April 16, 2014

2012 Oscar Preview—Part Three: Apes vs. Wizards

The smart money’s on the apes…

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Will Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Should Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The smart money is on Apes. It won the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual-Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture (is it just me or is that kind of a long title?), not a terrible indicator. Not to mention its 8/11 odds on Gold Derby. However, no Harry Potter film has ever won Best Visual Effects. I know. So if there was ever a time to reward the whole series…

Apes really has some amazing, um, apes. And, once again, Andy Serkis proves that he’s worthy of an Oscar, but that all happens through collaboration with some amazing effects artists.

Animated Feature

A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

Will Win: Rango
Should Win: Rango

Critcs’ Choice and BAFTA went Rango, and the Globes went  Tintin, which ain’t an option here. Plus, like, 15 critics circles.

Rango is what would happen if the Coen brothers directed an animated film. Quirky, yet authentic, with the most distinct visual style I’ve seen in years.

Cinematography

The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Will Win: The Tree of Life
Should Win: The Tree of Life

Pretty much every critics circle plus the ASC have given Life the win. BAFTA went Artist, which I’d consider a mild spoiler.

It’s truly a glorious spectacle. Given that you pretty much have to abandon the search for a coherent narrative to get into Life‘s groove, it makes sense that it packs most of its discourse into its visuals.

Film Editing

The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball

Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: Hugo

The winner here is often a strong contender for Best Picture. Hugo and The Artist have the most nods, but The Artist got the Eddie.

I feel like Hugo had the most to juggle stylistically and tonally and, more often that not, those rhythms are defined by the editing.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants
Hugo
The Ides of March
Moneyball
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Will Win: The Descendants
Should Win: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Often, a likely Best Picture contender is the favorite here, which would lean more towards Hugo. However, The Descendants has 11 ciritics cirlce wins and a WGA award. Moneyball got the Critics’ Choice award plus seven other critics circle wins. And Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy got the BAFTA. Hugo ain’t got none o’ that. I’m going with Descendants, if for nothing else than it’s kind of the next most likely Best Picture win.

Moneyball is a brilliant blend of the styles of Sorkin and Zaillian, and given the source material, the narrative they cull is outstanding. That having been said, the film’s most salient features, its heart (its talking pie, if you will), come more from the masterful direction of Bennet Miller and some outstanding performances across the board. Just looking at the screenplay, I feel like Tinker accomplishes more, handling some difficult, counterintuitive material and making it effortlessly accessible and true. Both are amazing works and I’m having trouble choosing is what I’m saying.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist
Bridesmaids
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris
A Separation

Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Should Win: The Artist

With a WGA, Critics’ Choice, and a Golden Globe win, Paris seems like the obvious choice. Besides, when’s the last time the Academy has given Woody some love? (The answer would be 1987, when he won the same award for Hannah and Her Sisters.) As it turns out, he’s earned more Best Original Screenplay nods than anyone. 15 total. So, really, it’s just  law of averages after a while.

Normally this is where I’d bitch about 50/50 not being nominated, but The Artist is a truly outstanding screenplay. Visual storytelling starts on the page, and this one has it down cold.

Next: Which film will win Best Picture? The loving tribute to movies or the other loving tribute to movies?

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