OSCARS 2011: Analysis & Prediction (The Artistic Categories)

[Film still of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2]


While cinematography is about playing with the camera and lighting to attain the best visual quality, art direction is the fine art of creating a film setting that is as aesthetically close to the contextual reality of the film as possible. It is now considered an umbrella term consisting of various departments such as production design and set decoration. Together with cinematography, art direction gives a film its unique "look" and "feel".

[Film still of The Artist]

The nominees:

  • THE ARTIST - Laurence Bennett & Robert Gould
Known for: Carrie (1976), Days of Heaven (1978), Total Recall (1990), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), Crash (2004). 
  • HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 - Stuart Craig & Stephenie McMillan
Known for: The Elephant Man (1980), Gandhi (1982), The English Patient (1996), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010). 
  • HUGO - Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo
Known for: The Age of Innocence (1993), Kundun (1997), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).
  • MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - Anne Seibel & Hélène Dubreuil
Known for: Nil
  • WAR HORSE - Rick Carter & Lee Sandales
Known for: Forrest Gump (1994), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Munich (2005), Casino Royale (2006), Avatar (2009).

 The Academy will pick...  Hugo
 The Dark Horse is... The Artist
 My vote will go to... Hugo

[Film still of Midnight in Paris]

 The last five Oscars for this category were mostly given to big-budgeted films and/or sci-fi and fantasy films - Alice in Wonderland (2010), Avatar (2009), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Pan's Labyrinth (2006). Thus, there is a strong reason to go for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 this year. 

However, it is likely that the Academy will pick Hugo, with its rich and dazzling recreation of 1930s Paris. The Artist has an outside chance, depending on its awards momentum on the big night. War Horse and Midnight in Paris are unlikely to win. 


Costume design is the art of creating what the actors and actresses will be wearing in the film. It not only refers to the clothes that they put on, but other accessories like hats, or necklaces as well. Depending on its setting (e.g. period, contemporary, or futuristic) costume design is essential in giving the film's characters their credibility by anchoring them firmly in the reality of the film. The more realistic the costume design, the more fascinating the characters will be from a visual standpoint. 

[Film still of Jane Eyre]

The nominees:

  • ANONYMOUS - Lisy Christl
Known for: Funny Games (1997), Shadows of Time (2004), Caché (2005), John Rabe (2009). 
  • THE ARTIST - Mark Bridges
Known for: Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Fighter (2010). 
  • HUGO - Sandy Powell
Known for: Shakespeare in Love (1998), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005), The Young Victoria (2009).
  • JANE EYRE - Michael O'Connor
Known for: The Last King of Scotland (2006), Brick Lane (2007), The Duchess (2008).
  • W.E. - Arianne Phillips
Known for: The Crow (1994), Walk the Line (2005), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), A Single Man (2009). 

 The Academy will pick... Hugo 
 The Dark Horse is... The Artist 
 My vote will go to...  Hugo 

[Film still of Anonymous]

 Forget bout W.E. or Anonymous winning this. History suggests an elegant period drama set in the 19th century like Jane Eyre would be a lock in this category. But it only has an outside chance when there is a strong two-way fight between The Artist and Hugo. Somehow, my gut feeling is that Hugo will win.  


Makeup can make or break an actor's or actress' face. The best makeup is able to transform the actor or actress into the character, making him, her, or it believable to the audience. Very often, especially in period or biographical films, makeup artists work hand-in-hand with costume designers to achieve the most realistic look for the character. 

[Film still of The Iron Lady]

The nominees:

 The Academy will pick... The Iron Lady 
 The Dark Horse is... Harry Potter and the 
 Deathly Hallows: Part 2 
 My vote will go to... The Iron Lady 

[Film still of Albert Nobbs]

 With only three options, The Iron Lady is the deserving frontrunner as Meryl Streep is transformed into Margaret Thatcher with unnerving accuracy. In addition, the makeup done on Streep to portray an older Thatcher is also brilliant. The dark horse is the film about the adventures of a boy wizard, but Voldermort's haunting face is the true reason for this nomination. The makeup in Albert Nobbs is less impressive in comparison with its competitors. 


You can't see music, but can only listen. If a film has great music, half the battle is already won, as music is an important tool for the director to accentuate certain scenes, or to bring out certain emotions. Great film music can be listened on its own without any imagery from the film. The best film music can be epic or subtle, played orchestrally or electronically, for as long as it elevates a good film into something great, it has done its job.

[Film still from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy]

The nominees:

Known for: Jaws (1975), Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Schindler's List (1993), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001). 
  • THE ARTIST - Ludovic Bource
Known for: Nil
  • HUGO - Howard Shore
Known for: The Silence of the Lambs (1991), The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), The Aviator (2004). 
  • TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Alberto Iglesias
Known for: All About My Mother (1999), Talk to Her (2002), The Constant Gardener (2005), The Kite Runner (2007).
  • WAR HORSE - John Williams
Known for: See above

 The Academy will pick... Ludovic Bource (The Artist
 The Dark Horse is...
 Alberto Iglesias 
 (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
 My vote will go to... John Williams (War Horse

[Film still from Hugo]

You can bet your house that John Williams won't win, though I want him to for his beautiful, sentimental score for War Horse. The safest bet goes to newcomer Ludovic Bource, whose score brilliantly evokes the spirit of the 1930s silent film. Howard Shore's score is magical, but he has won three Oscars before for The Lord of the Rings films, so the Academy might not be too keen to reward him again. The dark horse goes to Alberto Iglesias, whose subtle, suspenseful music effectively sets the mood of paranoia in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Iglesias has been nominated twice before, and is most well-known for scoring the films of Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar.  


Some films feature original songs that are either recorded for the film (usually for the end credits), or sung by the cast in the film (usually for musicals or animated features). These songs are rewarded for their memorable lyrics, melodies, and for giving a film its essence long after the credits have rolled. 

[Film still from The Muppets]

The nominees:

  • THE MUPPETS - Bret McKenzie ("Man or Muppet")
  • RIO - Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, Siedah Garrett ("Real in Rio")

 The Academy will pick... The Muppets 
 The Dark Horse is... Rio 
 My vote will go to... The Muppets 

[Film still from Rio]

 There is nothing to talk about for this category. Whoever wins, nobody would really give a hoot. Our gut feeling goes to The Muppets though as it is a more well-received film than Rio, which is not even nominated for Best Animated Feature.


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