Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Fifties 2014: Editing and Visual Effects



Boyhood (Sandra Adair): The ambition of the project puts a spotlight on the editing process, but making three hours feel so tantalizingly quick is more than just a gimmick.

Edge of Tomorrow
(James Herbert)
: The editing is kind of front and center on this one too, and the whole enterprise would pretty much crash and burn without a sure hand. A few extra thumbs up for the comedy elements in the middle section, almost entirely editing-based.

Hide Your Smiling Faces (Daniel Patrick Carbone): Letting this story unfold at its own pace, with the vagaries and languidness of a childhood summer vacation.

Stranger by the Lake
(Jean-Christophe Hym)
: Suspense born of long- and close-shots, cut together with dreamy precision.

Under the Skin
(Paul Watts)
: Making juuuust enough sense of the plot without spelling it out for the audience. Working in tandem with Johansson to portion out her increasing empathy as deliberately as possible.


Edge of Tomorrow (James Herbert): For cleanly handling the time conceits, injecting humor, and accelerating some attacks while drawing out tension elsewhere

The Last of the Unjust
(Chantal Hymans): For never allowing its four hours to drag, nimbly interlacing past and present, eliciting but not exploiting emotion

The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh & Marie-Christine Rougerie): For integrating three different modes of historical review (soundtrack, stock footage, dioramas) into a gut-punch whole

Under the Skin (Paul Watts): For testing outer limits of pure abstraction while still indicating a narrative and tracking huge inner shift in Johansson

Unrelated (Helle le Fevre): For arranging scenes of jovial, torpid, acrid, and ineffable interaction into an un-fancy, perfectly measured mosaic of behavior

Runners Up: Only Lovers Left Alive; Norte, the End of History; Heli; Borgman; Blue Ruin
On the Radar: Hide Your Smiling Faces, Ilo Ilo, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Cold in July

NICK: I'm so glad for what you said about the comic bits in Edge of Tomorrow, whether it's Cruise getting hit by a truck (hilarity!) or cutting so abruptly on his exasperated "Rita..." in Noah Taylor's op center. Those are the kinds of editing flourishes that stand out to me, too, even when other aspects of the cutting are more conspicuous and equally remarkable. I think I wound up craving a Goldilocks compromise between Boyhood, which I admired but thought could have been tighter, and Hide Your Smiling Faces, which tells its story so well that I wouldn't have minded some expansion. I think that compromise might be called Ilo Ilo, a near-miss for me on this list, which was the most competitive category for me at this juncture.

JOE: For some reason, these five stood clearly above the pack for me. But I'm certainly planning to gobble up all of your citations, including The Missing Picture, which I've seen, but which I had marked down as a 2013 for some reason. I think you pick up on my favorite aspect of Under the Skin, in that it takes all the ingredients of the Artfully Abstract Movie and still is rigorously determined to tell an actual story with them.



Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri & Dan Lemmon): Not to belabor the Andy Serkis love-fest, but you really do forget you're watching a CGI creation.

Edge of Tomorrow (Nick Davis!!, Christian Kaestner, Matt Middleton): Saving Private Ryan's Normandy scene, over and over again, with big summery explosions.

Godzilla (Jim Rygiel, Darren Poe, Katherine Rodtsbrooks): Misty, elusive glimpses of the monsters are great, but the full-on thing doesn't disappoint once we get to see it.

Noah (Joe Takai, Grady Cofer, Ben Snow): Look, I won't pretend that this one doesn't benefit from a shallow pool of potential nominees. But it doesn't embarrass itself.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Richard Stammers, et al.): Magneto moving RFK stadium was a satisfying spectacle, but the real show is that Quicksilver slow-mo showstopper.


Edge of Tomorrow (Nick Davis!!, Christian Kaestner, Matt Middleton): Since I'd never seen an alien antagonist quite like that: pure, fast, barely-bounded aggression. Also, great presentation.

Godzilla (Jim Rygiel, Darren Poe, Katherine Rodtsbrooks): Because even if title figure seemed familiar, the other monsters were interestingly weird. Other tableaus beautifully touched up.

The LEGO Movie (Who to credit? Help me out, Internet): Because while the overall tackiness keeps it out of Art Direction for me, the sheer technical accomplishment is remarkable.

Maleficent (Kelly Port, et al.): Because, look, I haven't seen that many effects-heavy movies this year, and moments in the flying and fighting scenes impressed.

Under the Skin (Mark Curtis, Tom Debenham, Dominic Parker): Because the montage that starts the film is deliriously cryptic and the body stranded in the woods is credible and poignant.

Runners Up: Noah

NICK: Feels like we're both grasping at straws a bit to hit our benchmark of five.  Maleficent commits enough sins of gaudiness that rewarding its moments of inspiration is tough, especially since the makeup and lighting are often more wondrous than the effects work.  Maybe I should have gone for Noah, too, since I thought the time-lapse montages were the easy high-point of the film, but I can't remember how effects-y they were, and I thought the seams showed all over the CGI work, from animals to boat to giant bark-people.  You're encouraging me to give X-Men a whirl even though I didn't take much to First Class.  Was Under the Skin a contender here for you?

JOE:  I'm feeling frankly embarrassed that I totally passed over Under the Skin because it didn't jump out at me as an effects movie. But, like, DUH, holy shit, some of the most haunting effects that I've seen all year. Though I do like the idea of including one film I don't like in a category where I think an element deserves it. I didn't even mention the rock monsters/lobsters in Noah, but I could and should have. Those were impressive as heck.

Previous in the 2014 Fifties: Eligibility Lists

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Blogger James T said...

Nice! Editing is a category I never have an opinion on, so I'm always impressed when someone does, from the more obvious uses (humor) to the more subtle ones (Under The Skin).
Re: effects, I liked the new monsters in Godzilla too (see Nick? I deserve a PhD too).
And I'm so looking forward to creating something Joey will nominate, noting that I didn't embarrass myself ;)

11:32 AM, July 24, 2014  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I've only seen about 25 films so far this year so will limit my choices to 3 (also, some of the films mentioned I consider 2012 ones, like Under the Skin and others 2013 ones, like The Wind Rises due to location), but here goes:


Edge of Tomorrow: For the reasons listed above, but especially to get so much comedy out of the word 'MAGGOT!'

Of Horses and Men: This lovely Icelandic comedy is sometimes hilarious (the first horse), sometimes heartbreaking (the tourist in the snow), always tender (the sex) and full of life, and most of this is down to the editing, knowing when to cut and when to linger.

The Two Faces of January: Even though the story goes in quite pedestrian direction, the editing always keeps the audience second-guessing and wondering who's around that corner or what that character's motivations really are.

Runners up: Frank, Locke and A Touch of Sin.

Visual Effects

Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla and The Lego Movie, because they were the only films I've seen that used visual effects in a remotely interesting way. And I'm not giving any hypothetical award to that godawful musical instrument sequence in Begin Again.

Look forward to the rest of these!

5:38 PM, July 24, 2014  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

Jonathan - so glad to hear a shout out to Of Horses and Men and a incisive one, too. Love that movie but I'm confused about whether or not it ever opened or if it just keeps flashing by at special presentations.

Nick & Joe - yay for these writeups. especially the thoughts on Under the Skin's editing

7:33 AM, July 26, 2014  
Anonymous Guy Lodge said...

I want to play along, but I have to cheat a bit, since keeping to the fifty-film cutoff means an eligibility list made up mostly of films I saw at festivals before the year even began, which is a bit unfair on actual 2014 premieres. Still, even as I'm drawing from a larger pool, we agree on so much!

Best Editing

Archipelago and Unrelated(Helle le Fevre): A bit of a con to list both, but the films breathe and observe in such similar ways, thanks in large part to le Fevre's tight but unstressed cutting.
Enemy (Matthew Hannam): Both for the technical adroitness with which he manages the two Jakes, and the different rhythms he finds for each of them, sometimes within shared scenes.
In Fear (Jonathan Amos): Sticks the landing on the big scares, but doesn't neglect the fretful unease between the central couple even in moments of notional safety.
The Lego Movie (David Burrow and Chris McKay): For allowing the film to zag with the berserk pace of its creators' ideas, but nailing tonal consistency amid the chaos.
Under the Skin (Paul Watts): For building a mindbender with hardly any big reveals, trusting the audience to work it out, and trusting we may work it out in very different ways.

Runners-up: Boyhood; Child's Pose; Night Moves; Norte, the End of History; Palo Alto

3:08 AM, July 28, 2014  
Anonymous Chris J. said...

Under the Skin's editing for the win!!! Wish this would be remembered come years end by the major voting bodies. I also liked the zany editing of Grand Budapest Hotel, if I had to find a title that was missing from your fun write ups.
For visual effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes just towers over anything else. Bark people aside, Noah would be my space filler.

9:54 PM, July 28, 2014  
Blogger Glenn said...

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Grand Piano
Land Ho!
Under the Skin

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The LEGO Movie
Under the Skin

5:26 PM, July 31, 2014  

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