As Oscar voting opens, the guild awards could prove a guide — or bellwether — to who will take home trophies March 27.
Last week’s Costume Designers Guild handed out prizes to “Cruella” (period film), “Dune” (fantasy/sci-fi) and “Coming 2 America” (contemporary).
The CDG has matched Oscar 11 times since 1999 (when the guild first handed out awards) for best costume design with one of their winners. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in 2021 was the most recent, and in 2019 it was “Black Panther.” So there’s a good chance that the category’s frontrunners, “Cruella” and “Dune,” will take home the win.
The Makeup and Hairstylist Guild Awards kicked off crafts season in February, awarding “Coming 2 America” three trophies, while “Cruella” took home best period hairstyling. “America” got a boost, as the guild favored the regal styles of the film’s fictional Zamunda over the transformations of Stellan Skarsgard in “Dune,” Jared Leto in “House of Gucci” and Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
On March 5, the 72nd ACE Eddies awards recognized “King Richard’s” editor Pamela Martin over perceived frontrunner Joe Walker for “Dune.” Whether Oscar matches here remains to be seen — its record for predicting the five nomination slots is strong; its winning film has matched Oscar 22 of the last 31 times.
“Dune” prevailed at the Visual Effects Society awards, going home with four gongs, topping fellow nominees “Free Guy” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which will also compete in the Oscar race.
“Dune’s” win in the outstanding visual effects in a photoreal feature category — the one closely mirroring Oscar — is significant: those winners have gone on to Oscar glory 10 times in the past 18 years. The last film to do so was “The Jungle Book” in 2017.
“Dune” also got another boost at the Art Director’s Guild Awards, where it won in its fantasy category.
Fellow Oscar nominee “Nightmare Alley” is its closest competitor; Tamara Deverell nabbed the ADG prize for period feature, topping “West Side Story” and “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” both with Oscar noms. It’s worth noting that female production designers are still highly underrepresented in the industry with even fewer winning an Oscar.
To that point, the Academy has yet to recognize a female cinematographer. In 2022’s race, “The Power of the Dog’s” Ari Wegner faces stiff competition from Greig Fraser, who worked alongside Denis Villeneuve on “Dune.” Should Wegner win, she would become the first woman to land an Oscar in this category. But “The Batman” is earning Fraser high praise and could tip him to victory as he is more top of mind with voters. The American Society of Cinematographers awards are March 20 — with Wegner and Fraser among those nominees — so could add some clarity on the Oscar race.
This year marks the second year of the Academy combining sound editing and sound mixing into one category. In 2021, “The Sound of Metal” took the inaugural trophy. While “Dune” is a front-runner, look to the Motion Picture Sound Editors guild and Cinema Audio Society winners for guidance, but with a caveat: last year, “Sound of Metal” won CAS but was shut out at MPSE.
As for song, while Billie Eilish won at the Society of Composers and Lyricists and took home the Grammy last year for her “No Time to Die” from the film of the same title, it’s hard to say whether the Academy will bestow her with top honors here, or if Lin-Manuel Miranda will complete his EGOT? Who can compete against “Encanto’s” viral hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno?” Although Disney put forward “Dos Orugitas” from “Encanto” in the Oscar race, perhaps the blockbuster success of “Bruno” will rub off on Miranda.