Marvel’s zeitgeist-grabbing “Black Panther” dominated the Oscar craft races on Tuesday, grabbing six nominations for costume design, production design, score (composer Ludwig Göransson), song (“All the Stars”), sound editing, and sound mixing.
But it was snubbed for visual effects after being talked up as a frontrunner, and cinematographer Rachel Morrison missed out on her second nomination after breaking the glass ceiling for last year’s “Mudbound.” While the VFX branch may have deemed the effects as too supportive, Morrison perhaps fell prey to the confusion surrounding where cinematography ends and VFX begins.
Wakanda architect Hannah Beachler led the way as the first African-American nominated for production design, helping director Ryan Coogler achieve his vision of unity with her unique version of Afrofuturism. Also recognized as part of that crucial collaboration was costume designer Ruth Carter (snagging her third nomination).
Meanwhile, “Roma,” “The Favourite,” “First Man,” and “Mary Poppins Returns” each received four nominations. Alfonso Cuarón’s childhood remembrance in Mexico City in the early ’70s was nominated for the exquisite large-format, black-and-white cinematography (a first for a director lensing his own movie); its richly detailed production design by Eugenio Caballero (Oscar winner for “Pan’s Labyrinth”); and its authentic sound design from sound editor Sergio Diaz, and nuanced Dolby mix from Oscar-winning sound mixer Skip Lievsay (“Gravity”).
But Cuarón was snubbed for his editing with Adam Gough, thanks to the surprise nomination of “Green Book’s” Patrick J. Don Vito, a sign of strength for the PGA-winning movie.
Yargos Lanthimos’ wicked palace comedy was singled out for Robbie Ryan’s quirky cinematography (shot in Kodak 35mm), Yorgos Mavropsaridis’ adroit editing, Fiona Crumbie’s imaginative production design, and three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell’s inspired black-and-white costuming.
Damien Chazelle’s NASA space adventure was nominated for Nathan Crowley’s authentic production design, the efficient in-camera VFX of DNEG, and its realistic sound editing and sound mixing. However, Linus Sandgren’s cinematography, Tom Cross’s editing, and Justin Hurwitz’s score were all ignored.
Rob Marshall’s Depression-era “Mary Poppins” sequel secured nominations for Powell’s colorful costumes, John Myhre’s London-y production design, Marc Shaiman’s uplifting score, and wistful song, “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (with co-lyricist Scott Wittman).
Also getting three nods were Best Picture nominees “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” was honored for Matthew Libatique’s naturalistic cinematography, Lady Gaga’s stirring song, “Shallow,” and intimate Dolby Atmos-driven sound mixing. Left out, though, was Jay Cassidy’s editing.
While it was expected that the Freddie Mercury biopic would snap up nominations for both sound editing and sound mixing, it surprisingly added John Ottman’s editing yet was snubbed for Jan Sewell’s spot-on makeup and hairstyling for Best Actor nominee Rami Malek.
Snagging two nominations apiece were Best Picture nominees “BlacKkklansman” and “Vice,” as well as “Mary Queen of Scots” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel and Ethan Coen’s anthology western, which came out of left field.
Spike Lee’s “BlacKkklansman” grabbed a surprise nomination for Barry Alexander Brown’s editing along with African-American composer Terence Blanchard’s eclectic score. Adam McKay’s “Vice” scored for Hank Corwin’s editing and the makeup and hairstyling of three-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia DeHaney, who transformed Best Actor nominee Christian Bale into a very convincing Dick Cheney.
“Mary Queen of Scots” benefited from Alexandra Byrne’s denim-inspired costume design and the makeup and hairstyling of Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, and Jessica Brooks And Mary Zophres’ diverse costume design propelled “Buster Scruggs”along with the upbeat song, “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings.”
Greig Fraser/Annapurna Pictures
In terms of the races, there were several surprises. The biggest was Caleb Deschanel bumping Sandgren to earn his sixth cinematography nod for the German-language nominee, “Never Look Away.” Talk about a sentimental choice for applying his opulent aesthetic to something very different. And not since 1967 have two black-and-white nominees gone head to head, with “Roma” competing against “Cold War,” director Pawel Pawlikowski’s Polish-language nominee, shot magnificently by Lukasz Zal (previously nominated for “Ida”).
For makeup and hairstyling, both “Border” and “Mary Queen of Scots” were surprise nominees. Scandinavia often over performs in this category: Makeup effects artist Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer made actress Eva Melander unrecognizable as a troll in the Swedish foreign-language entry, and Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, and Jessica Brooks brought authenticity to Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie’s rival queens.
Despite “Black Panther” and “Mary Poppins Returns” both getting shut out of the VFX race, Disney still came out on top with Marvel frontrunner, “Avengers: Infinity War” and surprise nominees “Christopher Robin” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” They were joined by “First Man” and “Ready Player One,” Steven Spielberg’s most complex VFX work in a few decades.
Although the Best Animated Feature race was predictable, with Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” going up against Sony’s surging “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” and “Mirai” (the 11th nod for GKids), there was a big twist for Best Animated Short, with both DreamWorks entries (“Bilby” and “Bird Karma”) shut out.
Joining Pixar’s frontrunning “Bao” (from Domee Shi, the studio’s first shorts female director) were four indies: National Board of Canada’s “Animal Behaviour” (directed by Alison Snowden and David Fine) about hilarious animal issues; Cartoon Saloon’s “Late Afternoon” (directed by Louise Bagnall), which explores dementia; “One Small Step” (directed by Disney alums Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas) about qualifying for the space program; and “Weekends” (directed by Pixar story artist Trevor Jimenez) based on his difficult childhood being shuttled between parents in Toronto.