TECH SUPPORT: Best Visual Effects — Volume I

Posted by · 9:07 am · September 9th, 2010

How often do you go to the movies to escape? To be immersed into a different world, whether it be fantastical, thrilling or action-packed? For many movie-goers, if not most, the answer is “frequently.” Visual effects often play a massive role in this experience.  Studios invest heavily in them and frequently try to sell films […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Sound Mixing — Volume I

Posted by · 3:44 pm · September 2nd, 2010

Last week, while discussing the sound editing category, I explained the difference between that art form and sound mixing.  The Oscar for the latter is shared between two (or more) persons who construct the soundtrack of a movie.  The re-recording mixers bring together everything – dialogue, sound effects, music – into what we hear in […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Sound Editing — Volume I

Posted by · 11:31 am · August 26th, 2010

Now matter how many times I watch the Oscars, someone will always ask, “So what is the difference between the two sound categories?” The difference is quite significant.  It is so important that the sound branch is only one of two “tech” branches in the Academy (the other being music) that gives out two separate […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Score — Volume I

Posted by · 4:31 pm · August 19th, 2010

I am marveled by the accomplishments of all the crafts artists who elevate our films, but this is particularly the case with respect to music composers. Composing equals genius as far as I am concerned.These musicians  join the film at the end, when usually only the director, editor and perhaps the sound mixers are still […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Makeup — Volume I

Posted by · 11:14 am · August 12th, 2010

Makeup and hairstyling builds characters by transforming actors with realism or imagination that would otherwise be lacking on the screen. With the announcement that the Best Visual Effects is expanding to include five nominees this year, Best Makeup now remains the sole category to have three nominees, chosen from a “bake-off” of seven finalists which […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Film Editing — Volume I

Posted by · 1:29 am · August 5th, 2010

I still remember when I was 12 and getting into the Oscars for the first time. My Dad said, “How can you tell if the film has good editing?” To a very large extent, I had to concede his point, as the best editing is often that which we don’t explicitly notice. Rather, it simply […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Costume Design — Volume I

Posted by · 11:56 pm · July 30th, 2010

Costume design in many ways represents much about the Oscars: glitz, glamor, beauty. But obviously threads do much more than make movie stars look attractive.  They build character, set mood, define period and serve as a defining design aspect of a film. Like art direction, the nominees for here overwhelmingly fall into one of two […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Cinematography — Volume I

Posted by · 10:58 am · July 23rd, 2010

Of the so-called “tech” categories, Best Cinematography is one of the most popular, certainly for me. The invention of the camera took us beyond radio and literature and set modern art on a path aimed toward the moving picture, and this field recognizes those behind the lens. Cinematography obviously has a massive impact on a […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Art Direction — Volume I

Posted by · 10:45 pm · July 16th, 2010

As we like to point out in this space each year, the Academy Award for Best Art Direction is presented to two individuals who have different but key roles in designing a film’s sets and props. The first of these, the production designer, is the director of the film’s art department, responsible for the supervision […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Diving right back in

Posted by · 11:36 am · July 8th, 2010

Here we go again.  We just said goodbye to the 2009 film awards season four months ago, yet here we are, halfway through 2010 and ready to kick the tires on Tech Support, a unique feature here at In Contention. Tech Support, for those unaware, seeks to highlight below-the-line talent on films.  We offer space […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final stretch, final predictions

Posted by · 8:26 pm · March 4th, 2010

Well, here we are. On Sunday, the statuettes for the Oscars will handed out. It seems difficult to remember that it was eight months ago when we started looking at the categories for the first time. Today, let’s take one last look at the crafts categories to see where we stand. Best Art Direction (Oscar […]

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TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: Composer symposium, part two

Posted by · 1:22 pm · February 26th, 2010

I think everyone who has seen Pixar’s “Up” was utterly taken by the scene “Married Life,” where emotions ran high and three characters were built between images and music.  As Kris mentioned in this morning’s Oscar Guide, composer Michael Giacchino had the full aural attention of the audience for 10 minutes. Speaking to Giacchino, it’s […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Post mortem

Posted by · 12:17 pm · February 5th, 2010

So here we are. For the most part, the crafts category nominations weren’t surprising, and there is not a single film that fared drastically better – or worse – than I expected. As for comments on individual categories? In Best Cinematography, Bruno Delbonnel’s nomination for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” has got to be […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final predictions, part two

Posted by · 2:02 pm · January 31st, 2010

Continuing from where we left off yesterday, today we look at the fields of makeup, music, sound and visual effects. BEST MAKEUP The shortlist of seven makes predicting this category slightly easier. “District 9”’s realistic wounds, not to mention the practical elements of the central character’s transformation, likely make it the frontrunner. “Star Trek,” meanwhile, […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final predictions, part one

Posted by · 3:37 pm · January 30th, 2010

It’s hard to believe we’ve almost made it to nomination morning. Over the past six months here at Tech Support, we’ve previewed all the races and interviewed several of the contenders. On Tuesday, we find out who advances. In the way of final predictions, today I’ll preview the art direction, cinematography, costume design and film […]

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TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: The crafts of ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’

Posted by · 6:14 pm · December 31st, 2009

Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is the latest entry in the director’s long history of wondrous, fantastical worlds. The film might be best remembered as containing Heath Ledger’s final performance. But Gilliam’s rich imagination is also seen in the work of below-the-line craftspeople who brought his world alive with splendid visuals and a […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Makeup — Volume II

Posted by · 4:58 pm · November 25th, 2009

Without any doubt, one of the most difficult Oscar categories to predict is Best Makeup. Like Best Visual Effects, the final three nominees are chosen from a previously announced shortlist of seven. Very frequently, films that would seem to be sure things fail to even make the bake-off. Even so, it is possible to gauge […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Score — Volume II

Posted by · 7:12 pm · November 19th, 2009

Some categories haven’t had that much renewal since I last reviewed them. Best Original Score is an exception. Principally, this is because the category is very difficult to judge before hearing the scores, not to mention last minute personnel changes (as composers always seem to be the most disposable members of film crews). As I […]

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