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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Makeup

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Makeup
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Makeup

Last year, when The Iron Lady’s Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland stole the makeup trophy from the team behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the win not only hinted at Meryl Streep’s eventual semi-shock of a Best Actress victory, it affirmed that one needn’t be the flashiest comer to claim this award. In the recent past, the Oscar here has gone to The Wolfman, Star Trek, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but it’s also been bestowed on Frida and La Vie en Rose, proving biopic metamorphosis can out-putty the extreme and the fanciful (the latter film beat out Norbit and Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End). Such is good news for Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, and Martin Samuel, the trio of nominees who swelled Anthony Hopkins to twice his form for Hitchcock. Opinions of Hopkins’s transformation have been largely varied, with some hailing it as the suspense master’s resurrection and others finding the whole thing rather gross, but what’s certain is that the actor is all but gone beneath the makeup, which voters may see as a win-worthy feat.

Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

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Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing
Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing

The sound category that more often rewards nuance probably deserves a little bit more consideration than I gave to sound editing (by my estimation an Avatar free spot) a few days ago. That said, scratch everything that isn’t a Best Picture nominee here right from the get-go. Too many scores to settle with this Avatar/Hurt Locker/Basterds three-way dominating all sorts of subheads down-ballot, and neither the Starship reboot nor the Optimus rehash even remotely flipped the template to the extent they’d have needed to in order to register among the three-headed Best Picture hydra. Of those three, Basterds is probably in the most precarious position, despite the roaring majesty of Mélanie Laurent playing a cinematic Carrie to the Nazi Party’s prom night. Ultimately, you have to dock Tarantino’s film a few ballots to take into account the voting demographic that thinks David Bowie ended up on the soundtrack by mistake.

Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

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Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

We could come up with a lot of complicated reasons that this, that, or the other film might have a shot at winning against the technological blue elephant in the room, but let’s not pretend. Of the two sound categories, this is the one that favors artificially invented environments and sonic fabrications. Though the movie’s headlines belong to its heady 3-D splendor, the fully engulfed aural environment of Avatar is every bit the triumph. It couldn’t have been easy to invent a sound earth-shattering enough to suggest the destruction of a million-year-old tree. We’ll wrestle a little bit more with the alternate nominees when we get to the more finicky sound mixing category, but until then, everything should be coming up Na’vi.

Will Win: Avatar

Should Win: Avatar

Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects

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Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects
Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects

We regret to inform you that Slant Magazine officially supports Avatar’s smurferific visual effects in this category. Of course, even if you haven’t drunk the Avatar-is-a-game-changer Kool Aid the film’s most ardent fans have been hawking, it’s difficult not to throw your support behind the picture’s robust CGI landscapes and gargantuan creepy crawlies given the paltry, almost dubious, competition. Save for its exciting skydiving set piece, and that suggestive showdown where the Starship Enterprise is cornered by a torrent of missiles like an egg being attacked by a splurt of jizz, isn’t Star Trek’s most memorable—and agonizing—special effect the annoyingly shaky camera J.J. Abrams wields like a sword throughout (which is to say nothing of his cast’s Tiger Beat posturing)? Though we’re scratching our heads over District 9 missing out on a nomination in the makeup category, we’re thinking the film stands no chance here unless there’s still enough unrepentant Crash aficionados in the Academy willing to count this film’s offensive racial allegory and uninspired docu-realist camera as visual effects. Again, this one is a no-brainer.

Will Win: Avatar

Should Win: Avatar

Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Makeup

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Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Makeup
Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Makeup

Yes, I kicked off our predictions last year with a monumental fuckup in this very category, presuming the movie that wasn’t nominated for 12 Oscars would triumph over the one that was, simply due to its plentiful hunks of tempera-hued latex. I atone…and once again predict the movie that most liberally cakes it on to win. But only because, this year, the Academy made it so easy to choose the showiest nominee.

In the same sense that the music branch last year seemed to deliberately keep Bruce Springsteen out of the song lineup to ensure yet another win for that Bollywood facsimile, the makeup branch apparently decided to clear a path for Star Trek by passing over Best Picture-nominee District 9’s goopy, feature-length metamorphosis. Never mind that, among Trek’s main cast, only tribal-tatted Eric Bana looks like he spent more than 15 minutes in the makeup chair. Instead of finding room for District 9’s green Popeye arm, two offshore interlopers took its place on the ballot, presumably on the same biopic-tinged ticket that saw Marion Cotillard’s ghoulish, styptic-penciled decomposition to a win two years ago.

That said, most Academy members probably lack the facilities to properly judge Il Divo’s historical veracity, much less remember that Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano were nominated (and lost) just a few years ago for Apocalypto. (Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that some initially thought this nomination was in reference to the Max Factor perfection of this Il Divo.) And Jenny Shircore would be a lot more likely to ascend the podium once again (she won in ’98 for Elizabeth) if the royal vehicle she was hitched to this time around were called The Old Victoria.

Will Win: Star Trek

Should Win: Il Divo

5 for the Day: Control, Aught, Repeat

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5 for the Day: Control, Aught, Repeat
5 for the Day: Control, Aught, Repeat

Symptomatic of a compulsive streak in my nature, I’ve always been a tad obsessed with seeing the exact moment a digital display on a clock or cellphone clicks off a major milestone. For instance, I often feel a pang of frustration upon glancing down at a car’s odometer to see that it has advanced into a new hundred, thousand, ten thousand, or (heaven forbid) hundred thousand series without my noticing it. If you can recall the extra excitement exhibited ten years ago by New Year’s revelers as 1999 gave way to 2000 even though, technically, the millennium didn’t turn over until the following year, you may be able to empathize.

This probably explains why the cinematic “reboot” phenomenon of the 2000’s decade intrigued me more than it should. More extensive than simply changing lead characters, a reboot involves melting down the component parts of an established film franchise that has run its course and reforging them into a new, yet familiar vision. Successful or not, there’s something about the exercise itself that I gravitate toward. Of course, in addition to being obsessive, I’m also cynical. In my heart of hearts I realize that the decision to breath new life into an otherwise exhausted film series is made on commercial rather than artistic grounds. But that doesn’t mean reboots can’t be done well or aren’t worth the attempt.

Star Trek 90210? Or Star Trash? Or Whatever You Want

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<em>Star Trek</em> 90210? Or <em>Star Trash</em>? Or Whatever You Want
<em>Star Trek</em> 90210? Or <em>Star Trash</em>? Or Whatever You Want

Oh blessed be, nerds; oh happy day! Time to gambol. Star Trek is finally cool! HUZZAH! And here’s the bonus: J.J. Abrams, the director, and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writers, have found ingeniously oafish ways of crowbarring every single aspect of common Trek lore into the film. The single most moving line in the history of the entire Star Trek canon is destroyed to underline a scene that would have otherwise been quite powerful. It’s obvious the filmmakers studied Gene Roddenberry’s space saga closely, got to know it inside out, and it shows in their slavish and graceless dedication to the franchise. But, you know what they say: Knowledge is knowing tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in your fruit salad.

All About Kirk: Space Opera as Fan Service

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All About Kirk: Space Opera as Fan Service
All About Kirk: Space Opera as Fan Service

There’s a quick, but relatively lingering shot of outer space in the first few minutes of J.J. Abrams Star Trek that illustrates why his “revamp” of Gene Rodenberry’s essential science fiction franchise works so well. In it, several seemingly microscopic ships are fleeing from a monolithic Romulan mining ship in front of an enormous sun. It comes hot on the heels of a glitzy, fatal encounter which establishes the ostentatious mood that elevates the origins of James T. Kirk to the heights of grand space opera. The awe that this image inspires succinctly relates how Abrams’ film achieves its goal of restoring the enormity of the universe these characters inhabit.