In another pair of two-horse races, both Film Editing and Cinematography is a fight between nomination leaders Dune and The Power of the Dog, who are neck-and-neck in the critics’ races (yes, they’re still going on) in both categories. Is it still a Dune sweeper or is the rise of the Dog going to take over?
The BAFTA miss for The Power of the Dog gives me some pause for a win here, even as the Best Picture frontrunner. The scope of Dune and especially as a Part One of two could put it in The Lord of the Rings territory, which wasn’t honored for its editing until the third film in the trilogy. While a nomination in Film Editing is crucial for a Best Picture win (which is why Belfast‘s miss here is pretty devastating) the last time the Best Picture winner also won here was 2012’s Argo so connecting the two in terms of wins isn’t really necessary.
Don’t Look Up and tick, tick…BOOM! offer the type of editing that the Academy loves but only the former is nominated for Best Picture and we have just a handful of examples in 53 years of an editing winner coming from a non-Best Picture nominee (1968’s Bullitt, 1999’s The Matrix, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum and 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
Cinematography is equally as competitive for the two films with Dune just ahead of The Power of the Dog in the critics’ race. This is the second nomination for Greig Fraser (Dune) and if the sci-fi epic is truly destined to rule the techs a win here makes perfect sense. Like film editing, it’s not a category that is deeply connected to Best Picture for a win. Only once since 2010 have the two aligned (2014’s Birdman) but again, a nomination here only boosts a film’s Best Picture chances (where, again, Belfast missed). The Academy has shown a clear deference for very flashy cinematography, the new fashion of black & white lensing and films with a significant amount of visual effects accompanying them and Dune fits two of those three.
Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog) is only the second female cinematographer ever nominated by the Academy in its 94 years (after Rachel Morrison for 2017’s Mudbound) and there is definitely a narrative of history behind her that could push her to the top. Right behind Fraser in the critics’ awards, Wegner’s celebrating work capturing New Zealand doubling for Montana, inventive framing of spacial relationships of the actors and sheer visual scope are more than enough to get her there. The big obstacle for her is not likely to be her gender but what we just saw happen last year, when Nomadland‘s cinematography (the overwhelming critics’ leader) lost out to Mank‘s shimmery black & white both at ASC then at the Oscars. That almost seems like an argument for The Tragedy of Macbeth to surprise but since 2010 there’s only been one winner her from a non-BP nominee and that was Blade Runner 2049, which was the coronation of Roger Deakins after an astonishing 13 nominations without a win.
Precursor Watch: American Cinema Editors (ACE) are March 5, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice are both March 13 and the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) are March 20. Oscar winner voting is March 17-22.
Here are my ranked 2022 Oscar predictions in Film Editing and Cinematography for February.
1. Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – CCA, BAFTA, ACE
2. The Power of the Dog (Netflix) – CCA, ACE
3. King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – ACE
4. Don’t Look Up (Netflix) – ACE
5. tick, tick…BOOM! (Netflix) – ACE
Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum
1. The Power of the Dog (Netflix) – CCA, BAFTA, ASC
2. Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – CCA, BAFTA, ASC
3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24/Apple Original Films) – CCA, BAFTA, ASC
4. West Side Story (20th Century Studios) – CCA
5. Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) – CCA, ASC, BAFTA