TECH SUPPORT: Kicking the tires on a new season

Posted by · 11:52 am · July 11th, 2009

Daniel Day-Lewis in NineToday marks the beginning of a fourth year of Tech Support here at In Contention. Over the past four years, we’ve sought to bring the otherwise under-reported crafts categories and crafts artists the attention they seldom receive, despite their enormous contributions to the art of cinema.

This year, we plan on looking at nine of the categories – Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects – twice thoroughly between now and the morning the nominations are announced. Best Original Song will be previewed once, when we have a better idea of eligible contenders.

I will be offering the analysis of these categories but Kris will also be joining me for the first time this year with Tech Support features and interview pieces throughout.

Last year, a contemporary film – “Slumdog Millionaire” – managed to triumph in five of the 10 categories, a truly remarkable achievement, while “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” unsurprisingly took three others.  (Meanwhile, the year’s blockbuster “The Dark Knight” managed one.)  It will be interesting to see whether this year will be seen as having tech sweepers like “Millionaire” and “Button” or a greater spreading of the wealth, as we saw in 2007, when eight different films shared the 10 crafts awards!

To some extent, we’ve already seen films very likely to emerge as nominees, notably “Public Enemies,” “Star Trek,” “Up” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” It will also be interesting to see if “Chéri” and “The Hurt Locker” can survive in any of these categories until year’s end. Following good reception at Cannes, “Bright Star” also seems destined to be a major player.

And then there are the films we are all waiting for – “Nine,” “Avatar,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Wolf Man” and “Amelia” all jump to mind as hopefuls likely to make a splash, depending on overall reception, just to name a few.

There are also the crafts artists themselves. While there are several veterans who are likely to come into play, such as Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, James Horner, Colleen Atwood and Milena Canonero, am I alone in thinking we’ll see a lot of first-time nominees this year, or individuals getting their second or third nominations?

This is, of course, just thinking out loud. Time will give us the answer to these and many other questions. So happy Oscar-watching, and tune next week as the column settles into its usual Thursday slot as we delve into the first of the tech categories: Best Cinematography!

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6 responses so far

  • 1 7-11-2009 at 12:03 pm

    BobMcBob said...

    Any film with Daniel Day-Lewis can’t be entirely bad.

  • 2 7-11-2009 at 1:24 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    I haven’t seen it yet, but based on the trailer alone I would throw Antichrist into the Best Cinematography conversation. Based on what little footage I’ve seen, Anthony Dod Mantle looks like he’s blown his work on Slumdog Millionaire out of the water.

    Maybe the film will end up too polarizing for any Oscar love, but then again Dancer in the Dark had just as love/hate a reception and it still managed a nomination, so you never know….

  • 3 7-11-2009 at 5:33 pm

    Ben M. said...

    I think Cheri’s cold reception much means make-up/costume design/art direction are the only chances for the film, and I see The Young Victoria as perhaps more likely to take its slots. I actually think Hurt Locker can wind up with a bunch of tech nominations if it can translate its amazing reviews (it could well end up as the best reviewed movie of the year) into critics awards and oscar buzz; I’d say cinematography, editing, and the sound categories are all in play.

  • 4 7-12-2009 at 3:58 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Based on what little footage I’ve seen, Anthony Dod Mantle looks like he’s blown his work on Slumdog Millionaire out of the water.”

    And you’d be right, Robert. It’s astonishing work. But I still can’t see the Academy throwing even the smallest of bones to “Antichrist.”

    Ben: “The Young Victoria” is still awaiting US distribution, as far as I know. If/when it appears there, the critical reception is unlikely to be any stronger. And it’s surprisingly bland work from Sandy Powell, not that blandness is always an issue for voters in that category.

  • 5 7-12-2009 at 2:59 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    antichrist, seems like its to out their and dod mantle just won so. Cheri will be absent at the oscars besides maybe costumes, and im sure well know in a few months whether anyone still has a clue what the hurt locker is

  • 6 7-13-2009 at 12:17 am

    SHAAAARK said...

    What about Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince? From what I’ve seen, the technicals surpass anything in the series, and I’ve heard Bruno DelBonnell’s cinematography is brilliant.