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Oscar Predictions for the Nine Crafts Categories, Where the Avatar and Top Gun Sequels Loom Large


Now that I’ve had a chance to catch up with a bunch of movies over the holiday break (TillRRRAll Quiet on the Western Front), it’s time to update Below the Line‘s official Oscar predictions before the end of the year and the guild awards upend the season in early 2023.

When we last weighed in on the Oscar race, Steven Spielberg‘s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age movie The Fabelmans seemed like the clear-cut frontrunner to win Best Picture, and while I’m not quite as confident in its chances as I used to be, none of the late-breaking contenders have really staked a surefire claim to the throne, be it The WhaleEmpire of LightBabylon, or James Cameron‘s Avatar: The Way of Water, which will surely be a juggernaut when it comes to the below-the-line awards. Which are, after all, what we are here to discuss.

Yes, the Avatar sequel is poised to be this year’s Dune, but Top Gun: Maverick will surely give it a run for its money, while the lavish sets and costumes of major contenders such as Elvis and Babylon are also likely to connect with the Academy. And don’t count out favorites like Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin, which will surely have their own fans.

Meanwhile, will the crafts workers on Antoine Fuqua‘s Emancipation be punished for Will Smith‘s sins at last year’s Oscars, or will the actor’s below-the-line collaborators be given a fair shake by Academy voters willing to separate the art from the artist? We’ll see…

Keep in mind that for every category for which the Academy has already announced a shortlist, I’ve only offered up a single alternate as opposed to five alternates in categories where the possibilities are endless. Without further ado, here’s the latest snapshot of how I see the field right now. You can also click here for Above the Line‘s current Oscar predictions, and feel free to hit me up on Twitter, where healthy, respectful debate is always welcome. Ha!

* denotes a movie I have yet to see

Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick/Paramount Pictures

Best Cinematography

  1. Top Gun: Maverick – Claudio Miranda
  2. The Fabelmans – Janusz Kaminski
  3. Avatar: The Way of Water – Russell Carpenter 
  4. TÁR – Florian Hoffmeister
  5. Empire of Light – Roger Deakins


6. Babylon – Linus Sandgren
7. Athena – Matias Boucard
8. Emancipation – Robert Richardson
9. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Larkin Seiple
10. The Banshees of Inisherin – Ben Davis

Austin Butler in Elvis/Warner Bros.

Best Costume Design

  1. Elvis – Catherine Martin
  2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ruth E. Carter
  3. Babylon – Mary Zophres
  4. The Fabelmans – Mark Bridges
  5. The Woman King – Gersha Phillips


6. Living* – Sandy Powell
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Jenny Eagan
8. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Shirley Kurata
9. Don’t Worry Darling –
Arianne Phillips
10. White Noise –
Ann Roth

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once/A24

Best Film Editing

  1. Top Gun: Maverick – Eddie Hamilton
  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Paul Rogers
  3. The Fabelmans – Sarah Broshar and Michael Kahn
  4. Elvis – Jonathan Redmond and Matt Villa
  5. TÁR – Monika Willi


6. The Banshees of Inisherin – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
7. Avatar: The Way of Water – David Brenner, James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin
8. Babylon – Tom Cross
9. All Quiet on the Western Front – Sven Budelmann
10. Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund and Mikel Cee Karlsson

The Whale
Brendan Fraser in The Whale/A24

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  1. The Whale – Prosthetic Makeup Designer Adrien Morot, Makeup Department Head Judy Chin, Hair Department Head Anne Marie Bradley
  2. The Batman – Makeup Designer Naomi Donne, Prosthetics Designer Mike Marino, Hair Designer Zoe Tahir
  3. Elvis – Hair and Makeup Designer Shane Thomas, Prosthetics Designer Mark Coulier, Key Hairdresser Louise Coulston, Prosthetics Supervisor (for Tom Hanks and Austin Butler) Jason Baird
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front – Hair and Makeup Designer Heike Merker
  5. Blonde – Makeup Department Head Tina Roesler Kerwin, Hair Department Head Jaime Leigh McIntosh

ALTERNATE: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Makeup Department Head Joel Harlow

The Fabelmans
Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans/Universal Pictures

Best Original Score

  1. The Fabelmans – John Williams
  2. Babylon – Justin Hurwitz
  3. Women Talking – Hildur Guonadottir
  4. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Alexandre Desplat
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front – Volker Bertelmann

ALTERNATE: The Banshees of Inisherin – Carter Burwell

RRR movie
RRR image via Variance Films

Best Original Song

  1. “Lift Me Up” (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) by Tems, Ludwig Göransson, Rihanna and Ryan Coogler
  2. “Naatu Naatu” (RRR) by M.M. Keeravani
  3. “Hold My Hand” (Top Gun: Maverick) by Lady Gaga and Bloodpop
  4. “Ciao Papa” (Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio) by Guillermo del Toro and Roeban Katz
  5. “Carolina” (Where the Crawdads Sing*) by Taylor Swift

ALTERNATE: “This Is a Life” (Everything Everywhere All at Once) by David Byrne, Ryan Lott & Mitski

Knives Out 2
The cast of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery/Netflix

Best Production Design

  1. Elvis – Catherine Martin, Production Designer Karen Murphy, Set Decorator Bev Dunn
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water – Dylan Cole, Production Designer Ben Procter, Set Decorator Vanessa Cole
  3. The Fabelmans – Production Designer Rick Carter, Set Decorator Karen O’Hara
  4. Babylon – Production Designer Florencia Martin, Set Decorator Anthony Carlino
  5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Production Designer Rick Heinrichs, Set Decorator Elli Griff


6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Production Designer Hannah Beachler, Set Decorator Lisa K. Sessions
7. The Woman King – Production Designer Akin McKenzie, Set Decorator Renee Filipova
8. White Noise – Production Designer Jess Gonchor, Set Decorator Claire Kaufman
9. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Production Designer Jason Isvarday, Set Decorator Kelsi Ephraim
10. Thirteen Lives – Production Designer Molly Hughes, Set Decorator Emma Rudkin

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Marvel Studios

Best Sound

  1. Top Gun: Maverick – Production Sound Mixer Mark Weingarten, Supervising Sound Editors James H. Mather & Al Nelson, and Re-Recording Mixers Chris Burdon & Mark Taylor
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water – Supervising Sound Editor Gwen Whittle, Re-Recording Mixers Gary Summers & Mike Hedges, Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer Chris Boyes, Production Sound Mixer Tony Johnson, and Julian Howarth
  3. Elvis – Production Sound Mixer David Lee, Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor Wayne Pashley, Re-Recording Mixers Andy Nelson & Michael Keller
  4. Babylon – Production Sound Mixer Steven Morrow, Supervising Sound Editor Mildred Iatrou Morgan, Re-Recording Mixer Andy Nelson, Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer Ai-Ling Lee
  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Supervising Sound Editor Benjamin A. Burtt, Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer Steve Boeddeker, Re-Recording Mixer Brandon Proctor

ALTERNATE: The Batman – Production Sound Mixer Stuart Wilson, Supervising Sound Editor Douglas Murray, Re-Recording Mixer Andy Nelson, Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer William Files

Avatar: The Way of Water
Avatar: The Way of Water image via 20th Century Studios

Best Visual Effects

  1. Avatar: The Way of Water – Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, and Daniel Barrett
  2. Top Gun: Maverick – Visual Effects Supervisors Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill & Bryan Litson, Special Effects Coordinator Scott R. Fisher
  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Visual Effects Supervisors Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack & Hanzhi Tang, Special Effects Supervisor Dan Sudick
  4. The Batman – Visual Effects Supervisors Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl & Anders Langlands, Special Effects Supervisor Dominic Tuohy
  5. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – VFX Supervisors Janek Sirrs, Theo Bialek & Erik Winquist, SFX Supervisor Chris Corbould

ALTERNATE: Nope – Visual Effects Supervisors Guillaume Rocheron & Jeremy Robert, DFX Supervisor Sreejith Venugopalan, Special Effects Coordinator Scott R. Fisher

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