Thursday, February 24, 2011

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The Hollmann Awards: The Technicals

Let the Hollmann Awards begin!

Sound, VFX, Score, Editing: all vital components of a film, all taking place long after the cast has gone home and the First AD is on to the next job. Post-Production workers amaze me with their patience and fortitude, and without them, we would have no movie.

But of course they have to have something to work with, and it wasn't until Film School that I realized just what goes into all the work on-set. Costume, makeup and art direction all came from the same person on our student films, and it's a challenge, truly. Creating a consistent look that enhances the film rather than just detailing it -- yet never skimping on said details -- is a bitch, and everyone had to take on that role at least twice. I like to think I was pretty good at the costumes, but props, set design, etc., fascinates and bewilders me. Cinematography I fell in love with, meanwhile, and even though I'm no great shakes at it, I admire anyone who is.

Though I won't master these crafts or post-production categories myself, one should always applaud the ones that know what they're doing, and do it well. Enough with the talk, let's get to the winners of the technical categories for The Hollmann Awards. Oh, and if you need a refresher on how I'm ranking these, refer to this chart.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Fighter
Hoyt von Hoytema
The handheld work in Lowell is appropriately gritty and fly-on-the-wall. Then we have those moments with Dickie in jail, or with Micky backstage just before the final fight. Real beauties.
Ranking:


I Am Love
Yorick le Saux 
Guh. Le Saux knows how to emphasize his colors (and when), and gets the most out of his daytime exteriors and nighttime interiors.
Ranking:


Black Swan
Matthew Libatique
In third place - changes between the theatrical and the natural keep us on our toes and Nina off her rocker: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan.
Ranking:


Get Low
David Boyd
It's awfully cool on that hermit's property, but it seems warmer when Spacek enters the picture.
Ranking:


The Runaways
Benoit Debie
Clubs, roller rinks, concerts, green rooms, trailers, recording studios, all have a distinct feel. Dreamy and scary.
Ranking:




BEST EDITING
Quite simply, movies would be a muddled mess without the editor. Each scene has multiple set-ups, each set-up has multiple takes; the editor makes sense of it all.
127 Hours
Jon Harris
Crawl into the head of a man trapped, dehydrated, close to death.
Ranking:
 
Black Swan
Andrew Weisblum
It starts out with a beautifully-done dream sequence, continues in an orderly fashion with the auditions, but once the heroine loses it, it's all on Weisblum to make sure we feel it. And do we ever.
Ranking:

 
Blue Valentine
Jim Helton, Ron Patane
Witness a marriage crumbling, and a romance blooming...at the same time.
Ranking:


I Am Love
Walter Fasano
Three scenes of note: the prawns, the sex in the field, and the finale. A masterpiece of emotional highs.
Ranking:


The Social Network
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
Rapid-fire dialogue, multiple depositions, and the rise of Facebook. We'd be lost without an expert cutter.
Ranking:



BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Black Swan
Amy Westcott
Well, kudos of course to Rodarte's work with the ballet costumes. But you know there's no way I'm not going to mention Winona Ryder's gala dress. Or Natalie Portman's protective, pink day wear (scarves, sweaters, coats: that girl is frigid). Or Barbara Hershey's black beauty.
Ranking:



Burlesque
Michael Kaplan

The green dress in "Bound to You" should be iconic, right? Right up there with that dress made of pearls.
Ranking:

 
For Colored Girls
Johnetta Boone
Yes! Gets everything about its characters right. Anika Noni Rose (Yellow) in loose but beautiful skirts, Loretta Devine (Green) with so many earrings and ensembles, Janet Jackson (Red) in tight, constricting business suits (even her lingerie looks tight!), Whoopi Goldberg (White) in her one outfit. Everyone has a specific look.
Ranking:


The Runaways
Carol Beadle
Character-appropriate, period-conscious, and damn do I want Michael Shannon's wardrobe.
Ranking:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Laura Jean Shannon
From Scott's lazy t-shirt and jeans to Gideon's spotless white suit, no detail is lost. Ramona's hipster dreamgirl outfits would win Best in Show, but Roxie's torn, dominatrixy ensemble is too cool. Especially for school. Seriously, the dress code probably wouldn't allow it.
Ranking:



BEST ART DIRECTION
Black Swan
Therese DePrez, production design
Tora Peterson, set decoration
Hey there creepy paintings, dingy apartment, well-placed mirrors, and busy dressing rooms! You're looking good, all while maintaining the color palette and claustrophobia.
Ranking:

For Colored Girls
Ina Mayhew, production design
C. Lance Totten, set decoration

Gets its characters. Best examples: the sterility of Janet Jackson's penthouse, the creepy hoarding of Whoopi Goldberg's basement apartment. And then there's that colorful career center, matching Loretta Devine...divinely.
Ranking:

I Am Love
Francesca Balestra Di Mottola, production design
Monica Sironi, set decoration

Recall you the Eastern influence of the grandmother's house? The cluttered mess of the young chef's? The opulence of the Recchi clan's? Oh, for Heaven's sake, that plate of prawns!
Ranking:

The Runaways
Eugenio Caballero, production design
Fontaine Beauchamp Hebb & Mark Walker, set decoration

You know how I know it nails it? The sets look like photos of my parents in high school: Wood paneling, questionable color schemes, and big blocky telephones. Those motel rooms look like dens of iniquity, don't they?
Ranking:

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Marcus Rowland, production design
Odetta Stoddard, set decoration

Heh. The emptiness of Scott's apartment (poverty) versus that of the Chaos Theatre (minimalist!) is clever enough. Love the glass interior during the Roxie Richter fight (is that my favorite sequence? I didn't think so, but the crafts! The crafts!).
Ranking:


BEST MAKEUP

127 Hours
Gina Homan, Stephanie Scott
I will never get over those peeling, dehydrated lips and sunken eyes. Ugh.
Ranking:


Black Swan
Marjorie Durand, Geordie Sheffer
Necessarily theatrical in the finale, of course, but dare we forget those red eyes and the scratched back? Dare we forget Beth's legs? Oh my God, and do you remember the necessary theatricality of the finale?
Ranking:


Piranha 3D
Katherine James, Gregory Nicotero, Jeffrey Sacino
People holding on to their guts! Men staring at their half-eaten corpses! Hair being ripped off someone's scalp! This movie was all kinds of wrong, beginning and ending with the gore effects.
Ranking:


The Runaways
Robin Matthews, Terri Velasquez
The right amount of smear after a sweat-soaked stage performance and all-night bender. Kim Fowley is his makeup and clothes, and the former hits it as often as the latter. Stage makeup? Bowie tributes? Darling, it's grand!
Ranking:


Saw 3D
Colin Penman
These movies always make me cringe with their gore. It always looks like it hurts, and you know why? Believable makeup effects. Ripping off the skin of your back because it's super-glued to the leather interior of a car? BLEEEECCCCCCHHHH. Am I the only one here who loves these movies?
Ranking:



BEST SOUND


127 Hours
Douglas Cameron; Steven C. Laneri, mixers
Niv Adiri, Andrew Caller, Richard Pryke; Ian Tapp, re-recording mixers
Glenn Freemantle, supervising editor/designer

We're in Aron Ralston's head, with every movement of an ant amplified, every drop of water significant.
Ranking:


Black Swan
Ken Ishii, mixer
Craig Henighan & Dominick Tavella, re-recording mixers
Henighan, editor
Henighan & Brian Emrich, designer
 
Every cracking toe, every warped noise, every note of music, every subtle swan sound.
Ranking:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Chris Burdon & Doug Cooper, re-recording mixer
Greg Chapman, mixer
Julian Slater, supervising editor
James Boyle, designer
 
Music and action blending together in a world influenced by video games.
Ranking:


The Town
Aaron Glascock & Curt Schulkey, supervising editors
David J. Schwartz, mixer
Steve Maslow & Gregg Landaker, re-recording mixers
 
The climactic shoot-out at Fenway is enough to warrant its inclusion.
Ranking:


TRON: Legacy
Christopher Boyes & Gary Rizzo, re-recording mixers
Michael McGee, mixer
Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, supervising editor
Addison Teague, supervising editor/designer

Mixing the sounds of a computer world with the music of Daft Punk, giving character to each lightcycle and airship.
Ranking:



BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Black Swan
Dan Schrecker, Henrik Fett

It utilizes head-replacement technology, but also plays a vital part in Nina's transformation into the Black Swan. The mirror scenes are creeeeeepy.
Ranking:


Inception
Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb

Hello? Whole dream worlds. Cities, beaches, apartment buildings. And that shot where the city folds in on itself: outstanding.
Ranking:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Frazer Churchill, Dennis Berardi, Aaron Weintraub, Arthur Langevin

About 95% green-screen effects, which helped with the editing. But let's not forget the extra life, the digital swords, the psychic powers, and the rock gorilla battling the electronic snakes.
Ranking:


The Social Network
Adam Howard, Charlie Iturriaga, Shahana Khan, James Pastorius, Fred Pienkos

There was obviously more done: cold breath, CG'd backgrounds, some digital clean-up. But really, the Winklevoss head-replacement thing is awesome.
Ranking:


TRON: Legacy
Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Karl Denham, Nikos Kalaitzidis

This was an entire freeking world! Plus creepy Plastic Jeff Bridges, which worked fine for CLU and nothing else.
Ranking:



BEST SCORE
Inception
Hans Zimmer
 
Already iconic. It's epic, but it also has its haunting moments.
Ranking:


Mother
Lee Byeong-woo
 
Playful and suspenseful, supporting the dark humor of the film.
Ranking:


Never Let Me Go
Rachel Portman
 
Its violins are as tender as Cathy's heart; beautiful, elegiac.
Ranking:


Rabbit Hole
Anton Sanko
 
Works best as a salve. You don't hear it in some the film's rougher moments, but it's ever-present when Becca needs it most: the flutes of the garden, the strings of Sotheby's, the piano of the memory...
Ranking:


The Social Network
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
 
The opening composition sends me. Let the electronic sounds of Zuckerberg's kingdom soothe you into submission.
Ranking:



BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Bound to You" from Burlesque
Christina Aguilera, Samuel Dixon, Sia Furler

Aguilera sells this torch song, a declaration of devotion that serves as the background to scenes of post- and pre-coitus.
Ranking:


"But I Am a Good Girl" from Burlesque
Alain Bernardini, Jacques Morali, Steven Antin 

Sublimely cheeky!
Ranking:


"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque
Diane Warren

Cher sells it. A power ballad that ranks with the best. Having a bad day? Let this song talk you through it, baby.
Ranking:


"Pimps Don't Cry" from The Other Guys
Jon Brion, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Orr Ravhon, Erica Weis 

Heh.
Ranking:


"Ramona" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Beck Hansen

Perfectly captures Scott's romanticism, and isn't that what it should do? Beautiful lyrics, haunting melody.
Ranking:

3 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

There are a lot of things I like here, but THANK YOU for the love for The Runaways especially in makeup. Sooooooo good. Ugh, what a ridiculous snub.

(The photography nod for Get Low makes me wonder, I attribute the look more to the production design but the technical merits of that one are sorely underrated.)

TomS said...

Why isn't Las Vegas making book on the Hollmann Awards??

--I loved the music clips you provided, giving me a chance to have another listen. The piece you selected from Social Network recalled Giorgio Moroder's Midnight Express (listen, but skip the film)

--Curious: you ranked The Runaways tops in several categories but it is not in your Top 10...

--I Am Love: THANK YOU for recognizing it.
--Ditto Rabbit hole and Blue Valentine
--Double Ditto Black Swan (my pick for Editing)

Good choices overall!
(although I recoil from holding up the gore-fests as exemplary filmmaking, BLECCCHHH indeed!!)

Your ranking system is amusing, too!

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Andrew: Oh, the technicals of Get Low are GROSSLY underrated.

Tom: The Runaways has the best of those individual traits, but as far as all aspects of a film combined, there's my top ten. Also, it almost did, if you recall ;)