The nominees for Best Art Direction are Avatar, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Nine, Sherlock Holmes, and The Young Victoria. All are dazzling, but I haven't seen any news reports about film-goers coming out of Nine or Sherlock Holmes, depressed that they can't live in the beautiful worlds portrayed on screen. No, this one is going to the eye-popping, nonsensical, almost Seussian design in Avatar.
In the Best Costumes category, we look for the widest variety of costumes and the degree of difficulty involved. This year's nominees are the period films Bright Star and The Young Victoria, fantasy films The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and Nine, and a movie about fashion, Coco Before Chanel. my first instinct is to give it to Nine - costuming superstar Colleen Atwood is the nominee and the film features a wide array of glitzy clothes. On the other hand, Coco Before Chanel is a movie that centers around its costumes, but features very specific designs without room for elaboration. I'm going to give my pick to The Young Victoria. It showcases a variety of opulent clothes and works hard to delineate each character through costuming.
The three nominees for Makeup are Il Divo, Star Trek, and The Young Victoria. Fantastical prosthetics usually take the prize, so I'll pick Star Trek here.
The nominees for Cinematography are Avatar, Harry Potter 6, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and White Ribbon. Avatar may get awarded for its tasteful use of 3D, but it and Harry Potter are both storyboarded to the nanosecond and involve massive computer effects, which can overshadow innovative camerawork. Has anyone seen White Ribbon? It's also up for Foreign Language Film, so it must be good, but without a wide release, most voters are likely to ignore it. Tarantino is famous for his quirky camera work, so Inglourious Basterds has a shot, but I think that the Academy will side with The Hurt Locker here. Between shaky war footage, long suspenseful shots, and sun-drenched filters, this is the film where the camera puts you into the film (without the headache of 3D glasses).