What films are we underestimating for Tech Nominations?

This article originally appeared on The Film Experience

With the 2021 Oscar year winding down, the higher-profile films are packing the predictions of pundits everywhere.  As easy as it is to predict Dune and Nightmare Alley to have plenty of technical nominations, what films are we underestimating?

At Oscars for the last 18 years, at least one film has received a single Oscar nomination in below-the-line tech categories.  While it is not unusual for a film to receive a single nomination in Best Original Song, Original Score or Cinematography; these are the categories awards pundits and the Oscars themselves don’t tend to pay much attention to.

What films are we overlooking to receive a single technical nomination?

This is not a rare occurance.  In every year since 2003, at least one film has received a single nomination in either Best Makeup/Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Art Direction/Production Design, Sound/Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, or Visual Effects.

Look at last year, when the Oscars nominated Love and Monsters, The Midnight Sky, and The One and Only Ivan for Best Visual Effects.  Additionally, the AppleTV+ Tom Hanks film Greyhound managed a Best Sound nomination.

Other films of note to receive such a nomination include Ad Astra, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Hail, Caesar!, The Invisible Woman, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Drive, I Am Love, Australia and Fight Club.

As you can tell from that list, single nominations are not representative of quality.  This might be the only instance where 13 Hours and I Am Love are mentioned in the same breath.  Some of these nominating bodies will go out on a limb with their nominations, but others default to more populist picks.

What does this tell us about this year?  Don’t underestimate non-traditonal Oscar films.  While Free Guy, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Finch won’t touch the Best Picture race, their names could find their way into the Best Visual Effects.  The Best Sound lineup has featured a number of populist hits, so don’t be surprised if you see No Time to Die or Eternals show up.

Costume Design always adds a curveball or two, so maybe you would find Last Night in Soho or The Green Knight.  The Best Makeup category is where things really get fun.  That nominating group has shown its willingness to go towards foreign films for its nominations, even when those films miss the International Feature shortlist (Border, The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared), so count out Titane at your own risk.

It happens every year, it will happen again this year.  There isn’t one trend to point to where it is going to happen.  Maybe you just have to get lucky.

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