» Posts Tagged ‘oscars’

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OscarWe’ve talked quite a bit about online petitions lately. First it was Kentucker Audley satirically urging independent filmmakers to give up their dreams for the greater good of the film industry. Then, in the wake of the Sarah Jones tragedy, it was a petition to have her recognized during the “In Memoriam” segment at Sunday’s Academy Awards. And now, fellow No Film Schoolers, we have another petition to unleash on you, a petition to split the Oscar for “Best Cinematography” into two separate categories. Read on to see what all of the fuss is about. More »

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her1We’ve covered Spike Jonze’s romantic drama Her quite a bit since its release. In fact, this unconventional film has been studied, explored, and examined quite a bit — filmmakers, journalists, and critics alike delve into the narrative to find answers to the many questions the film poses — like, who really represents humanity in the film, Samantha or Theo? Kevin B. Lee shares yet another excellent video with Keyframe, this time not only discussing why Her deserves the Oscar for Best Picture, but goes further in suggesting that the film is about “more than just a tragic love story between human and machine,” but is also about “how much of being human is like being a machine.” More »

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The 2014 Academy Awards are now exactly two weeks away, which means advertisements, TV spots, interviews, and talk show appearances featuring nominated films and their actors are reaching their seasonal apices. But over at Keyframe, they’ve put together a video that pits each Best Director nominee against each other in a fight to see which one is most deserving of the Oscar. Continue on to take a closer look at the directorial styles, performances, and artistic approaches of some of the most talented directors working today. More »

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Academy Nicholl Fellowships in ScreenwritingIf you apply to one and only one screenwriting competition a year (and I don’t recommend that you apply to very many screenwriting competitions), the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting should be that one competition. Beyond awarding five $35,000 fellowships each year, the Nicholl Fellowships publishes the names, contact information and loglines of the quarterfinalist, semifinalist and finalist screenplays for industry executives. This is the one screenwriting competition many industry executives watch. As a result, the Nicholl Fellowships actually launch screenwriting careers. But you have to write a really good screenplay, because the competition is tough, and the early deadline of Feb. 28 is fast approaching. More »

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SupermanOne of the Academy Award categories that is fast becoming not only an industry favorite, but a fan favorite, is Best Visual Effects — and for good reason. VFX have made it possible to tell impossible stories, ever more adeptly selling the illusion that what’s up on-screen, be it Ryan Stone adrift in space or Tony Stark’s exoskeleton, is absolutely real. With this year’s Oscars is proving to be another big year for visual effects, with the nominations of Gravity and Iron Man 3 to name a couple, let’s take a look at the last 37 years of Academy Award-winning VFX in this great retrospective by Nelson Carvajal. More »

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The GrandmasterWhat qualifies as great cinematography to you? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have certainly run the gamut in their nominations for Best Cinematography; the group of honored films consists of a diverse selection of stories told by some of the most talented DPs of our time, which makes one wonder — what does the “best” cinematography look like anyway? Fandor has put together yet another compilation of footage from this year’s Oscar nominees in cinematography in an effort to dissect, break down, and study each of their visual artistry. More »

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Alone Yet Not AloneLet’s get this out of the way if you didn’t know it already: the Academy Awards are a popularity contest, just like any election. If you’re nominated in a category, it’s likely because millions of dollars were spent getting the word out. There are exceptions, of course, but just like with politics, it’s not necessarily the best candidate, but the best campaign that wins. With that said, the Academy has now done something that may be unprecedented: they’ve taken back a nomination. More »

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Searching for Sugar ManFor better or worse, winning an Oscar is as good as it gets within the Film Industry. Haven’t we all imagined our thank you speech where we acknowledge our moms or give the metaphorical middle finger to our enemies? However, getting nominated for an Academy Award requires more than just making a good film — and for a documentary, you have to start thinking about this early or risk disqualification, as filmmaker Hunter Weeks explains in the FilmCourage interview below. More »

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It’s far too easy to get caught up in the technological aspects of filmmaking, whether it be with new cameras, lenses, NLEs, or anything else. Focusing on gear is easy when something new comes out practically every day, but all of this technology is in place for the purpose of helping us tell better stories. What better way to remind ourselves of this than to see a great story made with what is widely considered to be “less than adequate” equipment? Such is the case with Searching for Sugar Man, the Academy Award winner for Best Feature Documentary at this year’s Oscars, part of which was shot on, as you might have already guessed, an iPhone. Check out the trailer for this fascinating film below: More »

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Another year, another Oscars, but this one was very special to the indie community for one major reason: the documentary short Inocente made history as the first Kickstarter film to win an Academy Award. Hollywood might have just started noticing the crowdfunding platform recently, but independent films have benefitted greatly over the last few years, and Kickstarter has been involved in a number of festival and award-winning films — including a few Oscar nods. Also, if you missed it previously, embedded below is Paperman, which took home the best animated short film Academy Award, and the trailer for Curfew, shot on the RED ONE, which received the live action short film award. More »

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It’s that time of year again, when Hollywood nominates the films that ran the best Oscar campaigns best films from the previous year in a number of categories. Even just being nominated for an Academy Award is usually an honor for most of these filmmakers and actors, and many of them have been on the ballot a number of times. Probably the most interesting selection is Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, a true independent film not just in budget but in spirit, which was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and the youngest Best Actress nomination ever in Quvenzhané Wallis. What’s even more interesting is how many of these films were still shot on actual film, but how long will that last? More »

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Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, has worked on a number of big Hollywood films, notably Fight Club, The Social Network, and more recently The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – which we’ve talked about here before because of its interesting post workflow. Besides feature films, Cronenweth has also shot and directed quite a few music videos and commercials – which is where his collaborator David Fincher also got his start. He shares insights about digital filmmaking and his working relationship with notoriously take-heavy Fincher in this four-part Oscar Q&A provided by Creatasphere. More »

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I did not expect to say this

02.23.09 @ 2:56AM Tags :

I may seldom agree with the Academy on what constitutes a “Best Picture,” but congratulations to the AMPAS for putting on an inspired, nearly flawless and tone-perfect Oscars. Reverence plays well when the global economy is imploding.

On the other hand, I went into the telecast expecting to disagree with the vast majority of their awards, and that certainly held true. I merely want to give credit where credit is due, to the showrunners, who put together an entertaining and efficient presentation. Well done. Producing the Oscars is probably a fairly thankless job, because no matter what you do everyone will say it was too long. Which I suppose is why I felt the need to post here, to explicitly not complain. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

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A couple of years ago on this site I deemed Crashone of the worst films I’ve seen in recent memory.” Shortly thereafter, the film went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Affronted, I quoted an overwhelmingly negative review by LA Weekly critic Scott Foundas to back up my claim.

This year, after watching Atonement and harboring similar feelings about the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning period piece, I returned to the Internets in hopes of finding a review I could again quote, but a cursory review of Rotten Tomatoes produced no such satisfactorily negative text. Two quick pulls, however: The New York Times’ A.O. Scott called it “an almost classical example of how pointless, how diminishing, the transmutation of literature into film can be,” and The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane, in an assessment surprisingly free of vitriol, allowed that he “hardly believed a word of it.” However, Atonement currently has scores of 82 and 85 at Rotten Tomatoes and metacritic, respectively (which metacritic categorizes as “Universal Acclaim”). These are even higher marks than Crash’s; Atonement also took home the Best Drama Golden Globe, which has been a decent predictor of Oscar-winners. This scares me.

That said, I’m no critic, and I’ve no desire to become one–on some level I think film critic and filmmaker are mutually exclusive occupations–so it’s unlikely that I’ll elucidate my feelings about the film as well as a bona fide professional would. Nevertheless, my problems with Atonement stem from its cart-before-the-horse writing; sure, it has drama, beauty, twists, reveals, and all the things they teach you in screenwriting class, but none of the events feel justified by truth. The characters aren’t driving the story; the narrative is instead driven by the writer(s) wanting to get to a certain point, and coming up with totally implausible ways to get there. I say “writer(s)” because these complaints may be uniquely directed at screenwriter Christopher Hampton’s adaptation–or they may be equally valid criticisms of Ian McEwan’s source text. Not having read the book, and now harboring no desire to do so, I can’t say. But without getting into any spoilers, let me ask: have you ever written multiple version of a letter–say one was handwritten and one typed, so by appearance they are quite differentiated, even at a glance–and then proceeded to sign, fold, seal, and send the wrong one, with the right one sitting on your desk face-up (right next to your Cambridge scholarship)? What if one of the letters was a filthy joke you’d written for your eyes only (implausibly), and the other one was an apology you were sending to your true love–via the hand of a nosy 12 year-old girl? Perhaps not the time to haphazardly stuff an envelope with (apparently) your eyes closed. Well, that’s just what a certain character in Atonement does, setting off many of the tragic events to follow. If there’s anything to atone for in the film, it’s apparently Being A Dumbass.

This, along with several other occurrences in the film’s first act, left me with an overwhelming desire to walk out of the theater; instead, I subjected myself to the remainder, in order to write home that Atonement is nothing to write home about. Indeed, the film is a shoddily-constructed soap opera–finely crafted at times, but less believable than an episode of “As the World Turns” (or whichever daytime soap is the least plausible). If Atonement was a construction project, and director Joe Wright was the foreman on the effort, then he should be evaluated as having done a proficient job with the interior decoration, weatherproofing, HVAC, and plumbing; however, he built the whole house on a faulty foundation, made not of concrete but rather of shit.

If it wins the Oscar I’ll tell you how I really feel.