Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Low Res Oscar Week 2008: The Techs

The Low Res Movie Awards continue with the best in the so-called "below the line" categories. A year as strong as 2007 is only as strong as its tech elements allow it to be, and that's borne out in these categories. Atonement and Sweeney Todd pick up three nominations apiece in these categories, giving Sweeney the overall nomination lead, currently, at four. I'll be interested to see how long that lasts.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country For Old Men

Matches with Oscar: 2/5; they went with Into The Wild, There Will Be Blood, and The Bourne Ultimatum instead of Atonement, Before The Devil..., and Zodiac.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: United 93; 2005: A History of Violence; 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; 2003: Kill Bill, Vol. 1; 2002: The Hours; 2001: Memento; 2000: Traffic; 1999: Being John Malkovich; 1998: Run Lola Run.

Why These Five? Creating heart-stopping tension is such an accomplishment of editing that I wonder why this category isn't always just stacked with the five scariest movies. No Country and Zodiac keep the tension screamingly tight. (Zodiac also manages to make 2+ hours fly by.) Before The Devil utilizes fancy-shmancy nonlinear timelines as a way to peel away the layers around characters rather than just a stunt. Atonement makes sure the audience keeps questioning its perceptions, often without realizing it. The Diving Bell floats around like the titular butterfly.

Who Wins? No Country For Old Men barrels down on you as steadily and unceasingly as its most notorious character does.

The Darjeeling Limited
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Sweeney Todd

Matches with Oscar: 1/5, only agreeing on Sweeney Todd.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Children of Men; 2005: Sin City; 2004: The Life Aquatic; 2003: Kill Bill, Vol. 1; 2002: Far From Heaven; 2001: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring; 2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; 1999: Sleepy Hollow; 1998: Velvet Goldmine.

Why These Five? Sweeney's barber chair (and washed-out London), Darjeeling's train (and luggage), Harry Potter's Ministry of Onyx (and kitty cat portrait walls), Sunshine's psychedelic gardens (and solar panels), and Bug's impossibly dingy motel room (and all that tin foil).

Who Wins? Know that I am absolutely in love with all five here, and it's a tough call. As a Tim Burton fan, perhaps it's easier for me to see what might otherwise be a recycling of old sets and motifs (it's been well-documented everywhere how much Sweeney borrows visually from Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow especially) as a culmination of a spectacular career. Sweeney Todd for the win.

The Darjeeling Limited
Southland Tales
Sweeney Todd

Matches with Oscar: 2/5. They liked Across the Universe, Elizabeth, and La Vie En Rose better than Darjeeling, Southland, and Enchanted.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: The Devil Wears Prada; 2005: Sin City; 2004: The Aviator; 2003: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King; 2002: Catch Me If You Can; 2001: The Royal Tenenbaums; 2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; 1999: The Talented Mr. Ripley; 1998: Velvet Goldmine.

Why These Five?: Southland's rocking the body-conscious riot gear; Sweeney's Gothic couture manages to conceal (Judge Turpin's slashable neck) and display (Mrs. Lovett's dirtypillows) its characters' vulnerabilities; Enchanted wrings a healthy bit of comedy out of puffy sleeves and the world's most formidable petticoat; Darjeeling once again shows Wes Anderson's affinity for trust fund babies gone to seed; and Atonement has that green dress people can't seem to stop talking about, plus a whole lot of torso-friendly threads for James McAvoy.

Who Wins? Atonement. You create something iconic, you ought to be rewarded for it.

Planet Terror
Sweeney Todd

Matches with Oscar: 0/3. Shut up, Norbit, La Vie En Rose, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Pan's Labyrinth; 2005: Sin City; 2004: Hellboy; 2003: Monster; 2002: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; 2001: Hedwig and the Angry Inch; 2000: The Cell; 1999: Fight Club; 1998: Velvet Goldmine.

Why These Three? I thought Sweeney added depth and dimension to the usual deathly pallor that comes with an overzealous powderpuff. 300 sure did a hell of a job painting abs onto its manly menfolk (though to what end is what depresses me). And then there's the orgy of gory viscera and oozing pustules that was Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror half of Grindhouse. Excuse me, I have to go throw up again.

Who Wins? Plan...blurrrgh...Planet Ter...huuuulppph...aw fuck it: Sweeney Todd.

Paul Cantelon - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Jonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood
Dario Marianelli - Atonement
Eddie Vedder, Michael Brook, Kaki King - Into The Wild

Matches with Oscar: 1/5, both agreeing on Dario Marianelli.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Clint Mansell (The Fountain); 2005: Mark Isham (Crash); 2004: Marcelo Zarvos (The Door in the Floor); 2003: Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King); 2002: Phillip Glass (The Hours); 2001: Angelo Badalamenti (Mulholland Dr.); 2000: Clint Mansell (Requiem For A Dream); 1999: Rachel Portman (The Cider House Rules); 1998: Randy Newman (Pleasantville).

Why These Five? Cantelon's score was sweet; Vedder's was soulful; Marianelli's burrowed into your brain and tinkered with your perceptions; Greenwood's sonic pressure caved in your skull, ten-pin style; and Cave and Ellis produced a score that, like the movie it served, was unexpectedly lush, riding the edge of those mournful violins but with an underlying vitality that sweeps it away into something vibrant.

Who Wins? The Assassination of Jesse James, by a lot.

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