Monday 31 January 2011

Notes on the Oscar nominations: part two

Best Cinematography
Danny Cohen, The King's Speech
Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network
Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
Roger Deakins, True Grit [above]
Wally Pfister, Inception

The variously showy (Cohen, Libatique, Pfister) versus the self-effacing: Cronenweth's crisp, wintry lensing had the cold chill of the Harvard campus running through its veins even before the digital boffins painted in all that condensing breath - but the veteran Deakins remains a master of landscape, and I suspect the Academy feels it has to give True Grit something to justify all those nominations.

Who will win? Deakins
Who should win? Deakins
Who did win? Pfister

Best Editing
Jon Harris, 127 Hours
Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
Pamela Martin, The Fighter
Tariq Anwar, The King's Speech
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, The Social Network

I liked 127 Hours' relentless mash-up of imagery, as a way into the Ralston mindset - but it is exactly that: relentless. (Still, credit Harris for getting 127 hours of storytime down to a brisk 94 minutes; there's a reason The Way Back wasn't nominated here.) Baxter and Wall's work on The Social Network is no less alert to the processing speeds of its characters - but also sensitive to the needs of Sorkin's dialogue, and the melancholy downtime between zinger lines. A bang-up job of ultra-contemporary cutting.

What will win? One of the big two, depending on the way the wind is blowing
What should [and did] win? The Social Network

Best Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King's Speech
True Grit

Let's rule out a few of these before we go any further. Alice in Wonderland is all art direction, yes, but ugly and cluttered with it; the art direction in the Harry Potters has been a reliable source of pleasure over the years, but seemed to diminish this time around - yes, you get the Ministry of Magic, but elsewhere, well really, how much effort does it take to throw up a couple of tents in the woods? Inception gives good corridor, but its most spectacular sequences were rather like being trapped in a revolving Best Western - its conception of dreaming was of the most decorous and tasteful kind. Personally, I'd take the matchless evocation of a foursquare Western town in True Grit over its rivals here, although the contrast between palatial luxury and garish Antipodean wallpaper choices in TKS may just be too obvious for Academy voters to resist.

What will win? The King's Speech
What should win? True Grit
What did win? Alice in Wonderland. Ugh.

Best Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

If it's stuff that catches the eye, it's one thing. If it's stuff you'd actually want to wear, however...

What will [and did] win? Alice in Wonderland
What should win? I Am Love

Best Make-Up
Barney's Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Not much to choose from here - there have been bloodier horror films this year doing more imaginative work with gouged eyeballs and severed limbs. Barney's Version is a flimsy, unconvincing old-age latex job; The Way Back is a selection of chapped lips; The Wolfman at least tries to do something comprehensively transformative, although its bristles perhaps only work fully in combination with CGI.

What will win? The Way Back, the most respectable of the three choices
What should [and did] win? The Wolfman

Best Original Score
Alexander Desplat, The King's Speech
John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Hans Zimmer, Inception

Desplat has done better work elsewhere, and Rahman stoops to include a dreary Dido song at one point. Wouldn't it be rather cool to see Trent Reznor picking up an Oscar?

Who will win? Rahman, for 127 Hours (and residual memories of Slumdog)
Who should [and did] win? Reznor and Ross, for The Social Network

Best Original Song
"If I Rise" (from 127 Hours)
"Coming Home" (from Country Strong)
"I See the Light" (from Tangled)
"We Belong Together" (from Toy Story 3)

Zzzzzzzz. You're looking for whatever might keep the voters awake, so just say no to Dido. The Country Strong song has a classic Shania/Celine-esque key change, which might swing it, but in this category, one generally shouldn't bet against Disney. If nothing new, the Newman is typically upbeat, which does it for me; as far as Mandy Moore offerings go, "I See the Light" seems an awful long way down from the sublime "Candy".

What will win? "If I Rise", to complete the double
What should [and did] win? "We Belong Together". With an honorary Grammy for "Candy".

Best Sound Mixing
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

and Salt have the most to process, which presumably gives them the edge in this category - and you can't help but feel voters will be longing to give a populist blockbuster some sort of recognition at this point in proceedings. What's The King's Speech here for, other than a sense of completion?

What will win? Inception
What should [and did] win? Probably Inception

Best Sound Editing
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit


Again, a category that tends towards the noisier end of the spectrum. I retain a sneaking respect for Unstoppable - a nuts-and-bolts job in most departments, albeit one that let you know exactly where the eponymous train was, and exactly where the strains were upon it, at every point along the ride.

What will [and did] win? Probably Inception, the highest profile nominee
What should win? This once, Unstoppable

Best Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2

Has to be one of the latter two this time out, surely. (Clint's Asian tsunami looked too much like something you'd have a go on.)

What will win? I fear Alice in Wonderland
What should [and did] win? Inception

Best Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

The final four are all fine, serious films on eminently worthy subjects (respectively, the consequences of natural gas mining; the collapse of the financial system; the war in Afghanistan; and the work of an eco-friendly artist in one of Brazil's poorest regions) - but Exit Through the Gift Shop feels the most cinematic and playful, the best movie of the lot: keep your fingers crossed, and let's hope for a Banksy prank to mark the occasion.

What will win? Restrepo
What should win? Exit Through the Gift Shop
What did win? Inside Job

Best Documentary Short
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
[the winner]
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Best Animated Short
Day and Night (as seen accompanying Toy Story 3, and the strongest Pixar short in years)
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
[the winner]
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

Best Live Action Short
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love [the winner]
Na Wewe
Wish 143

This year's winners will be announced on Sunday, February 27.

No comments:

Post a Comment