An Exciting Year At The Movies Offers BTL Surprises

Cannes Film Festival

Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S

The record books will reveal that 2013 was a great year it was for films.  From indies like “Silver Linings Playbook” that effectively explored family dynamics in the face of mental illness and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” that followed a miraculous young girl overcoming extreme life changes to studio show stoppers including “Life of Pi” – the unmakable ‘boy and tiger adrift at sea’ novel  Ang Lee so adeptly proved could, indeed, be made. 

The award shows that lead up to the Oscar ceremony provided a fairly consistent trend:   “Argo” would take best picture, Jennifer Lawrence would win Best Actress, and Daniel Day Lewis was a lock the moment the movie’s poster hit the street – he was, unquestionably, Abraham Lincoln.   The below-the-line races, however, left a lot of uncertainty.  While the Golden Globes do recognize achievements in score and the BAFTAS and Critics Society present cinematography awards, the only true predictors come from each category’s respective guild.   

If the Academy voters sided with the members of the American Society of Cinematographers, Rodger Deakins would have stepped onto the stage to receive his first Oscar after ten nominations (two coming in one year, in 2008 for “No Country for Old Men” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”)  However, the voters agreed with the Film Critics Association, presenting Claudio Miranda the Oscar for his work on “Life of Pi.”  

Miranda was visible caught off-guard when his name was called. Backstage in the press room, he addressed his shock at receiving the award.

“I was caught off guard.  I am always off guard anyway – I’m not a great speaker so I go from the heart,” said Miranda.  “I did think Roger was probably the next in line, but I did get the BAFFTA so there’s always a little bit of a chance it’s possible.  It’s just a different movie, you know.”  

Several of the guilds, such as Art Directors and Costume Designers, break their feature film categories into three major genres: Contemporary, Fantasy and Period, leaving one to wonder “Who will pull ahead?”   Dennis Gassner (“Skyfall” – Contemporary), David Gropman (“Life of Pi “– Fantasy) and Sarah Greenwood (“Anna Karenina “– Period) were the winners of this year’s ADG race.  The art director who ultimate took home the Oscar was Rick Carter for his work on “Lincoln.”  

A frequent collaborator with “Lincoln” director Steven Speilberg, Carter began working on the feature while engaged in the movie that provided him with his previous Oscar win, “Avatar.”  In the press room, Carter described his feelings about what inspired him during a very busy period of his life.

“If you think of ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘Munich’ and ‘War Horse’ and ‘Lincoln, ’ they form a group of movies I think is in response to our times,” said Carter.  “For me, to work with somebody such as Daniel Day-Lewis who came in and personified Lincoln so completely; it was an opportunity not to do a broad canvas such as ‘Avatar’ with new technology.  You can go back and create a portrait that was very much from the soul.”

While the evening offered a few other surprises, such as a tie between “Zero Dark Thirty”  sound editor Paul N.J. Ottosson and “Skyfall” sound editing team of Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers, the evening’s only below the line lock proved accurate: a win for the Best Visual Effects team behind “Life of Pi.”    While a protest raged on Hollywood Boulevard exposing the plight of VFX artists who have lost their jobs, including Rhythm & Hues employees who were behind the creation of the Bengal tiger featured in “Life of Pi,” the team of Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott acknowledge the importance of the craft.

“It’s a turning point where we’re not only supplying a service, we’re here to actually tell stories and put them on screen,” said Rocheron. 

 

A complete list of this year’s Oscar winners follows: 

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Animated Short Film: "Paper Man"

Animated Feature Film: "Brave"

Cinematography: Claudio Miranda for "Life of Pi"

Visual Effects: "Life of Pi"

Costume Design: "Anna Karenina"

Makeup and Hairstyling: "Les Miserables"

Live Action Short Film: "Curfew"

Documentary Short Subject: "Innocente"

Documentary Feature: "Searching for Sugar Man"

Foreign Language Film: "Amour"

Sound Mixing: "Les Miserables

Sound Editing: "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Skyfall" (A tie)

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Film Editing: "Argo"

Production Design: "Lincoln"

Original Score: "Life of Pi"

Original Song: "Skyfall"

Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for "Argo"

Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantion for "Django Unchained"

Directing: Ang Lee

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Picture: "Argo"