Sunday, January 31, 2010

LowRes 2009 Movie Awards: Part 6, The Sights and Sounds

My look back at the best of 2009 (and my semi-sad fantasia of If I Had an Oscar Ballot) continues with a look at the technical categories.

Previously: 25 Best Moments; Worst Movies/Performances; Best Trailers; Best Supporting Actors; Screenplays, Etc., Lead Actors

House of the Devil
The Hurt Locker
Where the Wild Things Are

Admittedly, editing isn't a field I have a ton of experience with. Rather than get all "I knows it when I sees it," I'll say that the editing I respond to keeps long movies (Julia) or sparse movies (Moon) from feeling draggy. Or it contributes to some especially impressive tension (House of the Devil; The Hurt Locker). And sometimes I act like the Academy and simply decide that a movie I really, really loved was edited really, really well.

Bright Star
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Where the Wild Things Are

I know at least four of these movies, maybe all five, all have LOTS of art direction, but this year, at least, more meant better. Certainly the art direction was the best thing about the hit-or-miss Watchmen. And I'd be disappointed if Wes Anderson didn't deliver a movie where the art direction wasn't meticulous. My favorite might be Coraline, though, and the shifting look of the alternate universe, from familiar to terrifyingly foreign.

Click below for costumes, makeup, sound, and visual effects...

Bright Star
The Brothers Bloom
An Education
Inglorious Basterds
A Single Man

Let's hear it for the unself-conscious '60s mod designs in An Education, the homemade dresses in Bright Star, the out-of-time stylish threads in The Brothers Bloom, Melanie Laurent's red dress and the feather in Diane Kruger's cap in Inglorious Basterds, and of course everything on everyone (most especially gaudy pinky fuzzy sweaters) in Tom Ford's A Single Man.

District 9
Drag Me to Hell
The Road
Whip It!

I'll give the makeup people credit for how utterly filthy I felt after seeing The Road, for the decrepit old lady in Drag Me to Hell, the icky transitional phase in District 9, the war paint in Whip It!, and the surprise of that big cameo in Zombieland.

District 9
The Hurt Locker
Where the Wild Things Are

Again, I'm not an expert in movie sound. But I do find it to be an essential component of top-notch action movies like Avatar and (my personal choice for best action movie of the year) District 9. And I really loved the way the melancholy voices in Where the Wild Things Are mixed and mingled.

District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Where the Wild Things Are

Avatar had all those blue things, if you recall (though what impressed me more were those jungle environs on Pandora), while District 9 placed its aliens in a grimy real-world environment. Everything in Watchmen felt of a whole piece, including incredibly wild CGI feats like Dr. Manhattan.

Coming on Monday: My Top 10 movies of the year...

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