In a couple of months’ time — on September 19, to be exact — the Emmys will be held barring any delays due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Once those awards are out of the way, it will then be time to focus on the Academy Awards. However, some of us can’t wait that long and have already started thinking about potential nominees and contenders across all categories.
That includes below-the-line categories, however, as well as the obvious above-the-line ones. And so many of the below-the-line categories are made up of technical areas — Cinematography, Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects. That is four nominations that any one film could collect all in one go as so many have done before this year, such as “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Gravity,” “The Revenant,” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” With that in mind, let’s take a look at eight films that could be up for these technical awards or any combination of the four.*
*A note: It is unclear who will be on the ballot for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects for all of the following films.
“Oppenheimer” — Cinematography, Editing, and Sound
Christopher Nolan’s films famously do very well in technical categories, especially in Best Cinematography. Wally Pfister was nominated for “Batman Begins” in 2006, “The Prestige” in 2007, and “The Dark Knight” in 2009 while he won the award for “Inception” in 2011. Hoyte Van Hoytema was nominated for “Dunkirk” in 2018. It’s Van Hoytema who shoots this one, too. That “Dunkirk” bid is his only Oscar nomination so far, but he’s got a great chance at doubling that this Oscar season. Meanwhile, editor Jennifer Lame executes Nolan’s trademark narrative trickery and is looking for her first-ever Oscar nomination. “Oppenheimer” is a sure thing for Best Sound as Nolan films do very well here. “Dunkirk” won both Sound Mixing and Sound Editing in 2018 (the categories are now combined), “Interstellar” was nominated for both in 2015, “Inception” won both in 2011, and “The Dark Knight” was nominated for both and won Sound Editing in 2009. Expect “Oppenheimer” to be present here, particularly as sound is such a key part of the story like past nominees such as 2023 winner “Top Gun: Maverick,” 2021 winner “The Sound of Metal,” and 2019 Sound Editing nominee “A Quiet Place.” However, no Visual Effects nomination this time — Nolan proudly revealed there is no CGI in this movie.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” — Cinematography, Editing, and Sound
Martin Scorsese‘s films should always be looked out for at the Oscars and this one perhaps more than others. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, there are high expectations for this film. Firstly, Rodrigo Prieto could be in for a very interesting year. He is the Director of Photography for two big contenders — this film and… “Barbie” (Instead of Barbenheimer… “Barbie of the Flower Moon?” “Killers of the Flower Barbie?”). Prieto actually has a great shot at both but he is probably more likely to land a nod here for the more serious Scorsese movie, particularly as he has been nominated for two Scorsese movies before — “Silence” in 2017 and “The Irishman” in 2020. He was also nominated in 2006 for “Brokeback Mountain.” Meanwhile, the Oscars adore Scorsese’s longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, who again edits this Scorsese picture. She’s been nominated for a total of eight Oscars and won three — for “Raging Bull” in 1981, “The Aviator” in 2005, and “The Departed” in 2007. All of them Scorsese flicks. This movie could also be up for Best Sound — the category often nominates historical epics like this one, such as “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 2023, “News of the World” in 2021, and “1917” in 2020 (nominated for Sound Editing, won Sound Mixing).
“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” — Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects
Action movies often do well in these categories and this is a Tom Cruise action epic that is a sequel of an iconic film from decades ago. Sound familiar? Last year, “Top Gun: Maverick” was nominated for Editing and Visual Effects and won Sound. This movie could go the same way, particularly as action movies are always nominated for Sound such as “The Batman” (2023), “No Time to Die” (2022), and “Greyhound” (2021). Editor Eddie Hamilton is looking for his second bid after that “Top Gun: Maverick” nomination last year and there’s a decent chance at a Visual Effects bid, too, as action movies do well there, as well. “The Batman” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” (2023) and “No Time to Die” and “Free Guy” (2022) are all recent nominees.
“Ferrari” — Cinematography, Editing, and Sound
Films with cars in them always do well in sound categories, so expect Michael Mann‘s biopic to be a contender for Best Sound. Sure, the film is a biopic about Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver), but there will be plenty of cars and engines. If they nail the sound work, they could be nominated just like “Ford v Ferrari” was nominated for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing in 2020 (winning Sound Editing). Meanwhile, Erik Messerschmidt is liked by the Oscars — he won Best Cinematography for “Mank” in 2021 and could follow that up here with a nomination. It’s unclear who the editor will be for this movie at this time of writing but “Ford v Ferrari” won this award in 2020. “Ferrari” could follow again.
“Dune: Part Two” — Cinematography, Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects
This is the big one. Denis Villeneuve‘s second and final installment of his “Dune” adaptation could be in for another massive year. The first movie won six Oscars including all four of these technical awards. That’s hugely impressive, so it’s only natural to think that “Dune: Part Two” could follow suit. Joe Walker is the editor again here — he won for “Dune” and was also nominated for “12 Years a Slave” (2014) and “Arrival” (2017). Meanwhile, cinematographer Greig Fraser also won for “Dune” and was also nominated for “Lion” in 2017. Both, along with their sound and visual effects colleagues, could be nominated again here, particularly as this movie has the “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” effect going for it. It’s the last installment of a huge filmmaking achievement and voters will want to take the chance to recognize that. Plus, epic science-fiction movies always do well in Best Visual Effects — “Avatar: The Way of Water” won earlier this year, “Tenet” won in 2021, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” was nominated in 2020, and “Blade Runner 2049” won in 2018.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” — Editing and Sound
From the obvious to the note so obvious. Animated films don’t often pick up too many technical awards (in fact, they are far too often confined to a Best Animated Feature nomination only — they should, in general, be taken as more serious contenders across all categories). However, “Across the Spider-Verse” has been so well received that, like its predecessor, “Into the Spider-Verse,” Oscar voters may be forced to pay attention. That film won Best Animated Feature in 2019 but could this sequel do one better? Its sound work is off-the-charts good while editor Mike Andrews manages to wrestle this beastly undertaking into one thrilling ride that combines genres and animation styles. You won’t find many better editing achievements than this one, so Oscar voters should take note. It has more chance in the Best Sound category, however. Previously, “Toy Story 3” was nominated for Sound Editing in 2011, “Up” was nominated in the same category in 2010, “WALL-E” was nominated for both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing in 2009, “Ratatouille” was nominated for both in 2008, and “The Incredibles” was nominated for both and won Sound Editing in 2005. “Across the Spider-Verse” could be the next animated movie to land an Oscar bid for sound.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” — Sound and Visual Effects
From animation to superheroes. Superhero films famously do very well in Best Visual Effects (in fact, in the same way animated flicks are confined to Best Animated Feature, comic book movies are far too often restricted to a Best Visual Effects nomination). “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “The Batman” were both nominated earlier this year, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” were both nominated in 2022, and “Avengers: Endgame” was nominated in 2020. It’s the same story in Best Sound, too. “The Batman” was nominated in 2023 and “Black Panther” was nominated for both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing in 2019. As usual, there are plenty of superhero films out this year including “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and the upcoming “The Marvels.” However, James Gunn‘s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is the pick of the bunch and is therefore most likely the best bet out of comic book movies.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” — Cinematography, Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects
And last but certainly not least… Indy. Indy movies have done well in these categories before. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” won Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects while it was also nominated for Best Cinematography in 1982. “Temple of Doom” won Best Visual Effects in 1985. And “The Last Crusade” was nominated for Best Sound and won Best Sound Effects Editing in 1990 (“Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was snubbed completely). That bodes well for this last entry to one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Oscar voters will surely want to give a farewell hug to Indy with a couple of nominations.
Phedon Papamichael takes on lensing duties for this one and helps to deliver a smooth ride for Indy and company. Papamichael has a decent track record here — he was nominated for “Nebraska” in 2014 and “The Trial of the Chicago Seven” in 2021. Meanwhile, the movie is edited by Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland, and Dirk Westervelt hold editing responsibilities as a trio. This would be Westervelt’s first-ever nomination. McCusker and Buckland previously won this category in 2020 for their joint work on James Mangold‘s “Ford v Ferrari,” while McCusker was also nominated in 2006 for “Walk the Line,” another Mangold movie. This category usually nominates big, bold action movies, so “Dial of Destiny” could be in with some luck. “Top Gun: Maverick” was nominated last year, while “Dune” won in 2022, and “Dunkirk” won in 2018. The film has a great chance in Best Visual Effects, too, as they utilize de-aging technology — something we know the Academy appreciates as 2020 nominees “The Rise of Skywalker” and “The Irishman” plus 2017 nominee “Rogue One” all utilized. Best Sound is this movie’s best bet, however, as the franchise has a rich history in this category. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” won Best Sound, “The Last Crusade” won Best Sound Effects Editing,” and “Raiders” was given a special achievement award for its sound effects editing.
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