Or, if Roger Deakins does not win for Cinematography I just might cry.
While the Cinematography category is incredibly strong this year, I really want Deakins to take home the prize. Even if you don’t know his name, I guarantee you know his work, which includes True Grit, Fargo, and The Shawshank Redemption. This is his tenth nomination and it’s a crime he has never won.
Of course, he’s in good company this year, with the innovative Anna Karenina, supremely lush Life of Pi, and two powerhouse cinematographers in Robert Richardson of Django Unchained and Janusz Kaminski of Lincoln. But Richardson has already won three Oscars, including just last year for Hugo, and Kaminski has won two, for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.
But it’s not just because he is always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Deakins elevated Skyfall to a place beyond where I thought any Bond film could go, effortlessly moving from the rooftops of Istanbul, to the lights and shadows of Shanghai and Macau, and, finally, to the gloomy moors of Scotland.
Deakins is not the only bridesmaid here. This is Thomas Newman’s tenth nomination for Original Score. Despite composing scores for movies as diverse as American Beauty, Finding Nemo, Road to Perdition, and The Shawshank Redemption, he has never won. Academy voters are often swayed by such things, and, not only did Skyfall do very well at the box office (already passing the $1 billion mark worldwide), but I can see where the idea of the 50th anniversary of James Bond might appeal to older voters.
However, I could see anyone winning this category, except perhaps John Williams for Lincoln—he is a perennial nominee, but he hasn’t actually won for some time and that score was completely pedestrian. I would love to see Dario Marianelli win for Anna Karenina as his score worked on multiple levels: it sounded very Russian to these ears, and it was very waltzy (that’s a word, right?), which fit the camerawork and stage direction perfectly.
Although I don’t remember the score of Argo standing out to me particularly, I would also be happy with an Alexandre Desplat win. Not just because he’s French, but because he has done some remarkable work in the past, including the incredible score for De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped). I love that he makes great use of classical pieces in his work, notably Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in The King’s Speech and Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (a childhood favorite) in this year’s Moonrise Kingdom.
In other bridesmaid news, can you believe a James Bond song has never won an Oscar for Best Original Song? I couldn’t and had to double-check when I first looked it up. Nominated only three times, for “Live and Let Die,” “Nobody Does It Better,” and “For Your Eyes Only,” this franchise, known for its songs, has lost out to the likes of “The Way We Were,” “You Light Up My Life,” and “Arthur’s Theme” respectively. While I can see the justifications for those choices, the real crime here is that the two Shirley Bassey classics “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds Are Forever” weren’t even nominated. Luckily, I can’t imagine Adele not taking home an Oscar for “Skyfall,” a song that really harkens back to the Bassey era.
In addition to its pretty, pretty pictures and fabulous music, Skyfall is also up for both sound awards: Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. If you are confused about the difference between the two, here’s a tip: Look to the first letters, E (for effects) and M (for manipulation). Sound Editing primarily involves the creation and collection of sound effects and other sound elements while Sound Mixing involves the manipulation of sounds, that is, how the existing audio elements (recorded on film or created in post-production) are layered for the final product.
While I feel the technical achievement of Les Misérables should swing the votes for Sound Mixing to that film, Sound Editing is more difficult to call. I could see anything winning there, although Skyfall and Life of Pi might have an edge as the only two films nominated in both categories.
In sum, although I resisted seeing this film when it was released, I’m extremely happy that Skyfall is up for a total of five Academy Awards. I grew up a big fan of the franchise, not least because the opening sequence of Thunderball takes place in my mother’s hometown, at the Château d’Anet, where my aunt’s future husband worked as a butler during the Occupation. You can actually see one of my cousins as a choirboy in the chapel.
This Bond film ranks right up there with the best in the franchise, for its technical aspects as well as its emotional depth and character development. I highly recommend it.