Original score: ‘Finding Neverland’
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek won for his score to “Finding Neverland,” which was also his first nomination.
“I cannot tell you how happy I am,” Kaczmarek said in accepting his award. “I should certainly take this opportunity to, as the first person in the room to thank [Miramax Films co-chairman] Harvey Weinstein for his support.”
“Musicians [are] usually forgotten,” he added. “But [there are] extraordinary people who made music alive. And without them, the best music just doesn’t exist.”
He beat a field that included several nominees who have had many nominations over the years. John Williams, nominated for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” has received an astounding 43 nominations. Thomas Newman, up for his work on “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” is a seven-time nominee. The others were John Debney for “The Passion of the Christ” and James Newton Howard for “The Village.”
The truest intrigue in this category may have occurred before the nominations were even announced, as several high-profile scores were declared ineligible for a variety of reasons -- among them Eastwood’s for “Million Dollar Baby,” Howard Shore’s “The Aviator” and Craig Armstrong’s “Ray.”
Art direction: ‘The Aviator’
Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo
The first award of the evening was also the first to be given out with the new “firing line” format, in which all the nominees were onstage as the winner of the award was announced.
The film with the most nominations overall has historically had a slight edge in the category of art direction, and this gave the advantage to the winners, Dante Ferretti (art direction) and Francesca Lo Schiavo (set decoration) for “The Aviator.”
Their work on the film, for which Ferretti received his eighth nomination and his wife, Lo Schiavo, her sixth, included building a replica of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and re-creations of the legendary Cocoanut Grove nightclub and Howard Hughes’ enormous “Spruce Goose” aircraft.
The other nominees were Gemma Jackson (art direction) and Trisha Edwards (set decoration) for “Finding Neverland,” Anthony Pratt (art direction) and Celia Bobak (set decoration) for “The Phantom of the Opera,” Rick Heinrichs (art director) and Cheryl A. Carasik (set decorator) for “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and Aline Bonetto (art direction) for “A Very Long Engagement.”
Film editing: ‘The Aviator’
The longtime collaborator of Martin Scorsese and widow of director Michael Powell, Thelma Schoonmaker won for her work bringing together the epic strands of the life of Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.”
Schoonmaker had been nominated four times before, winning once for “Raging Bull.” In accepting the award, she acknowledged the notoriously Oscar-deprived Scorsese when she said, “This is really as much yours as it is mine, Marty,” Her comment became particularly bittersweet when later in the evening Scorsese lost in the director’s race.
She concluded by invoking the title of “It’s Not Just You, Murray,” one of the director’s earliest efforts, in saying, “It’s really you, Marty. It’s you.”
Among the other nominees were Jim Miller and Paul Rubell, for “Collateral.” It was the first nomination for Miller and the second for Rubell. Matt Chesse received his first Oscar nomination for “Finding Neverland.”
Joel Cox, a longtime collaborator of Clint Eastwood’s, received his second nomination for “Million Dollar Baby,” and Paul Hirsch, previously a winner for “Star Wars,” was nominated for “Ray.”
MAKEUP: ‘Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events’
Valli O’Reilly and Bill Corso
In another of this year’s much-discussed format changes, the nominees for makeup all remained together in their seats as the nominations were read, with the winners rising to take just a few steps down the aisle to a standing microphone.
The winners, Valli O’Reilly and Bill Corso, created a number of widely different looks for Jim Carrey and others in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
“I’d like to formally apologize to all the actors for making them look so unfortunate,” O’Reilly said, managing to keep a remarkably straight face.
Corso was not so lucky, however, as he sputtered to say that the “Lemony Snicket” novels were “corrupting our children.”
Sound mixing: ‘Ray’
Scott Millan, Bob Beemer, Greg Orloff, Steve Cantamessa
The team behind winner “Ray” was recognized for its deft blending of the life and music of Ray Charles. It was the third win for both Scott Millan and Bob Beemer, and the first nomination for Greg Orloff and Steve Catamessa.
Among the other nominees was Kevin O’Connell of the “Spider-Man 2" team; he lost for a record 16th time. His fellow nominees were Greg P. Russell, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Joseph Geisinger.
Tom Fleischman and Petur Hliddal were nominated for “The Aviator,” and Randy Thom received nominations for his work on both “The Polar Express” and “The Incredibles.” Sharing the nominations with him were Tom Johnson, Dennis Sands and William B. Kaplan for “The Polar Express” and Gary A. Rizzo and Doc Kane for “The Incredibles.”
Live-action short: ‘Wasp’
The live-action short film category was a veritable United Nations of filmmaking. The United States was perhaps noticeably absent, as nominees hailed from Northern Ireland, England, India, New Zealand and Spain.
Winner Andrea Arnold, director of “Wasp,” seemed genuinely taken aback by her award, and in thanking her crew she announced, “The beers are on me when we get home.” She concluded with something that surprisingly made it past television censors when she said, “In English we say, This is the dog’s bollocks.’ ”
Arnold’s film, described as ‘social realist film poetry,’ is the story of a single mother of four who has a big night out with a former boyfriend. Press’ third short film, it features rising British performers Nathalie Press in the lead role and Danny Dyer as the boyfriend.
Whether tweaking the show’s revised format or perhaps just enjoying their moment on world-wide television, as the camera swept down the aisle past nominees Taika Waititi and Ainsley Gardiner, directors of “Two Cars, One Night,” Gardiner slumped in his seat as if asleep until Waititi nudged him “awake.”
Other nominees included Gary McKendry for “Everything in This Country Must,” Nacho Vigalondo for “7:35 in the Morning,” and Ashvin Kumar for “Little Terrorist.”
Sound editing: ‘The Incredibles’
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
“Certain Academy Awards like sound and visual effects and editing are sometimes referred to as technical awards,” said Randy Thom when accepting his award. “They’re not technical awards. They’re given for artistic decisions. And sometimes we make them better than others, and I guess we made a couple of good ones on this one.”
His co-winner in the category, Michael Silvers, said simply, “I’d like to share this with my superheroes, the sound editing crew.”
Just as in the sound mixing category, Thom was nominated for his work on both “The Incredibles” and “The Polar Express.” For “The Polar Express” he was nominated with Dennis Leonard.
Thom’s career total of nominations is 12, starting with “The Right Stuff” in 1983.
Silvers had previously been nominated for his work on “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.”
For “The Incredibles,” the sound-editing team frequently had to invent sound effects based largely on the descriptions of director Brad Bird.
Also nominated was Paul N.J. Ottosson, receiving his first nomination for his work on “Spider-Man 2.”
Foreign-language film: ‘The Sea Inside’
Year in, year out, the foreign-language nominations are met with chatter regarding worthwhile films left out. Chosen as Spain’s entry over Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education,” Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Sea Inside” faced serious competition simply in receiving a nomination.
Anchored by Javier Bardem’s lead performance, the film is based on the true story of a paralyzed man fighting for his right to die. Almodovar’s movie about nefarious priests also lost to Amenabar’s film at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards.
“The Sea Inside” was the 19th Spanish film to receive a nomination and the fourth to win.
Among the other nominated films were Sweden’s “As It Is In Heaven,” France’s “The Chorus,” the German entry “Downfall” and the first South African film to receive a nomination, “Yesterday.”
Costume design: ‘The Aviator’
While it is true to say that all five of this year’s nominees were period pieces, that belies the diversity of work and range of styles they represented.
The winner, Sandy Powell, for her work on “The Aviator,” re-created fashions of the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, and revived the looks of such glamorous icons as Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner.
In creating the costumes for “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” Colleen Atwood imagined the garb of a world with elements of both realism and fantasy. Rounding out the nominees were the antiquarian military garb from Bob Ringwood’s creations on “Troy,” Alexandra Byrne’s Edwardian finery for “Finding Neverland” and Sharen Davis for evoking the more recent past in “Ray.”
Visual effects: ‘Spider-Man 2'
John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier
This category was dominated for the past three years by the “Lord of the Rings” pictures, all three of which
won. When winners John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier took the stage Sunday night to accept for their work on “Spider-Man 2,” Dykstra joked, “Boy, am I glad there wasn’t a fourth episode of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ” otherwise this group likely would not have won.
Other nominees were the team behind “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Roger Guyett, Tim Burke, John Richardson and Bill George, and the creators of the more than 1,000 effects shots in “I, Robot,” John Nelson, Andrew R. Jones, Erik Nash and Joe Letteri.
Documentary short subject: ‘Mighty Times: The Children’s March’
Having battled repeated attempts over the years to be banished to a nonbroadcast portion of the awards, the continuing surge in popularity of feature documentaries would seem to bode well for documentary shorts as well.
Winners Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston were recognized for their work on “Mighty Times: The Children’s March.” The film, a follow-up to their previous Oscar-nominated short, “Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks,” tells the story of a group of schoolchildren in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 who face down dogs, fire hoses and angry opposition to challenge segregation in their town. The duo utilized period music, archival footage and reenactments.
While accepting his award, Hudson said, “I have been sitting in the bathtub since I was 8 years old practicing this Oscar speech.” He then added, “Bob and I live together and we work together. If you’re watching this on TV, don’t try that at home.”
Among the other nominees in this year’s particularly strong group was Gerardine Wurzburg’s “Autism Is a World,” Hanna Polak and Andrzej Celinski’s “The Children of Leningradsky,” Hubert Davis and Erin Faith Young’s “Hardwood,” and Steve Kalafer and Oren Jacoby’s “Sister Rose’s Passion.”
Original song: ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’
‘Al Otro Lado del Rio’ (To the Other Side of the River)
For the first time, a foreign-language song won the Oscar -- “Al Otro Lado del Rio” (To the Other Side of the River), from “The Motorcycle Diaries,” written by Jorge Drexler. As part of his speech, Drexler crooned a few bars.
“Look to Your Path,” music by Bruno Coulais, lyric by Christophe Barratier, from “The Chorus,” marks the second year in a row a French-language song was up.
Adam Duritz, Charles Gillingham, Jim Bogios, David Immergluck, Matthew Mallery, David Bryson and Daniel Vickrey were a record number of nominees, for “Accidentally in Love” in “Shrek 2.”
Also nominated: “Learn to Be Lonely,” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “Believe” from “The Polar Express.”