With less than eight weeks to go before the Academy Awards, it’s a scramble to the finish line for the artisans who create the looks, sounds and visual effects of this year’s awards contenders.
This year, these craftspeople used visual-effects technology in surprising ways. VFX artists turned back time for Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino in “The Irishman,” de-aging them in post-production. In Disney’s “The Lion King,” the visual-effects team used gaming technology to create an entirely virtual production.
But low-tech solutions to problems were used by production designers for “Little Women,” “The Irishman,” “Joker” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as they turned 21st-century locations into Gotham City, 19th-century Massachusetts, mid-century Philadelphia and 1969 Hollywood using facades, and other practical dressings.
Some storylines to follow: Costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who won last year for “Black Panther,” has a shot at another Oscar nomination and win for “Dolemite Is My Name.” Her victory for “Black Panther” made her the first African-American costume designer take home an Oscar, so another victory would see her making history again. “Jojo Rabbit” costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo has a chance to become the first Mexican woman nominated for her work on the film.
The original song category is also intriguing, as Robert Lopez, who won an Oscar for “Coco’s” “Remember Me,” returns to the race with wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez for their song “Into the Unknown,” from “Frozen 2.” From the pop world, Beyoncé’s “Spirit,” from “The Lion King,” has already grabbed a Golden Globe nomination, while Taylor Swift’s contribution from “Cats,” “Beautiful Ghosts,” could see her performing on Oscar night. “Rocketman” star Taron Egerton and pic’s subject Elton John have been performing together, boosting the chances for John’s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from the film, to earn a nom.
But don’t discount nine-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, who’s in the race with “I’m Standing With You” from “Breakthrough” or Cynthia Erivo’s “Stand Up,” from “Harriet,” which could add another vowel in her quest to be an EGOT.
The artisans races may also be more diverse this year, with “Parasite’s” Jinmo Yang (editing), Hong Kyung-pyo (cinematography) and Lee Ha-Jun (production design) as solid contenders.
Don’t forget the essential contributions of sound editors, sound mixers (the Academy hinted at possibly merging sound editing and sound mixing into one category in 2021), editors, cinematographers, hair and makeup artists, and original score, which may see cousins Randy and Thomas Newman face off on Oscar night.