TECH SUPPORT: ‘Inception’ dominates below the line

Posted by · 8:47 am · February 28th, 2011

So, the morning after a terrible prediction record at this year’s Oscars, I’ll try to make some sense of what the Academy told us, and what it means for the crafts artists we got to know along the circuit this year. As the evening went on, many people began to wonder if “The Social Network” […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final analysis, part two

Posted by · 8:40 am · February 25th, 2011

Yesterday we began our final look at the 10 crafts categories.  Check out part one here.  Today, the conclusion.  Meanwhile, you can find my final predictions in all categories here. Best Music (Original Score) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, despite their atypical approach to film music composition, are very much contenders in this race. Having […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final analysis, part one

Posted by · 10:35 am · February 24th, 2011

So this is it. Over the last seven-plus months here at Tech Support, we have tried to illuminate and analyze the craft races as they unfolded. On Sunday, the winners will be revealed, ushering some new faces into Oscar’s club.  And indeed, I expect the vast majority of the winners to make their first trip […]

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TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: The makeup of ‘Barney’s Version,’ ‘The Way Back’ and ‘The Wolfman’

Posted by · 11:21 am · February 10th, 2011

As we have noted a number of times, the makeup branch is one of the Academy’s most independently minded. While many people have criticized them in the past for bestowing the moniker “Oscar nominee” on many mediocre (or worse) films, the makeup artists clearly seem to take the work into account regardless of perceived film […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Analyzing the nominees

Posted by · 11:53 am · January 28th, 2011

So the 83rd Annual Academy Award nominations were finally announced this week, and I did fairly well in handicapping the nominees. Outside of Best Sound Mixing, I never missed more than one nominee in a category. Unfortunately, there were no categories where I scored 100% (apart from Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay). Oh well. […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final analysis, part two

Posted by · 9:48 am · January 21st, 2011

Yesterday I began a final look at the crafts categories. Today, a look at the four remaining fields: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing. BEST ART DIRECTION The precursors of the BFCA, BAFTA and Art Directors Guild have been fairly consistent in citing four titles in this category. Last […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final analysis, part one

Posted by · 8:57 am · January 20th, 2011

It seems hard to believe that it’s been more than six months since I wrote this year’s introductory Tech Support column ( a dissection of the art direction race). Much has changed since then, naturally, as we are less than a week away from the big day when we find out the nominees for the […]

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TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: The design of ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Posted by · 8:53 am · December 30th, 2010

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp may well be poised to go down in film history as one of the famous actor-director duets.  Seven collaborations to date have delighted audiences for the past 20 years. They have also earned 11 Oscar nominations and four wins.  Their latest, “Alice in Wonderland,” exemplifies how far along they’ve come […]

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TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: The look of ‘Inception’

Posted by · 9:23 am · December 16th, 2010

Christopher Nolan has become known for making the Batman films look, and consequently feel, “real.”  His latest film, “Inception,” despite being a visual treat, also seemed a far cry from the CGI spectacles that normally dominate the blockbuster circuit.  It was very well-received by critics and certainly audiences alike and is currently enjoying a solid […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Visual Effects — Volume II

Posted by · 8:19 pm · December 2nd, 2010

I find it somewhat appropriate to be ending my in-depth looks at the crafts categories with a discussion of Best Visual Effects. This is, after all, a category which awards the sort of behind-the-scenes crafts work that is often prominently displayed in advertisements and talked about with reverence after the film ends. When looking at […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Sound Mixing — Volume II

Posted by · 10:40 am · November 26th, 2010

Sound mixing has a lot in common with sound editing, but the distinctions are still critical. While both clearly relate to what we hear in the theater, sound editing specifically relates to the creation of artificial sounds (“sound effects”) while sound mixing brings everything together — from effects to music to dialogue (recorded on set […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Sound Editing — Volume II

Posted by · 10:06 am · November 18th, 2010

Last week we discussed how a movie’s soundtrack can be immeasurably improved by music.  This week, we turn to the sound technicians.  While next week will concentrate on sound mixing (the overall mix of effects, recorded sounds, dialogue and music), this week we look at sound editing, the creation of artificial sound effects to enhance […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Score — Volume II

Posted by · 12:35 pm · November 12th, 2010

A great score can take a film from memorable to unforgettable.  Whether it be Vangelis’s synthesizer on the beach in “Chariots of Fire,” Nino Rota’s haunting waltz from “The Godfather” or John Williams’s blaring, adventurous march from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” scores can elevate amazing images to bring the director’s vision to even greater […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Makeup — Volume II

Posted by · 9:13 am · November 4th, 2010

As I said last week (and have said several times before), no category is year-in and-year-out more perplexing than Best Makeup. Each year, this branch finds ways to turn otherwise dubious awards contenders into bona fide Oscar nominees — dubious because often nominees might be abysmal or relatively obscure.  The branch seems to have its […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Film Editing — Volume II

Posted by · 11:33 am · October 28th, 2010

So important but so hard to notice. That’s how I would describe the work of our best film editors – those cutting artists who blend and juxtapose frames together to make films coherent, establish a flow and also set the mood in a manner that suits the screenwriter’s words and the director’s vision. The Academy […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Costume Design — Volume II

Posted by · 9:49 am · October 22nd, 2010

Glitz and glamor.  Period prestige.  Newbie talent and old favorites.  How is the race for Best Costume Design shaping up this year? In my opinion, Jenny Beavan is leading the way at this point in time. Beavan earned six nominations in the 1980s and 1990s for her work on Merchant-Ivory films, winning for “A Room […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Cinematography — Volume II

Posted by · 11:36 am · October 15th, 2010

Today we take a look a second look at, well, certainly the most “cinematic” of categories: Best Cinematography. As I like to say, cinema is born out of the camera and those who wield these devices enrich our films more than a few words written here could possibly say. From capturing mood, lighting and atmosphere […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Art Direction — Volume II

Posted by · 10:56 am · October 7th, 2010

Oh how things have changed since I last wrote in this space. In the past four weeks, Tech Support has taken a break, allowing the dust from the festival circuit to settle, and other titles to open. Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll take a second look at each of the crafts categories, finishing in […]

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