3rd TFO Awards PART 2: Production Design / Costume Design

TFO 2011
The following awards are:

BEST production design – contemporary

BEST production design – period

BEST costume design – contemporary

BEST costume design – period

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Best Production Design – Contemporary

 

01 Drive Drive – (PD) Beth Mickle, (SD) Lisa Sessions Morgan
The film succeeds in its visuals because it has the capability to create a world that is identifiable yet partly detached, creating a world where its narrative and characters fit and giving the film the densely moody milieu that makes the film so visually striking.

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02 ELAICExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close – (PD) K.K. Barrett, (SD) George DeTitta Jr.
The film is all about Oskar’s journey, emotionally and physically, taking the film into different locations that over-all paints the post-9/11 New York, a place where the air of despair and the search for resolution collide. Also, its visuals also provide us hints on how Oskar’s mind works.

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03 TGWTDTThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – (PD) Donald Graham Burt, (SD) K.C. Fox, Erik Videgard
What I like about this film is its completeness in its visuals, enveloping the whole narrative with a world that is filled with minute details that help create the immensely atmospheric environment of the film.

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04 TSILNThe Skin I Live In – (PD) Antxon Gómez, (SD) Vicente Díaz
Almodovar’s films are always visually intriguing, and this film, with all its strangeness and eccentricities, depicts his visual control of the story. The whole film works like a labyrinth of the characters and their psyche, thanks to the attention to detail of the visuals.

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05 SBSleeping Beauty – (PD) Annie Beauchamp, (SD) Lisa Thompson
The film’s coldness and intrigue comes from how disturbing the visuals are. Its set pieces are always too classy and too polished, effectively giving the film the oddness and disquieting visuals its narrative deserves.

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And THE FINAL OSCAR goes to…

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DriveDrive

Production design by beth Mickle
set decoration by lisa sessions morgan

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Finalists: Melancholia | Coriolanus | Contagion | The Rum Diary | Bridesmaids | Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Shame

Semi-Finalists: Insidious | Super 8 | Carnage | Certified Copy | X-Men: First Class | One Day | Martha Marcy May Marlene | Take Shelter

The Rest of the Field: Moneyball | The Muppets | Margin Call | We Need to Talk About Kevin | The Descendants | The Beaver | 50/50 | A Separation | Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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Best Production Design – Period

 

06 Anonymous

Anonymous – (PD) Sebastian Krawinkel, (SD) Simon Boucherie
While I really feel indifferent about the film, I just cannot discount its brilliance in recreating the Shakespearean era with a noirish quality that feels classy and bleak at the same time.

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07 The ArtistThe Artist – (PD) Laurence Bennett, (SD) Robert Gould
The film is a stunning visual experience, and the completeness of its over-all design is what makes the film such an absorbing film. Whether be it the glamorous 1920s Hollywood studios or the neglected house of George Valentin, the film scores high with its visual wholeness.

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08 HugoHugo – (PD) Dante Ferretti, (SD) Francesca Lo Schiavo
Being in that train station is already a blast, but once the narrative enters its chapter concerning George Melies and the film career he once had, it is pure visual enthrallment.

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09 SubmarineSubmarine – (PD) Gary Williamson, (SD) Cathy Cosgrove
The film mostly works from how visually appealing and in sync it is with the film’s quirkiness. Its specificity in its design plots the characters’ mindset with intricacy.

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10 War HorseWar Horse – (PD) Rick Carter, (SD) Lee Sandales
The film employs several set pieces as the narrative traverses through different parts, from the cozy hose beside the plow field, to the military camps, bomb shelters, and the haunting No Man’s Land.

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And THE FINAL OSCAR goes to…

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HugoHugo

production design by dante ferretti
set decoration by francesca lo schiavo

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Finalists: Jane Eyre | Midnight in Paris | W.E. | Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy | Captain America: The First Avenger | The Help | Albert Nobbs

Semi-Finalists: My Week with Marilyn | The Tree of Life | A Dangerous Method | The Debt | J. Edgar

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Best Costume Design – Contemporary

 

11 BridesmaidsBridesmaids – Leesa Evans, Christine Wada
Before the characters wear their beautiful wedding gowns, the costumes already sprinkle a lot of information about the characters, whether be it Helen’s elitist tendencies, Becca’s pretty reserve, or Megan’s no-bullshit attitude.

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12 DriveDrive – Erin Benach
Stylish and dangerous, the film populates the narrative with characters that all harbor in peril underneath the slick façade. The scorpion jacket is already a classic, but the film shows more than that.

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13 The Iron LadyThe Iron Lady – Consolata Boyle
Helps in establishing the fragility underneath the tough in Margaret Thatcher in pre-prime minister era, her regality and authority in her prime minister years, and the sophistication and intelligence of the old-age Thatcher.

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14 Margin CallMargin Call – Caroline Duncan
Its characters remain in corporate attire for the entire film, but close attention to the costumes reveal the specificity of the details given to each character, defining them even more even in the quieter moments.

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15 Sleeping BeautySleeping Beauty – Shareen Beringer
Those impeccably designed lingerie worn by the servants still haunt me. In the moments before the lead character goes into hibernation, the costumes work wonders in walking the very fine line between clarity and ambiguity that makes each character come of as ethereal.

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And THE FINAL OSCAR goes to…

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DriveDrive

costume design by erin benach

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Finalists: The Rum Diary | Shame | Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close | Young Adult | The Ides of March | Coriolanus

Semi-Finalists: The Lincoln Lawyer | One Day | Carnage | The Muppets | Larry Crowne | The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | Margaret

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Best Costume Design – Period

 

16 AnonymousAnonymous – Lisy Christl
Works wonders in highlighting the different dimension of each character when the screenplay or even the actors go for broader strokes, never afraid to sink in the story while still standing out.

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17 The ArtistThe Artist – Mark Bridges
The transformation of the main characters are given precision even in the subtlest way: the way Peppy Miller’s clothes slowly change from her simple attires as an aspiring actress to Hollywood star in contrast with George Valentin’s descent from beloved movie star to forgotten silent film actor.

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18 The HelpThe Help – Sharen Davis
The women of Jackson are provided with the succession of costumes that are both pleasing to the eye as well as revelatory of the characters themselves: the way Celia Foote’s sexy clothes go in contrast with the conservative but hypocritical women of the bridge club as well as the difference between Minny’s figure-hugging orange dress to Aibileen’s loosely modest yet classy red dress.

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19 Jane EyreJane Eyre – Michael O’ Connor
The film’s organic and earthy visuals are some of the best that I have seen in this category, and the costumes have a lot to credit for that. Its costumes are both unobtrusive to the over-all vision and also crucial in the creation of the distinct visual style of the film.

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20 w.e.

W.E. – Arianne Phillips
Its costumes strongly register because the film is lucky to have actors who have the attitude to wear those stunningly sophisticated dresses. The way the two women of different time periods both compliment and clash at the same time prove the volumes of intelligence in the costume design.

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And THE FINAL OSCAR goes to…

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we poster

 

W.E.

Costume Design by Arianne Phillips

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Finalists: Captain America: The First Avenger | Hugo | Midnight in Paris | War Horse | My Week with Marilyn | A Dangerous Method | Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Semi-Finalists: Albert Nobbs | Submarine | J. Edgar | The Debt

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Previous Awards Page: Animated Feature

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Next Part: AURAL CATEGORIES (Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Original Music Score, Adapted Music/Song Score, Original Song)

Best Picture Profile: The Help

help

Directed by: Tate Taylor
Written by: Tate Taylor
Produced by: Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Brunson Greem
Runtime: 146 minutes

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The Help is about Skeeter Phelan, a young white woman who starts her career as a writer of a housekeeping tips column in a local newspaper. Because her beloved maid left their house when she was gone, she was forced to ask pieces of advice from the maid of a friend, Aibileen Clark. Also present in the story is Minny Jackson, a strong-headed maid that ended up getting fired by another friend of Skeeter. These three women collaborate to write an unorthodox novel that documents the different stories of the help in the town of Jackson, Mississippi.

Looking back at the year the film is released, it was nowhere near the buzz of getting a Best Picture nomination. Hype for the actresses, particularly Viola Davis gained the film a momentum for itself in the Best Picture race. And looking through that, it’s no wonder why this happened – the performances are what make the film work.

The execution itself is quite apt for the material, though there is actually potential for it to go deeper. It tends to just scan over the issues embedded in the material, particularly its treatment of the racial discrimination in the film. It did confine itself in comfortable zone, and the result is something that does not give any new insight to the topic. To be fair, it is the kind of treatment suited to the material. The film does not divulge into darker territory due to the film being a mainstream product, and with that, the material maximizes the emotional content to make up for the lack of courage in going into newer territory in discussing the topic.

The cinematography gets to do a subtle appropriation of colors in the scenes, carefully constructing a milieu that is both bygone and at the same time clear and warm. The film is also composed of scenes that are moving in a pace enough to give the film space and time to breathe in the emotions of the actors. Worth mentioning also is the production design of the film, sprinkling the film with clever distinction of the characters through its set and costumes. To complete the circle is a tender musical score that delicately sets up the humor and the sadness of the characters through its adroit balance of the two. There is also the original theme song “The Living Proof” that plays at the ending of the film, giving it a meditative tone of melancholy and hope.

help

But just like the buzz the film had in the entire awards season, the film is all about its stellar cast. From Cicely Tyson’s brief but heartbreaking role as the dedicated maid to Sissy Spacek’s humorous yet biting take on a lady sent to the nursing ward, the supporting cast holds up to the strong ensemble. She has garnered few notices, but I admire Bryce Dallas Howard for her openly despicable role as the racist antagonist of the story; same with Allison Janney in a sensitive performance as the initially dismissive but ultimately loving mother of Skeeter. Emma Stone does fine as the eager Skeeter Phelan, displaying a steely determination with such grace and intelligence.

Octavia Spencer swept most of the awards for supporting actress category in her year, and deservedly so: she handles comedy very well the same way she manages to paint a tragic back story to her character. She utilizes her eyes to double effect: to project a strong point of humor and at that same, to register the sadness and helplessness her character encounters in the film.

But if I am going to choose the best supporting performance in the film, it will be Jessica Chastain in a mesmerizing performance as Celia Foote, a woman dislocated from the majority of the ladies in Jackson. With every unknowing smile covers uncertainty with her marriage life, housekeeping, and her future, and Chastain effortlessly manoeuvres the character’s quirks to get something authentic: it is a performance that digs deeper that what it is expected. She surprises with moments of biting honesty beneath the stereotype that she could have been.

Viola Davis gives a towering dramatic tour-de-force as Aibileen Clark. She is a sorrowful woman, and the whole body language speaks that. From her unassuming glances to the way she walks as if she is really a woman of many experiences, Davis finds the most profound truth in the story: something that is quite unshakable after you watch the film. It never becomes one-note, as she constantly provides a soulful approach to the character, never veering away from the reality of the character. Her build-up of the character is definitely noteworthy, and when she breaks down, it is all real. The genuineness of the sadness, the helplessness, the longsuffering she unleashes in the film is something so real that it gives the film something that is stunning to watch, something unexpected for a film like this. She is the heart of the film, and what remains after the credits is Davis’ Aibileen Clark, a creation that is full of emotional realness and rawness.

In comparison to War Horse, I am also finding it hard to spot anything remarkable in the film aside from the ensemble cast. It is unashamedly a product of the mainstream, so it does stay in the safe zone, refusing to do anything risky and brave. But to take it for what it is, this film offers a relaxed film watching experience with some really powerful moments, thanks again to its cast.

For this, the film gets:

 4

Agree or disagree?

INTRODUCTION – Best Motion Picture: 2011

Yes, this is the next year. This is, again, a very exciting year for me.

This year actually quite peculiar, just like 2012.

The frontrunners were a French silent film, a small independent drama-comedy, and a fantasy film from Scorsese.

The rest include a 9/11 drama that sharply divided the critics (just look at its Rotten Tomatoes score – 46%!), a melodrama about race that is obviously only made remarkable by the performances, a Woody Allen romantic-comedy-fantasy, a baseball drama, a spiritual film from Terrence Malick, and a war epic from Steven Spielberg that received a more-or-less lukewarm reaction.

Enough of that. So, here are the nominees:

artistdescendantsextremelyloud

helphugomidnight

moneyballtreeoflifewarhorse

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

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Which film would win this one?

The arrangement of the profiles will be by lottery, then the last profile would be the Best Picture winner The Artist. 🙂

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So there you go.

Would I go with the Academy? Or would I go with an another nominee? Make your predictions now!