Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oscar Preview/Predix -- Part I

There's a lot in the news lately and between Anna Nicole Smith dying, Britney shaving her head, Tom Brady posthumously impregnating Bridget Moynahan and pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, it's easy to forget that the Oscars are coming up this Sunday. Sure, there are plenty of sure things. Helen Mirren's going to get her Oscar. Al Gore will get his (except that he won't, because it'll go to director Davis Guggenheim, but still). Martin Scorsese's going to get the Oscar he deserves, but not for the movie for which he deserves it. But for the first time in my memory, the best picture race isn't just up in the air, it's up in the air between three movies and whichever one wins, it will be considered an upset.

That's fun.

So in the spirit of busy blogging, I'm going to run through the Oscar nominees, or at least most of them. I haven't seen the short films, so I'm skipping those. Sorry. There's a strategy that I'll be working through to get the categories out of the way starting today. I'll have five or six more categories tomorrow, four or five more on Friday, a few more on Saturday and then maybe Sunday before the show, I'll make a Best Picture prediction. The only thing I feel comfortable saying now is that "The Queen" isn't going to win for best picture. Sorry.

Achievement in makeup
“Pan’s Labyrinth”

Should win: It isn't just the faun and blind creature with the eyes in the palms of his hands. No. "Pan's Labyrinth" also features a healthy among of gore that had to be delivered via make-up effects as well. So "Pan's Labyrinth" should win, but I'd still like to take several minutes to bask in the fact that "Click" got a nomination for drawing a couple lines under Kate Beckinsale's eyes and making Adam Sandler look like Al Pacino in the third "Godfather" movie. Sony really should have given "Click" a post-Oscar rerelease just to see if people were paying attention.
Will win: Is this a chance to give Mel Gibson a backhanded compliment and let "Apocalypto" win? I say no. "Pan's Labyrinth" comes in as the most acclaimed movie in the category with six nominations and it also gets the win.

Achievement in sound editing
“Blood Diamond”
“Flags of Our Fathers”
“Letters from Iwo Jima”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Should win: Even if I could tell you the exact difference between sound editing and sound mixing, I'm doubtful that I could distinguish between the different disciplines, even in a carefully controlled environment, nor could I tell you why four-of-five films are nominated in both categories, but "Letters from Iwo Jim" is distinguished by its sound editing and "Dreamgirls" is distinguished by its sound design. From what I can tell, nominees were determined by the Sound Branch of the Academy (folks who actually *might* know the differences), but the voting for the award is done by the Academy at large (95% of whom don't know the difference any better than I do). The fact is that I think sound editing has more to do with post-production sound effects, while sound mixing has to do with the overall auditory quality of the film, which would explain why the gunfire and explosions of "Iwo Jima" would be admired in the sound editing category, while "Dreamgirls" would get props for being generally pleasant to the ears. Whatever I answer here will thus be an utterly ignorant pick. Thus, I'm going with "Letters From Iwo Jima" as the most deserving winner.
Will Win: I was frequently distracted by bad ADR work on "Blood Diamond," but with five nominations overall, it's apparently the most respected film on this list by the Academy membership as a whole. Plus, it was loud.

Achievement in sound mixing
“Blood Diamond”
“Flags of Our Fathers”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Should Win: See above. I don't have a clue. In this category, though, I'm going with "Dreamgirls."
Will Win: Most overall nominations of any film in the category, thus, I'm saying that "Dreamgirls" will win.

Achievement in visual effects
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
“Superman Returns”

Should win: How could this year's big-ticket summer pics have been so inept that "Poseidon" was able to sneak in and grab a nomination in this category? I liked the flight effects in "Superman Returns" and didn't mind any of the parts were large crystals burst out of the ocean and caused cracks in Metopolis, but Davy Jones and his ship of lost souls were fantastic and so much of what made Bill Nighy's character so squid-y was all done with visual effects. I may not have cared for the movie, but even the Kracken (which didn't need to be in the movie at all) was tentacular.
Will win: Sorry, "Superman," but the movie that made $400-plus million is unbeatable here. "Pirates of the Caribbean" wins easy.

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