Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eye Candy Greatness: Cinematography & Costume Design.

More FiLM BiTCH Awards for you: cinematography & costume design.

I love these categories. Smart movie lovers realize how crucial they are to a film's success. Put your character in the wrong outfit and light them the wrong way and suddenly it's so less... right. Have them in the perfect outfit, with the right mix of character-revealing specificity and beauty (if it's called for) and suddenly... MAGIC.

Oscar went with Bright Star, Coco Before Chanel, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Nine and The Young Victoria in the costume category. Those are all valid and defendable choices, if a little obvious. For example, though I liked Nine more than most people -- and apparently if you didn't think it was the apocalypse in cinematic form, you did, too -- I'm struggling to see what's particular G-R-E-A-T about the costumes though I do like quite a lot. Pretty. Though I try to see all the Oscar contending films I did miss Coco Before Chanel. I blame my allergies to biopics combined with my misguided belief that it would get shut out of nominations and thereby end the mandatory viewing obligation.

I'm frustrated that Anna B Sheppard's work on Inglourious Basterds was snubbed by the Academy. I thought it was a really solid bet. But just like actors, various craft people also have different levels of awards magnetism and she gets the weird snubs, she does. For instance, Band of Brothers (the HBO miniseries) got 19 Emmy nominations in its day, but her costume design wasn't among them. Weird.

And see this man here?

That's Greig Fraser, director of photography on Bright Star. He's from Melbourne, he's only nine years into his screen career. He's only made a couple handfuls of shorts and features. But look what he can do already!!! He has a right to be furious about that Oscar snub. If he is furious. But I'm sure he'll get his revenge by getting even more brilliant as bigger jobs open up. This movie has to be a pretty great resume piece for a DP, no? His next gig: the remake of Let the Right One In... shortened to Let Me In.

How anyone can look at Bright Star and not see that it's one of the worthiest pieces of cinematography this year... I'll never understand. AMPAS is filled with strange people of strange tastes and peculiarities.

My Ballot: Cinematography and Costume Design.

What were your favorites in these categories this year?


ThaDropDownBear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim T said...

Dizziest site design of 2009: technical page of the film bitch awards

The time it must took you to collect all these pictures is the same time it took people to make the Bright Star costumes and Bergman to show the face of Bergman till in the end of Autumn Sonata :p

Good work! Not my favourite categories but the way you present them makes me want to look more carefully the next time I watch a film. But I have a serious tendency not to look at clothes. Why is that?

Caroline said...

just curious nathaniel - you obviously put a lot of effort into the film bitch awards. is most of it just technical stuff for the website, or is it a really lengthy nominating process? (more effort than AMPAS does, anyways)

Andrew K. said...

I actually do think Nine's costume are that brilliant, Colleen does waaaaay better work here than in Chicago. "Cinema Italiano" (I know you hated it), "Folies Bergeres", "Be Italian" (and NK) especially depend on them. And even the extras....but so glad to see Bright Star, Cheri and An Education make your five. Especially Cheri. I don't mean to be slow, but I just don't understand how this doesn't get nominated. It just. doesn't. make. sense.

Arkaan said...

I'll agree about Bright Star, but how once can look at The White Ribbon and choose five other films (mainly Nine) for cinematography befuddles me.

Ben said...

Yes for Bright Star! Absolutely stunning cinematography. Screw Pandora, I'll take 19th-century England if it looks like that!

Sid said...

I'm very happy that you included Antichrist in the top five, Nat! I sdtill don't know what I think of the movie (guess I don't like it all that much) but the cinematography and sound design are absolutely fantastic!

Scott said...

Loved Cheri's costumes. I'd have also put Fantastic Fox and The Brothers Bloom among the finalists. And I'm happy to see your appreciation for Lance Acord.

Jeff said...

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince doesn't even make your Cinematography also-rans, but Avatar does? Astounding. Someone needs to explain to me what makes Avatar's cinematography award-worthy, because I do not understand. At all.

Unknown said...

I am still furious that BRIGHT STAR didn't score a cinematography nomination. Greig Fraser was my most exciting find of 2009. Apart from BRIGHT STAR, this talented chap also shot THE BOYS ARE BACK and LAST RIDE. I can recommend these films to see his work alone.

Glenn Dunks said...

I still haven't seen Bright Star (I KNOW!) but I can attest to Greig Fraser! Whatta talent!

My cinematography nods (it's usually my favourite category, but this year it was the Art Direction category that I couldn't get enough of) would be Antichrist, Inglourious Basterds, Nine, Samson & Delilah and The White Ribbon.

For costumes my nominees would be Bruno, Coco avant Chanel, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, Inglourious Basterds although I have not seen Bright Star or Cheri.

Robert Hamer said...

Wait, where are Casey Storm's costumes from Where the Wild Things Are?

adam k. said...

I didn't even like Antichrist, but I LOVED the cinematography. It was so classy and haunting and eerie and mysterious that it forced you to take the absurd movie seriously. And in some scenes I was left wondering how they even made the images they did (it probably had something to do with post, in addition to the way it was filmed). Really technically impressive work. I might even give it the win.

Except that Bright Star was similarly impressive, and I also loved the movie.

Also love the Nine nomination. That scene when DDL pulls the curtain off the light? Dazzling.

adam k. said...

I'm assuming Avatar takes this oscar, though. I think voter tunnel vision will take over, and everyone will think "OMG, the visuals!" and hence give Avatar cinematography, art direction and visual effects.

Plus, maybe it's just me, but I didn't think the shots in Ingorious Basterds were THAT terrific. It's just kinda the usual very, very well lit film. But it didn't have those shots, like some in Bright Star, Antichrist and Nine where I just had to gasp at the visual virtuosity on display. For me, Basterds was more about the sets and costumes, which were curiously snubbed.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

We agree 4/5 on cinematography - I have Eduard Grau for A Single Man instead of Lance Acord. Strong costume lineup, though I still need to see The White Ribbon.

Deivith Coast said...

LOVE your cinematography choices,mines are the same! Bright Star is AMAZING in all senses, yesterday I watched it twice and I just can´t get enough! I hope it win FB Best Picture, now that we know wonderful Abbie has no chances(I adore Tilda & Julia but I would have liked Abbie for the gold and Tilda for silver)I prefer Nine & Public Enemies costume design than The White Ribbon or Cheri. I think I was hoping Cheri to be outstanding, at least in costumes, but they disappointed me a little. I still have to see An Education and A Single Man (Spain is slow in distribution), but I think they can be in my final lineup. Don´t like Avatar as a finalist in cinematography, it´s really tacky (Don´t like Avatar in any cathegory, even visual effects). Love both Inglorious Basterds nominations (specially cinematography, usually snubbed or underapreciated, when it´s genius), and Where the wild things are in cinematography (yes, there must be something against Lance Accord, why this wonderful film doesn´t have any Oscar nominations?), but I miss their gorgeous monster costumes.

By the way, I love almost each Oscar cathegory, specially actors, screenplays, music (score and song)and these wonderful visual cathegories (with art direction too), but Nathaniel, you make them shine with these wonderful pictures, though this year we don´t coincide so much as in other years, Film Bitch Awards are my favourite of all the awards in the world, you should make a ceremony!

And finally...You´re missing nothing without watching Coco avant Chanel. I love Chanel but this film is crap, even the costumes are unworthy, and Audrey Tautou very disappointing, only Desplat is great. Haven´t seen Mr. Fox (you know, Spain...), but Desplat´s two best scores of the year are for two horrible films: Coco and New Moon...But I´ll always say that his best work is for Birth, a PERFECT movie with a PERFECT score and a PERFECT performance by the most PERFECT of all the actresses in the world (Sorry, I can´t say Desplat without saying Birth without saying I LOVE YOU NICOLE!)

Deivith Coast said...

And I also think Nine´s costumes are way better than Chicago´s, and very important in the film and musical numbers...They are great! Just one thing they do well in the Oscars...And they are snubbed in the Film Bitch Awards! I know you liked Nine more than others, but it´s being really snubbed in your awards... I miss Nine in so many cathegories...I LOVE LOVE LOVE Nine, and I hope it will be recognised as it deserves in the future

Guy Lodge said...

"How anyone can look at Bright Star and not see that it's one of the worthiest pieces of cinematography this year..."

Your answer lies in your question. I'm starting to think nobody in the Academy (save for a few costumers) "looked at" Bright Star at all. Sigh.

Wonderful choices all round. I'm surprised, however, given that you so often champion the neglected art of contemporary costume design, that you make no mention of the immaculately tailored couture wardrobe of "Broken Embraces," which actually cracked my own Top 5 in the category.

And "Public Enemies" was Colleen Atwood's real achievement this year, for my money.

Andrew R. said...

Where the Wild Things Are wins Cinematography.

For Costumes, I'm with Basterds.


I've nominated Lance Acord three times now and AMPAS just doesn't like him I guess. Weird. He might be my favorite of the newish DPs.

Ryan said...

Firstly, I must state the obvious in that both audiences and cinematographers alike are in considerable debt to the imagination of Jane Campion. Just consider all the unique, stylish visuals that have been captured under her direction:
“The Piano" (a worthy candidate for the All Times List)
“The Portrait of a Lady”
“Holy Smoke”
“In the Cut”
“Bright Star”

Secondly, I’m thrilled Mantle made the cut despite Nathaniel’s lukewarm reaction to his film… but rather baffled to see Beebe’s fine lightening beating out Berger’s masterful “White Ribbon” photography, WTF?!?

Anyway, one thing is for certain… 2009 was a ridiculously rich year for the art of cinematography! From creative indie’s (“Bright Star”, “Hurt Locker”) to mainstream studio fare (“Harry Potter”, “Nine”, “Where the Wild Things Are”)… to technical innovation (“Avatar”, “Antichrist”) and foreign gems (“White Ribbon”, “Broken Embraces”)… the Academy shoulda have extended THIS category to 10!

My personal ballot would be:
“Antichrist” - Anthony Dod Mantle
“Bright Star” - Greg Fraser
“Inglourious Basterds” - Robert Richardson
“A Single Man” - Eduard Grau
“The White Ribbon” - Christian Berger

Acord was a just-miss. And choosing a winner among Berger, Mantle and Fraser is almost as tough as picking from the 2004 Best Actress nominees!

Ryan said...

Oh, and my ballot for Best Costume Design:

“Bright Star” - Janet Patterson
“An Education” - Odile Dicks-Mireaux
“Inglourious Basterds” - Anna B. Sheppard
“A Single Man” - Arianne Phillips
“The Young Victoria” - Sandy Powell

the Sheppard Oscar snub is atrocious. Pending “Bright Star”, she deserves the gold!

Unknown said...


Christopher Doyle for The Limits of Control

Anonymous said...

Say what you will about Anitchrist but the cinematography is incredible.

My list also includes:
Bright Star - Greig Fraser
The Road - Javier Aguirrerobe
Where the Wild Things Are - Lance Acord
The White Ribbon - Christian Berger

And for costumes..
Bright Star - Janet Patterson
An Education - Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Nine - Colleen Atwood
A Single Man - Arianne Phillips
Where the Wild Things Are - Casey Storm

Anonymous said...

I so happy to see "Inglourious Basterds" as the Film Bitch nomination leader.
I certainly did not see those 9 nominations coming

Sebastian said...

Shoshanna's red dress is just as iconic as Cecilia's green dress was in "Atonement." Shameful that Anna B. Sheppard was robbed of an Oscar nod this year.