2014 Oscar Predictions: Art Directors Guild and USC Scripters Nominees Announced

usc-art-directors-2014I've made a couple updates to my 2014 Oscar predictions in the Best Production Design and Best Adapted Screenplay categories as a pair of new pieces of "food for thought" arrived this morning in the form of nominations from the Art Directors Guild and the 26th USC Scripter Award nominees were announced.

As far as changes made as a result of these announcements, most will be found in my Best Production Design predictions, which I hadn't updated in ages so it meant adding films including Her (which is now a predicted nominee) and The Wolf of Wall Street.

In the screenplay categories I've left Best Original Screenplay alone, while I have a good feeling about my predicted nominees for Adapted Screenplay where the question I have is will it be Terence Winter's Wolf of Wall Street that gets a nom or Tracy Letts' August: Osage County? Right now I'm going with August.

You can check out all of my current 2014 Oscar predictions right here and the Art Directors Guild and USC Scripter nominees directly below.

Art Directors Guild Nominees

Excellence in Production Design - Period Film

  • American Hustle (Judy Becker)
  • The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (Jess Gonchor)
  • Saving Mr. Banks (Michael Corenblith)
  • 12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen)

Excellence in Production Design - Contemporary Film

  • August: Osage County (David Gropman)
  • Blue Jasmine (Santo Loquasto)
  • Captain Phillips (Paul Kirby)
  • Her (K.K. Barrett)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (Bob Shaw)

Excellence in Production Design - Fantasy Film

  • Elysium (Philip Ivey)
  • Gravity (Andy Nicholson)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dan Hennah)
  • Oblivion (Darrel Gilford)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (Scott Chambliss)

USC Scripter Award Nominees

  • Captain Phillips - Billy Ray
  • Philomena - Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
  • The Spectacular Now - Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
  • 12 Years a Slave - John Ridley
  • What Maisie Knew - Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne
  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    Gatsby, The Hobbit, and 12 Years a Slave all feel solid for production design nominations. I don't know what the last two will be, though American Hustle and Mr. Banks feel pretty safe. 12 Years a Slave seems like it has to be the frontrunner for adapted screenplay and original should be between Her and American Hustle.

  • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

    I don't think anything I saw last year comes close to Gatsby in terms of production design (still need to watch Hobbit).

    Scratching my head at how you could compare the production design for 12 Years A Slave to something like Gatsby. It was good for the purpose of the movie, don't get me wrong, but by its nature alone it's inferior to something like Gatsby. To me, this is like saying an actor is best actor of the year because they were in a great film, when in reality they turned in a good performance, not something that was breathtaking or even more challenging than for any other film.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

      Production design and costumes are successful if they satisfactorily represent the environment the director wants to create. Of course it's hard to judge this from outside the production, particularly when it's more restrained work as is generally the case on contemporary films. Which is why these kinds of awards almost always go to period pieces where the work in question is more lavish. But just because Gatsby's production design is more visually striking doesn't make it better automatically superior to the work done on 12 Years a Slave or even on a contemporary(ish) movie like Her.

      • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

        Fair points - but to me, that's just like saying that Miles Teller satisfactorily represented the environment the director wanted to create for The Spectacular Now, heck, even Melissa McCarthy for The Heat. The actors did a good job for that role, yes. But to call it the best of the year, when there are performances requiring a lot more emotion and range seems like a stretch. The same principle can be argued for production design.

        In terms of this awards, I feel it should go to production design that is memorable when thinking about the film, rather than one that fits the environment. When I'm thinking about 12 Years A Slave, the production design was good, yes, doesn't stand out to me. It's a very highly regarded film, and the design fit the bill for what the movie was trying to accomplish, but it's probably not even in the top ten things most people would say make the movie great.

        Will caveat this all by saying that I don't have much experience with production design or even film production in general, as I have only been passionately following movies for the past couple of years.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

          This ultimately boils down to a fundamental debate about the nature of awards. For each category nominees are chosen by the members of those respective branches, so production designers choose the nominees for that category, costume designers choose the nominees for that category, etc. So the fact that more showy films tend to get these nominations seems to imply that people working in those fields respect that kind of work the most. But like with all awards it ultimately is a question of personal opinion. And there's also the issue that many Academy voters no longer work in the business and even more than that haven't seen everything there is to see in a given year. So that makes it easy to pick Gatsby and The Hobbit as the top two production design nominees just based on reputation and maybe some stills or a trailer. Every category has the same issues, so really it all comes back to the fundamentally flawed award process.