TECH SUPPORT: The aftermath

Posted by · 11:44 am · January 23rd, 2009

Tech Support at In ContentionSo the nominations have descended upon us. “The Dark Knight,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” as expected, all did phenomenally well, garnering seven crafts nominations each. The only absolute shock, in my opinion, was “Wanted” managing to show up in the sound fields.

Allow me a few comments on each category…

Best Art Direction
As expected, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Changeling” and “The Dark Knight” all managed to score nominations.

My “Frost/Nixon” hunch and “Slumdog Millionaire” gamble, however, were incorrect. Rather, Michael Carlin’s lavish sets for “The Duchess” and Kristi Zea’s recreation of 1950s suburbia on “Revolutionary Road” managed to overcome guild snubs and find a home here.

Best Cinematography
My hunch that the guild and the AMPAS branch would not match 5/5 was right on as Tom Stern managed to prevent a second consecutive double nomination for Roger Deakins. Stern’s work on “Changeling” was his sixth collaboration with Clint Eastwood this decade; a nomination seemed inevitable eventually.

Joining him, as expected, are Chris Menges and Roger Deakins for “The Reader,” Claudio Miranda for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Wally Pfister for “The Dark Knight” and Anthony Dod Mantle for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Best Costume Design
My general idea in this category was right: “Australia” would find its sole nomination here, alongside four of the five Guild nominees from the Period category. Jacqueline West (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Michael O’Connor (“The Duchess”) and Albert Wolsky (“Revolutionary Road”) were all expected nominees.

However, Danny Glicker managed to overcome the odds to find a nomination for “Milk,” despite the 1970s not being this branch’s preferred period. Rather, Deborah Hopper was left out for her threads for “Changeling.” I’ll admit to being somewhat surprised that Hopper failed to make the cut despite the film’s citations for art direction and cinematography.

Best Film Editing
These nominations –- Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Lee Smith for “The Dark Knight,” Mike Hill and Daniel P. Hanley for “Frost/Nixon,” Elliot Graham for “Milk” and Chris Dickens for “Slumdog Millionaire” –- were totally expected and should have surprised no one.

Best Makeup
Greg Cannom’s nomination for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was totally expected while I also correctly saw John Caglione and Conor O’Sullivan coming for “The Dark Knight” (as did others, I’m sure).

Despite being disappointed with “Tropic Thunder”’s failure to make the cut, it’s hard to argue with Mike Elizalde and Thom Fluze being cited for “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” even if it is somewhat surprising given the failure of the original to be nominated.

Best Music (Original Score)
In this difficult category to predict, I’m pleased to have seen four of the five nominees coming: A. R. Rahman for “Slumdog Millionaire,” Alexandre Desplat for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Danny Elfman for “Milk” and Thomas Newman for “WALL-E.”

While John Williams was the weakest link of my five predicted composers for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” it is nevertheless notable that this marks the first year he has not been nominated, while eligible since 1992!

Rather, James Newton Howard scored for “Defiance” -– his film’s sole nomination.  Though not unexpected, it is nevertheless somewhat disappointing as his great collaboration with Hans Zimmer on “The Dark Knight” was left out. The music branch seems to have really turned on Zimmer this decade, especially considering he also failed to make the cut for “Frost/Nixon.”

Best Music (Original Song)
Rahman also finds himself in contention twice over in this category for both “Jai-Ho” and “O Saya…” from “Slumdog Millionaire.” The other nominee is “WALL-E”’s “Down to Earth” by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, a nomination everyone saw coming.

While having only three nominees does not surprise me, the omission of Bruce Springsteen for “The Wrestler” most certainly does. Not only is the song amazing but it fits the film perfectly and he won both the BFCA and Globe for it. Go figure. This category has become impossible to predict since the rules changed in 2005.

Best Sound Editing
Nominations for “WALL-E,” “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” were expected and “Slumdog Millionaire” cannot be considered a complete surprise given that it was clearly headed for a huge nomination tally.

But I confess to being stunned that “Wanted” managed to beat out “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (which was shut-out), as well as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (which received 13 nominations).

Best Sound Mixing
The “Wanted” love also carried over into the sound mixing category, as the film somehow managed to beat out “Iron Man” to join my predicted nominees “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “WALL-E,” “The Dark Knight” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Best Visual Effects
As expected, the lack of competition for “The Dark Knight” allowed it to join inevitable nominees “Iron Man” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Well there are your crafts category nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Could they have been better? Sure. Is the work represented still top-notch? Without question.  But what are your thoughts on the field?

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11 responses so far

  • 1 1-23-2009 at 12:13 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Not exactly the most adventurous set of tech nods they’ve ever come up with. The highlights for me are the costume nod for “Milk” (nice to see the branch values more than just prettiness) and that awesome nod for “O… Saya.”

    I’m surprised only three songs managed the necessary average from the voters — I thought it was a stronger field than usual. And Bruce Springsteen’s performance was one thing I was really looking forward to in the telecast. Oh well.

  • 2 1-23-2009 at 3:34 pm

    Gustavo said...

    INDIANA JONES being completely shut-out was a travesty. The craftsmanship there was stellar, from the production design to the sound quality.

  • 3 1-23-2009 at 3:54 pm

    Edward L. said...

    I was very much hoping that Quantum of Solace would score a nod or two – I thought it easily deserved nominations in the Sound categories, and ideally it would have got nods for Cinematography and Film Editing too.

    And I agree that the Song category needs an(other) overhaul – surely there were more than three decent songs last year? And the Springsteen snub is a real jaw-dropper – I thought he was all but locked for the win!

  • 4 1-23-2009 at 4:36 pm

    Fausto said...

    What was the change in the Original Song rules in 2005?

  • 5 1-23-2009 at 6:21 pm

    Nigel said...

    When I was working on my Oscar predictions for every category it soon occurred to me that it felt like there were only ten or so films released in 2008. I soon lost interest.

    I think The Dark Knight will clean up in most of the techs (namely sound, editing and cinematography) with Benjamin Button getting the others. Slumdog will just get some love in the music, pic and director categories, continuing Oscar’s habit of only giving Best Picture a maximum of four awards since LOTR:ROTK won 11 way back when. Remember the good old days when Best Picture would normally get six or seven Oscars? Sigh.

  • 6 1-23-2009 at 6:43 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I wouldn’t necessarily call them “good old days.” Provided there are enough deserving films in play, I like it when they spread the love.

    It’s years when Goliaths like “Return of the King” or “Titanic” hog everything that bore me to tears. But different strokes, and all that.

  • 7 1-23-2009 at 6:46 pm

    Nigel said...

    I know what you mean, but when a film gets more than a handful of awards it feels like it’s big, even if it’s not necessarily the most deserving. Schindler’s List, The English Patient, Dances With Wolves… it gives it a sense of occasion.

  • 8 1-23-2009 at 7:09 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    There’s also the fact that, unusually, Best Picture has gone to a contemporary (in the case of No Country, relatively contemporary) film for four years in a row — and those don’t tend to clean up in the tech categories.

  • 9 1-23-2009 at 8:48 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Absolutely shameful that “Australia” missed in Cinematography and Art Direction. Ridiculous. Easily one of the most beautifully shot films of the year, maybe THE most, and it loses out.

    Oh well, I guess you can’t nail this category every year (like they did so well last year).

    Also surprised Deakins got in for “The Reader” over what I think is his superior work on “Revolutionary Road.” But I don’t mind it that much.

  • 10 1-24-2009 at 1:09 pm

    Isaac Richter said...

    Just something I’ve been noticing, I think by now we should have known that Bruce Springsteen winning the Globe was a kiss of Death to his song’s chances at the Oscars. This is the fifth year in a row in which the song that wins the Golden Globe is not even nominated at the Oscars, and apparently that trend continues, which is a shame, because The Wrestler is a great song (I’ve been listening to it a lot lately). The other examples of this are Alfie’s “Old Habits Die Hard”, Brokeback Mountain’s “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” (which wasn’t even eligible at Oscars), Happy Feet’s “The Song of the Heart” and Into the Wild’s “Guaranteed”. Just what I’ve noticed in the relationship with these two awards in that category.

  • 11 1-26-2009 at 4:14 pm

    N8 said...

    I, personally, am thrilled for Danny Elfman and Tom Stern, who I was not predicting to be nominated.

    Pity that Deakins was not cited for his subtle but evocative work on “Revolutionary Road”.

    The nominations for wanted are ridiculous, but not nearly as ridiculous as Bruce Spingsteen’s snub! A pox on you, music branch!