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Spotlight as Best Picture?


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#1 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 11:28 PM

Why was Spotlight Best Picture? Was it due to its cinematic prowess, social responsibility or its political relevance? Just curious...

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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 29 February 2016 - 11:55 PM

I think it's the political nature of the film AND it's award-winning ensemble cast.

It worked well on many levels and lets face it, out of the nominees, what else would have won?
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#3 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:00 AM

I haven't seen the movie,  but I noticed the trailers.  It is an extremely compelling theme.  The context is within real life.  Legitimate,  meaningful conflict...

 

Hey,  who's that guy in the tux?  Are you making an award speach or some such? (don't know which emoticon to choose but that is pretty cool)


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#4 Manu Delpech

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 04:24 AM

All three Greg I'd say, it's a fantastic film.  Cool photo too ^^


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#5 Ari Michael Leeds

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 10:40 AM

As far as how they UTILIZED their Best Picture, I like to curse and swear, but saying "fu ck yeah," and doing a fist pump, then calling out Pope Francis, for what happened 14 years and two Popes prior to him is like a thrown beer bottle from the cheap seats at the end of a blowout football game.

If you want to come across as concerned for the victims of institutionalized sexual abuse, "fu ck yeah" isn't exactly the way to open a dialogue on that issue.



What I saw confirms my first impressions of the movie, more an attempt at self-aggrandizement than any actual concern.  Like a political stepping stone.  Then again, maybe I am biased because I know many good people who are part of the vast majority of pastors, clergy, Rabbis, Imams.

It must be fun to have it out for organized religion, then take cheap shots at it, yell "fu ck yeah" and do a fist pump, then do a line of coke backstage as you walk off with your gold statue.  For those of us in the faithful, it's easy to see right through this "concern," for the victims, just cheap shots at organized religion by the lost, the fickle, the self-important.
 


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#6 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 11:27 AM

Interesting answers.  This is my issue with The Oscars.  It's not about the cinema at all times.  It's about politics and social statements.  It's also a popularity contest.  SPOTLIGHT was a very good film and took on a very difficult topic and I enjoyed the film very much.  However, I believe the filmmaking was sophomoric.  It was basic at best especially when compared to The Revenant.  Beyond the actors performances and screenplay, there was nothing that stood out to me.  Best Picture, to me, suggests the culmination of all aspects of filmmaking.  Why else would the director and cinematographer of one movie receive awards and then an entirely different picture gets awarded the Best Picture?  Facinating.

 

I actually had a producer and academy member say to me that he didn't have time to vote so he gives his ballot to his kid to vote!!!  This is why I believe the individual guild awards are much more meaningful and important as an achievement in one's craft.

 

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#7 Manu Delpech

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 11:32 AM

Well of course compared to The Revenant, it's going to look basic, Masa and McCarthy said their approach to the subject dictated a relatively simple and unadorned visual approach, doesn't make it less worthy than The Revenant (even though I'm sure it's not what you're saying). It's an important movie, that's also why it won. 

 

Then again, Spotlight cleaned house in many other awards ceremonies, it's well deserved. If it hadn't won, I would have wanted The Big Short to win. And if Steve Jobs had been nominated (as it should have been), it'd have been my personal pick. 


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#8 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 11:32 AM

 

Hey,  who's that guy in the tux?  Are you making an award speach or some such? (don't know which emoticon to choose but that is pretty cool)

 

 

Thanks Gregg!!!  What a great night that was Paramount Pictures!!!

 

G


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#9 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:58 PM

Well of course compared to The Revenant, it's going to look basic, Masa and McCarthy said their approach to the subject dictated a relatively simple and unadorned visual approach, doesn't make it less worthy than The Revenant (even though I'm sure it's not what you're saying). It's an important movie, that's also why it won. 

 

Then again, Spotlight cleaned house in many other awards ceremonies, it's well deserved. If it hadn't won, I would have wanted The Big Short to win. And if Steve Jobs had been nominated (as it should have been), it'd have been my personal pick. 

 

 

This is exactly the discussion I was looking to create.  Good stuff!!!  I wasn't singling out the cinematography of SL because I do believe the look should support the story.  Actually, I didn't think much of the camera operating - especially the steadicam operating... dreadful!  But I was thinking about how uneventful some of the other crafts were, such as the editing.  The score was the same few bars over and over.  I guess I wasn't overwhelmed with the movie as I felt I should be for that honor.  It reminds me of the 1979 Oscars when Kramer vs. Kramer won Best Picture over All That Jazz and Apocalypse Now.  Crazy!!  But hey!!!  That's just me.

 

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#10 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 01:09 PM

And if Steve Jobs had been nominated (as it should have been), it'd have been my personal pick. 

 

 

I couldn't agree more!!!  :)


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 01:27 PM

Yea, I mean what do you expect? The Oscars have always been political, especially best picture.

Plus as you pointed out Gregory, a lot of the voters don't actually watch the movies.

I personally think there should be a voting committee and every year a new group of experts should be the people who vote.
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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 July 2016 - 04:26 AM

I missed this film last year, but I just watched it on Netflix (twice in a row, actually). I can see what Greg means, I liked the simple naturalistic 'film' look in general but found some of the coverage a tad boring on first viewing. But about 1/3 of the way in, the story grabbed me and I forgot about all that. I immediately watched it again because I didn't understand some early scenes the first time thru and was able to study the structure of the film.

The coverage choices now make more sense to me - I think the story is quite complicated with a lot of backstory to set up, time ellipses, lots of characters, names, and events to keep track of, structured in about seven acts. It seems to me that Tom McCarthy and Masanobu Takayanagi wanted to tell the story as simply as possible with the camera for clarity. Their choices may have been a bit conservative, but the visual style probably needed restraint in order to let the story shine.

It also appears as though they did not have a huge budget for a dialogue-heavy period film with a big set build and lots of locations to dress, so I'm guessing they probably had to shoot relatively quickly. $20M and about 60 days from what I could gather online. That may have contributed to some of the more conservative photographic choices.
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#13 Manu Delpech

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Posted 04 July 2016 - 01:05 PM

Masanobu talked about it in an article somewhere, and him and McCarthy were very aware of the fact that they weren't going to be flashy, that restraint was the key word here, it doesn't look like much but it's great work. 


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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 July 2016 - 03:54 PM

David Fincher once said that if the story is complex, then it should be directed in a simple manner, but if the story was simple, it could be directed in a complex manner.


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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 01:53 PM

David Fincher once said that if the story is complex, then it should be directed in a simple manner, but if the story was simple, it could be directed in a complex manner.


That's very wise!

There were a few moments in the film where the cinematography and editing got to shine - there are a few long-lens panning zoom shots that recall films like 'The Conversation' and 'All the President's Men' which the DP used as reference films, according to the AC article. One was on the city streets following two characters as they meet in an busy intersection downtown and walk together into an office building - pretty ballsy to do it all in one shot, with what I am assuming was live traffic and real pedestrians, maybe with a few dozen extras and period cars and set dressing in the foreground. I thought that was very nicely done.

Another scene that works well is in the Globe's dusty basement, where the team is searching for some important files. It's lit very moodily, and Michael Keaton's character asks why they can't turn on the lights and one of other characters replies that he couldn't find the light switch.

That scene has an unfortunate directorial choice to hit the nail on the head with dialogue right at the end, which I think was unnecessary. It happens again later in a scene where Rachel McAdams and her interview subject are walking in a park and realize they are in front of a church with a playground full of kids. The visual is powerful, but when you add in the explanatory dialogue the audience is robbed of the chance to make that connection for themselves and the image has much less impact.

This to me shows that the director doesn't trust the visuals to carry the story, so I'm curious how some of you guys feel about facing a situation like that on set, and whether you would quietly make a script suggestion to the director to lose the line of dialogue. I tend to do that kind of thing after I get to know the director really well and have built up a good relationship, but then I don't usually work with very experienced directors or large films where I'm replaceable at the drop of a hat. Maybe that's frowned upon once you get up to this budget level?
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 03:23 PM

You can suggest things of course, but often lines like that are shot and then you hope they find a way of editing them out later, but sometimes the staging and coverage doesn't allow lines to be easily dropped.  I've often thought it would be nice to shoot a take that had much of the dialogue dropped, sort of a silent movie version of the scene to see how much of the dramatic intent is still carried.

 

I remember one film I did which had a homecoming scene near the end of the movie, the sort of prodigal son returns home moment which had all sorts of hokey semi-biblical lines and I said that at this point in the movie, this scene should be played in looks, the words were unnecessary and made the scene less powerful.  The director disagreed, the writer disagreed... but of course four months later when I'm color-correcting the movie, I see that all the lines were dropped from that scene.  Same thing actually happened with the start of the movie, it had 40 minutes of backstory before the main action began and I suggested that all that backstory be played in montage over the credits so the main plot would kick in within the first ten minutes of the movie.  I actually said this because I was asked what could be cut from the script in order to shoot it in fewer days.  Again, everyone disagreed and we spent four days shooting this backstory, and again, when the final edit was done, all that footage was cut into a montage under the main titles.  Which of course means it still would have had to been shot, but we could have spent less time on it.

 

Over the years, I've noticed that it's always the first reel that has the most cuts and the most changes from the script, because so many filmmakers struggle with how to get the story going.  I've shot several movies where the first 30 pages of script or so were severely chopped and reduced for the final cut, and I often bring this up when I work with a new director but generally they have to discover this for themselves later in the editing room, it's hard to convince them before that.

 

I recall a book of interviews with second-time directors and more than half said that what they learned from their first movie involved pacing problems, letting scenes play too slowly, shooting scenes that were too long, taking too much time to get the plot rolling, etc.


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#17 Justin Hayward

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 03:37 PM

In an interview with Jon Favreau he talks about the first acts of his screenplays always tend to be a little fat, because that's where he gets to explore the characters, then that's where the studio makes him cut everything.  Edward Burns says one of his biggest problems with his own writing is repetitiveness.  He says he's constantly self editing his scripts as he writes to make sure he's not repeating himself.

 

The cheapest place to fix a movie is on paper :)


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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 03:46 PM

Some people have suggested that even Shakespeare wrote his plays to be edited to different lengths for staged performances because there is a certain amount of repetition.


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#19 Manu Delpech

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 07:33 AM

I very much like your idea David of letting the visuals speak for themselves, I often find myself at first being overexplanatory with too much exposition, then cutting back, and back, till there's basically little dialogue left and it's told visually, it's more interesting. But I think like Satsuki says that the director doesn't necessarily always trust the audience to get it, sometimes it's the right call, not everyone is going to be paying attention to every single frame and its function within the storytelling, so you have that redundant aspect of having that nice little exposition heavy dialogue or explanatory dialogue to go along with it.


Edited by Manu Delpech, 06 July 2016 - 07:33 AM.

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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 07:53 AM

My experience as a scriptwriter is practically zero, but I have found that audiences can be immeasurably stupid on occasion.

 

Repetition is sometimes necessary if a filmmaker is to avoid the audience feeling confused.


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