Life Of Pi (#110 of 34)

Homeland Recap Season 4, Episode 2, "Trylon and Perisphere"

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Homeland Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, “Trylon and Perisphere”

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Homeland Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, “Trylon and Perisphere”

At the center of the 1939 World's Fair in New York, the Trylon and Perisphere struck an arresting pose. A 700-foot-tall three-sided tower and an 18-story spherical exhibit hall, respectively, the pair were designed to express the utopian promise of the fair's theme, “Building the World of Tomorrow.” But as repurposed by Homeland, the allusion curdles into cruel irony: In “Trylon and Perisphere,” the future appears bleak indeed.

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Production Design

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Production Design
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Production Design

In 2010, we asked, “How do you solve a problem like Avatar? How do you hold a fluorescent, floating anemone in your hand? Well, you can't. Because it exists in hexadecimal code on a hard drive somewhere in Silicon (or is it Uncanny?) Valley.” So we threw our vote to Sherlock Holmes and shook our heads on Oscar night when James Cameron's Epcot Center diorama was awarded. The lesson? That Gravity, even though it's the Mission: SPACE to Avatar's more elaborately designed Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure, shouldn't be too quickly discounted. Two years earlier, we thought the category would break toward Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood's Wild West City attraction only to see it (rightfully) lose to Tim Burton's Broadway-ed Dickens funhouse Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Meaning that the benefits of being a Best Picture frontrunner in this category are negligible. And so we put our money on Joe Wright's Anna Karenina last year only to see it toppled by the Lincoln Logs of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. Meaning that being a politely revered or disliked Best Picture nominee is also negligible.

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

Last year's tie in this category allowed us the unique opportunity to call it either 50 percent right or 50 percent wrong, depending on how generous we're willing to be with ourselves for accurately giving Skyfall our “could win” designation. (On the downside, our “will win” prediction for Life of Pi went the way of the tiger.) But lest anyone think we're playing it safe by predicting that this year's contest will add another to what ought to be a near sweep for Gravity in the technical categories, let me be the umpteenth person to point out the perception that the movie's deliberate lack of woofer-rocking explosions makes it an unorthodox frontrunner. I say “perception,” because even though in space no one can hear you Foley, you'd have to be deaf not to note that Glenn Fremantle's work, as delivered to your bleeding eardrums via freshly installed Dolby Atmos systems, unleashes some of the most punishingly cacophonous noise this side of Chelyabinsk.

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Score

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Score
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Score

This year's crop of Original Score nominees hits all the markers that we've come to expect. And though none of the entries are fundamentally undeserving, their collective safeness succinctly outlines the dull uniformity for which the Academy is routinely and rightly criticized. Off the bat, we can rule out perennial nominees John Williams (The Book Thief) and Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks). Each of their scores boasts impressive technical chops and lavish orchestration, but the films themselves are on the far fringe of the awards circuit and lack novelty to stand out. Joining them, though perhaps with slightly better odds, is Alexandre Desplat, whose musical tendencies and Oscar track record of late are beginning to resemble a post-Schindler's List Williams, which would otherwise be a compliment outside the context of Williams's two-decade-long victory drought. The simple thematic elegance Desplat brings to Philomena may leave an impression with some voters, but when we consider that the composer has done similar work for recent, higher profiles films like The King's Speech, and hasn't won, there's no reason to expect his winless streak to end this year.

Oscar 2013 Composite Winner Predictions

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Oscar 2013 Composite Winner Predictions
Oscar 2013 Composite Winner Predictions

Below is a complete list of our predicted winners at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Picture: Argo
Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Original Screenplay: Amour
Adapted Screenplay: Lincoln
Foreign Language: Amour
Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Animated Feature Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Documentary Short: Open Heart
Animated Short: Head Over Heels
Live Action Short: Curfew
Film Editing: Argo
Production Design: Anna Karenina
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Makeup: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Score: Life of Pi
Song: “Skyfall,” Skyfall
Sound Editing: Life of Pi
Sound Mixing: Les Misérables
Visual Effects: Life of Pi

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Picture

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Picture
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Picture

Despite the hysteria, it may not be appropriate yet to call a time of death on the decades and decades' worth of precedent that will be shattered when Argo wins Best Picture despite very conspicuously not being nominated for its director, not having even remotely close to the year's highest nomination tally (it trails behind four other films), and not having even a halfway plausible shot at winning more than two other categories aside from this one. After all, there's still one tradition working in the movie's favor. It's going to win the all-important Oscar for Best Editing, some would say for how exhilaratingly it crosscuts between a grim interrogation at a Mehrabad Airport checkpoint, Walter White barking out commands in D.C., and Alan Arkin and John Goodman being humorously cockblocked from answering their telephone by archetypal union (i.e. guild) workers, whereas others would say for how ruthlessly it edits out any historical perspective that doesn't turn the Iranian populace into swarthy pod people.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Editing

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Editing
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Editing

As you might have noticed from our previous Oscar posts, one of the hottest topics among we Slant prognosticators is just how many trophies Argo is capable of collecting. Certain races (like Adapted Screenplay) have stirred up debate, but we all agree that Picture and Editing are surely Argo's to lose, the latter thanks to the sharp, tension-mounting cuts of William Goldenberg, and, of course, that undying surge of support for “wronged” helmer Ben Affleck (natch, the film's ACE triumph doesn't hurt either). History has long proven that the Editing and Picture victor are often one and the same, and if there's anything normal about Argo's steady rise to the top, it's the probable furthering of that time-tested tradition. Of course, it's conceivable that Life of Pi's likely tech-awards mini-sweep could reach this category, too, yielding a win for Tim Squyres, the man who spliced together all those bioluminescent set pieces. Squyres has a stronger shot than, say, Michael Kahn, who's on par with all the other creatives who made Lincoln soar, but is also set to join them in the Corner of Ignored Subtlety. Silver Linings Playbook was an ACE winner as well, taking the top prize in the comedy/musical field, but like The Descendants, it's a knee-jerky, head-scratcher of a nominee. Our favorite? Oh, it's Goldenberg all right, but we prefer his ace (sorry) work on Zero Dark Thirty, which he also cut, along with Dylan Tichenor.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

Subtlety isn't a quality that dignifies the nominees in this category; typically, the film endowed with the most clanging, banging, and crashing suitable to shake your theater seat prevails. That probably rules out Django Unchained, which, despite its impressive range for bone-crunching and eye-gouging sound effects, doesn't offer enough quantity of sound to count it as a legitimate contender. Also a long shot is Argo, whose sonic palette is distinguished by little outside the opening embassy raid scene and airport finale. Then there's Zero Dark Thirty, which might gain some leverage from its handful of deafening explosions, courtesy of Paul N.J. Ottosson, who picked up both sound categories in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. Alas, Zero Dark Thirty is a more modest effort than The Hurt Locker in terms of sound and can probably be counted out of this year's race, unless, that is, voters are feeling guilty about completely shutting out Kathryn Bigelow's film.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

It's at this point we had to ask ourselves, “Is Argo really going to end up a two-Oscar Best Picture winner?” Because while it seems almost certain to buck all sorts of precedent and take Best Picture, which of its six other nominations will be there to back it up? Honestly, the way things have been developing among the guild awards, the only nod that seems entirely out of reach is Alan Arkin's bid for supporting actor. We'll cover Best Editing in the next few days, but the movie still seems more of a spoiler than a frontrunner for original score and adapted screenplay*. In theory, that leaves Argo's two sound bids to prevent the movie from achieving a dubious feat not achieved since Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth. Some of us are going to hedge on our Oscar-pool ballots and give Argo one or both of them, but unless the topsy-turviness of the race infects every category, both it and Lincoln seem to lack the “bigness” this category seems to require.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Director

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Director
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Director

After Argo collected nearly every major industry award in the lead-up to the Academy Awards, in the process emerging as this year's Best Picture frontrunner, it came as a shock to everyone to see Ben Affleck shut out of the running here given how often Best Director and Picture coincide. It's with some irony, then, that two filmmakers who've emerged as the main contenders in Affleck's absence are also among the very few previous winners here whose films were denied Best Picture trophies: Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg. But let's try to rid our minds of the deplorable notion that Spielberg and Lee are contending for an award that belongs to Affleck. Stripped of this context, an Affleck-less battle for Best Director has all the makings of otherwise good Oscar drama.