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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…

“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”

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.

“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.

My Golden Globe Predictions 2012

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Same deal as Thursday. I’ll give my winner predictions as well as an alternate. Some of these are going to be pretty predictable. Others Just seem like they’re predictable. There’s bound to be one or two surprises, here. I would expect a very close dogfight in Best Director, with Hazanavicius, Scorsese and Allen all with decent shot at the gold. I also believe that the award for Best Actress (Drama) will largely determine the trajectory of that category for the rest of the year. If Viola Davis is able to overtake Meryl Streep on the veteran’s home turf, expect things to go in her favor from here on out.

It will be interesting to see how much the HFPA’s star-fucking tendencies will be in check, tonight. I think everyone, this year, is expecting them to keep a grip on themselves, for the most part. However, one big question looms: will they snub “A Separation” (a film that has pretty much unanimously been labeled the year’s finest film, foreign or otherwise) for the sole chance of giving a statue to Angelina Jolie. How can they possibly resist?

It shouldn’t be a big secret that I despise the Globes. True that they did do all right by me last year by giving four awards to “The Social Network.” Yet, in that same year, all ninety members of the Hollywood Foreign Press accepted bribes to be flown to Vegas for a live performance by Cher, in exchange for voting “Burlesque” in for a Best Picture nomination. Therefore, I expect plenty of whoring to happen this year, as well.

Or, who knows? Maybe awarding such an outstanding film, last year, caused them to turn over a new leaf. On the whole, their slate of nominees has shown a bit more class and taste than in years’ previous.

The best thing about tonight’s awards is not the HFPA’s winners, but NBC’s coverage of it. One must give credit to NBC for going against the celebrity-loving critics’ wishes and bringing back Ricky Gervais to host the ceremony. I mean come on. If we’re going to watch a three hour event of how cool they are, the least celebrities can do for us is take a little kick in the ass for our amusement. Hopefully, Gervais will be wearing a steel-toed boot. Should be a hoot.

And now, The Edge of the Frame’s picks. My winner predictions are highlighted in bold, while my runners-up are underlined.

BEST PICTURE: DRAMA
“The Descendants”
“The Help”
Hugo
“The Ides of March”
“Moneyball”
“War Horse”

BEST PICTURE: MUSICAL/COMEDY
“The Artist”
“Bridesmaids”
“50/50″
Midnight in Paris
“My Week With Marilyn”

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen – “Midnight in Paris”
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
Alexander Payne – “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”
George Clooney – “The Ides of March”

BEST ACTOR: DRAMA
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “J. Edgar”
Michael Fassbender – “Shame”
Ryan Gosling – “The Ides of March”
Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”

BEST ACTOR: MUSICAL/COMEDY
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Brendan Gleeson – “The Guard”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “50/50″
Ryan Gosling – “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
Owen Wilson – “Midnight in Paris”

BEST ACTRESS: DRAMA
Glenn Close – “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis – “The Help”
Rooney Mara – “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

BEST ACTRESS: MUSICAL/COMEDY
Jodie Foster – “Carnage”
Kristen Wiig – “Bridesmaids”
Charlize Theron – “Young Adult”
Michelle Williams – “My Week With Marilyn”
Kate Winslet – “Carnage”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh – “My Week With Marilyn”
Albert Brooks – “Drive”
Jonah Hill – “Moneyball”
Viggo Mortensen – “A Dangerous Method”
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo – “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain – “The Help”
Janet McTeer – “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash – “The Descendants”
George Clooney – Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, “The Ides of March”
Woody Allen – “Midnight in Paris”
Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian – “Moneyball”

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
“The Flowers of War”
“In the Land of Blood and Honey”
“The Kid With a Bike”
“A Separation”
“The Skin I Live In”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Arthur Christmas”
“Cars 2″
“Puss in Boots”
“Rango”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Ludovic Bource – “The Artist”

Trent Reznor and Attivus Ross – “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Howard Shore – “Hugo”
John Williams – “War Horse”
Abel Korzeniowski – “W.E.”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Lay Your Head Down” – “Albert Nobbs”
“Hello Hello” – “Gnomeo and Juliet”
“The Living Proof” – “The Help”
“The Keeper” – “Machine Gun Preacher”
“Masterpiece” – “W.E.”

17th Annual Critics Choice Winners

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ll be posting the awards as they’re announced live. The technical awards and, you know, others that don’t include stars, will be announced prior to the show starting, so they will be showing up first.

Here are the winners:

BEST PICTURE
“The Artist”

BEST DIRECTOR
Michael Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – “The Descendants”

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis – “The Help”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer – “The Beginners”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
“The Help”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Thomas Horn – “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“MONEYBALL”!!!!!!!!!!

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Midnight in Paris”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
(TIE) “War Horse” – Janusz Kaminski and “The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki

BEST EDITING
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

BEST ART DIRECTION
“Hugo”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Artist”

BEST SOUND
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

BEST MAKEUP
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
“The Artist”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Life is a Happy Song” – “The Muppets”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“George Harrison: Living in a Material World”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“A Separation”

BEST ANIMATED FILM
“Rango”

BEST COMEDY
“Bridesmaids”

BEST ACTION MOVIE
“Drive”

My BFCA Critics Choice Awards Predictions

January 12, 2012 2 comments

 I’m not going to spend any time discussing these but just let my predictions speak for themselves. But, if I could make one wish to the Awards Gods, please let “Moneyball” win for Best Adapted Screenplay. We all know it deserves it.

For the record, as much as I’d like to, I’m really not trying very hard on these. Feel free to use these as a useful guide, but honestly, who the hell knows what these crazy-ass critics are going to do here? Are they going to follow their hearts? Are they going to vote for what people want them to vote for? Or are they going to do what they love most: predict the Oscars?

Who cares? Don’t put any money on these.

Moving on:

BEST PICTURE
“The Artist”
r/u: “Hugo”

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
r/u: Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”

BEST ACTRESS
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
r/u: Michelle Williams – “My Week With Marilyn”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Albert Brooks – “Drive”
r/u: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
r/u: Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”
r/u: Asa Butterfield – “Hugo”

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
“The Help”
r/u: “The Artist”

BEST DIRECTOR
Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”
r/u: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius
r/u: “Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” – Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
r/u: “Moneyball” – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki
r/u: “Hugo” – Robert Richardson

BEST ART DIRECTION
“Hugo” – Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo
r/u: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” – Production Designer: Stuart Craig, Set Decorator: Stephenie McMillan

BEST EDITING
“Hugo” – Thelma Schoonmaker
r/u: “The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius and Anne-Sophie Bion

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Artist” – Mark Bridges
r/u: “Hugo” – Sandy Powell

BEST MAKEUP
“The Iron Lady”
r/u: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
r/u: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”

BEST SOUND
“Hugo”
r/u: “War Horse”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“A Separation”
r/u: “The Skin I Live In”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Project Nim”
r/u: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

BEST SONG
“Pictures in My Head” – performed by Kermit and the Muppets/written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis and Chen Neeman – “The Muppets”
r/u: “The Living Proof” – performed by Mary J. Blige/written by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman and Harvey Mason, Jr. – “The Help”

BEST SCORE
“War Horse” – John Williams
r/u: “The Artist”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Rango”
r/u: “The Adventures of Tintin”

BEST ACTION MOVIE
“Drive”
r/u: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

BEST COMEDY
“Bridesmaids”
r/u: “Midnight in Paris”

ASC Announces, Snubs Janusz Kaminski

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

The American Society of Cinematographers had actually scheduled to unveil yesterday, but announced that they needed an extra day. I had hoped that that additional time would have provided a bit of clarity to help them make some intelligent choices. My logic was both rewarded and ignored.

The nominees are:

Guillaume Schiffman – “The Artist”
Jeff Cronenweth – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Robert Richardson – “Hugo”
Hoyte van Hoytema – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
Emmanuel Lubezki – “The Tree of Life”

The big story in the awards community, as of late, has been the repeated snubbage of Steven Spielberg’s WWI epic, “War Horse.” A diehard Steven Spielberg fan, like myself, hasn’t really seen this as a problem for a few reasons. For one thing, the film was never really intended for grandiose awards intentions, but to me more of a family-friendly experience. Secondly, it’s quite simply not an example of Spielberg’s best work. I’m ready to sit back and wait for next year’s release of “Lincoln,” which I’ve been waiting six years for.

However, if there was one guild that “War Horse” did not deserve to be left out in the cold from, it was the ASC. This is a true slap in the face to some brilliant labor done by maybe the world’s greatest working cinematographer. I’d argue that Janusz Kaminski deserves to be on this list more than any of these other names. I know that there were some complaints about some of the daylight exteriors looking artificial and obviously lit, but that was kind of the point. Spielberg wanted this film to stand as an ode to 1940’s and 50s epics and westerns. He wanted it to reflect the work of guys like John Ford and Victor Garber. He didn’t want it to look like a documentary, but rather an oil painting, and he succeeded. Not to mention that the moving shots of the horse running displays some of the finest camerawork I’ve ever seen.

Another disappointing, yet a little more expected, snub was Wally Pfister’s low key, yet brilliant, work on Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball.” In this feature, Pfister goes back to his earlier work on film’s like “Memento” to shoot some beautifully drab and dismal environments. He also uses a technique that he has mastered (though first perfected by the above-mentioned Kaminski) of finding a wonderful medium between smooth and handheld camera movements. The baseball-playing scenes, in particular, are gorgeous.

As far as the actual nominees go, one would be crazy not to applaud and, eventually, put their money behind “The Tree of Life.” I certainly have some reservations about this film, but one has to give credit where credit is due. Emmanuel Lubezki’s poetic control over the camera, operating with such minimal available light, is absolutely awe-inspiring. The man is one hell of a cinematographer, having performed awards-worthy work in “Children of Men” and “Sleepy Hollow,” and will finally received his first, long-deserved Oscar in February. Put that in the books.

I certainly can’t complain too much about the nomination of “The Artist.” The blending of 1930s constraints with the imagination of the 21st Century is truly phenomenal at times. And unlike other films, they’re able to utilize the black and white rather than let it be a detriment to them. I was hooked by one of the first shots of Dujardin and his dog looking up at themselves on the big screen. The shot is magnificent and reflects the best kind of Orson Welles-fare.

I don’t really have many comments for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” due to my still having put off seeing it. Meanwhile, I cannot bring myself to hide my disdain for Robert Richardson’s work in “Hugo.” The cinematography is epic, grandiose, and absolutely uninspiring. Obviously, my lackluster response to the film, itself, influences my opinion here, but I felt the camerawork to be boring and impersonal. It really makes me miss the gritty and poetic collaborations between Scorsese and his former DPs, Michael Chapman and Michael Ballhaus. Return to your roots, Marty.

Wow, I nearly forgot to shine my praise down on Jeff Cronenweth’s masterful crafting of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” He and David Fincher are constantly proving why digital cinematography is the way of the future and taking it to new artistic depths. The cold and fierce look that the two collaborators put to use, here, is masterfully befitting the source material. I think it’s worth mentioning that the POV shot during the climax, seen from behind a sheet of plastic, is maybe one of the most terrifying I’ve seen in cinema.

The ASC announces its winners on Sunday, February 12th. Expect nothing short of an unstoppable “Artist” sweep to keep this award out of Lubezki’s hands.

The Visual Effects Society Nominates…

January 9, 2012 Leave a comment

I won’t spend a lot of time on this, being that we already have the Academy’s shortlist down to ten names. In case you missed the news, the following films are still in the running for the Best Visual Effects Oscar.

“Captain America: The First Avenger”

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″

“Hugo”

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

“Real Steel”

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

“The Tree of Life”

“X-Men: First Class”

This list of nominees from the VES, doesn’t really change or sway much. The frontrunners all managed to pick up a slew of nominations. “Transformers” and “Harry Potter” led the way with five apiece. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” wasn’t far behind with four and “Hugo” picked up the rear with three. One unusual facet of these noms is the complete exclusion of “The Tree of Life,” which many believed to be that fifth slot with the Oscars. Also snubbed were “X-Men: First Class” and “Real Steel,” while “Captain America” and “Thor,” while already kicked off the Academy’s list, managed multiple nominations.

Perhaps the most notable detail that I can see is the complete snubbage of J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8”. Now I know that the film is not on the Academy’s shortlist for this award, but I can remember back to a time when many thought that this film would clean up in the tech categories. Here it doesn’t even merit a single mention. We’ll have to wait for the MPSE and the CAS, but now I’m wondering if the film might be banned from the Kodak entirely.

See the full list of nominees after the cut:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature
“Captain America: The First Avenger”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”