There are a million different elements that go into making a movie. Some of the hardest work takes place off screen. We don’t get to experience the hard work of computer artist or sound technician the same way we experience a performance by a great actor. With that in mind I decided to highlight some of the Best Art and Technical Awards of 2012.
In its most basic form when you talk about a films Art Design you are referring to the look of the film. Often period pieces provide a distinct challenge for Art Designers. They have to mesh the look of the time period with the vision of the director. The Art Design of Les Misérables is big and bold. There are moments that are larger than life with vibrant colors juxtaposed with images or dread and despair. If it wasn’t for the tireless work of its Art Designers Les Misérables wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is.
Honorable Mentions: Lincoln, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Moonrise Kingdom, Prometheus
Life of Pie
I know a lot of film purest continue to have issues with CGI. They feel it makes filmmakers lazy and creates images that lack any sense of reality. I can see their point, but when CGI is used properly it can create some truly awesome imagery. No film better empathized that point than Life of Pie. It used computer graphics and new an interesting ways to create imagery that was striking and beautiful. It morphed nature into fantasy to create a dreamlike atmosphere. Those who argue the artistic merit of CGI where given the best response possible with the special effects of Life of Pie.
Honorable Mentions: Prometheus, The Avengers
Roger Deakins is one of the most respected Cinematographers working today, and casting him to shoot a Bond film was a stroke of genius. The Bond franchise has never been known for great Cinematography, perhaps now that will change after the success of Skyfall. All the action scenes were enhanced due to his ability to frame each moment. The silhouette fight sequence and the fiery finale are moments I go back to again in again. If this work doesn’t win him his first Oscar it will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in their history. Oscars aren’t everything, but there comes a time when someone like Deakins needs to be recognized.
Honorable Mentions: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Master, King of Devil’s Island
The Master is a film that never likes to let you to feel at ease. One big way it accomplishes that is the score by Jonny Greenwood. It does what a good score should and never overtakes the film, instead it emphasizes the emotions of the moment to make their impact even greater. Even the greatest composers tend to create scores that sound very similar. While it is far too soon to call Greenwood one of our greatest composers, everything he has done to this point has been unique and different.
Honorable Mentions: Beats of the Southern Wild, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Since I first heard Adele I have gravitated towards her music. Her style is timeless and could fit into almost any genre. Choosing her to do a Bond song was an obvious, but right choice. Luckily the final product did not disappoint. By keeping to the classic Bond theme as its backdrop it served as the perfect homage for Bond’s 50th Anniversary. I love how the song improves after watching Skyfall when you realize how the lyrics elegantly describe Bond’s journey. It has quickly become one of my favorite Bond songs of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Brave
I remember when I first saw an image of Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and didn’t realize at first I was looking at an actor portraying the character. Day-Lewis is a great actor, but he gets one hell of an assist with this make-up work. Often when someone is transformed into a historical figure the make-up work is overdone making the person look ridiculous. Here it has enough imperfection to it to make you forget your not actually looking at the real thing.
Best Sound Design:
When it comes to The Oscars and Sound Awards the loudest film tends to win. The reason I choose The Grey for best sound design is not because it blasts you with noise, but because of how well it uses sound to create tension. A big part of The Grey is a pack of wolves that are hunting a group of plane crash survivors. Sure we get the opportunity to see the wolves, but the moments that are the most effective are ones when we only hear them. By using sound the way it does it allows us to experience the tribulations of the characters in a more authentic way. Everything from a plane crash to a quiet moment of a man pondering his
own existence is enhanced by the Sound Design.
Honorable Mention: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers
Best Opening Title Sequence:
Some may look at this category as just another way to award Skyfall, but that’s honestly not the case. Opening Title Sequences are becoming a thing of the past so I enjoy a good one when I see one. For example, last year one of my favorites was Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. This year there weren’t many to choose from, but when a Bond film comes out you are almost guaranteed at least one good title sequence. Like the song for Skyfall the opening title sequence serves as an introduction into what we are about to see. It moves from one element to another seamlessly to provide us a peek into what we are about to experience.
Honorable Mention: Prometheus
Zero Dark Thirty
People talk about how movies follow trends, movie posters are even worse at committed that crime. Just look at the number of action movie posters with someone standing with their back facing you. There were dozens just this year. To me the one poster that stood out was perhaps the simplest one. It’s basic but brilliant. This is a poster that instantly grabs my curiously as I wonder what exactly is it trying to say. They could have easily gone with tantalizing image of Osama Bin Laden, but instead what they go with allows you to know they are treating this material with as much respect as possible.
Honorable Mentions: The Dark Night Rises, Wreck-It Ralph, Safety Not Guannteed
Lincoln was a movie I had mix feelings on, but even I can’t deny how strong this script was. With such a dialogue heavy film you need good writing to keep you engaged, and with heavy material like 19th century politics that challenge becomes much more difficult. Tony Kushner did a wonderful job adapting Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals novel to the big screen. Even when you are just watching people sitting in a room talking you can become engaged by the creative story telling.
Honorable Mentions: Moonrise Kingdom, Seven Psychopaths, Argo, Once Upon a Time In Anatolia