February 22, 2013 7:39pm PT by Scott Feinberg
'The Hollywood Reporters,' Ep. 9: Getting Technical With the Oscars (Video)
The Hollywood Reporter has released the ninth installment of its weekly web series The Hollywood Reporters. In each episode, THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg, the series' host, chats with colleagues from THR's newsroom about different aspects of the awards race. This week, Feinberg was joined by contributing tech editor Carolyn Giardina for a discussion about the technical Oscars -- among them best cinematography, best film editing, best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects -- and the top contenders to win them this year.
Feinberg and Giardina agree that Ang Lee's Life of Pi -- only the fourth film ever nominated for all of the tech Oscars (after Titanic, Master and Commander and Avatar) and only the fifth 3D film ever nominated for the best picture Oscar (after Up, Avatar, Toy Story 3 and Hugo) -- seems to be the darling of the tech community this year. The adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling novel has been awarded more nominations and wins from technical craftsmen's guilds and societies than any other 2012 film, several of which -- namely, the Motion Picture Sound Editors, the Visual Effects Society and the International 3D Society -- have also bestowed special honors upon Lee. (Scroll down to check out video of Feinberg's recent interview with Lee and his Life of Pi cinematographer Claudio Miranda and visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer.)
Giardina points out that the tech guilds and societies are of varying degrees of value when it comes to predicting Oscar success. The winner of the Visual Effects Society's top prize, for best visual effects in an effects-driven motion picture, has gone on to win the best visual effects Oscar in seven of the last 10 years; this year, Pi won it. The Motion Picture Sound Editors give out four prizes for live-action features, making them of little help when trying to predict the best sound editing Oscar. this year two went to Pi and one each to Les Miserables and Skyfall. The Cinema Audio Society is somewhat more helpful when it comes to forecasting the best sound mixing Oscar, since they only have one major prize for live-action features; this year it went to Les Miserables, just like the BAFTA Award. The American Society of Cinematographers has awarded its top prize to the same film that went on to win the best cinematography Oscar in only five of the last 10 years; that made it hard to predict with confidence whether this year's ASC winner, 10-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins (Skyfall), would finally take home an Oscar -- after all, the corresponding BAFTA Award went to Miranda for Pi. Lastly, and perhaps most useful of all, are the American Cinema Editors, who give an ACE Eddie Award for best film editing of a drama and best film editing of a musical or comedy, won this year by Argo and Silver Linings Playbook, respectively; eight of the last 10 winners of the drama prize went on to win the best film editing Oscar, and six of the last 10 winners of the best film editing Oscar also won the best picture Oscar, all of which was more good news for Ben Affleck's frontrunner.
Finally, Giardina fills us in on the late-breaking news that Rhythm & Hues, the lead visual effects house that worked on Life of Pi, has been forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and lay off 250 of its employees, all in the same month that its work is likely to be recognized with a best visual effects Oscar. Talk about a bummer.