Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oscar-winner Norbit? I couldn't make this up

Now I didn't bother to see "Norbit," a k a Eddie Murphy's ultra-classy career move directly after getting his first acting Oscar nomination, but believe it or not - if you look deep enough - you'll indeed find it buried in Tuesday's Oscar nominations.

Facing off with the folks behind the maquillage in "La Vie en Rose" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" in the Achievement in Makeup category, Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji have a solid chance of walking away with one of those little statues primarily for, well, putting Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Sheesh.

In much better news about a much more worthy nominee, cinematographer Roger Deakins has pulled off an impressive double dip that we haven't seen since 1971.

The cinematographer's nominations for "No Country for Old Men" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" are the first double in the category since Robert Surtees was nominated for "The Last Picture Show" and "Summer of '42."

Nominated five times previous to this year, Deakins is best known as the primary cinematographer for the Coens, having filmed nine of their movies thus far (and how in the world did he not win an Oscar for the wild look of "O Brother Where Art Thou?"), but among his other various credits you'll also find great flicks like John Sayles' "Passion Fish," Frank Darabont's "Shawshank Redemption" and Martin Scorsese's "Kundun."

This year, his competition comes from (besides himself): Seamus McGarvey for "Atonement," Janusz Kaminski for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and Robert Elswit for "There Will Be Blood."

Of those, I haven't seen "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" or "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford," and "There Will Be Blood" certainly had a singular look to it, but no movie left a stronger or longer-lasting visual impression on me in 2007 than "No Country for Old Men," so here's hoping this artist finally gets the recognition he clearly deserves.

New hope for an end to the strike?

"Ironic" is a term I've tried to stop using too often because I'm fairly certain I use it incorrectly, but it would certainly seem to fit the latest development in the WGA strike.

As the scribes have stood strong in the picket line, the leeches who produce reality TV have jumped into the void with zeal, filling my TV set with simply unwatchable crap. Now, in what can only be called fair play in my book, it seems that in informal talks Tuesday that will hopefully lead to solid negotiations, the writers have dropped a demand to unionize the folks who create reality fare (the fine folks in the animated division apparently got cut loose too, unfortunately.)

And in another hopefully promising development, both sides have agreed to a "news blackout" until some deal can be reached. Now, people, can't we all just get along?

Why is this advertised at my multiplex?

For at least three months now there has been a poster at one of my local multiplexes, the AmStar 16 (or The Grand, or whatever it's called now), for "The Hunting Party," a flick which I've wanted to see for a long time.

So, imagine my surprise when, surveying this week's DVD releases, I found the Richard Shepard flick starring Terrence Howard, Richard Gere and Jesse Eisenberg (of "The Squid and the Whale.") In the serio-comedy, the trio embarks on an unauthorized mission to find the No. 1 war criminal in Bosnia and gets mistaken for a CIA hit squad.

Now, I'm very happy I'll finally get to see this flick, which has just been moved to the top of my (fully stocked, thanks to the readers of this site) Netflix queue, but is it too much to ask that the poster promising its mythic big-screen appearance in Macon be taken down? Peace out.


jeremy said...

Deakins was absolutely robbed for Fargo. That year I think it went to the English Patient. Take it from someone who went to school in Montana--shooting snow and making it look pretty is a lot harder than shooting sand and making it look pretty.
I hope his double nom doesn't stop him from getting this long overdue award.
One of the things that I loved about No Country was the light. The beginning of the film takes place at dawn. The next chunk is at midday, then dusk, then night. The Coen's were obviously going for a riddle of the sphinx kind of vibe with this progression. This is evidenced during the final monolgue which takes place in the light of the morning, a new day. A day, which, I might add, is a day with one less old man trying to be a cowboy, trying to be a detective, trying to outsmart death (who is still on the loose).
Just damn fine filmmaking.
It should take Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture.
However, I'm guessing Janusz Kaminsky and Julien Schnabel will edge out Deakins and the Coens. Mainly because Deakins will be splitting his vote, and the sheer artistry and humanity of Schnabel's piece is more tangible and uplifting than the referential, reverential and very dark Coens.

Mercurie said...

My best friend and I were just talking about the possibility of Norbit winning an Oscar last night as well. We were estimating that it would be something akin to Plan 9 From Outer Space receiving an Oscar nom (Best Art Direction....).

And am I the only one who thinks 300 should have received a nomination in the Visual F/X category?

Reel Fanatic said...

You're certainly not alone there, Mercurie ... As far as translating a graphic novel to the big screen, I thought the stark vision of "Persepolis" was a slightly greater accomplishment than "300," but only by a nose.

And you're certainly right about the use of light in "No Country," Jeremy, and about the beauty of "Fargo" ... I'll have to see "Diving Bell" as soon as I can on DVD

Chalupa said...

I was so glad to see Deakins get nominated and then I realized he got two nominations. The man's a genius. I'm a huge Coen fan and he's done a superb job on their films besides all of the other work he's done.

Bob said...

I'm rooting for Deakins, but actually more specifically for "Assassination." The train robbery scene alone should win him the award. Of course I haven't had a chance to see "Diving Bell" yet. It's in Seattle but the theater it's at is kind of pain to get to. (Parking on weekends is terrible there!) As for that "Hunting Party" poster, this sort of thing probably happens pretty regularly. I used to work at a theater and somebody put up a poster for "Separate Lies" more than a year after it had come out, simply because they'd never heard of it. As for "Norbit" has more nominations than "Hot Fuzz," "Knocked Up," "Superbad," and "Zodiac" combined. I hate Academy voters.

Reel Fanatic said...

It's happened with our multiplex here too before, Bob, but this case was just the most egregious to me ... How hard can it be to keep track of no more than 20 posters at one time?

Bob said...

There are a LOT more than 20, I promise you. A poster room is a very cluttered place. It's amazing how many a studio may send for one particular movie too. Most for instance, you'll get one or two. But I think we got upwards of 30 for (and I'm totally serious now) "Get Rich or Die Trying." They get strewn about everywhere. One of my occasional jobs was to clean the poster room and I had a really cool manager who said I could just take what I wanted as long as she didn't need them anymore. I'm well postered. :)
But I'm guessing that whoever runs the marquee there had just never heard of "The Hunting Party" and thought, "Hey, this looks interesting. I've never heard of it therefore it must not have come out yet." That movie did fly in pretty low under the radar. I pay attention to this stuff and I barely knew that movie existed.

Reel Fanatic said...

I was probably more attuned to it than most, Bob, both because of the cast and because I just gobble up almost all movies about journalists ... And since the manager of this particular movie theater is a friend of mine, you're probably right that I should just cut them a break

Fletch said...

You may be right, but I'm guessing the poster wasn't up the entire time - the movie was re-released not long ago, so it most likely was up for a stretch, taken down for a short stretch, then put back up...

Sterfish said...

Even though Eddie Murphy in makeup is a cliche by now, Rick Baker and his crew always up the ante for every Eddie Murphy project they do.

Norbit was a terrible, terrible movie but the makeup (especially for the female character Rasputia) was actually quite good.

Also, it would be really ironic for the movie that many thought hurt Eddie Murphy's chances at winning an Oscar for a truly good performance ends up winning one despite his truly bad performance.

Reel Fanatic said...

I hadn't looked at it quite that way, Sterfish ... Since I don't particularly who wins the award for makeup anyway, perhaps that's a reason to root for "Norbit" after all!

Marina said...

I was disappointed that "The Hunting Party" never even opened here. I'll definitely be looking for it on DVD!

renee said...

Deakins is a great cinematographer and I suspect he may win in a big sweep for No Country this year, but I have to say I thought Diving Bell was stunningly beautiful and I'll be pulling for my favorite cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski.

DLMX13 said...

There is no question that Norbit was a ridiculous movie, however I think that you are dead wrong to say that it does not deserve an Oscar for best make-up. Rick and Kazu did not just put Murphy in a fat suit. They created two of the most convincing and brilliant make-ups of all time. Neither of them wrote the film. The bottom line is that the film with the best make-up should win best make-up, and this year that film happens to be Norbit.

Anonymous said...