Some people, come Oscar time, only have eyes for names like Streep, Nicholson, Zeta-Jones, and Jackson. But, to the true Oscar devoté, names like Dante Ferretti, Sandy Powell, Thomas Newman, and Janusz Kaminski are just as exciting. These races also tend to be less overexposed and overfamiliar from previous rounds of prize-giving (the Globes, the BAFTAs, the various critics' awards), so predicting them can be even tougher. Let's have a go at it, shall we?

I hope no one will fault me too much for confessing that I know nothing of the short films in the Documentary, Animated, or Live Action fields, so I cannot possibly predict or comment. Finally, as in previous years, please note that my predictions for the Animated Film, Visual Effects, Sound Effects, and Makeup categories reflect the published rosters of finalists in each of those categories, meaning the Oscar branches are tipping us off a little, though frankly my prognostications need as much help as they can get!


Chicago, John Myhre
Gangs of New York, Dante Ferretti
Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Grant Major
Minority Report, Alex McDowell
Road to Perdition, Dennis Gassner

Nearest Contenders
Frida, Felipe Fernández del Paso
The Pianist, Allan Starski
Harry Potter and Ch. of Secrets, Stuart Craig

Dark Horses
Far from Heaven, Mark Friedberg
Catch Me If You Can, Jeannine C. Oppewall

Catch Me If You Can, Michael Kahn
Chicago, Martin Walsh
Gangs of New York, Thelma Schoonmaker
The Hours, Peter Boyle
Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, D.Michael Horton and Jabez Olssen

Nearest Contenders
Minority Report, Michael Kahn
The Pianist, Hervé de Luze
Adaptation, Eric Zumbrunen
Bowling for Columbine, Kurt Engfehr

Dark Horses
25th Hour, Barry Alexander Brown
Road to Perdition, Jill Bilcock
About Schmidt, Kevin Tent
The real strengths of American film in 2002 start to emerge in categories like these, even more than in the higher-profile races. Like the Cinematography category, those for Art Direction and Editing are faced with leaving out several award-worthy contenders, even if they don't do something lame like cough up a production design slot for Harry Potter (once designed, always designed, if you ask me...). General enthusiasm for the movies will give Chicago and The Two Towers certain berths in most of the technical races, and flashy work—those gargantuan Gangs of New York catacombs, the relentless match-cuts which fuse The Hours—probably stands a better chance than quieter achievements, like Far from Heaven's pitch-perfect colorisms or The Pianist's metronomic march into ghastliness. There are some real wild cards here, too: Spielberg's films are competing against each other in both races, and odd ducks like Adaptation and Bowling for Columbine will try to win approval for their own storytelling innovations (indulgences?). I, for one, am highly intrigued.


Chicago, Colleen Atwood
Far from Heaven, Sandy Powell
Frida, Julie Weiss
Gangs of New York, Sandy Powell
Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Ngila Dickson

Nearest Contenders
Road to Perdition, Albert Wolsky
The Cat's Meow, Caroline de Vivaise

Dark Horses
Harry Potter and the..., Judianna Makovsky
8 Women, Pascaline Chavanne
The Pianist, Anna Sheppard
The Four Feathers, Ruth Myers

Gangs of New York
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Minority Report
Road to Perdition

Nearest Contenders
Catch Me If You Can

Dark Horses
We Were Soldiers
It's no typo that you see Sandy Powell's name twice in the Costume Design predictions. It's not even a novelty; she actually scored dual nods in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love and Velvet Goldmine, finally copping an overdue win for the former. Gangs and Far from Heaven should help her repeat the trick, even though the Costume Design Guild amazingly ignored both in its own nominations. If she's left out—and Far from Heaven has the shakiest claim of the five—the spot will probably go to Wolsky, a past winner for, among other films, All That Jazz, a direct ancestor of this year's Chicago. Best Sound, meanwhile, will be the same boring rehash of Best Picture contenders and Loud Movies, meaning that movies that showed genuinely creative uses of sound—Morvern Callar, for example—will be left out. Solaris was the cleverest among my listed possibilities, so I'm rooting for a dark-horse nod.


Catch Me If You Can, John Williams
Far from Heaven, Elmer Bernstein
Frida, Elliot Goldenthal
Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Howard Shore
Road to Perdition, Thomas Newman

Nearest Contenders
Gangs of New York, Howard Shore
The Hours, Philip Glass
The Pianist, Wojciech Kilar

Dark Horses
Minority Report, John Williams
25th Hour, Terence Blanchard
Monsoon Wedding, Mychael Danna

"Father and Daughter," The Wild Thornberrys
"The Hands that Built America," Gangs/NY
"I Move On," Chicago
"Sittin' on Top of the World," Evelyn
"Something to Talk About," About a Boy

Nearest Contenders
"Here I Am," Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
"Lose Yourself," 8 Mile
"Aaj Mera Jee Kardaa," Monsoon Wedding

Dark Horses
"Gollum's Song," Lord of the Rings: Two Towers
"Love Will Come Through," Moonlight Mile
"Hero," Spider-Man
Finally, with Catch Me If You Can, a John Williams score that I can get behind—though if he pulls double duty for Harry Potter or Minority Report, I'll call foul. Bernstein's omission would be a felony (though Alberto Iglesias' similar and immaculate contributions to Talk to Her will certainly be ignored). Howard Shore, meanwhile, has gone from never-nominated to double-repeat-threat in only a year, with his Two Towers and Gangs of New York compositions running neck and neck. The Song category is almost always beneath contempt—treacly, predictable, with only cursory participation in the films. I loved Eminem's song, which didn't feature in 8 Mile until the end credits (like man of the tunes listed), but actually condensed the story's emotions better than the film as a whole. "I Move On," by the way, is the only song eligible for Chicago, because Miramax explicitly solicited a new Kander-Ebb ditty in order to earn them a nod. Strategy, strategy, yawn, yawn.


Ice Age
Lilo & Stitch
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirited Away
Treasure Planet

Nearest Contenders
The Wild Thornberrys
Stuart Little 2

Dark Horses
The Powerpuff Girls Movie

Amandla! (A Revolution in Four Acts)
Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary
The Kid Stays in the Picture
Prisoner of Paradise
Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Nearest Contenders
Bowling for Columbine
Winged Migration

Dark Horses
Home Movie
Best Animated Film, also known as "Show Me the Money." Last year's hit Jimmy Neutron outfoxed arthouse groundbreaker Waking Life, so it'll be a hugely deserved miracle if the grossly under-marketed Spirited Away loses out to something like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The two $100 million grossers have nothing to worry about; and all the other also-rans were notable underperformers, so rankled employees and stockholders may keep them ouf of the race. Then there's Best Documentary Feature, also known as "No Hits Allowed!", and therefore the opposite of the Animation category. Michael Moore is the only documentarian known to many Americans, but I still think he's a dark horse here: too divisive, and his film too self-promoting and "non-objective" to please this committee. They still have audience pleasers like Standing in the Shadows of Motown to recognize, and it'll be hard to unseat Holocaust inquiries like Blind Spot or, especially, Prisoner of Paradise. I've put Winged Migration as a contender strictly because it's exactly the sort of airheaded titular phrase that the Documentary presenters are forever trying to read with conviction. (Remember Dolphins? Dancemaker? The Living Sea?)


The Time Machine

(Wondering what Lord of the Rings, The Hours, Red Dragon, Road to Perdition, The Master of Disguise, and a few others are doing off this list? So's everyone else. But for some reason, the Makeup Committee has only submitted these two films as semifinalists—everyone else is out.)

Minority Report
Road to Perdition
We Were Soldiers

Nearest Contenders
LOTR: Two Towers

Dark Horses
Harry Potter/Chamber of...

LOTR: Two Towers
Minority Report

Nearest Contenders
Star Wars, Ep II: Clones
Harry Potter/Chamber of...

Dark Horses
Men in Black II

Predicted Totals:
Chicago - 12
Gangs of New York - 10
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - 8
Far from Heaven - 6
The Hours - 6
Frida - 5
Road to Perdition - 5
Minority Report - 4
The Pianist - 4
About Schmidt - 3
Adaptation - 3
Catch Me If You Can - 3
About a Boy - 2
15 Other Films - 1 apiece
Predicted Shutouts:
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
8 Mile
The Good Girl
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Nicholas Nickleby
One Hour Photo
Punch-Drunk Love
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Roger Dodger
Sunshine State
Talk to Her
25th Hour

(Past success rates with the top 10 categories: 75% in 2001, 68% in 2000, 67% in 1999, and 69% in 1998.)
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