2006 once again delivered a wide array of epic period and fantasy films which are set to dominate crafts categories in the Academy Award race. It's no secret that however brilliant the design or cinematography in a contemporary story, sumptuous period films or box office spectacles almost always win out in crafts categories.
Look at last year. Memoirs Of A Geisha took art direction, costume design and cinematography honours, King Kong took visual effects, sound and sound editing and The Chronicles Of Narnia bagged the make-up Oscar.
Editing and original score are more difficult to predict. Last year, Crash won the editing Oscar, no doubt because voters perceived its multiple overlapping storylines as a challenge for the editor; and Brokeback Mountain won for the best score, probably because voters linked the film's emotional impact to its haunting musical score.
Not that the editing of Crash nor the scoring of Brokeback Mountain weren't outstanding, just that Academy voters tend to follow certain patterns.
What that means for this year is that multi-storied pictures like Bobby and Babel stand a good chance in the editing category as does Dreamgirls with its multiple montages and complex musical numbers ( Chicago, for example, took the editing Oscar).
And in scoring, watch out for emotional, tragedy-tinged tales like World Trade Center , Bobby and Babel to figure.
As for design categories, voters have an abundance of riches to choose from. Period titles such as Marie Antoinette, Dreamgirls, Curse Of The Golden Flower, Hollywoodland, The Prestige, Bobby, Perfume, The Black Dahlia, Apocalypto, The Good German, The Last King Of Scotland, Miss Potter, Factory Girl, The Nativity Story and Flags Of Our Fathers all display superb attention to detail in the costumes, production design and the make-up not to mention their stunning cinematography.