VMAs professional categories: Can David Fincher win VMA, Emmy in same year?

Most categories at the MTV Video Music Awards are decided by fans, who vote for winners online, but that is not the case of the VMAs’ six Professional Categories, specialized fields where music industry professionals pick the winners.

These categories are comparable to the Emmys’ Creative Arts Awards, which present prizes like Sound, Cinematography, and Visual Effects apart from the main telecast.

Most VMA races come down to which artists can best mobilize their rabid online fan-bases, but since the professional races have different voters, can we expect a radically different set of winners? I size up the contenders below:

BEST DIRECTION
Jon Jon Augustavo, Jason Koenig, and Ryan Lewis – “Can’t Hold Us” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)
Anthony Mandler – “Carry On” (Fun.)
Megaforce – “Sacrilege” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Director X and Drake – “Started from the Bottom” (Drake)
David Fincher – “Suit & Tie” (Justin Timberlake)

FRONTRUNNER: “Suit & Tie”
SPOILER: “Can’t Hold Us”

Normally I’d give the edge to “Can’t Hold Us,” which is also nominated for a pair of technical awards – Cinematography and Editing – but voters may not be able to resist the lure of crossover success David Fincher. Before his big-screen breakthrough, the Oscar-nominated auteur won two directing VMAs for his work on Madonna‘s “Express Yourself” and “Vogue.” This is his first nomination since 1991.

What’s more, Fincher could pull off the unusual feat of winning VMAs and Emmys in the same year; at the upcoming TV kudos he contends for Best Drama Series and Best Drama Directing for “House of Cards.” Coincidentally, “Suit & Tie” artist Justin Timberlake is also up for an Emmy this year: Comedy Guest Actor for “Saturday Night Live.”

Our prediction center agrees; based on the consensus of  Editors, Users, and the Top 24 Users, the nominees are ranked with the following racetrack odds:

1. “Suit & Tie” – 3/10
2. “Can’t Hold Us” – 11/2
3. “Sacrilege” – 25/1
4. “Carry On” – 50/1
5. “Started from the Bottom” – 50/1

BEST ART DIRECTION
Lou Asaro – “National Anthem” (Lana Del Rey)
Veronica Logsdon – “Q.U.E.E.N.” (Janelle Monae/Erykah Badu)
Teri Whittaker – “Safe and Sound” (Capital Cities)
Charlie Lambros – “Tessellate” (Alt-J)
Floyd Albee – “Up in the Air” (30 Seconds to Mars)

FRONTRUNNER: “Up in the Air”
SPOILER: “Q.U.E.E.N.”

This is an easier category to predict at the Emmys and Oscars, where the nominee with the most elaborate period or fantasy sets usually prevails, but music videos tend to be more conceptual and abstract. I’ll give the edge to the sheer visual ambition of 30 Seconds to Mars‘s 8-minute epic “Up in the Air,” though the futuristic black-and-white motifs of “Q.U.E.E.N.” could be a factor. “Safe and Sound” also boasts eye-popping sets and compositions.

But our prediction center disagrees, giving Lana Del Rey‘s “National Anthem” the edge instead; based on the consensus of  Editors, Users, and the Top 24 Users, the nominees are ranked with the following racetrack odds:

1. “National Anthem” – 4/9
2. “Q.U.E.E.N.” – 11/2
3. “Up in the Air” – 10/1
4. “Safe and Sound” – 25/1
5. “Tessellate” – 33/1

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Jamaica Craft – “Body Party” (Ciara)
Richmond Talauega, Anthony Talauega, and Anwar “Flii” Burton – “Fine China” (Chris Brown)
J.R. Taylor and Beau Smart – “Live it Up” (Jennifer Lopez/Pitbull)
Fatima Robinson and Ryo Noguchi – “#thatPOWER” (will.i.am/Justin Bieber)
Bruno Mars – “Treasure” (Bruno Mars)

FRONTRUNNER: “Fine China”
SPOILER: “Treasure”

Ciara‘s brief gyrations in “Body Party” are a nonstarter despite Jamaica Craft‘s five previous nominations, and though there’s plenty of dancing in Jennifer Lopez‘s “Live It Up,” it’s too choppily edited to follow the choreography. “#thatPOWER” boasts some innovative moves from previous VMA winner Fatima Robinson, but they may be too subtle; Bruno Mars‘s Jackson Five-inspired “Treasure” may also be too understated. Like last year, Chris Brown‘s video will likely win by default with its wealth of fancy footwork, and some fight choreography thrown in for good measure.

However, our prediction center disagrees, favoring Mars to win; based on the consensus of  Editors, Users, and the Top 24 Users, the nominees are ranked with the following racetrack odds:

1. “Treasure” – 8/13
2. “Live it Up” – 6/1
3. “Body Party” – 13/2
4. “Fine China” – 12/1
5. “#thatPOWER” – 25/1

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Jason Koenig, Ryan Lewis and Mego Lin – “Can’t Hold Us” (Macklemore/Ryan Lewis)
Malik Sayeed – “Ride” (Lana Del Rey)
Alexis Zabe – “Sacrilege” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
TS Pfeffer and Robert McHugh – “Tuna Melt” (A-Trak/Tommy Trash)
David Devlin – “Up in the Air” (30 Seconds to Mars)

FRONTRUNNER: “Can’t Hold Us”
SPOILER: “Ride”

A tough call. Lana Del Rey’s 10-minute “Ride” and 30 Seconds to Mars’s “Up in the Air” are the most visually striking of the bunch and either could win, but Macklemore and Ryan Lewis‘s “Can’t Hold Us” features impressive vistas and, perhaps more importantly, a nomination for Direction. Last year, this award went to M.I.A.‘s “Bad Girls,” the eventual Best Direction winner, so I’m betting on “Can’t Hold Us.”

Our prediction center agrees; based on the consensus of  Editors, Users, and the Top 24 Users, the nominees are ranked with the following racetrack odds:

1. “Can’t Hold Us” – 4/11
2. “Ride” – 9/2
3. “Up in the Air” – 33/1
4. “Sacrilege” – 50/1
5. “Tuna Melt” – 50/1

BEST EDITING
Ryan Lewis and Jason Koenig – “Can’t Hold Us” (Macklemore/Ryan Lewis)
Jackie London at Sunset Edit – “Just Give Me a Reason” (Pink/Nate Ruess)
Jarrett Fijal and Bonch LA – “Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake)
Vincent Haycock and Ross Hallard – “Sweet Nothing” (Calvin Harris/Florence Welch)
Paul Martinez and Nick Rondeau – “We Can’t Stop” (Miley Cyrus)

FRONTRUNNER: “Mirrors”
SPOILER: “Can’t Hold Us”

Last year this category included frenetic videos by Jay-Z and Kanye West (“N***as in Paris”), Gotye (“Somebody That I Used to Know“), and eventual winner Beyonce (“Countdown“), but none of this year’s lineup are as conspicuously edited. This will probably come down to the fast-paced “Can’t Hold Us,” also nominated for Direction, and “Mirrors,” which blends time periods before slowing down the pace in its second half. “Mirrors” is edited by Jarrett Fijal, the only contender in this category who has been nominated before; he has six previous nominations and two wins (Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance”). That might give “Mirrors” the edge.

Our prediction center agrees; based on the consensus of  Editors, Users, and the Top 24 Users, the nominees are ranked with the following racetrack odds:

1. “Mirrors” – 4/9
2. “We Can’t Stop” – 8/1
3. “Just Give Me a Reason” – 10/1
4. “Can’t Hold Us” – 10/1
5. “Sweet Nothings” – 50/1

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
RADICAL FRIEND – “Breakn a Sweat” (Skrillex/The Doors)
Royal Post / Paris – “It’s You” (Duck Sauce)
Grady Hall, Jonathan Wu and Derek Johnson – “Safe and Sound” (Capital Cities)
Dustin Bowser – “Tiny Tortures” (Flying Lotus)
Drop and Abel – “Wicked Games” (The Weeknd)

FRONTRUNNER: “Tiny Tortures”
SPOILER: “Breakn a Sweat”

Skrillex‘s “First of the Year” won last year, and this year the dubstep pioneer contends with similarly trippy CGI in “Breakn a Sweat.” He’s a threat to repeat. But I have a hunch about “Tiny Tortures,” featuring Elijah Wood as an amputee whose arm is mysteriously reassembled with household items in the middle of the night. The only other likely contender is Duck Sauce‘s whimsical “It’s You.”

But our prediction center disagrees, giving Skrillex best odds; based on the consensus of  Editors, Users, and the Top 24 Users, the nominees are ranked with the following racetrack odds:

1. “Breakn a Sweat” – 4/11
2. “Safe and Sound” – 15/2
3. “Tiny Tortures” – 9/1
4. “Wicked Games” – 33/1
5. “It’s You” – 50/1

3 thoughts on “VMAs professional categories: Can David Fincher win VMA, Emmy in same year?

  1. VMAs are weird like that sometimes. Apparently, “Can’t Hold Us” was better directed, edited, and photographed, and was a better hip-hop video, but “Thirft Shop” somehow deserved the bid for Video of the Year. Not sure how the logic of that works out.

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