In the season of the spectacle, the Oscar craft nominations were pretty evenly split, led by “Elvis” and the late-surging “All Quiet on the Western Front” with six. Next in line with four nominations were “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” Topping out at three nominations each were “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Babylon,” and “The Batman.” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Fabelmans,” and “TÁR” (all in the running for Best Picture alongside “Avatar,” “Everything Everywhere,” and “Top Gun”) were nominated for two craft awards apiece. And “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” and “Empire of Light” scored lone cinematography nominations for Darius Khondji (his second) and Roger Deakins (his 16th).
This was definitely the result of an unusually competitive field containing three sequels (“Avatar,” “Top Gun,” and “Black Panther”), a DC reboot (“The Batman”), a World War I actioner (“All Quiet”), a multiverse adventure (“Everything Everywhere”), an epic Hollywood comedy-drama (“Babylon”), and a musical biopic extravaganza (“Elvis”). So competitive, in fact, that Jordan Peele’s disruptive sci-fi/horror film, “Nope,” got ignored completely, despite the innovative work of cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and sound design by supervising sound editor Johnnie Burn, which both topped IndieWire’s Best Cinematography and Best Sound of 2022 lists.
Edward Berger’s acclaimed anti-war epic, “All Quiet,” dominated the Oscar shortlists and BAFTA nominations alike on its way to becoming this morning’s biggest craft surprise, receiving nominations in every category it was shortlisted for: VFX (production visual effects supervisor Frank Petzold taking a naturalistic approach led by James Friend’s principal photography), score (nearly atonal music that reflects the soldiers’ emotional state as well as the horror-film vibe of war itself, courtesy of Oscar nominee Volker Bertelmann), makeup/hairstyling (with makeup and hair designer Heike Merker emphasizing blood and mud), and sound (a sonic relationship with the war machine from sound supervisor/sound designer Frank Kruse, co-sound designer Markus Stemler, and re-recording mixer Lars Ginzel). Adding to that total were nods for Friend’s immersive large-format cinematography and the strategic production design of Christian M. Goldbeck and Ernestine Hipper (utilizing a former airport in the Czech Republic that proved ideal for size, distance, topography, and the ability to shoot all day against the light).
Baz Luhrmann’s delirious “Elvis” delivered on its breadth of crafts, tying the six craft nominations for the director’s “Moulin Rouge!” “Elvis” was nominated for cinematography (with Mandy Walker becoming only the third woman to be recognized by her branch), production design (co-supervised by two-time Oscar winner Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy), costume design (two-time Oscar winner Martin), makeup/hairstyling (led by two-time Oscar winning prosthetics designer Mark Coulier, prosthetics supervisor Jason Baird, and hair concept designer Aldo Signoretti), editing (Jonathan Redmond and Matt Villa), and sound (sound recordist David Lee, supervising sound editor Wayne Pashley, two-time Oscar-winning re-recording mixer Andy Nelson, and re-recording mixer Michael Keller).
With neither composer Ludwig Göransson nor production designer Hannah Beachler returning to races they won for the first “Black Panther,” Ryan Coogler’s “Wakanda Forever” yielded mixed results: It didn’t equal the previous film’s number of nominations, yet it expanded its crafts reach with makeup/hairstyling and VFX. Oscar winner Ruth Carter — who broke the color barrier in her category — returned with a nomination for costume design, and Tems, Göransson, Rihanna, and Coogler were back with another original song, “Lift Me Up” (sung poignantly by Rihanna as a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman). In addition, makeup artist Joel Harlow and hairstylist Camille Friend and the visual effects team led by Geoffrey Baumann and Craig Hammack — who were overlooked last time — received noms, too.
A24’s Best Picture contender (and overall nominations leader with 11) “Everything Everywhere” exceeded expectations with a surprise nod for its unconventional score by the experimental trio Son Lux. The indie breakout hit from the Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay-nominated duo of the Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) was a tour de force in balancing the epic multiverse adventure with the intimate family saga. It also received noms for costume design (costume designer Shirley Kurata created an array of styles for the “verse jumping”), editing (editor Paul Rogers carefully layered the bombastic with the mundane for Michelle Yeoh’s emotional arc), and original song (“This Is a Life”— David Byrne, Ryan Lott, and Mitski).
The high-flying global phenomenon, “Top Gun: Maverick,” was a major player as well — though not, surprisingly, for cinematography, overlooking the amazing aerial photography overseen by Oscar winner Claudio Miranda. Still, the sequel remains a frontrunner for editing (editor Eddie Hamilton assembled and cut a complex puzzle of aerial footage and made the action play kinetically and emotionally) and sound (the ultimate “synaptic” experience inside the cockpit, led by Oscar-winning production sound mixer Mark Weingarten, supervising sound editors James Mather and Al Nelson, and re-recording mixers Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor). Following a well-received presentation at the VFX “bake-off” earlier this month, the film also snagged a nomination for its supporting VFX (production supervised by Ryan Tudhope). And it collected an original song nom from Lady Gaga (“Hold My Hand”).
While James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel couldn’t match the original’s game-changing seven nominations, it excelled at its innovative VFX and world-building in expanding into the oceanic world of Pandora, while its state of the art immersive sound obviously impressed the branch. The film staked nominations for VFX (led by four-time Oscar-winning senior supervisor Joe Letteri and Wētā FX), production design (Dylan Cole, Ben Procter, and set decorator Vanessa Cole), and sound (led by four-time Oscar-winning supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Christopher Boyes and supervising sound editor Gwendolyn Yates Whittle).
“Babylon” turned out to be the most divisive film of the awards season, thanks to Damien Chazelle’s wild ride through Hollywood’s hedonistic excess during the Roaring Twenties. Yet it offered some of the most adventurous crafts. It’s been singled out for score (“La La Land” Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz created a unique jazz sound combining wailing trumpets, screaming saxes, and modern house beats), costume design (four-time nominee Mary Zophres weaved monumental period work that was audacious and primal), and production design (production designer Florencia Martin and set decorator Anthony Carlino highlighted the parallels between the formation of L.A. and the constant state of construction and dismantlement in the industry).
Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” stood out as a gritty, noirish procedural, and was recognized for its makeup/hairstyling (for Colin Farrell’s unrecognizable Oz/Penguin, courtesy of prosthetic makeup artist Mike Marino), VFX (production supervised by Dan Lemmon and boasting Wētā FX’s Batmobile chase and ILM’s pop-up StageCraft LED wall), and sound (customized for depicting Gotham and its superhero and villains, led by supervising sound editors William Files and Douglas Murray and re-recording mixer Andy Nelson).
Martin McDonagh’s Irish tragicomedy, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” nabbed nominations for editing (“Sound of Metal” Oscar winner Mikkel E.G. Nielsen accentuates the escalating absurdity of the standoff between Colin Farrell’s smiling Pádraic and Brendan Gleeson’s dour Colin) and score (composer Carter Burwell creates the air of a fairy-tale with low-pitched wind instruments and the occasional low gamelan gong).
Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans” secured nominations for two of his Oscar-winning craftspeople: production designer Rick Carter (“Lincoln,” “Avatar”), and composer John Williams (“Schindler’s List,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws,” “Fiddler on the Roof”), the oldest person at 90 to be nominated in Oscar history with his 53rd nod. They both cracked “the Spielberg code” of the director’s origin story of family strife and filmmaking passion through their respective crafts.
“TÁR,” Todd Field’s psychological drama about the world of classical music, starring Best Actress favorite Cate Blanchett as the titular composer-conductor, was nominated for cinematography (Florian Hoffmeister shot it as a clinical dance between subjectivity and reality) and editing (Monika Willi rode a fine line between precision and perfection and paid a lot of attention to sound, starting with changing phrases to changing syllables).