Oscar Watch: Previewing the Craft Awards

The crafts buzz has already started with Emmanuel (Chivo) Lubezki’s extraordinary “continuous take” in Alejandro Iñárritu’s  Birdman. Will the experimental cinematographer snag his second Academy Award in a row after Gravity? Or will 11-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins (just as digitally cutting edge) finally win his elusive prize for Unbroken, the epic biopic directed by Angelina Jolie about the late Olympian war hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell)? That’s probably the biggest mini-drama that will play out in this year’s below-the-line awards competition.

But look for the three highest-profile epics to dominate: Unbroken, Interstellar, and Into the Woods.

For Birdman, which has already conquered critics and journos at Venice and Telluride, Lubezki achieves another primal, “continuous life experience” in portraying the bold reinvention gamble by Michael Keaton’s former superhero/Hollywood has-been.

As with Sandra Bullock in Gravity, we stay with Keaton’s anxiety-ridden POV, but the intensity of the rhythm is much more theatrical for this claustrophobic black comedy. The extended, unbroken nature of the shots was planned in rehearsal and accomplished with Steadicam and hand-held cameras, with blocking and dialog timed perfectly with the sweeping camera movement.

On the other hand, Deakins achieves an epic scope and intimacy with Unbroken (sure to be a prime best picture contender) that’s very different from his idiosyncratic work with the Coen brothers. It’s a powerful story, co-scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller: Former Olympic track star Zamperini survives a plane crash in the Pacific, spends 47 days drifting on a raft, and then more than two-and-a-half years living in several Japanese POW camps. Think Chariots of Fire meets The Bridge on the River Kwai.

That’s quite a canvas for Deakins — the master of naturalism — to work with, and a minister conveys an apt metaphor early on: “The light will always follow darkness.” Also in contention will be production designer Jon Hutman (In the Land of Blood and Honey), the prolific composer Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel), costume designer Louise Frogley (Good Night and Good Luck), editor Tim Squyers (Life of Pi), and supervising sound editor Becky Sullivan (The Avengers).

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Costume, Editing, Events, Movies, Music, Oscar, performance capture, previs, Sound, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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