Monday, September 19, 2011

The Fifties for 2011: Cuts and Cues

Assuming that you know the drill by now...

Best Film Editing
Oliver Bugge Coutté for Beginners, because associative leaps help us feel the work of memory while edits lend the aging an unusual energy and early middle-age a worrisome inertia;

Paul Tothill for Hanna, because Wright and his team once again prove their mettle with set-pieces but also generate electricity and tension in choreographed cross-cuts;

Ivan Lebedev for How I Ended This Summer, because the chilly and bleary-eyed Arctic longueurs, the rhythm of daily tasks, and the escalation of tension all persist and enrich each other;

Benjamin Heisenberg and Andrea Wagner for The Robber, because without losing a hold on the protagonist's alienation, the film keeps coherent pace with his hammering heart, plotting action expertly; and

Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, and Mark Yoshikawa for The Tree of Life, because edits evince a symphonic feel for when to enter or leave a shot or a sequence, whether cutting mid-action or dilating out to abstraction.

Honorable mentions in alphabetical order by film title to Shûichi Kakesu for Caterpillar, Bahman Kiarostami for Certified Copy, Óscar Figueroa for Leap Year, Patricio Guzmá and Emmanuelle Joly for Nostalgia for the Light, Marc Vives for Putty Hill, Rui Mourão and João Pedro Rodrigues for To Die Like a Man, and Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, and Aaron Marshall for Warrior, which people should be buying tickets to see.

Best Sound (Mixing and Editing)
Ahmed Al-Ibrahim, Christopher Scarabosio, et al. for Hanna, for modulations and—where subtlety would hamper the fun—whomping extremities of silence and sound, including delicious flaunting of super score;

Vladimir Golovnitsky, et al. for How I Ended This Summer, for using natural and abstract sounds to establish rhythms, denote aberrations, get inside Pavel's head, and imbue a radioactive hum of tension;

Mandell Winter et al. for Meek's Cutoff, for helping to keep this unplotted exodus somewhere between a dirt-in-your-shoes reality and a folkloric parable of Americans seeking their way;

Craig Berkey, Erik Aadahi, et al. for The Tree of Life, for the gorgeous pastiche of classical quotations, and for boyhood pops and hushes, plus the soft and mighty sounds of worlds coming into being; and

Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, Koichi Shimizu, Richard Hocks, et al. for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, because although Joe has recorded Thai jungles before, plus Thai offices, plazas, and housing modules, their buzzing soundscapes still entrance.

Honorable mentions to the teams headed by Sylvain Brassard for Heartbeats and Daniel Iribarren and Ansgar Frerich for Le Quattro volte.

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Blogger Andrew Rech said...

Huge yes in regards to Uncle Boonmee's sound design. It'll be hard for me to think of a more exquisite sonically textured film that I've seen, in a really long time. The catfish, hotel and cave scenes are some of the most crisp things I've heard all year. I had a similar response to its film editing as well and it would make my edit shortlist as well. The Tree of Life's arrhythmic, no fat editing will easily make a year end list for me too.

Also quick note, you have Bahman Kiarostami listed under honorable mentions twice, unless the double mention was purposeful or a placeholder of course =)

1:13 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Fixed! Thanks for the correction.

Boonmee would probably be getting a bigger break here if I hadn't felt that a lot of what it does most successfully didn't mirror or in some cases fall subtly short the (admittedly stunning) precedents of the filmmaker's previous work. I still feel that way as the film has lingered, almost a year after I saw it, but it's more than due for a re-watch and it's not the kind of thing I like to hold too strongly against a piece of interesting work, anyway. Hopefully I can have another look by December or January.

1:51 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger James T said...

I'm starting to think Malick makes movies for you and it often happens that some of us like them too!
I just love it when you connect to a movie that strongly and you provide us with peeks into that relationship!

7:12 AM, September 19, 2011  
Anonymous Dave said...

Oof, maybe it's because I didn't like "Meek's Cutoff" in general but I thought the sound mixing was terrible on that (although it could have been a problem with the theater as well). If I didn't know better I'd say that was Reichardt's first talkie. I was never certain which parts were intentionally inaudible and which sections were just problematically executed, and I do genuinely think it had some of the latter.

11:25 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dave: I know just what you mean, and it's why Meek's is the fifth of five nominees in this group, for sure. But I did like the way that eerie musical theme kept reinsinuating itself, and how the practical sounds of the wagon train through the fields sometimes felt very literal and sometimes evanesced completely, and the hanging silence over the prairies went back and forth between connoting serenity and portent. As in the images, I liked how the sound-mix downplayed by the hillside disaster: catastrophe with a whimper, not a bang, at least as I recall. But you do make a very good point.

12:13 AM, September 20, 2011  
Anonymous Dave said...

Thanks for the thoughtful follow-up. Looking back at my initial post I feel like I came off as sort of rude, and if anything I was trying to be rude to the film, not to you. Sorry for that. I am really enjoying your fifties updates, though - glad to see "Beginners" getting more attention.

11:50 AM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dave: You don't sound rude at all! Quite the opposite: I'm really glad to have a prompt to re-think why I nominated it, even though the mix has the flaws you're talking about.

Honestly, I feel like I might actually have the nicest cadre of commenters anywhere on the Web. Sometimes I worry that people think they're being rude or think I won't like it if/when you/they express disagreement. I must be the only person with a website who wonders about this, but I thought your comment was great. So glad you're enjoying the feature.

12:00 PM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

I'm hoping, perhaps against hope, that Hanna pops up in some technical categories. The film, for the most part, really knows how to handle its technicalities in bringing the film to its emotional height. Something a lot of films in that genre don't really know to do...or seem not to.

11:05 AM, September 24, 2011  

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