Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic fantasy novel Dune has been praised by critics and audiences alike for its awe-inspiring world building and craftsmanship. In a time where franchise films wear the mark of the studio more-so than the director, Dune is the exact opposite. With a sequel officially in the works, it has become one of the few success stories of pandemic times that is not a sequel or a reboot. I suspect the industry will be eager to show some love for Villeneuve’s passion project and its brilliant crafts when the Academy Awards come along.
With Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations under its belt, Dune is a near-lock for a Best Picture nomination. It’ll likely be a contender akin to Gravity, Inception, or Mad Max: Fury Road as the tech-sweeper with Best Picture and Best Director nominations to top it all off. Villeneuve could even be in contention to win the director statue, like Cuáron did for Gravity, but the Academy may decide to wait to award him for the film’s sequels as they did with Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Do not expect any acting nominations for Dune. The only other above-the-line nomination it could grab is Adapted Screenplay. Working against it is the absence of nominations for similar tech giants like The Revenant, Gravity, and Mad Max: Fury Road. However, I think voters will appreciate that it navigated the classic source material so faithfully. And it doesn’t hurt to have six-time Academy Award nominee Eric Roth as a writing credit.
Dune is likely to be recognized by every single tech branch in the Academy, and rightfully so, as every craft element is top-of-the-line. The most assured win on Oscar night will be in Visual Effects. The work in the film is so stunning it’s impossible to imagine a loss. The film’s thunderous sound design is very likely to be awarded as well. The correlation between winning Best Sound and Best Editing is undeniable at this point, and I expect Dune may take both, just as Mad Max and Gravity did. The film’s immersive production design and cinematography are potential winners as well.
Hans Zimmer’s brilliant, booming score is a monumental work in his career, and is widely expected to earn the legendary composer a second Oscar. The film’s costumes and makeup are likely to receive nominations as well, but are less likely to be in the winning conversation. I expect The Eyes of Tammy Faye and House of Gucci will provide stiff competition in makeup, while West Side Story and Cruella can challenge it with their vibrant costumes.
Dune fans rejoice: I am predicting the film will receive a total of 11 Oscar nominations, which would likely make it the most nominated film in contention. It could be the most awarded too, with, I think, a minimum of three wins coming its way, and a maximum of 6-7. Check back here at CinemaBlend for more awards analysis.