Friday, February 24, 2017

Passengers - 2 nominations and Hail Caesar - 1 nomination

Music (Original Score) - Thomas Newman
Production Design - Guy Hendrix Dyas (Production Design) and Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)

This is the story of thousands of people in cryosleep on a spaceship traveling to colonize a new frontier from earth.  Without explanation, one of the passengers, Jim Preston, is awakened early and the loneliness is overwhelming.  Even with a spaceship filled with every kind entertainment, when you're totally alone, it's pretty easy to tire of those diversions.  So, Preston devises a plan to wake up another passenger.  Doing this has its consequences - being roused 90 years before arrival at the destination functionally means that it's highly unlikely that either of them will actually see the place their trying to go.  Once she has gotten her bearings, he must then decide whether to tell her that the malfunction that woke her up was not the same as his, and this dilemma could have a tremendous impact on their long term relationship.  They two are the only people in the world, so he must weigh his options carefully.

Truly one of the best parts of this fun film was the production design.  The set decorators and production designers did an amazing job of letting their imaginations soar without limits to envision what a high priced traveling spaceship might look like in an age where that kind of dream is possible. It's a movie worth seeing and enjoying.

Hail Caesar
Production Design - Jess Gonchor (Production Design) and Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration)

You've never seen the behind the scenes of old Hollywood like this, is what the Coen brothers would like you to think.  The story follows a studio professional whose job it is to keep the veneer of celebrity larger than life and scandal free to the adoring public.  One of the many issues with which he is struggling is that the studio's largest star has been drugged and kidnapped off the set of a huge, high budget film, and is being ransomed for $100,000.  He's got an Esther Williams genre star who is knocked up with no husband.  He's got gossip columnists sniffing around every day to see what they can pick up.

The film is comical but it's just not very funny.  There's little that is memorable about it, and as I write this, I am struggling to remember anything that really stood out for me.  Yes, the production design is old Hollywood, larger than life, and reflects sets like Ben Hur and Neptune's Daughter (two movies that most people reading this surely won't remember), so the clay available to mold by the production designer and set decorator was ripe for excellence.  But even the over the top characters are just cliche enough to be forgotten.  I'm an ardent fan of the Coen brothers, but this film just didn't get it done like so many of their others have.

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