Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Encore Awards (2011 in Review): Visual Awards

So, continuing to throttle towards completely getting 2011 over with I'm citing my favourites - technical and artistic - in the visual categories, including my favourite categories like cinematography and art direction. Onwards....

After a conversation on twitter with Craig (dark eye socket) I decided to incorporate this, a visual award for choreography and bodywork. Sadly, there were no dance based musicals to focus on this year (Hairspray, Chicago, Dreamgirls - they would have all been finalists) but I do love the finalists I found.



That iconic elevator sequence is all about chorography and timing, for Gosling and Carey and it’s sort of a fine example of how composed everything in the film is.

Darrin Prescott et al

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Fighting, fancy wand work, more fighting (the real sorts and supernatural heavy), riding animals, fighting with animals. More fighting.

Greg Powell et al


Hanna’s a child-assassin, so there’s assassinating…and stuff. The film’s highly stylised and it’s all about landing the right beats choreogrpaged at the right time for optimum effect, and it’s effectively done.

Jeff Imada, Hiro Koda

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Moving apes. The end.

Mike Mitchell, Terry Notary etc


Mixed Martial Arts timed to emotional juggernauts and whatnot. Body doubles or not, that couldn’t have been easy.

J. J. Perry

FINALISTS: The Adjustment Bureau for dancing, and also the synchronised running

Honourable Mentions: The Artist; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; X-Men: First Class

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Just the break out from Gringotts’ wins points for me – the breaking of the building, the multiplying treasure. And, I’m not even talking about the dragon. The finale is all about the visual (story becomes secondary) and the team is free to employ all the visual assets it wants to, with aplomb. / Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson

I am easy, and I like things that look beautiful but goodness THIS THING IS BEAUTIFUL! There’s so much, the automatons, this very unreal but gorgeous Paris, Méliès’ house, the trains. It’s all adding up (with the photography and the production design) to this dazzlingly amazing world that’s impossibly lovely. / Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Everyone is still talking about those goddamned apes, and with reason. Are they like real apes? I don’t know. Do I care? Not really. And, that climax on the bridge is complete madness and visual effects’ porn in the best of ways. / Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher Whiteand Daniel Barrett

Take Shelter
Hmm, love for the film spilling over unnecessarily? I don’t think so, and if so – who’s going to call me out for it? The visuals are decidedly secondary, even more so than The Tree of Life, but the sight gangs become a significant portion of the unnerving horror-feeling pervading Curtis’ world. Also, the clouds. / Chris Wells et al

The Tree of Life
There are the obvious “visual” bits but then there are the softer bits which at times I can’t extrapolate from just general photography and the way the Universe is created is, of course, amazing. Also, dinosaurs – make of them what you will. / Michael Fink, Dan Glass, Bryan Hirota, Paul Riddle, Michael Shand

FINALISTS: Insidious for being creepy, but still somewhat intriguing; Super 8 for mixing the small-town with the otherworldly and not robbing either of their punch

Honourable Mentions: Captain America; Fright Night; We Need to Talk About Kevin


Albert Nobbs

I’m ambivalent about whether or not McTeer and Close truly look like men, it’s a bit of a non-issue for me. (And, I do wonder, what “makeup” regular women had at hand to seem mannish.) So, it works for me essentially, as does the work on the entire – oftentimes ignored – ensemble.

Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston, Matthew W. Mungle


Cotillard’s bizarre hairstyle gave me pause, but essentially – from Jude Law’s teeth to Gwyneth Paltrow’s sick-face – the work here is especially on point, working with all the other technical aspects to creep you out. And, like the entire film, it doesn’t go overboard with its horror elements, but approaches it with reticence which makes its climax work better.

Laurel Kelly, Dominic Mango, Suzi Ostos, Stephan Dupuis

A Dangerous Method

The work on Fassbender and Mortensen is so interesting. It’s not cumbersome so that it looks forced, and it’s easy to discern them beneath the work. conversely, though, the work is so pronounced (yet seems so simple) that you couldn’t think that you are watching Fassbender or Mortensen. Also, excellent work on Cassell.

Ulrich Ritter


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

I forgive it, reticently, that awful epilogue because in my head that entire epilogue never occurred. Like a number of the technical work on the series it emerges most obviously for the fantastical bits (goblins), but I like specific things like the character work on Bellatrix and Trelawney (Merchant Ivory gets Potterised), among others.

Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin



Weirdly, the young characters don’t quite seem to belong to the Ferreti’s world, and I suspect that there’s something deliberate in making Isablle and Hugo so buxom like. It’s old age makeup for McCrory and Kingsley, but it’s also looks enhancing makeup, which so often gets shafted.

Morag Ross, Jan Archibald

FINALISTS: The Conspirator for meticulous focus on character work, even if it’s unsubtle in regards to the villains; The Iron Lady for its work on Thatcher, old more than young; Jane Eyre for beautiful period enhancements, particularly on the men; My Week with Marilyn for the work on Williams and Branagh in recalling their real-life characters

Honourable Mentions: Captain America, The Help, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

costume design, art direction, editing and cinematography after the jump...


A Dangerous Method
If I’m accurate I think this may be her earliest film (in terms of period) and it reminds me in part of Durran’s work in Atonement where being period heavy doesn’t make it grandiose. Sometimes I feel like the two women blend together too much in terms of their dress, but generally I’m appreciative of how precisely personal Sabina’s attire is (especially pre-transformation). / Denise Cronenberg

The Help
Davis’ work here is so excellent it seems indelibly connected to the characters who wear them. The film is all about hierarchies and stratification, and it’s impressive how her costumes adhere to that and there are so many notable pieces. Hilly’s summer dress, Celia’s swimming suit, Aibileen’s church attire – they’re all revealing details of character, while being in keeping with the period and gorgeous. /
Sharren Davis

Considering how much Powell might have played up the fantastical elements of the era and turn the costumes into set-pieces. Her restraint is impressive, as if she realises that the “real” world Paris of the present can’t allow for excessive beauty in clothing but the “fanciful” past can where her imagination is more ostensibly at work. A bonus, too, is Emily Mortimer’s shop girl outfit. / Sandy Powell

Jane Eyre
Sometimes beautiful is just beautiful and his work here is beautiful, incidentally it ends up being about more than just being beautiful. For example, it’s all rather heavy and encumbering – and, in that opening scene for example there’s that sense of the clothes being something else that’s holding Jane back. And, just imagine how rough it must have been wearing those heavy things. Little bits like that are significant. / Michael O’Conor

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
It’s been discussed elsewhere, but I’ll add to the masses. At first they seem to be all about anonymity and they look like each other at first, but then there are little bits of idiosyncrasies that make them stand out and reveal such seemingly random, but key things about the characters who wear them making them all the more significant. / Jacqueline Durran

FINALISTS: Drive has its costumes – both their feel and their colour – filling in character bits the script doesn’t care to; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is, perhaps, the usual bit of costume-y glory, but why hate on something because it’s obvious?

Honourable Mentions: Albert Nobbs; Captain America; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Sleeping Beauty


Brighton Rock
The film’s biggest asset is, of course, the way it looks. Pinkie’s apartment is a perfect indicator, for example, of character awareness, attention to period detail all with awareness of its film overall aesthetic. So, even as the film ultimately feels a bit vacuous on occasion it surely does look gorgeous. / James Merifield, Paul Ghirardani, Kellie Waugh

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Is it Potter fatigue? I feel as if people aren’t even willing to note its good work even if they don’t much care for the series. There’s a whole lot of places covered, we move from Shell Cottage to Gringotts to Hogsmeade, the freaky faces of the Room of Requirement and we haven’t even touched on the actual castle, yet. It’s a visual feast to end all visual feasts and an excellent way to go out on. / Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan et al

It all really is impossibly superlative, but Ferretti is a master. It looks like something out of a beautiful fairy-tale painting or something akin, and it’s supposed to. And, it’s not just the sheer wonder of the train station and Georges apartment which are both gorgeous, but when the film goes back in time it becomes dazzling and the attention to detail is stunning. / Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo

Jane Eyre
Like the photography (mentioned below) it’s all about keeping the moodiness of the gothic era and making things gorgeous, but unnerving and edgy (in a period way). Thornfield, as is wont, emerges as something of the benchmark for the work but even before that and after that it’s all distinct and effective. / Will Hughes-Jones, Karl Probert, Tina Jones

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
When Peter makes his way into the library and we watch – from afar – that boxed in way that he looks from an outside perspective is such a perfect encapsulation of the way that the entire Circus is boxed in and the production design becomes excellent not just because its dun, dun, dun gorgeousness is stimulating but because it’s completely working for the film’s larger themes. / Maria Djurkovic, Tom Brown, Zsuzsa Kismarty-Lechner

FINALISTS: A Dangerous Method; The Help; Sleeping Beauty

Honourable Mentions: The Artist; Carnage; The Conspirator; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Memory and mood become so important to the story and the narrative is constantly leaping from present to immediate past to past past and then hypothetical past and then back and the organic unfolding of scenes bounding with associative ease from timeline to timeline is much expertly established.

Olivier Bugge Coutte

Certified Copy

Abbas Kiarostami’s own original conceit of holding up the artistic work for perusal is enhanced the editing. It’s all about knowing when to cut, how long to do so for and by doing augmenting Kiarostami’s own thesis and finding the relation between things that you might not have imagined.

Bahman Kiarostami


Yes, it’s flashy and its entire existence demands our attention but when did being easy to like and obvious mean that something’s bad? Beats me. This is a thriller, but also in a way high-camp and it’s all about the technicalities making this work, it’s pieced together in such a delightfully frenetic fashion. How can you not be on the edge throughout?

Paul Tothill


In its own embellished grittiness (a seeming oxymoron, unless you’ve seen it – I think) it’s perhaps more flashy than Hanna, but it follows along the very insular nature of the film’s dependency on its protagonist moving along jarring, fuzzy (but still focused where necessary) and chaotic. Bonus points for the beautiful symmetry of its opening and closing shots.

Jay Rabinowitz

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Sure, maybe it’s not as inundated with information and as dense as I mentioned in my review but Jonsäter does have the not simple job of working between timelines which are not easily discernible and making all those scenes of talking-talking-talking seem cinematic and exciting and fast-paced. And, it also has to done in a way that keeps the mystery alive without being TOO esoteric. Check on all counts.

Dino Jonsäter

FINALISTS: Contagion navigates expertly through the different parts of the world constantly keeping the mood taut; Drive is all about its sleek outlier, and the editing is all about showing that up; A Separation has its screenplay superficially seeming to do all the heavy lifting but the piercing cuts and general goodness of the camera work is imperative; Take Shelter blends the dreamscape and the “reality” the horror elements with the drama ones for one perfect whole

Honourable Mentions: Carnage; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Hugo; The Ides of March; Martha Marcy May Marlene;

Orange and teal, it’s become a thing now…and I still it. The way that Richardson evokes that dreamlike, illusory world without making it seem wispy in quality. It’s all decidedly unreal; he even shoots the people as if they’re toys and it works for me more than I imagine it does for everyone else. Which makes sense, this is my ballot. / Robert Richardson

Jane Eyre
The key reason as to why I like this one even when I don’t really like it. His photography evokes mood, period sensibilities and the use of light (and its lack thereof) serves the story so excellently, as well as being such a fine pathway into understanding the gothic world which Jane exists in without being too grotesque to be pleasing or too beautiful to be real. / Adriano Goldman

Sleeping Beauty
I keep swapping this with the end of world entry below, but I opted for this simply because of the way it is so unobtrusive and yet so chillingly deliberate. That opening shot freaks me out, for example, although maybe it’s less about the photography specifically. But, as far as evoking the dissonance in the world of sex and youth, it excels. / Geoffrey Simpson

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Am I overreaching when I say that Hoytema’s photography is so expertly redolent of all the melancholy and sadness that seems at one with the world of the Circus. His cinematography work is so in tune with the film’s production design that I sort of don’t know how to differentiate specifically between the two – but, ultimately the dun lighting is the key to mood here. / Hoyte Van Hoytema

The Tree of Life
Keeping the whole concept of one’s life flashing before one’s eyes Lubezki is so excellent in suggesting that same sort of image heavy life-painting model where each image, which seem to have little associative connection, are beautiful shot-by-shot real life paintings. /
Emmanuel Lubezki

FINALISTS: Certified Copy; Drive; Melancholia

Honourable Mentions: Beginners; A Dangerous Method; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Hanna; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; Take Shelter
So, that's a mouthful....what do you think of my visual awards. For obvious reasons (I like good looking things) the production design and cinematography ballots are my favourites. What makes your shortlists for these categories? Jane Eyre? Hugo? The Tree of Life?

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