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Entries in Art Direction (68)

Wednesday
Jul292015

[SAFE]

[SAFE]
Written and directed by Todd Haynes. Cinematography by Alex Nepomniaschy.
With Julianne Moore, Xander Berkeley, James LeGros, Beth Grant and Peter Friedman.  

Hit Me With Your Best Shot has been running for six years and we've finally braved one of the most fascinating jewels of the 1990s cinema. Todd Haynes's disturbing, sad, confounding, and highly interpretable early masterwork [SAFE]. It's the film that layed the groundwork for the cult of Julianne Moore (on the heels of her well regarded but little-seen performance in Vanya on 42nd Street). Two years later mainstream stardom with frequent eyes on the art house, hit. In 1997, a seismic year, she had her first major role in a blockbuster (Lost World: Jurassic Park), her first instant classic with accompanying Oscar nod (Boogie Nights), and fell in love with her eventual second husband, then freshmen director Bart Freundlich (Myth of Fingerprints). And by then people were starting to discover [SAFE], too. The film's reputation is such now that people forget that not many people knew about it back then. It grossed just $500,000 in theaters and mystified many critics. 

I've never forgotten this line from a Damian Cannon review back in the day

The acting is amazingly flat and inexpressive, the result of a performance by Moore which is either fantastic or abysmal. "

More after the jump including the Best Shot Choices

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May262015

Beauty Break: "Cinema Without People"

My favorite tumblr of the moment is called Cinema Without People which collects images from movies without the characters in them. Sometimes it's a perfect reminder of the skill of production designers, art directors, and set decorators such as the Goldfinger set.

(One of my favorite awards stats is the different ways that BAFTA and Oscar treat James Bond films and BAFTA rightly nominated this one for Art Direction.)

Other times it reminds you of great storytelling, auteur quirks, or the characters themselves through their very absence. It's nearly always haunting and beautiful. The very shy "about" portion of the tumblr simply declares that it was made with love for introvert film fans. I am not an introvert but I can still feel the love.

After the jump 10 more images that caught my eye that I just loved...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr162015

Revisiting Rebecca (Pt 3): Don't Go Into Rebecca's Room

Previously on Revisiting Rebecca - Nathaniel introduced us to a mousy girl with no name and no money, whose awkward charms land her Maxim de Winter. Abstew guided us through their nuptials and the introduction of Manderley, Maxim’s humble family castle. Turns out it’s filled with Maxim’s dead wife’s things, including a creepy servant named Mrs. Danvers. Just how much sway does Rebecca still hold over Manderley?

Part 3 by Anne Marie

We begin where abstew left off, with #2 (aka Mrs. de Winter the Second, aka Mrs. de W2 - with about as much personality as a tax form) asking Crawley to describe Rebecca’s character. Crawley answers back with a vague, glowing physical description that makes #2 twitch and me roll my eyes. Yes, yes. Rebecca was beautiful. Maybe the moral of this movie is not to judge a woman's moral character solely by her good looks.

55:55 There’s a quick montage of a fashion magazine and crossfade to #2 dressed uncomfortably in a black dress with pearls. Eagle eyed observers may remember that this is the same outfit she promised Maxim she’d never wear.  [More]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar152015

Review: The New "Cinderella" Is a Real Beauty

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.

The Game of Thrones Stark family was fond of the imminent warning "Winter is Coming" but their King of North, actor Richard Madden, doesn't need to worry this time. He's due a much happier Royal ending as the latest charming Prince to hit the movie screens. Winter is most definitely never coming to Kenneth Branagh's luxe adaptation of the most beloved of fairy tales, Cinderella. From its opening vista of a well-to-do country estate, filled with warm yellows and verdant greens and one very happy family, a pleasant merchant and his sunny wife (Ben Chaplin & Hayley Atwell) and their kind daughter Ella (Downton Abbey's Lily James), this Cinderella screams springtime and summer.

Its timing couldn't be better after this particularly long winter.

Spoilers if you're freshly arrived from another universe: Ella's loving parents are not long for this world and after imparting their wisdom and reinforcing her enchanted goodness (yes, she talks to animals), they take turns dying. Lady Tremaine, the stepmother, is introduced inbetween those deaths in clever multi-tasking voiceover courtesy of Fairy Godmother Helena Bonham Carter. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb252015

Oscar Stages Through the Years

Ask and you shall receive. Manuel here to take up Joel V's suggestion in the comments (for this post on the gorgeous graphics we saw on Sunday) and give us a look at past Oscar stages. I will hand it to Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, while NPH was only so-so (though thankfully willing to embrace the male gayze) and that ceremony ran way too long, they sure know how to make the telecast a stylish affair.

NPH amidst a stage that's giving us steampunk Oscar glam realness

This is Derek McLane's third time desigining the Oscar stage (he won an Emmy for last year's) and it's clear why Meron & Zadan love him, though please let us not speak of his designs for Peter Pan Live!

But, how well does this year's stage design hold up? Take a look at the last ten years of Oscar stages, which have in the last decade alone garnered 5 Emmys for Outstanding Art Direction for Variety, Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program, nabbing a nomination every single year. Talk about a hot streak!

86th through 77th Academy Awards after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb012015

How Many Oscars Will ______ Win? 

This weekend was a biggie in terms of below the line awards. The Imitation Game won the USC Scripter Prize which goes to movies adapted from literature (and the source material author also wins this prize). The Art Directors guild chose Birdman for Contemporary Film, and The Grand Budapest Hotel for Period (as well as Guardians of the Galaxy for Fantasy). Meanwhile the Editors gave their "Eddies" to  Boyhood for Dramas and The Grand Budapest Hotel for comedies (in addition to prizes for The LEGO Movie in Animated and Citizen Four for Documentaries)

All of this has me wondering if its The Grand Budapest Hotel rather than Boyhood or Birdman that will take home the most Oscars on February 22nd if not Best Picture. It's got a decent shot at four or five statues: Costumes, Production Design, Screenplay, Score, and Makeup & Hair. Of those Screenplay is the longest shot since Birdman vs Boyhood will be tough to squeeze between to nab the Original Screenplay gold.

Perhaps it will be a spread the wealth kind of year with every Best Picture winning something. Like so...

How many oscars will The Grand Budapest Hotel win?

 

  • Boyhood (4 or 5) Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Editing (and maybe Screenplay?)
  • Grand Budapest (3 or 4) Costumes, Production Design, Makeup & Hair (and maybe Score?)
  • Birdman (2 or 3) Screenplay, Cinematography (and maybe Actor?)
  • American Sniper (2) Sound Editing and Sound Mixing
  • Theory of Everything (1 or 2) Actor (and maybe Score?)
  • The Imitation Game (1 or 2) Adapted Screenplay (and maybe Score?)
  • Whiplash (1 or 2) Supporting Actor (and maybe Adapted Screenplay?)
  • Selma (1) Song

 

(As you can see I'm stumped about who might win Best Score. I can see it going any which way.)

Not that there's ever a year where every Best Picture nominee wins something now that we have so many Best Picture nominees. Someone or someones usually go home empty-handed - even if they have come into the big night with a ton of nominations. But there's a first time for everything and it could happen.

What'cha think?