Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2010: Cinematography + Editing

How a film is shot and cut creates the mood and feel of a piece, and is  also essential to the effectiveness of the overall story and its development. So let’s explore the merits of some of the year’s best storytellers via the cinematography and film editing categories.


1. Avatar

2. The White Ribbon

3. Inglourious Basterds

4. The Hurt Locker

5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The art or technique of movie photography, including both the shooting and development of the film. Involves the composition of a scene, lighting of the set and actors, choice of cameras, camera angle, and integration of special effects to achieve the photographic images desired by the director. Cinematography focuses on relations between the individual shots and groups of shots that make up a scene to produce a film’s effect.

Working from the above definition (whether flawed or not, it covers the core elements of cinematography), I’m not sure anyone could not vote for Avatar. It’s beautifully shot, the special effects are fully integrated and essential to the overall effectiveness of the film, and the fact that on top of all its lush, detailed pictures, it was also crafted (perfectly) for 3-D, places Mauro Fiore’s work high above the competition. Of course, I wouldn’t mind an upset, particularly if it was in favor of the artsy, über-German The White Ribbon. While I detested this film about strange, horrible events that occur in a small German village on the eve of WWI (talk about ritual punishment…), Christian Berger’s use of black and white film makes the story’s bizarre events all the more gruesome and striking. Truth be told, I find all of the nominees worthy of a trophy, not the least of which, Inglourious Basterds, is vibrantly filmed in what one can only describe is the old-school classic Hollywood style.


1. The Hurt Locker

2. District 9

3. Avatar

4. Inglourious Basterds

5. Precious

Let’s mix it up a little and award the little-war-movie-that-could instead of the big and bad CGI-fest, shall we?  It’s true that Avatar does have a real shot at this one (especially if it wins many of the other smaller categories), but I think voters will (and should) note how much the suspenseful The Hurt Locker’s success rides on the tightness of its expert editing to create such an enormously tense film. Though its ludicrous to believe District 9 possesses a better chance of winning than Avatar in this category, Julian Clarke’s editing is no less essential to the story it tells : the choppiness of the film, as it veers from media coverage to disturbing views of African slums to chaotic interactions between man and “prawn,” fantastically establishes the atmosphere of chaos and desperation. On a less positive note, Precious’s editing was messy and manipulative, and the film’s creators shouldn’t expect any awards outside of the acting categories.

Next up: Best Original + Adapted Screenplays


One comment on “Oscars 2010: Cinematography + Editing

  1. Pingback: Critical Confabulations

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