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Talking the Oscar-Nominated Sound Editing and Mixing of 'Lone Survivor'

Peter Berg's underrated "Lone Survivor" received its lone Oscar nominations in the sound editing and mixing categories, but it's well-deserved. The fact-based adventure about a failed Navy SEALS mission in Afghanistan grabs us by the throat and never lets up. And the sound is among the most intense and immersive experiences for a modern war film.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 24, 2014 2:47 PM
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Talking the Oscar-Nominated Costume Design of 'The Invisible Woman'

Oscar-winning costume designer Michael O' Connor ("The Duchess") may be an expert at period pieces, but he was a Charles Dickens novice along with actor-director Ralph Fiennes before making "The Invisible Woman." And in this year's battle of the period pieces ("American Hustle," "The Great Gatsby," "The Grandmaster," "12 Years a Slave"), O'Connor is somewhat of a surprise nominee.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 22, 2014 2:05 PM
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Oscar-Nominated Papamichael Talks Making 'Nebraska' in Black-and-White (VIDEO)

There was never any doubt about making Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" in black-and-white. It always lived in his imagination as the best way to convey the film's sense of isolation and loneliness. For Oscar nominee, Phedon Papamichael, it was like returning to his old still photography days when he would carry around both color and black-and-white Nikons.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 17, 2014 2:02 PM
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  • 2 Comments

Cinematographer Le Sourd Talks Anatomy of 'The Grandmaster' Train Fight

Oscar contender Philippe Le Sourd, who scored an ASC nomination last week for lensing "The Grandmaster," discusses the standout train platform fight between Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) and her father's killer and protege (Zhang Jin), which you can watch below. Not only was Wong Kar-wai's improvisational style a challenge, but they also completed the scene two years later, compelling Le Sourd to keep a journal so he could remember the location of his lights and maintain visual consistency).
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 14, 2014 4:09 PM
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The VFX Bakeoff: Mixing Old School and New School

The Academy's VFX branch voted for the five nominees Thursday night, and while frontrunners "Gravity," "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," and "Pacific Rim" wowed the packed Samuel Goldwyn Theater, "World War Z," "The Lone Ranger," and "Oblivion" put on impressive presentations. The remaining contenders acquitted themselves nicely: "Iron Man 3," "Elysium," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "Thor: The Dark World." So who knows? There might be a surprise or two come next Thursday.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 10, 2014 2:57 PM
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Going Inside the Production Design Secrets of 'Walter Mitty'

Designing the "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was a new experience for Jeff Mann, known for working on such "blunt instruments" as "Tropic Thunder" with Ben Stiller and "Transformers" with Michael Bay. But Stiller definitely had a different mind set for the daydreaming Everyman, full of whimsy and wistfulness, and Mann visualized that world in a graphic and poetic way that's certainly worthy of Oscar consideration.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 8, 2014 2:05 PM
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'Gravity' Set to Dominate Oscar Craft Nominations: Talking the Film's Sound, Music and Editing

As we approach Wednesday's Oscar voting deadline, at least one thing's for certain: "Gravity" is a lock for a majority of the craft nominations. We've already covered production design, cinematography, and VFX in depth, so now let's look at the corresponding design for sound and music, which were made for the immersive Dolby Atmos surround experience, along with the editing of what was essentially an animated movie.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 3, 2014 2:07 PM
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Consolata Boyle Talks 'Philomena' Costume Design

For Dublin native Consolata Boyle, designing the costumes for the fact-based "Philomena" -- her seventh collaboration with director Stephen Frears -- took on special significance. Certainly it's a powerful story about a mother's search for her long-lost son, amid the appalling revelation of forced adoptions in Ireland. But its greatest artistic appeal came from the witty "Odd Couple" pairing of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 31, 2013 6:32 PM
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Craft Talking '12 Years a Slave': The Contrast of Horror and Beauty

The visual power of "12 Years a Slave" derives from a juxtaposition of horror and beauty that director Steve McQueen calls "Goya-esque." It immerses us in the totality of Solomon Northup's experience, a brutal inhumanity that nonetheless took place on gorgeous plantations. Production designer Adam Stockhausen, cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, costume designer Patricia Norris, and editor Joe Walker collaborated on this rich tapestry, which has helped make "12 Years a Slave" the best picture Oscar frontrunner.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 27, 2013 2:42 PM
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'Her' Designers Barrett and Storm Talk Creating Warm, Retro Look

Turns out that red is not only the warmest color in Spike Jonze's Oscar-contending "Her," but that there was no room for blue in this cozy LA of the near future. That's because the world building was retro rather than futuristic in exploring the conflict between emotion and environment, according to K.K. Barrett and Casey Storm, the director's longtime production designer and costume designer.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 24, 2013 2:50 PM
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