The Oscars!

So the Oscars. Those are coming up. The problem here is that I don’t really go to movie theatres. Mostly I watch movies in the ONAT-East Sub-Annex, where the floors aren’t sticky, there are no children of any description, let alone hyperactive disruptive children. I can also pause and look up who that actor is or any of the other fifty thousand things that mean I don’t have to pay fourteen dollars to be locked in a room full of strangers, none of whom care about my movie-watching experience (as I, in turn, care not a whit about theirs).

Not to mention every single year, the Oscars are a fifteen-hour snoozaganza of people you’ve kind-of heard of talking to people you’re kind-of annoyed by, and that basically everyone is trying to slog through in case someone says something racist, or someone falls out of a dress, or someone gets up there drunk or, god bless them, someone makes fun of Anne Hathaway. And yet every year people pretend like these awards, such as they are, actually go to good movies or good performances for good things. It’s 2013. Let’s stop pretending.

At least this year there probably won’t be any fucking blackface.

And so, I still sit before you, the arbiter of who should and should not be the winner of awards. It’s quite a conundrum, as in addition to my aforementioned objections, I’m also allergic to prestige pieces, and that’s not even counting the fact that some of these movies won’t be widely released for another fifteen to twenty years, at the current pace.

So I did what anyone would do. I sent the agents of ONAT-East out to view as many of the films as it was possible to view, and I watched the trailers. Thus armed with all of the knowledge I could possibly need, I am ready to declare who the rightful winners are.

Visual Effects
After all that, it turns out I’ve seen most of these, albeit later than everyone else. Marvel’s The Avengers is fine, but the title is so visually offensive that I feel like all the Loki-smashing Hulks in the world can’t earn it back this oscar. Are people afraid we’re going to confuse it with the sixties-BBC Avengers? Or the god-awful terrible late-nineties movie with Voldemort back when he still had a nose1? That’s just dumb. Nobody sees Captain America and says “oh, it sure will be neat to see him sling his shield along side Ms. Emma Peel. Although I suppose the presence of a bosomy catsuited woman does, actually, make that more likely. Anyway. It’s not The Hobbit: A Journey Starts to Think About Beginning Yes Sir Any Day Now, Yep despite the presence of my absolute favorite feature of every movie everywhere: singing dwarves. But there will be lots of those in the rest of the movies to come anyway. Snow White and the Huntsman looked like absolute garbage, albeit extra-shiny garbage. I have no idea why anyone would win an award for that. Life of Pi had a cg tiger in it! And other stuff besides, I hear! A friend of mine read the book, and when I asked him if it was visually interesting he said that it wasn’t even in a very good font, so that’s just right out.

The Winner: Prometheus, because that is the most accurate depiction of Chekov’s Abortion Machine for Mentm that I can imagine.

Sound Mixing
Ah, the sound mix. The one thing that cannot be replicated at home. Skyfall couldn’t even managed to have a well-mixed title track, I can’t imagine that the movie fared any better. Les Miserables is a movie, and so should probably actually pay a lot of attention to its sound mix, but if you think about it, there’s not really that much to mix once you’ve got it down. It’s a talky (well, singy) movie, and there’s not a lot else to meld together. Lincoln has one gunshot there at the end and a lot of DDL shouting about slavery using only his left foot2. Life of Pi has, as mentioned, a cg tiger in it. Luckily, the ONAT operative I sent to see the movie was specifically chosen due to the fact that he was an owl, but he was forcibly removed from the theater for not buying a ticket, and so didn’t get to hear how accurate its representation and placement in the stereo field really was. Let this be a lesson to us all: if you act like vermin, you get treated like vermin. Even if you’re an owl, which is not, technically, vermin.

The Rightful Winner: Well certainly not Mr. Hootz, who escaped the movie theater’s custody and now lives as a fugitive of the law somewhere in the wilds of Ohio.

Sound Editing
Ah, the sound editors. Truly the bearers of the movie. The sound mixers are the crazy, insular pastry cooks of the movie-creating kitchen, putting together ratios and proportions so the resulting sound cake, with its layers and decoration, sounds as much like other, more similar sound cakes that the viewer is already familiar with. The sound editor then, is the noble protein chef, armed only with his blade3 and tasked with making the resulting pile of ingredients coherent. Again, still not Skyfall. What the hell is with people and Skyfall? Jesus Christ. Anyway. Since Operative Hootz was still unable to actually hear any of the Life of Pi, and sound editing is something that you can’t get from a trailer (which is re-edited, the frozen dinner of the above analogy). So it is, of course, disqualified. Django Unchained would certainly win if the award were given to the person who edited purely the most sound – it’s, like, fifty hours long, which is yet another reason not to see it. But the award is for doing a good job, not for winning an endurance race. Zero Dark Thirty would be a pretty good choice (and would win any given “Hottest Director” Oscar, but who the hell cares about the director?), but it isn’t.

The Winner: Argo.

Production Design
Still not Live! Nude! Dwarves!. Lincoln has some pretty impressive design elements, but they aren’t very strong (Stephen Spielberg, despite being responsible for some awfully impressive visuals in his career, very rarely does so because of design elements. And Lincoln, Operative Woofy tells me, is no Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Granted, Operative Woofy may be colorblind, but then, so am I, so it can’t win.) Anna Karenina is a period piece, which would seem to make this a shoo-in, but it isn’t a shoo-in, because it’s Russian and did you know that you can watch the entire trailer and see neither a potato nor vodka? Fuck that. Maybe that flies in Russia, but not here in the real world. LIfe of Pi’s rather-impressive tiger appears to be on a nothing-special boat, so I guess that makes the job obvious.
The Winner: Les Miserables. Especially since Amanda Seyfried herself appears to have been designed for some production or other, rather than biologically formed. She lives in the uncanny valley.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Boy, the Academy just can’t wait to rain some important awards on Bring in the Dwarves, Bring in the Funk, can they? They’re stupid, and I hate them. Les Miserables would win but, as already established, one of their stars is actually part of the set instead of part of the cast, so that’s right the hell out. Unfortunately, Hitchcock looks stupid.

The Winner: Mrs. Coach, because this is an award for hair, and you knew she had to win one of these.

Music (Original Song)
I was on the fence over whether or not this was one that was important enough to mention, but then I decided that it was, not because I think any of th esongs nominated deserve to be brought to your attention, but merely so I can say: “Skyfall” is a fucking terrible song, and all involved should be ashamed of themselves.

The Winner: I don’t particularly care, just not “Skyfall”

Music (Original Score)
Goodness. Skyfall is up for this one too. Now, I haven’t heard the score itself, so I don’t actually know how any of that goes, but I do know that if it includes the song “Skyfall” in it, it’s a bad idea, so it won’t be that. I’m surprised not to see The Dwarf-field Follies here, but I suppose if it had been nominated it would just be unfair to the other people in the category. John Williams’ lifetime ban on winning any more Oscars still cannot be lifted until the average person can name one other film composer. Life of Pi manages to have a score not made up of cg tiger growls, and that’s stupid. Anna Karenina shouldn’t have a score, goddammit.

The Winner: Argo, the score for which was wrtten by someone whose name is french for “The Splat”.

Film Editing
How is it that I’m this deep into this stuff and am only just now seeing Silver Linings Playbook up in here? Anyway, it doesn’t win this one. SUCK IT, WILL TIPPIN. Do you wonder if film editors used to ever marry sound editors? Also, do you feel that sound editors who are old enough to have done it in the pre-digital days are resentful that now, basically, their entire job is a function of the film editor? I guess if the movie isn’t shot on DV that doesn’t count. As a retaliatory strike, it isn’t The Life of Pi. Fuck yo’ tiger. Argo’s film editor did a good job of making it look like the main character wasn’t Ben Affleck’s beard. Kudos to you, sir. Also, he’s the same guy that edited the film for Zero Dark Thirty, which would be impressive, but his name is Goldenberg, which seems like someone is trying to make themselves sound extra-uppity. Ultimately, it’s about Lincoln’s Lincoln beard which, really, is too obvious.

The Rightful Winner: Ben Affleck’s beard. It’s less obvious.

Costume Design
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has spoken, and they have said: costumes for productions of Snow White are the absolute bomb-diggity. Unfortunately, as with so many other things, they are completely wrong. Lincoln, Les Miserables and Anna Karenina are all period pieces, which means that instead of designing costumes, they could just copy them out of books. That’s laaaaaaaame. So nobody wins this one. Terrible shame, really.


Best Cinematography
Boy oh boy, watch those cameras move. Watch those pictures stay in focus! Look at that background, and also at those characters in the foreground, and how with focus and perspective, you can even tell which is which! Except in Skyfall! That cg tiger is barely in-frame, also, which I realize is probably a conscious decision, but honestly. You could at least keep the tiger in frame. Unlike sound editing, cinematography is basically the long-distance race of film-making, so this one, ultimately, comes down to Anna Karenina vs. Django Unchained.

The Rightful Winner: Django Unchained, because that guy had to photograph two different skin tones, and the Anna Karenina guy only really had “pale” to work with.

And that about does it for the major awards, unless they start adding recursive meta-awards to the whole thing, in which case that would be the only thing that could actually get me to sit in front of the stupid fol-de-rol. Oh, that and if they get some of those singing dwarves. That’d be awesome. Or are they “dwarfs” in Tolkien? I can’t remember. I think they’re dwarves. That’s “proper” English anyway, and ol’ Jonny was an Oxford man.

1 which was, to be fair, based on the sixties-BBC Avengers, in the same sense that my last bowel movement was based on an egg sandwich.
2 There Will Be Blood references are so played-out. My Left Foot for 2013!
3 granted, a sound editor hasn’t actually had to use a razor for, oh, the last decade and a half or so, but work with me here.