By Charly SHELTON
We have just over one week left until Oscar weekend. The big night is Sunday, March 7. Some nominees appear to be a shoe-in to win, while others are a complete toss up. But in the days until red carpet time, we will continue to break down the Oscars and the nominee list to see who is up for what, and explain each category. This is the fourth installment of the column.
Last week, we explored screenwriting and music. This week, we take a look at short films, sound, visual effects, cinematography and editing.
Short films are exactly what they sound like – films that are shorter than the normal run movies. A short film is an original movie that has a running time of no more than 40 minutes, including credits. There are in two catagories: Live Action Short Film and Animated Short. For example, 1997’s “Geri’s Game” was featured as a short film shown just after the trailers, before “A Bug’s Life” began. It won the Oscar for best animated short in 1998.
Remember “Boundin’”? It was about a jackalope that hopped across the west and a sheep that did Riverdance and was featured before “The Incredibles.” Most of the people I talk to have only seen short films before these Pixar movies, but that’s a great way to get some exposure for these rarely seen treasures.
Short films are usually shown at festivals, or in independent movie houses like the Laemmle theater. In fact to qualify for the nomination a short film must have been publicly exhibited for paid admission in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for at least three consecutive days, two screenings a day. Films can also qualify if they have won a best-in-catagory award at a competitive film festival that meets the Academy’s criteria. If you have a chance, try to find some of these nominees and see their films. These folks put time and hard work into these labors-of-love films and if they have made it all the way to Oscar, there has to be something more than to see.
Nominees for the best live action short are “The Door,” “Instead of Abracadabra,” “Kavi,” “Miracle Fish” and “The New Tenants.” The nominees for the best animated short are “French Roast,” “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty,” “The Lady and the Reaper,” “Logorama” and “A Matter of Loaf and Death.”
Sound editing is something that you shouldn’t notice if it is done right and really notice if it is done poorly. It is the knock on the door,the scream in the night and the rustling of the trees. Many times these sounds are added after the main filming has ended. The sounds are recorded and edited into the picture. This year the nominees are “Avatar,” “Hurt Locker,” “Inglorius Bastards,” “Up” and “Star Trek.” Again there is a certain Trekkie in my family that is certain the winner will be “Star Trek” but that may not be the logical choice.
Visual effects is a catagory that has changed over the years. We are no longer wowed with the stop motion of skeletons battling in 1963’s Jason and The Argonauts, although we should be. The industry has come a long way from Ray Harryhausen’s ingenius skeleton creations. The nominees this year deal with aliens on another world, aliens visiting our planet and humans searching the galaxy and connecting with aliens. Although the effects in all the flims were impressive I think it is safe to say no one comes close to James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Like Harryhausen, Cameron has crossed a creative line and gone (sorry about the reference) where no visual effects have gone before. Not only are we seeing the creation of a new planet inhabited by actors enhanced through special effects but we see it in a new form of 3-D. The visual effects times….they are a changin.
For information on cinematography and editing and a full list of the nominees, as well as an analysis of them, visit our website www.cvweekly.com and click on the Leisure tab.
And look in next week’s paper for the final edition of Charly’s Oscar Break Down where we will present best direction, best animated feature, and “Avatar”… I mean, best picture of the year.
See you next week.