Importance of score & editing (Bond edition)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said this week several Oscars will be awarded before the Oscars telecast, including best score and editing.

Ben Mankiewicz, a TCM host, did a tongue-in-cheek tweet asking followers to name movies where score and editing made a difference. You can view it below.

For the purposes of this post, we’ll keep examples of James Bond movies only.

From Russia With Love: According to the documentary Inside From Russia With Love (available on some home video editions of the movie), editor Peter Hunt changed the order of early sequences. This, in effect, created the Bond tradition of the pre-title sequence.

The movie was also the first Bond film (out of 11 total) scored by John Barry. That helped establish the “Bond sound” of 007 movie film music. Barry’s contributions have lasted beyond his death. No Time to Die’s score incorporated Barry’s instrumental theme for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Thunderball: Director Terence Young departed the project early before post-production was completed. That left editor Hunt by himself, with deadlines for a Christmas release coming down upon him.

What’s more, things were hectic for Barry as well. The title song was changed late from Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang to Thunderball. “Barry worked overtime to incorporate the new theme into the score so it wouldn’t look like the kind of pasted-on song he loathed,” according to The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame.

You Only Live Twice: Originally, Peter Hunt was going to be the second unit director and not edit (see James Bond in the Cinema by John Brosnan). But early cuts of the movie were running long and Hunt ended up applying his editing talents as well. The film’s running time ended up just under two hours.

The Man With the Golden Gun: John Barry, generally, scored Bond films on a tight schedule. According to Burlingame’s book, even Barry felt the pressure. Barry only had three weeks to complete the entire score.

There are other examples, of course. In general, movies can be saved in post-production (1975’s Jaws being a notable example).

Oscars do Emily Litella impression: ‘Never mind!’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have pulled an Emily Litella. “Never mind!”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has retreated from a plan of awarding four Oscars during commercial breaks, according to reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline: Hollywood.

As Emily Litella (a 1970s reference you can find on Google) might say, “Never mind!”

Originally, the academy planned that Oscars for cinematography, editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling be given out during commercials, with edited versions being shown later.

This didn’t go over well from academy members of the affected categories, especially cinematography and editing, two crucial parts of movie making.

Had the rule been in effect last year, the broadcast would haven’t included live coverage of director of photography Roger Deakins finally winning after after a long string of nominations. One of Deakins’ nominations was for the 2012 007 film Skyfall, and many Bond fans were pulling for him to finally win in 2018.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter story:

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Academy stated that it “has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards – Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling.” The statement continued: “All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24.”

The move came just nine days before this year’s Oscar telecast. The academy and ABC, which airs the awards show, have been trying to keep the program to three hours.

UPDATE (9:40 p.m., New York time): The statement is on the academy’s website.

The Oscars step in it again

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So the Oscars show on Feb. 24 is relegating cinematography, film editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling will be given out during commercials and not shown live, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The news came after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to its members today, according to THR.

The move comes as academy is trying to keep the Oscars broadcast under three hours. The group previous removed honorary Oscars and awards such as the Thalberg (honoring a producer’s career) to a separate event in November.

However, no matter what the academy does to slim down the broadcast, it finds other material and the broadcast stays around four hours. The show insists on doing including skits airing after 10 pm. eastern time when the audience is more than ready to get to find out the winners of major awards such as acting and Best Film.

Had the new rules been in effect last year, the TV audience wouldn’t have seen cinematographer Roger Deakins win an Oscar live after numerous nominations. One of those nominations was for 2012’s Skyfall.

Directors certainly think a lot of their directors of photography. In the documentary Inside You Only Live Twice, Lewis Gilbert called Freddie Young one of the great artists of British cinema. Young had photographed, among other films, Lawrence of Arabia.

Also, a number of directors leaned on their editors. Verna Fields (1918-1982) edited Steven Spielberg’s first theatrical, film, The Sugarland Express, and his first big hit, Jaws. Anne Bauchens (1882-1967) edited a number of movies for Cecil B. DeMille, including The Ten Commandments. Editors are vital to helping a director achieve his or her vision.

Well, as they say, there’s no business like show business.

Daniel Craig to be a presenter at 2019 Oscars

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Daniel Craig will be a presenter at this year’s Oscars show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement on its website.

The academy also released the names of presenters in a series of tweets this morning. Besides the James Bond star, other presenters include Chris Evans, Jennifer Lopez and Charlize Theron. The academy said it will be making additional announcements of talent that will participate in the Oscars show.

Craig’s wife, Rachel Weisz, is a nominee for Best Supporting Actress. The Oscars ceremony is Feb. 24, shortly before Bond 25 is scheduled to begin principal photography on March 4.

Lalo Schifrin to receive an honorary Oscar

Cover to a 1960s Lalo Schifrin album

Composer Lalo Schifrin will receive an honorary Oscar later this year, the Academy of Motor Picture Arts and Scientists announced this week.

Schifrin, 86, first made his mark composing for scores for television, including the pilots for Mission: Impossible and Mannix. He moved into films, scoring, among others, The Cincinnati Kid, Bullitt, Dirty Harry and Enter the Dragon. Schifrin was nominated for six Oscars.

And since this blog concentrates on spy-related entertainment, we note he also scored Murderers’ Row, the second Matt Helm film, and The Venetian Affair. He also did the arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for that show’s second season (1965-66).

Honorary Oscars used to be given out during the Oscars telecast. But in recent years, they’re part of a separate event, which this year will be held Nov. 18.

The academy also said actress Cicely Tyson, 93, and publicist Marvin Levy will receive honorary Oscars.

Also, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Award, a career award given to producers. It’s the first Thalberg award given since 2010.

Our modest proposals for the Oscars telecast

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“It’s just an awards show,” Oscars telecast host Jimmy Kimmel said (as quoted by Deadline: Hollywood and other outlets) about the annual telecast by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

He’s right. With that in mind, here are some modest proposals to make the telecast better. It’s just an awards show, not rocket science or God’s work.

Cut back the lame jokes: A little humor goes a long way. Did we need “mean tweets” (a bit from Kimmel’s ABC late night show)? Did we need the tour bus skit, a bit that went on for what seemed like a long time.

And do we need any skits once it hits 11 p.m. in the Eastern time zone? By that point, the show had been going on for two-and-a-half hours. Yes, the show is being done in California where it’s three hours earlier. But people in the eastern time zone are starting to hit the sack (if they haven’t done so already) by 11 p.m. Time to cut to the chase and get the major awards made.

Maybe lengthen In Memoriam by a whole two minutes: It’s really hard to present all the major actors, directors, writers, etc. in less than three minutes. This year’s edition squeezed in 45 in 2:48.

If the segment were, say, five minutes, you’d still get fans upset about a favorite performer or director being left off. But the audience — it’s just an awards show, remember — really are invested emotionally. Maybe you should throw them a bone.

You remember the audience, don’t you academy? In case you forgot, they are the ones who buy the movie tickets and home video releases that keep your members employed.

With all of the montages and skits, this year’s telecast could easily have filled up five minutes for In Memoriam. If it had been five minutes, you might have been able to note, say, the passing of the director of Goldfinger, or the last surviving star of The Magnificent Seven.

Keep the envelopes with the winners organized: That’s a Mr. Obvious observation but on Monday morning the show — sorry, the “just an awards show” — was mostly being discussed for announcing the wrong Best Picture. Not the kind of publicity one wants, right PricewaterhouseCoopers?

Drop the claim that 1 billion people worldwide watch the Oscars: One, it’s not true. Two, it comes across as particularly silly with all the news accounts about the show’s declining ratings.