Who Will Win?
In terms of artistry, I would have given this award to Sicario just for the drug raid scene. Never had I seen so much creativity put into film lighting and camerawork. When DEA Agent walk into a tunnel, the dusk lighting makes them look like they’re disappearing into blackness. And when they go into a tunnel, the scene is shot with infrared to only show pale white soldiers.
But I’m going to go with The Revenant, giving Emmanuel Lubezki his second Oscar after winning last year for Birdman. In the earlier film, Director Alejandro G. Inarritu gave him the difficult task of making the whole film seem like one whole take, which involved lots of long takes with the camera always moving. In this film, Lubezki faced another challenge: film using only natural light.
Imagine having to wait for the sun to shine in the right time for the right area to shoot, and then have only a short amount of time to shoot that scene. A shot could be ruined by a cloud. Now combine that with a camera moving through a battle scene or a chase through the woods. Add that with how much of a nightmare it was to make this movie and you get one hell of a headache for a cinematographer.
Despite all of these restraints, Lubezki pulled through and created one long take after another of beautiful wilderness and vicious fight scenes. In nearly every scene, the dim lighting creates a haunting, gritty feel throughout the wilderness. And nearly every scene looks beautiful, even when characters are being slaughtered.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Who Will Win?
I said it before and I’ll say it again; this is the hardest award for me to predict. I could almost never predict the correct film. I got lucky two years in a row with The Great Gatsby and The Grand Budapest Hotel. For all I know, it could be any of these films. Except Cinderella.
A lot of these awards are going to be a one on one between Mad Max vs. The Revenant. It’s a battle between geek culture and auteur critics. I’m going to go with Mad Max for this one. On the surface, designer Jenny Beavan seems to use the typical ragged clothes and steampunk armour seen in most Post-Apocalyptic movies. But then Immortan Joe enters with his molded plastic six pack and the metal mask with golden chompers, and you know she’s not going for “typical”.
She uses what limited supplies there would be in such a future and somehow manages to create an array of unique clothing. Nearly each and every character has a unique wardrobe that says everything about his/her personality, from granny bikers to a bulbous, metal nosed cohort in a business suit. And then there’s the doof; a heavy metalist with a red onesies and a flaming guitar. Need I say more?
BEST FILM EDITING:
Who Will Win?
Again Mad Max vs. the Revenant.
I will go with Mad Max again.
To explain why, I have to turn to Tony Zhou’s analysis of Akira Kurosawa. In his webseries Every Frame a Painting, Zhou pointed out how Kurosawa would always focus on movement, from the movement of nature (rain and wind) to the movement of characters. He also pointed out how each shot seemed to tell its own little story. And finally, he examined how Kurosawa would connect each shot with images. When a friend stated how both Fury Road and The Seven Samurai, I began to notice similarities in editing.
While Kurosawa did his own editing, Margaret Sixel served as the editor for her husband-director George Miller. And she seems have used Kurosawa’s films as inspiration for editing. With nearly the whole film being a chase scene, the film always has movement, whether it’s from the vehicle, actors or sand storms. One shot after another connects itself either through objects, images or symbols.
This is especially true when we enter Max’s psyche. With rapid fire cuts, we see inside a man who has truly become mad, especially with the constant reappearance of a little girl he’s failed to save.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLE
Who Will Win?
Again, it’s Mad Max vs. The Revenant.
It’s Mad Max all the way.
Nearly every character is given unique makeup design, from Furiosa’s blackened forehead, to Immortan Joe henchmen’s pale-white skin with crusty lips and the silver paint they spray on their faces before their ritual sacrifice.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Who Will Win?
Mad Max still has competition, this time it’s against The Martian. We see two desert locations. One’s settings a desert steampunk wasteland. The other’s a futuristic space station on mars.
I’m going to go with Mad Max again. It has the most original post-apocalyptic future ever put on film. No matter the shot, there’s always a set piece to hook your eye. Early on, we see Immortan Joe’s fortress, set around tunnels a large mountain. When we see a giant skull symbol on the mountain, where Joe delivers his speeches and unleashes a waterfall on his minions. Then there’s the collection of steering wheels for his henchmen. But most impressive are the vehicles. Just look at these things:
Each one is a collection of cars put together more mangled than a six year old’s Lego models. Each on fits into the personality of the driver. Still not convinced? Look at what the Doof Guy got to ride on.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Who Will Win?
This time, it’s a battle between two Sci-Fi icons: Mad Max vs. Star Wars. These are two latest entries to iconic science fiction franchises. Both are critically and commercially acclaimed films who have taken geek culture by storm. Already, you can see cosplays of characters of both films. Both use a combination of CGI and practical effects.
Mad Max sees the 73 year old George Miller return to the franchise he created. Star Wars had JJ Abrams take over a franchise beaten up by the misguided decisions of its creator George Lucas to revive the immortal tale.
Mad Max went out of its way to make the car chases as real as possible, with CGI only used to further the environment and create a violent sand storm.
Star Wars created an array of original looking aliens and droids, using a combination of puppetry, makeup and animatronics. CGI’s only when a design can’t be created otherwise. And then there are the battle scenes, from the tie fighters to the light sabers. But what undoes it for me is the octopus scene, which looked so fake it took me out of the film for a brief short of time.
Besides, Mad Max had the harder task. Nearly the whole film’s one major battle chase scene and director George Miller was determined to keep it as real as possible. Cars don’t just flip over. They flip over multiple times and land into a pit of spikes. When tanks explode, they explode for real. When CGI is used, it’s to create a more artistic look in the environment, giving it a yellowish dry feeling. And don’t forget the sand storm. That was awesome.