Tech awards a mixed bag at Oscars

On the technical side of film, Avatar scored Academy Awards for art direction, cinematography and visual effects. | Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

For most people, the Oscars are about what movie is the best of the year and which actors deserve awards.

However, the vast majority of the Academy Awards are dedicated to industry professionals that work behind the scenes in tedious, labor-intensive jobs that receive little to no recognition — even though they are responsible for making the films so great.

A total of 10 technical awards are handed out during the Oscars; these are cinematography, art direction, sound mixing, sound editing, best original and adapted screenplay, visual effects, makeup, costume design and film editing.

This year’s technical Oscars yielded quite a few surprises, along with a few obvious winners. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire walked away with best adapted screenplay, beating the heavily favored Up In The Air. Even Geoffrey Fletcher, who wrote the adaptation to Precious, was dumbfounded during his acceptance speech.

Meanwhile, The Hurt Locker took best original screenplay, which was surprising. Up! was the most original script of the year, and even Inglorious Basterds was more deserving than the winner.

Visual effects was no contest this year, as Avatar took top honors. No one expected anything else from the top-grossing movie of all time, considering James Cameron completely re-engineered how motion pictures are produced while making the movie.

Film editing was one of the closest races of the entire ceremony, with The Hurt Locker narrowly edging out Avatar. The Hurt Locker also took best sound mixing and editing, beating out – who else – Avatar.

Overall, The Hurt Locker took most of the awards Avatar was favored to win, largely due to Oscar politics more than true merit. The Hurt Locker was a good film, but the level of detail put into making Avatar deserves more substantial recognition than a nomination.

For costume design, another stuffy period piece took the statue; this year it was the underwhelming The Young Victoria. Meanwhile, the makeup category was truly given on merit considering Star Trek used no special effects to create the wide variety of aliens presented.

For cinematography, Avatar walked away with the win. This was never really a contest, as the movie created an entirely new world from scratch. The film also took the statue for art direction. Even though the story was flimsy at best, there is no denying the sheer brilliance and depth behind Pandora.

Overall, the technical Oscars were hit-and-miss; while movies such as Precious and Avatar were given awards because they earned them, The Hurt Locker won largely because the academy wants its Best Picture to win more than only one Oscar.

One can only hope all the awards will be given to deserving candidates next year.

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