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‘Awards do not make film good’ ‘Gravity’ wins

LOS ANGELES, Feb 18, (RTRS): Alfonso Cuaron didn’t really know what he was getting himself in for when his film “Gravity” debuted at the Venice Film Festival almost six months ago. The Mexican director had other films that had figured in the Oscar race — “A Little Princess” received two nominations, “Y Tu Mama Tambien” one, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” two and “Children of Men” three — but he’d been working during awards season those years, and didn’t experience the madness first-hand. But with “Gravity,” things are different. Cuaron’s film is battling “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” in the tightest Best Picture race in a decade, and Cuaron himself has won best-director honors at the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, the Directors Guild of America Award and, on Sunday, BAFTA’s awards. He’s been hitting the circuit full time, including a sit-down with TheWrap as Oscar voting began.

Question: Did you realize back in August that you were going to need to clear your schedule for the next six months?
Answer: Far from it. Actually, I started writing a screenplay with Jonas [Cuaron, his son and “Gravity” co-writer]. Then he had to start prepping the movie that he is shooting now and I said, “OK, this is a very good time for me to give the screenplay a pass — and then when you finish, you can revise it.” And I started giving it a pass, and then all of this started happening. At first I said, “I’ll work on the script in planes.” But no, you can’t. You just get absorbed in the whole lengthy awards process.
What I’m saying is it took me by surprise, this whole thing.

Q: What have been the biggest surprises in the process?
A: The first surprise was that the movie was not a disaster. Putting it together, there was such a long time in which we didn’t know if it was going to work. We had a preview that was terrible, when it was in a very rough, animatic state. So you have that ghost hovering around. And then we put everything together and finished only two weeks before Venice, which was unsettling. And the surprise had to be the reaction of the audiences. I mean, obviously that’s what we were aiming for, but we were lost in the forest. So it was a great surprise to see audiences embrace the film because of the all the technology and stuff, but also emotionally engage in the film. That’s what the journey is for, and that was the coolest thing.

Q: You talk about getting the approval of your peers — the DGA Award must have been special.
A: I was nervous, because I get starstruck, still, with directors. I try to erase the word competition from my vocabulary because I think celebration should be the word instead. It’s a great year, but it’s not only a great year for the films that were nominated. There were so many other films that were not nominated that are as good or better than the films that are nominated. And by the way, all these recognitions, they don’t make your movie a better movie or a prettier movie. And not being recognized doesn’t make your movie uglier or not as good as it was before.

“Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” “Frozen” and “The Great Gatsby” all won awards on Sunday night at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 61st Golden Reel Awards, which honored sound editing in seven film and 10 television categories. “Gravity” won in the Sound Effects and Foley category, the Golden Reel area that most closely corresponds to the Oscars’ Best Sound Editing category. Golden Reel winners in that category have gone on to win the Oscar six times in the last 10 years, and 12 times in the last 20. “Captain Phillips” won for its dialogue and ADR, “The Great Gatsby” for its music editing and the Disney animated film “Frozen” for music editing in a musical feature.

“Dallas Buyers Club” and “Bad Grandpa,” two of the three nominees in the Oscar Best Makeup and Hairstyling category, both won awards on Saturday night at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards. “The Lone Ranger,” the third Oscar nominee, did not win anything, although its star Johnny Depp was given the guild’s Distinguished Artisan Award. “Dallas Buyers Club” won in the Best Period and/or Character Make-Up category, while “Bad Grandpa” won for Best Special Make-Up Effects. Other film winners were “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (contemporary hair styling), “Prisoners” (contemporary make-up) and “American Hustle” (period and/or character hair styling).

In the television categories, awards went to “The Voice,” “Vikings,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Walking Dead” and the two shows that have dominated every TV awards show for the last six months, “Breaking Bad” and “Behind the Candelabra.” Gail Ryan was given the Hair Stylists Lifetime Achievement Award, while Dick Smith was named recipient of the Make-Up Artists Lifetime Achievement Award but was not able to attend. The show took place on the Paramount Studios lot and was hosted by Tom Arnold. The guild revived its awards show this year, after not handing out awards for nearly a decade.

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