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Entries in Sound (25)

Saturday
Dec132014

Oscars Songs & Scores. Plus: Chart Updates

Each year the list of eligible ORIGINAL SONGS that will vy for Oscar nominations holds numerous surprises. These surprises almost invariably fall under the question heading:

That movie had a song in it?"

Apart from song showcases that are an important part of the narrative - remember that sweet tense reunion between Hiccup's father and mother in How To Train your Dragon 2? - many songs are buried in their movies by way of incomplete airings or end credit positioning when people are exiting the theater  -- you have to be the first music in the end credits to be eligible at all. Come second and you're outta there as Madonna learned the hard way for her end credits "Masterpiece" in W.E. (that's the name of the song, not a qualitative judgement). The other annual head-scratcher question about this category is not the mean-spirited "Why does it exist?" but the far less frequently asked "Why is it afforded more nominees than the Makeup & Hairstyling category since literally all live action films require makeup & hairstyling and only a teeny-tiny portion of films have a composer on their payroll writing original songs. Indeed that question is only ever asked by The Film Experience though we think it a good one.

Makeup & Hairstyling is now the only Oscar category still considered unworthy of 5 nominations annually despite being a craft that's used in 100% of live-action movies which a few other categories cannot claim. But that's a topic for when the Makeup Branch finalist list is announced. Why am I talking about it now? My brain, inside a head that requires no hairstyling, hops track is all. Sorry bout it.

ORIGINAL SCORE
The annual list of eligible Original Scores for Oscar's music branch to consider holds a different kind of surprise altogether. Those surprises are about what's not listed. They fall under the question heading:

They disqualified that one? Why???"

This year apparently the music for Foxcatcher and The Two Faces of January -- to name two examples from famous composers (Danna & Iglesias respectively) -- wasn't "original" enough or something for Oscar. But the headline snub is Antonio Sanchez's work on Birdman. It's won much (rightful) attention for its unique percussive approach.

With Birdman out of the way, expect the five nominees to be: Alexandre Desplat (Unbroken), Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game) Alexandre Desplat (Godzilla) Alexandre Desplat (Grand Budapest Hotel) and Alexandre Desplat (The Monuments Men). I'm joking but there is no rule against it in the craft categories! You know if John Williams wrote five new scores in a year he'd win all five nominations. Somebody give Desplat a sedative before he burns himself out. He's so brilliant but do you think he'll stop working himself into an early grave once they give him the statue? He's won six nominations in the past decade, most of them from Best Pictures nominees or winners no less, but he has still yet to win the gold.

ELIGIBILITY LISTS AND A FEW MORE NOTES AFTER DESPLAT...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec112014

Team FYC: The Grand Budapest Hotel for Sound Editing and Mixing

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Teo on the sound work in Golden Globe nominee, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

 By now, Wes Anderson's house style has become so familiar that it can be easy to take it (and him) for granted. But for fans, the surface similarity of his films is just an invitation to look for the differences. And in every way, a closer look at The Grand Budapest Hotel pays off.

I had the opportunity to sound edit a film over the summer. It was a documentary, but in a process like sound editing, the difference between documentary and fiction film is generally negligible. You fix what the on-set mics couldn't capture. You try to find or create sounds that can approximate what you lost. What's unique about Anderson's sound editing is that he doesn't try to make his films sound like reality any more than he tries to make his films look like reality. Instead, Wes Anderson's films are filled with sounds that are almost hyper-real. They're crisply recorded and minimal in their design...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May072014

First Round Oscar Predix Continue: Sound & Visual FX

The Oscar chart construction must continue. Maleficent was asking and you don't want to keep her waiting. 

Visuals Chart - In Progress. More Categories To Come
You'll find early predictions for Visual F/X and the always confounding Makeup & Hair category. For Visual F/X I'd love to push Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes higher up the charts but I'm still trying to wrap my head around Oscar's complete disinterest in a) superhero movies that don't feature a man in a batsuit -- and that wouldn't confound me at all if they didn't have such deep abiding love for the Transformers franchise of all things which is surely less reputable than Marvel movies --  and b) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) which won hugely favorable reviews and surprised virtually everyone in its year and seemed like a likely finalist in several Oscar categories but only ended up a VFX nominee. Will Oscar turn its nose up at those damn dirty apes and their stinking paws on round two (which is really round eight)?

Sound Chart - In Progress. More Categories To Come.
I'm very willing, nay, desperate to hear your thoughts on which films might have Original Songs. I'm super curious about Sound Mixing this year as well in that it's a category that loves blockbusters, musicals, potential Best Picture nominees, and films involving lots of water and there are quite a few films that fit at least one of those categories this year. Regarding music movies or traditional musicals: by my count it's quite a robust year iin that there are at least five on the way from obvious contenders like Into the Woods and Get On Up to less prestigious or smaller players like Annie, Begin Again, and The Last Five Years

As for Best Song, also added to the chart, Bret McKenzie won an Oscar for his last go round with The Muppets (we interviewed him). I think he's less likely to get nominated this year now that the novelty has worn off but if he is the Celine Dion/Miss Piggy ballad "Something So Right" seems most likely but my favorite song in the movie is the delightful nonsense of  "I'll Get You Want You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)"

If the new song doesn't sound out of place within its classic song score, it seems unlikely sight unseen sound unheard that any song other than the new Stephen Sondheim / Meryl Streep Into the Woods collaboration (previously squealed over) need show up on the big night. 

Previously
Supporting Actress | Animated Film | Lead Actor | Movies To Watch For 

Saturday
Jan112014

"All is Lost" For Oscar Noms?

One of the biggest question marks this season is what became of All is Lost's Oscar heat?

Was it the box office (okay but unnoteworthy)? The relatively laidback Robert Redford campaign when hard sells are the norm? Or was it merely that the movie is a quiet contemplative type fellow in a sea of noisy exuberant life-of-the-party types? Or was it that other quiet contemplative loner with which critics are far more enamored (That other guy goes, oddly enough, by Her)?

There is still a chance that All is Lost could pull a few nominations out of its hat this Thursday morning but with none of the recent guilds going its way, and very little in the way of critics awards, all might be truly lost. Which seems strange given the early heat it had for Best Actor and the nominations it probably deserves like the sound categories. I know it's not an original notion to compare it to Gravity in terms of theme and plot but the similarities don't end there. In both cases, the sound is inarguably crucial to the movie's success. Here's a veritable FYC ad for its Sound Mixing and Sound Editing...

Do you think the film will come up empty-handed on Nomination Morning or surprise with Redford and other stray nod? 

Monday
Dec302013

Stop Trying To Make Link Happen

Clothes on Film gets writers to name their favorite costumes of the year from Stoker through The Grandmaster and on to Spring Breakers
IndieWire thinks Oscar's Cinematography category should be split into two now (computer environments/traditional) as it once was (black and white / color). Co-sign. But then you knew that since I wrote about the problem with this category earlier this year in preparation for Gravity's Oscar win, which will be the 4th heavily computerized film in 5 years to win both vfx and cinematography statues
Buzzfeed Mean Girls and 34 other movies that are turning 10 in 2014. Yes, The Film Experience will be revisiting some of these. Any preferences?

Vulture homage vs theft as it relates to American Hustle from Scorsese... and, well, Scorsese from Scorsese. I think comparisons between Russell and Scorsese's movies are largely missing the point -- an accident of release date and sudden divisive critical fervor -- but this is a good read
IndieWire gets really effusive about Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Isaac calling him the next Paul Newman 
Pajiba the 10 best performances from inanimate objects in 2013 from Christian Bale's hairpiece in American Hustle through Man of Steel's tragic victims
Deadline on the use of silence in Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and All is Lost. Brad from Rope of Silicon and I got into this argument with the Hitfix boys yesterday about Gravity. 'What silence? That score is terrified of letting you deal with silence!'

Today's Wolf of Wall Street arguments
Another 24 hours, another cycle of aggressive shaming of those who don't love it.
In Contention interviews The Wolf of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio who does my least favorite thing that actors can do: diss critics who don't like their movie for not getting it. Usually it's better for filmmakers to shut up when they're unhappy with critics. Remember how embarrassing it was when James Cameron got all touchy about negative Titanic reviews?  Joe Reid at The Wire responds with a terrific piece about the disingenuous posturing going on from critics who like to have their cake and eat it, too. 

I haven't been online much today but I'm assuming the response to Leo's statement is drawing big cheers from critics in the Wolf of Wall Street camp.  Careful, people. Just remember how much fun you made of Armie Hammer when he blamed you for The Lone Ranger's failure. 

 

Finally...
Some of you may have seen this a couple of weeks ago but Michael Cusumano, who writes here on occasion, knew he would have to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with family over the holidays so he caved on his decision not to watch the new Middle Earth trilogy. He liveblogged The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) to catch up (part one and part two) and it is awesome. I made the same initial vow and I've stuck to it but I did happen to recently very casually nibble on parts of last year's 3 hour fantasy slop on HBO the other night so that made this timeline even funnier... I agreed with every word regarding the scenes I tasted (but did not swallow).

Monday
Dec092013

Team FYC: 'Spring Breakers' for Best Sound Mixing

This FYC series brings together all Film Experience contributors to highlight our favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Glenn Dunks on the sound mixing of Spring Breakers.

The neon-infused opening credits to Spring Breakers are accompanied by the peaceful echoes of a beachside before the hordes of teenagers arrive for Spring Break. Director Harmony Korine barely gives audiences a minute to relax before he throws the kitchen sink at the screen and turns the Skrillex up to 11. The images of drunken, sexually open teenagers cavorting about the ocean could hardly come with a better, more abrasively confronting soundtrack. If you were lucky to see this violently satirical black comedy on the big screen then you’ll know the propulsive impact this soundtrack choice had blasting out of the speakers to a crowd of (mostly) unsuspecting victims. Korine wasn’t mincing words: so long to any chance for a nice time at the movies. His movie was to be in your face. And boy, was it ever. And in your ears, too.

It’s not just Korine’s soundtrack choices that made me choose Spring Breakers for sound design but rather the inventive, puzzle-like work he does throughout. There’s the repetitious dialogue that Korine layers over the top of unrelated sequences to discombobulate the viewer (or beat them into submission, who can tell?). There’s the bold way he builds and deconstructs entire soundscapes throughout a single scene. There’s the way he blends in the original score of Cliff Martinez and the aforementioned Skrillex, perfectly harmonised with Benoît Debie’s cinematography to juxtapose moods.

Independent cinema is frequently where one finds some of the most creative sound work. I could have easily chosen the dense layering of cultural beats in Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche, the piercing cacophony of Blackfish, or the pin-point precision of Park Chan-wook’s Stoker. I find these works infinitely more interesting uses of sound than most of what will likely make up the Oscar nominees. The work on Spring Breakers is truly definitive. It’s impossible to imagine the film without it. In keeping with Korine's chaotic tone, the sound work is constantly interesting and ever-changing. It morphs just as often as the film from abrasive dubstep to a tender Britney Spears ballad. Just like the action movies with their voluminous walls of sound that so often find Oscar success, the ebb and flow of the sound mixing here is as meticulous and carefully constructed as you can get. It’s the ace in the film’s hole (pardon the salacious pun).

previous FYCs
Sound Editing The Conjuring | Actor Tye Sheridan | Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great Gatsby | Score Nebraska | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar Wright | Production Design The Conjuring | Supporting Actor Ulysses the Cat