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The 84th Oscars: Aftermath and Postgame Coverage

March 1, 2012 2 comments

As I watched the telecast of Sunday’s awards, going over the mixture of predictably safe choices, three words kept circling through my head, like scrolling text on the side of a blimp: BUSINESS AS USUAL. It’s been known for a while that the French silent film “The Artist” was scheduled to take home many of the top awards including Best Picture and Best Director. However, what was not expected was that the sweep would be split between it and Martin Scorsese’s family film (I feel like my hatred towards it spawns mostly from having to join those four words together), “Hugo,” which matched “The Artist’s” total of five wins. In simplest terms, I’d describe these wins as safe, mundane and boring, but honestly, what else is new? Read more…

My FINAL 2012 Oscar Predictions

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s time, folks. The time is come. No more second-guessing. No more procrastinating. This is it. I think I’ve provided enough commentary over the last few months (and I’ve got to start helping my girlfriend get our place ready for our Oscar party), so I’ll just let my predictions speak for themselves.

Here goes nothing:

BEST PICTURE
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST DIRECTOR
WINNER: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist
(runner-up: “Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”)

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
WINNER: George Clooney – “The Descendants”
(runner-up: Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”)

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
WINNER: Viola Davis – “The Help”
(runner-up: Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”)

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
WINNER: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
(runner-up: Max von Sydow – “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”)

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
WINNER: Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
(runner-up: Berenice Bejo – “The Artist”)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
WINNER: “The Descendants”
(runner-up: “Moneyball”)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
WINNER: “Midnight in Paris”
(runner-up: “The Artist”)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
WINNER: “Rango”
(runner-up: “Puss in Boots”)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
WINNER: “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
(runner-up: “Undefeated”)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
WINNER: “A Separation”
(runner-up: “In Darkness”)

BEST ART DIRECTION
WINNER: “Hugo”
(runner-up: “The Artist”)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
WINNER: “The Tree of Life”
(runner-up: “The Artist”)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST EDITING
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST SOUND MIXING
WINNER: “Hugo”
(runner-up: “War Horse”)

BEST SOUND EDITING
WINNER: “War Horse”
runner-up: “Hugo”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
WINNER: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST MAKEUP
WINNER: “The Iron Lady”
(runner-up: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2”)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
WINNER: “The Artist”
(runner-up: “Hugo”)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
WINNER: “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
(runner-up: “Real in Rio” from “Rio”)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
WINNER: “Tuba Atlantic”
(runner-up: “The Shore”)

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
WINNER: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
(runner-up: “A Morning Stroll”)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM
WINNER: “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
(runner-up: “Saving Face”)

Well there you have it. I’m gonna go make some dip. I’ll try not to get my hair in it, since pulling it out will be all I do for the next two hours.

Have fun everyone, and remember that there will be live updates on The Edge of the Frame for each win. Also, follow me on Twitter (@edgeoftheframe) for some good old snarkyness.

2nd Annual Edgy Award Winners

February 25, 2012 2 comments

At last, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. After a lot of work and, actually, a lot more deliberation than I had originally imagined, it’s now time to announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. If you missed the original nominations, you can find the full list here. These winners encompass what I believe to be the best work put forth in each respective category. Now, I’m sure there’s a few that people are sure to disagree with, so, in addition to posting video clips that showcase the work, I’ll also provide a bit of commentary that will help to defend my decisions.

This year shows a very different distribution than the 1st Edgy Awards. Last year, nearly fifty percent of the awards were collected by only two films (“The Social Network” – 7 and “Inception” – 4). This year has seemed to take on a more “spread the wealth” fashion. For example, last year, there were only six films taking home one award apiece (and that was with an extra category). This year, there are thirteen. This might also be the first time in my history of giving awards that a different film has won each of the eight technical categories (Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Makeup). I guess that shows the diversity of filmmaking that this year brought to the table.

It’s time to sit back and enjoy. Here are your Edgy winners:

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Think You Can Wait”

Music and Lyrics by “The National

RUNNER-UP: “Shelter” from “Take Shelter”

Aside from just being a straight-up beautiful and enjoyable song to listen to, over and over, “Think You Can Wait” is a phenomenal companion piece to Thomas McCarthy’s “Win Win.” The longing melody and wistfully fluid lyrics encompass both the woes and lingering hopes of the suburban life experienced by the film’s characters. This winner was never a question in my mind. A fantastic song.

Read more…

The 2nd Annual Edgy Award Nominations

February 21, 2012 2 comments

One of the primary focuses of this site is to analyze and report on each year’s film awards race, and many of you know this to be my true passion in life. However, if there’s one thing I enjoy more than following the Oscars, it’s making my own. Therefore, it has become a tradition of mine to gather up all my favorite aspects of the year’s filmmaking, break them down into nominations and then award what I believe to be the best of the year. And while I’ve been doing this for a long time, The Edge of the Frame gave me a chance to name them. Therefore, I present to you fine readers the 2nd Annual Edgy Award Nominations.

This year has certainly delivered a mixed bag of finalists. A total of 39 films received nominations, although 19 of those only garnered a single nomination apiece. While some categories may have some resemblance to the Academy’s choices (sometimes, they do actually make wise decisions), there are some striking differences. Thank goodness for that, for as a film critic, if my picks matched up with the Oscars, I wouldn’t be able to respect myself in the morning. Many of you have already seen my choices for Best Picture, what with my Top Ten List being released earlier in the week, and you’ll have noticed that only three films also find themselves in Oscar’s top nine ballot. Also, for the first time in my long history of doing this, not a single one of my Best Director nominees overlaps with the Academy’s.

A few notes to cover before we get started. I’ve used a similar format as last year’s nominations, listing out each nominee by name, instead of just the films themselves. Now, some of you will be bound to wonder how, if these are only the 2ND Annual Edgy Nominations, some individuals will have more than 2 mentions under their belts. The answer is because I have a slate of personal awards for each year going back over seven decades. I’ve got endless spreadsheets cataloging my choices for film winners from long before I was even born, I just don’t have the means (yet) to make those available to the public. The annotations refer to the amount of past nominations each individual has had in their respective category, except for performers who’s mentions overlap with all the other acting categories.

Now, for any readers who need more info, don’t understand or just think I’m full of it, I’ve provided a link to a separate document which holds a complete list of every single one of this year’s nominees, coupled with a complete record of their Edgy nominations and wins. Have I gone overboard with these things? Absolutely, but I have an anal retentive need to be comprehensive, not to mention that I have a devotion to all things statistical. Hope at least one person gives it a look.

One other thing to point out is that, this year, I have refrained from creating categories for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Film. To be honest, I just haven’t seen enough foreign fare to make up an accurate barometer of the year’s best. As far as animation goes, I honestly just avoided this year, practically, all together. Just a weak field that I didn’t bother focusing my income towards. I did, however, add a full category for Best Ensemble Cast. I do believe that when a film pulls off an effective ensemble performance, it’s worth taking note of because it help’s define the film and its quality. If only the Oscars shared this opinion.

So, without further ado, here are the 2011 nominations:

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“The Living Proof”
featured in “The Help”
Music and Lyrics by Mary J. Blige (2nd Nom)

“Marcy’s Song”
featured in “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Music and Lyrics by Jackson C. Frank (1st nom)

“Never Be Daunted”
featured in “Happythankyoumoreplease”
Music and Lyrics by Jaymay (1st nom)

“Shelter”
featured in “Take Shelter”
Music and Lyrics by Ben Nichols (1 nom)

“Think You Can Wait”
featured in “Win Win”
Music and Lyrics by The National (1st nom)

Read more…

“Tree of Life” Wins the ASC

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The American Society of Cinematographers held their gala and awards ceremony, celebrating the greatest achievements in cinematography from the 2011 film season. Of all the nominees, this year, one film has singled itself as the frontrunner by taking home nearly every honor for camera and lighting that it’s had the opportunity to. After being endlessly praised and awarded for his work on “The Tree of Life,” some believed that his peers in the ASC would throw Emmanuel Lubezki (and all of us) for a loop and go with something else. Yet, Malick and “El Chivo” fans can rejoice for the ASC’s grand prize did in fact go into said film’s pocket.

As far as my opinion is concerned, “The Tree of Life” may not have been my favorite work of the year, but certainly worth recognition. Working with such little light (and little story, if I want to be snarky), Lubezki took such small and seemingly insignificant events of a person’s life and crafted them into series upon series of gorgeous imagery that will be talked about for decades.

What does this all mean for Oscar? Well after “The Artist” managed to take down the cinematography prize at the British Academy Awards (also yesterday) and considering the potential “sweep” status of the film, I’d say that it is “The Tree of Life”‘s only real competition at this point. However, you have to consider that the Brits were not offered an official chance to screen “The Tree of Life,” so it’s impossible to gauge how that would have played out. Personally, I honestly can’t imagine that voters would not see how stupid they would look snubbing El Chivo again after his egregious loss for “Children of Men.” Yet, then again…Deakins.

Oh well. I stand by what I said two months ago. Next Sunday is going to be Emmanuel’s coronation as one of the finest cinematographers in the game. If not, I’ll have egg on my face, as will many, many more.

2012 Oscars Winner Predictions – Round One

January 29, 2012 2 comments

Well, there’s no turning back now. There’s no more debating to be done on the Academy Award nominees. No more discussion of who’s too young or too old, too white or too black, too new or two powerful, and no more weighing out each person’s clout within their particular groups of peers. The nominations are in, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Some frontrunners have fallen and others still sit at the top. Yet, I fully believe that barely a single category is the same as it was three days ago.

Instead of just highlighting a few select categories and offering my thoughts, I’m going to go through each award, one by one, and discuss how things have shaped up.

See the full list after the jump:

BEST PICTURE

Despite a couple shifts in the power balance a few days ago, this is an award whose frontrunner hasn’t shifted at all. “Hugo” may have beat it out by one to become the nomination leader (and thus the only competition for the award), but “The Artist” has a massive lead. It will take a whole lot to knock it from the top of the ladder. “The Help,” once considered a possible underdog upset, showed up little support, including a lack of the crucial Best Editing nomination. Meanwhile, “The Descendants” has lost this battle in the guilds. “Hugo” is the only film that really holds any kind of chance, but only in theory.
MY PREDICTION: “The Artist”
SPOILER: “Hugo” Read more…

My Reaction: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly, Part 2

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

When writing the last post, I had realized that it would be too difficult to boil these nomination down into two categories of “good” and “bad,” because, honestly, so much of this morning’s announcement was just vanilla, to me. I don’t love them, I don’t hate them. They’re just kind of there. I wish they weren’t, but they could be worse. Some may say that this is kind of a useless post, but for me, this post pretty much defines the 2011 movie season. I don’t hate it, I’m just ready to move on.

THE MEH

 

Without a doubt, this year’s best picture line-up was the most mediocre I think I’ve ever seen. I look back at the sorts of ballsy, edgy choices that the AMPAS were putting on the table no more than few years ago, with nominees like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “There Will Be Blood,” and on top of that, winners such as “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Hurt Locker.”

Then I see this year, and I am BORED. “Hugo?” “War Horse?” And of course everyone’s favorite that’s rife with controversy, “The Artist?” Now, okay, I’m not saying that all of the year’s movies have to piss people off or twist people’s minds. My favorite on the year definitely doesn’t (though it makes up for it with astounding quality). Yet, as artists, filmmakers have a responsibility, to shake things up. To be bold. I don’t see a lot of that, here.

What could have shaken things up, you ask? Plenty. What about “Shame?” Steve McQueen’s quiet, yet somehow epic tale of sex addiction and deprivation is already probably better than anything else in the line-up. Then there’s Nicholas Winding Refn’s hardcore crime study, “Drive,” which isn’t exactly one of my favorites on the year, but it’s a nomination I could certainly respect the Academy for putting up. This should prove that there’s no accounting for taste with what I’m talking about. Hell, some of my least favorite nominations today were those surrounding Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” because at least that decision had some audacity to it. It’s films like that, whether I like them or not, that are going to be talked about and discussed, decades from now.

Then there’s the Christmas turkey. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which received more guild nominations than half of the other nominees (obviously popular within the industry), was left off, and it might be the most important of the bunch. That’s because the viewers can’t get through it’s gritty and uncompromising demeanor and see through to the beautiful and vital message it presents of sexism and the triumph of diversity in a quiet and unoffensive world. This film deserves to be in the conversation and should be on the Best Picture ballot.

When “The King’s Speech” won Best Picture, last year, I believed that that particular nightmare was over. I thought that the Academy had gotten it out of their system. This year, I was proven wrong. The Oscars, it seems, will never fully evolve into a body that respects style, nuance, and, more than anything else, change. The Academy needs to move out of the twentieth century and into a new era. Yet, more than any of these things, it needs to understand that sometimes, feeling bad is feeling good. Sappiness, melodrama and things that warm your heart are not necessarily tools of good filmmaking, at least not good enough to clog the higher ranks of these nominations with them.

Grow up, Oscars. As Billy Beane so eloquently put it, “Adapt or die,” before it’s too late, and nobody gives a crap, anymore.

Wow, look at that. I got all hot and bothered and I haven’t even gotten to “The Ugly” segment of this article, yet. I will try to have that part of the article done by tonight.

2012 Academy Award Nominations!

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

And away we go…

BEST PICTURE
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Midnight in Paris”
“Moneyball”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen – “Midnight in Paris”
Michael Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
Terrence Malick – “The Tree of Life”
Alexander Payne – “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
Demien Bechir – “A Better Life”
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Gary Oldman – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
Glenn Close – “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis – “The Help”
Rooney Mara – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
Kenneth Branagh – “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill – “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte – “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
Max von Sydow – “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
Bérénice Bejo – “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain – “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer – “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“The Artist” by Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call” by J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen
“A Separation” by Asghar Farhadi

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
“Hugo” by John Logan
“The Ides of March” by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
“Moneyball” by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“A Cat in Paris”
“Chico & Rita”
“Kung Fu Panda 2”
“Puss in Boots”
“Rango”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Bullhead” Belgium
“Footnote” Israel
“In Darkness” Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
“A Separation” Iran

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Hell and Back Again”
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
“Pina”
“Undefeated”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“The Artist” – Guillaume Schiffman
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Jeff Cronenweth
“Hugo” – Robert Richardson
“The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki
“War Horse” – Janusz Kaminski

BEST EDITING
“The Artist” – Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” – Kevin Tent
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“Hugo” – Thelma Schoonmaker
“Moneyball” – Christopher Tellefsen

BEST ART DIRECTION
“The Artist” – Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” – Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
“Hugo” – Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“Midnight in Paris” – Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
“War Horse” – Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“Anonymous” – Lisy Christl
“The Artist” – Mark Bridges
“Hugo” – Sandy Powell
“Jane Eyre” – Michael O’Connor
“W.E.” – Arianne Phillips

BEST SOUND MIXING
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
“Hugo” – Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
“Moneyball” – Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
“War Horse” – Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

BEST SOUND EDITING
“Drive” – Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Ren Klyce
“Hugo” – Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
“War Horse” – Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” – Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
“Hugo” – Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
“Real Steel” – Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

BEST MAKEUP
“Albert Nobbs” – Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” – Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Iron Lady” – Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
“The Adventures of Tintin” – John Williams
“The Artist” – Ludovic Bource
“Hugo” – Howard Shore
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – Alberto Iglesias
“War Horse” – John Williams

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” – Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from “Rio” – Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

BEST SHORT FILM, LIVE ACTION
“Pentecost” – Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
“Raju” – Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
“The Shore” – Terry George and Oorlagh George
“Time Freak” – Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
“Tuba Atlantic” – Hallvar Witzø

BEST SHORT FILM, ANIMATION
“Dimanche/Sunday” – Patrick Doyon
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” – William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
“La Luna” – Enrico Casarosa
“A Morning Stroll” – Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
“Wild Life” – Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

BEST DOCUMENTARY, SHORT SUBJECT
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” – Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
“God Is the Bigger Elvis” – Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
“Incident in New Baghdad” – James Spione
“Saving Face” – Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” – Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

There you have it, folks. My fiery reactions to come shortly, after I blow off some steam.

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”