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Entries in Art Direction (64)

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?

Thursday
Jan292015

Sundance: "The Witch" is a Riveting One-Of-A-Kind Horror Experience

Michael C. here with one of the big discoveries of Sundance 2015.

There is something happening in the horror genre right now.  Maybe its a response to the dreadful depths to which mainstream horror titles sank in the past decade but like antibodies fighting off an infection the indie scene has churned out one great movie after another in recent years: The Babadook, The Guest, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Under the Skin (which is totally horror, if not only horror). Like an unstoppable slasher the genre will just not stay down. Already at this Sundance we have had the astonishing It Follows and now comes Robert Eggers' The Witch another peak for the horror genre. 

The Witch is a true blast of originality that immerses the viewer in 1630's New England as a family of puritans banished to live isolated on the edge of wilderness is beset by the occult terrors residing in the nearby woods. The result is more than simply jump-outta-your-seat scary (though it is often that) it is genuinely unnerving in a way few films can manage. The effect is like a cold hand slowly closing over your heart.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan052015

Art Director's Guild Nominations Stay Focused on the Best Picture Conversation

The Art Director's Guild have named the most well designed and carefully decorated movies of the year. How well do you think they did in terms of Best? This is as good a time as any to tell you that we've begun our annual Film Bitch Awards, now in their (gulp) 15th year so you can see my preferred ballot there.

The guild which represents 2300 industry people like Production Designers, Art Directors, Set Designers, Model Makers and Artists of various kinds (Scenic, Title, Matte, etcetera) voted for the following 15 films, most of which are firmly entrenched in the Best Picture discussion indicated that they didn't watch too many screeners before voting. 

Did Inherent Vice's elaborate last supper joke win it this nomination? Or was it the whorehouse?

Period Film
INHERENT VICE - David Crank
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL -Adam Stockhausen
THE IMITATION GAME -Maria Djurkovic 
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING -John Paul Kelly
UNBROKEN - Jon Hutman 

But what about?: Mr Turner which is more challenging and fascinating and epic in its production scope than most of these nominees; The Homesman which is more memorably designed than some of these; I probably like Unbroken more than a lot of critics but I'm not sure it's more worthy of a WW II recreation notice here than, say, Fury? In short, they've been listening to the Best Picture conversation.

More Nominations & Commentary after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec092014

Interview: James Chinlund's Evolutionary "Apes" Vision. (Plus a Look Back at "The Fountain")

Production Design James ChinlundThough today's film culture is as as overun with franchises as the decaying cities of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are with unchecked vegetation, franchise movies do have a few beautiful unique pleasures all their own. Chief among those, we'd argue, is the sheer scale of imaginative spectacle they can provide when the right people are hired behind the scenes. 

James Chinlund, the award winning production designer behind the fantastic world-building in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of those people.  Though his filmography was once mostly the domain of scrappy ambitious auteur indies, he's recently experienced a sort of super-size me effect. He credits Marvel's gamble in hiring him to design their biggest blockbuster The Avengers with reinvigorating his film career. This led directly to Dawn of the Apes, one of 2014's most acclaimed giant-sized hits. Though Chinlund undoubtedly has his share of film offers these days, he prefers the mix of small and large scale projects that his still-diverse career provides and opted out of superhero sequels from the time commitment. 

Apes, Avengers, and The Fountain are after the jump... 

Click to read more ...