Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

New Q & A - Actors who should be more famous and more...

"For the life of me I will never understand why Audra McDonald isn't bigger outside of Broadway." - Brian

"I will add to that list Irfhan Khan; he gets roles steadily, but in my mind he should be a household name." -Rebecca

"I'll also echo that Rosemarie DeWitt is one of the most talented working actresses, full stop. There is no other Best Supporting Actress of 2008." - Hayden

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 470 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience


What'cha Looking For?
« Berlin Announces Its Winners. | Main | Mystery Swag »

8 Days 'til Oscar: The Visual Wonders

I'm saving my beloved category Costume Design for its own post. For now let's talk Cinematography, Production Design, Editing and Visual Effects. At the Oscars Life of Pi is up for all of these categories. It can pick up all of those statues if it can fend off viable threats from Skyfall, Anna Karenina, Argo and The Avengers respectively. Is it likely to? I'd say no but it's a safe bet that it won't go home empty-handed come Oscar night. If Anne Hathaway can use her Golden Globe as "a weapon against self-doubt" than orphaned Pi can surely use an Oscar as blunt heavy object to fend off that tiger. (Life of Pi isn't up for all four of those prizes at The Film Experience's own awards but then no film is.) 

We're definitely living in some kind of golden age of cinematography. There are so many great DPs working right now in the 21st century that it feels downright ungrateful each January when only five are held up as the gold standard. So I'm happy to honor an at least partially different list in my own awards. Don't talk to me about Greig Frasier, one of the single brightest stars who this year alone lit Snow White and the Huntsman, Killing Me Softly and Zero Dark Thirty, still being nomination-free --- I CAN'T! Other relative newbies I'm personally excited about are Radium Cheng (Starlet), Bradford Young (Middle of Nowhere), and Mihai Malaimare Jr. (The Master) And that's just scratching the surface of cinematographers who Oscar didn't notice this year. There are so many longtime giants still walking the earth in this field that Oscar couldn't even find room for a talent as big as Darius Wolski (Prometheus) or any of the exciting newbies.

Kaminski has lensed 13 of Spielberg's movies. He's nominated for the 6th time for Lincoln

Oscar Nominated: Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina), Robert Richardson (Django Unchained), Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi), Roger Deakins (Skyfall) and Janusz Kaminski (Lincoln)
Should Win: McGarvey
Will Win: Miranda -- Pi looks gorgeous through and through and cinematography has lately become the province of vfx epics... though it's hard to tell where computers take over for DPs these days in post
Spoiler Possibility: Skyfall is stunning eye candy which might help Roger Deakins. He's more likely to win for sentimental reasons than for the best-looking Bond. It's ridiculous that he's still waiting for an Oscar at 63 after 10 nominations and such an amazing influential career.

(formerly titled Art Direction at the Oscars)
My guess is that Anna Karenina is headed for the eye candy double (Costumes + Production Design) that I've come to think of as "The Moulin Rouge! Awards" But it's possible that they'll throw this bone to a Best Picture nominee instead.

Oscar Nominated: Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood), The Hobbit (Dan Hennah), Life of Pi (David Gropman), Lincoln (Rick Carter), Les Misérables (Eve Stewart)
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Spoiler Possibility:  Life of Pi


What if Bruce Banner had to share a boat with Richard Parker?

We can all agree that this Oscar category will land safely in the hands of Life of Pi, can't we? Damn but that tiger alone, right. Even Hulk can't smash its Oscar dreams.

In a piece about Argo's Oscar chances I already detailed my feelings about this race. I think Argo will take it but if you ask me William Goldenberg (double-nominated) did much stronger work on Zero Dark Thirty so he'll win for the wrong film --  which won't be any kind of Oscar first ;). Goldenberg's work Zero is the only Oscar nominee that crossed over into my ballot.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (15)

Some lovely choices here. I share your questions about Life of Pi's cinematography, though in my case, I don't even really like the way the film looks.

Curious to know if you saw Wuthering Heights -- and if so, if there's a particular reason Robbie Ryan doesn't rate even a mention. Too photographic as opposed to cinematographic? He'd be at the top of my ballot, and would also get a second nomination for Ginger & Rosa. (Which I know didn't *really* come out in the US last year...)

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

Love the Greig Fraser acknowledgement. Just the contrast of his work in ZD30 and KTS should have gotten him a nomination of some kind. I can only accept a Deakins or McGravey win in the category.

I hope should ZD30 win Editing that Tichenor is named first just so I don't get this false hope they won when Goldenberg is named.... for Argo.

I took Malaimore and Greenwood's non-nominations harder than no nominations for PTA. Hate the film's script and direction but do not deny the artistry and beauty of the film.

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I'm sure the production design for Les Mis was exquisite, but Hooper's poor decision to shoot actors two feet away from the camera left little space to gawk at the sets.

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Guy -- I loved this work on Ginger & Rosa and Fish Tank but I regret to inform that i didn't see Wuthering Heights. I'm not sure why i missed it other than at some point i was like "ewww, non actors acting" which is a strange fascination some auteurs have that i absolutely do not share.

CMG -- I share almost all of those feelings albeit less emphatically.

Matt -- yes there is that. when the cameras would pan out at the very end of numbers or when you'd occasionally get a glimpse of the larger space i was always like YES, SHOW ME THAT.

February 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

It seems as if you forgot about a movie called "Cloud Atlas"... I don't care how much you dislike the movie, THOSE sets and visual effects are absolutely stunning. There was no finer or more epic achievement in production design all year. It spanned thousands of years, too, recreating worlds in six distinct time periods. Mind-blowing.

And I'll just chalk it up as small oversights that you left off any mention of "Lincoln" or "The Impossible." Both immaculate in their design, the former for those incredibly rustic and detailed interiors and the latter for its staggering recreation of all that wreckage and aftermath of the tsunami.

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

Yes, the production design of The Impossible was stunning.

I think the editing in Life of Pi is masterful in the way it handles both the big action scenes and the more intimate moments and never looking abrupt or rushed or eneven. The light might be Cgi work, but cinematography is also framing and camera movement, and Miranda give us wonderful compositions that never get tiresome even having only a guy, a tiger and a boat.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Is No eligible? The editing was awesone.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

On non-actors: you loved Beasts of the Southern Wild and that includes acting, right?

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Hi Nathaniel, just so you're aware - I've tried several times today to post a comment in the Berlin film fest poat and my comment won't come up. Not sure if the site might be having issues...

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Cal - No was not eligible. It just opened in the States so it's a 2013 movie. as for Beasts and non-acting... it works some times but more often than not i leave the movie thinking "that was interesting but this moment or this section or the entire thing would have been elevated if someone who knew what they were doing was in the frame: ;)

February 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Goran -- i fixed it. sorry abotu that. it thought you were spam for some reason.

February 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

We actually line up pretty closely when it comes to Cinematography and Production Design.

Life of Pi is probably my most significant blind spot for the year. I was a fan of the book and of most of the talent behind the film (Lee, Miranda, Danna), but Christmas was so packed I never got out to a theater to see it.

However, I share your suspicion when it comes to cinematography in effects-heavy films. I know many effects companies consult with the DP's during the process. And even animated films typically have a whole staff dedicated to creating the lighting scheme (see: Pixar). But can it really be considered "cinematography" if most of it is done on a computer and not a camera? It's a tricky question.

I also appreciate the bold choice of Magic Mike in editing. I wasn't as impressed by its performances/script as some, but the technicals were great. Good editing is just as (if not more) important for comedies as it is action flicks.

I don't agree with your assessment of Prometheus' craft. Wolski's work was impressive in the moment, but upon reflection nothing in that film seems very original or exceptional. We've seen some derivative of most of those sets before. Ditto the blue-and-gold color scheme. And, to me at least, some of the CGI was hideous. It fell straight into the uncanny valley.

Here were my picks this year:

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins (Skyfall)
Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty)
Mihai Malaimare, Jr. (The Master)
Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina)
Gökhan Tiryaki (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia)

Best Production Design
Laurence Bennett, Gregory S. Hooper, Austin Buchinsky and Robert Gould (The Artist)
Alex DiGerlando, Dawn Masi, Annie Evelyn and Erin Staub (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Sarah Greenwood, Niall Moroney and Katie Spencer (Anna Karenina)
J. Michael Riva, David Klassen and Leslie Pope (Django Unchained)
Adam Stockhausen, Gerald Sullivan and Kris Moran (Moonrise Kingdom)

Best Editing
Joe Bini (We Need to Talk about Kevin)
William Goldenberg (Argo)
William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor (Zero Dark Thirty)
John Paul Horstmann and Brian A. Kates (Killing Them Softly)
Jeremiah O'Driscoll (Flight)

Best Visual Effects
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Total Recall

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I'd prefer The Avengers to take Visual Effects over Life of Pi because at least The Avengers didn't cause me to close my eyes for extended periods of time to stop the world from spinning with its 3D.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Re Wuthering Heights: Fair enough, though it's worth clarifying that the cast isn't entirely made up of non-pros! Kaya Scodelario, who plays the older Cathy, is a rising UK star who started out in Skins. I think she's rather good.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

I was about to say re: Wuthering Heights, Kaya Scodelario is a pretty well-known actress in the UK for Skins. Hopefully she breaks through with some more challenging work in the US.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>