Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sound and Music Awards - MPSE, CAS and OSCARS

GRAVITY (click film titles for my reviews) won the CAS Award for Sound Mixing, and the MPSE Golden Reel Award for Sound Effects and Foley editing, and it's tough to think any other film will win the Oscar in either the Sound Editing or Mixing category. The use of Dolby Atmos in the film (mixed by Skip Lievsay, CAS, Niv Adiri and Christopher Benstead and sound editing supervised by Benstead), was groundbreaking and extremely well done.

Also nominated in Sound Editing were ALL IS LOST, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE HOBBIT and LONE SURVIVOR. They all sounded excellent. (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS won the MPSE Award for Dialog/ADR Editing).

Somehow I skipped reviews on two of them, so here are thumbnails.

I liked both HOBBIT movies more than I expected. This one definitely gets off to a very slow start, but at about the half-hour mark the action picks up, and Peter Jackson may be our best action director at this point in time. The sound design was very good although I suspect several of the other films were much more challenging, since they take place in the real world. I did not see this in Atmos, so I don't know how well that aspect was used.

I liked LONE SURVIVOR as well, although I have mixed feelings about the glorification of the violent subject matter. This movie was one of the most violent films I have ever seen, and although that is probably an accurate depiction of war, the manner in which it is presented does at times seem to glorify it as a visceral event for the viewers rather than making it just seem repulsive. I also do not like the fact that they monkeyed around quite a bit with the actual events, it seemed unnecessary. One thing that was exceptional was the sound mix. It really did make me feel like I was on the battlefield, which is difficult to do without just making the movie seem painfully loud all the time.

IRON MAN 3 was also nominated for the CAS award. I liked this film a lot more than the second in the series, and the sound design was excellent for a very busy film. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS was also nominated.

FROZEN won the CAS Award for Sound Mixing in an animated film. It beat THE CROODS, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY and DESPICABLE ME 2. CROODS was a bit crude of a film for my taste and MONSTER U did not live up to the Pixar standards IMHO, but I enjoyed DESPICABLE 2 as much as I did the first film. They all sounded great. I did not see WALKING WITH DINOSAURS.

FROZEN also won the MPSE Award for Music Editing in a Musical Feature. Also nominated were two excellent concert documentaries, JUSTIN BIEBER'S BELIEVE and METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER. The doc footage in the Justin Beiber film was actually quite good and made the movie watchable.

THE GREAT GATSBY won the MPSE Award for Music Editing in a Feature Film. I was surprised to enjoy this film quite a bit. I had expected that the anachronistic music would kill the film for me. Baz Luhrmann's over-the-top style seemed to match the life of excess that Gatsby lived, and the cast was excellent. Leonardo DiCaprio was great in the lead and Tobey Maguire was good casting as the everyman Nick Carraway.

Also nominated in that category were a couple of other films that had good use of music. MANDELA is nominated for the Oscar for Best Song (I think FROZEN will win, although I also liked the song from DESPICABLE ME 2. The song from HER was forgettable, and the song from MANDELA was not a large contributor to the success of the film or its music IMHO.). As much as I love Idris Elba, he was not well cast as Nelson Mandela. We know he was a quiet man of small stature, and to me, Elba was never shot to look small and never resembled Mandela. WORLD WAR Z was a surprisingly good film. I generally don't like straight-forward zombie films, but this was well-paced, until the ending. I did feel that there were too many leaps in logic in the last third of the film for me to buy everything. But I did like the score.

I cannot make a judgement about the Oscar for Music because I did not see enough of the films.

THE GRANDMASTER won the MPSE Award for Sound Editing in a Foreign-Language film. The film was beautifully shot and sounded great, but not nearly as good as some of Wong Kar-wai's other films. This film tried to bite off too much by trying to tell an entire life story against a backdrop of change in history, politics and war. I would have been happier with a much smaller film. I cannot make an Oscar judgement in this category. There are two nominees that I have screeners for but have not seen yet. Shame on me for falling so far behind this year.
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