January 22, 2007

2006 at the Movies Part IV: Behind the Camera

So far you have seen my top 10 films (to be revisited soon), my bottom 10 films, and my top screen choices for my theatrical viewings of 2006. Well, it isn't over yet. I know, it feels like the recap of the prior year is going on and on without end. Don't worry, there is not much left to go over. Here are my top choices for behind the scenes work, and yes I do not go through all possible categories, I go through what I am comfortable with commenting on. Oh yeah, there will be one final part to follow this, a final roundup of random movie awards.

Best Director

  • Guillermo del Toro for Pan's Labyrinth. One of the year's finest films, helmed by a director fulfilling his potential. I have always been a fan of his work, but often it has been at a level lower than what we have found here. His work has generally risen above similar works in the genre, always hinting at what he could do. This is a film that is magical, it is dark, it has hope, it has violence, and you are not safe. Amazing film from a director at the top of his game.
  • Alfonso Cuaron for Children of Men. This was my favorite theatrically seen film for the year, and Cuaron very nearly took the top spot. His work here is very impressive, he brings us a perfectly realized world that draws you in with each frame.
  • Martin Scorsese for The Departed. As much as I would like to see Marty take home the big prize, he comes in third on my list. He made a completely involving film that actually surpasses its source material. It is quick, funny, thrilling, and suspenseful, and masterfully directed.
  • Christopher Nolan for The Prestige. Nolan has fast come into his own as a first rate director, not having a failure yet. His follow up to Batman Begins is a suspenseful struggle of two dominant personalities. Of course, he had a couple of great performances to work with, but much credit to the man behind the camera.
  • Paul Greengrass for United 93. It must have been a daunting task, attemptng to create a film that honors the memories of those who lost their lives and not feel exploitive. Paul Greengrass has created a film that places the viewer right in the mioddle of the events, like a fly on the wall. It is a powerful experience.
  • Honorable Mention:
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel. The concept of intersecting lives, experimented with in the great 21 Grams is taken worldwide in this global film of intersecting lives and the inability to communicate with those that we need to.
  • Wayne Kramer for Running Scared. This was an absolutely wild movie. Not the best, mind you, but completely insane. It is a credit to Kramer for being able to keep focus and not allow it to get away from him, letting it fly out on the rails but never flying off.

Best Screenplay

  • William Monahan for The Departed. Based on Siu Fai Mak's script, this one takes the cat and mouse thriller and elevates the comedy and blends in a stronger identity crisis. It is a wonderfully written script with fast paced dialogue that has a wonderful flow.
  • Alfonso Cuaron & Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby for Children of Men. A script, based on PD James novel, that never quite explains as much as it could, allowing enough room to be open to interpretation while always keeping a strong focus on the characters and the journey they are going through.
  • Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan for The Prestige. This is an intricately plotted thriller, based on Christopher Priest's novel, that gives us interesting characters, but is also concerned with concealing secrets, much like the magicians with which it concerns itself. It is finely tuned with not a single word out of place.
  • Rian Johnson for Brick. Filled with dialog that is hard to crack, yet easy to understand. Film noir translated into a high school tale. It is an excellent work from an up and coming writer/director with unique vision.
  • Guillermo del Toro for Pan's Labyrinth. Combining the drama of a real world Spain at the end of the Spanish Civil War with a dangerous world of fantasy, seamlessly slipping between the two. It is a wonderful script that does not belittle the thought of fantasy as child's play.

Best Cinematography

  • Emmanuel Lubezki for Children of Men. A bleak and fully realized world. For two hours you will be a part of this world, so carefully constructed that you will believe. For some truly amazing scenes, take a look at the battle at the refugee camp.
  • Dean Semler for Apocalypto. This is a pure action film, and the cinematography is breathtaking. Running through the jungle has never seemed so real, of course I am not sure the last time I saw anything like this. There are some gorgeously composed shots in this film, the waterfall, for example.
  • Vilmos Zsigmond for The Black Dahlia. The film may have been overrated and a little too self aware, but there is no denying how beautiful some it looks. The use of angles and colors always offers something to look at while you spend time not becoming invested in the film itself.
  • Guillermo Navarro for Pan's Labyrinth. Much like Children of Men, this movie also creates an utterly convincing world, both real and unreal. the drained colors, the dark viciousness, there is a fantastic visual sense that permeates everything that comes on the screen.
  • Dan Laustsen for Silent Hill. This was an uber-stylish horror film that is more than a collection of jumpscares. The script may be lacking, but it has great visual sense and plenty to keep you interested in.

Best Score

  • Clint Mansell for The Fountain. Hands down, my favorite score of the year. The film left me scratching my head, in a good way, but the music was beautiful and haunting. The music, performed by Mogwai and the Kronos Quartet provides a surreal soundscape for the film that is interested in pushing the boundaries and takes chances with the art form.
  • Hans Zimmer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. This score has the distinction of igniting my interest in movie music (there is always Star Wars, but even non-score fans like it). For better or worse, I love the big bombastic score that Hans Zimmer delivered. From the playful theme for Jack Sparrow to the more menacing strains for Davy Jones and the Kraken, I loved every note of it.
  • Philip Glass for Notes on a Scandal. I have not seen the film, but I very much like the beautiful minimal score that Glass has created. I know the name, but I am not familiar with much of his work, but if it is like this or better I am interested in listening.
  • David Arnold for Casino Royale. I really enjoyed the score, even without the full use of the classic theme until the end. It has the brassy sound of the old John Barry work, yet doesn' sound derivative, rather it fits the movie well and stands strong on its own.
  • Mark Isham for The Black Dahlia. This is a score that I do not have strong recollections of the specifics, and have not yet picked up the CD, but I do remember liking it very much as I watched the DePalma disappointment. I remember taking note of how much I enjoyed it. I need to dig up the CD now...
  • Honorable Mention: John Ottman for Superman Returns. The integration of the classic John Williams themes with his own work very well together. I admit, the opening of the film and the credits with that music was a complete geek moment.

Best Special Effects

  • Industrial Light & Magic for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The effect of Davy Jones alone is enough to secure this title. I was convinced that it was a combination of Bill Nighy in make up and CG, when I learned that it was full CG, I could not believe it. Truly a high water mark for effects creation.
  • Amoeba Proteus for The Fountain. The movie contains no CG. Let me repeat that, "The movie contains no CG." Hard to believe, isn't it? The amazing images were created in a petri dish, chemical reactions and such filmed and used to wonderous effect.
  • Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rhythm & Hues, Framestore CFC, Rising Sun Pictures, and The Orphanage for Superman Returns. Lots of companies were involved in creating the effects that will make you believe a man can fly, and they look fantastic.
  • CafeFX for Pan's Labyrinth. The fantasy world is wonderfully, and darkly realized and blended with the real world. The two worlds both feel like reality, and I was convinced by each shot.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. I could not find the name of the compnay behind the gore, but it is one of the gorier films to hit the screen, and the blood is rather gruesomely realized.

That about sums it up. I am sure many, if not all, of you have differing ideas. What are they?


Post a Comment