Monday, February 19, 2007

Oscar's Visual Races

Let's save Costume Design until tomorrow but for now Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing, Visual Effects and Makeup: See the final predictions. You'll notice that I didn't make one in Editing. Y'all gotta help me out with that one.

Even the editors themselves (@ the ACE EDDIE Awards) couldn't decide, opting for a tie between Babel & The Departed. Ties almost never happen with the Academy's nearly 6000 strong voting body... so answer me these questions three
  1. Which film do you think wins the Oscar here and does it also win Best Picture?
  2. Why does the Academy seem to respond to the juggling of big ensemble dramas in this category UNLESS the film is directed by Robert Altman? (Seriously now. Nashville and Gosford Park weren't even nominated in this category and no Altman film ever won this category. Yet Crash and Traffic were winners for keeping all the story threads going. What's that about?
  3. Assuming some voters are wowed by the real time air/land tensions of United 93 and Children of Men's impactful infrequent cutting... which film do they siphon votes from?


Ben said...

Like you said, they usually go for "most editing," so I'll just call it for Babel because I doubt many people are going to care too terribly much about the category.

Then again, if The Departed has enough momentum, I'd go with that.

So I guess we're back in the dilemma you started with. I'll tip it towards Babel. It's got that whole multiple storylines thing goin' for it.

Brian Darr said...

This is just a theory, but I think Altman's "problem" with the Academy, especially in this category, was that his working methods tended to be so different from most directors; he rarely shot nearly the amount of coverage of a scene that "classical" editing technique recommends. If he did, it was often because he was running multiple cameras at the same time, which I suspect may have been seen by editors as something of a cheat. In a way he was editing more with his camera movements than with his editing table.


good theory ---although... how many voters really know about the production process. I've always thought that a good portion of the problem is that people are voting on things they know nothing about.

I mean Hilary Swank for example (just to pick on someone I hate ;) would she really know good sound mixing if she heard it?

Brian Darr said...

Okay, so my theory, if correct, better explains why Nashville and Gosford Park (and Short Cuts and so many of his other films) failed to snag nominations from the editors' branch of the Academy than it explains why Geraldine Peroni lost for the Player or why Danford B. Greene lost for M*A*S*H. Those I'll explain by the fact that the films that took the editing category in 1970 and 1992 also took Best Picture.

Anonymous said...

You do not hate Hilary Swank.

Both Babel and The Departed need the editing win to make 4 Oscars - if they're going to win Best Picture. Nobody wants a Crash/Rocky again.

Let's see :

Score (?)

The Departed scenario is more likely to happen. Assuming Scorsese won't lose, Let's see the other movies.

Original Screenplay
(Arkin and Breslin just can't)


Screenplay (no way)
Sound Editing

The Queen

I don't think The Queen has the momentum to upset.

Veredict: The Departed win Editing and Best Picture.

-cal roth

adam k. said...

I'm worried about Dreamgirls in art direction. I really hope Pan's pulls it out, but the Dreamgirls fan base will be angry about the snub and voting for it everywhere they can. But it's SO undeserving here. I think Pan's pulls it off, but just barely (Dreamgirls can win every oscar it's up for, can it?).

At this point, I'm actually expecting Pan's to win 4 oscars... and for Dreamgirls to win 5.

As for editing... tough call. Didn't it win the BAFTA or some other big award? I think there is this sense that it has the best editing of the year, even without the best pic nom. Plus Schoonmaker and Mirrione have both won fairly recently, and will be splitting the votes. If I had to rank the nominees in order of likehood for the win, I'd probably say:

1) United
2) Babel
3) Departed
4) Children
5) Diamond

...but I really have no idea.

And WHY in a year when the editors made such good and unorthodox choices overall did they pick Blood Diamond over Casino Royale? Truly mindboggling. There's always something to bitch about...

adam k. said...

Basically Babel has in its corner the "thow the movie a bone" thing... editing is really the only oscar it can win. And that could win it for Babel. But I think the fact that the editing is really not that special will doom it to second place, and Babel will go home oscarless.

Paxton Hernandez said...


May you be a prophet! Babel and Oscarless should be on the same sentence more often!

RC said...

man, i'm totally hoping for the departed over babel.

no joke, why can't they love an altman?

oh, votes seem like they'd definitly go to Children of Men before United 93.

Glenn Dunks said...

Adam, the "give the film a bone" thing seems to be one of those myths that doesn't really exist. There's a whole big list of movies with high numbers of nominations and zero wins.

I think the award goes to the editors of United 93. All the fans of that movie will be voting for it and the editing is "obvious" enough for some stragglers to note it and tick the box.

I do want Babel to go home empty-handed though, and as good as The Departed was in this department, the work on United 93 was just so strong.

Anonymous said...

I think Babel gets Editing and nothing else. Sure, a lot of Picture nominees come away with 0 awards, but a lot come away with just 1 or 2 also.

Much as I loved United 93, I know so many who people who can't bring themselves to see it. And even with a Directing nomination as well, I bet there will be A LOT of voters who don't get round to putting the DVD in their player.

I think The Departed will win Best Picture and maybe with only 3 awards. The fact that Thelma has won before, and only 2 years ago, gives me pause.

It doesn't mean it's as bad as Crash or Rocky, just that - like last year - all the nomination totals for the Pic nominees are very low, so the number of awards they win will probably be low too. Don't forget 4 films tied with the most awards last year. Dreamgirls could quite easily win the most awards this year, more than the eventual Pic winner.

Cinesnatch said...

1. Babel/No
2. Because the Academy is literal
3. The Departed

Glenn Dunks said...

I think it's great that the BP nominees aren't dominating the techs. It shows that you don't need to have the best sound editing or best art direction to be best picture.

Lower totals for the BP nominees doesn't really bother me. I champion it.


I love it to Glenn, but it sure does make prediction more complicated (which is also a good thing) --I don't get why people say this year is predictable. It's only predictable in acting I think.

Paxton Hernandez said...

I don't get why people say this year is predictable. It's only predictable in acting I think.

Damn right, Nathe! The Best Picture alone is a good reason to go sleepless. So unpredictable!

Glenn Dunks said...

It's because they're pessimistic ninnies who can't think of anything better to do than bite the hand that feeds them. With the Oscars they think their lives are so complicated and frantic, yet without them they wouldn't be able to pay somebody to read their opinions.

And then there are those who bemoan how "predictable" the whole race is and then damn any awards body that dare think outside the circle and deem them as "irrelevent".


I'm going to go watch Tristram Shandy now.

Pool Master Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adam k. said...

People say this year is predictable because they only care about predicting acting awards. That's all most people care about.

Though they must acknowledge the best pic conundrum.

Anonymous said...

I agree with adam k. that there might be some "throw a bone" sentiment, but I think this rewards "United 93" ahead of "Babel" for editing, and not just because I posted on this blog back in April/May that "United 93" could get this. I simply feel that "Babel" has more awards strength going into Sunday than some are crediting, so it would not generate such sympathies among the voters.

On the broader thread, I see a surprise coming in Makeup, with "Apocalypto" gaining recognition for, if nothing else, the sheer mass of the effort. Having that many people in that much makeup in the middle of its jungle/drought-ravaged location settings, and having it work so well, may impress those with even an inkling into the difficulties of the art. It also has lots of prosthetics and heart-stopping (so to speak) sequences for those insistent on rewarding such things.

Anonymous said...


Babel's "editing not that special". Not that special?! Did you see the nightclub scene? That was bravura editing at it's finest and that was in addition to sustaining a nice, elegant pacing throughout, keeping us interested in each of the stories, never languishing over any of the scenes. If it wins, it's earned. That's why the editors' guild themselves just recognized it as one of the two best-edited films of the year. Do you hold more authority than them as an editing judge?

In terms of who will win, Nathaniel, I'm as stumped as you. Everyone's already presented the basic arguments each way and they're all good arguments, each offsetting the other. Logic won't solve this particular puzzle. Go with your hunch. My own betters' hunch says U93. I don't know why. It just does. Forget the logic, try and picture in your mind who's going to be up onstage, and go with your own hunch.


i don't think the old saw "the professionals liked it best therefore..." is particularly useful because it suggests that professionals are infallible in their ideas about what constitutes "best" and that takes all the fun out of judging their decisions and saying "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!!!"

i'm kind of joking but i'm also deadly serious: I maintain that being good at doing something and judging it well are two different skill sets. Some people have both. Some people do not.

I do think Babel's editing is pretty skillful but I would never rank it above the work of United 93 or Children of Men as the editors just did.

but thanks for saying "trust your hunch" --I agree that that's the way to go... but my hunch keeps changing ha ha.

and my hunch says The Departed since it's got screenplay and director and the votes will be flying every which way anyways.

on the other hand that might just be 'wishful thinking'

Glenn Dunks said...

One scene doesn't really make a film award-worthy. Technically, Babel is well edited, but it felt cold and lifeless. Editing by default.

adam k. said...

I agree with Nathaniel that professionals are not always good judges of their own work. Any number of bad oscar/guild decisions can back that up.

Babel's editing is good, don't get me wrong, and I think it's a worthy enough nomination. But compared to United 93, Children of Men and The Departed... no, I don't think it's that special. I'd put it a distant 4th in the race, but still way ahead of Blood Diamond.

adam k. said...

And by "distant 4th in the race," I mean in terms of it being deserving.

In terms of the actual oscar race, I actually think it'll win. Crash won here, after all.

Anonymous said...

it's funny when thinking of people judging their own work. I saw a preview presentation of Lestat (the musical) and I was horrified at how godawful and banal the music was and then Elton John got up onstage and blah blah blah "i think it's the best thing I've ever written"

oh lordy.

this man has written classic classic songs and several of them. and he's most proud of Lestat?