Saturday, November 21, 2009

Puppets and Precursors

Given that precursor season is nearly upon us and I've always believed in full disclosure you should know that I recently joined the BFCA. Yes, the same group I have taken to task in the past for their insistence on equating "best" with "Oscar predictions". I've never understood that as an operating agenda but then... it's hardly endemic to them. In fact, each year I have to underline the difference between predictions and preferences several times over when people start saying things like "you think that's better than that?" while holding their nose. So many people think it means the same thing but it never does. When the two crossover it's an accident... a happy accident. Best is your own perceived meritocracy. Prediction is what you suppose a random group of other people might collectively prefer. I promise to vote by way of Best.

Swag watch: Bad Lieutenant companion book and Coraline alphabet cards

But I have sooooo many movies left to watch before the precursor deadlines arrive. When will I get to them all? Where did the year go? It's nearly December.

A couple of nights ago I attended a Coraline event -- don't think I'm all fancy, I had to invite myself! -- which was a lot of fun. I told Henry Selick I loved Coraline and was rooting for it in the Animated Oscar race which is true (I'm okay with the schmoozy stereotype of the 'I love your work' meet and greet, so long as I actually love the work).

<-- This fully posable puppet was on display and though you can't really see it in this iPhone pic, the young explorer has a thin line across her face at eyeline. Apparently there's hundreds of individual top and bottom halves of this face that they had to mix and match painstakingly to bring her expressions to life. And then they digitally removed the line where her face comes apart. If you've seen any "making ofs" you already know this but I hadn't and didn't.

I've always loved stop motion but I can't imagine the level of patience required for even the simplest scenes. It's enough to drive one to drink.

I had a blue cocktail, which they served with blue rock candy. I'm not sure what that had to do with Coraline but it was yummy. Talking to Selick I learned that he hadn't seen the Off Broadway Coraline musical (discussed here) but that he was a fan of its composer (Stephin Merritt from Magnetic Fields). The soft spoken director behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach still hasn't decided on his next project -- he couldn't elaborate without jinxing -- but he's got three to choose from (a nice problem to have). I told him he should work on all three simultaneously a la Lord of the Rings. What? I'm greedy for good movies. I always want more.

Same goes for blue cocktails.



Andrew K. said...

Are you going to sign your posts Nathaniel, BFCA

And wow, I know you gave it an A-, but I didn't know you were rooting for Coraline. Not that that means much to the Oscars, but it makes me happy. Lucky for you meeting Selick, James & the Giant Peach is somewhere in my top 50 films. Should I be ashamed of that...? I think not.


new signature?

haha... um, NO.

Amir said...

hi nathaniel
i remember in another post you mentioned you hadn't seen 'a serious man' yet.
have you seen it ever since?
i've been REALLY waiting to see what you think of it.
that's the one movie you should watch before the deadline.

Robert Hamer said...

Good for you, man. Maybe you can go in there and whip those "Oscar predictors" into shape!

jennybee said...

That's awesome, Nathaniel. I've always kinda liked the BFCA in spite of their silliness. They'll be a better organization for having you in their number.

That Coraline party sounds like great fun. Thanks for explaining the face-matching; it's so easy to forget how much work goes into that kind of animation. I'd already forgotten how much I enjoyed Caroline--hope the awards-bestowing elite (ha, that's you now!) are similarly happy to be reminded of its dark fun and artistry.

Robert said...

I loved Coraline. It was lovely and demented. I, too, am pulling for an upset win in the Animated Oscar race, though I'm pretty sure a nomination will be the best we can hope for.

AD said...

That's great!!! Possibly,could you help Whip It get a Best Comedy Nod/Best Young Actress nod for Alia Shawkat..... just kidding!!


Anonymous said...

I think Coraline deserves the gold as well, but UP probably pulled at the heartstrings more.

lylee said...

Congrats, Nat!

I really need to see "Coraline."

RC said...

How fun - now you get a say in "the precurson"

That should be a whole lot of fun!

Catherine said...

So, Nathaniel, what are you voting for in Best Action Film? ;)

Just kidding. Like jennybee said, they're a better organisation with you in their ranks. Maybe you'll whip them into shape!


wait --- would they have "best action film" this year, now that THE DARK KNIGHT isn't eligible?