The Movieline/Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards: A Night for Appreciation
There aren't many Hollywood events where you might spot Hitchcockian goddess Tippi Hedren, Austrian cinematographer Christian Berger and legendary costume designer Ann Roth strolling the red carpet alongside the ravishing Diane Kruger (with date Joshua Jackson on her arm), the fierce Zoe Saldana, and (500) Days of Summer's fractious -- but pretty damn cute -- couple, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. But then there aren't many ceremonies like the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards -- an event expressly mounted to recognize the achievements of cinema craftsmen and professionals whose work is too often glossed over every awards season.
The fifth edition was presented by yours truly, Movieline, last night at The Highlands in Hollywood. It was a nicely paced, dare we say classy affair, with much credit going to the evening's master of ceremonies: former NY Times film critic, host of KCRW's The Treatment, and Entourage cameoist, Elvis Mitchell. Sporting his signature dreadlocks and Buddy Holly glasses, Mitchell moved things along with witty quips and a series of beautifully conceived introductions. (Introing an award for Dana Glauberman, for example, Mitchell compared the editor's job to that of breathing for the audience.)
There were moments of true spontaneity, such as when Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel eschewed their prepared remarks in favor of a mute presentation of how (500) Days of Summer might have unfolded without the work of Screenwriting Award winners Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. (Needless to say, not much transpired.)
Then there was Roth: Coming after the presentation of the True Grit Director Award to Kathryn Bigelow for her searing, brilliant The Hurt Locker, the grande dame of costume design admitted she felt a little frivolous. Minutes later, though, she'd toss an off-the-cuff remark about never having considered herself "behind the camera. I considered the actors behind my clothes." The audience roared. "I'm just kidding," she clarified. "Sort of." Elvis declared himself a fan when he returned to the podium.
Mostly, though, there was an overwhelming feeling of genuine appreciation, admiration and unfettered sentimentality in that room, and none more so than by Christoph Waltz's presentation of the Behind the Camera Lifetime Achievement to editor Sally Menke, who has edited all of Quentin Tarantino's films. After a moving videotaped message from the director in which he described just how much of a collaboration between director and editor the filmmaking process really is, the Austrian actor took the stage. (To give you a sense of the mutual love fest going on, earlier in the evening, Super Producer of the Year winner Lawrence Bender had described how Waltz had single-handedle saved Inglourious Basterds, by being able to tackle Tarantino's trilingual part not just ably, but brilliantly.)
When it came Waltz's turn to speak, he told a simple story: Trusting his Austrian instincts, he timed his performance in 3/4, or waltz, time: "One two three, on two three." He never told anyone. When he saw the final cut, he realized that Menke had edited the scene in question in 3/4 time. He welled up as he explained how their unspoken symbiosis meant that he had truly felt "understood."
We'll have more from the Behind the Camera Awards news as the day goes on, including red carpet exclusives with Kruger, Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel, Bender, and many more. Our full BTC coverage, including in-depth interviews with all the winners, is available here.
**FIFTH ANNUAL BEHIND THE CAMERA AWARDS:
COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS AND PRESENTERS**
Host: Elvis Mitchell
True Grit Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker, by Bill Paxton
Lawrence Bender, Inglourious Basterds, by Diane Kruger
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, 500 Days of Summer, by Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
John Myhre, Nine, by Rick Yune
Christian Berger, The White Ribbon, by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Dana E. Glauberman, Up in the Air, by Jason Bateman & Anna Kendrick
Ann Roth, Julie & Julia, by Tippi Hedren
Drew Petrotta, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, by Jonathan Tucker
Garrett Warren, Avatar, A Christmas Carol, by Zoe Saldana
Special Visual Effects
Susan MacLeod, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, by Nikki Reed
Lifetime Achievement Award
Sally Menke, film editor, presented by Christoph Waltz with a special taped message from Quentin Tarantino