All Is Lost
Stories We Tell
Lots of similarities to be found across the best editing achievements of the year, and I'll also cop to the fact that I have some historical tendencies that play into things as well. I'm always a sucker for expertly rendered suspense or tension, which obviously places Captain Phillips near the top of my list. I'll also always find a place for expertly crafted action in this category, wherein Rush barely edged out Fast and Furious 6. Both those qualities, suspense and action, combine to create something special in Gravity, so that was a pretty easy choice. And both Gravity and All Is Lost make smart editing choices in order to advance the narrative when there's only one character on the screen. Finally, there's the intelligent, witty, and inventive editing that contributes to so much of the copious enjoyment to be found in Stories We Tell.
BEST ART DIRECTION
World War Z
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The Bling Ring
Inside Llewyn Davis
BEST MAKEUP / HAIRSTYLING
12 Years a Slave
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
So, yes, fine, it's another instance where Gravity trounces all other competition, and rightly so. This is a major achievement, one that combines technical wizardly with an artful eye. But there are things to recommend in the four also-rans as well. For as much as the rest of the movie lay flat, the dragon scenes in The Hobbit were a highlight and represented some of the best effects work of Peter Jackson's entire time in Middle Earth. Similarly, though Ben Stiller didn't use them incredibly well, the effects as they were in Walter Mitty were very well done. Iron Man 3 gets points for some eye-popping scenes, particularly with the iron-man suit assembling in mid-air. And that express-train scene in The Wolverine was a wonder, the only moment from that movie I'll ever remember, but what a moment!
Christopher Blauvent, Harris Savides - The Bling Ring
Sean Bobbitt - 12 Years a Slave
Sofian El Fani - Blue Is the Warmest Color
Emmanuel Lubezki - Gravity
Bradford Young - Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Much love to runners up like Roger Deakins (Prisoners), Barry Ackroyd (Captain Phillips), and Frank G. DeMarco and Peter Zuccarini (All Is Lost). It should also be noted that Sean Bobbitt produced award-worthy work in The Place Beyond the Pines and Byzantium in addition to 12 Years a Slave, making his Oscar omission even more perverse. Dreamy cinematography grabbed my attention in both Blue Is the Warmest Color and Ain't Them Bodies Saints, while The Bling Ring kept its feet on the ground but never stopped finding inventive ways to express repetitive behavior. And then there's Gravity, as ever-present as actual gravity, at least on awards ballots.