The mighty “Dune” (from Warner Bros.) affirmed its craft dominance on Tuesday by grabbing eight out of a possible nine Oscar nominations (original song wasn’t in play). Thus, Denis Villeneuve’s sweeping and heady sci-fi ran the field with everything else: cinematography, costume design, editing, makeup/hair, original score, production design, sound, and visual effects. Historically, that puts “Dune” right behind “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Titanic,” which both had nine craft noms.
The closest competitor with five noms was Jane Campion’s Netflix western, “The Power of the Dog” (cinematography, editing, production design, Johnny Greenwood’s score, and sound). Following with four noms was Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake at Fox/Disney (cinematography, costume design, production design, sound) — which was two shy of the 1961 original. Landing three noms were Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” at Searchlight/Disney (cinematography, costume design, production design) and Daniel Craig’s James Bond finale, “No Time to Die,” at MGM/UA (original song, “No Time to Die,” by Billie Eilish and FINEAS, plus sound and VFX — the first time since “Moonraker”).
Collecting two craft noms were Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up” (editing, original score by Nicholas Britell), Disney’s “Cruella” (costume design, makeup/hair) and “Encanto” (original score by Germaine Franco, original song “Dos Oruguitas” by Lin-Manuel Miranda), and Apple TV+’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth (cinematography, production design). Other notable nominees included Focus Feature’s “Belfast” (sound), Amazon’s “Coming 2 America” (makeup/hairstyling), Fox/Disney’s “Free Guy” (VFX), MGM/UA’s “House of Gucci” (makeup/hairstyling), Warner Bros.’ “King Richard” (editing), Sony Pictures Classic’s “Parallel Mothers” (original score by Alberto Iglesias), Searchlight/Disney’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (makeup/hairstyling), Marvel/Disney’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (VFX), Sony/Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (VFX), and Netflix’s surprising “Tick, Tick, Boom” (editing).
Disney also scored three animated feature noms with “Encanto,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and Pixar’s Luca.” The other two nominations went to Netflix/Sony’s wild, 2D-flavored “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” and Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s acclaimed Afghan refugee documentary, “Flee” (Neon/Participant). It should be noted that “Encanto’s” three noms represents the first time since “Toy Story 3” that an animated feature has earned three or more. And “Flee” marks the first time that an animated feature has landed a triple crown with international and documentary noms as well.
Animated short nominations went to Netflix/Aardman’s stop-motion musical, “Robin Robin”; “Affairs of the Art (Canada/U.K.), Joanna Quinn’s continuing series about factory worker/artist Beryl; “Bestia,” the Chilean work by Hugo Covarrubias, based on a real-life secret police agent, who trained dogs to torture political prisoners; the Russian “Boxballet,” a love story between a ballerina and a boxer from director Anton Dyakov; and “The Windshield Wiper” (U.S./Spain), Alberto Mielgo’s experimental deep dive into the meaning of love with CG characters with digitally painted backgrounds.
Meanwhile, significant craft snubs included Best Picture nominees “CODA” (Apple TV+) and “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/UA) along with “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon) and Searchlight/Disney’s “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight/Disney).
Among the noteworthy diversity achievements, The Power of the Dog’s” Ari Wegner became only the second female DP to get nominated by the branch (following “Mudbound’s” Rachel Morrison in 2018), while “Encanto’s” Franco became the first female composer at Disney nominated for an animated feature. Additionally, the Black costume designer Paul Tazewell (“Hamilton” Tony winner) was nominated for “West Side Story,” and Argentinian makeup artist Vera Steimberg was nominated for “Coming 2 America” along with Black hairstylists Carla Farmer and Stacey Morris.
In terms of gauging “Dune’s” dominance, by all rights, it should take every category. It was the big-screen movie event of the season, displaying extraordinary craftsmanship and world-building, which not only did justice to the complexity of Frank Herbert’s seemingly unadaptable novel but also represented the pinnacle of Villeneuve’s sensory power for imaginative imagery and soundscape. Too bad he was snubbed for Best Director. But then he’s an acquired taste, who’s found a comfortable home in sci-fi, which doesn’t get enough respect.
Among the “Dune” favorites are Greig Fraser’s magnificent large-format cinematography, the medieval-looking and culturally diverse costume design of Jacqueline West and production design of Patrice Vermette, composer Hans Zimmer’s inventive music of the desert, the innovative VFX (particularly the sand screen work) from the team led by production supervisor Paul Lambert and DNEG, the hallucinatory yet gritty soundscape from the sound team (Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, Ron Bartlett), and three-time Oscar nominee Joe Walker’s supreme editing, which managed to coalesce the epic and intimate with unpredictable textures and layers.
Yet “Dune” is most vulnerable in two categories: costume design and makeup/hair. In the former, West goes up against Disney’s “Cruella,” in which two-time Oscar winner Jenny Beavan (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “A Room With a View”) delivered a recycled fabric motif for dressing Emma Stone’s subversive fashion designer; and “West Side Story’s Paul Tazewell, who leaned heavily in authenticating the Puerta Rican wardrobes of the late 1950s. And, in the latter, prosthetics designer Donald Mowat (who created Stellan Skarsgård’s horrifying Baron) faces off against “House of Gucci’s” prosthetics designer Göran Lundströn (who transformed the unrecognizable Jared Leto as Paolo); “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” team of makeup artist Linda Dowds, hairstylist Stephanie Ingram, and prosthetics designer Justin Raleigh, who worked in tandem to perfect Jessica Chastain as the iconic Faye; and makeup and hair designer Nadia Stacey, who reverse-engineered Stone’s ’70s punk look in “Cruella.”