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Zero Dark Thirty (#110 of 48)

New York Film Festival 2013: Captain Phillips Review

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New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Captain Phillips</em> Review
New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Captain Phillips</em> Review

The more movies he makes, the more Paul Greengrass’s have-it-both-ways m.o. as a filmmaker becomes clearer, aiming to craft high-octane action spectacles that also thoughtfully address topical events and current sociopolitical realities without becoming overly didactic. Some, of course, will object on principle to the mere act of turning events such as the Iraq War and the 9/11 attacks—two of Greengrass’s previous subjects—into pulse-pounding thrills in the first place, arguing that he’s exploiting real-world trauma for the sake of shallow entertainment. If nothing else, though, his latest film, Captain Phillips, reveals, perhaps with even more clarity than before, Greengrass’s well-meaning rationale behind his methods—and with it, their imposing strengths and troubling limitations.

True/False Film Fest 2013: Cutie and the Boxer and Manhunt

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True/False Film Fest 2013: <em>Cutie and the Boxer</em> and <em>Manhunt</em>
True/False Film Fest 2013: <em>Cutie and the Boxer</em> and <em>Manhunt</em>

It’s Saturday at the True/False documentary film festival in Columbia, MO, which means that all of the usual attributes of a half-over film festival are visible in full force. Filmmakers have become recognizable members of the town from their post-film Q&As with audiences and are stopped by fans on the street, filmgoers have seen enough to compare opinions and doll out recommendations, and everyone except for the organized few who’ve managed to pace themselves has bleary eyes from too many hours staring at screens.

Zachary Heinzerling’s debut film, Cutie and the Boxer, has been one of the films more prominent on everyone’s lips this weekend. A portrait of the Japanese artist couple Ushio Shinohara, who rose to fame in the ’60s, and his wife, Noriko, who’s first stepping into her own artistic spotlight now, the film is less a history lesson about how Ushio’s “action painting” (donning boxing gloves, dunking them in paint, and punching canvases) affected the art world and more an examination of the 40-year marriage between the two wildly eccentric artists. Though they’re not the type to express their love to each other in explicit, Hallmark-esque terms, their devotion to one another is tangible. Without Noriko to manage the more diplomatic side of his career with art dealers and museum curators, Ushio’s lack of business sense would have left him fumbling for support long ago; Ushio’s creative genius invariably drives Noriko to want to reclaim her own identity as an artist.

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.