variety of factory underbelly with theatre marquee charm, The Shape of Water has narrowly passed Blade Runner 2049 for the favor in this category.  The field-leading 13 nominations for the film means it’s going to start carrying a few of these technical and artistic awards for winning volume, even if it doesn’t fully deserve them.  Like the musical score, this is one of them.


The nominees:  Beauty and the Beast, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Victoria and Abdul

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  6- Phantom Thread, 3- Beauty and the Beast, and five others with one win

Who was snubbed:  Just like production design, I think it’s high time fantasy films earned more credit for their work.  Beauty and the Beast deserves to be joined by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and even Wonder Woman in this category.  

Happy to be there:  Victoria and Abdul is the token frilly Brit nominee (there’s always one), followed by Darkest Hour and its suits and medals.  Further, The Shape of Water is singularly here pretty much for just Doug Jones impressive costume as the sea creature, but that’s it.

Who should win and will win:  Come on.  The film about a fashion designer filled with impressively radiant handmade gowns has to win, right?  This could be another sneak win for The Shape of Water, but I think this becomes the token bone of spread wealth to Phantom Thread, in what will be it’s only Oscar win of the night.


The nominees:  Darkest Hour, Victoria and Abdul, Wonder

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  2- Phantom Thread, 1- Darkest Hour, 1- Beauty and the Beast

Who was snubbed:  For me, it’s ridiculous this category doesn’t fully honor a field of five nominees like every other category.  Two snubs are already built in.  I’m surprised in leading this year’s Academy Awards nominations that Best Makeup and Hair-Styling wasn’t the record-tying 14th nomination for The Shape of Water to put it in the history books next to All About Eve, Titanic, and La La Land.   The other large-scale film that deserves to be there is either Beauty and the Beast or Kurt Russell’s coif of hair and the outstanding alien creations of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  I’m telling you.  Fantasy films keep getting the shaft.

Happy to be there:  Just like in Costume Design, Victoria and Abdul is the least impactful nominee of these three by a country mile.  They get to wave and smile at the ceremony for their spouses and husbands.

Who should win:  Handicapping this category, this is looking like the battle of “Best Lead Character Transformation” more than an entire award.  Personally, I think the prosthetic work to transform Jacob Tremblay in Wonder was the more difficult work and task, but it’s not the more important film in Oscar voters’ eyes.

Who will win:  People have raved over a year before the release of Darkest Hour on how well the makeup makes Gary Oldman unrecognizably disappear as Sir Winston Churchill.  Maturity and respect for elders beat the adorable kid. 


The nominees:  Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War for the Planet of the Apes

AWARDS TRACKER DATA:  9- War for the Planet of the Apes, 6- Blade Runner 2049, 1- Coco, 1- Dunkirk

Who was snubbed:  Pedigree says Dunkirk should be here, especially for its strong base of practical effects.  I think the film received enough nominations in total where this wasn’t a definitive strength.

Happy to be there: Kong: Skull Island is the surprise contestant of these five.  It doesn’t have a glimmer of a chance to win, but it can brag about the Oscar nominee label and bumping Dunkirk.

Who should win and will win: Blade Runner 2049 probably has more clout, but I’m going for the second contender to assert itself get the Oscar it was deserved for three films now.  I’m going with War for the Planet of the Apes.  The whole trilogy’s masterful performance capture work and the superb acting that came with it, led by the extraordinary Andy Serkis, should get proper recognition.  No other nominated film is close.