As we get down to the final week and a half or so until the Academy Awards ceremony, it’s worth focusing in on a few of the races that might still be up in the air. I have three of these pieces planned, with the first one being a look at the technical Oscar categories. There we’re likely to see a big fight between Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant. Sure, a few places like Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects could go elsewhere, but the other techs seem primed to be either in the corner of Mad Max: Fury Road or The Revenant.
One or two of the categories seem all but locked up at this stage in the game. Barring something absolutely shocking, you can mark down The Revenant and Emmanuel Lubezki for a surefire win in Best Cinematography. On the flip side, I suspect that Best Production Design is likely going to Mad Max: Fury Road. Obviously, an upset is possible, more so in the latter situation than the former, but techs are rarely completely done deals in close races like this one. How they go will likely go a long way towards deciding what happens in Best Picture, but more on that in a little bit.
Quickly, the aforementioned Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects aren’t necessarily going to either of these two juggernauts, with Original Score specifically not having either film nominated. Costume Design and Film Editing certainly could, but the first category also has Carol, Cinderella, and The Danish Girl with legitimate chances, while the second could easily wind up in the corner of The Big Short if that flick upsets in Best Picture. Either Mad Max: Fury Road or The Revenant could still win there, but they’re certainly going to lose in Original Score, probably to Ennio Morricone and The Hateful Eight, as well as in Visual Effects to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Aside from those cateogories though, look for a big battle between these two specific contenders.
Now, how will the rest of the categories break down? We have Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, which are a slugfest between Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant. If you’re just looking at what the stronger contender is, the latter is favored, considering it’s definitely winning Best Director for Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, along with the aforementioned Best Cinematography and perhaps even Best Picture. That sort of strength tends to tip the scales in the Sound categories, so that could be of note here. Honestly, The Revenant seems to be ahead in a lot of places, with the probable exception being Production Design, where the uniqueness of Mad Max: Fury Road could carry the day.
For me, the big thing to watch out for is what happens in Editing. At the moment, I have Mad Max: Fury Road taking Production Design as well as Makeup & Hairstyling, while The Revenant gets Cinematography, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. Both are in play for Editing, but they also have The Big Short looming there. I don’t think The Big Short can win Picture without Editing, but it definitely can’t if The Revenant takes it. If Mad Max: Fury Road wins, that could make things even more interesting. For the sake of tension, that’s the one I’m picking currently, though it leaves me still predicting The Revenant in the big category. More on that tomorrow though.
So, what have we learned? Not much, frankly, but that’s a testament to how close a race we still have in the final days before the Oscars. The odds favor a good night for The Revenant across the board, but it was only a week or so ago that Mad Max: Fury Road was all but dominating the tech categories. We’ll have to see what the last minute buzz is, but It seems like they could wind up splitting the techs. Will that open things up to any upsets? That won’t be known until we’re actually at Oscar night, but it’s something to keep in mind, that’s for sure. Sit tight folks…
Stay tuned to see whether Mad Max: Fury Road or The Revenant rule the tech categories at the Academy Awards!