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Oscar 2012 Predictions

The countdown has begun. Only four days remain until the 84th Academy Awards. This year’s event will be hosted by Billy Crystal and held at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre (where “American Idol” is taped). The event gives Hollywood a chance to roll out the red carpet for the most prestigious awards show of the year.


“The Artist” – the most talked-about movie of the year – ironically, is a silent film.

And what a year it was! For example, a silent, black and white movie may actually take home the Best Picture Oscar. The last time that happened was 1929—some 83 years ago. Let’s take a look at the nominees for 2011 (WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD):

The Artist
The one true break-out hit of the year is a film of startling originality, which it achieves by reminding us of the original charms of early film. Yes, “The Artist” was shot in black and white and contains no audio dialogue. (The movie was not even produced in widescreen, because early films were all shot in the same 4:3 aspect ratio, the same ratio used by older-model televisions.) And while it’s a great gimmick to use in our post-modern age, the film wouldn’t be nearly so memorable if its core story and presentation weren’t so compelling.

This French romantic comedy is set during the period between 1927 and 1932, when sound films had been introduced and silent films were on their way out, and the story revolves around a “silent” film actor and his relationship with an up-and-coming “talkie” actress that he falls for.

Prediction: Wins for “Best Picture” and possibly a “Best Actor” Oscar for Jean Dujardin.

The Descendants

Stranger in paradise: George Clooney plays a Hawaiian lawyer whose life unravels in “The Descendants.”

Brilliant filmmaker Alexander Payne knows how to show the humor in painful situations, and vice versa, as he has done in comedies like “Sideways,” “Election” and “Citizen Ruth.” Here Payne takes a nice-guy lawyer (played with middle-aged gusto and angst by George Clooney) and shakes up his predictable world like a snow globe.

First Clooney’s wife suffers a traumatic accident. Then he learns that she’s critically ill. Then Clooney discovers his wife’s been having an affair. A critical favorite, “The Descendants” topped many “Best of 2011” lists and has already won the Golden Globe for Best Drama. And Clooney, well, he just keeps getting better with every performance.

Prediction: If Dujardin fails to take the “Best Actor” award, then the statue will go home with Clooney. Long-shot-but-don’t-count-him-out-yet: Alexander Payne for “Best Director.”

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Receiving a split-decision from critics, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” surprised many by being nominated at all.

A young boy loses his father (Tom Hanks) when the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, then discovers a way to keep his memory alive from beyond the grave. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a cinematic love letter to New York City, although many critics complained the film was emotionally manipulative, and blatantly so at that…

The boy’s grandparents are Holocaust survivors, which shows the filmmakers were trying to make an “emotionally significant” movie by covering another tragic event that defies easy summation. Another clue about the film’s award-based motivations: the young boy’s name is “Oskar.” (Hmmm…coincidence?)

Prediction: This one was lucky enough just to get nominated. Don’t push it.

The Help

Viola Davis was just one of three actresses nominated for their roles in “The Help.” Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain also received nods.

Chronicling how one class of people behaved toward another in the not-too-distant past, “The Help” is set in the racially charged atmosphere of early 1960s Mississippi. Sporting a showcase of impressive performances from its largely female cast, “The Help” seeks to address the grievances experienced by black domestic servants (usually called “the help”) at the hands of their white employers.

Numerous actresses were nominated for their performances, although critics could not reach consensus about whether the film really was helping to promote any meaningful racial healing. (The New York Times, for example, called the movie “a big ole slab of honey-glazed hokum.”)

Prediction: The buzz has surrounded Octavia Spencer, who is likely to win the “Best Supporting Actress,” although there’s a strong chance that Viola Davis will capture the “Best Actress” Oscar.

Hugo

Nobody expected street-savvy Martin Scorsese to direct a movie like “Hugo,” one of the year’s stand-out family films.

Martin Scorsese, long considered one of film’s greatest directors, surprised all expectations with “Hugo,” a free-wheeling, family-friendly fantasy set in the 1930s but produced in 3D. Like “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” the main character in “Hugo” is a young boy who is trying to maintain a psychic connection to his dead father.

Like “The Artist,” “Hugo” reflects on the early days of movies and how revolutionary “moving pictures” first seemed to audiences. (One 1897 film showed the arrival of a train at a station. The train rushed toward the camera, prompting panic in the audience members, who scattered when they felt that a real locomotive was suddenly bearing down on them.) Audiences and critics alike were united in their approval of “Hugo,” which proved that a cinematic magician like Scorsese is still willing to learn some dazzling new tricks.

Prediction: Scorsese has already received a Best Director Oscar (for “The Departed”) and his previous films have won the “Best Picture” award. With that in mind, look for “Hugo” to mainly win technical awards for its breathtaking special effects.

Midnight in Paris

In “Midnight in Paris,” now available on iTunes, Owen Wilson falls deeply in love…with a by-gone era and the world’s most romantic city.

Writer/director Woody Allen (who has made an astounding 41 films over the past 46 years—nearly one movie a year, each and every year, for four and a half decades) enjoyed his biggest box office success ever with this genial romp through time. Owen Wilson plays a frustrated writer who discovers a “rabbit hole” that lets him experience the famed romantic Paris of the 1920s, when expatriate American writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald haunted its cafes.

Prediction: Although critics and audiences latched onto “Midnight,” its nomination was mainly a gesture of respect toward Woody Allen. (By the way, don’t expect to see the famed director on the famed Red Carpet; Allen didn’t even attend the Oscar ceremonies in 1977, when his masterpiece “Annie Hall” became one of the only comedies to ever win the award for best picture.)

Moneyball

The year’s best screen couple turned out to be Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, joining together to knock “Moneyball” out of the park.

Brad Pitt’s considerable acting chops are rarely saluted, but he provided the living soul of this quirky sports comedy. Playing a struggling baseball manager, he finds a solution to his team’s many problems in computer whiz Jonah Hill’s ability to help him “program” the perfect team. Pitt’s turn as the manager is fun and meaningful, although the real star of “Moneyball” is Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s script, which delivers its clever story with the precision and energy of a triple play.

Prediction: Look for “Moneyball” to win a “Best Adapted Screenplay” award for Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (who won Oscar gold last year for writing “The Social Network.”) This is Jonah Hill’s first nomination for “Best Supporting Actor,” but based on his glowing reviews, it won’t be his last.

The Tree of Life

“The Tree of Life” set out to provide possible answers about this life…and show a vision of the afterlife.

Brad Pitt again, in the film that generated the biggest cinematic debate of the year. Terrence Malick’s “everyday” epic, which seeks to frame the life experience through the eyes and lives of average American people, was undeniably ambitious. (Master critic Roger Ebert wrote that the “only other film I’ve seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’”) However, opinions were sharply divided over the ultimate worth of the film, with some critics naming “Tree of Life” the best picture of the year. Others just scratched their heads in confusion.

Prediction: Too grand and mysterious to win a “Best Picture” Oscar, “The Tree of Life” could fetch a Best Director Oscar for Terrence Malick, who has produced a respected body of work that includes “Badlands” and “The Thin Red Line.”

War Horse

A return to traditionally heroic themes, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” shows how one plow horse helped to win World War I.

Steven Spielberg climbed back in the director’s saddle for this rousing WWI epic that details the true exploits of a plow horse put into military action, and the bond that grows between the horse (named Joey) and its various owners. Unabashedly sentimental, “War Horse” is a film meant to prompt cheers with its audience-friendly message and upbeat ending. Per usual, Spielberg is able to use his directorial prowess to elevate standard film fare and make it into something memorable.

Prediction: The Academy loves films about horses, but this one’s probably a long shot for Best Picture. More likely, expect composer John Williams (who is also beloved by the Academy) to win the Oscar for “Best Original Score.”

Making It In The Movies
Want to go to the Oscars? If you’re interested in getting into the movie business, there’s no time like the present to start. Film camps for kids and teens can be a great way to inspire anyone to enter the world of filmmaking – Digital Media Academy offers over 20 different courses related to filmmaking. Get ready for your close-up!

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Scorsese & Coppola: Old-school Directors Embrace Digital Filmmaking

They are two of the greatest directors in film history, each the maker of acknowledged movie masterpieces. Both Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese came to prominence during the 1970s, one of cinema’s greatest and most productive decades.


Hugo is director Martin Scorsese’s first film to use 3D.

But both directors are closely identified with the films they made thirty to forty years ago and that presents a small problem. Now each director has to compete with his own legend, and each must prove that he can make new films that are accessible to younger audiences. To that end, each director has a new project that takes advantages of new techniques in digital filmmaking.

Coppola: The Godfather of Cinema                       
Before he was known as a master filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola was a respected stage director and had directed a couple of films. But that was before 1972 and the release of the movie that would secure his reputation as a giant in cinema. The Godfather created a sensation and became one of the best-loved films of all time, and Coppola hasn’t been out of the public eye since. Along the way he’s made other masterpieces, including the Vietnam war drama,  Apocalypse Now.


From young lion to grand old man of the cinema: Francis Ford Coppola talks about his passion for film at the Toronto Film Festival.

For his latest project, Twixt, Coppola returned to one of his favorite film genres — horror. In the movie, a horror writer (played by Val Kilmer) visits a bizarre town which may or may not be inhabited by vampires. In one amazing scene, director Coppola has star Kilmer engage in a one-on-one conversation with the father of all modern horror, Edgar Allan Poe.

Coppola not only experimented with story elements but the director was also using an iPad for film editing. For example, when Coppola appeared at Comic-Con 2011 to showcase Twixt, he talked about his desire to take the film on the road and present it along with an orchestra — basically directing the film’s performance as a fresh audience experience each time out, even shuffling the order of shots as the mood of the performance struck him.

He told the Comic-Con faithful, “What I’d love to do is go on tour, like a month before the film opened…and go to all the cities myself, with my collaborators, with live music and actually perform the film for each audience uniquely for them — a different version for each audience.” The maestro also put his own unique stamp on using 3D. In Coppola’s case, that meant utilizing the effect selectively and only in certain scenes.

Coppola had seen a recent blockbuster and liked its use of 3D, but didn’t care for keeping on the special glasses throughout. “I enjoyed very much Avatar,” he said, “But I confess that I took the glasses off during much of the movie. And whenever I saw the images start to show that it was going to be 3D, I put them on and saw a wonderful sequence, and then I took them off again.”


Coppola not only paid tribute to early horror writer Edgar Allan Poe in Twixt; the 3D lenses Coppola handed out at Comic-Con 2011 were inset into Poe face masks. 

And although Coppola enjoys 3D, he doesn’t want to use it as a one-trick pony. “How dare anyone think that all movies have up their sleeve is more 3D. Cinema has many more surprises that you and your children will invent, because it’s at the beginning of this expression of image and sound.” While other art forms are thousands of years old, Coppola noted that film is still in its infancy as an art form. “Music and theater are thousands of years old. Cinema’s a baby.”

Scorsese: Genius Moves to the Third Dimension
Among major directors, few are as passionate about the craft of filmmaking as Martin Scorsese. Through landmark films like 1976’s Taxi Driver and 1980’s Raging Bull, Scorsese tackled tough subjects and did it all with a virtuoso’s artistry. His uncompromising vision has led him to a Best Director Oscar (for 2006’s The Departed), as well as other prestigious awards, such as the Cannes Film Festival’s highly prized Palme D’Or for Taxi Driver.

In 2006, Scorsese was presented the Oscar for Best Director for The Departed by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola…the other major American directors who came to prominence during the 1970s. Scorsese’s natural sense of humor was on full display when he asked the presenters to “Check the envelope, please.” (Scorsese had been nominated five previous times before winning.)


Few directors have made more great films than Martin Scorsese, and even fewer have studied film in depth as Scorsese has done.

Now Scorsese is back and with a different type of movie than he’s ever made. Hugo (which opens November 23rd) is an adventure/puzzle of a movie, and it follows the title character, a resourceful boy trying to unlock a secret left to him by his deceased father. A dazzling visual experience, Hugo is Scorsese’s first foray into making a 3D movie, and he recently talked about embracing the popular technology.

“Most people have stereoscopic vision so why belittle that element of our existence? Why not use it? We’re basically headed for holograms. You have to think that way.” He’s convinced of the screen power of 3D, although combining the technique with Scorsese’s patented perfectionism didn’t lead to quick results. “It really was an enjoyable headache,” the famous director said. “It demands respect. We just kept pushing it to see how far we could go. We would look at a shot and say, ‘What could we do to use the depth?’”

A Fresh Approach to Filmmaking
When Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese were learning film production, the only real source of training (besides on-the-job experience) was offered by film schools. Today, anyone interested in filmmaking can pull out their smartphone and post a video up to their YouTube channel. Still, the professional world of filmmaking demands that you master new technologies; after all, it’s a digital filmmaking world.

Aspiring filmmakers can now study film production and learn how to make a movie at film camp without waiting to be accepted to a full-time film school. Digital Media Academy is a state-of-the-art, critically acclaimed digital media education company that offers personalized instruction from seasoned industry professionals. You’ll also get exposure to the latest film-production techniques and hands-on training in film production and how to use editing software (like Final Cut Pro). Interested in becoming the next Coppola or Scorsese? Learn how from DMA.

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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments