Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LowRes 2011 Movie Awards: The Sights

The 2011 LowRes Movie Awards: 25 Amazing Moments / Best Trailers / Best Techs (Visual) / Best Techs (Audio) / Screenplays / Supporting Actor + Actress / Lead Actor + Actress / Breakthrough + Cameo + Ensemble / Top 10 Films

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meek's Cutoff
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The best editing of the year managed to enhance what was on the page and in the performances of the movies it served. Be it the unbearable suspense of Martha Marcy, the full-speed action of Hanna, or the accumulating dread of Contagion. I liked how the rhythms of Meek's Cutoff felt appropriately drawn out without losing interest in the characters or feeling like a stunt. And I admired how Tinker Tailor was able to hop to multiple characters and timelines, playing with a disorienting structure before ultimately tightening its focus like an assassin's scope.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Melancholia gets a nod for that unbearable wedding villa, feeling at once too busy (crowding Justine out of her own reception) and too sparse (so many places for her to hide!). Hugo probably has the most art direction, but I have to give credit for creating an entire ecosystem with that train station and making sure all the parts worked as a whole.

Hanna manages to juggle multiple locations -- tundra to desert, Tom Hollander's red-light dungeon to Cate Blanchett's clinical-grade bathroom -- and make each one feel specific and detailed, and though some found it a bit too VERY, I thought the Grimm's theme park finale was delicious.

Dragon Tattoo used art direction in tandem with cinematography and sound to create the coldest interiors I have seen in quite some time. And Tinker Tailor is an absolute wonderland of period detail, with gems hidden on every desktop, outdoor café, and upholstered wall.

The Adjustment Bureau
Higher Ground
Meek's Cutoff
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Young Adult

In many ways, The Adjustment Bureau IS its costume design, and the threads thankfully justify all the fuss made about them. I loved how everything Corrinne wore felt ill-fitting or out of place in Higher Ground. The same thing with Young Adult, really, plus how they made Patrick Wilson look positively dumpy, plus all of Mavis's trying-too-hard ensembles. Th prairie garb in Meek's felt utilitarian rather than show-offy. And my sweet lord, did the clothes on everybody in Mission: Impossible make them look like the most fuckable covert ops team in history. In a movie that was meant to maximize pleasure to all the senses, that's a big win.

Meek's Cutoff
My Week with Marilyn

Almost always, the Oscar nominations in this category are for old age (The Iron Lady and the unfortunate coda of Harry Potter, though thank God, they avoided the J. Edgar trap in this regard) or gender-swapping (Albert Nobbs). Which is all great. I decided to go with the wind-blasted faces of Meek's Cutoff or the clammy creep of disease in Contagion or the period-fantastic color pop in Hugo. Or how about just making Michelle Williams look as much like Marilyn Monroe as a woman who looks nothing like Marilyn Monroe can look. Or the eight layers of shellack on Cate Blanchett's monster face in Hanna. I could not mean that as more of a compliment.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Tree of Life

Harry Potter offered its usual very strong work particularly with that thrilling bank-vault chase and the gargantuan setpiece at the end. Planet of the Apes took performance capture to uncanny new levels of shifty eyes (even if I admit I'm cooler on the "OMG Andy Serkis BESSSSSST!" stuff than a lot of people). Brad Bird's first crack at the Mission: Impossible franchise featured some death defying skyscraper work, but the stuff that really dazzled me was the hallway hologram, which felt that Houdini gone digital.

The two most exciting effects work of the year came from captial-A Artistes Malick and Von Trier. Much as I found the big-bang-and-dinosaurs stuff in Tree of Life to be writing checks the rest of the movie couldn't cash, it was undeniably mesmerizing. And most of the reason while Melancholia -- a movie I didn't like when I saw it, and one which I still have lingering issues with -- has stayed with me for months has been the dazzling sights on display in its final moments. The world ending amid brilliant blue flame.

Luca Bigazzi - Certified Copy
Bobby Bukowski - Rampart
Robert Elswit - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Manuel Alberto Claro - Melancholia
Emmanuel Lubezki - Tree of Life

Every few years, Emmanuel Lubezki does work that gets near unanimous praise, fervent awards hope, and ultimately it loses out to something or another. I don't expect this year to be any different, but that doesn't diminish the work he's done. I'm certain I wouldn't have appreciated much of anything in Tree of Life (all that breathy narration!) were it not for the gorgeous pictures onscreen. Similarly, so much of my appreciation for Melancholia was tied up in visual spectacle. Rampart's murky moodiness and Certified Copy's playfully shifting perspectives are both reflected in their respective cinematography. And an expert like Robert Elswit took a big-budget sandbox like Mission: Impossible and somehow kept things from ever feeling impersonal.

1 comment:

DuchessKitty said...

Dude, we HAVE to get you on the AMPAS nominating committee! [and change the process of who nominates and votes]

Seriously, your choices here are spot on.