Injustice to Fraser

With the exception of a single Best Costume Design nomination for the work of Janet Patterson, Bright Star was shafted big-time this morning — up and down and around the town. Obviously few cared for the film as an emotional whole, and so all the participants were made to suffer slights. Director Jane Campion , star Abby Cornish and cinematographer Greig Fraser received no nominations. The latter’s contribution to Bright Star was perhaps the most award-worthy. Fraser’s perfectly measured, vermeer-lit photography was easily the equal of John Alcott‘s work on Barry Lyndon.

  • Gordon27

    5:33 – woohoo! Man, it sure is great to love movies!

    6:01 – man, what the fuck is up with this shit? Can you believe it?!

    What amazes me, and it really is to your credit, is the way you cling to this idea that movies that deserve to get nominated, and that many of the predictions leading up to it will be wrong and they’ll somehow suddenly agree with you… and then, every year, you’re surprised when they don’t.

    Is this just Oscar posturing?

  • Phatang!

    People just didn’t see it. The movie is better than the Oscars anyway. It wouldn’t have fit in, and both would’ve looked worse for it.

  • carlos alejandro

    Jeff: and Paul Schneider, IMO

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    I didn’t see Bright Star so I’m probably out of line in trying to participate here, but how exactly is this movie better than the Oscars, exactly?

    I thought these kind of stuffy period pieces were the kind of movie the Academy loves to nominate, even if they sort of subliminally acknowledge it’s not really all that great?

  • Floyd Thursby

    “these kind of stuffy period pieces”

    QT wrote Campion a fan letter about how he doesn’t like this kind of movie but loved hers. The pacing, with long silences, composition of shots, cinematography make it much more than a period piece. Cornish and Schneider are outstanding.

  • Markj74

    The cinematography is great, but nowhere near Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon. Lyndon may be the most beautiful movie ever shot.

  • Floyd Thursby

    Just noticed that only 3 Brits were nominated for acting, a big change from the past.

  • raygo

    Bright Star was dull. Except for Paul Schneider. Cinematography was excellent.

  • juligenb

    @citizen, I am not a period films fan, but I was in tears at the end of Bright Stars. The fact that Blind Side can make the list and this film doesnt is a crime. Abbie Cornish broke my heart on this :(

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Okay, okay…it’s on my make-up list of films to check out before the Oscars roll around.

  • NotImpressed1Yet

    It’s a shame that neither Barry Lyndon nor Bright Star is available on blu ray. Girl with a Pearl Earring is another one that comes to mind as far as period pieces that would look spectacular on blu ray.

  • bluefugue

    >I thought these kind of stuffy period pieces

    It would be a grave injustice to write off Bright Star as just another stuffy period piece.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    I guess my original question still stands. If Merchant & Ivory could squeeze nominations out of the Academy with five fewer slots, why wasn’t Bright Star able to slip in among a field double that?

    Have many of the older members of the Academy who presumably had a taste for this genre passed on, or is this a movie that breaks a lot of the traditional period “traditions,” thus infuriating said members?

    Just curious if anyone has a decent theory, I guess.

  • Gordon27

    ‘An Education’ took that slot away from ‘Bright Star’.

  • reverent and free

    How does a film like Avatar get a Best Cinematography nomination when with the exception of a few scenes, most of what we see was computer generated? Do they judge it based on camera angles and movement?

  • Phatang!

    Another question, Kane. Any theories as to why “Invictus” didn’t get nominated but “Tsotsi” won best foreign film just a few years ago? Were all the Academy members who care about South Africa arrested protesting sanctions against Cuba? Or have they all moved to Venezuela now that Obama has let them down?

  • moviemorlock

    And, of course, it was highly important that they make room for honoring the cinematography of Harry Potter. What??@@!!!

    How about Public Enemies, A Single Man and a Serious Man? How can anything Deakins touched (Serious Man) miss a nomination over Harry Potter? Avatar and Hurt Locker: Is this this the first time films shot digitally were nominated for cinematography? Was Hurt Locker digital? I thought I read somewhere it was. Help me out on that.

  • http://railoftomorrow.blogspot.com Scott Nye

    Harry Potter was an incredibly well-shot film – gorgeously lit, well framed, the most visually astute of all the major blockbusters this year – and I’m glad it got the respect it deserves. You want a film to take out of the nominations, I give you Avatar. The idea that an animated film (let’s be honest, if the Squeakquel is on the Academy’s shortlist for Animated Feature, Avatar is an animated film) is nominated over A Serious Man, A Single Man, Bright Star, or Where the Wild Things Are is the true crime.

    The Hurt Locker was shot on a combination of 16mm and (according to IMDb) HD. Most of the interviews I read with Bigelow referred to the 16mm, so I’m assuming that was the dominant format.

    This isn’t the first time digital cinematography has been nominated – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was nominated last year (fairly certain that was the first, though I’d have to do more research to be 100%).

  • The Mean Freaks

    I agree with Phatang! I don’t want to see Abbie Cornish on the Today Show talking about how “amazing” it is to work with Jane Campion. I don’t want to see Paul Schneider accept an award presented by Jennifer Aniston. Fuck the Oscars.

  • markj

    The cinematography is great, but nowhere near Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon. Lyndon may be the most beautiful movie ever shot.

  • Alboone

    ” Fraser’s perfectly measured, vermeer-lit photography was easily the equal of John Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon”.

    I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but don’t go there Wells. Please.

  • R Merk

    ” Fraser’s perfectly measured, vermeer-lit photography was easily the equal of John Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon”.

    Having just watched this beautiful picture for the second time, I completely agree with Wells assessment.

    Maybe someday soon we’ll all have the pleasure of seeing both masterworks on blu ray.

  • TheJeff

    I liked Bright Star a lot. The cinematography was lovely, and it probably should have been nominated…but it’s not even on the same planet as Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon, much of which was shot *without electric lights*. It’s a masterpiece of naturalistic period light which will likely never be replicated.

  • TM

    A couple of things:

    Phatang! Re: Totsi winning — only a handful of people actually vote on the foreign films. In the past, there was no DVD watching for foreign films — you had to agree to go to a theater and sign in and stay for the movie. Only those who were on the list for all five nominated movies could vote. Some years it’s been as few as 86 members voting (that was the year The Lives of Others won), some years there have been just over 100 people. It’s not exactly the fairest way to award the prize. I’m not sure if they’ve changed things but it used to be the same for documentaries and short films.

    As to cinematography, that category has always confounded me. Sometimes the nominees and voters have gone for the “pretty picture” without realizing exactly what a director of cinematography does. It’s more than pointing a camera and making things look good. A great cinematographer will assist the director in realizing his/her vision. The Harry Potter film was actually beautifully shot and composed and the effects were nicely melded into the shots in an almost organic fashion.

    As far as Bright Star not getting any love — it’s this year’s House of Mirth. That movie got overlooked back in 2000.

  • R Merk

    The method from which the results are reached does not necessarily make it a better photographed picture, does it?

    We really are arguing apples and oranges here. Whether Barry Lyndon, Bright Star, The Leopard, or McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a beautifully photographed picture is just that whether shot with lights, candlelight, or no lights.

  • K. Bowen

    My favorite film of the year. It’s not just how beautiful the shots are, or how well lit. It was one of those films where every shot made sense. Even something as simple as the funeral cortege looks perfect.

    And lord, does that final tracking shot of Cornish just wipe you out emotionally. Cornish and Schneider were wonderful.

    “I failed John Keats!”

  • TheJeff

    “The method from which the results are reached does not necessarily make it a better photographed picture, does it?”

    Not necessarily, but it can certainly make it a more impressive accomplishment.

  • Gordon27

    “A great cinematographer will assist the director in realizing his/her vision.”

    And that’s exactly why I feel that ‘Single Man’, and to a lesser extent ‘Serious Man’, were robbed. ‘Single Man’ does more with even the color correction alone than most movies do with a whole cinematography department.

    The ‘Harry Potter’ one, I’m sure it’s fine, but it stands out as one of those technical achievements, and they always sneak one or two of them into the cinematography category. Hell, most years, it winds up going to the movie that gets the most technical awards; it’s much rarer for it to go to the movie that wins Best Picture (and it never goes to the movie that wins Director but not Picture).

    It’s always a strange category, though, I agree with you on that. I mean, it’s got ‘The White Ribbon’ vs. ‘Harry Potter’, and then the three favorites for Best Picture (one of which will win all of the technical awards [unless one of the other two takes the odd sound one]).

  • Gordon27

    Actually, looking into who the guy is, I’m sure it’s well shot, I don’t mean to be dismissive of it or him. I actually wondered whether they’d ultimately nominate ‘Avatar’, since it is “shot” in such a different way, and that might be the one that took the slot from either of the more deserving movies I mentioned.

  • Noiresque

    *shakes head, sadly*

    You never should have referred to dear Abbie as chubby faced before interviewing her in all her loveliness.

  • TheGK

    I thought it was gorgeously shot and well acted, but it is very dull.

    Perhaps that’s just a reflection on Keat’s poetry which I’ve always found to be too wrought and overly emotional. I’m sure if I liked Keat’s poetry, I would have loved this film. But I didn’t.

    Give me some Dylan Thomas anyday.

  • bluefugue

    I loved Bright Star but I didn’t feel Keats’s poetry had much to do with it one way or another. It’s a movie about young love. Keats himself is barely more than a plot device; Fanny Brawne and Charles Brown are the only real characters in the film. The emotions that they are driven to by their love of Keats are what make the film a spellbinding experience.

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