Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Pretty Little Picture; or 2012 Production Design and Cinematography

And, we’re back.

I know that Walter agrees with me when I say that the cinematography and production are two of the most important technical aspects of a film. For me, I’d even say I pay so much attention to them even at the risk of paying attention to the film editing for example. Like the costume design category (discussed yesterday) there’s often a tendency for prettiness to be the easiest way of being considered a real contender (although it’s not the only way) and oftentimes there’s a correlation between the nominees for production design and cinematography.

On occasion, too, it would seem being a Picture contender does up your chances of an Oscar nomination in these two categories – cinematography in particular.

Using the last decade as a focus-pool there’s always at least one cross-over between the two categories, those most has been three.
So, let’s consider the films which could make significant noise in both categories. The suspects,

BATCH ONE (potential nominees for production design and cinematography): Anna Karenina; Lincoln, Life of Pi; The Master; Les Misérables;
That looks like a workable batch of nominees for both production design and cinematography, right? But, it’s really never that easy….let’s discuss further…

Anna Karenina, the major Oscar contender that wasn’t. Seamus McGarvey has only earned one Oscar nomination (for his work with Keira and Wright on Atonement) and even though we’ve seen years where the cinematography pool is filled with no best picture contenders (2006), in a year of so many potential contenders McGarvey’s stock is probably lowered, right? And, by that token Mihai Malaimare’s work on The Master is probably not assured a cinematography mention. Sure, there’s a higher likelihood that The Master is a legitimate picture contender than Anna Karenina. But, then, in the larger scale of things does it matter? With such a wide batch of nominees in both categories the chances of both making it into both categories seems slim, so I flip a coin and decide Anna Karenina is headed in for its production design and The Master is in for its photography.

From there, we’re working with three almost sure to be nominated Best Picture contenders. But, do all three make it in? And, in both categories? There has been effusive talk of the gorgeous use of 3D in Life of Pi, but unlike last year’s essential 3D experience (Hugo) the talk of the production design isn’t as fulsome. So, we’ll put Life of a Pi as a yes for cinematography and a maybe for Production Design.

That leaves us with Lincoln and Les Misérables, two of the louder contenders for Best Picture. The thing with me offering up thoughts on the Oscar competition is that to some extent (deliberately, on occasion) I’m often desensitised as to what the buzz is regarding potential contenders. I know, for example, almost everyone expects Lincoln to turn up with in excess of 11 nominations, and that could happen and yet again I think it’s not such a runaway. For example, Lincoln’s Kaminski was nominated just last year for War Horse which was nowhere near as certain an awards contender but…my brain keeps rejecting the obviousness of a nomination. So, for now, I’ll say Lincoln is a definite in the production design and a strong maybe in cinematography. I’m probably inclined to pose the same argument for Les Misérables although I’d say Danny Cohen (nominated previously for The King’s Speech) is an even more precarious position than Kaminski (Best Picture contender and all). So, I’ll say Les Misérables in for production design, a maybe for cinematography.

See me try to employ guess work to predict the nominees below the jump....

The reason I’m so antsy about obvious contenders like Les Misérables and Lincoln making it as potential nominees for cinematography is not specifically because there’s such a wealth of nominees but because this year seems decidedly turbulent and there’s no telling we’ll end up with a situation like 06 with no picture contenders or 2010 with only picture contenders.  

Django Unchained isn’t listed above but poses a legitimate threat for nomination in both categories. It’s not one of the celebrated five this year (or, so it would seem) but – call it a whim, I feel like it’s a more likely cinematography contender (Richardson won just last year for his work on Hugo) than, say, Les Misérables at the moment. I’m less certain of its production design hopes…

So, where do we stand? On Production Design side we’ve got Anna Karenina; Lincoln; Les Misérables. In the maybe pile (in order of probability) I’ve got Django Unchained, The Master, Life of Pi. And, then, there are the possibilities I’ve not even considered yet – Cloud Atlas; The Hobbit; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Argo and Dark Shadows as contenders of carrying probabilities. Of that lot I’m immediately latching on to Cloud Atlas because even with a vacillating campaign can the production design across six different timelines be ignored? Is my appreciating for the film dulling my wisdom re its actual awards’ chances? Probably. But, I say it’s in. which leaves one slot and I’ll wager on The Hobbit if only because regardless of Jackson ennui, it seems weird not to appreciate it here, right?

PRODUCTION DESIGN, PREDICTIONS (alpha): Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwod); Cloud Atlas (Hugh Bateup, Uli Hanisch); The Hobbit (Dan Hennah); Lincoln (Rick Carter, Jim Erickson, Peter Frank); Les Misérables (Eve Stewart)

ALTERNATES (by probability): Django Unchained; The Hobbit; Dark Shadows; Argo

On cinematography I waver….thus far, I’m considering these three: Django Unchained ; Life of Pi; The Master And, how bizarre would you think me if I said I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Skyfall go without a nomination? PGA nod and all I’m still wavering on it being a Picture nod, but then Deakins is such a celebrated DP, I suppose he’s in. So, add Skyfall to the mix. Then what? One, slot – many options. We’ve got the aforementioned Lincoln and Les Misérables. Then, Beasts of Southern Wild, Zero Dark Thirty, Anna Karenina, Argo, Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit. Who gets in? I’ll say that I suspect this year will be more of a 2006 one than a 2010 one, and despite previous misgivings I’ll say Seamus is in for Anna Karenina…but then I wonder if ignoring Lincoln would be too foolish. So, I decide on…

CINEMATOGRAPHY, PREDICTIONS (alpha): Anna Karenina (Seamus McGarvey); Lincoln (Janusz Kaminski); Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda); The Master (Mihai Malamaire, Jr.); Skyfall (Roger Deakins)

ALTERNATES (by probability): Django Unchained; Zero Dark Thirty; Les Misérables

So, has a lack of predicting dulled my ability to do it well, or do these potential nominees look legitimate?

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