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Entries in Oscars (11) (325)

Monday
Feb202012

6 Days Till Oscar. Remember When...?

Remember when costume designer extraordinary Sandy Powell won her third Oscar for Young Victoria and she was so over it, dedicating it to costume designers on contemporary films who never get recognized? That was kind of great and terrible simultaneously.

Um. I already have two of these."

Sandy Powell is one of the greatest designers in the history of the movies, previously winning for The Aviator (2004) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). But if you ask me she won her first for the wrong film. She beat herself in 1998 as she was double nominated. Velvet Goldmine. Come on.

Winning for the Aviator (2004) and Shakespeare in Love (1998)Do you think Powell can pull off Oscar number four on Sunday?

Consider...

  • Oscar loves period pieces, the older the period the better, which gives Anonymous and Jane Eyre the edge.
  • Oscar loves gorgeous costume work and a whole unmistakable heap of them, which gives Arianne Phillips work on W.E. the edge. 
  • Oscar loves royalty porn which gives Anonymous and W.E. the edge. 
  • Oscar loves Best Picture frontrunners which gives The Artist the edge. 
  • Oscar loves Sandy Powell and Best Picture nominees in general which gives Hugo the edge.

With such a wide range of possibilities that might be attractive to the voters, I'm guessing it's a five way race which slides this over into the win column for The Artist. But you never know on the below the line categories. Weird things can occur.

Jane Eyre. Formidable competition? Tough to say.

OH. I ALMOST FORGOT. Here are my costume design nominees! which completes the traditional Oscar-like categories in The Film Experience's annual Film Bitch Awards so I've added in the tallies at the end of that page. I'll announce my winners tomorrow I think. Let me sleep on the tough calls.

I'll also start the Final Oscar Predictions tomorrow. Wheeeee, we're almost there.

Sunday
Feb192012

Oscar's Best Live Action Short Nominees. Predictions!

Amir here. We had a look at the Oscar nominated animated shorts the other day. In the same vein, let’s go over the best live action shorts. As with the previous category, I don’t think this group lives up to the standard set in the past - I would vote for Luke Matheny’s God of Love over any of these choices - but that’s a really high bar.

Pentecost is an Irish comedy about a young altar boy who is grounded by his father after a mishap at the church. When the archbishop visits the local church, the boy’s given a second chance and promised that he can watch his favourite soccer team Liverpool play if he doesn’t screw up again. As someone who cares more deeply about soccer than the church, this film should have been exactly my cup of tea, but I can’t help but wonder how it slid into the top five. I sympathize with the childish sentiments of the protagonist and the film’s funny enough for such a small dose, but the filmmakers should probably be happy with their nomination.

"Raju"

Raju is the only nominee on the serious side. It tells the story of a German couple who are in India to pick up the child they have adopted. Things go awry on the busy streets of Kolkata, however, and dark secrets are revealed about the unfortunate circumstance of their decision. Though Raju effortlessly pulls off the tension in the first half and gives a sense of impending disaster early on, its drama feels unearned. The answer to the central ethical question of the film is so obvious that it seems answered immediately after it's posed. Nevertheless, since the film handles a serious issue, and to its credit is very well made, it might be a serious contender.

Speaking of unearned emotions, The Shore, the second Irish-flavoured entry, stars Ciarán Hinds as a man coming back to Ireland after 25 years of living across the pond. Tepid is the word I’d use to describe it. Director Terry George (of Hotel Rwanda fame) tries to make us feel the emotional charge of the reunion between three old friends, but fails to make any of the characters interesting enough to care for. The scenery is gorgeous and the actors do their best with what they’re given, but this film is only worth watching for Ciaran Hinds’ fantastic voice (and accent) giving us the backstory in a monologue.

Time Freak tells the story of a science student who builds a time machine only to remain tangled in a time web that takes him back to the same few minutes in his life. Of the five films, this is the one that feels least like an Oscar film but I wouldn’t count out its chances. The comedy works very well and the audience seemed to love every minute of it. There was a student film feel to it that I personally could not quite overlook but nevertheless, the new take on the old time machine premise was refreshing enough to give this film a fighting chance at the win.

The final entry is Tuba Atlantic, a Norwegian film about the unlikely friendship between a dying man and a teenage girl sent to be his death angel. The unmistakably Scandinavian absurdist comedy gives its characters more depth and meat to chew on than any other film in the race. Technically impressive, comically violent, and unexpectedly poignant, this is far and away the best film in competition. Quirky as it is, I think it’s ultimately a film everyone will connect with.  

Predictions
This category is tougher to predict than the animated ones. The Shore could potentially appeal to the older demographic, but Tuba Atlantic touches on the same themes and it’s different enough to stand out from the bunch. Time Freak might be a surprise winner. They were open to rewarding young hip comedies last year, weren't they? At the end of the day, I think if anyone can crash Tuba’s party, it will be the topical and dramatic Raju.

Will Win: Tuba Atlantic
Could Win:
Raju
Should Win:
Tuba Atlantic

Saturday
Feb182012

Interview: Oscar Nominee Arianne Phillips

It's long been my goal to up the visibility of the craft of costume design here at The Film Experience. So when the W.E. team was making the press rounds, I jumped at the chance to talk with Arianne Phillips, who has long been a designer I admire both for her technical and visual invention and for her uncanny ability to hit the pop cultural bullseye with instantly memorable looks whether she's designing for musicians (including longtime collaborator Madonna) or for actors. Her film career took off with the one-two comic book punch of The Crow (1994) and Tank Girl (1995). And it's continued to fascinate through Hedwig and the Angry Inch and on to her first Oscar nomination for Walk the Line (2005).

Arianne Phillips in front of her W.E. costumes. Photo via Society News

She received her second nomination last month for W.E. (2011) which has an absurd amount of use for her skills. In my mind they really ought to have done away with typical star "billing" and listed Arianna Phillips up top. No disrespect intended to Abbie Cornish and Andrea Riseborough, who lead the picture through its double-sided narrative.

Years before W.E. materialized Phillips has been living her own double-sided career "by design". Arianne speaks with a mixture of confidence, sincerity and appreciated bluntness: she agrees that costume designers don't get enough credit calling it an "a gorllina in the room. It's such an annoyance" but she corrects my slight misunderstanding about her past collaborations with musicians. She freelances as a stylist and editor for print photography, concerts and music videos. She doesn't dress stars for events.

a recent Madonna/Riseborough photoshoot styled by Arianne

I do videos and album covers, mostly narrative based: fantasy, illusion and character. It's very connected to film. You're creating the fantasy of who that person is.
-Arianne Phillips on her second career as a fashion editor and stylist.


Continue for... Madonna, Larry Flynt, Biopic & Concert Tour Challenges

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb182012

Just Enjoy The Show

Cope and Dalton have made another spoof video of the Oscars. This one is just as offensive, though less consistently funny, than last year's (the presence of Inception in 2010 helped for the alternate reality comedy).

 

My favorite skewerings are of the self-pitying The Descendants and the eliptical structure of The Tree of Life "the earth. a dinosaur. a shoe. Sean Penn" and the "Rise of..." twist on the All Hell Breaks Loose finale is fun.

You know it's alternate reality and satire when Woody Allen runs screaming through the crowd. Everyone knows Woody never attends the Oscars! 

If you're interested, here's their satirical jab at the forthcoming Oscars...

I want my money back. I want my money back. just enjoy the show ♫

Thursday
Feb162012

Oscar's Best Animated Short Nominees. Predictions!

Amir here. Thanks to Shorts International and TIFF, I’ve had the privilege of watching the nominees for Oscar’s short categories before the ceremony for the first time. As enjoyable as it is to finally have a horse in these races and not leave that part of the telecast to refill my alcohol, I’m sad to say that I found this year’s nominees not just short, but also slight. Not that all the films are disappointing, mind you. There are some gems to be found but compared to last year’s batch, this was a letdown.  

Pixar's "La Luna"

Without further ado...we’ll take a look at the animated films today and I will be back with the live actions over the weekend. (TIFF inexplicably scrapped the documentary shorts from its schedule. If you’re filling your Oscar pools, however, the smart money seems to be on Saving Face. I’ve not yet heard a single bad word about that film.)

Dimanche/SundayDimanche is about a young boy whose dull Sunday routine of going to the church and spending the day with his grandparents is only improved by deforming coins on the train tracks! There’s a pro-environment message as the grizzly bear on the coin comes to life and interacts with the boy, but barring a few funny moments, the film is as lifeless as its premise suggests. The colourless and sketchy design of the animation doesn’t help the film’s cause either.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a marvel as far as the quality of animation goes. (The full length version of the film is available online and Nathaniel reviewed it last week.) I’m cooler on this one than he is. I find the story interesting and I like the idea behind its execution, but I feel like the gimmick is repeated a few too many times. I think Nathaniel’s bang-on about the redundancy of anthropomorphism in the books. At 15 minutes, this is the longest film in competition and it certainly feels that way to me.

Then there’s La Luna. If we need further proof that the Pixar guys can do no wrong with their short films, this is it. I fear that saying anything about the plot will ruin the fun of it for those in the dark. Suffice to say that this story of male bonding between three generations of a family is intimately personal and yet, its fantastical twist is so clever and sweet that everyone can connect with. As usual with Pixar, the quality and detail of the animation is breathtaking. (Read Michael’s Film Experience interview with director Enrico Casarosa here. La Luna will be released later in the year, attached to Brave.)

A Morning Stroll is by far the weakest of the nominees. It tells the story of a chicken that strolls along a street, walks up a set of stairs, pecks at a door and is let in by someone. This morning stroll happens once in 1959, once in 2009 and again in 2059 and each time, the chicken confronts someone new on the street. The allegorical representation of the collective demise of the human race through the eyes of a chicken is an amazing concept but I think the shoddy execution of the animation and unwelcome tonal shifts between the three episodes don’t give the humour any room to breathe.

"Wild Life"

Finally, Wild Life is a gorgeously painted Canadian pastoral about an Englishman who immigrates to an unpopulated Alberta at the turn of the century. One the surface, the film is about one man’s depression as he faces the typical hardships of immigration, particularly the freezing cold of Midwestern Canada. But I found it to be a rich study of personal alienation and a rare look into the lives of Canadian settlers who are far less explored that their counterparts south of the border. Of all the five films, this is the one that most benefits from the technique it chooses, the oil painting effect giving it a romanticist 19th century look that fits nicely into the narrative.

Oscar Predictions: Pixar's Day & Night couldn’t manage to take the prize last year despite being the most widely acclaimed of the nominees. I have a feeling a similar fate awaits La Luna. Flying Books’ charm will probably carry it to the podium.

Will Win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Could Win:
La Luna
Should Win:
Wild Life

 

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