Sunday, February 07, 2010

Site Updates. 2010 Ahoy!


With 2010 well underway and arguably the first big new movie about to open (The Wolfman) I want to get a bit more organized. Over at headquarters, I've updated the review index pages so that you can find things easier and 2010 now has a grades page which you can also access from the sidebar here (under screenings/reviews) if you like to follow along as the year goes.

2009 Awards: Art Direction, Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing have been added. Every time I think I understand sound in film, I learn something else technical that throws me. So my awards are always a mix of thought about which films relied on their sound and used it expressively and which movies are most pleasing to the ears for a variety of reasons (i.e. not always explosions). As for art direction, don't you sometimes just want to crawl into these worlds and look around and touch everything. Coming Soon: Costume Design, Cinematography, Actor, Actress and Best Picture.

I've also reposted an overview of my favorite films by year. I'll fill in with more details later once we're clear of Oscar season but for now it's just the top film.

17 comments:

Casey said...

Just read through your favorites films from each year lists. interesting stuff. I was wondering how it was that neither GoodFellas nor LA Confidential made your top tens in their respective years. I thought I remembered you praising both films before and as they are two of my favorites I was just wondering about it.

adam k. said...

Yay for Hurt Locker in score! I loved it too. The oscar nom was such an exciting and unexpected validation.

Also yay for Drag Me to Hell in sound editing.

But boo for no Hurt Locker in sound editing. And no Star Trek!?!? That sound editing was genius. I suppose I'm biased as an unabashed fan of the series, but I LOVED all the old-skool effects they wove into the soundtrack ever so subtly. Everything from the hum of the ship's systems, to the "swish" of the turbolift, to the old transporter beam sound, not to mention all the battle zooms and zaps. Loved it. I would give it the win.

I also think the Star Trek score was better and more much more visceral (especially in its best moments) than the moving but rather one-note Up theme. But when you add the two together, Giacchino is pretty much the composer of the year. Wish I weren't so annoyed by his work on Lost...

Anonymous said...

How could I forget about Hunger in the sound categories? These list are brilliant!

Robert Hamer said...

Your two stop-motion nominees are your strongest in Art Direction. I would be happy with either one of them taking the gold. I would advocate for Avatar, except I just wish that there was more originality in the visual design of Pandora.

Kudos for some truly inspired choices in the sound categories, though. I would never have thought of Thirst.

Steven said...

Drag Me to Hell YES!

~Steven

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

No mention of The English Patient? Of course this is your, but that hurt the most.

Anonymous said...

wow, nathaniel you're getting a lot of spam lately.

Alex said...

Hi Nathaniel, i've been following your site for a LOOOONG time, but i've never posted anything until now.... so what made me do it?... to recommend you a film i just saw, i don't know if you've seen it, but as i don't see it on you 2009 reviews, i infer that you haven't, is "Fish Tank", Michael Fassbender acts in it, so watch it and i hope to hear some comments from you.... cheers

Glenn said...

Would I be be crazy in hoping that Mary and Max would've gotten in there if you had deemed it eligible? Those sets were incredible.

My art direction ballot would include Avatar, Coraline, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Mary and Max and Moon followed closely by Where the Wild Things Are, The Road, The White Ribbon, Nine and Inglourious Basterds.

Nathaniel, I must say I am incredibly surprised to see Antichrist nowhere in sight in either sound category. The sound work - the aural landscapes of sound mixing and the individual sounds of acorns and horrors alike of the sound editing - was almost unbeaten in quality this year. I also think The Road was exceptional for both categories, as was - duh - Avatar. Definitely District 9 and Paranormal Activity for lone Sound Editing nominations and Samson & Delilah plus Taking Woodstock for lone sound mixing nods. I loved the way the music occasionally drifted in and out of the soundtrack in the background.

Ryan said...

New site layout? sweet!

loving the Film Bitch Awards like no other!!!

p.s. THANK YOU for moving "Silence of the Lambs" into your Top 5 of 1991... its deserves the #1 spot but i'll settle for #4 ;)

Anonymous said...

interesting post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one learn that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

Chris said...

Hey Nathaniel,
Terrific choices for the sound categories. As a professional sound editor, I find it difficult to explain to people what I do and how that differs from the production mixer and the re-recording mixers. Not only do you seem to get the distinction but you chose some excellent nominees.

This was the first year I can remember where the mass audience was really made aware of how a bad sound mix can affect a movie (on "Public Enemies"). While the various gunshots registered superbly, the mixing on the dialogue was horrendous and muddy and most viewers had a hard time understanding it. That's why the achievements of "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" in this category should not be overlooked. No matter how crazy the action is or how loud the music got, they still interwove aural texture and intelligible dialogue into their mix.

From an editing perspective, I wish some of the creatures in "Avatar" sounded a little more exotic, as the horse beasts sound like horses and the big predator sounds way too much like a T-Rex (remember when "Jurassic Park" first came out, the roars and grunts sounded so new and realistic). But still, the movie is as much as a feast for the ears as it is for the eyes. I look forward to seeing who wins.

Christine said...

@Chris
I would like to know more about sound editing if you get a chance, as this is one area where I feel I'm seriously weak. What, for example, are some general things we should be looking for that make for very bad sound editing? What are some of the things that make sound editing great? (Other than the things you've already mentioned, of course).

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Abbie Cornish has gotten a Film Bitch nomination! I'm hoping we'll be seeing a mention for Penelope Cruz in Broken Embraces.

- Adam

Volvagia said...

I've taken a look at your lists. In regards to The TBA slots, I think Mars Attacks! would be an interesting nod to Burton, and Miller's Crossing is a more visually interesting, encompassing experience when stacked up with Goodfellas. Or pull out a nod for Total Recall. For hating Steel Magnolias, I think Do the Right Thing could spice up that list.

Chris said...

@Christine,
Sound editing encompasses dialogue editing (smoothly piecing together the various takes in a scene and pulling out audio imperfections that might distract the viewer), ADR (how well dubbed dialogue fits the image), effects and backgrounds (like all those haunting and evocative winds in "No Country For Old Men").

For me, really great sound editing is like a great performance: it adds depth and texture to the scene beyond what the script supplies. When the sound of a movie has real definition, it draws the viewer deeper into the film. Great examples, for me, are the atmospheric quality of the rain in "Ratatouille" (which has subtle changes in tone depending on the scene), the eerie metallic howls of approaching tanks at the end of "Saving Private Ryan" and the subjective animal sounds and piercing flashbulbs in "Raging Bull"'s bouts.

Bad sound editing is either obvious (exaggerated punches are the worst) or just bland. If you can't distinguish which bomb is following which bullet in a rote action scene, chances are the sound editing has become as generic as the visuals. Sorry for the length of the post; hope this helps!

Christine said...

@Chris Good and helpful. The first time I was aware of a sound editing mistakes was when the Munchkins screamed about a second before the Wicked Witch arrived in the Wizard of Oz. I like that you add what I should look for in good sound editing and mixing.