Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Oscar Watch: Tech Categories-The Visual
On January 22nd the nominations for this year's Academy Awards will be announced. In less than two weeks, all speculation will be quelled and it will be time to try and sift through the cards that have been dealt to us, but that doesn't stop us from continuing speculative notions a touch longer.
For the past month and a half we have been examining every aspect of the race towards the Oscars, and today it is time to start Part 1 of our look at the Tech Categories. Since the Tech Categories are so big, I've decided to split it up into two parts, the Visual and the Aural. The Visual being Cinematography, Make-up, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Film Editing, and Costume Design; the Aural being Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Original Score, and Original Song. So let's not waste any time and examine the Visual side to the Tech Categories, starting with Best Cinematography.
This year has been a scant year for cinematography in my opinion, with only a few standing out. One of the hot ones in contention is the gritty and realistic handheld camera work for The Hurt Locker, but I was personally more impressed with the beautiful, picturesque, and magical lensing for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Though, there are a great many other frontrunners, such as The Lovely Bones (it's last real chance at Oscar glory aside from Stanley Tucci), Inglourious Basterds, Nine, Bright Star, and Public Enemies. Personally, I think Basterds will get in cause there is just too much love for it, Peter Jackson's latest will most likely be tossed a "bone" (I'm just horrible, aren't I), and Nine is a sure-fire lock, but Bright Star and Public Enemies are wishful thinking. There are a few potential dark horses in the shape of Watchmen or Star Trek, but that's assuming one of them can get a nod in one of the major categories to boot. Though if this has been a weak year for cinematography, so it has for the craft of Best Make-up.
Luckily there are only three slots in the Best Make-up category, though it would be better if there were only two. Too many films just opt for CGI nowadays rather than traditional make-up effects. Both Star Trek and District 9 are in there already, no doubt about it, the only real question is who gets the last spot. I'm placing my bets on either Drag Me To Hell, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, or Where the Wild Things Are. That's it, fast, like I said; on to a little more interesting category, Best Art Direction.
For me, the one to beat here is Avatar, hands down; the world was just so unique and original, it's hard not to put it as the frontrunner. It could get spoiled by either Inglourious Basterds or Nine, but I doubt it. Other hopefuls are Harry Potter, Star Trek, Public Enemies, Bright Star, The Lovely Bones, The Young Victoria, and Sherlock Holmes. Out of all these, Harry Potter, The Lovely Bones, and Sherlock Holmes have the best shot, just the question is which ones. I'd be placing my bets on Holmes and Bones, but Potter has been a solid contender in years past. Now, moving on into the most exciting tech category of this year, Best Visual Effects.
This year is a behemoth of marvelous effects work. From effects driven films like Avatar, District 9, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Star Trek; to the films that used it sparingly, but effectively, like Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, The Lovely Bones, and Where the Wild Things Are. It's a real tight race this year, but I think with this being such a big year for effects, I'd say only effects driven films are in a prime position to strike, unlike in previous years. Avatar is guaranteed a slot, and is probably the frontrunner as of now, due to its revolutionary motion capture, but District 9 isn't far behind thanks to how well effects house WETA managed to blend the CG perfectly with the live action. I think Transformers is out, since the film was received so poorly, and the third slot will go to Star Trek, which is ILM's dark horse to possibly take the crown away from WETA. Time for the next category, Best Film Editing.
Like Visual Effects, Best Film Editing is one of the more intriguing tech categories this year. I'd venture to say the clear frontrunner is The Hurt Locker, but Avatar isn't far behind. Personally, I'm pulling for either Star Trek or District 9, which were two far better edited pictures, and while these two are in play, I doubt they'll walk away with the prize, but a nomination is entirely possible. Rounding things out, most likely either Nine or Inglourious Basterds, though Up in the Air has a chance to squeak in there due to it's highly stylistic editing, and perhaps even Sherlock Holmes for a similar reason. Finally, the final category for this week, and another scant category it is, Best Costume Design.
Really, there isn't much in fantastic costume design this year. The Young Victoria is the frontrunner here, seeing as how period pieces are all the rave in this category, but then again Nine, Bright Star, and Inglourious Basterds shouldn't be forgotten, nor my choice for a dark horse contender, Sherlock Holmes. Other potentials are Harry Potter, Public Enemies, Star Trek, and Watchmen, but seriously, none of these will win, maybe one will get a nomination, but that's it.
So what are my predictions? Check out below:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
The Lovely Bones
Drag Me To Hell
Best Art Direction
The Lovely Bones
Best Visual Effects
Best Film Editing
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
Best Costume Design
The Young Victoria
That's it for this week. Tune in next week for the Aural half of the Tech Categories.