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Home » Dave’s 2005 Oscar Preview – Part Two: Arts and Crafts, Music and Language

Dave’s 2005 Oscar Preview – Part Two: Arts and Crafts, Music and Language

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Or, as I remember them, 2nd, 5th, and 7th period.

Makeup

Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Sea Inside

Will Win: The Passion of the Christ
Should Win: The Passion of the Christ

Although sympathies aren’t generally going to sway towards this film (given the lack of noms to a film that, when it came out, was looking at all of the awards or none at all), I still think that makeup is a bone the Academy is willing to throw here. Movies like Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings usually walk away with this one. Now, those movies also went on to win Best Picture, but since The Aviator isn’t up for this one (which, frankly, it could be – did you see Leo in batshit crazy mode?) I’m giving it to the next most gravitas-laden contender. (I know, Sea Inside is pretty damn heavy, too. But the bone it’s gonna get comes later.)

And Passion does make with the makeup. You really believe he’s going through all that and part of the reason is convincing makeup. Another part is visceral flesh-ripping audio, but they’re not up for that.

And kudos to the Academy for not ignoring makeup masterpieces like The Hours or Planet of the Apes (and that’s the only context in which the latter gets near the word “masterpiece”) in favor of stuff like, well, The Time Machine this year. Not that there was anything makeuppy on the level of The Hours to ignore, but still.

COSTUME DESIGN

The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
Ray
Troy

Will Win: The Aviator
Should Win: Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events

This award usually goes to big, frilly dresses. Think Topsy Turvy or Moulin Rouge. Given that, I’m kind of surprised Phantom isn’t up in here. Regardless, Finding Neverland and The Aviator best fit the bill. Now Neverland is a little more frilly, but the Academy can’t resist its own history. I can hear the announcer now. “For bringing to life the designs of Old Hollywood…” over a montage of the sketches morphing into the actual outfits. It’s like candy to them.

Snicket’s could be the spoiler here, and it should be. The costumes are outrageous, and perfectly appropriate. Count Olaf’s coat alone should be worth the statue. That type of outrageousness is occasionally rewarded (see Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’s win), but it’s rare.

ART DIRECTION

The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Will Win: The Aviator
Should Win: (tie) Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events/A Very Long Engagement

Art Direction usually doesn’t stray far from Costume, and this year will be no exception. However, it should be noted that the respective annual Guild awards for each of these went to Snicket’s. But those guild members make up a small fraction of Academy voters. (Artists nominate their peers – costume designers nominate costume designers and so forth – but EVERYBODY votes on the winner). Still, if I’m wrong about Costume Design, I’ll probably be wrong in the same direction for this and Snicket’s will take home two.

Which would be cool. The Art Direction in that film is near-flawless and some of the most creative I’ve seen in years. However, the hyperreality of period piece Engagement is unparalleled. Art director Aline Bonetto helps create a world that at once evokes a time and a place and is yet unlike any place that has ever been. So I’d be happy to see either, or both, take home the gold.

MUSIC (SCORE)

Finding Neverland
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Village (really?)

WILL WIN: The Passion of the Christ
SHOULD WIN: The Passion of the Christ

Honestly, I have no idea. But, I know as often as not this award skews quirky. And by “quirky” I mean a little out of left field. Not The Village. Now this is probably the only time the word “left” will be associated with The Passion, but here goes. This score sounds unlike any of the others. It’s plaintive, eerie, choral, yet inflected (appropriately enough) with Middle Eastern overtones. I don’t know. I see it winning the same way Frida did back in the day.

That’s also what makes it my favorite of these five. That, and I really don’t remember very much from the others. I think Finding Neverland kind of went “da-de-da-da-de-doo-doo…” Nah, I just made that up.

And how did Clint Eastwood and Howard Shore (Aviator) get left out this time? I’m not saying those were great scores, but those are some pretty heavy hitters to get sidelined. Now if you actually wanna talk great scores, let’s talk about The Incredibles. Let’s talk about I Heart Huckabees. Okay, not a great score. But it was the only one I was humming as I left the theater this year. That one DID go “De-da-de-da. De-da-de-da.” I’m only partially making that one up.

MUSIC (SONG)
“Accidentally in Love” – Shrek 2
“Al Otro Lado Del Rio” – The Motorcycle Diaries
“Believe” – The Polar Express
“Learn to Be Lonely” – The Phantom of the Opera
“Look to Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)” – The Chorus

Will Win: “Learn to Be Lonely”
Should Win: ANYTHING from the Garden State soundtrack

Usually the Academy skews cheesy on this one. Think any major song from any Disney film in the last ten years. Last year was a fluke because LOTR couldn’t lose and the year before that the Academy, amazingly, not only nominated but gave the award to one of the best songs from that year – Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” (the rhyming of “pied piper” with “Mekhi Pfeiffer” notwithstanding). But usually this goes to schmaltzy crap.

Plenty of that to choose from here. Now “Believe” is uber-cheesy. Maybe even too cheesy for the Academy (there’s something you never hear). They like their cheese a little classed up. Perhaps with some legit thee-ay-ter? So you get the sole award Phantom has a shot in hell at winning.

I will give the Academy snaps for nominating a song from The Motorcycle Diaries. I didn’t think the movie was all that, but it’s a very hip gesture. I also kind of like the “Look to Your Path” song. Though it’s got a cheesy title, the actual choral arrangement sounds cool. (Plus, if you change “chemin” to “chien” which sounds almost exactly the same, the title reads “Look to Your Dog.” Six years of French, ladies and gentlemen, and that’s what I have to show for it.)

I actually kind of like the Counting Crows song, and if I had to pick one of these that’d be it. However, none of these hold a candle to virtually any of the songs on the Garden State soundtrack. And I’m not even saying that was the best soundtrack of the year. I’d have been happy to see “The Blower’s Daughter” (hee) from Closer in the fray. Hell, I even liked that damned Train song from Spider-Man 2 more than these five.

I get that the Academy can’t vote for songs that weren’t written specifically for the film (hence “As Time Goes By” getting the Oscar diss). However, could we change that rule or have another category called “Best Use of a Song in a Film?” Cos’ that’s what it’s really all about. How well did you marry the music to the image? Then all sorts of artistic achievements can be recognized. From the incredible soundtrack work of in GoodFellas and Pulp Fiction to the brilliant Portuguese versions of David Bowie numbers in The Life Aquatic. I mean the Tonys recognize revivals, and that’s a whole entire show being recycled.

Sorry. I usually go off on at least one rant in these things. I just never thought it would be on Best Song.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

As It Is in Heaven
The Chorus
Downfall
The Sea Inside
Yesterday

Will Win: The Sea Inside
Should Win: The Sea Inside

All right. Before I get into this, let me give you an alternate five…

Maria Full of Grace
A Very Long Engagement
House of Flying Daggers
The Motorcycle Diaries
Bad Education

With the exception of House of Flying Daggers, none of these were eligible for Best Foreign Film this year. Now, in some cases, like Bad Education, the country of origin submitted something else instead, like The Sea Inside, and I’m sure that was a tough call. In others, like Engagement, it wasn’t even eligible for submission due to some obscure-ass rule. But for whatever reason, some of the best-reviewed films of last year didn’t make the cut, and I’ll bet you’ve heard of more of these than you have of the actual nominated films. Weird, huh?

That having been said, the best reviewed, and known, of what’s left is The Sea Inside. Now, brand-name recognition is not always a guarantee. Witness No Man’s Land’s win over Amelie in ’01 (Jeunet can’t get a break here, can he?). And something like that might happen here with The Chorus, probably the second best known film of the bunch, getting an upset. However, Academy voters might confuse it with As It Is in Heaven which is ALSO about an influential conductor with an unlikely rag-tag chorus. Downfall plays the WWII card (see wins for Nowhere in Africa, Life Is Beautiful, and Burnt by the Sun if you think it’s a cliché), but it controversially portrays Hitler as, well, human, hurting its chances.

Having not seen any of the first five (and almost all of the second), I’m just gonna go with the most lauded one and pick Sea for my “should.” In case you’re curious, I’d pick Engagement from the second five. How about you?

Tomorrow, Che Guevara vs. J.M. Barrie!

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About David Dylan Thomas

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    I have always found the Foreign Language category a poor measure of world cinema. In fact, the approach of having the country of origin submit a film itself is dumb, closing the door on many other fine films, and leaving it open to politicking.

    Fix yr italics, David – nice post