As I mentioned earlier this week, I decided to stick with what I started a couple years ago by honoring all the nominees for Best Picture. Between just these nine, they carry 67 nominations across most of the categories, accounting for 54 percent of all nominations. That’s ludicrous, when you figure there are only 124 nominations among all 53 films nominated. Numbers can speak volumes and here they only support my notion that it’s these nine films holding all the cards when it comes to Oscar gold. And keep in mind, these films weren’t even eligible for categories featuring documentaries and shorts. Erase those nominations from the equation and that percentage would go from 54 percent to over 65 percent, so I think it’s pretty easy to see why these films matter the most in the grand scheme of things and why I will be showcasing them over the next three weeks. And to help get this Oscar train moving is Ang Lee’s groundbreaking “Life of Pi.”
Why not start with a film nominated for 11 awards, second only to Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which has 12. That’s impressive when you figure over half the people that read this sentence probably never saw it. Sure, some “wanted” to see it or thought that it might be good, but I would bet very few expected all this. I know, I didn’t and I actually predict these things, so that’s to Ang Lee’s credit for making one heck of a film. Lee is just a different kind of director, choosing projects like this that are challenging. The visual effects alone are more than worthy to win the Oscar, so I would be shocked if it doesn’t walk home the winner. Because I got caught up more than once with the breathtaking visuals which made you feel like you were right there, up close and personal, with Pi on that lifeboat. That’s different and part of what makes Ang Lee, well Ang Lee. He tends to get in your face with his films, but here that worked to his advantage given how this remarkable story was built and displayed.
Emotion is what sets an Ang Lee film apart, which is why I could see this film winning most of the technical categories it’s up for. That includes one of my favorite categories, Best Cinematography, which isn’t as hard to pick this year thanks to Lee’s work with “Life of Pi.” A piece of moviemaking that inevitably gets pushed under the rug as merely a contributor is actually so much more, as its importance to the overall success of any film is greater than imagined. Of course, many aren’t even aware of the true meaning of cinematography and everything that goes along with it. The basic definition of cinematography is simply the technique of making motion pictures. In other words, there’s a specific person or crew who is in charge of the overall quality of light and photography as it pertains to a particular shot. Cinematography has to be near perfect for a film to succeed in my mind, which is why I highlight it every year in this trek to Oscar Sunday. Because light and contrast can truly set the tone and emotion in a story, so much so that it can make the transition between scenes or time periods smooth and flawless. That’s the epitome of “Life of Pi” and why it’s in this very discussion.
It won’t win Best Picture, even though I wouldn’t mind seeing that given how stunning this film was from beginning to end. However, given it’s up against some truly historical dramas like “Lincoln” and “Argo,” that won’t happen. Same could be said for directing, where Lee actually could steal one here given Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck were both snubbed from this category. That leaves just Steven Spielberg and David O. Russell as the only other potential winners’ in my mind, so don’t be surprised if Lee is up on stage accepting his second Oscar for directing after previously winning for “Brokeback Mountain.” Having said that, the landscape is a little easier to predict when it comes to the award for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. And if you want proof, just watch the opening action sequence when the giant cargo ship begins to sink over troubled waters. Add in the incredible soundtrack that accompanies this film and it really makes it tough to pick any other film from a purely technical standpoint, especially when you add in the five out of seven win’s at the Visual Effects Society Awards. I know, I couldn’t believe there’s a ceremony for visual effects either, but hey, without that crew, a lot of the films like “Life of Pi” would be garbage.
To read my full review on “Life of Pi,” click here
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