February 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Oscar predictions in the crafts categories: ‘Mank’ has bank

After landing a leading six Golden Globe nominations a couple of weeks ago, David Fincher’s “Mank” was once again the awards season’s King Kong, standing atop the Empire State Building, swatting aside all competitors … until the next day, when SAG Awards voters snubbed it in the ensemble category and also elbowed out expected Oscar supporting actress nominee Amanda Seyfried. Then, it was RIP “Mank.” Enjoy your consolation prize: a three-day, all-expenses paid trip to Hearst Castle.

But as you comb through my Oscar predictions for the categories often grouped under the umbrella of “crafts,” you’ll see one movie featured in each and every one.

“Mank” lives! “Mank” lives!

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Mank,” Donald Graham Burt (production designer), Jan Pascale (set decorator)
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Mark Ricker (production designer), Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton (set decorators)
“News of the World,” David Crank (production designer), Elizabeth Keenan (set decorator)
“Mulan,” Grant Major (production designer), Anne Kuljian (set decorator)
“Tenet,” Nathan Crowley (production designer), Kathy Lucas (set decorator)

On the cusp: “Emma,” Kave Quinn (production designer), Stella Fox (set decorator); “One Night in Miami,” Page Buckner (production designer), Janessa Hitsman (set decorator); “The Midnight Sky,” Jim Bissell (production designer), John Bush (set decorator); “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Shane Valentino (production designer), Andrew Baseman (set decorator); “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” Cristina Casali (production designer), Charlotte Dirickx (set decorator); “The Father,” Peter Francis (production designer), Cathy Featherstone (set decorator)

Now, I’m not saying “Mank” will win a ton of Oscars. But this category represents its best shot for the vivid way it recreated classic Hollywood and San Simeon and evoked the feel of the era when writer Herman Mankiewicz roamed studio lots, tossing out quips and making ill-advised wagers. Burt has made six films with Fincher, winning the Oscar 12 years ago for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” He’ll probably have a bookend for “Mank.”

Steven Yeun, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-jung Youn, Yeri Han and Noel Cho in “Minari.”

(Josh Ethan Johnson / A24)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards
“News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski
“Mank,” Erik Messerschmidt
“Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sean Bobbitt
“Minari,” Lachlan Milne

Next up: “Da 5 Bloods,” Newton Thomas Sigel; “One Night in Miami,” Tami Reiker; “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Phedon Papamichael; “Tenet,” Hoyte van Hoytema; “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” Łukasz Żal; “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Tobias A. Schliessler; “Malcolm & Marie,” Marcell Rév; “The Midnight Sky,” Martin Ruhe

I took a deeper look at this category a few weeks ago. And I’m wavering right now between Milne’s beautiful work on “Minari,” bringing viewers fully into the family’s Arkansas farm and the characters’ interior lives, and Sigel’s evocative run through the jungle in “Da 5 Bloods.” Both are wonderful and worthy.

Viola Davis dancing onstage with a group of backup dancers in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

Viola Davis commands her audience — and look at that dress — in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

(David Lee / Netflix)

COSTUME DESIGN

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Ann Roth
“Mank,” Trish Summerville
“Mulan,” Bina Daigeler
“Emma,” Alexandra Byrne
“The Personal History of David Copperfield,” Suzie Harman and Robert Worley

On the cusp: “One Night in Miami,” Francine Jamison-Tanchuck; “The Prom,” Lou Eyrich; “News of the World,” Mark Bridges; “Ammonite,” Michael O’Connor; “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Susan Lyall; “The Glorias,” Sandy Powell; “Promising Young Woman,” Nancy Steiner; “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” Paolo Nieddu

Roth, 89, has worked on more than 100 movies (she collaborated with Mike Nichols 13 times). She has won an Oscar (“The English Patient,” working with Anthony Minghella, another favorite) and a Tony (“The Nance”), and, when she’s nominated for “Ma Rainey,” she’ll pass the late, great Christopher Plummer and become the oldest Oscar nominee in history. Should Roth win — and her work on Ma Rainey’s dresses made her every bit the queen she was — she’d make history there too.

Glenn Close and Amy Adams in "Hillbilly Elegy."

Glenn Close and Amy Adams let their hair down in “Hillbilly Elegy.”

(Lacey Terrell / Netflix)

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
“Pinocchio”

On the cusp: “Emma,” “The Glorias,” “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” “The Little Things,” “One Night in Miami”

For “Ma Rainey,” makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera needed to recreate the singer’s legendary greasepaint look, and actress Viola Davis told him to have at it. “Sergio, just think of [Bette Davis] in the movie ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’” Davis reportedly requested. Throw in some gold teeth and you have another gold statue for “Ma Rainey.”

"Nomadland" filmmaker Chloé Zhao could earn Oscar noms for director and film editing.

“Nomadland” filmmaker Chloé Zhao could earn Oscar noms for director and film editing.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

FILM EDITING

“Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao
“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alan Baumgarten
“News of the World,” William Goldenberg
“The Father,” Yorgos Lamprinos
“Mank,” Kirk Baxter

On the cusp: “One Night in Miami,” Tariq Anwar; “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Andrew Mondshein; “Sound of Metal,” Mikkel E.G. Nielsen; “Tenet,” Jennifer Lame; “Da 5 Bloods,” Adam Gough; “Promising Young Woman,” Frédéric Thoraval; “Minari,” Harry Yoon; “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Kristan Sprague

Consider this when thinking about Zhao and “Nomadland”: Only two directors have won this category — James Cameron (“Titanic”) and Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity”). Both also won Oscars for directing those films.

Riz Ahmed as Ruben in SOUND OF METAL.

Riz Ahmed bangs the drums in “Sound of Metal.”

(Amazon Studios)

SOUND

“Sound of Metal”
“Mank”
“Tenet”
“Da 5 Bloods”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

On the cusp: “News of the World,” “Midnight Sky,” “Soul,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “Greyhound”

The sound editing and mixing categories have been consolidated this year into a single group, a move that will
A) “unify recognition of both sound mixing and sound editorial as a highly aligned team of creatives that are integral to a film’s success,” per Cinema Audio Society President Karol Urban, and B) shorten the Oscar ceremony by, oh, five minutes. Also: “Sound of Metal” is going to win.

Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in "Tenet."

Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in a scene from “Tenet.”

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Tenet”
“The Midnight Sky”
“Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”
“Mank”
“Mulan”

On the cusp: “Bloodshot,” “Love and Monsters,” “The One and Only Ivan,” “Soul,” “Welcome to Chechnya”

I’d give it to “Tenet” in a heartbeat if its team could promise to bend time back to pre-pandemic.