Categories One-by-One: Art Direction

Mister Tee
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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:07 pm

I think the only way Avatar could lose would be if people decide it's drawn, not designed-and-built -- in which case Sherlock Holmes is the most likely alternative (in the Tim Burton, Sleepy Hollow/Sweeney Todd tradition), with perhaps a few traditionalists opting for the rent-a-mansion look of Young Victoria.

I wouldn't go to the wall fo Avatar's look, but I think some of you are downplaying it to a greater degree than it deserves. The image of the dust flying through the air after the tree was demolished sticks in my head as pretty ravishing design. I wonder if Avatar was so overpraised in some quarters that people here are underrating it just a tad.

rudeboy
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Postby rudeboy » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:37 pm

I completely agree with Original BJ. While I wasn't a huge fan of either film, both District 9 and, especially, Inglorious Basterds should have been included here. Basterds, for all it's flaws and longeurs, looked quite striking throughout, and the production designers deserved recognition for the film's very distinctive look. And when District 9 worked, it worked because of the superbly grimy sets. The White Ribbon is another film which could justifiably have been awarded a place here for it's unique time and place feel.

I think Avatar will take this by default, although a win for The Young Victoria wouldn't be a complete shock.

Jim20
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Postby Jim20 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:22 pm

The Original BJ wrote:The last of the below-the-line categories to discuss, and one I think could have some upset potential.

First off, let me say that I'm not all that wild about this set of nominees. Obviously, I was rooting for Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline, two real visual treats, but I certainly understand that animation has a real uphill battle in this category. But some other omissions are disappointing as well, namely two Best Picture nominees I'd really hoped would have made it. District 9's richly detailed ghetto -- which feels appropriately fantastical but is grounded in reality -- is yet another one of the decade's impressively designed sci-fi films to miss here. And Inglourious Basterds, a period piece with one memorable set piece after another, is probably the most baffling exclusion of all. I guess the art directors don't like their history revisionist.

But on to the nominees...

The Young Victoria is the kind of default period piece nominee, like Vatel or The Duchess, that routinely gets nominated here. But I can't see enough voters finding it imaginative or unique enough to triumph.

John Myhre has been recognized ENOUGH as far as I'm concerned. Chicago's art direction wasn't unworthy on its own terms, just a disappointing winner given its competition. But Nine? Well, I don't see how many times you can award the same guy for dressing up an empty theater.

Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is kind of a cool nominee. I like the fact that the design looks a little ragged -- the world inside the imaginarium isn't beautiful, but it's strange, full of detail, and somewhat shopworn. It makes sense that the film's ragtag group of performers would be involved in this kind of world. I might vote for it, partly to be a contrarian, since I think the frontrunners are decent but not thrilling.

Avatar is undeniably a visual wow. But isn't it sort of redundant to award it for art direction after giving it visual effects? I didn't find Pandora to be such an imaginative creation (certainly not compared to say, Middle Earth) that I'd want to throw excessive trophies at it. Let me make clear that I DON'T think Avatar is unworthy because computers were so involved in its look. I just think that once I separate what I'd consider visual effects from the equation, there's not a lot there that's really special design-wise that I'd want to award.

I think Avatar could very well pull through with a win, but I might end up predicting Sherlock Holmes for the upset. I think plenty of Academy members WILL have a problem with the CG-aspects of the film's design. Plus, historically, sci-fi films have ALWAYS had an uphill battle in this category, and I'm not sure that bias won't be a factor just because the media thinks the Academy is apparently crazy for sci-fi this year. Sherlock Holmes is a more traditional historical choice -- it's got LOTS of big sets, and look how filled to the brim they are! (Personally, I think they're a little overstuffed and cluttered, but they're definitely eye-catching.) And the movie was a hit, too.

I might still end up predicting Avatar as part of its below-the-line dominance, but I wouldn't be remotely shocked if Sherlock Holmes prevailed.

"I didn't find Pandora to be such an imaginative creation (certainly not compared to say, Middle Earth)..."

I couldn't agree more. One of the (many) problems I had with Avatar was that it felt like it's visual look was thrown together from so many sources. Sure a floating mountain overflowing with waterfalls looks cool, but the beauty of the film is only skin deep. After a while, I was bored with the look, which is the opposite of my film-going experiences with The Lord of the Rings trilogy; I honestly couldn't get enough. And that's the difference, for me, between James Cameron and Peter Jackson.

The Original BJ
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Postby The Original BJ » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:18 pm

The last of the below-the-line categories to discuss, and one I think could have some upset potential.

First off, let me say that I'm not all that wild about this set of nominees. Obviously, I was rooting for Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline, two real visual treats, but I certainly understand that animation has a real uphill battle in this category. But some other omissions are disappointing as well, namely two Best Picture nominees I'd really hoped would have made it. District 9's richly detailed ghetto -- which feels appropriately fantastical but is grounded in reality -- is yet another one of the decade's impressively designed sci-fi films to miss here. And Inglourious Basterds, a period piece with one memorable set piece after another, is probably the most baffling exclusion of all. I guess the art directors don't like their history revisionist.

But on to the nominees...

The Young Victoria is the kind of default period piece nominee, like Vatel or The Duchess, that routinely gets nominated here. But I can't see enough voters finding it imaginative or unique enough to triumph.

John Myhre has been recognized ENOUGH as far as I'm concerned. Chicago's art direction wasn't unworthy on its own terms, just a disappointing winner given its competition. But Nine? Well, I don't see how many times you can award the same guy for dressing up an empty theater.

Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is kind of a cool nominee. I like the fact that the design looks a little ragged -- the world inside the imaginarium isn't beautiful, but it's strange, full of detail, and somewhat shopworn. It makes sense that the film's ragtag group of performers would be involved in this kind of world. I might vote for it, partly to be a contrarian, since I think the frontrunners are decent but not thrilling.

Avatar is undeniably a visual wow. But isn't it sort of redundant to award it for art direction after giving it visual effects? I didn't find Pandora to be such an imaginative creation (certainly not compared to say, Middle Earth) that I'd want to throw excessive trophies at it. Let me make clear that I DON'T think Avatar is unworthy because computers were so involved in its look. I just think that once I separate what I'd consider visual effects from the equation, there's not a lot there that's really special design-wise that I'd want to award.

I think Avatar could very well pull through with a win, but I might end up predicting Sherlock Holmes for the upset. I think plenty of Academy members WILL have a problem with the CG-aspects of the film's design. Plus, historically, sci-fi films have ALWAYS had an uphill battle in this category, and I'm not sure that bias won't be a factor just because the media thinks the Academy is apparently crazy for sci-fi this year. Sherlock Holmes is a more traditional historical choice -- it's got LOTS of big sets, and look how filled to the brim they are! (Personally, I think they're a little overstuffed and cluttered, but they're definitely eye-catching.) And the movie was a hit, too.

I might still end up predicting Avatar as part of its below-the-line dominance, but I wouldn't be remotely shocked if Sherlock Holmes prevailed.


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