Tuesday, February 22, 2011

LowRes 2010 Movie Awards: The Sights

The 2010 LowRes Movie Awards: 30 Amazing Moments / Best Trailers / Best Techs (Visual) / Best Techs (Audio) / Screenplays + Director / Breakthrough + Ensemble + Cameo / Supporting Actor + Actress / Lead Actor + Actress / Top 10 Films

THE TECH AWARDS! Everyone's favorite part of movie awards! ...Look, it's not sexy, but the more I have watched movies over the years, the more I've become an actual grown-up and realized that these things don't spring fully formed from the actors, or even the director. My vocabulary and knowhow isn't quite there to explain WHY the sound design of Inception was so impressive, but for the time being, I knows it when I sees it.

Anyway, here's how my Oscar ballot would look, were I to be given one like I should. The visual-based techs are in this post, the audio-based techs will be in my next post. Read and discuss!

Animal Kingdom
Another Year
Rabbit Hole

I look to the editors to keep me from being bored by the familiar rhythms of a movie about, say, grieving parents. I look to the editors to keep me in a tight, cramped ball of tension while I wait for criminals to get the drop on an innocent. I look to the editors to make sense out of the kind of wartime chaos that men can barely hope to survive, much less understand. I look to the editors to give the movies a sense of time -- both its passing, from season to season across a year; and also its slowing down, grinding to an artificial halt. I look to the editors to remind me that that van is still falling off the bridge exactly when I need reminding.

Black Swan
Never Let Me Go
Please Give
Winter's Bone

So when did I get so enamored with the blacks and greys in art direction? Didn't I used to love the bright, colorful Wes Anderson diorama-scapes? I guess in a year where even Alice in Wonderland went dank and murky, I was bound to choose from a field of run-down set design. Of course, the difference is that Alice looked awful, while I will never think "ugly" when I imagine the schizophrenic clash of Nina's mother's apartment in Black Swan, or the detritus-strewn lawns in Winter's Bone. Or how Please Give puts so much thought into how what we give away speaks about us. Meanwhile, Never Let Me Go and Inception evoke the all-too-real within genres that suggest the implausible.

Black Swan
The Kids Are All Right
The Runaways

Sometimes a film's costume design is summed up by one look -- Nina Sayers's final costume as the black swan. Other times it's a more modest, but no less perfect, encapsulation of an entire cast of characters, like Whole Foods ensembles in The Kids Are All Right. I'm still kind of buzzing over how amazing the entire cast of Inception looked in those grey suits during the middle dream (the one in the hotel). Or how solidly the glam costumes in The Runaways were rooted in the time period and not some fantasy land. Of course, sometimes fantasy land is what we want, and for that we look to the gaudy-upon-gaudy of Burlesque.

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Crazies
The Way Back

There's a lot of makeup being used to evoke distress among these five films. Whether it be James Franco's increasingly desperate pallor in 127 Hours, or the way that the protagonists start to resemble the Crazies they're running from, even if it's only our paranoia that's telling us so. Or just the grimy grossness of pretty much everything in The Way Back, a movie that made me want to crawl up into the way back of a tube of Crest. Of course, sometimes makeup is just what we use to make scary (or misunderstood) monsters, like the exquisitely rendered Dren in Splice. Or every single thing that sprouts out of Natalie Portman in Black Swan. What puts the Swan over the top, though, is the way the makeup serves to increasingly, gradually, make Portman and Mila Kunis look so scarily alike.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The Social Network

Ah, visual effects. The place where we get to tip our hats to movies we hate, which is why a Transformers will almost always end up on the Oscar ballot and ruin the lives of well-meaning people who try to see all the Oscar-nominated movies before the ceremony. My own version of this is evident in tipping the hat to Scott Pilgrim, a movie that utilized its special effects as a bludgen to the senses, but I can't deny that the effects themselves were impressive. Similarly, I may not have loved The Social Network, but like everybody else, I thought the Armie Hammer face-dancing was great. I spoke above about how great I thought the abomination against God looked in Splice. And obviously Inception, which stressed the "reality" part of "dream reality" to powerful effect.

Adam Kimmel - Never Let Me Go
Matthew Libatique - Black Swan
Michael McDonough - Winter's Bone
Wally Pfister - Inception
Harris Savides - Somewhere

Look, I realize that no one in Hollywood thought their idea of a good time this year would be to lounge around with Sofia Coppola and watch life pass by your fixed gaze, but could nobody appreciate how achingly fucking GORGEOUS Harris Savides's camerawork was? Not even for a token nomination? Then again, that would have to begin with the Academy knowing who Harris Savides even is. They also might want to do a quick Wikipedia search on Adam Kimmel, because after Jesus' Son and Capote, he probably deserved a little consideration for the chilly reticence that I thought served Never Let Me Go so well. At least they finally recognized how talented Matthew Libatique is now that Aronofsky has nailed down a Best Picture nominee.


Danny said...

"What puts the Swan over the top, though, is the way the makeup serves to increasingly, gradually, make Portman and Mila Kunis look so scarily alike."

Seriously! In the pic you posted I had to do a double take to confirm that it was really Portman there. Very cool.

jessica said...

Loved this piece, Joe. Very insightful on the categories, but also very accessible.

I'm interested in your thoughts on Rabbit Hole, since you've mentioned it twice so far in these posts and it sounds like you found it almost as moving as I did.

Joe Reid said...

Stay tuned for more on Rabbit Hole...