In praise of the modern movie soundtrack

Posted by · 7:41 am · August 5th, 2011

I generally try to ignore film opinion pieces I think are fundamentally misguided — à chacun son goût and all that, plus the fact that fighting one mind is generally more trouble than it’s worth — but Ben Walsh’s idle article in The Independent today on the supposed demise of the movie soundtrack does such […]

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Desplat, Zimmer, Burwell lead World Soundtrack nominees

Posted by · 4:52 pm · August 9th, 2010

The World Soundtrack Awards aren’t quite as authoritative as their lofty names implies — established in 2001 to accompany the annual Ghent Film Festival in Belgium, they are voted upon by an educational organization of film composers dubbing themselves the World Soundtrack Academy. Given their European origins, it’s interesting how much their awards overlap with […]

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The top 10 shots of 2009: part one

Posted by · 12:49 pm · February 16th, 2010

Assembling the assets for my annual take on the best single shots of the year was more of a chore this time around than ever.  Perhaps one need only look to a lackluster list of Oscar nominees in the Best Cinematography category to gauge just how underwhelming much of the work behind the camera was […]

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Up, up and away

Posted by · 9:36 am · February 10th, 2010

Back in a November installment of Off the Carpet, I noted that, by my measure, the films of 2009 reflected a particular theme.  “I’ve always come back to one thought on this year’s slate of films: catharsis,” I wrote at the time.  “With expected exceptions here and there, in one way or another, the bulk […]

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My dream ballot: part two

Posted by · 3:21 pm · February 1st, 2010

Yesterday, I began my far-fetched wishlist of nominees for tomorrow’s announcement with a look at the technical categories. Today we move into the big races. And as much as I thought I had my favorites clearly mapped out in my head, a rundown of the eligible titles made for some very crowded races indeed. Once […]

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My dream ballot: part one

Posted by · 7:32 pm · January 31st, 2010

As I did last year, I’m preparing for Tuesday’s announcement of the Oscar nominations by running through my own favorites in each category — following on from the ideal ballots posted by Kris and Chad in the past few weeks. “Preparing” isn’t quite the word: it implies a link between the processes of predicting and […]

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Mark Harris on Zoe Saldana and performance capture

Posted by · 9:24 am · January 27th, 2010

Perhaps I missed it, but I’m surprised there hasn’t been more online conversation about EW writer Mark Harris’s recent critical essay on “Avatar” and performance capture technology.As one would expect from the author of “Pictures at a Revolution,” it’s a thoughtful piece, but one that should stir up considerable dissent. He begins by slamming James […]

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Oscars in The Times

Posted by · 1:14 am · January 10th, 2010

Fresh on the heels of a page one Mo’Nique story, The New York Times has unleashed its annual Oscar package, great stuff as always. Manohla Dargis leads the girl-power charge with an appreciation of Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker.” It’s a solid piece of analysis that spends a few graphs discussing the art of the […]

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WEEKLY WRAP: Guilds, lists and disqualifications

Posted by · 4:49 am · January 9th, 2010

• In a big week for precursor announcements, the DGA nominations were the biggest — and least surprising. • The PGA, meanwhile, found room for all three of the year’s hot sci-fi titles in its nominee slate. • “The Hurt Locker” triumphed at the National Society of Film Critics Awards, the first film in 12 […]

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Buried treasures: Chad’s best of 2009 (list and ballot)

Posted by · 5:32 pm · January 8th, 2010

Unlike Kris, I can’t quite come to the conclusion that 2009 was the best year of the decade. Nor can I call it the “year of the woman,” the “best year for animation” or “the year James Cameron brought a sense of wonder back to the cinema.” The only thing I can personally label 2009 […]

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Art Directors Guild nominees

Posted by · 10:32 am · January 8th, 2010

I’ve had my eye on these because I’ve always felt that, if “Avatar” could slide in here, it might be able to get over any weird bias against the way it was designed (largely in computer, etc.). But after sitting down with Robert Stromberg yesterday, and with these nominations in mind, I feel better about […]

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WGA on the way

Posted by · 9:19 am · January 8th, 2010

With the DGA, SAG and PGA out of the way, it’s on to the fourth and final of the major guild announcements: the Writers Guild of America, which announces Monday. The WGA has seemingly instituted a slash and burn campaign on a number of the year’s hopefuls this season.  Go here, here and here for […]

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‘Wild Things,’ ‘Crazy Heart’ ineligible for score Oscar

Posted by · 12:43 pm · January 4th, 2010

Steve Pond reports that Karen O and Carter Burwell’s wonderful, Golden Globe-nominated score for “Where the Wild Things Are” has been disqualified for Best Original Score by the Academy’s music branch. T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton’s “Crazy Heart” score, which has taken several critics’ prizes, will not compete either. It’s hardly a surprise, given that […]

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Loose threads

Posted by · 5:53 pm · January 1st, 2010

On the technical side of things, is anyone as uninspired as I am by the apparent frontrunners for Best Costume Design? I bow to no one in my admiration for the genius of Sandy Powell, but the Easter egg-colored wardrobe of “The Young Victoria” is routine work by her high standards. That hasn’t stopped most […]

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Things of beauty: Guy’s best of 2009

Posted by · 6:01 am · December 23rd, 2009

The year of the woman. The year of animation. The year of science-fiction. Depending on who you read (and believe), the final year of the decade has been an awful lot of things. If you’re with Kris, it’s also the best cinematic year of the last ten. If you’re with an awful lot of others, […]

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‘Wild Things,’ ‘Up in the Air’ lead Chicago crix nods

Posted by · 8:36 am · December 16th, 2009

Normally, I’m against critics’ groups bothering with nominations. Just cut the crap and give us your picks — you’re not that anticipated, after all. But I’ll make an exception this year for the Chicago Film Critics Association, if only because it allows them to shine a light on some names that have been lost amid […]

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TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Song

Posted by · 3:18 pm · December 10th, 2009

Over the last five months, Gerard has diligently canvassed and re-canvassed the various crafts categories here at In Contention.  The one category we have held back on all this time, as contenders have slowly fallen into place, was Best Original Song.  Today, it’s time to dig into the field. This has turned into something of […]

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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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