PG Cooper: Best Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Editing

Posted: December 31, 2011 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

*Why a totem? I wanted a physical item to represent these awards, so I decided to borrow an item from last year’s PGCMA Best Picture winner, Inception.

Best Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two- This series is known for it’s great special effects, and the final entry is just as good. There’s lots of wizards and witches casting spells at each other, a creepy ghost, stone guards coming to life, a dragon, a giant snake, and of course the badass fight between Voldemort and Harry Potter. Absolute visual splendor.

Paul- Paul may not be an effects driven film, but the character of Paul is composed entirely of CGI. While I wouldn’t say it’s groundbreaking, it holds up and the effect is never distracts from the rest of the film.

Real Steel- While it may not have as much effects as that other film with robots that came out this year, Real Steel proofs superior for three reasons. One, the robots blend well with the world. Two, the robots have cool designs. Three, the robots are a mix of CGI and practical effects.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes- On a budget of $88 million, Rise delivered some of the most photo realistic CGI ever seen. And not just for one character, but for several apes. More importantly though is the way the CG is used to express the emotions of Caesar and other apes.

Thor- A lot of comic book films came out this year, but Thor stood out as far as effects were concerned. The awesome scenes of the Destroyer going through and,well, destroying, the awesome fights, the other creatures, and best of all, the world of Asgard.

And The Winner Is…




Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This has been one of the easiest awards to decide. Not that the other films had poor effects, but none of them used their effects nearly as effectively as Rise. The CG isn’t just used for great action scenes (though there are some great action scenes) but instead used to create a character. Caesar may have been entirely rendered in CG, but he feels as real as a character could. Bottom line, the CG shows emotions and a level of realism that rivals Avatar.

Best Cinematography

Cinematography is more or less the way the camera moves.

Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- David Fincher re-teamed with cinematographer Cronenweth for Dragon Tattoo, and it looks fantastic. The film spots a very dark look and certain shots are brilliant at eliciting suspense.

Robert Richardson, Hugo- Scorsese films always look great, and Richardson as shot several of them, from Casino to The Aviator. With Hugo, the two craft a beautiful film which will suck you in early on. The cinematography is gorgeous and highly immersive.

Eduardo Serra, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2- Serra was nominated last year in this same category. This is a rare blockbuster film which is shot in an incredibly dark way. It’s gorgeously bleak. I think my favourite shots were the ones that pulled back and showed the devastation of what was happening.

Newton Thomas Sigel, Drive- The thing that’s great about cinematography here is that as great as it is, it isn’t very showy. With the exception of the action scenes, the camera seems very reserved. And yet there’s a quality to every shot that just feels right.

Steven Soderbergh, Contagion- I had problems with Contagion, but one of the areas were it blow me a way was the excellent cinematography. There was some excellent shots, and I really like the way Soderbergh captures the darkness and hopelessness of the situation, while still grounding it all in a cold reality.

And The Winner Is…




Robert Richardson, Hugo

This was a tight race, but Hugo won me over with the way the cinematography could suck me into the world of the film. The way the camera whizzes and whirls around this world is just magical.

Best Editing

I’m embarrassed to say editing wasn’t an award I gave last year, despite it being one of the most important elements of film making. Well, it’s here now.

Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- Wall and Baxter have edited all Fincher’s films since The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Here, they make a two hour and forty minute film which is mostly just people talking one of the most exciting films of the year. Like other Fincher thrillers, certain scenes also prove extraordinary tense.

Alexander Berner, The Debt- A big portion of this film is just the main characters stuck in a small room with a former Nazi. These scenes remain interesting, tense, and uncomfortable thanks in no small part to Berner’s great editing. On top of that, The Debt is a thriller/spy film and thus relies heavily on the strengths of it’s editor.

Mark Day, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two- It’s odd to think that as great as the final Potter installment was, most of it was just action. And yet it never feels boring or over done. Mark Day is a big reason for that. He keeps things exciting and manages to vary the action with lots of drama and character interaction.

Matthew Newman, Drive- What’s most impressive about Drive‘s editing is how it’s not afraid to take it’s time. Several scenes go on with a very slow pace, with only quick bits of fast paced action as pay off. Yet none of these slow paced scenes feel slow. It also impress me how the film shifts from crime drama to romance, and back to crime drama so seamlessly.

Thelma Schoonmaker, Hugo- Schoonmaker has edited all of Scorsese’s films since Raging Bull. Here Schoonmaker has to make both an exciting adventure film, as well as a touching drama. While Schoonmaker does both of these brilliantly, what’s really impressive is how she manages making the film both.

And The Winner Is…




Matthew Newman, Drive

Drive‘s editing is nearly flawless. Every shot lasts just the right amount of time, every cut is done just the right way. The film is also expertly paced and there’s never a dull moment to be found. I just love how this film wasn’t afraid to take it’s time and slowly tell it’s story.

  1. ianthecool says:

    Good choice on special effects. Apes will probably win the Oscar in this as well, I’d imagine.

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