Thursday, January 17, 2008

OscarBlog Part 2 - By the Look of It

It may not be as exciting as the acting categories, but the technical categories are a lot more difficult to predict when it comes to the nominations. This will be the first of two entries covering the technical categories in this overall five-part series of Oscar blogs. This first grouping will cover the six categories that pertain to what the audience sees, and the second grouping will cover sound and music. In the interest of brevity, I won't bother with any kind of clever intro.

The nominees will be...

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Roger Deakins
Atonement - Seamus McGarvey
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men - Roger Deakins
There Will Be Blood - Robert Elswitt

This list matches the films nominated by the American Society of Cinematographers. The only first-time nominee would be Seamus McGarvey, but the long single-take steadicam sequence that follows James McAvoy through the ruins in Atonement is enough to solidify his nomination. The only one who's won before is Janusz Kaminski (for both Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, with an additional nomination for Amistad) and from what I understand he's expected to win again this year.
If Roger Deakins manages the double nomination it will be the first time in 26 years (Robert Surtees was nominated for both The Last Picture Show and Summer of '42, and lost to Oswald Morris for Fiddler on the Roof). Deakins is bound to win one of these days though. having already accumulated five very impressive nominations (The Man Who Wasn't There, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Kundun, Fargo and The Shawshank Redemption). Robert Elswitt's only nomination to date occurred two years ago for Good Night and Good Luck.

Other cinematographers who stand a good chance of making this list include Dariusz Wolski for Sweeney Todd, Eric Gautier for Into the Wild and Roberto Schaefer for The Kite Runner, with an outside chance for Edward Lachman for I'm Not There.

Atonement - Paul Tothill
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Juliette Welfling
Michael Clayton - John Gilroy
No Country for Old Men - Roderick Jaynes
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Chris Lebenzon

Roderick Jaynes is actually a pseudonym created by the Coen Brothers to credit themselves as editors on all their films, and were once nominated for editing eleven years ago for Fargo. The only other film editor listed above with previous Oscar nominations is Chris Lebenzon for Crimson Tide and Top Gun. Interesting note: John Gilroy is the younger brother of Michael Clayton's writer/director Tony Gilroy (who also wrote all three Bourne films) and John's twin brother Dan Gilroy wrote Two for the Money and is married to Rene Russo.

This category usually matches up pretty well with Best Picture (which I'll cover in the final installment of this series) and all of the above films are in the running for the big prize. Other films that have good chances of earning a film editing nomination are The Bourne Ultimatum, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood and 3:10 to Yuma. Some films with smaller chances are Gone Baby Gone, Eastern Promises and I'm Not There.


Atonement - Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Guy Dyas and Richard Roberts
The Golden Compass - Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd - Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood - Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson

The majority of these contenders have been nominated before for other pictures. The Atonement production team was nominated for Pride & Prejudice, which the last film from Atonement director Joe Wright. The production designer for The Golden Compass won this award sixteen years ago for Bugsy the same year he was also nominated for his work on Barton Fink. The team that worked on Sweeney Todd has been nominated seven times, mostly for work on Scorsese films, and won recently for The Aviator. It would be the first nomination for the design teams for Elizabeth and There Will Be Blood.
All of these teams have been nominated this year for the Art Directors Guild, which nominates five films in three categories (Period, Fantasy and Contemporary). With the exception of Fantasy nominee The Golden Compass, all of the above listed films are in the Period category. American Gangster is the fifth nominee in the Period category, and could very well steal a spot here from Elizaebeth. I don't see any of the other Fantasy nominees earning an Oscar nod except for perhaps Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End since Dead Man's Chest was nominated in this category last year. If any of the Contemporary nominees were to make the cut, it would most likely be The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or No Country for Old Men, with an outside chance for The Kite Runner.

Films that didn't receive a guild nomination that I think still have a chance of getting nominated here would be Across the Universe, Hairspray and (most deserving of all) Stardust.

Atonement - Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Alexandra Byrne
Enchanted - Mona May
La Vie en Rose - Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Colleen Atwood

This will be the first and last nomination for Marit Allen, who passed away in November because of a brain aneurysm. Her impressive 18 year career in film also included costume design for (among many other films) Brokeback Mountain, Eyes Wide Shut, The Secret Garden, Little Shop of Horrors and last year's Love in the Time of Cholera. The only other first-timer on this list is Mona May. Colleen Atwood is the only one previous winner (for both Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago, among four additional nominations in her career). Jacqueline Durran has one prior nomination for Pride & Prejudice, and Alexandra Byrne has three with Finding Neverland, Elizabeth and Hamlet (the Kenneth Branagh version).

Once again these designers are also nominated in their guild, and the Costume Designers Guild separates the films the same way as the Art Directors Guild. Also once again they are all in the Period category save one, with Enchanted of course being in Fantasy. The other film nominated in Period is 3:10 to Yuma which may end up splitting votes with the more artsy The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I don't see any of the other Guild nominees making their way onto the Oscar ballot.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sweeney Todd is a given. I'm picking Norbit since the Academy voters seem to love them some latex (hence a nomination for Click last year). Three years ago the foreign film The Sea Inside was nominated for this award, and that film is sort of the anti-Diving Bell (similar situation but without being uplifting). Other potential nominees include 300, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, La Vie en Rose and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Both of the other Pirates installments were nominated so I don't see why they'd leave out its conclusion, Transformers is the kind of movie this category was made for, and 300 was easily one of the most visually dynamic films of the year. Other potential nominees include The Bourne Ultimatum, Evan Almighty, The Golden Compass and I Am Legend.


Red said...

Wow. I feel like I'm learning things this week :)

I think Atonement will win a lot of these awards because it was so visually stunning. Seriously, that dress!!!

JD said...

All of these are tough choices to make. This is going to be very hard.

Liz said...

You actually made the technology categories sound interesting :-)

JG said...

In my mind, the only way Deakins doesn't win this year is if he ends up with a double-nomination split vote. No Country for Old Men is an easy opportunity for voters to honor his career achievement.