House Logo
Explore categories +

Pans Labyrinth (#110 of 9)

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Given how often his name has been attached to projects, particularly over the last 15 years, Guillermo del Toro could easily be mistaken for a tirelessly prolific director, whose near-annual output of darkly fantastical visions seems to make him the genre fanatic’s Woody Allen. But while del Toro has amassed roughly 30 film credits since making his 1985 debut with the horror short Doña Lupe, he’s only been at the helm of eight features. Other works, like The Orphanage, Kung Fu Panda 2, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which he famously came very close to directing, have seen him serve as everything from writer and executive producer to voice actor and creative consultant. With Pacific Rim, the latest (and most massively budgeted) of that limited del Toro line, hitting theaters on Friday, we’re looking back at the director’s body of work, which reflects a man as interested in the social, political, and existential as the bloody, the slimy, the fleshy, and the scaly. R. Kurt Osenlund

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions Cinematography

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Cinematography
Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Cinematography

Cinephiles everywhere (well, at least the ones who waste time and wishes on the Academy Awards) have been conjuring up the spirits of Sven Nyqvist, John Alcott, Gregg Toland, and James Wong Howe in an attempt to see to an alarmingly overdue Emmanuel Lubezki finally win this category. One would think they wouldn’t need to resort to such desperate measures, since not only do The Tree of Life’s detractors have to admit the film at its worst still acts as the world’s greatest sizzle reel for Lubezki’s talents, but there’s scarcely a precursor award that hasn’t gone his way this year. But so what? Lubezki, now on his fifth Oscar nomination, had every reason in the world to collect in 2006 for Children of Men, but the disappointing, if not unpredictable, win for Guillermo Navarro’s work on Pan’s Labyrinth made a clear statement: Overall momentum is all that matters in the tech categories.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup

Seven finalists remain in the Oscar race for Best Makeup, the category that’s poised to prove just how strong a frontrunner The Artist actually is, not to mention stoke the fire of the film’s backlash. The tinting of Jean Dujardin’s toothy mug to accommodate black-and-white cinematography is about to rob recognition from the folks who toiled away, one last time, on magically morphing Ralph Fiennes into the pasty bane of Harry Potter’s existence. It’s also going to beat out Ben Kingsley’s carnivalesque transformation into Georges Méliès in Hugo; Vanessa Redgrave’s caked-on, Elizabethan kabuki in Anonymous; and the fake ears, nose tip, and finger-weave hair that turned Glenn Close into a mouse man in Albert Nobbs. All of this says nothing of the worthy candidates The Artist already beat to the shortlist, like J. Edgar, whose old-age artistry was wrongfully knocked in reviews, and Green Lantern, which saw Peter Sarsgaard grossly mutate into the ultimate toxic egghead.

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Art Direction

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Art Direction
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Art Direction

We’ve noticed a certain trend among “professional” Oscar prognosticators—first and foremost among them Dave Karger—in dealing with the question of Dreamgirls. Is it the over-nominated Oscar behemoth that, according to its snub for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, no one loves? Or does its absence in the top few categories signal a groundswell of sympathetic support for the poor helpless lil’ would-be frontrunner? You don’t find too many taking the middle ground. It’s basically either a clean sweep of its six categories (or close enough, at any rate), or a near-shutout. Maybe we’re biased, but we’d like to think it’s the latter (though we’re already starting to feel a tad nervous about our prediction of Djimon Hounsou defeating Eddie Murphy). Even if it turns out we badly misjudged the deflated Dreamgirls juggernaut and it does end up cleaning house (as all those second-place percentage spreads would suggest we’re afraid of), we still think Art Direction will be the one most likely to buck the trend. Simply, the movie’s sets look like they were made from construction paper “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf,” to borrow from Ntozake Shange. At least Pan’s Labyrinth’s paper-mâché falls into place with the protagonist’s fantasy dreamworld. The votes for veracity will fall The Good Shepherd’s way, but recent guild award results suggest this is Pan’s Labyrinth to lose.

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Cinematography

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Cinematography
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Cinematography

It would seem that this year’s cinematography nominees were picked by aliens—certainly not by the same people who voted for Memoirs of a Geisha last year (no offense to Dion Beebe, who surely deserved a nomination this year): not a single Best Picture nominee in the lot, and all mostly uncompromised examples of purposeful cinematographic beauty. Without nominations from the American Society of Cinematographers, Pan’s Labyrinth appears to be out of the running. Ditto The Prestige, which has been hounded for most of the Oscar season by the year’s other magician movie, The Illusionist, whose score (by Philip Glass) and cinematography (by Dick Pope) has caught the attention of several critics groups in the past few months. As for the film’s chances, Oscar history tells us that She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, way back in 1950, was the last film to win this award without being nominated in any other category. Sucks for Pope and the great Vilmos Zsigmond, whose nomination for The Black Dahlia was Oscar’s most pleasant surprise this year. That leaves Emmanuel Lubezki, who appears to have garnered more favor for his phantasmagoric contributions to Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men than he did last year for Terrence Malick’s The New World. No one in this category deserves this award more, something Salma Hayek is sure to make known should she be asked to read the name of the winner.

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Foreign Language

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Foreign Language
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Foreign Language

If the same people complaining about Volver’s exclusion from this category were as angry about the cold shoulder given to The Cave of the Yellow Dog, L’Enfant, and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu last year, we might actually see changes in the way the Academy chooses to reward the foreign-language picture in the future. But we are what we know—or, rather, what we see—and it’s difficult to rally for films we haven’t seen, and without the privilege of being directed by Pedro Almodóvar, who knows if we’ll ever get to see the films that failed to make the cut here and, thusly, be able to tell if they were legitimately given the shaft. Presumptuous as it is for the Almodóvar fan club to bemoan Volver’s slight without having seen the five contenders in this category, the Spanish filmmaker’s film is in fact superior to every nominee here with the possible exception of Water. Still, let us not egoistically shortchange what is a vast improvement over last year’s reprehensible slate. Indeed, the worst of this year’s batch isn’t even half bad: Days of Glory, a film that’s sparked great political change in France but whose release in the United States has been predictably manhandled by the snaky Brothers Weinstein. At best, the film suggests an interesting flipside of 49th Parallel; at worst, it suggests the hammiest tendencies of war films like Joyeux Noël. This is to say that the film is not nearly as stupid as your typical winner here. Much more intelligent, and thus out of the equation, is the year’s most surprising Oscar nominee: Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding, a drama about a dying rich man who conspires to situate another man into his family nest. Heart-pacingly written and well-performed, the film is spoiled by Bier’s aggressive shooting style, which I’m surprised didn’t turn off more Academy members. Tempting as it is to give this one to Pan’s Labyrinth, which is nominated for five other awards this year, it would be foolish to ignore that the Guillermo del Toro film caters to a certain Comic-Con sensibility that may be foreign to the tastes of this category’s older-skewing voting bloc. The achingly—if, perhaps, too achingly—photographed Water provides a much warmer film experience, and though the film has been handsomely promoted, the softees who vote here will likely opt for The Lives of Others instead. Grossly overpraised, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film, a huge success all over the world and a winner of several precursor awards here in the States, works as a thriller but fails in exactly the area where it will most find its appeal: as a maudlin character study of a mean Stasi officer who turns to the good side while spying on an artist couple in 1980s East Germany. Character trajectories have never come this easy—at least not since Tsotsi last year.

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Original Score

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Original Score
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Original Score

To hear some tell it, Alexandre Desplat is just about the finest thing to happen to motion picture scoring since Bernard Herrmann or Franz Waxman, the sensualist who will redeem the most (in most cases rightly) denigrated of orchestral literature from John Williams or James Horner. Lucky for Desplat, he doesn’t have to face either of them down this year. The slate that Golden Globe-winner Desplat has to defeat contains but one Oscar-ubiquitous white elephant composer (Thomas Newman) and one composer who would probably be nominated a lot more often if it weren’t for his knack for selecting extremely Oscar-unfriendly projects (Philip Glass, who should’ve kicked Alan Menken’s ass in 1992 with Candyman but for Oscar’s narrow taste standing in the way). While Newman’s current total of eight nominations without a win can’t be completely ignored, The Good German certainly can. If he had been included for Little Children, he might’ve had a better shot, if for no other reason than he was one of the few people in the crew not performing variations on American Beauty. Glass’s score marks his third nomination. Even though his tacky ostinatos did as much to keep Notes on a Scandal walking that fine line between class and trash, it’s hard to imagine it playing well on Borders’ P.A. systems as do Desplat’s regal albeit icy themes (or Glass’s own nominated score for The Hours)—I can’t tell you how many times I found myself paging through an issue of Adbusters, The Believer, or Instinct while “Overture to Ennis Fucking Jack Nasty” twanged from the overhead speakers. Brokeback Mountain’s Gustavo Santaolalla may have won just last year, but I don’t think anyone would deny that the only thing he rehashed for his Babel score was that charango (well, that and his piece “Iguazu,” previously used in The Insider). More damaging to his chances is the fact that González-Iñárritu climaxes and closes his film with Ryuichi Sakamoto’s far-more-memorable “Bibo No Aozora,” written previously but which I will forevermore refer to as “Romance from Nympho Japanese Schoolgirl Being Embraced By Distant Father While Naked On Highrise Penthouse Deck.”

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Makeup

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Makeup
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Makeup

It’s running neck and pec between the broody Muppet movie and the one whose cast looks like they’ve been assaulted by Animal wielding a scummy powder puff and shouting “Make Up!” We’d secretly like to give the award to the latter, if only because it proves Mel Gibson can think of at least one civilization with more dirt under their fingernails than Jesus-era Jews. However, the only thing preventing Guillermo del Toro’s wooden fawns and floppy white dudes with eyes for palms from taking the Oscar is the possibility that some voters might think these creations owe at least some of their spell to the CGI magicians in the visual effects department. Of course, this confusion didn’t prevent Chronicles of Narnia’s real-boy fawn from winning last year. Tipping the scales further is the fact that the only previous winner in the category, Bill Corso (who helped Click become the recipient of this year’s “[stupid film’s title here] now has to be referred to as Oscar-nominee [stupid film’s title here]” running gag), snatched what was Gibson’s previous film The Passion of the Chrst’s best shot at an Oscar, sending Jesus home empty handed. If I were Mel, I’d start a whisper campaign pronto to remind voters that Pan’s Labyrinth also features bloody atrocity and sadistic, crypto-Catholic content in equal measure.

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Original Screenplay

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay

Appropriately enough, we begin our Oscar prediction coverage by exorcising the foul demon spirit of Paul Haggis, who managed to slip into this year’s collection of writing nominees without even having to commit one dark-sided word to paper, summoning for himself a co-writer credit for helping craft Iris Yamashita’s story for Letters from Iwo Jima. We believe Haggis has no more to do with what is clearly the more sensitive, nuanced half of Eastwood’s diptych than we believe all the disparate pieces of Babel ’s four-ring circus of ethnography cohere properly. While it’s true that even those fully possessed by Haggis’s black magic are apt to feel the slight pang of wanting to reclaim their souls, Letters from Iwo Jima’s script is the most tolerable of any of his Oscar-nominated scripts. Ergo, its comparative lack of egregious grandstanding will have some Academy members deigning to reach for the strawberry sauce. Pan’s Labyrinth’s protracted fascist metaphors and its ghoulish grace notes are nearly as blunt and horrifying as anything in Crash, and the film may even register as realism to the same group of voters who actually bought Sandra Bullock embracing her Hispanic maid. But it’s hard to imagine anyone actually choosing to reward Guillermo del Toro’s scriptwriting prowess in lieu of his directorial command, especially in light of the absence of Pedro Almodóvar (stronger both as a writer and a director) from this race. The other Guillermo (Babel’s Arriaga) might pick up a few sympathy votes to mark the end of his collaboration with Alejandro González Iñáritu, but his fragmentation of narrative (and late-breaking would-be connections tying it all together) invite some people to pick their favorite and least-favorite stories; hardly the way to win an award. Arriaga could take a hint from Michael Arndt, whose stock characters in Little Miss Sunshine belong to each other about as much as a horny Japanese schoolgirl belongs with a Moroccan arms dealer. But, because they’re all thrown together in the same VW bus and called a family, apparently that gives him free license to Velcro as many quirks on his motley bunch as necessary to approximate indie zest. Nietzsche and Proust would probably both prefer The Queen, which at least implicitly rejects Little Miss Sunshine ’s democratic “we’re all losers at heart” message in favor of a wrinkled woman and her will to power, lording over a royal family, hounded by a press that scrutinizes more details than Remembrance of Things Past. Sometimes Oscar favors ordinary people. This time, we sense they’ll favor the elite.