Superman Stats

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Underdog Awards 2015: Part 4

The Underdog Awards

Technical Category Part 1

(Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best VFX)



Unofficially sponsored by Whistling Woods International School of Filmmaking.

This is because all that I've learned in excess and detail about the technical aspects of film making comes from their teachings. It gives me the bravery and strength to include these vital sections into my awards show this year.

So why not just get straight to it, cause this one's going to be a long one.

Underdog Award for Best VFX

Visual effects are a high powered drug in some cases, that have seeped into blockbuster cinema for the better part of three decades.

VFX is an important tool that has made the most vivid imaginations possible a reality now, at less the cost and more the shine of normal production design, props and miniature works. It is however also a thankless job, taking a team of over hundreds to complete the majestic works that are demanded of them.

If you've forcefully (thankfully!) had to sit through a Marvel movies credits sequence for the end tag, then you'll have at least once noticed the number of names that follow a plethora of jobs that relate to the VFX and animation work of the film. The rigging, the modeling, the texturing etc.

It's a tough job and while this year like any got well celebrated, I don't think the best did. Interstellar was gorgeous, but the effort built up by Weta for Dawn of The Planet of The Apes was nothing short of a miracle and in equal footing to Andy Serkis's beautiful portrayal.

Then there's the trifecta of Marvel movies, which had sensational VFX work. Still the better ones missed out on Oscar glory.

Honorable Mentions: Lucy and Snowpiercer

And the nominees are...

Adam Valdez and Seth Maury (Moving Picture Company) for Maleficent

Taking the fairy tale approach into question. There are two looks and shades to the CGI work in Disney's Maleficent. In the much more serene and lighter moments of the film, the effects get to shine brighter and better with a soft touch added to them. It gives that fairy tale notion to the film.

The other is the much more realistic world, taking precedence during Maleficent's own darker days. It makes the film look sharp and really becomes subdued, helping much of the production, costume design and actors take over. 

Overall the duet that plays around the works is wonderfully embellished and helps elevate the picture. 

Guillaume Rocheron (Moving Picture Company) for Godzilla

While sound obviously plays an important part of breathing Godzilla to life, it's the vfx work that truly represents the majestic creature.

In this day and age it's impossible to have a man in a costume do the part. So the VFX teams at Weta among others provided the perfect ode to the original Toho monster, while adding in their own feel. Truly Godzilla never looked more fearsome and while he may be fat at least he isn't an iguana mixed with a frog.

Of course the MUTO were equally terrifying, especially providing the artists with barriers to make the creature as dark as possible to blend into the seamless look of the film. 

Daniel Kramer (Sony Pictures Imageworks) for Edge of Tomorrow

Shifting between an organic, tentacle approach to it's major creatures and a much more refined metallic outlook; the major VFX portion of this underrated gem, the Mimics look magnificent no doubt.

The creatures dominate a well worked battlefield and some niftily crafted suits, giving the VFX that slick feel that much of the features grey palette provides.  Much of the animation was done by multiple teams, with even a plug in being made to help craft the dual nature of the creatures wonderfully.

The Alphas given a larger head and different color, the modeling looking perfect and super awesome.

Tom Debenham and Dominic Parker (One of Us) for Under The Skin

In the final moments of Under The Skin, a lot of VFX is used efficiently to assemble the true creature the Alien (Johansson) is from within.

It's a creepy and heart breaking form the is well constructed by the artists of the film. A sort of shiny but stone like texture, that helps capture the hollowness of herself and her false humanity.

There's such a brilliant seamlessness to everything else, from the skins to the opening shot that the VFX submerges itself in the visual splendor of the movie, making it utterly natural and producing that eerie vibe. 

Patric Roos (Industrial Light and Magic) for Noah

Kudos to Darren Aronofsky for changing quite a bit with his divisive magnum opus adaptation of the Biblical epic. In Noah we see a lot of instances for VFX to take center stage, vfx that spectacularly blends in with tone of the film.

The whole flood sequence is majestic in its view, the pouring rains and turbulent waves felt thanks to how pin point perfect that cg work is. As a very visual oriented director, Aronofsky was hands on with the ILM team handling the CGI.

His incorporation of the rock giant fallen angels, making for a visually engaging scene and the use of mythical powers, adding to the atmosphere darkness of the palette. Overall a work of great effort. 

And the Winner is...

Moving Picture Company for Godzilla!

Underdog Award for Best Costume Design

Costume Design just like the larger bubble it fits into; Production Design, gives a sense of reality to the film. It announces the film's authenticity and in some cases timeline. Even in the most contemporary features, costume design works to reveal character.

It's a great art that deserves to be recognized and this year there were some fascinating films that allowed costume designers to go wild or go big.

Honorable Mentions: Guardians of The Galaxy, Belle, Jersey Boys, Unbroken, Two Faces of January, A Most Violent Year, Noah, X-Men Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Snowpiercer

And the nominees are...

Mary Zophres for Interstellar

With it's semi-apocalyptic nature and farm based issues, it's easy to see why Zophres opts for much of a realistic feel to the costuming. Forcibly this occurs through the timeline and non-evolution of the planet.  It's an interesting look, that most likely helps keep the viewer invested for the better. The simplistic nature of the costuming here is effective.

The major portion of the costuming, or the costuming that obviously stands out are the space suits.  Crafted with modern NASA designs in mind, the suits are given small tweaks that give it an updated feel that isn't (once again) overt but rather realistic in functionality.

It's the hallmark of Nolan's vision; a sense of realism, that forms the basis of this audience grounding costume design.

Carlo Poggioli for The Zero Theorem

Working with frequent collaborator Terry Gilliam, Poggioli comes up with the wackiest and most fun costumes to see that match the eccentric brilliance of his director. Influenced by Neo Rauch paintings, the costumes are worked from plastic materials such as table cloths, rain coats and shower curtains etc. allowing the film that sheen, thanks to the light hitting the substance harder and reflecting farther.

The costumes are also enhance to specific level of each character. For example only lead protagonist Qohen indulges in darker colors due to his morose behavior. His lady love, Bainsley is given constantly changing looks that enhance their climatic confrontation. She is dressed in heavy plastics and sprightly colors until the end where simplistic let's one see the true Bainsley.

There's a through process of thought to Poggioli's work that helps make the wacky and quirkiness of Zero Theorem shine. The sci-fi aspect embellished wonderfully by costumes, that don't reveal timeline but tell you a lot.

Bina Dagilier for Only Lovers Left Alive

Basing her characters between an artistic touch of shifting ages and exotic cultural backdrops, Dagilier's work has a very relaxed, hippy sort of sensibility to it which fits the low, brooding and dour moods and mannerisms of its age less characters.

The gowns used to dress up Eve, have an elegance to them as well as an aging regality. It works well when juxtaposed against the much more light and comparatively modern frocks and dresses worn by her sister Ava.

On Adam's side the darker variation of clothes reflect an ever changing attire that however remains static in terms of its theme; black and rock-star like.

The balance between being ancient and modern is wonderfully captured by the costume designing, a sense of timelessness that sort of adds to the overall mood these characters have.

Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard for Fury

Authenticity is key to war drama Fury. David Ayer's film is the most brutal and realistic war depiction since Saving Private Ryan, it is true, vicious and bloody especially when it comes to depicting its actual 'heroes'.

With Fury, Anna B Sheppard makes for costuming that is well worn and rough strewn. The muted colors fitting right into the grit that the picture brings out and also blending in to much of the environment, unlike any modern war film has been able to.

It really enhances the feel of the world. Sheppard's a pro, an Oscar nominee this year (for her equally gorgeous work in Maleficent) and it obviously shows.

Patricia Norris for The Immigrant

The late great Patricia Norris, who recently passed away; left another of many defining marks in her storied career with her work in James Gray's The Immigrant. Capturing a great period aesthetic and with a nice eye for detail, she has crafted some lavish costumes that ooze with magnificence in the 1920's based feature.

With Immigrant she begins with the sort of tattered sense of age old entitlement that Polish sisters Ewa and Magda have over their well work clothes. The costumes get a touch of magnificence once Ewa moves into the darker recesses of the growing American city of New York.

The glitz and glamor clothes presented through Bruno and his club (for dancing and prostitution). Phoenix as Bruno suited up with a bowler hat looks dapper but also at times the workings of the costume, give him an out of place feel. Renner getting some fancy clothes as the magician rival for Ewa's affections.

Overall costumes that just do wonders to show how unfortunate we are to not see any more of Norris's dazzling work from now on.

And the Winner is...

Patricia Norris for The Immigrant! 

Underdog Award for Best Production Design

Production design is an exhausting but rewarding process. One of the most artistic aspects, with such depth that it requires a team of its own directors. Delving into elements such as Set Design, Costume Design, Props etc.

Production Design is basically the authentic off camera look of the film, a base from which if any continuity or reality is dispelled then the audience can be disengaged. Some of the best Production Design requires a sharp team of art directors and production designer, who are through with each phase of the effort.

From the floor plan to the final setup.

So here's to these five great production designers and more

Honorable Mentions: The Immigrant, Noah, The Double, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fury, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Congress , A Most Violent Year, Jersey Boys, The Homesman, Dawn of The Planet of The Apes, Maleficent

And the nominees are...

Jon Hutman for Unbroken

Taking into the life spectrum of Louis Zamperrini, Hutman's efforts in Unbroken are marvelous from the sporting to the harrowing war camps. He embellishes the three layers with dexterity, a detailed work of great aesthetic creativity.

The best part being around the second mark, where much of the film is situated in an open water canvas. There's great sensibilities Hutman brings to the major act of the film, including three dynamic and unique prisoner of war camps that are brutally realistic as can be. The first designed such that is provides a sense of claustrophobia in the interiors while also adding a jungle atmosphere for reflections of fear and secluded being. The second takes on the approach of a sustained ash color palette, giving that suffocating dehumanizing loss to the characters. It helps enhance the cold and detached demeanor of the lead antagonist; The Bird. The final camp taking a darker turn, with the winter juxtaposed beautifully by sets constructed upon abandoned factories, giving an eerie out of the world and final days mood.

Overall, a taste of what Hutman and his team are capable. They brought the majesty and reality to a film that could not have worked in the slightest without it, if only the screenplay had then been stronger.

David Warren for The Zero Theorem

Enveloping Terry Gilliam's latest out there sci-fi feature, is the works of David Warren and his team. From the wonderfully textured clothing to the marvelous, grandiose sets. There's sets which shine due to the wonderful candy colors utilized.

The main attraction being Qohen's (Waltz) chapel housing, it sort of embodies the character thanks to its darker tones and burned down look. Yet the finer details, craft a sense of fear and loneliness that Qohen needs and wants to break out from. Mancom (the big computer) is also designed with an eye for detail.

The precision with which the works in Theorem are constructed and detailed over is only much more surprising, due to Warren and his teams efficiency in completing the work in good time.

Ondrej Nekvasil for Snowpiercer

Based around just a singular train for mostly all of the runtime, Snowpiercer then is divided into different unique sections that allow designers to go wild. It's a wonderful structure that allows Nekvasil instances of bringing out the themes and overall connection of the film to the audience.

We're introduced to the back of the train, projected with muted colors and in the resting area, a sense of a close knit community but honestly just painful claustrophobia. As the movie and train move in motion, there are other sets that come into play and the color palette that accompanies them.

Nekvasil makes each feel like a set in a play of its own. The next being equally grim but housing a much more free space. One's being full of greenery and shrouded by them, another becoming a play school with soft pastel colors, the next ones moving from neon lighted baths, to luxury dining halls, to a sparkling clubbing area and finally a metallic engine room with sheen. The final set for Wilfred juxtaposing the much dirtier back of the train.

All in a systematic approach that allows Nekvasil and team to flex their muscles and give a wonderful whirlwind tour of a possible existing societal structure.

David Crank for Inherent Vice

A lot of Crank's work on Paul Thomas Anderson's latest, comes from the Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice itself. From the recurring ship motifs to the simplest touches such as a detailed expedition painting.

Crank and team revel in the history of Los Angeles and its growing culture during the counterculture movement and trippy era of early 70's. The essence of the film produced by its aesthetic accuracy, Anderson is a very demanding and detail oriented director and his team give him what he really wants.

There's a great vibe to each set and how it produces the feel and look of the film, helping us immerse into Doc's (Phoenix) slow and steady quest for the truth.

Charles Wood for The Guardians of The Galaxy

Bringing an amalgam of pulpy sci-fi's, candy colors yet gritty backdrops, a sense of blade runner meets star wars. The design for Marvel's latest block buster is out of the world (pun intended). The costuming is subtle but effective, unwavering from the much more ludicrous designs of aliens and life-forms yet retaining a keen sense of realism.

Wood and Gunn don't go out of their way to make the audience and worlds alien, which helps keep the viewer grounded. One of the most profound works is the Knowhere (Severed head of a Celestial) set which feels like a perfect blend of mechanic and organic. It looks structurally dazzling without dropping the grime that produces the mood for such a rowdy place for a collection of thugs to be a possibility.

Guardians, Wood and team knock it out of the park with this quirky brilliant vision.

And the Winner is...

David Crank for Inherent Vice!

Underdog Award for Best Editing

Learning about cutting and editing, one finds out what an arduous process it is.

Editing requires keen precision and an understanding of when to really cut down on frames for efficiency. It's a process of struggle, where the editor in most occasions will be stuck between or just fighting of either/and an indulgent director and demanding producers.

Each sample of a cut from a dissolve to a simple cut can execute a compression of time; the epitome of film-making, time.

Time and Space are the dual pillars of film making and both are spiritually manipulated by film makers but physically handled by editors, the greater struggle they have to make it believable.

A lot of editors left their mark this year, let's see who didn't get the big props.

Honorable Mentions: Gone Girl, Locke, The Babadook, Dear White People, Enemy, Top Five, Dawn of The Planet of The Apes, The Congress

And the nominees are...

Mike Flanagan for Oculus

Wonderfully sequenced with its narrative, Oculus relies upon moments of complete psychological shocks providing a unique form of classic horror jump scare techniques. To mystify the audience and play with their perceptions as much as the protagonists, the editing needs to cut between points of reality and the horrors the mirror inflicts upon the characters.

Fascinatingly used cuts bring the antagonist to life, the Mirror as a character gaining perception and depth as it proceeds to horrifically psychologically dismantle its characters. It's the perfect use of the editor's skills, bringing the audience into the eerie atmosphere of the film.

Matt Villa for Predestination

Jumping across multiple timelines and juggling one character through out its runtime. Predestination is a confusing tale wondrously unraveled by the editing, without letting the ambiguity and twists and turns slip.

With a runtime of 97 minutes, there's great dexterity to how Villa handles each cut and transition. It's easy to fall into the trap of the film and be hooked, because he makes the quick paced feature engaging on every which level, playing the minds of viewers with efficiency.

Paul Watts for Under The Skin

Despite roaming much of Scotland, Under The Skin can be easily divided into three sections of locations. The van that the Alien (Johansson) drives, her scary black pool and of course the wide outside.

It's within this sphere that Paul Watts makes some wonderful moves that allow time to capture the essence of the human world she sees and the horror she doles out. Certain essential points include some heart wrenching jump cuts (same shot, small transitions in time) such as when the baby is left at sea and the Alien is much more worried about killing her prey.

The fearsome fashion with which the film unfolds gives it that necessary cliché artistic tinge and editor Paul Watts makes sure nothing is visually unsatisfying, yet he never pushes the film overboard walking a tight rope like a master.

James Herbert for Edge of Tomorrow

With it's constant repetitive motion, there's a vital need to establish the initial mechanism of William Cage's (Cruise) constant groundhog day like returns to the past. It's done wonderfully, the cut backs and forth give the scenes such hilarious wit.

Post this, there's a furious frenzy to the pace of the film. Some cuts giving a sense of a repeated day easily such that the viewer is constantly on the move with Cage and Rita (Blunt). Every movement and narrative motion is calculated smartly and executed equally well to make this a riveting feature.

John Gilroy for Nightcrawler

There's a vast structure to the narrative of Dan Gilroy's first feature, as both a character study and a media satire as well as a darkly comical thriller. All this is balance and layered marvelously thanks to John Gilroy.

From the onset Dan has you on the hook thanks to Lou's (Gylenhaal) fearsome actions. John Gilroy with his smart editing keeps this palpable tension just under the surface, squeezing from each scene an emotion of pure horror and anxiety. It's his quick work that keeps you at the edge of the seat, yet never loses hold of the complex narrative themes. The best though is how he gives great space for Gylenhaal to shine when necessary.

Editing can make or break many things and with this Gilroy plays fine duets with narrative and actors, while also giving a pulsating brilliant solo.

And the Winner is...

John Gilroy for Nightcrawler!

Phew! Finally that's the end of the first part of technical awards. Thank you for sticking around. 

Anyways there's more to come, slowly but surely. 

Up Next: Scripts are the backbone of film making, so which one's scored the biggies!

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

No comments:

Post a Comment