Tag Archives: The Oscars

The Academy & I: 2008

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After the exceptional year in film that was 2007, to see a fall-off in the quality of motion pictures the following year wasn’t all that unexpected. While 2008 certainly had its fair share of great films, you’d be hard-pressed to find many that were fairly represented at the following year’s Oscar ceremony. What the Academy did give us that year, however, was the last truly great Oscar host in Hugh Jackman. He took what is often-times an incredibly lackluster show and made it quite simply, great entertainment. It was, however, magic that we unfortunately haven’t seen in the ceremonies since. 2008 would also mark a notable shift in the Academy’s nomination process, as it would be the last year in which they would only get to nominate five films for Best Picture, but more on that in the next entry.

2008 was a year in which the Academy chose to frustrate my inner-cinephile like no other. Sure, there were many nominees and winners who were very deserving, but there were just as many head-scratching nominees and victors who would have been left out in the cold in any other year. It was a year that heralded the comeback of a once great screen actor, but also saw the loss of one of the industry’s most promising young thespians. It was a year that saw The Dark Knight take the critics and box office by storm, only to be shunned in most of the major categories by Hollywood’s greatest institution.

As I take a look back on the year in film that was 2008, I will delve into those films that I personally felt best represented the year, as opposed to those that were actually represented come Oscar night.

Best Cinematography

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2008, for all intensive purposes, was the year of Slumdog Millionaire. One of the film’s many wins on Oscar night was for the bright color-infused work by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. Known for his collaborations with not only Slumdog helmer Danny Boyle, but the crazy Dane himself Lars von Trier, there is no doubt Dod Mantle does solid work here, but it’s certainly not a career-best. Other nominees in the category included Wally Pfister’s work in The Dark Knight as well as that of Claudio Miranda in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. While my thoughts on the film itself may not exactly match up with my declaration here, there is no doubt Miranda’s work with David Fincher on Button is exceptional. It’s interesting to note then that Miranda’s nomination was the first ever awarded by the Academy to a film shot entirely digitally. Although I am very much on the side of film stock when it comes to the raging cinematography debate, Fincher’s films continue to be the best example of digital cinematography, highlighted by Miranda’s work here. He would go on to win the Oscar for lensing Life of Pi just this past year, but it’s safe to say it doesn’t top his timeless work on Button.

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The Academy & I: 2007

 

 

Writers-strike

On November 5th 2007, the Writer’s Strike began and took Hollywood by storm. Fighting for increased compensation for their work, the members of the Writers Guild of America had officially decided to take a stand against the studios in town that had been turning a heavy profit from DVD releases, the Internet and other multi-media forms that used the writers’ works. Many feared the impending Academy Awards ceremony, set for February 24th 2008, would not go off as planned and without any of the individuals who they planned on awarding. These fears were all for naught, however, as the writers struck a deal on February 12th and the strike became a thing of the past.

While many remember this particular awards season for the strike, other cinephiles remember 2007 for being one of the finest years for film in recent memory. Not only did the year give us an exceptional new Coen brothers film, but it also marked the return of one of America’s infrequently seen auteurs, Paul Thomas Anderson, whose There Will Be Blood was about as bombastic a return-film as one gets. The year also saw the arrival of a new writing voice in Diablo Cody, while also sporting some of the finest acting performances many had seen in quite some time.

As I delve into this particular year in film, I will highlight nine of the categories of this particular Academy Awards ceremony and discuss how differently (or similarly) I saw the very same year in film.

Best Cinematography

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2007 was one of those years where film-goers were treated to such an embarrassment of riches when it came to cinematography. From the hauntingly barren old fields of Robert Elswit’s work in There Will Be Blood to the double-bill of visual splendor Roger Deakins provided in No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, you’d be hard-pressed to find a flaw in any of the Academy’s nominations. While Elswit deservedly won the Oscar for his work, seeing Deakins be the bridesmaid yet again on awards night was certainly a tough pill to swallow. Many would argue that his work in Jesse James is a career-best, and I wouldn’t disagree. For such a renowned artist as Deakins, it’s hard to believe he has yet to win an Oscar. Here’s hoping that changes sooner rather than later.

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The List: Andrew’s Most Anticipated Films of Awards Season

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It’s that time of the year. The time when summer blockbusters fade into the distance, when some of the biggest festivals in the world gear up for their wide array of film premieres and of course, when I become nearly crippled by my intense cinephile excitement. The awards season is upon us!

The Academy Awards may still be six months away but September is that time of the year when it all begins again. Nearly every week brings with it the premiere of an under-the-radar critically acclaimed indie or an Oscar contender that wanted to get a jump on the competition. Thus begins my weekly drives up to Boston due to my inability to wait for the films to come to me.

This year however, is even more special for me. For the first time in my life, I will make the journey up to Canada to experience the Toronto International Film Festival. I will have the chance to view some of my most anticipated films of the season months ahead of time and it’s safe to say that I can’t wait for these next two weeks to fly by.

With all this being said, I’ve decided to compile a list of my most anticipated films of the coming awards season.  This year brings films from some of my absolute favorite filmmakers and here’s hoping they are not overlooked (as they often are) by the Academy come early next year.

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