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Entries in Oscars (12) (288)

Monday
Feb182013

Interview: Alexandre Desplat on Composing for "Argo" & "Zero Dark Thirty"

Matt here! Knowing my music background, Nathaniel asked me to speak with Alexandre Desplat for his fifth Oscar nomination. Desplat has composed scores for over 100 films including Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King’s Speech, and The Tree of Life. This year alone, he wrote for Moonrise Kingdom, Rust and Bone, Rise of the Guardians, Zero Dark Thirty, and earned his latest Academy Award nomination for his work on Argo.

Desplat conducting his Rise of the Guardians score

Not only is Desplat impossibly prolific but he produces music of unprecedented diversity. Who could have guessed that the same man behind the jaunty storybook sounds of Fantastic Mr. Fox also wrote the cloudy chords at the end of Zero Dark Thirty? [more...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb172013

7 Days 'til Oscar: Costume Design

Each year at the Oscar ceremony I hope against hope that they'll ditch one of the numerous superfluous montages celebrating something or other throughout history and just do a runway show of the year's best costumes. On rare occasions we've seen a living tableau before the winner was announced and at least once, a Whoopi ceremony, the host actually incorporated costume design into the gig.

Imagine Seth MacFarlane coming out as Fantine in a shredded Les Miz gown or Queen Ravenna's raven collar dress. Sorry, no! I apologize deeply for putting those images in your head. Let's just say that I feel reasonably certain there will at least be a stovepipe hat during the ceremony in honor of Lincoln.

OSCAR NOMINEES
• Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
• Joanna Johnston, Lincoln
• Eiko Ishioka, Mirror Mirror
• Paco Delgado, Les Misérables
• Colleen Atwood, Snow White and the Hunstman

will win: Anna Karenina, it's not quite traditional "royalty porn", their favorite thing in this category, but the Russian aristocracy is close enough.
should win: Anna Karenina, Durran continues to just amaze in film after film.
weird trivia: The Oscars love Colleen Atwood but she only ever wins when she's pitted against their other all-time favorite Sandy Powell
possible spoiler: if Oscar voters are feeling daring and/or sentimental you could see a posthumous win for the great Ishioka whose costumes always function as their own setpieces they're such scene stealers

OSCAR VISUAL CHARTS
My Own Ballot & Semi-Finalists with shout-outs to all the Oscar nominees (great lineup. well done AMPAS) as well as Sharen Davis, Kasia Walicka-Maimone, Caroline Eselin, Julie Weiss, Mark Bridges, and Manon Rasmussen

I think this begs a reader poll...

 

 

 

Saturday
Feb162013

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.) 

CINEMATOGRAPHY
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.

PRODUCTION DESIGN
(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?

VISUAL EFFECTS
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.

EDITING
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.

OSCAR INDEX & OSCAR RACE ARTICLES
OSCAR VISUALS
FILM BITCH AWARDS - VISUAL CATEGORIES 

Saturday
Feb162013

Mystery Swag

One of my favorite things to receive during Oscar season is mystery swag - unlabelled promotional items just to keep you thinking about a film. My favorite ever was two years ago when a black envelope from "Nina Sayers" arrived. There was nothing inside it but a few feathers. This week in a last minute rush of FYC booklets and animated film paraphenalia (Wreck-It Ralph hands, Brave bow & arrow, stuffed Frankenweenie -- guess which Oscar is up for grabs?) I received this little box in a totally unlabelled package, tied with a yellow bow...

But what do I unlock with it?

 

Friday
Feb152013

Days Until...*

9 Days Until... The 85th Annual Academy Awards
14 Days Until... Reader Appreciation Month kicks off: contests, reader spotlights and more. (read: a shameless begging to convince you to stick around daily once Oscar ends.)
19 Days Until... The 4th Season of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" Begins.
31 Days Until... The Bates Motel premieres on A&E. As a huge fan of Psycho and Vera Farmiga and Psycho-inspired art, I'm curious.
45 Days Until... we make our April Fools Oscar Predictions for 2013 and it all begins again. Noooooooooo (I mean "yes!")
51 Days Until... Mad Men Season Six premieres. Vulture has an interesting schedule for how to get caught up before the premiere but hurry because you're already two days behind. 
98 Days Until... Richard Linklater's Before Midnight the sequel to the utterly magical Before Sunrise & Before Sunset hits movie theaters
111 Days Until... my birthday. What are you getting me? How about a subscription to the site (see sidebar)
133 Days Until... Pedro Almodóvar's I'm So Excited hits movie theaters (in the US). I guess I better get cracking on that Pedro retrospective I promised y'all.

*in case you needed a reason(s) to go on living.

Thursday
Feb142013

10 Days 'til Oscar: Score, Song, & Sound

We're in the final crunch now. Oscar voters have to make their final decisions by Tuesday February 19th (with the winners announced Sunday February 24th) so I'm throwing up my own nominees (which I like to announce before the Oscar nominations even. Oy) so you can see my film bitch award picks for the best in the various aural categories here. But while we're on the subject of sound, a film craft I always vow to learn more about and then forget to educate myself, let's make some early Oscar predictions.

BEST SCORE
Naturally I prefer my nominees to Oscars. Unlike many pundits, I knew that the Beasts of the Southern Wild score didn't have a prayer since Oscar's music branch is notoriously exclusive. In addition to their resistance to new composers they also don't really cotton to directors muscling in on their territory, so step away from the sheet music Benh Zeitlin, Benh Zeitlin. (Even an Oscar God as Revered as Clint Eastwood hasn't been able to do it.) Nevertheless Oscar voters and I do have a bit of overlap here as we all swooned for Dario Marianelli's work on Anna Karenina and Mychael Danna's evocative score for Life of Pi. I'd be pleased if either of them won the category. As for the other nominees, I never quite understand the mandatory nature of John Williams nominations. He's certainly created some classic scores over the years but I swear if he just whistled a few bars on a soundtrack he'd be nominated. I also still don't get the Argo score being nominated since Desplat wrote about five film scores this year and they're ALL better than his decent but surprisingly generic work on Ben Affleck's well regarded thriller. A nomination for Zero Dark Thirty would've been so preferrable.

Should Win: Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
Will Win: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi. (Even though the music branch is loathe to welcome new blood once they do, they don't tend to have issues with them actually winning the gold.)
Possible Spoiler: Despite Williams' endless nominations, Oscar voters don't seem to be sentimental about giving him a final (and sixth) statue, so I'm guessing Danna's only potential loss comes from Argo-Mania. Alexandre Desplate still hasn't won an Oscar which is starting to seem crazy. 

SONG
Though Oscar and I don't have much overlap -- look, I know Joyful Noise is a crap movie but Dolly Parton writes beautiful movie songs and still doesn't have an Oscar --  I really love the Oscar nominees anyway. All of 'em! It was a good year for original movie songs. I'm looking forward to the performances (should we get them... and it seems like we will).

007 Skyfall - Opening Credits (Best Quality Yet) from Gunnar Lien on Vimeo.

Should Win: Skyfall
Will Win: Skyfall (the night's biggest lock?)
Possible Spoiler: Skyfall... in case they decide to give Adele two Oscars just to see if she pisses herself laughing. 

SOUND EDITING & SOUND MIXING
Oscar likes exceptionally loud movies in the sound categories from the following genres: sci-fi, war, musicals. Which is why you rarely see fragile sounding haunted dramas like, say, The Deep Blue Sea, or fascinating soundscapes like Cosmopolis or artful indies like Beasts of the Southern Wild in the mix. So the weirdest nominee from their choices might be Lincoln which is not particularly loud or showy in terms of sound. I think they missed the boat in ignoring Prometheus in both sound categories this year... but the studio didn't really campaign so there's that. The sound categories can be difficult to predict since who knows what actors make of "sound", you know? And they make up the biggest voting block for winners. Greg P. Russell has been nominated 16 times without winning and he's up again for Sound Mixing on Skyfall. If enough voters become aware of his Oscarless plight, I can't see him losing for such a well loved widely seen film. But are they aware?

watery films are often popular in sound categories

Should Win (Mixing/Editing): abstain... I'm still thinking about this
Will Win (Mixing/Editing): Skyfall & Life of Pi... wild guesswork. They do sometimes split those prizes... and these two films might be in tough battle after tough battle for the entire first half of the ceremony in the craft categories.
Possible Spoiler (Mixing/Editing): Les Misérables & Skyfall

What are you rooting for soundwise with Oscar and what do you think of the film bitch award nominees

Wednesday
Feb132013

Best Supporting Actor: Oscar's Ballot & Mine.

I haven't been shy about my disappointment with this year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar Ballot, a lineup lacking in narrative oomph (which shouldn't be a factor in judging "best" but still makes Oscar way less fun to follow when he eschews it for old favorites) and missing several electric, fresh, film elevating and moving performances in favor of merely solid work from Oscar winners in popular films. I'm all in for Tommy Lee Jones winning since he's the only nominee Oscar & I agree is worthy to hold a place in this particular shortlist. [While we're on the subject of votes, you should cast yours in the poll]

Will he win? That's another matter entirely. I'd wager he still has the lead by virtue of a very long one (since November when he took it from Matthew McConaughey... who never really had it *sniffle* in the first place) even if the precursors have never quite settled on a frontrunner and even if his no-show at SAG didn't exactly help his cause. Christoph Waltz's BAFTA win for his leading role in Django Unchained (which might more accurately be called Schultz Unchains Django Who Only Takes Over the Film-Carrying Duties For the Final ½ Hour of a 2½ hour Film) suggest that the tide has shifted but in the end with Argo and Silver Linings Playbook campaigns both fighting so hard in the final weeks for wins, I'm not so sure that votes won't still be all over the place in this category, letting Tommy take turn two at the podium.

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb112013

Three Faces of Link

Inside TV Jacki Weaver gets a sitcom. It's called The McCarthys and she's playing a character possibly not unlike her Silver Linings Playbook character. Best part of the news: Jack McGee, who was so terrific as Mr Melissa Leo in The Fighter wins the male lead.
Nicks Flick Picks, always generous at heart if not generous in posting, is picking the highlights of every Oscar nominee's career in this growing post. That's a great way to celebrate the nominees even if you don't care for their latest nomination. That's me with Amy Adams I suppose. I am completely 50/50 on her Oscar nominations. Wouldn't trade the first and third for anything. Don't think she deserved the second and fourth.

Finally... have you seen this 85 Years of Oscar poster by Olly Moss?

Oscar is a real chameleon in this graphic set, switching costumes and poses to reflect each year's winning film. Like all multiplied efforts, there are hits and misses but I've included my favorites above: 1945 (Oscar gets the DTs), 1953 (Oscar in swim trunks), 1964, 1978, 1979, 1986 (a strong use of an iconic movie poster), 1988 (which I think is the best single image ... so minimalist but funny and "aha!"), 1999, 2001 (that one took me a second) and 2011. 

Which were your favorite visual sum-ups?

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