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For some film fans, the ASC award for achievement in cinematography are among the most important parts of awards season, as they honor the work that too often goes unheralded. This year, a three-way tie in the nominating process means that seven people are nominated instead of five. Given the amount of excellent work done in 2013, that slate of seven nominees means ASC is able to acknowledge more achievements — and yet Hoyte Van Hoytema still didn’t get a nomination for Her.

Those who did score nominations include Roger Deakins, for Prisoners, Philippe Le Sourd, for The Grandmaster, and Bruno Delbonnel, for Inside Llewyn Davis, which breaks a streak of guild awards looking away from the Coen Brothers latest film. Read the full nomination slate below. Read More »

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Briefly: Here’s the award nomination for for those whose interest in film runs just a bit deeper than others. Today the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) announced its nominees for Best Cinematography of 2011. The nominees are: Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist), Jeff Cronenweth (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Robert Richardson (Hugo), Hoyte van Hoytema (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life).

One film not on the list, War Horse, shot by Janusz Kaminski, seems like an obvious snub. But Kaminski resigned from the ASC several years ago, so he wouldn’t have been nominated for any award by the group. Discuss among yourselves whether Jeff Cronenweth (who also shot The Social Network and Fight Club) would have nabbed the nomination had Kaminski been eligible.

The ASC will announce the winner of the award for best cinematography in 2011 on February 12, and that winner will very likely go on to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography as well.

The answer to that question may, possibly, be ‘yes.’ (But my gut says ‘no.’) We hear about super-long cuts of movies relatively often; many a film has been the subject of rumor about an early edit running four, five, even six hours. These often refer to early, raw assembly edits that are never meant to be seen as a final film. (And, in the modern age of on the fly non-linear editing, such cuts are mostly relics of the past.) Most of the time, the extra-long cut of a movie is simply a fantasy cooked up in the imaginations of hopeful audiences.

But sometimes not. Terrence Malick is a notorious tinkerer in the editing room, where he gradually ‘finds’ his movies through a great deal of experimentation with what we often imagine to be mountains of film. And while it seems difficult to believe that The Tree of Life, which currently runs a little under two and a half hours, might be stretched to SIX hours, that’s what a recent interview may claim will happen. Read More »

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UPDATE: On The Tree of Life and another, separate Malick project here.

Today brings a rare update on legendary director Terrence Malick‘s forthcoming epic, The Tree of Life, that is quite the internet-tickler. Tacked for release sometime this year, the film stars Sean Penn, with Brad Pitt in a flashback role originally intended for Heath Ledger, and now apparently features meditative scenes with dinosaurs. The news arrives via a print-only excerpt in the latest issue of Empire

“We’re just starting work on a project for Terrence Malick, animating dinosaurs, the film is The Tree of Life. It’ll be shooting in IMAX—so the dinosaurs will actually be life size — and the shots of the creatures will be long and lingering.” – Visual Effects artist Mike Fink (X2, Mars Attacks, Project X)

The above quote first surfaced at HE, where Jeff Wells explains that Malick, who also wrote the script, is incorporating prehistoric themes from a decades-defunct passion project called Q. The film is listed in post-production, and it remains unclear if the dino-scenes (and possibly others) were shot in the newly-embraced IMAX format a la The Dark Knight. Back in 2007, when Pitt’s casting was first announced, we described the project as…

In one version of the screenplay, the story opened with “a sleeping god, underwater, dreaming of the origins of the universe, starting with the big bang and moving forward, as fluorescent fish swam into the deity’s nostrils and out again.” Malick supposedly wanted to create something that has never been seen before, and dispatched cameramen all over the world. They shot micro jellyfish on the Great Barrier Reef volcanic explosions on Mount Edna, and ice shelves breaking off in Antarctica. special effects consultant Richard Taylor describes sections of the script as “pages of poetry, with no dialogue, glorious visual descriptions.”

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