I am a confirmed movie nerd -- the kind who never met a director's commentary she didn't want to hear, who watches making-of featurettes and cast interviews with fan-girl avidity, and who spends a possibly unwholesome amount of time contemplating the unrivalled perfection of the young Peter O'Toole and wondering what Klaus Maria Brandauer, Campbell Scott, Allison Janney, and Kristin Scott Thomas are up to lately. I read pretty much everything I can get my hands on about the movies, so the advent of the Oscars is a mixed blessing: quantity soars, but quality plummets.
Now, I'm by no means averse to a healthy dollop of dumb Hollywood dish -- I really do care why Jessica Chastain can't seem to quite nail a good red carpet look -- but the real goods for me is the insider stuff. Larry Miller occasionally talks about the nitty-gritty of getting movies and TV shows made on his podcast, as does, of course, our own inside man, Rob Long. I like hearing from the people doing the making rather than the people doing the watching. So if you're anything like me, you will love this post from The Hollywood Reporter, called "An Oscar Voter's Brutally Honest Ballot."
Here is this anonymous insider's take on the Best Sound Editing ballot:
This is more about sound effects done in post. I’m going to dismiss Argo, Django and Life of Pi because I don’t think their post sound effects were terribly interesting or original. Zero Dark Thirty? I imagine that a great deal of the raid was done with sound effects editing. But I’m gonna go with Skyfall. The sound of that movie was absolutely extraordinary -- in particular, when the train comes colliding into the station.
Now I have to see Skyfall again -- not that that's a hardship -- so I can take special note of the sound of the train coming into the station.
Here he is on Best Cinematography:
Lincoln was way too milky for me; I have that problem with almost everything Janusz Kaminski does. The Anna Karenina cinematography was totally unimpressive. Django Unchained was Robert Richardson, and he, in general, does far too much top-lighting for me. I’m voting for Skyfall because I want Roger Deakins to win an Oscar. Now, I’m a person who knows that Roger Deakins shot Skyfall, but a lot of people in the Academy will have no clue who did because they don’t tell you on the ballot; in fact, they won’t vote for it because it’s a James Bond film -- you know, ‘How can you give James Bond an Oscar?’ But they should go back and rewatch that opening shot where Bond is approaching the camera, and he’s out-of-focus and he slams into focus in a way that I’ve never seen done before. I also really love the way that Deakins plays with dark and light in the film.
And on Les Mis, via a discussion of Anne Hathaway's chances:
Sometimes it’s one scene that wins it for you. Not just anybody can come in and kill one song; there are many songs that Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe should have killed, and, in fact, they killed them literally.
Be warned that this guy's language is salty; most of his comments are unprintable here. But if you'd like one last look -- an insider's look -- at this year's Oscar contenders, give it a read.
PS: As a bonus, here is Paperman, this year's winner for Best Animated Short.