In recent years films such as The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 seem to have generated the hopeful buzz from movie fans when it comes to the Oscars and both films ended without Best Picture nominations, which is always the one Oscar nom those fans want to see. You won't find many of them sitting around sulking because the final Potter film didn't get a Best Pic nom only to have one happy-go-lucky person jump in with, "But come on, those Best Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects noms made up for it!"
Nope, that's not how it works and while films like Inception and Avatar have been nominated for Best Picture, I would hardly call them longshots. So the question this year is... what about Skyfall? Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't think it has a chance... at least not for Best Picture.
As of now the conversation surrounding the film is really dedicated to three categories, Best Sound Design, Sound Mixing and the obvious, Best Cinematography, the latter of which is where you're going to find most Oscar pundits focusing as Roger Deakins has been nominated nine times and lost nine times and his work is loved by virtually any cinephile that sees his films and Skyfall is no different. Even if you come across a Skyfall naysayer the first thing you're going to hear is, "But it was exceptionally photographed."
Deakins' nominations began with 1994's The Shawshank Redemption and also include Fargo, Kundun, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country for Old Men, The Reader and True Grit.
I don't think it's going too far out on a limb to say Deakins will be nominated for Skyfall (just look at that shot above), but are we prepared to say he's the front-runner?
At this moment, I'm not.
I've just published my first batch of Best Cinematography predictions with Claudio Miranda's work on Ang Lee's Life of Pi at #1. Life of Pi is the first non-IMAX 3-D film I have ever seen that I believe I can honestly say benefit from the use of 3-D. The movie is spectacular from a visual standpoint. It stands out among the rest of the contenders in ways they can't really compete.
I do, however, have Deakins at #2, a decision I wrestled with when considering Mihai Malaimare Jr.'s work on Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, another visually stunning film and one I'd argue uses the camera in a more narrative way than we see in Skyfall.
The category will also find competition in Anna Karenina photographed by Seamus McGarvey. Anna hits limited theaters this weekend and the conversation surrounding that one should find a little traction in the coming days. I'm also looking forward to seeing what Greig Fraser brings to the table with Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, which looks as if it will feature a myriad of different looks.
You can check out that full list of predictions here as I'm kicking off the category with a list of 14 contenders.
As for the Sound departments, four-time Oscar winner Scott Millan (Sound Re-recording Mixer) and 15-time nominee Greg Russell (Sound Re-recording Mixer) are likely in for more with Skyfall and they discuss their work in the film in the following SoundWorks Collection video, which, unfortunately isn't as good as most of the videos that team puts together, but it's all I have at this point.
Some may try and say Judi Dench or maybe Javier Bardem have a chance, I don't think so. I also don't think director Sam Mendes will find his name called on January 10. Perhaps the tides will shift and I'm wrong on one or all of those predictions, but right now I see three in Skyfall's future... what do you think?