For Your Consideration: Best Cinematography

ICYMI I ran a fun list of outsider candidates for this stellar year of expert cinematography. Included were such diverse ranging titles as the euro single take Victoria, the chillingly sexy Ex Machina, and the iPhone ingenuity of Tangerine. But my true favorite among the bunch is Danny Cohen’s masterfully economical work in Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. His work blew me away initially for how he captures Jack’s ignorance to the limitations of his tiny home by finding an unexpected amount of visual variety within the cramped space, and like the film itself, his work has lingered since. Here’s hoping his name can make it in among the heavyweights competing for space in an always dynamic category.

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For Your Consideration: Best Original Score – “It Follows”

Playing the long game at the global film festival circuit a full year prior to nationwide American release, David Robert Mitchell’s Argento/Carpenter horror hybrid It Follows was a minor hit this past spring – enough so to cancel its original VOD release plan due to strong box office – and was the strongest entry in a poor year for the genre. An auspicious breakthrough for Mitchell (who scored a Best Director nomination last week from the Independent Spirit Awards), the film excels through harmonious design elements that serve an open metaphor that dynamically allows various interpretations – and also rattle even the toughest of nerves.

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From the lushly terrifying cinematography to the deliberate and confident editing, all crafts on display in Follows form a complex whole that recalls slasher genre origins where the Big Ideas frightened us more than than a hyperactive construction. But the single most effective contribution on display is the diverse and unsettling score by Disasterpeace. In sync with Mitchell’s throwback intentions, but avoiding cliches or copycatting, the film’s scares both subtle and overt are owed greatly to Disasterpeace’s work .

Check out the terrifying music selection from the film’s startling opening sequence after the jump. Best Original Score Oscar Predictions

Continue reading “For Your Consideration: Best Original Score – “It Follows””

For Your Consideration: Best Actress – Margot Robbie

This year has been a filled with richer female-driven films, and it’s going to be a photo finish for any year-end kudos. With solid work from Blythe Danner and Lily Tomlin (which could have been slam dunks in previous years, mind you) getting unfortunately left out already, and clear leads egregiously aiming for Supporting consideration, we finally have the photo-finish lineup we usually see in Best Actor. Year-end catch-up can often yield a robust surprise, and you should make time for a forgotten gem of the summer: Margot Robbie in Craig Zobel’s post-apocalyptic adaptation of Z for Zachariah.

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Her sharp-shooting trophy wife of The Wolf of Wall Street is unrecognizable to her unwordly farm-girl Ann in Zachariah. Her evident versatility lends the quiet and nuanced performance an edge upon which the film hinges – with plot moments developing slowly, every crucial relationship discovery and complication is plain on Robbie’s subtly expressive face. Unassuming, but fiercely present with her adept scene partners Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine, she sells Ann’s naive sexual awakening without getting lost in the film’s more overt themes.

Perhaps being ignored because the film is too unobtrusive and relaxed in its observations of primal human interaction to register against weightier fare at this time of year, Zachariah is at its most immediate when focused on Robbie’s precise acting choices. It may be less blatant, but her work is never undercooked. With a field of more showy emoting, it’s refreshing to see a lead actress performance as fully-realized, but with more delicate intentions.

For Your Consideration: Best Supporting Actor – Oscar Isaac “Ex Machina”

Criminally unrecognized by awards voters and general audiences (perhaps until next month with Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Oscar Isaac has been quietly giving the most diverse range of characters of an actor his age. One of the best lead male performance of the decade was his work in the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis, a showcase for his gifts of subtlety and sorrow, but also for unexpected wowza musical talent.

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In Ex Machina, he gets to play with a full toolbox of mystery. The performance mirrors the film’s delicate balance of big ideas, moral indifference, and sexual undercurrent. Isaac often underplays moments that lesser actors could have turned into moustache-twirling, allowing the film’s darker ideas to speak for themselves. He plays the film’s narrative cards close to the chest but is still an open book, enticing and alluring to the audience and Domhnall Gleeson’s protagonist. Unyielding to the sinister and kooky elements, it’s also the sexiest performance of the year to boot.

Check in with filmmixtape’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar Predictions!

For Your Consideration – Best Original Song : “I’ll See You In My Dreams”

see-you-in-my-dreamsI’ve been playing a lot of catch up the past few weeks, if you haven’t noticed steady updates on the Reviews page. One of the highlights that I dropped the ball on missing in theatres (blame it on a hectic summer) was I’ll See You in My Dreams. A quiet, unassuming drama about the unexpected new beginnings still available as we age, the film is centered by a subtle and fully realized performance by Blythe Danner. Finally given the chance to carry a movie on her shoulders, Danner reaches deep emotion without showboating and it’s reason in itself to see Dreams. However, the film itself is rich with honesty and unexpected depth for its deceptively light touch.

The title song, written and performed by Keegan DeWitt, comes at the end of the film, a delicate coda on the relationship between Danner’s Carol and her surprising pool-boy buddy played by Martin Starr (who performs the tune in the film). It’s a small capsule of the film’s tone and Carol’s melancholy – but not maudlin – state of being.

With more Top 40 and noteworthy contenders in recent years, the category has the chance to yield more recognizable than we’ve seen since the 80s. We’ll see how that translates to nominations: The Academy’s song branch prefers work that plays part in the respective film’s narrative, and we’ve yet to hear a contender that not only works both in narrative context but also encapsulates the film as a whole. Take a listen below: