Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dec. Oscar Buzz and Predictions - Finishing Touch Techs

     You know, these Academy Award updates always end up taking me so much more time than I want them to, and I end up having to check the buzz to make sure that I haven't gotten too far out of date.  I sure am glad I did this time though, because the Academy released the Visual Effects short list of ten films that they are going to pick their eventual five nominees from.  So, bear in mind, the top ten listed both in the buzz (listed first with previous buzz rankings in parenthesis), and in my predictions (which follow second) are the ONLY ten films that the final nominees can POSSIBLY be chosen from at this point (which makes predicting at least a little bit easier).  There were a few surprise omissions from this list, most notably The Impossible, Flight, and Looper.  More on that race in a bit, though, first lets cover...

Best Editing
     No film has won Best Picture without a corresponding nomination in Best Editing since 1980.  The roster of this category is just as telling, therefore, as Best Director, in determining which nominated films have a real shot at the grand prize.  If, as it appears now, we have four neck and neck contenders for Best Picture, it would stand to reason that they take the top four slots in this category with one wild card left open that might or might not be occupied by a Picture nominee.  As the buzz stands at present, that is actually the case...
  1.(5)  Argo
  2.(1) Zero Dark Thirty
  3.(2) Lincoln
  4.(6) Les Miserables
  5.(3) The Master

  6.(7) Life of Pi
  7.(4) The Dark Knight Rises
  8.  Silver Linings Playbook
  9.(10) Django Unchained
  10.(9) Beasts of the Southern Wild
  Leaving the Rankings:  Moonrise Kingdom
   As I explained above, it's difficult to argue with the prevailing logic at play here, at least as far as the top four slots go.  Beyond there, my best guesses would be...
  1. Argo...Besides the fact that this could be the film to win it all this year, and it needs this nod to be a serious contender, this is a film that hinges on its editorial work, which is flawless.  Time passes like nothing when watching this film.  There is such an amazing economy of screen time that you are barely aware when the story is nearly done that such a thing could be possible.  I do not usually get very passionate about this category, but unless he outdoes himself in Zero Dark Thirty, it is difficult to imagine anyone beating editor William Goldenberg's work here.  Speaking of which...
  2. Zero Dark Thirty...Another of the current Big Four Films, a sleek military espionage thriller like this would stand a good shot at an editing nod whether it was in the hunt above the line or not.
  3. Lincoln...Not exactly an obvious editing nominee, except that it is definitely in the hunt to win the big prize.  This could easily be just one of a dozen nominations.
  4. Les Miserables...The innovative use of live singing in this film was sure to present interesting new challenges to the visual editors in much the same way that it did the sound mixers, and this is the final member of the current Big Four Films.
  5. Life of Pi...Being a Best Picture nominee wouldn't hurt, but whether it makes that list or not, this film seems like a good fit in this category.  Visual extravaganzas don't piece themselves together.

  6. Cloud Atlas...There is always the chance that something without much above the line acknowledgement slips into the fifth slot, and the six interweaving story lines of this narrative monstrosity were laced together most impressively.
  7. Django Unchained...How appropriate that in the poker game of this Oscar season, Tarantino holds the wild card.  If anything can come out of nowhere to challenge the Big Four at this point, it's this flick.
  8. The Dark Knight Rises...If some mostly below the line contender OTHER than Cloud Atlas were to slip in here, this would be your best bet (no matter what the Bond-folk say).
  9. Silver Linings Playbook...There is always a chance that we are underestimating how enthusiastically the Academy will embrace this picture.  Plus, there's the Weinstein factor.
  10. The Master...Everything I just said above.

Best Visual Effects
  1.(5) Life of Pi
  2.(7) Cloud Atlas
  3.(2) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  4.(1) The Avengers
  5.(4) Prometheus

  6.(3) The Dark Knight Rises
  7.(7) The Amazing Spider-Man
  8.(9) Snow White and the Huntsman
  9. Skyfall
  10.(8) John Carter
  Leaving the Rankings:  Battleship
     I really wouldn't do a whole lot of shuffling here.  Honestly, none of my current alternates were in my top ten besides The Dark Knight Rises until the short list was announced.
  1. Life of Pi...You can take this one to the bank.  It will be a real surprise at this point if it doesn't take the little gold statue home.
  2. The Avengers...I doubt this film can WIN this category, but if the ASMPAS wants to note the biggest box office hit of the year anywhere, it will be in Visual Effects.
  3. Cloud Atlas...I think this one is just about one hundred percent as well.
  4. The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey...Peter Jackson would have to be really off his Middle Earth game to not net a nod here.
  5. Prometheus...The fifth slot is a LITTLE more open at this point, but this film was far more effects driven than Dark Knight.

  6. The Dark Knight Rises...But the Visual Effects branch DOES love the way that the Nolan camp gets things done with a minimum of CGI, honoring more traditional approaches.
  7. John Carter...The film WAS Disnified tripe, but the effects were actually pretty impressive and visually impressive tripe actually makes it in here more often than any of us would like to admit.
  8. Snow White and the Huntsman...Now that I think about it, there was some really good, subtle, trippy FX work in this movie, which was better than many people gave it credit for.
  9. The Amazing Spider-Man...I actually liked this film MUCH more than most critics did, but I found the visual effects to be the least effective element.
  10. Skyfall...How this film (which is quite good, but pretty unremarkable FX-wise) got in ahead of Flight and the Impossible, I just don't get.

     Next we will probably do some catching up on reviews while I finish doing a quick buzz update, then we'll be back with the buzz on the Genres.  See you then...

Nov/Dec Oscar Buzz and Predictions: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (preview), Musical Techs (Score and Song), Noisy Techs (Sound Editing and Sound Mixing), Pretty People Techs (Hairstyling and Make-up & Costume), Pretty Picture Techs (Production Design and Cinematography), Twist Until You Are LoopeyCan You "Master" Your Nature?Cloudy Connections (Cloud Atlas review), The Dark Knight TranscendsI Think You "Argo"ing to Love It!Promarlius Kingdom (Prometheus and Moonrise Kingdom reviews), Best That the Summer Weilds? (Beasts of the Southern Wild review), Merchandisers Assemble! (Avengers review), The Best Huntsman's Shadow (Snow White and the Huntsman review), John's Woman in Wrath (John Carter review), September Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Techs Part 2

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