Articles >

Oscars 2014: A Big Night For Veterans And Novices

GP Productions

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

Who’s your favorite Oscar winner,” asked Jared Leto, as he passed around his golden statue for members of the press to behold.  While Ellen was taking a selfie on stage, the officiator of the Oscar press room reminded the attendees that photography was not allowed.  The room erupted in cheers when Leto signed in disappointment then declared “If you want the press to cover your event, then let them do what they do!”


A photo with an Oscar wouldn’t prevent any member from reporting the exciting happenings of an evening that recognized the excellence in work that ranged a full spectrum, particularly for the below the line set.  From the micro budget indie “Dallas Buyers Club” to the four and a half and visual effects blockbuster “Gravity” there was plenty to write home about.


Following in the footsteps of “Moulin Rouge” which earned a double Oscar win fro production design and costume design, Catherine Martin pulled off the trick once again.  Re-teaming with husband Baz Luhrman, Martin won an Oscar for both her production design and costume design in “The Great Gatsby.”    Martin explained that her approach to pulling double duty in the movie is best aided by having arguments with herself.


“I suppose the arguments with myself is always to reconcile all the storytelling messages that need to be wrapped into an image, both in the costumes and in the scenery.  Do I have ‘Sound of Music’ syndrome, which is everything goes together, the whole family is in the same color palette, and then they’re in the same color palette room.  so you have those kinds of arguments with yourself.”


Martin expressed that little would get done without the team she has collaborated with for over twenty-five years, including her tailor, Gloria Bava, her principle cutter Cheryl Pike, and milliner Rosie Boylan.


I often walk into the room and think, isn’t my crew getting old, then I realize I’m old too,” joked Martin.  “When we got the nomination, it was fabulous because there were the people who’d been working with me since..well, on all the movies, and this was our third nomination together.”


Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews were delighted with their Oscar win.  Like so many other department heads who worked on “The Dallas Buyers Club,” they had an extremely limited budget to work with – in their case, roughly $300.00.  To create the illusion of legions and sores that result from the AIDS virus (specifically in the 80s when medical resources were still undeveloped). the team experimented with cornmeal and grits and applied the grains individually to the skin with tweezers.


“I went back to old school techniques, to things they did in the silent days,” said Mathews.  “Highlight and contour, paint and powder, out-of-the-hat tricks, and I had to make it work.  I’m really glad it turned out okay, because I thought it might be the end of my career.”


“Matthew and Jared gave us the freedom to complete what we needed to do to make them look like the characters, and it was great,” said Lee.  “They were committed.  We were, too.”


Alfonso Curon also recognized the importance of the actor’s commitment when discussing his award win for Editing.  “Everything that we were doing was honoring Sandra Bullock’s performance, and even all the light and all the wizardry doesn’t make any sense without that emotional part that was embodied by her.”  The sound editing team second this sentiment, indicating that imagining how to create sound in the vacuum of space originated from the dialogue recordings of Bullock’s lines.


“I think it was a challenge to keep the attention for an hour and a half when technically we shouldn’t be using any sound,” said Christopher Benstead.  “I think from the beginning the idea was to connect with the main character,” said   Niv Adiri.


While each team from “Frozen” commented on how amazed they were that the film has connected as intensely with an universal audience, and the honor of bringing such strong recognition back to the Disney brand, Best Original Song writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and husband Robert were especially taken by the stories individuals have shared with them regarding the impact the song’s words have had on them.


“We wrote this song to tell a story, and we love musical stories, and you don’t imagine that it will spread this far,” said Anderson-Lopez.  “But every single day on my Facebook or my Twitter, I get some kind of testimonial from somebody who says this song kept them from committing suicide, or this song got them through the cancer treatment for their kids, and that is just so meaningful t use, that our song can go and give hugs to people like that.”


For documentarian Morgan Neville, receiving the Oscar for “20 Feet From Stardom” was the cap to an incredible ride that began the day before the film premiered at Sundance 2013, when the last edits were completed.   In addition to capturing interviews with legends in the rock industry including Bruce Springsteen and Sting, Neville and his team constantly had to balance the tricky scheduling of the backup singers which the movie was based.  They also had the added challenge of obtaining the rights to many little known songs, a challenge that proved extremely daunting.


“We couldn’t have done it without Gil, our producer,” said Neville.  “This was an incredibly difficult film to make, and it took every connection.  We used gilt mercilessly on people to tell them this was their chance to give back to backup singer.  But, the thing that really kept us motivated was that when these people opened up their lives to us, they had given us their stories.  And we felt like caretakers of what their lives were about.  They said over and over, ‘We’re praying for you.’  It’s the most prayed over documentary  in history, and I think they’re on to something there.”


To see a full list of this year’s Oscar winners, please visit: