Charles Bright and I discussed the top categories at the MTV Video Music Awards (watch that part of our slugfest here), but we also break down the “Professional Categories,” the technical and craft fields that are voted on by a special panel and not the viewing public: Best Direction, Best Art Direction, Best Choreography, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Visual Effects. Many of the nominees here also compete in the top contests — Beyonce‘s “Formation” and Adele‘s “Hello” are major competitors here as they are for Video of the Year — but there are also noteworthy differences that Bright and I analyze in the hopes of anticipating the winners (watch above).
“Formation” and “Hello” are the only Video of the Year nominees up for Best Direction, and Bright thinks “this one should probably go to Adele and [director] Xavier Dolan. This just seems like the place to reward it.” We’re skeptical of Adele’s chances to win her other categories — she has never won a fan-voted VMA before — but she has had good luck in the below-the-line races, taking three for “Rolling in the Deep” in 2011 (Art Direction, Cinematography, Editing). It doesn’t hurt that “Hello” has the added cachet of Dolan, the 27-year-old filmmaking wunderkind who has won myriad prizes around the globe, including the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for “It’s Only the End of the World.”
But Beyonce’s video (helmed by Melina Matsoukas) has urgent political subject matter, much like Kendrick Lamar‘s “Alright,” which won Best Direction in 2015. Bright and I both believe it’s a race between Beyonce and Adele, but Bright notes, “We do see upsets sometimes, even with more well-known directors. I’ll never forget Johnny Cash‘s ‘Hurt,’ directed by Mark Romanek, lost to ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay — another beautifully directed video, but still, that was really shocking.”
The rest of the nominees for Best Direction are David Bowie‘s “Lazarus” (directed by Johan Renck), Coldplay’s “Up&Up” (directed by Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia) and Tame Impala‘s “The Less I Know the Better” (directed by CANADA).
Bowie may have an outside shot to win Best Direction, but if not he could still take Best Art Direction for a different video, the 10-minute clip for “Blackstar.” Bright has it ranked second behind “Hello,” which he feels could sweep the professional categories outright, but admits “Blackstar” is “so artsy it’s begging for it.”
And Bowie’s video isn’t the only peculiar nominee in technical categories. We also discuss FKA Twigs, whose eccentric, 16-minute “M3LL155X” is up for Best Choreography and Best Visual Effects “I did not know what I was watching … It was so bizarre,” says Bright. “This is pushing it.” FKA Twigs has earned five VMA nominations in the last two years, but only in the professional categories, and she’s still aiming for her first victory.