Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Predicting The 90th Academy Awards: The Visual Categories

By Matt Neglia

You’ve read my predictions on the actingscreenplay, other best film and audio categories for the 90th Academy Awards. Now, it is time to dive deep into the visual categories which consist of Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing as I finalize my predictions for the Oscars this Sunday.

​Click below to see analysis and predictions for these six categories.



Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling…

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul

​And here is the breakdown of winners from 2000 until now…


Due to the huge gap of years where the Makeup and Hairstylists guild did not hand out winners, I chose not to include them in the chart list comparison above. “Darkest Hour” won two awards there. It won at Critics Choice. It won at BAFTA. The makeup designer literally came out of retirement to do this movie. His work is as much responsible for Gary Oldman’s Oscar win as anything else. With virtually no competition all season, you can pretty much pencil this in as one of the locks of the night. This category is historically unusual though and if an upset were to occur watch out for it in the form of “Wonder” which was a surprising box office hit and struck a chord with audiences. However, who are we kidding? We’ve been here before with “La Vie en Rose,” “The Iron Lady” and even “Dallas Buyers Club.” The make-up is going to compliment the acting win and as a result, it’s going to be “Darkest Hour.”




Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design…

Beauty And The Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape Of Water

Victoria & Abdul

​And here is the breakdown of winners from 2000 until now…


It seemed like this was going to go to “Phantom Thread” in a complete sweep but then the Costume Designers Guild (CDG) through us a curveball when they picked “The Shape Of Water” over it in their category. Featuring period costumes and a flashy design for the fish-man suit, the Best Picture contender has established itself as a firm challenger to the once seemingly unbeatable “Phantom Thread.” Now “Phantom Thread” has the Critics Choice and the BAFTA, along with the most precursor wins this season but like “Jackie” last year, missed out on the CDG which should’ve tipped us off that it was vulnerable here and would lose. Many just felt it would lose to “La La Land” instead of “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” which did not establish itself as much of a contender last year.

While the Critics Choice had a perfect track record until last year, the BAFTA has had a less than perfect track record. They have correctly helped us to predict this category 9/17 times. Of the times it did not match, only two times did the winner come from one of the CDG winners: 2002 & 2003. The other times it did not win, the winner seemingly came out of nowhere to win the Oscar.

So how good is the CDG prediction rate considering they usually pick more than one winner? They too have correctly matched the Oscar winner 9/17 times. And guess what? If you’re picking “The Shape Of Water” to win Best Picture, guess which were the last two winners to win the Costume Design Oscar and Best Picture? 2002 and 2003, the only two years where BAFTA did not match with CDG and the Oscar went to the CDG winner instead.

We’re obviously living in different times where the preferential ballot throws everything off when it comes to picking a Best Picture winner. While my head says “The Shape Of Water” my heart says “Phantom Thread” for it did receive many important nominations including surprise nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. That amount of love for the movie THAT IS ABOUT COSTUMES should translate into a win for Costumes…no? Honestly, it’s probably closer than we all think.

RUNNER-UP:The Shape Of Water


est Production Design

Here are the nominees for Best Production Design…

Beauty And The Beast
Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour
The Shape Of Water

​And here is the breakdown of winners from 1996 until now…


Here is another category where it looks like a slam-dunk for “The Shape Of Water.” In the sample included above, the only film to win Critics Choice, the Art Directors Guild (ADG) and the BAFTA and still go on to lose the Oscar was “Inception.”

If you take away the Critics Choice, from 2000-2008 the winner of the Oscar went to the ADG Winner 5 times and to the BAFTA winner only once in 2004. 2004 remains the only year where the Oscar winner won only the BAFTA and nothing else.

The ADG winner without the BAFTA win though is a longer list (Mostly because the ADG rewards more than one film) but those winners were “Moulin Rouge!” (2001), “The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King” (2003), “Memoirs Of A Geisha” (2005) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006).

2000, 2002, 2007 and 2012 remain as the years where the Oscar winner did not previously win at either Critics Choice, BAFTA or ADG.

And taken all together with the sample size provided above, the Critics Choice have a success rate of 6/8 (75%), ADG 14/21 (67%) and BAFTA 7/17 (41%).

So what does all of this mean?

It means that as much as “The Shape Of Water” has established its dominance in this category, 2010 proved to us that you can win all three major precursors and still go on to lose the Oscar and more often than not the alternative Oscar winner usually comes from the ADG as opposed to the BAFTA but the Critics Choice still remains the dominant precursor despite their age. “Avatar,” ” Hugo,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (With the exception of “Inception”) are all winners that swept these three awards before going on to win the Oscar. I have no doubt that “The Shape Of Water” is going to do the exact same thing. Just know that the precedent for it to lose is there in the case of an upset.

​RUNNER-UP: “Blade Runner 2049


Visual Effects

Here are the nominees for Best Visual Effects…

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2
Kong: Skull Island
​”Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War For The Planet Of The Apes

​And here is the breakdown of winners from 2000 until now…


Here we go. One of the toughest races of the night. With no Best Picture nominees present, this race is down to the two frontrunners all season: “Blade Runner 2049” and “War For The Planet Of The Apes.” What cracks me up about this category is how much “War For The Planet Of The Apes” is following in the exact same footsteps as the previous two films in the franchise.

1. Wins the Critics Choice Award
2. Wins a the Visual Effects Society
3. Loses the BAFTA
4. Gets a lone Oscar nomination only for its Visual Effects

War For The Planet Of The Apes” did literally all of these exact four things the previous two films did and yet, people are still picking it to win. Why? Call it sentimentality, call it whatever you want. Does it have the best visual effects of the year? Yes. Is it a way to reward the whole trilogy and also by extensions Andy Serkis (In sort of a weird way)? Yes. But we’ve been in this exact same position before and twice before, the Oscar went to a film they considered to be more “prestigious” and that had more nominations. And guess what? BAFTA has the best success rate with matching the Oscars anyway!

Critics Choice – 3/8 (38%)
VES – 10/15 (67%)
​BAFTA – 12/17 (71%)

If “War For The Planet Of The Apes” wins, it will be wholly deserved but against a film that has 5 other nominations against its lone nomination and when all other stats point to a victory for “Blade Runner 2049?” Yeah, I’m not falling for this for a third time.

PREDICTED WINNER: “Blade Runner 2049
​RUNNER-UP: “War For The Planet Of The Apes


Best Cinematography

Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography…

Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour

The Shape Of Water

​And here is the breakdown of winners from 1986 until now…


Is this it? Will this finally be the year for Roger Deakins? Liam Heffernan thinks so. Most of our staff thinks so. And honestly, I think so too. After 14 nominations, I believe that the most well respected cinematographer of our time will finally get his due.

Looking at the stats above, Deakins has won the Critics Choice, ASC and the BAFTA. Every winner that has gone on to do that, has gone on to win the Oscar. This happened in 2013, 2014 and 2015, the three back to back years for Emmanuel Lubezki, another cinematographer who people were desperately hoping would get his first Academy Award. Maybe Deakins will begin his own win streak at this point. Doubtful given his track record but there are many factors in play suggesting that he will miss out yet again.

Blade Runner 2049,” despite its five nominations is not a Best Picture nominee. You have to go back all the way to 2006 when a non-Best Picture nominee won this category and that was “Pan’s Labyrinth” which broke all the stats to beat out the frontrunner that year, “Children Of Men” (ASC & BAFTA winner). Roger Deakins has also been in this (somewhat similar) spot before where he won the ASC & BAFTA for “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and lost the Oscar to Best Picture nominee “The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.” We’re at a point where you have to ask yourself a few things…

1. Despite not having his name on the voting ballot, was the heavily publicized push for Deakins enough this year?
2. Do voters think “Blade Runner 2049” is objectively the “prettiest” film of the year?
3. Do voters love “Dunkirk” or “The Shape Of Water” more as films that they are likely to check them off going down the line?

​No one knows the answers and yet we can only use our gut. We have said before that Deakins had a very strong shot to win both in 2001 and once again in 2010 (BAFTA win for “True Grit” gave us hope) and 2012 (“Skyfall”). But now, after so many nominations and many close calls, I think it is finally his time. Now watch Hoyte van Hoytema win for “Dunkirk” or Dan Laustsen for “The Shape Of Water.”

PREDICTED WINNER:Blade Runner 2049
RUNNER-UP:The Shape Of Water


Best Film Editing

Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing…

Baby Driver
I, Tonya

The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, 

​And here is the breakdown of winners from 1967 until now…


Oh boy! Here we go! “Dunkirk” vs. “Baby Driver” in Best Film Editing. This is the category I have been going back and forth on the most mostly due to how evenly split their awards run have been this season.


Both films won the Critics Choice, in which case, had only one film won there that would probably be the film I’d be picking to win. “Dunkirk” won the ACE-Drama while “Baby Driver” failed to beat out “I, Tonya” at ACE in the Comedy category which was surprising. Then, it came roaring back with a BAFTA win, which has helped us to predict this category in the last three years, two of which were years where the Oscar winner only won BAFTA (“Hacksaw Ridge” & “Whiplash”) and failed to win at Critics Choice or Golden Globes.

The breakdown for how well each has done at matching the Oscar goes like this…

Critics Choice – 3/8 (38%)
​ACE – 34/52 (65%)
BAFTA – 8/17 (47%)

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the only film to win at all three main precursors and go on to win the Oscar. Neither “Baby Driver” or “Dunkirk” are in this situation. So let’s take a look at combo success rate…

CC/ACE – The only film to win both CC/ACE was “La La Land” and it went on to lose to the BAFTA winner “Hacksaw Ridge
CC/BAFTA – No film has ever won only these two and gone on to win the Oscar

The stats say that “Dunkirk” will win this for even though the last time a film won the CC/ACE, it went on to lose the Oscar to the BAFTA winner. The ACE success rate is still higher than BAFTA though. The amount of times the ACE winner went on to win the Oscar but lost the BAFTA is 5/11 times since 2000. The other times, either the BAFTA winner won (“Whiplash” and “Hacksaw Ridge“), the Critics Choice winner won (“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”) or a combo winner won.

​Simply put, these two films could not be any closer together. I recognize wholeheartedly that “Baby Driver” could pull a “Bourne Ultimatum” and win Film Editing/Sound Editing/Sound Mixing. “Dunkirk” should have easily won BAFTA but it did not. It’s true that it is vulnerable. However, with 8 nominations in total including Best Picture and Best Director, it is very hard to bet against that kind of a well respected and highly nominated film. Lee Smith has previously been nominated for “Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World” and “The Dark Knight” (And was mysteriously snubbed for his work on “Inception”). “Dunkirk’s” entire gimmick is that it is structured around these three timelines that are happening simultaneously and was highly acclaimed for its impeccable pacing. “Baby Driver” is the flashier and obvious work but my gut says “Dunkirk.”

RUNNER-UP:Baby Driver

And that’s it for the visual categories. Check back with me on Saturday when I reveal my final predictions and analysis into Best Picture and Best Director. What are your thoughts on these six categories though? What do you think is going to win Best Makeup & HairstylingBest Costume DesignBest Production DesignBest Visual EffectsBest Cinematography and Best Film Editing at the Oscars this year? Be sure to check out my previous articles on predicting the actingscreenplayother best film and the audio categories as we get closer to the Oscars this Sunday.

You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture

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Matt Neglia
Matt Negliahttps://nextbestpicture.com/
Obsessed about the Oscars, Criterion Collection and all things film 24/7. Critics Choice Member.

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