LONDON: ‘Brighton’ hits the rocks

Posted by · 6:04 am · October 25th, 2010

The success of the London Film Festival’s annual Surprise Film screening isn’t exactly dependent on the surprise element: more often than not, the film’s identity can be pinpointed in advance simply by asking yourself which title you most expected to find in the festival lineup, and then didn’t. But even if pretty much everyone sitting […]

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WEEKLY WRAP: Fincher reflection, ‘Way Back’ in, ‘Valentine’ blues

Posted by · 7:29 pm · October 8th, 2010

• As robust box-office returns for “The Social Network” amplified its Oscar buzz, this week’s Off the Carpet column warned that the awards race is “a marathon, not a sprint.” • Keeping the conversation on David Fincher, we counted down the greatest technical achievements in his filmmography… • …and invited you to name your favorite […]

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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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On the art of ‘Wall Street’

Posted by · 6:10 pm · September 30th, 2010

Last week, Kris and I came to a disagreement over the merits of Oliver Stone’s splashy, silly and consistently surface-level sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Neither of us is disputing that the film is a mess, but where Kris thought it clumsy, ill-judged junk, I was more forgiving in my Cannes review: for me, […]

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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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New production photos further reveal Nolan’s ‘Inception’ as a design spectacle

Posted by · 3:32 pm · April 11th, 2010

Production designer Guy Dyas has always associated himself with films that boast elaborate art direction.  Even during his early years as a concept artist, the films were design-heavy.  “Men in Black,” “Wild Wild West” and “Galaxy Quest” are examples.  Later: Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” and elements of the Wachowski brothers’ “The Matrix Reloaded” […]

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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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OSCAR GUIDE: Best Art Direction

Posted by · 10:41 am · February 15th, 2010

Over the weekend the Art Directors Guild handed out their awards in three categories: period, fantasy and contemporary.  And it’s a good thing they have the contemporary field since the Academy recognizing that kind of work is like Haley’s Comet. The Best Art Direction category recognizes both the production designer and the set decorator of […]

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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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WEEKLY WRAP: Oscar hosts, Bridges arrives, animated five

Posted by · 4:50 am · November 7th, 2009

• Oscar season ramped up this week, with the popular selection of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as this year’s Oscar emcees. • This week’s Off the Carpet column surveyed the runners and riders for Best Actor … • … only to be immediately outdated as Jeff Bridges and “Crazy Heart” arrived to turn that […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Art Direction — Volume II

Posted by · 11:01 am · November 5th, 2009

When I first addressed the race for Best Art Direction in August, I spoke of how the branch tends to favor period pieces and fantasy films. Considering the research involved in the former and the often showy creativity on display in the latter, this is hardly surprising. That said, I often feel badly for exceptional […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Art Direction — Volume I

Posted by · 12:30 pm · August 20th, 2009

Sets and props can create a time period, an era or simply the feel of a scene.  And the individuals involved in this process are awarded by the Academy in the category of Best Art Direction. Ironically, the art director of a film is not recognized here. Rather, the production designer – the art department […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Postmortem

Posted by · 11:03 am · February 27th, 2009

What can I say? It was a big night for “Slumdog Millionaire” at the 81st Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. While I do like the film a great deal, I found its dominance this awards season unnecessarily monotonous.  For instance, I preferred Thomas Newman’s work in both music categories this year, but I was nonetheless […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Final predictions

Posted by · 5:27 pm · February 18th, 2009

After six months of Tech Support previews and interviews, the films have arrived, the nominations have been announced and the guilds, the critics and BAFTA have all announced their preferences.  Today we take a final look at the races before the envelopes are opened on Sunday. BEST ART DIRECTION After guild and BAFTA wins, I […]

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TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: The crafts of ‘Benjamin Button,’ part one

Posted by · 11:26 am · February 16th, 2009

Thirteen Oscar Nominations. Very few films in Academy history have achieved that status and, prior to this year, no film had secured that many nods since “Chicago” in 2002. But “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” has managed it this year, largely because of the incredible work going on below-the-line. Last week, I featured composer […]

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POLL: Who deserves it? — BEST ART DIRECTION

Posted by · 7:29 am · February 10th, 2009

You know the drill — tell us in the sidebar poll.  This is the last of the tech categories.

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TECH SUPPORT: The aftermath

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

So 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… […]

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