The King’s Speech & the Microphone

In The King’s Speech, King George VI struggles to overcome his stammer.   The entire film revolves around Bertie’s speech impediment and his attempts at defeating it with help from his trusty speech pathologist, Lionel.   This is the heart of the film.  It is the nucleus that holds everything together.  We know it’s a struggle because he tells us it’s a struggle and what’s more, we see him struggling.  


What I find intriguing are the more subtle attempts at emphasizing this struggle that go beyond the ordinary ways of communicating to the audience, like dialogue and screenplay.  These subtleties come in the form of brilliant shots of Colin Firth staring down a microphone.  There are many close-ups of Firth above, under, around or through a microphone.  There are shots of Firth looking at the microphone as if it’s his worst enemy; as if it is something he must defeat.  There are shots of him look at the microphone with fear and dread.  We, the audience, are more than aware of this battle, but it’s the stunning and clever shots that remind us almost subconsciously of the seriousness of his impediment.  It’s a beautiful thing when cinematography plays such a key part in 
storytelling and it’s one of the many things about the The King’s Speech that make it such a great film.


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CDG & the Oscars

The Costume Designers Guild has been awarding films for Costume Design since 1999, which is 10 years.  Since 2005, there have been 3 categories: Period, Fantasy & Contemporary.

50% of the time CDG matches Oscar Costume Design.  That’s 5 out of the total 10 years.  That’s very bad especially considering that the CDG can have up to 15 total nominations that could possibly match the Oscar’s 5.

All 5 of those films came from the Period category.  2 came prior to inclusion of the Fantasy category.

A film in the Contemporary category has never won an Oscar

Below are the nominees (Oscar Nominees in RED):
CDG Period
The King’s Speech 
True Grit
The Fighter

CDG Fantasy
Alice In Wonderland
The Tempest
TRON: Legacy

CDG Contemporary
Black Swan
Burlesque
Inception
The Social Network
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Oscar Costume Design
Alice In Wonderland
The King’s Speech
True Grit
The Tempest
I Am Love

Only 4 Best Picture winners have won CDG (out of 26 nominees – 15%).  This is not a good sign for The King’s Speech, but whatever.

The Contemporary category seems to award the most normal of the films. This makes me think that it could be down to Inception or The Social Network. I still can’t believe that Black Swan would not get awarded here even if it’s not nominated for Oscar.

The Fantasy category seems pretty straightforward.  I’m going Alice In Wonderland and I think this film has a good shot at winning the Oscar as well.

The Period category is not so obvious.  It could go to anyone, but I think The King’s Speech has the slight edge.

Whatever happens, it won’t have any effect all on the Oscar Costume Design award.

PREDICTION
Period – The King’s Speech
Fantasy – Alice In Wonderland
Contemporary – Black Swan

Golden Reel & the Oscars

Golden Reel compare to the Sound Edit Oscar.
Golden Reel                                                              Sound Edit Oscar
Inception                                                                      Inception
Tron: Legacy                                                                Tron: Legacy
The King’s Speech                                                        Unstoppable
Black Swan                                                                  Toy Story 3
The Social Network                                                     True Grit
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1                     
The Kids Are All Right            
CONCLUSION – Inception, Tron: Legacy
1 – Statitics
63% of the time Golden Reel and Oscar Sound Edit match.
Last 4 years in a row Golden Reel and Oscar Sound Edit match.
Golden Reel has matched Oscar Best Picture only 2 times.
            – 2000 – Gladiator
            – 1995 – Braveheart
CONCLUSION – All but The Social Network and The King’s Speech
2 – Precursors
Not many awards organizations have awarded films for sound this year but Inception has won all of those that did.
CONCLUSION – Inception
3 – Genre
Very rarely does a non-action, thriller, war, musical, crime, period, epic film win this award.  In the last 17 years, Titanic is the only Golden Reel winner not in those genres.  It is considered “Romance”.  However, it did also win Best Picture.
4 – Other Thoughts
Sound Edit has only matched Best Picture twice with Titanic (1997) and Braveheart (1995).  Both films were epic films with a more solid story line.
       2008     Slumdog Millionaire – Drama
       1997     Titanic – Romance
       1996    The English Patient – Romance

PREDICTION – INCEPTION

ACE Eddie’s & the Oscars

The ACE Eddie awards have been awarding films for their excellence in Film Editing since 1961.  Since 1999, there have been 2 categories: Comedy/Musical and Drama.
Here I will be comparing statistics between ACE, Oscar Film Editing & Best Picture for the last 49 years.
ACE – Comedy/Musical                      ACE – Drama                  Oscar Film Editing
Alice In Wonderland                             The King’s Speech                   The King’s Speech
Easy A                                                 The Fighter                               The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right                         Black Swan                              Black Swan
Made In Dagenham                              The Social Network                 The Social Network
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World                  Inception                                  127 Hours       
From my data, a film has never won Oscar Film Editing without also being nominated for the ACE award and vice versa.  Inception is the glaring omission here so unfortunately, we can eliminate it from winning the ACE.  Likewise, the same can be said for 127 Hours and the Oscar Film Editing award.
A) 71% of the time ACE & Oscar Film Editing match.       
             – 31% of the time without also matching Best Picture.
B) 41% of the time ACE, Oscar Film Editing & Best Picture pick the same winner.
            – This has happened 4 of the last 5 years.
C) 47% of the time ACE and Best Picture have matched
            – 6% without also matching Oscar Film Editing
            – 2 of the 3 times has been when Directors Guild doesn’t match Best Director
                        – 2000 – Gladiator/Traffic
                        – 1995 – Braveheart/Apollo 13
D) 14% of the time all 3 winners have been different.
            – haven’t all been different since 1989 (20 yrs)
E) 49% of the time Oscar Editing and Best Picture have matched.
            – 8% without matching ACE
F) Since the split category split in 1999, ACE & Oscar Film Editing have matched every year but 1.
            – 2000 – Gladiator/Traffic
Prediction
The King’s Speech is winning everything so it has the momentum going for it. 
If The Social Network wins the ACE, then look out for David Fincher winning the Oscar Best Director.
ACE WINNER – The King’s Speech

CAS & the Oscars

Cinema Audio Society

CAS                                                    Oscar Sound Mixing
Inception                                              Inception
The Social Network                             The Social Network
True Grit                                              True Grit
Shutter Island                                       The King’s Speech
Black Swan                                          Salt
CONCLUSION – Inception, True Grit, The Social Network
1 – Statistics
53% of the time CAS and Oscar Sound Mix match.
Have matched the last 2 years in a row and 3 of the last 4.
The last 2 years the CAS winner has also won Best Picture. 
CONCLUSION – True Grit, Inception
2 – Precursors
There have been very little awards organizations to give out Sound awards, but Inception has won all of them.
CONCLUSION – Inception
3 – Genre
Very rarely does a non-action, thriller, war, musical, crime, period, epic film win this award.  In the last 17 years, only 3 films have won CAS.  However, those 3 films also won Oscar Sound Mix and Best Picture: 
            – 2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
            – 1997 – Titanic
            – 1996 – The Enlgish Patient
The majority of the Sound Mix winners are action-oriented.  There are a select few that are not.  Musicals, Epic Dramas or Romances tend to be the only other films that win.  The King’s Speech is favored to win Best Picture, but I don’t think it’s action-packed enough to win CAS or Oscar Sound Mixing. 
PREDICTION – Inception

ASC & the Oscars

The ASC started awarding films for their achievement in cinematography in 1986. 



ASC & Oscar Nominees          Genre                           Cinematographer                     

The King’s Speech                   Historical Drama           Danny Cohen
The Social Network                 Comedy/Drama            Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit                                  Western                        Roger Deakins
Black Swan                              Drama/Thriller              Matthew Libatique
Inception                                  Sci-Fi Action                Wally Pfister
1 – Nominee/Winner Stats

In 24 years, the ASC and Cinematography Oscar winners have matched only 9 times (38%).  This is a very low match rate.  6 of those 9 films (66%) were Best Picture winners.  Based on this statistic, I would not assume that ASC and Oscar will pick the same winner.

Most years (15), the ASC and Oscar nominations match 4 out of 5.  However, this year is only the third year ever where the ASC and Oscar nominations match 5 out of 5 exactly.  This has only ever happened twice and both of those years the ASC winner and Oscar winner matched.
            2007 – There Will Be Blood
            1996 – The English Patient
Both films were at least nominated for Best Picture, which can be said of all of this year’s nominees.  Based on these numbers, I would say that the ASC and Oscar will pick the same winner.
CONCLUSION:         ASC and Oscar will pick the same winner
2 – Genre
The top 3 genres for both ASC and Oscar are Period Drama, Drama & War.
The King’s Speech – Historical Drama has never won ASC or Oscar, although Historical Epic has won both (Braveheart-1995 & The Mission-1986(Oscar only)).  However, the Drama category dominates.
The Social Network – Comedy/Drama has never won ASC or Oscar, although Fantasy and Period Comedy has won ASC (Peggy Sue Got Married-1986 & Blaze-1989).  Drama dominates.
True Grit – Western has never won ASC or Oscar.
Black Swan – Drama/Thriller has won 2 Oscars (JFK-1991 & Mississippi Burning-1988), but no ASC.  But, the Drama category dominates.
Inception – Sci-Fi Action has never won ASC or Oscar although Sci-Fi Adventure has won 1 Oscar (Avatar-2009).
CONCLUSION:
Out:      Inception, True Grit
In:        The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Black Swan
3 – Cinematographer
Danny Cohen
Never been nominated for ASC or Oscar.
Jeff Cronenweth
Never been nominated for ASC or Oscar.
Roger Deakins
Will be receiving the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award this year.  Could this be the year he takes home the big prize as well?
8 Oscar Noms – 0 Oscar wins:
(The Reader, The Assassination of Jesse James, No Country For Old Men, The Man Who Wasn’t There, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Kundun, Fargo, The Shawshank Redemption)
7 ASC Noms – 2 ASC Wins
Wins: (The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Shawshank Redemption) Nom: (The Reader, Revolutionary Road, The Assassination of Jesse James, No Country For Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Kundun, Fargo
Matthew Libatique
Never been nominated for ASC or Oscar.
Wally Pfister                            
3 Oscar Noms – 0 Oscar Wins
(The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins)
2 ASC Noms – 0 ASC Wins
(The Dark Knight, Batman Begins)
CONCLUSION:
Out:      The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Black Swan
In:        Inception, True Grit
4 – Precursors
For the most part this awards season, the cinematography award has been won by Black Swan, True Grit & Inception.
CONCLUSION
Out:      The King’s Speech, The Social Network,
In:        Inception, True Grit, Black Swan
5 – Oscar Stats
9 films in 24 years (38%) have matched ASC and Oscar Cinematography.  6 of those films (66%) were Best Picture winners, but that’s only 25% of the total 24 years.
8 films in 24 years (33%) have matched Best Picture and Oscar Cinematography.  2 of those films (25%) did not win ASC, but that’s only 8% of the total 24 years.
Best Picture & ASC NEVER match unless Oscar Cinematography also matches.
CONCLUSION
Best Picture and ASC only match when the Cinematography matches too.  Therefore, if we’re going to pick the frontrunner for Best Picture for ASC, then we should pick it for Cinematography as well.  However, there’s only a 25% chance of that happening.
The Social Network is effective, but nothing spectacular.
Inception has great camerawork, but the snubs will continue.
Black Swan is technically and conceptually the best.
The King’s Speech has 12 nominees and could sweep the Oscars
True Grit.  Deakins is due.
ASC and Oscar will match winners this year.  If I thought they would go different, then I would pick Deakins to win ASC and The King’s Speech to get the Oscar.  This is probably my favorite category but it’s so difficult to predict because there’s no tell-tale sign either way.  Deakins could potentially win the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award, ASC Cinematography Award and Oscar Cinematography Award.
.
PREDICTION
ASC    –           True Grit
Oscar   –           True Grit

True Grit & The Wizard of Oz

I was wrapping up a spectacular movie-filled weekend with my adorable niece and her first viewing of The Wizard of Oz when I noticed something.  There are two very clever resemblances between The Wizard of Oz (1939) and True Grit (2010).  It involves the women of the film.
True Grit starts with white letters on a black screen that read:
“The wicked flee when none pursueth.” Which is actually Proverbs 28:1.
Young Mattie Ross and Dorothy Gale
Both actresses and the characters they play are young teenage girls.  Judy Garland, who plays a young teenaged Dorothy, was sixteen during filming of The Wizard of Oz.  Hailee Steinfeld, who plays a young Mattie Ross of 14 years, was 13 during the filming of True Grit.
Mattie Ross is from Arkansas.  Dorothy is from Kansas.  Both make it clear in the film where there home is and their desire to go back.
The costumes and styling of both actresses are strikingly similar.  Both girls have a middle part in their hair and pigtails going down either side of their faces that sit atop their shoulders. Both are wearing dresses with distinct collars and prominent shoulders.  Both girls have pleated, lengthy skirts.
Both Mattie and Dorothy set off alone on a journey.  They both take on huge amount of responsibility and endure many hardships on their adventure.  Both characters make friends along the way.  Both encounter danger, death and come close to dying, themselves.  Both girls are independent.  Both are hopeful.  Both girls are strong-willed, immovable and determined to finish what they started.  Both girls end up back home when their journey is through.





















40 Year Old Mattie Ross and Almira Gulch

Then I couldn’t help but notice the striking resemblance between the mean Miss Almira Gulch in The Wizard of Oz, played by Margaret Hamilton and the 40 year-old, one-armed Mattie Ross in True Grit, played by Elizabeth Marvel (which happens to be the same last name of the Professor that is the  Wizard of Oz).

Both actresses play middle-aged-ish women.  Margaret Hamilton was 37 during filming of The Wizard of Oz.  Elizabeth Marvel was 41 during the filming of True Grit.  Both are old spinsters. 

Both women wear lengthy grey-toned dresses with a very distinctive button line from the midrift buttoned all the way up to the neck.  Both have a distinct, tight collar and prominent shoulders.  Both women wear an old-maid, straight-brimmed hat.

Both women are carrying something in these pictures; Mattie a suitcase and Miss Gulch a basket.  Mattie has only half of one arm.  Miss Gulch looks as if she has only half of one arm the way she is holding the basket in the picture below.

Both women are old maids.  Both are forlorn.  Both women are tight-jawed and straight-lipped.  Both are no-nonsense and outspoken.  Both arrived on the scene for a single purpose.  Both women are alternate versions of someone else.  Both are projections, be it actual or surreal.