Saturday, 9 February 2013

I Can See It; Incoherent Oscar: Visual Effects

Common knowledge says that this one is already wrapped up. Is it? In my usual doubting Thomas ways I keep considering the potential for surprises, and last year I was in the minority in thinking that Hugo would win (and deservedly so). Who’s up for consideration?

The Nominees: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; Life of Pi; Marvel’s The Avengers; Prometheus; Snow White and the Huntsman

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Since we cannot get rid of the baggage of Middle Earth it’s worth noting that even though all three previous forays into the world have garnered wins here, only one member of that team remains – Letteri who also earned a win for his work on King Kong and Avatar. He was also nominated last year for The Planet of the Apes with R. Christopher White. The other two are enjoying their first nominations. Middle Earth is a visual feast – the dragons, the dwarves, Gollum and smaller intricacies which abound. The set-piece climaxes which build the film emanate significantly from the work of this visual team and in a category like this it does not hurt when the visuals are not only well-used but significant to the story. Interestingly, or not, The Hobbit eked out a “virtual cinematography” win at the Visual Effects Society, which eventual Academy winner Hugo received last year.

Life of Pi: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan de Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Like The Hobbit, above, the use of the visual effects here are inextricably linked to the most incidental of story aspects in Life of Pi. The two visual Effects Guilds win suggests that the love for this film is ardent, and why not? The creation of Richard Parker deserves every good word thrown its way; the seamless way the created tiger fits into the film is wondrous. And, that’s not even considering the other visual astounding moments we’re presented with. Its Best Picture luck (the only one nominated here) would indicate that this is Life of Pi’s battle to lose. And, it probably is. Westenhofer is a previous winner for his work on The Golden Compass and the other three are first time nominees.

Marvel’s The Avengers: Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Of the multiple superhero films trying to make their way into the category this year, this was the one which reigned supreme. Within the five films here, Marvel’s The Avengers would win the prize for most “fun” use of effects and in its deliberately gaudy it draws the most attention to itself. Like similarly themed visual effects over the years (Transformers, for example) its chances of a win seem less than assured. Maybe I underrate the money-making gargantuan film? I doubt. Sirrs is a former winner for his work on The Matrix and a former nominee with Sudick for Iron Man (who is also a former nominee for Master and Commander).

Prometheus: Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
In a quieter year the science fiction visual of Prometheus could be earning some significant love from awards, but it seems destined to endure as a nominee only. I’d say it joins the first two nominees in being especially integral to story and so much of the visual work contributes to tone and mood in the film, too. Of the two lone nominees in this category it would make more sense as a winner than The Avengers, but it probably does not matter either way. Wood is the only previous nominee of the lot having won for his work on The Golden Compass.

Snow White and the Huntsman: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Unsurprisingly, I have my issues with this nomination considering how much I loathe the film. The nomination is not truly egregious, though. I’d argue that it’s not quite as visually impressive as the other Snow White film this year, but dark and gloomy visuals tend to succeed here and the work with the mirror and forest is technically impressive. Double nominee, though it may be, I suspect that this shall be going home empty handed. Previous nominee for Superman Returns, Corbould has also won for his work on Gladiator.

Like with Art Direction the exclusion of Cloud Atlas is somewhat surprising as is the exclusion of VES winner The Impossible. I wouldn’t indict the category for poorness, even if I’d throw half of the slate.

Predicted Winner: Life of Pi, because sometimes the sure bet is the right bet

Alternate: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it surely would not be underserved

The Tiger all the way or are you rooting for any of the other nominees?


Squasher88 said...

It's all about Life of Pi for me.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

shane a doubtlessly fine a choice.