Archive

Archive for January, 2012

It Hath Come: My Final 2012 Oscar Nomination Predictions

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

The time is here. Unbelievable. I woke up this morning with such a sense of elation, pride and sheer terror. As I believe I had stated at this point, last January, I find this point in the race to be more nerve-racking and exciting than that fateful day in February. This is when, in my mind, the true winners are announced. I know it’s a savage cliche in this industry, but to be real, I truly believe that it is an honor just to be nominated. Especially when people like Harvey Weinstein exist in the world. If you are able to squeeze out a nomination without that “The Weinstein Company” in your opening credits, then I say “Bravo” to you, sir or madam. Besides, when you look at history, ninety percent of the time, it’s the films that don’t win that get remembered so much more. I’d say that those films are far better company to keep.

Well, I’ll take this time, beforehand, to address any sudden change or surge that has occurred since my last batch of nominations. The big one, indeed came after the announcement of the BAFTA nominations and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” suddenly became a legitimate contender. Granted, I do not believe (though some seem to) that it will receive the same level of recognition (11 nominations. Whew.), but I am fully expecting it to pop up in a few categories. In fact, perhaps my biggest “out-on-a-limb” prediction is Gary Oldman snagging his first career mention. I mean in reality, who cares what the Globes say and the SAG nominations are from a random sampling, so who knows how many of them have even heard of Oldman or understand his plight. I believe that, at this point, members of the Academy’s acting branch know that it’s about damn time to give this legendary actor his due. Plus, the British contingent of the Academy may help push him over the edge.

If you had asked any prognosticator two months ago if they believed that, on the day before nominations, “War Horse” would be on the bubble, they’d have said the chances were slim. Yet, here we are. If it hadn’t been for that Producers Guild nomination, which at this point, almost seems strange, this film would be considered completely out of contention. Lacking any kind of mention from the DGA, the SAG, the WGA or the ASC, the film’s chances have dropped through the floor. Many believe that “Bridesmaids” has a better chance, at this point.

Speaking of “Bridesmaids,” I’ll address its status along with a few other “on-the-bubble” films. Many are hoping and believing that this will be the first Judd Apatow production to make the shortlist. Yet, despite all of its guild nominations, I think it will fail to make the cut. The Academy’s balloting procedures, which require a large number of #1 votes, will prevent it. Now it seems that “The Tree of Life” should be able to excel by those standards, due to the fervent passion of its followers, However, I believe that this film has seen its day with the critics, but will not register as well with the industry. The fate of “Drive” will follow along a similar path, despite a push from the BAFTAs. In a world where there was still an assured number of ten nominees, one or all of these might sneak in, but not this year.

Well, on to those nomination predictions. Won’t be able to say that again until, well, the day after this year’s Oscars. Once again, these are ranked by chance of getting nominated. If I put a film or individual at the number one spot, that does not necessarily mean I think it will win. That’s a whole different ballpark.

Here comes the part that’s hardest: double crossing my fingers. For someone in my position who has two loves, predicting the Oscars and loving films, this day is a double-edged sword. As much as I want my own favorites to somehow work their way into the categories, in many cases, I’m predicting against them. Therefore, no matter what happens, I’ll be feeling a twinge of sadness. But as Sasha Stone, one of the best analysts of the Oscar race and my personal idol says, “The trick is not minding.”

Here goes nothing:

BEST PICTURE

1. “The Artist”
2. “Hugo”
3. “The Descendants”
4. “The Help”
5. “Midnight in Paris”
6. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
7. “Moneyball

8. “War Horse” (if there are eight)
9. “Bridesmaids” (if there are nine)
10. “The Tree of Life” (if there are ten)

Alt 1: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
Alt 2: “Drive”

Read more…

Advertisements

“The Artist” Takes the Producers Guild

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, folks, I’m sorry to say that this Oscar race just keeps getting more and more boring by the minute. After taking a lion’s share of the critics awards (including the televised Critics Choice) and three Golden Globes, “The Artist” has began its domination of this industry’s guilds, as well. While one wants to discredit the circulating logic that this year’s frontrunner has had the big award sealed up since Cannes, it becomes more and more difficult to deny it, everyday.

Much like “The Hurt Locker” did, two years prior, “The Artist” defied a certain common logic by taking this prize, being the lowest money-earner of the group. The most profitable of said nominees would be “The Help,” which grossed around $160 million dollars, domestically. Second is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” which is steadily creeping up on the $100 million mark. yet, following a similar (though not as rushed) release schedule as last year’s Best Picture winner, “The King’s Speech,” which at this point in its theatrical run had already earned around $46 million, “The Artist” has scored a measly $9.2. Much of this can be due to relatively low word of mouth, a lack of stars, a foreign origin, it’s black and white print and…oh yeah…IT’S SILENT. Not exactly a recipe for monetary success.

However, while Harvey Weinstein isn’t always the best at making money, there’s one thing he is the boss at. That skill can be referred to as quietly rigging the Oscars. Granted that he never performs any illegal activities to do so (at least none that have been proven), the man always finds the right buttons to press to make everything go his way. One would like to believe that if a movie is smart, entertaining and an extremely well-maid endeavor, it would have a fighting chance for Oscar gold. Yet, in reality, we all know that this race was over before it began.

This was widely considered the last stand for many films, trying to peck out a piece of the precursor pie. A win here for “The Descendants,” “The Help” or “Hugo” would show that this is more than just a one-horse race. However, it looks as though they will all have to find comfort and satisfaction in a nomination. That’s pretty much all one can ask for in a race against “The Punisher” (Weinstein’s new nickname, endowed by Michelle Williams). True, “The Help” is still the frontrunner for the SAG Ensemble Award and we can all hope that Martin Scorsese takes the DGA if for no other reason than to shake things up, but soon might be time to accept the inevitable. This Oscar season…sadly…is over.

Here’s the full list of film winners from the Producers Guild Awards, announced late last night:

Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures: “The Artist”

Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures : “The Adventures of Tintin”

Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest”

Motion Picture Sound Editors Announce 2012 Nominations

January 20, 2012 1 comment

I can’t say I’m as enthralled by the MPSE’s nominations. They just don’t have the same oomph and hutzpah that their younger brother, the Cinema Audio Society, seems to exhibit. It might have to do with their obvious indecisiveness, citing forty-seven nominees split into seven different categories. I do, in fact, understand the difference in editing both music and dialogue, yet, when you can’t narrow it down past eight nominees for ADR editing, you’re just not trying hard enough.

That brings me to the second point which is quality. When you’re nominating films like “Hop,” “Abduction” and “Priest” for actual awards, those films better have sound editing on par with “Saving Private Ryan.” Otherwise, you look just about as stupid as the Academy’s make-up branch when they nominate the latest Eddie Murphy or Adam Sandler flick. Some films just deserve to be forgotten and by nominating them for awards, you’re just not helping anyone. And “Quarantine II: Terminal”? Seriously? I have no words.

As far as what these awards mean for Oscar, one thing’s for sure. Even if the Academy’s visual effects corridor has shunned it, “Super 8” has certainly made its make in regards to its sound. After picking up a CAS nom yesterday, the film dominated the MPSE with three mentions, in other words, every category that it was eligible in. I think it would be safe to put money on Abrams’ film making it in for at least one, if not both of the AMPAS sound categories.

See the full list of nominees after the cut:

BEST SOUND EDITING: SOUND EFFECTS AND FOLEY IN A FEATURE FILM
“Drive”
“Fast Five”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Super 8”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“War Horse”

Read more…

2012 Cinema Audio Society Nominations

January 19, 2012 1 comment

I’m not gonna lie. I always get truly psyched about this particular guild every year. It’s not that I have extensive experience in the field of sound mixing, nor have a particular penchant for the medium (though I certainly enjoy a great 5.1 mix on my home theater system as much as the next person). I suppose I get enthralled by the CAS just because of the massive wrench that they usually throw into the works.

This is no ordinary wrench, though. The CAS often has a tendency to name some completely unexpected sound mixes, ones that were once considered done and out of the race. A person might be immediately inclined to dismiss these nominees and say to themselves, “There’s no way the Academy will go this route.” Yet, that’s the crazy thing about the CAS is that they aren’t just a small part of the race, they really do define it. In the last ten years, the CAS has correctly forecasted at least 4/5 Oscar nominees six times. The other four years, they were 3/5. In the Society’s eighteen year existence, only once has their lineup been as low as a 2/5 matchup, and never less than that. Not a bad record.

The nominees for this year’s Cinema Audio Society are as follows:

“Hanna”

“Hugo”

“Moneyball”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

“Super 8”

When it comes to these nominees, I just have to stop and observe a moment of unadulterated joy for the recognition paid to the sound crew of “Hanna.” In my mind, this is, and has been from 2011’s outset, one of the year’s most intricate and powerful works of audio. After viewing it again on blu ray, my opinion has not changed. Listening to this sound mix on a 5.1 system is like having God in your living room. Fabulous work that, even if it does not go beyond this point, is worthy of it’s moment of glory.

Among the rest of the nominees, the second biggest surprise was the inclusion of “Moneyball.” This might be the most easy to dismiss pick of the bunch, but there’s a lot going on in that mix. Plus, Sorkin dialogue does take a lot of post-production audio to make it work. I can’t say I’m too thrilled to see the fourth “Pirates” movie show up here. I mean, come on. Do we really need to keep awarding this franchise for beating itself to death and taking the audience down with it? And speaking of a film beating itself to death, one such flick that wholly deserved a nomination here and failed was “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” The film itself is nothing to be proud of, but every two years, this franchise astounds us with it’s insanely detailed aural accomplishments and it should have taken the “Pirates” slot.

It’s nice to see “Super 8” pick up some steam, here. I was close to considering it down and out after it got eliminated from the Visual Effects finalists. Yet, there’s some great work happening amongst all that alien ruckus that Oscar should consider. And finally there’s “Hugo,” the one name here that I don’t think anyone was surprised to see. Don’t be shocked if it goes on to pocket the award for both this and the perennial honors in February.

In closing, I leave you with this clip from the film, “Hanna.” While it’s impossible to truly appreciate the sound mix without a high quality, multi-channel playback, this scene, alone deserves all the credit in the world. My advisement: rent or buy this movie on blu ray as soon as possible, and go ahead and buy a home theater system just to watch it on.

Academy Narrows Foreign Language Finalists to 9

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The good news is that “A Separation” has advanced to the next round. I guess that it’s a little strange that I’m saying that since I won’t have a chance to see it for another week. Yet, when a film receives the kind of unanimous praise that Asghar Farhadi’s feature has, it’s difficult to not just jump the gun and onto the bandwagon.

Yet, even if the AMPAS’ Foreign Language Film branch does one thing right, they always find a way to piss a lot of other people off in doing something wrong. Left off of the Academy’s shortlist are some of the more acclaimed films of the year. “Le Havre” managed to take the FIPRESCI prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, but does not manage a spot here. Nor does France’s domestic drama of young love “Declaration of War,” which has been stirring the minds of critics on both sides of the Atlantic. I’m also not sure any foreign film aside from “A Separation” has garnered more buzz than Mexico’s “Miss Bala,” a tale of beauty pageants and organized crime. All of these films I was predicting among the nominees next week, but no more.

So what does that leave us with. Well, “A Separation,” should go without saying, yet, I wouldn’t doubt for a moment the Academy’s likeliness of screwing that one up. Poland’s entry “In Darkness” has also been turning a lot of heads. I would definitely expect “Footnote,” from Israel to get mentioned, having taken the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes. Wim Wenders certainly profits from name recognition when it comes to his dance documentary “Pina.” I have a feeling it will show up either here or in Best Documentary, but not both, as happened with “Waltz with Bashir, a few years back. Which category…I’m not yet certain.

Here are the nine shortlisted films:

“Bullhead” – Belgium
“Footnote” – Israel
“In Darkness” – Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar” – Canada
“Omar Killed Me” – Morocco
“Pina” – Germany
“A Separation” – Iran
“Superclasico” – Denmark
“Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale” – Taiwan

The nominees will be announced alongside the rest of them in 6 days.

“Tinker Tailor” Leads the 2012 BAFTA Nominations

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

I suppose it is a little misleading to say that Tomas Alfredson’s film led the nominations with 11 when “The Artist” actually had 12, but then again, does anyone really want to read another headline about the little silent-film-that-could dominating yet another awards body? I didn’t think so. And while it had been expected that the British Academy Awards would give a little push to the waining “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” this is certainly much more than anyone could have expected. It’s quite possible that this kind of support from the British contingent of the AMPAS might be enough to boost the film over the rim in several different categories, including Best Actor for Gary Oldman.

There’s a few other surprises and shakeups amidst the nominees. “Hugo” received a total of nine nominations, including Best Director for Martin Scorsese and yet failed to be mentioned for Best Picture or Adapted Screenplay. Meanwhile, “Drive” picked up four nominations including Picture and a fairly weird mention for Carey Mulligan. Why she was nominated for mediocre work here and not for her show-stopping performance in “Shame” is absolutely beyond me. What’s even stranger about the “Drive” nominations is the lack of Albert Brooks. This is the second highbrow snub of the man who was taking down critics awards left and right. I might not even feel bad about it if it wasn’t for his being replaced by the goofy and almost unnecessary performance by Jim Broadbent in “The Iron Lady.”

I was a bit disappointed to see “Moneyball” miss out on a Best Picture nomination. Though, it’s not exactly something that Europeans would respond to as much as American do. On the other hand, Jonah Hill’s nomination, coupled with his equivalent mentions from the SAG and Golden Globes, puts him among the top contenders for an Oscar nomination. If asked a couple months ago, I never would have expected this as a reality.

Of all these nominations, I don’t think anything has spawned more outrage, and rightfully so, then the disgusting snub of Olivia Colman for Best Actress. It’s true, not many know her name yet (though hopefully that will change soon) and the film itself is tiny enough that you may have had to drive across multiple states just to see it. Therefore, exclusion in the USA is understandable. But for the Brits to deny even a nomination to what might be the best performance of the year, in a place where the film is widespread and thriving, is absolutely appalling and degrading. Without a doubt, the BAFTA has dropped the ball like it never has before.

The official awards ceremony is being held in London on February 12th. I might actually set aside the time to watch the live stream, this year. With that said, here are all of the nominees:

Best Film
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Drive”
“The Help”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Best British Film
“My Week With Marilyn”
“Senna”
“Shame”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
“We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
Nicolas Winding Refn – “Drive”
Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”
Tomas Alfredson – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy”
Lynne Ramsay – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Best Actor
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Michael Fassbender – “Shame”
Gary Oldman – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”

Best Actress
Bérénice Bejo – “The Artist”
Viola Davis – “The Help”
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Michelle Williams – “My Week With Marilyn”

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh – “My Week With Marilyn”
Jim Broadbent – “The Iron Lady”
Jonah Hill – “Moneyball”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Ides of March”
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain – “The Help”
Judi Dench – “My Week With Marilyn”
Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
Carey Mulligan – “Drive”
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

Best Original Screenplay
“The Artist”
“Bridesmaids”
“The Guard”
“The Iron Lady”
“Midnight in Paris”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Descendants”
“The Help”
“The Ides of March”
“Moneyball”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Incendies”
“Pina”
“Potiche”
“A Separation”
“The Skin I Live In”

Best Documentary
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
“Project Nim”
“Senna”

Best Animated Feature
“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Arthur Christmas”
“Rango”

Best Art Direction
“The Artist”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“Hugo”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
“War Horse”

Best Cinematography
“The Artist”
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Hugo”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
“War Horse”

Best Costume Design
“The Artist”
“Hugo”
“Jane Eyre”
“My Week With Marilyn”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Best Film Editing
“The Artist”
“Drive”
“Hugo”
“Senna”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Best Makeup & Hair
“The Artist”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“Hugo”
“The Iron Lady”
“My Week With Marilyn”

Best Music
“The Artist”
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Hugo”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
“War Horse”

Best Sound
“The Artist”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“Hugo”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
“War Horse”

Best Visual Effects
“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“Hugo”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“War Horse”

Best Debut by a British Director, Writer or Producer
Joe Cornish – “Attack the Block”
Will Sharpe, Tom Kingsley and Sarah Brocklehurst – “Black Pond”
Ralph Fiennes – “Coriolanus”
Richard Ayoade – “Submarine”
Paddy Considine – “Tyrannosaur”

2012 American Cinema Editors Nominees

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

You know how when watching the credits of a movie and the editor’s name is usually followed by the acronym “A.C.E.”? Why is that? I remember when I was a kid, I used to think it was some sort of self-designated achievement. Once they’ve been around in the industry long enough, they earn the right to call themselves an “ACE.” Well, the truth of what A.C.E. stands for isn’t far from that logic, though it isn’t exactly the same as what WWII fighter pilots saw it as.

The American Cinema Editors is the guild belonging to motion picture editors. While not to be confused with a dues-paying union, the ACE serves more as a society, inducting new members via a voting process based on their experience and skill. Each year, for the last fifty years, the guild has been hosting the Eddie Awards, awarding the best achievements in film editing for each year. While probably not its primary purpose, this award is very influential in each year’s Oscar race.

One of the most interesting facts about the Academy Awards involves feature film editing. In the last thirty years, no film has earned a victory for Best Picture of the Year without also gaining at least a nomination for Best Editing. Since the ACE’s nominations usually line up with it’s equivalent Oscar at least 4/5, this is as good of indicator of the what nominations will look like next week as you can get. In the case of these nominations, not a lot of surprises, being that all of the projected frontrunners have happened to show up here.

The nominees are:

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC)
“The Descendants” – Kevin Tent
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“Hugo” – Thelma Schoonmaker
“Moneyball” – Christopher Tellefsen
“War Horse” – Michael Kahn

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (MUSICAL or COMEDIC)
“The Artist” – Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” William Kerr and Michael L. Sale
“Midnight in Paris” – Alisa Lepselter
“My Week with Marilyn” Michael Recht
“Young Adult” – Dana Glauberman

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (ANIMATED)
“The Adventures of Tintin” – Michael Kahn
“Puss in Boots” – Eric Dapkewicz
“Rango” – Craig Wood

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DOCUMENTARY)
“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” – Joe Bini and Maya Hawk
“Freedom Riders” – Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunsil
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World” – David Tedeschi

The Dramatic category is all but exactly what we’d expected it to be. With the kind of bad guild luck that “War Horse” has been experiencing as of late, it’s a little more surprising that it has been able to achieve recognition, however, it’s really difficult to snub Michael Kahn for anything, these days. He really is a master craftsmen, having just received the ACE’s Lifetime Achievement Award the previous year.

As far as Musical/Comedy is concerned, “The Artist,” “Midnight in Paris” and “Bridesmaids” were all likely contenders in this category. One surprise is the absence of such popular comedies as “50/50” and “Win Win” which seem to have been doing well with both critics and industry types up to this point. If only the folks at the top could get their heads screwed on straight and realize that “My Week with Marilyn” is about as comedic as it is musical. It honestly shouldn’t be on either one of these lists, but should at least get it’s classification right.

What does this mean for Oscar? At this point, I would consider “The Artist” and “Hugo” to be locks for a Best Editing nomination. “The Artist” is simply a juggernaut at this point and respect and admiration for Thelma Schoonmaker’s craft is beyond reproach. Following these two would be “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” who’s editors took home the gold last year for “The Social Network,” and “Moneyball,” which is here perhaps completely off of quality and merit. A perfectly edited film.

For the fifth slot, odds are on either “War Horse” or “The Descendants.” The first definitely has the chops, but has lost an immense amount of steam in the last month. At the Golden Globes, the film was treated almost as an afterthought in the awards race. “The Descendants” is far from having anything that resembles showy or standout editing. Yet, probably well-aware of the thirty-year curse, Fox Searchlight has been trying desperately hard to campaign for the film’s editors in a last ditch effort not to fall victim to Oscar voodoo. In the end, there’s always the chance that an unforeseen contender might sneak in. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “The Ides of March” and “Drive” are superbly edited features and could easily find their way in much like “Blood Diamond,” “Children of Men” and “Cinderella Man” (none of which received ACE nominations) did in past years.

Only three primary guilds are left to release their nominations (the Costume Designers Guild, the Cinema Audio Society, and the Motion Picture Sound Editors). However, those organizations have not indicated as to when said announcements will take place. Stay up to date when they do at The Edge of the Frame.