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January 2014

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By Iain Blair I n terms of Oscar-worthy films, 2013 followed the usual release pattern; the first eight or nine months of the year saw a handful of potential contenders, including Fruitvale Station, The Great Gatsby, Lee Daniels' The Butler, Mud and Blue Jasmine, but it's in the final stretch where the studios stack up serious projects (along with a few more light-hearted movies) such as Nebraska, 12 Years A Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Mandela; Long Walk To Freedom, Lone Survivor, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Book Thief, American Hustle, All Is Lost, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, Her, Philomena, Labor Day, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks. Will Oscar as usual turn a blind eye to earlier releases in favor of the year-end releases? Impossible to tell, but with all that in mind, we now look into our crystal ball and present our annual top picks list of likely nominees. BEST PICTURE/BEST DIRECTOR/EDITING & SOUND Looking like an Oscar certainty, 12 Years A Slave, based on a true story, is a harrowing tale of a free black man who's kidnapped and forced into slavery in the 1840s. To keep his ensemble film looking as authentic as possible, British director Steve McQueen, who called his shoot "as hard as it looks," decided to shoot in Louisiana at four old plantations near New Orleans. DP Sean Bobbitt, who also shot McQueen's Shame and Hunger, used Arri cameras and the production benefited from the state's aggressive tax breaks, which reportedly kept the budget under $25 million. It was edited by Joe Walker, who cut Shame and Hunger, and who reports the film was shot through Cooke S4 lenses onto 4-perf 35mm, full frame, cropped to 2:35 in the cutting room. The film was processed and transferred to digital by a local lab, CineWorks. "We had a very simple set up, with Unity connecting an Avid in my room (running Version and another in my assistant's," he notes. "For the Avid media we chose DNxHD 115, which looked great — even in the enormous theatres where we had test screenings. We managed to sidestep picture conforms for these, deriving the images direct from Avid. For some of the earlier production screenings we used a Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle 2, which uses a solid state drive to connect via HDSDI direct to the 2K projector and avoids tape decks and DCPs." Walker reports that McQueen shoots "very economically — we stored no more than 6TBs of media. My assistant Javier Marcheselli used Nuke to finesse temp VFX and I used a fair amount of

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