Oscar Week Begins!

Oscar prognosticating is the bread and butter here at Kinematoscope, but the late-game reversal of fortune in the race has sapped my enthusiasm for it this year.

So instead of the month-long Oscarthon, we'll have an abbreviated Oscar week, with some longer posts leading up to the ceremony. Today, some technical awards!

Best Sound Editing

Inception- Richard King (2/3)
Toy Story 3- Tom Myers (0/2), Michael Silvers (1/5)
TRON: Legacy- Gwendolyn Yates Whittle (0/1), Addison Teague (0/0)
True Grit- Skip Lievsay (0/3), Craig Berkey (0/2)
Unstoppable- Mark Stoeckinger (0/2)

Since it bears repeating every year, this category pertains to the creation of sound effects, mostly. So it's the guys making footsteps on foley stages and recording elephants to stand in for aliens, and so on. The consensus seems to be that any time there's an actiony blockbuster with critical respect, it takes it- last year The Hurt Locker broke this rule, but since Inception fits the bill and is still a huge underdog for other awards, it seems like an easy walk for their soundpeople this year.

I can't argue- they did have to decide what Paris folding in on itself would sound like, after all. Repeat viewings make the scene where everything explodes for no reason seem like shameless Tech-baiting, as well.

Best Sound Mixing

Inception- Lora Hirschberg (0/1), Gary Rizzo (0/2), Ed Novick (0/2)
The King's Speech- Paul Hamblin (0/0), Martin Jensen (0/0), John Midgley (0/1)
Salt- Jeffrey J. Haboush (0/1), William Sarokin (0/0), Scott Millan (4/7), Greg P. Russell (0/13)
The Social Network- Ren Klyce (0/2), David Parker (2/5), Michael Semanick (2/7), Mark Weingarten (0/1)
True Grit- Skip Lievsay (0/3), Craig Berkey (0/2), Greg Orloff (1/2), Peter Kurland (0/2)

The Susan Lucci of the season is Salt's Greg P. Russell, now on his fourteenth nomination without a trophy to show for it- he was partners for a long time with current record holder Kevin O'Connell (0/20). But no one's giving Salt an Oscar, get real- it's one of the few nominees for anything that I haven't seen, because it sounds ridiculous (if competently made).

Inception looks primed to win here as well- bear in mind I've gotten both of the sound categories wrong for three straight years, though. Mixing, in particular, seems harder to predict, because the two front runners for Best Picture have elbowed their way into the field. I can think of no compelling argument for The King's Speech, sonically, but The Social Network has the much heralded scene in which Eisenberg and Timberlake have to shout a long, complex conversation over the din of a nightclub (see above). That could draw some votes.

Best Visual Effects

Alice In Wonderland- Ken Ralston (4/6), David Schaub (0/0), Carey Villegas (0/0), Sean Phillips (0/0)
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Pt 1- Tim Burke (1/2), John Richardson (1/4), Christian Manz (0/0), Nicolas Aithadi (0/0)
Hereafter- Michael Owens (0/0), Bryan Grill (0/0), Stephan Trojansky (0/0), Joe Farrell (0/0)
Inception- Chris Corbould (0/1), Andrew Lockley (0/0), Pete Bebb (0/0), Paul J. Franklin (0/1)
Iron Man 2- Janek Sirrs (1/1), Ben Snow (0/3), Ged Wright (0/0), Daniel Sudick (0/3)

I'm not sure if the expansion to five nominees will make this category easier or harder to predict. In any case, recent history has provided us with one slam-dunk nominee to choose every year, except for the year they reminded us that quantity does not equal quality by dismissing Transformers. This year the showiest, largest effects picture is also the lone BP nominee, so Inception will take this one easily- my favorite part is that the most memorable effect, in this age of CGI trickery, was the old-school spinning hallway fight, achieved by simply rotating the entire set.

So mark this one down in pen, not pencil. Inception is on pace for a sweep! Also, I highly recommend the VFX featurette embedded above for the criminally-snubbed TRON: Legacy, because not only is it neat, but it eschews the usual talking heads and the "Let's Explain What The Film's About, Even Though Anyone Who Cares Enough To Watch This Already Knows" nonsense common to featurettes.

Best Documentary Feature

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Best Foreign Film

In a Better World
Outside the Law

These will be the only two categories in which I haven't seen all or most of the nominees, because I just don't watch enough documentaries and the foreign films take forever to get here. As notable as Banksy's street-art campaign in LA for Gift Shop has been, I'm betting on the timelier and indisputably not staged Inside Job to take it. Maybe the director will also wear a gorilla mask, just 'cause?

And Foreign? Who knows? In years of going on the record, I've only gotten this category right once, and that was on an easy, Holocaust-based call (The Counterfeiters). I feel pretty confident that the only one I have seen, Dogtooth, is too crazy to win, and also that Biutiful will lose simply for being the recognizable one that we all expect. Susanne Bier's In a Better World will also be a popular choice, given her name recognition, so nay on that. I'm going with Outside The Law- it's a period piece, which breaks the tie with Incendies.

Thus concludes part one. Stay tuned for more predictions. I promise not to pick with my heart this year.

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