Look, I am the last person who wants the Academy Awards broadcast to go on any longer than it already does. And I’ve written extensively about the problems I have with any sort of artistic competition. But if the Oscars are about celebrating excellence in film, then Eastwood and his compatriots deserve recognition, because like every other person who works in film, stunt coordinators take the hypothetical and use it to create a believable illusion — in their case, of someone punching someone else in the face.
For “Mission: Try to Remember Where the Punctuation Marks Go,” Eastwood had one of the most important jobs, and he has no shot at being recognized for his work on any sort of public level. While there’s been a push for such an Oscar category for years, stunt coordinators still remain awardless. You’d think you wouldn’t want to tick off people who could also not-pretend beat you up.
I don’t know how much stunt coordinators have to do with conceiving the stunts, but at some point in the planning of “MI Colon Goes Here,” someone said, “You know what would make a good weapon? A BMW. Going backward.” Someone else came up with “Let’s have a fight scene at the Vienna State Opera. No, backstage! NO! On the catwalk! During ‘Turandot!’ And let’s coordinate it with the music!” And you know there’s probably always someone who wants to throw in a motorcycle or six somewhere.
Action films typically get Oscar love in only a few technical categories — sound mixing, visual effects — and, yes, those are skills vital to the genre. But the most important thing that makes an excellent action film (like “Mission Wait Is This the Colon or the Dash”) is, well, the action, and you can’t have good action with bad brawls.
In one of the new movie’s most thrilling scenes, Rebecca Ferguson faces a bad guy in a knife fight. Everyone who helped put that duel together — from director Christopher McQuarrie to principal costumer Mollie Barr, who chose this totally amazing jacket for Ferguson — could wind up being recognized with an Oscar … except for the person who actually made it happen. It’s enough to make you want to fake-punch somebody. With a BMW. Going backward.
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