Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger Deakins, Prisoners
Will Win: Though the “he’s due” argument rarely seems to sway voters on cinematography (maybe because they don’t always know who the cinematographers are and what else they shot), Emmanuel Lubezki has enough wow factor in his Gravity work alone without even considering his body of work (which includes The Tree of Life, Children of Men, and Sleepy Hollow).
Should Win: Lubezki is a great choice; he and Cuaron use their showy trademark unbroken shots in Gravity but manage to make them weirdly invisible. But any of these choices would be sound, particularly the lovely tones of Bruno Delbonnel’s Davis work.
Missing: These are aces, though I greatly admired the work of Chung-hoon Chung on Stoker and Rodriego Prieto on The Wolf of Wall Street.
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
Will Win: Editing traditionally follows Best Picture, unless there’s a popcornier movie that voters really like (The Matrix; The Bourne Ultimatum). That metric plus the potential Slave/Gravity split makes this one a tough call, but I’m guessing Gravity will prevail for its showiness.
Should Win: Let’s go Gravity!
Missing: I have no clue how Dallas Buyers Club got in here, and I’m not crazy about Captain Phillips, either. With an expanded Best Picture field, the editing nominees will usually come from that pool, in which case I’d offer The Wolf of Wall Street (as a rebuke to the “what EDITING?! This movie was three hours long lol!!!” school of thought) or Her as better nominees. Further afield: Inside Llewyn Davis managed to be by turns tight and elliptical, and the snappy editing of Frances Ha is instrumental in the formation of some of its best punchlines. In fact, Frances Ha might be my favorite to win, were it nominated.