January 15, 2016

Oscar 2016: The Regulars

This time there is no Meryl Streep. But Steven Spielberg has earned his sixteenth nomination for 'Bridge of Spies' and the Coen Brothers have earned their fourteenth for co-writing the same film. Spielberg's nomination is also ninth as a producer and that is a record. Brad Pitt is nominated as a producer for 'The Big Short' and Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett have both earned their seventh nomination.

These are all well-known names. But at the upcoming Oscar night there will be several stalwarts sitting in that auditorium, behind-the-scene crew members, we do not know much about. Like last year, I'm sharing with you the names of technicians and musicians who are nominated on a regular basis. It's the time to salute the unsung.

Emmanuel Lubezki: 'The Revenant' has earned this 51-year old cinematographer his eighth nomination, his first being for 'A Little Princess' (1996). His filmography includes 'Children of Men' (2006), 'The Tree of Life' (2011), 'Gravity' (2013) and 'Birdman' (2014). If he wins this year, it will be his third win in a row!

Diane Warren: 59-year old Warren is a Grammy-winning American songwriter whose first Oscar nomination came for the 1987 film 'Mannequin'.  Her latest nomination for 'The Hunting Ground' is her eighth, with which she will hope to win her first Oscar.

Alan Robert Murray: Murray won his second Oscar trophy last year, for the sound editing of 'American Sniper'. His first trophy was also a Clint Eastwood film - 'Letters from Iwo Jima' (2006). This year, he has earned his eighth nomination for 'Sicario' and will hope for his third win.

Frank A Montano: With a filmography that boasts of 'The Fugitive' (1993) as well as 'Birdman' (2014), re-recording mixer Montano has earned his eighth nomination for 'The Revenant' with which he will hope to finally win that elusive trophy.

Robert Richardson: 'Platoon' (1986), 'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989) and 'Inglorious Basterds' (2009) are some of the movies shot by this 60-year old cinematographer who has earned his ninth nomination for 'The Hateful Eight'. He will hope to win his fourth trophy after winning it thrice before for 'JFK' (1991), 'The Aviator' (2004), and 'Hugo' (2011).

Jenny Beavan: Beavan won her first and only Oscar for the costume design of 'The Room with a View' (1985) when she was forty five. Her filmography includes 'Sense and Sensibility' (1995) and 'The King's Speech' (2010). 'Mad Max: Fury Road' has earned Beavan her tenth nomination.

Sandy Powell: 55-year old Powell has won three Oscars already, for the costume design of 'Shakespeare in Love' (1998), 'The Aviator' (2004) and 'The Young Victoria' (2009). This year she has been nominated for 'Cinderella' and 'Carol', her 11th and 12th nominations. Will she win her fourth trophy?

Roger Deakins: He is 66 and has been nominated thirteen times, without a win. The cinematographer of 'The Shawshank Redemption' (1994), 'Kundun' (1997), 'The Reader' (2008), 'Skyfall' (2012) and most Coen Brothers films, he is a living legend. Of course, the world will talk about DiCaprio's chance at his maiden trophy. But for DOPs all over the world, Deakins will be the man to watch as he hopes to win for 'Sicario'.

Thomas Newman: 60-year old Newman provided the original score for 'The Shawshank Redemption' (1994), 'American Beauty' (1999), 'Road to Perdition' (2002), 'WALL-E' (2008) and 'Skyfall' (2012). And he is yet to win an Oscar. 'Bridge of Spies' is his thirteenth nomination with which he will hope to walk on to the stage and bring the trophy home.

Randy Thom: A sound mixer who started his career with 'Apocalypse Now' (1979). 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980) and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981), Randy Thom won his first Oscar for 'The Right Stuff' (1983) and his second for 'The Incredibles' (2004). 'The Revenant' is his fifteenth nomination, preceded by 'Return of the Jedi' (1983), 'Forrest Gump' (1994), 'Cast Away' (2000), and 'Ratatouille' (2008), to name a few.

Gary Rydstrom: Just in case you have not been overwhelmed by the names mentioned above, here comes sound designer Gary Rydstorm. When he was 32, he won his first two Oscar trophies for 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991). By the time he turned 39, he had won seven, for 'Jurassic Park' (1993), 'Titanic' (1997), and 'Saving Private Ryan' (1998). Then, as if law of averages caught up with him, he did not win any despite earning eight more nominations. 'Bridge of Spies' is his eighteenth nomination and his hope to win his eighth trophy!

Andy Nelson: And there is more. The sound designer of 'Schindler's List' (1993), 'Braveheart' (1995), 'L.A. Confidential' (1997), 'The Thin Red Line' (1998), 'The Last Samurai' (2003) and 'Avatar' (2009), Andy Nelson has earned his 19th and 20th nominations for 'Bridge of Spies' and 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'. He has won the trophy twice already, for 'Saving Private Ryan' (1998) and 'Les Miserables' (2012).

John Williams: And finally, sharing with you the name that gave me the shock of my life a few hours ago. The 83-year old music composer, John Williams, is the man behind some of the most popular and recognisable musical scores of all time. Earning a nomination almost every year since 1968, and winning the trophy five times, for 'Fiddler on the Roof' (1971), 'Jaws' (1975), 'Star Wars' (1977), 'E.T.' (1982) and 'Schindler's List' (1993), Williams has earned his 50th nomination for the musical score of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'. His last eighteen nominations have not converted to a win and that must be sad, right? I wonder if the Academy Awards would have any importance for this legend, who has also composed music for 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (1977), 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981), 'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989), 'Home Alone' (1990), 'JFK' (1991), 'Saving Private Ryan' (1998), 'AI' (2001), and 'Harry Potter'. The hall will erupt with standing ovation if he wins and I will root for him just to witness that.

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