TECH SUPPORT: Final preview special, part two

Posted by · 3:49 pm · January 21st, 2009

Tech Support at In ContentionThis is part two of my last glance at the year’s tech category contenders.  For part one, click here.

Best Music (Original Score)
Now here is a category where there are no locks. Nonetheless, considering the success of their films and scores in awards season to date, A.R. Rahmen (for “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Alexandre Desplat (for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) seem solid bets.

Thomas Newman, despite only having a BAFTA nomination to his credit so far in the awards season, often scores when the precursors don’t coming calling so I think he’s in for “WALL-E.” Alternatively, he could get in for “Revolutionary Road.”

The rest of the Golden Globe nominees strike me as facing challenges. Clint Eastwood has performed well this season with “Changeling” but I am doubtful he will ever be embraced by the music branch. James Newton Howard’s compositions for “Defiance” may be lost with his film while Hans Zimmer’s Globe citation for “Frost/Nixon” seems more like a tribute to the composer, a Globe favorite.

I would actually wager that Zimmer and Howard have a better opportunity with their fantastic “The Dark Knight” collaboration. Zimmer has been campaigning hard. Even so, I’m skeptical the duo will score. Co-composers receiving Oscar nominations is extremely rare. (Though, in all fairness, so is co-composing.)

Nico Muhy also should not be ruled out for his hauntingly memorable compositions for “The Reader.” That said, that first nomination is often a struggle.

Rather, I think that Danny Elfman still can find a home in this category for “Milk,” just as he did for Gus Van Sant’s last Best Picture nominee. The tunes were memorable and the film seems headed for a Best Picture citation.

To round out the category, I’d look to the man you should never bet against: John Williams for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” But despite almost invariably being nominated in years in which he is eligible, this nonetheless strikes me as his weakest chance in an eligible year in all the years I’ve been observing the Oscars. The film is not loved, the score hasn’t received precursor attention and we’ve heard these melodies before. Usually, these factors don’t present problems when the person in question is John Williams. But all of them working against him? Still, my money is on him.

Predictions:
“The Curious case of Benjamin Button”
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
“Milk”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“WALL-E”

Best Music (Original Song)
Another category with no locks. Even so, it would be shocking to see Bruce Springsteen miss for his brilliant title track for “The Wrestler.” He has everything going for him – great film, great song, perfectly fitting the film, Obama-endorsing attention and precursor citations.

Peter Gabriel has failed to follow up his Golden Globe nominations for either “Rabbit-Proof Force” or “The Last Temptation of Christ” with an Oscar nomination. Moreover, the new rules for Best Original Song make it more difficult for a tune which does not play within the actual film. That said, this is such a great song, from such a great movie, that it has to be nominated, in my opinion.

A.R. Rahman’s second chance for an Oscar nomination this year comes in this category for “Jai Ho.” Meaning “Be Victorious” in English, it is difficult to conceive of a more appropriate ending to the movie. I think he is heading toward double nominations this year.

You know when you’re six or seven and in the grocery store with your mom? And there is an artist playing who is “the shit” of the moment and for whatever reason you remember him. And the next thing you know his daughter is a star? Welcome to my world. An Oscar nomination for Miley Cyrus would make me feel old. And it would also remind me that I’m an Oscar-watching veteran of sorts, having watched the golden boy handed out for more than a decade. Whatever…the song “I Thought I’d Lost You” is a way to recogonize both Cyrus and John Travolta and the charming film that is “Bolt.” I think it’s headed for a nomination.

It is, of course, possible, that the music branch, chooses to confine this year’s nominees to just three or four song, at which point, I’d suspect the analysis I’ve already gone through would be sufficient. But in the event that there are five nominees, I’d wager that it’s finally Clint Eastwood’s time to shine musically. His song for “”Gran Torino” plays appropriately over the end credits and I feel that it is more likely the music branch would throw him a bone here than in the original score field.

The alternatives strike me as too silly (like “Dracula’s Lament” from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” from “Hamlet 2”), too forgettable (such as “The Call” from “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and “Up to Our Nex” from “Rachel Getting Married”), indistinguishable from other songs in the film (the tunes from “High School Musical 3”) or indistinguishable from other songs in the series (like “Another Way to Die” from “Quantum of Solace”).

Predictions:
“I Thought I Lost You” from “Bolt”
“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”
“The Wrestler” from “The Wrestler”

Best Sound Editing
Without the benefit of the bake-off, this has become a much more difficult category to predict. Nevertheless, in the two years we’ve seen five nominees pop up here, four of the five have come from the sound mixing nominees.

So I think that (seemingly) surefire mixing contenders “Iron Man,” “WALL-E” and, to a lesser extent, “The Dark Knight” are shoo-ins in this category.

Simply listening to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” suggests that it is a very solid bet in this category, especially considering the last two nominees here that missed for sound mixing were Best Picture nominees: “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “There Will Be Blood.”

I still think the last slot in this category will go to “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” For all my problems with the movie (and I’ll admit to having many), the sound effects were superb. Moreover, this was the one category that “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” managed to win. In any event, with the exception of “The Terminal,” all Spielberg films since “Always” have received at least one nomination and this seems this entry’s most likely citation.

As alternatives, I would not be surprised to see “Quantum of Solace,” “Valkyrkie,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” “Defiance” or even “Slumdog Millionaire” (by virtue of a sweep) show up.

Predictions:
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
“Iron Man”
“WALL-E”

Best Sound Mixing
CAS nominees “WALL-E” (the first Pixar film to score with the guild), “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” seem destined for Oscar attention.

After guild and BAFTA nods, I also think “Slumdog Millionaire” will find itself a nominee come Thursday. Admittedly, it fits the mould of a “guild-but-not-Oscar” nominee very well. However, the likely Best Picture winner seems poised for a healthy nod tally.

“Quantum of Solace” managed to find a home with CAS even though “Casino Royale,” with its very impressive guild tally, did not. That said, I seriously doubt that this is the movie to bring Bond back to a sound nomination after almost four decades of absence.

Rather, I think that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is the film that seems most likely to complete the quintet, with its combination of music, battle scenes and Best Picture contention.

The other distinct possibility, in my opinion, is “Defiance” and its war-time action.  Edward Zwick films have a great track record in his category. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Australia” also all strike me as possible.

Predictions:
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“WALL-E”

Best Visual Effects
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Iron Man” are as locked as can be in this category. The question is what will join them.

I find it difficult to imagine that “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” will manage to score where its better-received predecessors did not, while I’m surprised that “Australia” has even made it this far.

The increase in love for Guillermo Del Toro (as well as the VES nominations) may make “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” a more plausible alternative but I still think that love for Christopher Nolan and “The Dark Knight” will carry the film through here. It is true that the film relies heavily on traditional special effects as opposed to CGI (which has been preferred in this category in recent years), and it is thus the weak link, but its competition looks even weaker.

If there is a spoiler, I’d turn my attention to “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” 3-D can’t be easy to pull off…

Predictions:
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”

So…what are YOUR predictions in the 10 tech categories?  Tell us in the comments section below!




→ 9 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Tech Support

9 responses so far

  • 1 1-21-2009 at 4:04 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    No friggin’ way will Indiana Jones be nominated for Best Original Score. I don’t care if it’s John Williams, most people hated the movie and are not going to put a composition that already won the Oscar more than twenty-five years ago that high on their preferential ballot. They’re more likely to think of the frighting Joker theme and place Zimmer and Howard in that spot instead.

    Not a bad set of predictions for Best Original Song, though I would add Regina Spektor’s “The Call” from Prince Caspian in there also. Yes, I liked it. I thought it was a pretty song. There’s nothing wrong with a man admitting that!

    For the sound awards, I would also (perhaps futilely) beat the drums for The Wrestler. One of the film’s biggest strengths (of many) was how well it sounded, especially the matches.

    I agree with everything you wrote about Best Visual Effects.

  • 2 1-21-2009 at 4:09 pm

    Chris said...

    I have to admit, I’d be surprised if The Dark Knight didn’t make it in the score and Indiana Jones did. The music in Indy 4 sounded the same as the previous three, and already won the Oscar for Raiders back in 81. I have a feeling The Dark Knight will get in.

  • 3 1-21-2009 at 4:17 pm

    Andre said...

    it’s actually “Rabbit-Proof Fence”, even though “Rabbit-Proof Force” WOULD be the most awesome comic book superhero team EVER!!

    =]

    The one score I really loved this year was Danny Elfman’s work in Standard Operating Procedure… I’m a film score geek and I got many of these year’s on my iPod, but that seems to be the only one I keep listening to.

    And I also really liked “Little Person” from “Synecdoche, NY”.

  • 4 1-21-2009 at 4:25 pm

    N8 said...

    I’ve already made this call in the “out of left field” thread, but I’m getting a tickling suspicion that “Bolt” will surprise in Sound Editing.

    It’s not likely, what with Ben Burtt’s work on “WALL-E” looking to be the animated nominee in this field, but Randy Thom has been nominated a number of times for animated films in the past (and even won for “The Incredibles”), and I think his sound design for “Bolt” is one of the film’s best assets.

    Aside from that one daring prediction, I’m playing it safe:

    BEST FILM EDITING
    Slumdog Millionaire
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Milk
    Frost/Nixon
    The Dark Knight

    BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Dark Knight
    The Reader
    Revolutionary Road
    Slumdog Millionaire

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Defiance
    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Wall-E

    BEST ART DIRECTION
    Changeling
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Dark Knight
    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    Milk

    BEST COSTUME DESIGN
    Australia
    Changeling
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Duchess
    Revolutionary Road

    BEST ORIGINAL SONG
    “Down to Earth” – Wall-E
    “Gran Torino” – Gran Torino
    “I Thought I Lost You” – Bolt
    “Jai Ho” – Slumdog Millionaire
    “The Wrestler” – The Wrestler

    BEST SOUND MIXING
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Dark Knight
    Iron Man
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Wall-E

    BEST SOUND EDITING
    Bolt
    The Dark Knight
    Iron Man
    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    Wall-E

    BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Dark Knight
    Iron Man

    BEST MAKEUP
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    Tropic Thunder

  • 5 1-21-2009 at 4:30 pm

    N8 said...

    Oh, and Robert Hammer:

    None of the Indy scores ever actually WON an Oscar (but they were all nominated…)

  • 6 1-21-2009 at 5:17 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I still think something unexpected is going to crop up in Best Original Song — the nominees in that category have thrown up several surprises in the past few years. Who saw “August Rush” coming? Or “The Chorus”?

  • 7 1-21-2009 at 5:45 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Riiiiight, I remember now. Vangelis’ score for Chariots of fire beat it in ’81, Maurice Jarre’s A Passage to India beat it in ’84, and Alan Menkin’s A Little Mermaid beat it in ’89 (as an aside, I still can’t believe Danny Elfman’s Batman theme wasn’t even nominated that year). Stupid me, I can’t believe I forgot that….

  • 8 1-21-2009 at 5:46 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    …..I still think Zimmer and Howard have a better shot, though.

  • 9 1-22-2009 at 2:43 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Watch out for Journey to the Center of the Earth in Visual Effects. It’s flashy 3-D. Just sayin’.
    Anyhow, that score category could go any way. I’ve currently got Wall-E, Slumdog, Defiance, Button and TDK in there. It’s very much possible none of those five make the cut. It’s such a bizarre race and anyone could be replaced by something else. Newman for Rev Road, JNH for TDK, Button for The Reader, Slumdog for Frost/Nixon. Just wondering there.