Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
What it’s up for: Film Editing, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

Star Wars is a very emotional thing for me. Hence it taking such a long time for me to get this post finished. It’s hard to be objective about something deeply personal. But here it goes…

This movie as a whole is extremely well done. I have no issue with the plot which some have dubbed as a remake of A New Hope. It’s really not. Abrams and crew simply utilized a common storytelling technique of modeling a new story after something familiar. If they had done that more with the prequel trilogy, they would’ve done better. The plot itself is completely different and new. The only time I had a thought close to “this seems familiar” was with the whole Starkiller Base thing. That’s my only plot objection.

The film editing was brilliant because while I was watching the movie, I forgot I was watching a J.J. Abrams film. Abrams isn’t the editor, but we all know he likes to have control over how many lens flares, rotating zooms and pans etc occur during film-making. His influence on the camera-work was evident in the movie but it wasn’t distracting. Once everything was strung together, it felt new but fit well with the other Star Wars movies. It was well-paced – especially in critical moments. The transitions caused impact and helped tell the story. It was beautifully done.

Score…..I mean, it’s John Williams. It’s John Williams doing Star Wars again. The new score fits well with the old scores because he did them. The new themes transition perfectly into the old themes. It’s perfect because he is perfect.

Sound mixing and sound editing are standard nominations for sci-fi films. It was good. I can’t recall any obvious problems. I also can’t recall any obvious “wow” moments. Per usual, 4 out of 7 films nominated in these categories are nominated for both. Most likely both awards will go to the same film. (There’s always exceptions of course – the most obvious being last year’s Whiplash win for sound mixing.) It’s hard to predict these categories because unless there is some sort of obvious reason why a film would win either category (*cough*Whiplash*cough*), it’s anyone’s guess. I’d love to hear the reasoning from Academy members when they vote for these two categories.

Another standard nomination for sci-fi films is for visual effects. Every year, I’m astounded by the advances visual effects have made from the year before. TFA created beautiful effects including striking broad shots of fictional environments, seemingly realistic interactions between X-wings and water, and of course, Maz Kanata, our resident motion-capture friend. Some visual effects reels have been making the rounds on the internets for TFA, boosting everyone’s confidence in how much care and effort went into these effects. It’s hard to imagine it not winning, but The Revenant is the Academy’s golden child this year, so we’ll see.

Predictions
Film editing – Hard to say at this point. I need to see the other films.
Score –  I’m not sure yet. I haven’t heard the other scores. I want to say it’s likely, though.
Sound mixing and sound editing – I’m combining them because IF TFA wins either of these categories, I think it’ll win both. However, I don’t think it’s going to win.
Visual effects – I really want to say yes…but I think it’s unlikely. It’s too easy.

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