The Oscars 2014: Tech Categories & Their Importance

Like it is every year… the tech awards are important, outside of the fact that these elements in film are crucial to the overall product of the film, but they also can dictate the fate of other categories at the latter end of the show.  When ARGO won Editing and Screenplay last year, it was certain that Picture was theirs.  When films like TITANIC or LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING swept almost every technical category, it was almost certain that the evening would end on their terms.

The tricky thing about this year’s Oscar race is that there are so many films that are in the hunt, that even if a film dominates early on (a la GRAVITY or AMERICAN HUSTLE) a film like 12 YEARS A SLAVE can still take the big prize, considering that has been the established precedent for this entire awards run.  Golden Globes, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, PGA (tie) – they all have handed other films more awards but still presented the biggest and most important category to 12 YEARS.  This is a year where anything can happen, and even if a film starts sweeping early (which GRAVITY will definitely do), that isn’t necessarily an indication that we can call it an evening an hour in.

BEST EDITING

This is a category that usually goes in hand with the winner of Best Picture, but not always a certainty.  In some years, the category is crucial, but in a year like this, it’s difficult to exactly decipher its meaning.  The favorite at this very moment is CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, winning an Eddie, and easily the most showiest of edited films.  If Gravity wins, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to take Best Picture, as it was a favorite not so long ago.  The bigger tells would be if 12 YEARS or AMERICAN HUSTLE winning, especially the latter.  If AH somehow pulls this out, it’d be a potential spoiler for the rest of the evening.

Predicted Winner: Captain Phillips
Dark Horse: Gravity
If I Had A Vote: Gravity

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

I feel bad for Roger Deakins.  What does the man have to do to get his incredibly overdue Oscar?  In any other year, I’d say PRISONERS easily the most enhanced through its cinematography, easily creating the tense and darkening world, making the film much better.  But with Emmanuel Lubeski’s groundbreaking work, it’s easy to call this category.  Anyone else winning would be a complete shock.

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Dark Horse: Inside Llewyn Davis
If I Had A Vote: Gravity

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

This is one of those categories that will most likely mean nothing in foreshadowing future categories, but I think if GRAVITY beats THE GREAT GATSBY (favorite), then we’re going to see a sweep of sorts, including Picture and Director.

Predicted Winner: The Great Gatsby
Dark Horse: Gravity
If I Had A Vote: Her

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

This is another category that has a clear favorite, but if AH or 12 YEARS somehow surprise here, I think it’d be quite telling.  I think the only other nominee that stands a chance against THE GREAT GATSBY is AH, and if it does sneak up and win, watch out…

Predicted Winner: The Great Gatsby
Dark Horse: American Hustle
If I Had A Vote: The Great Gatsby

BEST SOUND MIXING & SOUND EDITING

Not even close.

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Dark Horse: Lone Survivor
If I Had A Vote: Gravity

The Oscars 2014: The Hair Pulling Will Come To An End

All things lead to the Oscars, and with this incredibly beautiful and amazing year of films, we can finally conclude this epic chase that’s started since Cannes… until Cannes comes again in May.  But let this be told, this has been a race that has been very unique, mysterious, and simply, too difficult to decipher.  From the precursors being unable to find unanimously crown a victor to the three headed race we’ve had since December in regards to Best Picture, this is a year that closely resembles 2000 when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Traffic, and Gladiator all came to throw punches.  There’s a huge amount of disparity happening through this year’s journey, and the Academy will most likely (well at least what everyone has been predicting) break traditional and usual voting behaviors, and if that’s the case, it’ll be quite the night this Sunday.

There’s so much to discuss, and so much to write about, but at this very moment, we’ll just talk about each category and my predictions for the evening.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Predicted Winner: The Voorman Problem

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Predicted Winner: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

Predicted Winner: Get A Horse!

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The original song category is quite the lineup.  Disregarding the controversy of one nominee being disqualified, the rest are all pretty up to par, with Pharrell, Idina Menzel, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and U2 all scheduled to perform.  “Let It Go” has been the favorite ever since FROZEN was released, and it most likely will win.  But it does have a few notable challengers including U2 and Pharrell, who seems to have a hot hand currently.  It’s still an easy choice to go with “Let It Go”, but don’t be surprised if someone else comes up to accept the award.

Predicted Winner: “Let It Go” –Frozen
Dark Horse: “Ordinary Love” –U2
If I Had A Vote: “Let It Go” –Frozen

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Another category with a clear favorite, Stephen Price’s score for GRAVITY was genius and coherent with the film’s journey, and it should have an easy path to the Oscar, something GRAVITY will do many times that night.

Predicted Winner: Gravity
Dark Horse: Philomena
If I Had A Vote: Her

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

I’m a little annoyed with this category as I felt three immaculate foreign films weren’t nominated: THE LUNCHBOX, THE PAST, and THE BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR (on technicality).  But the category is coming down to two films: THE GREAT BEAUTY and THE HUNT.  I don’t think the Academy can ignore Fellini, but THE HUNT making a surprise win wouldn’t be a shocker.

Predicted Winner: The Great Beauty
Dark Horse: The Hunt
If I Had A Vote: Omar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Another category that I felt left out some amazing pieces of work (BLACKFISH, STORIES WE TELL), this is a difficult category to predict mainly because almost each nominated film could potentially win.  Documentary is a very challenging award mainly because there’s a certain rule in its voting realm, and in the past, the Academy rarely goes with acclaimed favorite.  THE ACT OF KILLING is the most profound piece capturing the horrors of the human spirit, but with it’s challenging material, I don’t know if voters would gravitate towards a film like that, even though it’s the most deserving in my opinion.  The documentary that seems most appealing to voters is 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, and if we’re going with traditional mindsets, then yes, that’d be the choice.  But you can’t ignore the quite appropriate THE SQUARE or DIRTY WARS.  It’s definitely a category that will come down to a close vote, and in the end, it seems the lighthearted film will appease the Academy.

Predicted Winner: 20 Feet From Stardom
Dark Horse: The Act of Killing
If I Had A Vote: The Act of Killing

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Another category that has a clear favorite, FROZEN (slightly overrated), has swept most, if not all, animated wins throughout the awards circuit.  There’s been a quiet campaign for THE WIND RISES, Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, which caps the ambitious and illustrious career for the Japanese animator, but FROZEN’s a force to be reckoned with.

Predicted Winner: Frozen
Dark Horse: The Wind Rises
If I Had A Vote: Frozen

*Tomorrow will be the tech categories.

 

 

IRA GLASS Has A Message

The creative life is never an easy one, and everyday, you spent countless hours doubting, struggling, and in fear of your work being completely worthless and a waste of time.  Everyday I write, and most of the time, I feel like my product is bland.  It’s normal and usual, and will sit in the piles and piles of endless whites of paper, never separating itself.  I fight this battle within everyday to just quit, to find a job, make money, and start imagining a life where what I want to do won’t be what I actually do.  For every success story, you see hundreds, if not thousands, of failures, people trying to do reach their goals but falling short.  I find reasons to stop, to step away, and to be “responsible”.  This battle is excruciating and exhausting, and really brings out the worst in yourself.

I met with a fellow screenwriter a few weeks ago, and he stated something simple but yet important.

Our biggest hurdle and our toughest battle is the one with ourselves.

It takes persistence, patience, and exceptional motivation to pursue this.  You wake up every morning with no job, no money, no security, and use that as motivation.  I think about my current situation, and almost every time, they contribute into the conversation of why I should leave this path, struggling so hard for only four months.  A year?  Two years?  Five?  One can only imagine the upward trail that seems like it’ll never end.  But that’s the beauty of life, or at least a creative life, to never see your accomplishments as the plateau or the peak, but to further push yourself into pursuing that climb and to never settle.  No job, no money, and no security.  Use it to make you better.  Use it to make you work harder.  Use it to get you where you want to be.  These are the things I have to tell myself every single day to keep fighting on.

 

2014 CHALLENGE: 150 Films in 365 Days

After  a few months of pondering, I realized that there are a lot of films that I have never seen or even given an opportunity to see that would be a terrible crime or foul.  When you see the list, there will be movies where one would ask how has anyone NOT seen this?  And as a lover of cinema and all things movies, I cannot justify this anymore.  So I created a list of 150 films that I have never seen, I can’t remember at all, or I have seen in a few bits but never got a legitimate impression.  How did I choose this list?  Most likely the least scientific method, but I used perceived classics, AFI 100, Empire 500 Movies of All-Time, Award winners, and pop culture classics that I should have seen at least once.

There are still tons of other films that I have not seen and must, but this is a list that I think I can do in one calendar year.  By the end of 2014, I hope that I can cross of every one on this list.  I have already seen the first three in DO THE RIGHT THING, BOYZ N’ THE HOOD, and MENACE II SOCIETY.  Granted, I watched these three for research for a screenplay I’m working on right now, but I must say, that was the peak of urban black cinema.  Fruitvale Station got back its roots, but to think these three films came at a time it did… it’s shocking.  I laud filmmakers and producers for having the courage and audacity to create something as profound and prolific as these three films.

DO THE RIGHT THING (****)
MENACE II SOCIETY (***1/2)
BOYZ N’ THE HOOD (***)

Here is the list of 150 film challenge.  And if you have other films that you think should be part of this list, please, feel free to comment below.

  1. Do The Right Thing
  2. Menace II Society
  3. Boyz N The Hood
  4. Schindler’s List
  5. 12 Angry Men
  6. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  7. Goodfellas
  8. Casablanca
  9. Psycho
  10. Vertigo
  11. Apocalypse Now
  12. North By Northwest
  13. Taxi Driver
  14. Raging Bull
  15. A Clockwork Orange
  16. Reservoir Dogs
  17. Lawrence of Arabia
  18. Full Metal Jacket
  19. All About Eve
  20. Snatch
  21. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  22. Unforgiven
  23. Chinatown
  24. On The Waterfront
  25. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
  26. Casino
  27. The Deer Hunter
  28. Annie Hall
  29. Platoon
  30. Network
  31. Dog Day Afternoon
  32. The Graduate
  33. Singin’ In The Rain
  34. Some Like It Hot
  35. The Grapes of Wrath
  36. Bonnie and Clyde
  37. Midnight Cowboy
  38. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  39. The Apartment
  40. The French Connection
  41. Taxi to the Dark Side
  42. Mary Poppins
  43. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
  44. It’s A Wonderful Life
  45. Days of Heaven
  46. Jaws
  47. A Streetcar Named Desire
  48. Double Indemnity
  49. The Big Lebowski
  50. Hoop Dreams
  51. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Frost
  52. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  53. Manhattan
  54. Muholland Drive
  55. Dr. Strangelove
  56. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  57. National Lampoon’s Animal House
  58. Seven Samurai
  59. Spirited Away
  60. Sixteen Candles
  61. Gandhi
  62. Dazed and Confused
  63. A Separation
  64. Fight Club
  65. Groundhog Day
  66. Rudy
  67. Election
  68. The 400 Blows
  69. Being John Malkovich
  70. Three Colors: Blue
  71. Three Colors: White
  72. Three Colors: Red
  73. The Squid and the Whale
  74. Sense & Sensibility
  75. Synecdoche, New York
  76. Sex, Lies, and Videotape
  77. Sideways
  78. The Fog of War
  79. The Sting
  80. The Lives of Others
  81. Amelie
  82. The Seventh Seal
  83. The Class
  84. The Fountain
  85. Swingers
  86. 12 Monkeys
  87. Top Gun
  88. The Secret In Their Eyes
  89. High Fidelity
  90. Batman (Tim Burton’s Original)
  91. Garden State
  92. Four Weddings & A Funeral
  93. Shaun of the Dead
  94. Clerks
  95. Layer Cake
  96. Scarface
  97. The Virgin Suicides
  98. Field of Dreams
  99. The Blues Brothers
  100. The Verdict
  101. Out of Sight
  102. Downfall
  103. Cinema Paradiso
  104. Brokeback Mountain
  105. Ghostbusters
  106. United 93
  107. Dirty Harry
  108. Sophie’s Choice
  109. Dances With Wolves
  110. The Princess Bride
  111. When Harry Met Sally
  112. Donnie Darko
  113. 8 1/2
  114. Blade Runner
  115. Back To The Future
  116. Once Upon A Time In The West
  117. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  118. Animal Kingdom
  119. The Intouchables
  120. The Fighter
  121. Behind The Candelabra
  122. The Guard
  123. In Bruges
  124. I Saw The Devil
  125. Capote
  126. Upstream Colour
  127. Primer
  128. Kramer vs. Kramer
  129. The Insider
  130. Wag The Dog
  131. The People vs. Larry Flynt
  132. Adaptation
  133. The Color Purple
  134. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
  135. The English Patient
  136. The Imposter
  137. Searching for Sugar Man
  138. Aguirre: The Wrath of God
  139. Memories of Murder
  140. La Dolce Vita
  141. A Prophet
  142. Hunger
  143. Incendies
  144. The White Ribbon
  145. Amores Perros
  146. Infernal Affairs
  147. Punch-Drunk Love
  148. Malcolm X
  149. Stand By Me
  150. M*A*S*H