Tuesday, June 26, 2012

OSCAR 2012: "Brave" shoots for new horizons

I'm not at all into placing bets on the Oscar race this early, which only serves to throw me for an uninformed list as I realize all the possibilities that aren't yet on the schedule or just appearing. However, there was one particular film recently that sparked my interest into one of the technical races. I was a bit shy on discussing the visuals of "Brave" in my favorable write-up the other day, but I don't need to further state how tremendous a technical achievement the latest from Pixar is. The setting lends itself to a glorious visual landscape, from the way the sun lights up the cliffs and the water streams down so brilliantly. Personally, the most recurring visual treat of the film for me is the way Merida's tangled mane of hair moves.

It's an outstanding film that shows how far Pixar has gone in mastering their craft, far above where any other animation studio has ever dreamed. From the lively and acute details put on display in "Ratatouille", to the unbelievably grounded and real worlds composed in "WALL-E", Pixar has constantly been pushing the bar technically, so one can stand to reason that at some point they'll make a break into the visual effects race. Of course the Academy has been rather stingy in the past regarding the line between animated and visual effect, neither allowing motion capture films entrance into the former, or the latter into a visual effects race.

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Of course the odds of that happening are somewhat slim, with more action oriented or Oscar friendly fare being more likely to take up all five slots, but it may end up a surprise hit along the way. What's more likely for "Brave" are the regular spots for Disney flicks, mainly the expected animated feature nod that's doubtless to come. Also quite likely is a nomination in the increasingly miniscule Original Song category. Any one of the film's songs could qualify and make it in, and I'd place my bet on the most memorable "Touch the Sky". I have a bad feeling that could be the winner, because everyone would be very likely to shrug at that moment. But if they choose the ending song then we could get the positive word of Mumford and Sons winning an Oscar! Wouldn't that be something?

But it very well may be a single nomination in Best Animated Feature, though possibly not a win. The love isn't crazy for Pixar's latest, though there could be quite the positive boost late in the season. It depends on which animated films emerge favorably with audiences. "ParaNorman" is a distinct possibility, but I don't feel like people will really want to give themselves to that film. "Wreck-It Ralph" may be the surprise hit with mainstream audiences, and a similar possibility going out for "Rise of the Guardians". I have a feeling, however, that one of the year's foreign standouts will finally catch the Academy's greater attention for once. Filling out possibilities, I wouldn't count out sound mixing, or Patrick Doyle's memorable and Scottish tinged musical score.

BEST BETS: Animated Feature
POSSIBLE NODS: Original Song, Original Score, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing

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