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Oscar predictions: Deciphering the visual crafts awards

February 23, 2012 | 12:53 pm

The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp predicts the Oscar winners in five visual crafts categories
The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, predicting the winners. Take a look at the music categories, the short films and the sound races. Here, he looks at five crafts categories rewarding eye-pleasing work …


The nominees:

“The Artist,” Guillaume Schiffman
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Jeff Cronenweth
“Hugo,” Robert Richardson
“The Tree of Life,” Emmanuel Lubezki
“War Horse,” Janusz Kaminski

And the winner is … “The Tree of Life.” Emmanuel Lubezki has won 43 awards during his career as one of the world’s great cinematographers. None of these trophies have come from the academy, despite four prior nominations. (We can still hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth that followed his 2007 loss for “Children of Men.”) Will voters right this wrong this year? Encouraging signs: a BAFTA win; a victory at the American Society of Cinematographers awards; scores of trophies from critics groups; universal acclaim for the emotionally resonant imagery he captured in “The Tree of Life.” Finally … a win for Chivo!

Unless … It’s 2007 all over again. Then look for Robert Richardson to win his third Oscar or, possibly, newcomer Schiffman to win his first.


The nominees:

“The Artist,” production design: Laurence Bennett; set decoration: Robert Gould
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2,” production design: Stuart Craig; set decoration: Stephenie McMillan
“Hugo,” production design: Dante Ferretti; set decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“Midnight in Paris,” production design: Anne Seibel; set decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
“War Horse,” production design: Rick Carter; set decoration: Lee Sandales

And the winner is … “Hugo.” It’s not really fair, is it, pitting the whimsical design of “Midnight in Paris” against the insanely detailed Parisian train station in “Hugo,” a world unto itself, a universe that certainly didn’t need those 3-D glasses to make it come alive. This is “Hugo’s” surest path to a win, which would be the third Oscar for the husband-and-wife team of Ferretti and Lo Schiavo.

Unless … “The Artist” wins everything.


The nominees:

“Anonymous,” Lisy Christl
“The Artist,” Mark Bridges
“Hugo,” Sandy Powell
“Jane Eyre,” Michael O’Connor
“W.E.,” Arianne Phillips

And the winner is … “The Artist.” Those “W.E.” and “Anonymous” screeners remain at the bottom of the stack. “Jane Eyre”? Eh. Not exactly eye-popping. So it’s between the tuxedos and flapper chic of “The Artist” and all those fun silent-movie costumes and period Parisians in “Hugo.” We bet voters go for the glamour.

Unless … Powell (might we say deservedly?) wins her fourth Oscar.


The nominees:

“Albert Nobbs,” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2,” Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
“The Iron Lady,” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

And the winner is … “The Iron Lady.” It's the first-ever nomination for “Potter,” so the academy clearly isn’t all that taken with the fluffiness of Hagrid’s beard. “Nobbs” makeup is as understated as Close’s performance, and we know by now how that registers with voters. Basically, the “Iron Lady” team won this Oscar the moment Meryl Streep came on the screen wearing old-age makeup and dentures.

Unless … The “Potter” people suddenly discover a spell to win the series its first Oscar.


The nominees:

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2,” Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
“Hugo,” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning
“Real Steel,” Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

And the winner is … “Apes.” If you’re not an academy member, you’re thinking this is a no-brainer. One problem: Since this category came into existence in 1977, a best picture nominee has never lost to a movie that wasn’t nominated for best picture. And guess what movie wasn’t nominated? So how does “Apes” win? Even voters who wouldn’t be caught within a 10-mile radius of a theater playing “Transformers” or “Real Steel” know the intricacies and brilliance of WETA’s work on “Apes,” thanks to Fox’s sustained campaign for Andy Serkis in the supporting actor category. All the attention didn’t secure Serkis a nomination, but it did place the movie in the minds of genre-averse academy members.

Unless … History’s drumbeat continues unabated. Then score another win for “Hugo.”


Emmanuel Lubezki wins top cinematographers honor

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes": An Oscar push for Andy Serkis

"Hugo," "Harry Potter," "Dragon Tattoo" win big at Art Directors awards

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Sean Penn in "The Tree of Life." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures