Friday, September 23, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Editing

This category is all about being showy, otherwise there is no nomination.

These are my predictions in random order

1. Michael Kahn-WarHorse-Spielberg films are always showy in every way. The editing is always swift and stylistic. Mixed with Kaminiski's great cinematography and Kahn's magic Spielberg's film should be a splendor to watch.

2. Kirk Baxter and Angus wall-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-Fincher's films are always well paced and fast moving. Plus his last two films have been nominated for the academy in editing and therefore are favorites for yet another nomination.

3. Matthew Newman-Drive-The film is beautifully paced mixed with romance, fast paced action and noir. There is inter cutting which is always a plus with the academy. I would be shocked if this film was not on the list. 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Poster
4. Dino Jansater-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-This film reminds me of Munich. Being a mystery/cops and robbers film and with good reviews the film has potential in this category and many more.

The Ides of March Poster

5. Stephen Mirrone-The Ides of March-It reminds me of Up in the Air and Mchael Clayton. Therefore I find it difficult that the film will be nominated as both those films were not nominated. However there is always a chance with the film.

Heavy contenders

Christopher Tellesfen-Moneyball-A smart and witty script is always in need of a swift edit. With great reviews the film could end up in this category as many sports films get nominated for this category.

Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber and Mark Yoshikawa-The Tree of Life-A film that contains inter cutting, visual effects and non linear story line is probably the hardest job for an editor. Having won the Cannes Film Festival, The Tree of Life could end up in the list of nominations

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Drive Review


By David Salazar

 Nicholas Winding Refn's latest film "Drive" is one of those rare films that is subtle and to a certain degree minimalist, but has no qualms about blending those characteristics with moments that are overly graphic and violent. In what is already being mentioned as a major reference point in the film (and one which may become a classic/almost iconic moment), Ryan Gosling's face is completely drenched in blood. It is a moment that may obtain some laughter from the audience (apparently it did at Cannes and it certainly did when I went to see it), but it is not humorous laughter. It is the laughter that is created when something is both odd and uncomfortable. This is the style that rules "Drive" and it does so with both complete command and reckless abandon.

The film tells the story of Driver, a stunt driver by day and a getaway driver by night. His life is altered when he falls in love with Irene and the idea of a family. However, Irene's husband Standard gets out of jail and his whole family is threatened if he is unable to pay off a debt. When an ensuing heist goes awry, Driver finds himself as the local mob's next target.

I am not familiar with Refn's previous work, though "Bronson" seems to have been a tremendous success. He also won the Best Director award at the venerated Cannes Film Festival and for good reason. His film is well-paced, enabling not only for the character interactions to remain true and even, but for his action set-pieces to thrive. One of the aspects of the film that I really appreciated was that even if he went over the top in many instances with the violence and action, it always felt just right. Same goes for his quieter moments in which he tends to indulge in long takes and long pauses. It certainly maintains a slower tempo, but does so without dragging the story along. To classify "Drive" as an action film is a disservice to it, as Refn engages multiple genres that make up American cinema. To call it an hommage to American cinema is in no way an understatement. The film starts off like an action/heist movie and carries on as such for the most part, but in between we have moments that elicit a romance and family drama; one disturbing scene recalls the horror genre; and the gangster genre makes its presence known throughout. But it's all a seamlessly interwoven tapestry in which neither reference overpowers the other.

At the core of this film's success is yet another compelling performance by Ryan Gosling, likely the most underrated actor of his generation. Last year he was snubbed from an Oscar nomination for his tremendous performance in "Blue Valentine," but this year he has come back with 3 films, all seemingly destined to be tremendous successes. I have already mentioned his scene-stealing work in "Crazy, Stupid, Love" as a charismatic womanizer, but here he is the complete opposite. He isn't charismatic. He is rather quiet (he rarely speaks); he is mostly expressionless for the film's duration (but his few subtle hints of emotion express more than many actors at their best), coming off as cool and calculating. Not even as he transforms into a maniacal killer does he externally express his emotional disintegration. This is an introverted performance, but one that never ceases to fascinate the viewer. Gosling is truly a wonder to behold.

His supporting cast is no laughing matter either. All of them, Carrie Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks, Oscar Issac, Bryan Cranston bring a complexity of different colors to this vast pallet of a world. Mulligan brings delicacy and dignity as the frail Irene. Cranston is Driver's only friend and almost a father figure to Driver. Their scenes are few, but provide some strong emotional content. Perlman brings a hilarious edge to his mobster Nino while Brooks contrasts him with a cold and calculating demeanor. Oscar Issac brings warmth as Standard.

It is definitely not the kind of film Hollywood would be interested, and yet it represents all that Hollywood aims to portray. But unlike most Hollywood films, "Drive" brings the thrills, edge, and emotion with style and a strong sense of personality. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

The race in the supporting categories is always hard to predict early on. As a result these are very premature predictions of who I think could be nominated after the festivals

These are in no particular order
Christopher Plummer as Hal in Beginners (2010)1.Christopher Plummer-Beginners-This is probably the most certain if not a lock in this category. Plummer easily stole the show from Eewan McGregor. The film may have done poorly in the box office but Focus will most likely pull for Plummer especially after the amazing reviews he received in the summer.

2. Viggo Mortensen-A Dangerous Method-Reviews out Venice and Toronto hailed him for his great acting. Although the film received mixed reception I think Sony will pull for him as he is a great actor and if his performance is convincing voters won't care about critics and how the rest of the film is.

3. George Clooney-The Ides of March-This is probably completely wrong because he'll most likely be nominated for The Descendants and because Phillip Seymour Hoffman may get the nomination for his work However critics hailed him for his performance.

4.Kenneth Branagh-My Week Marilyn-Again this film has not been seen so it is hard to tell if Branagh's portrayal is really as captivating as thesps are expecting.

Colin Firth Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy

5.Colin Firth-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-Here is another wishful thought. Firth has had a great run and it would be great to see him earn his third nomination for this compelling role.

Heavy Contenders
John Hawkes-Martha Marcy May Marlene-Reviews out of Sundance, Cannes and Toronto said he was chilling. That is a good sign for awards

Phillip Seymour Hoffman-The Ides of March-Its hard to take him out of any race especially because Hoffman is one of the most diverse actors working today.

Albert Brooks-Drive-The film received raves and Brooks was one of the standouts.

Brad Pitt-The Tree of Life-This is definitely wishful thinking but Pitt was phenomenal in a non conventional acting form.

Friday, September 16, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Art Direction

This category is always a difficult one to predict because the Academy has different taste every year. The last two years the academy has gone for fantasy films. However the period film is always a popular choice with them.

The following are in no particular order
1. Dante Ferretti-Hugo-From the trailer the film looks like a showy piece in terms of sets. As a result this film seems like a lock and even a front runner in the category.

2. Laurence Bennett- The Artist-Recreating the 1920s is always a challenge but this films looks like the perfect eye candy that Acadmey voters will vote for.

3. Stuart Craig-Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2-The Harry Potter series has been nominated for art direction several times. Craig deserves a cumulative recognition as this film is thus far the showiest of all the films that have been released.

4. Rick Henrichs-Captain America:The First Avenger-A showy superhero piece with beautiful sets can sometimes translate into a nomination. I think this is wishful thinking but the film looks superb and it could easily end up in the list.

5. James McAteer-A Dangerous Method-I'm putting this film in again regardless of all the mixed reviews because the Academy surprises with Period films like The Duchess and The Young Victoria. I don't think it has a great chance but the film looks immaculate and most importantly very elegant.

Other Heavy Considerations
Sarah Greenwood-Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows- The first film was nominated so this one may have an easy time getting into the top 5

James J. Murakami-J. Edgar-He was nominated for Changeling unexpectedly so his extensive work may lead him to his second nomination

Jack Fisk-The Tree of Life-This probably a long shot but there are some beautiful sets that were created. However there isn't anything showy enough that will catch the eye of the voters.

Maria Djurkovic-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-The trailer shows perfection in every department and with the attention the film is getting it may show up in many categories.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

This year the Actress branch is one of the most competitive in years. The Oscars usually pick the best actress based on accents or makeup transformations and sometimes even if the actress is playing a real life person.

The following are in particular order

1. Meryl Streep-The Iron Lady-Its hard to ignore Streep as she has been nominated 16 times and only won twice. In recent years she has been close to winning but somehow the Academy does not vote for her. However things bode well as she is playing a real life character and well its Meryl Streep. The only bad sign is no one has even seen the film and well Phillipa Lloyd is the director. Her last film Mama Mia was an utter disaster. We'll see how critics receive the film.

2. Glen Close-Albert Nobbs-Critics were divided on this film as Glen Close's turn is very quiet and calm. Its not as showy as many expected but Close is loved by many and she plays a man making it even harder to ignore this performance.

3.Keira Knightley-A Dangerous Method-Knightley's performance as Sabina Spielrein has divided critics as they have complained about her accent and about her over the top mannerisms. However many have stated that she is the best thing about the film and that she is a committed actress. Once again this is another real person turn so the Academy may vote for her.

4. Viola Davis-The Help-Davis who was last nominated for Doubt, steals every scene in this film. Whether she is a supporting or a lead Davis seems like a lock in one of the categories but I am rooting for her in the lead category.

5. Michelle Williams-My Week with Marilyn-I ultimately chose her over Elizabeth Olsen because Williams is an actress who the Academy knows and from the pictures it looks like Williams' transformation was complete. However we won't know what critics think until the film premieres at the New York Film Festival.

Other heavy contenders-  
Elizabeth Olsen- Martha Marcy May Marlene-The film premiered at Sundance and Olsen has been getting praised ever since that. While I did not put her in my top 5 predictions I think I will have to change my decision as the fall season moves on.

Kirsten Dunst-Melancholia-Lars Von Triers' films never get nominated but Emily Watson did get nominated for Breaking the Waves. In addition Dunst won at Cannes which is always a good sign. Last year Javier Bardem surprised everyone when he was nominated for Biutiful, a performance everyone had ignored. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography

Visuals are important in telling a story and this award usually goes to visually inventive films. The last few years the award has gone to big blockbusters Inception and Avatar. However I think this year, an art film has the best of chances.

These are in no particular order
1. Janusz Kaminski-From the trailer this film has potential in getting the nomination for its visual poetry. Kaminski has already won for a Spielberg film, so it would be no surprise that this film is nominated. Of course there are never locks as "Munich" a film that was visually beautiful missed the nomination.

2. Emanuel Lubezki-The Tree of Life-Malick's film has to be a lock for this category as it is poetic in every way and visually inventive. In addition, Lubezki and Malick used no lighting to create each and every shot. Lubezki who has been nominated for previous work with Malick's for "The New World" in 2005 deserves the Oscar this year for the beautiful and radiant work that he does in "The Tree of Life".

3. Eduardo Serra-Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2-Serra was ignored last year for his work in Part 1. However I have a feeling with all the amazing reviews and the attention this film is getting, Serra may get more attention. In addition the film looks incredible.

4. Tom Stern-J. Edgar-This is a long shot but Stern surprised all when he was nominated for Changeling. Edgar is another period film that has a stellar cast and with luck Mr. Eastwood could bring the same visual style that he brought to Changeling.

5. Guillame Schiffman-The Artist-The most important thing in film is the visual especially when the film is silent. Because The Artist is a silent film, Schiffman has the duty of telling a story through visuals and not through dialogue. I think this may be a lock in the category.

Other Considerations
The cinematography branch seems weak this year and as a result there are not many films I can think of that deserve a nomination in this category.

Hoyt Van Hoytema-Tnker Tailer Soldier Spy-From the Trailer the film looks visually stunning. However sometimes the most visually appealing films are never looked at by the Academy.

Peter Sushitzky-A Dangerous Method-Reviews out Venice said that the films cinematography was astounding and that it was elegant. Cronenberg has never been the most poetic of filmmakers and from the clips the film does not look promising in this category.

First Oscar Predictions:Best Original Score

The Original score category is probably one of the hardest categories to predict as the Academy never goes for the same types of scores. Sometimes they pick the melodic, the atmospheric or the electronic. But it really all depends on what film is getting attention and what score is unique.

These are in no particular order
1. John Williams-War Horse-John Williams is one of the prolific cinema composers of all time. This year with two scores he's bound to get nominated for at least one. Williams who has won 5 oscars is known for lush and melodic scores.

2. John Williams-The Adventures of Tintin-In 2005 Williams was nominated for two Oscars for two very different scores. This year he takes on a drama and an adventure movie which require very different temperaments. When working with Speilberg, Williams never really goes wrong plus he hasn't been nominated in 6 years.

3. Howard Shore-A Dangerous Method-This is probably a long shot but Shore's score was acclaimed and Variety said it was unforgettable. In addition Shore and Cronenberg have collaborated for years and have never been recognized. With lots of attention, Shore may finally get his next nomination.

4. Dario Marianelli-Jane Eyre-Marianelli has been nominated for two Oscars and won for Atonement. This score while lush and passionate is subtle. The academy likes subtlety and scores with solo instruments. Marianelli offers a violin solo that creates the atmosphere of the film. The only problem is will the Academy remember the film after so many months.

5. Alberto Iglesias-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-Igelsias has already been nominated for two Oscars, both for work that is textured and atmospheric. This year he takes on the task of scoring a thriller and from Venice reviews they say the score is thrilling and exciting.

Other considerations
Like every other category this year the score category is probably one of the most crowded this year.
Here are other strong contenders

Alexandre Desplat-The Ides of March-The Academy has nominated his work for the past two years. Each film he approaches in a different way and this looks like the Michael Clayton type score.

madonna w.e. filmW.E.-Abel Korzeniowski-After a momentous score for A Single Man its hard to ignore Korzeniowski's music. His music is full of passion and even though this film may have bad reviews, the music can still be recognized.

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross-The Gril with the Dragon Tattoo- Its hard to ignore last years Oscar winners. With The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo they'll come up with something unique and special.

As we get closer to nominations, we'll see what the Academy is looking for this year