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Our Oscars Preview - The Technical Categories [2024]



By: Hopster & Isaac P. Ale
March 04, 2024

It's Oscars Week '24! Maybe this our year to nail our predictions... Here is Part 1 of our preview.

Margot Robbie in Barbie Barbie [2023]

Best Original Song


Nominees

  • The Fire Inside" from Flamin' Hot – Music and lyrics by Diane Warren (+1200)
  • "I'm Just Ken" from Barbie – Music and lyrics by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (+500)
  • "It Never Went Away" from American Symphony – Music and lyrics by Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson (+2400)
  • "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" from Killers of the Flower Moon – Music and lyrics by Scott George (+2400)
  • "What Was I Made For?" from Barbie – Music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell (-550)

Predictions

Isaac: As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell are up for another massive award. Most recently, the pair won for No Time To Die's song "No Time To Die", which continued another time-honored tradition of James Bond films winning the Oscar for Best Original Song. This year however, there's a little competition from their own film, Barbie, which boasts two original song nominations: Eilish and O'Connell's "What Was I Made For?" and "I'm Just Ken" coming from an absolutely on fire Ryan Gosling. The argument could be made that Gosling agreeing to perform at the awards was an "I'm going to lose so why not have fun" maneuver. But no matter what, the world wins on March 10th when Gosling gets up there and rips his song. Other than the two Barbie songs, the rest of the field has a steep uphill battle for the award. As much as I'd love to see "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" win, especially to get something for Killers of the Flower Moon, I'm not sure it will happen. Once again, I think Eilish continues her world domination by bagging her second Oscar in two years for "What Was I Made For?".

Hopster: "I'm Just Ken" from Barbie – Music and lyrics by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer Oppenheimer [2023]

Best Original Score


Nominees

  • American Fiction – Laura Karpman (+2300)
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – John Williams (+2300)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon – Robbie Robertson † (+1300)
  • Oppenheimer – Ludwig Göransson (-1200)
  • Poor Things – Jerskin Fendrix (+1600)

Predictions

Hopster: Without fail this is one of my favorite categories handed out at the Academy Awards. This year is no exception. There's a pair of first-time nominees (Laura Karpman and Jerskin Fendrix); a posthumous nomination for the late, great Robbie Robertson; a 54th Oscar nomination for the legend himself, John Williams; and of course, a frontrunner in Ludwig Göransson, whose work in Oppenheimer represents what might be a new creative high point for the acclaimed composer. His score is sophisticated in its conception and beautiful in its execution, a tour-de-force that is somehow indistinguishable from the tortured psyche of its titular character but can stand on its own outside the context of the film. Göransson's orchestration is often epic but still intimate, simple and creative in its design but with layered complexities. Few scores can deliver a single song that instantaneously ascends into the all-time movie music lexicon – safe to say that "Can You Hear The Music" has done just that. How many people have already added it to their "Coffeehouse Movie Soundtracks that Help Me Focus" playlists? Predicting a win for Oppenheimer here feels safe and surefire to me.

Isaac: Oppenheimer – Ludwig Göransson

Best Sound


Nominees

  • The Creator – Ian Voigt, Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn, Tom Ozanich, and Dean Zupancic (+2900)
  • Maestro – Steven A. Morrow, Richard King, Jason Ruder, Tom Ozanich, and Dean Zupancic (+2200)
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – Chris Munro, James H. Mather, Chris Burdon, and Mark Taylor (+2900)
  • Oppenheimer – Willie Burton, Richard King, Gary A. Rizzo, and Kevin O'Connell (-230)
  • The Zone of Interest – Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn (+160)

Predictions

Isaac: I think this is another one of those years where we lament the merging of the Sound categories of the past, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. All five of these films have outstanding "sound" in a very general sense, but we could absolutely get more granular in the accolades we give each film. Oppenheimer probably has the best sound editing out of the nominees, but The Zone of Interest is by far the best candidate for sound mixing. Mixing has never been a strong suit of Christopher Nolan films, and while I think Oppenheimer was a step in the direction of being able to hear Nolan's dialogue, I really think we could have a much more interesting winner. One of my big phrases I like to toss around this year is that Oppenheimer works with just about any other sound editing and mixing whereas The Zone of Interest only works with its phenomenal sound structure. It creates the feel of the film, establishes the emotion and themes, and quite simply could not be any better. Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burns have constructed a soundscape that is wholly unique and utterly chilling. I don't think there's been anything quite like it before, and the combination of quality and novelty is what makes me pick The Zone of Interest as my winner here.

Hopster: The Zone of Interest – Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn (those plus odds are tasty)

Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo in Poor Things Poor Things [2023]

Best Costume Design

Nominees

  • Barbie – Jacqueline Durran (+105)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon – Jacqueline West (+1600)
  • Napoleon – Janty Yates and Dave Crossman (+1600)
  • Oppenheimer – Ellen Mirojnick (+2300)
  • Poor Things – Holly Waddington (-125)

Predictions

Hopster: Bettors agree this is a two-horse race between Jacqueline Durran for Barbie and Holly Waddington for Poor Things. An argument can be made for either nominee: one costume designer was tasked with tackling the legacy and expectations that come with bringing the Mattel doll's historic wardrobe to life on the big screen; the other designer had to conceive and dress up an entirely different kind of Barbie, a Frankenstein-esque monster that happens to be a woman wearing outfits within a surrealist period piece. Neither achievement obviously outshines the other. Be sure to keep a close eye on this race – a win in this category for either film could mean one of two things: it could signal which film has stronger support with Academy voters and hint at potential outcomes in other categories, OR it could be a consolation prize for a film that might not win the rest of the night. When filling out my ballot, I'm going to lean towards Poor Things, which just won in this category at the BAFTAs a few weeks back. Yes I know, normally the BAFTAs aren't the strongest point of reference in developing a rationale for Oscar predictions... but I'll point out that over the last 20-odd years, the BAFTAs and Oscars recognize the same film in this category approximately two-thirds of the time. Take that for data.

Isaac: Barbie – Jacqueline Durran

Best Makeup and Hairstyling


Nominees

  • Golda – Karen Hartley Thomas, Suzi Battersby, and Ashra Kelly-Blue (+2900)
  • Maestro – Kazu Hiro, Kay Georgiou, and Lori McCoy-Bell (-175)
  • Oppenheimer – Luisa Abel (+1900)
  • Poor Things – Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier, and Josh Weston (+180)
  • Society of the Snow – Ana López-Puigcerver, David Martí, and Montse Ribé (+1000)

Predictions

Isaac: This category is absolutely stacked this year! Oppenheimer has a much more casual approach for makeup and hairstyling. Golda and Maestro boast slightly more transformative visuals by turning Helen Mirren into Golda Meir and Bradley Cooper into Leonard Bernstein to wonderful effect. Society of the Snow does a fantastic job transporting the actors into the hellscape of surviving in the Andes. All the while, Poor Things brings something entirely new and brilliant in its Victorian era styling yet grotesque Frankenstein's monster-esque making of Willem Dafoe. The BAFTA's went with Poor Things here, but the guild of makeup and hairstylists voted for Maestro. To me, receiving the award from actual workers in the industry as opposed to a board of voters that can include people that aren't actually performing the job is a bit more determinative. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Maestro, and I think the makeup and hairstyling are adequate. I'd prefer to see Poor Things win but the guild win, along with the classic biopic formula dangling in front of the Academy is going to be too much to disagree with.

Hopster: Poor Things – Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier, and Josh Weston

Best Production Design


Nominees

  • Barbie – Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer (+110)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon – Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Adam Willis (+2900)
  • Napoleon – Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Elli Griff (+2900)
  • Oppenheimer – Production Design: Ruth De Jong; Set Decoration: Claire Kaufman (+600)
  • Poor Things – Production Design: James Price and Shona Heath; Set Decoration: Zsuzsa Mihalek (+110)

Predictions

Hopster: Once again, this race is between Barbie and its bizarro step-cousin of a movie, the even weirder-than-Weird-Barbie, Poor Things. Another too-close-to-call craft category between these two films is a subplot of this year's Oscars that is both funny and a bit serendipitous. Like in costume design, there is a case to be made for either film winning here. Barbie's doll-to-real-life world-building is an already understood visual palette but still undeniable in its eye-popping realization. On the flip side, the production design and visual language in Poor Things is perfectly in sync with what the film is trying to say sub-textually, meta-textually, and any other -textually you can think of. Ultimately, I think predicting the winner in this category will (again) come down to voters' splitting hairs and their prioritization for what they determine is the more impressive contribution to each film. By the slimmest of margins, I think Barbie pulls out the win here, but don't hold me responsible if it doesn't.

Isaac: Poor Things – Production Design: James Price and Shona Heath; Set Decoration: Zsuzsa Mihalek

Best Cinematography


Nominees

  • El Conde – Edward Lachman (+1600)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon – Rodrigo Prieto (+1000)
  • Maestro – Matthew Libatique (+1900)
  • Oppenheimer – Hoyte van Hoytema (-550)
  • Poor Things – Robbie Ryan (+1000)

Predictions

Isaac: I'm a sucker for cinematography, but then again who isn't? Each nominee this year is outrageously good, and I'm actually a little upset at the spread of odds! No offense to Oppenheimer, but Hoyte van Hoytema's work shouldn't be that big of a front runner. The only reason I'm saying that is to credit the astounding work of the other candidates. Edward Lachman's work on El Conde was fantastic to see and to be nominated for an entirely black and white film is a massive honor in my opinion, with recently this honor also including Roma, The Tragedy of MacBeth, and Mank. Rodrigo Pietro's work in Killers of the Flower Moon is another highlight from this year and another entry in his stellar partnership with Martin Scorsese. The three films he did with Scorsese all resulted in a nomination in this category with The Irishman, Silence, and now Killers of the Flower Moon. I also can't say enough about Matthew Libatique's visual feast in Maestro and the weirdly wonderful Poor Things from Robbie Ryan. All of this being said... Hoyte van Hoytema has won the BAFTA, Critics Choice, and a slew of local critics society awards for cinematography for Oppenheimer. This is too good to not be true, and we will finally see Hoyte van Hoytema receive the Academy Award after countless phenomenal films.

Hopster: Oppenheimer – Hoyte van Hoytema

Sandra Hüller in Anatomy of a Fall Anatomy of a Fall [2023]

Best Film Editing


Nominees

  • Anatomy of a Fall – Laurent Sénéchal (+600)
  • The Holdovers – Kevin Tent (+1900)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon – Thelma Schoonmaker (+1300)
  • Oppenheimer – Jennifer Lame (-480)
  • Poor Things – Yorgos Mavropsaridis (+1900)

Predictions

Hopster: If the Oppenheimer wave is as gnarly and strong as currently projected, I would be surprised if Jennifer Lame DOESN'T win for Best Editing next Sunday night. She has been on absolute heater lately having collaborated with some of our best working directors, including Ari Aster, Noah Baumbach, and of course Christopher Nolan. Oppenheimer is her second time working with Nolan (the first was Tenet), but more so than with that film, Lame has not only cut together a fully cohesive narrative, but she's carefully constructed it in a way that is in service to the mode of biopic storytelling at work. The time-jumping, cross-cutting, and scene-splicing that she pulls off here is exemplary stuff. I've heard contrarian opinions that begrudge some of the flashy and sometimes over-stylized nature of Lame's editing decisions, but I think her work actually ties the movie together. This category is another 'always-competitive' collection of nominees, but this particularly race feels like it inevitably leans towards Oppenheimer, which is where I'll be placing my bet.

Isaac: Oppenheimer – Jennifer Lame

Best Visual Effects


Nominees

  • The Creator – Jay Cooper, Ian Comley, Andrew Roberts, and Neil Corbould (+125)
  • Godzilla Minus One – Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi, and Tatsuji Nojima (+100)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Stephane Ceretti, Alexis Wajsbrot, Guy Williams, and Theo Bialek (+1100)
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – Alex Wuttke, Simone Coco, Jeff Sutherland, and Neil Corbould (+2900)
  • Napoleon – Charley Henley, Luc-Ewen Martin-Fenouillet, Simone Coco, and Neil Corbould (+550)

Predictions

Isaac: What a toss up we have here. The Creator won at the VES (Visual Effects Society) awards which has led to an Oscar in Visual Effects for four out of the last seven winners. But Godzilla Minus One has been absolutely surging as of late racking up a litany of local critic society awards for best visual effects. You can't entirely count out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Napoleon or Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One but the real contenders are the films mentioned before that have turned their respectively smaller budgets into gorgeous blockbusters. Godzilla Minus One would certainly be a massive win here, paving the way for other movies with sub $15 million budgets to look like lavish projects. But I think the attachment of Greig Fraser to The Creator and his shooting of the film resulting in a visual effects approach that looked that good is what takes the cake. But again, this one is a real tough cookie.

Hopster: Godzilla Minus One – Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi, and Tatsuji Nojima

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