Tech wizards thrown bone while celebrities get gold

It’s somewhat ironic that in an age of film increasingly dominated by technology, the knob-turners and computer geeks behind the camera are as ignored as they’ve ever been.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had its annual Scientific and Technical Award ceremony Saturday to honor the talent far behind the scenes — essentially, the guys you never hear about.

One of this year’s big recipients was Douglas Trumbull, the man responsible for the iconic “star gate” sequence of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the peerless effects of “Blade Runner,” 30 years old and still more impressive than 99 percent of what comes out today.

Those two achievements alone should make him a household name, but he isn’t and he never will be.

Meanwhile, actors get paid millions and millions to play pretend all day, get revered as modern-day royalty and receive a nice golden statue to top it all off.

Furthermore, despite how integral their contributions are, movie technicians’ methods remain an uninvestigated mystery to the majority of filmgoers.

According to Reuters, actress Milla Jovovich, who was the hostess for Saturday’s banquet-style event, said she didn’t really know what goes on behind the camera.

Apparently on the set of the “Resident Evil” movies, she was always too busy inhabiting her character and imagining what it would really be like to be hunted by zombies to take notice of the people who were almost entirely responsible for the effects-driven franchise.

Actually, that’s not really being fair. Who does take notice?

Remember all the fuss made over “Avatar” at the 2009 Academy Awards? The crowd-favorite going up against such hoity-toity establishment films as “An Education” and “A Serious Man” for best picture? James Cameron battling it out with ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for best director?

Please.

“Avatar” is a movie driven entirely by its special effects (which, to be fair, it did win an award for). It’s not like people were impressed with Zoe Saldana’s powerhouse (motion-capture) performance. And it definitely wasn’t Cameron’s storytelling; the dude clearly just dropped some acid and watched “Dances With Wolves.”

The fact that anyone who spent time working on that film who didn’t spend the entire production slumped in front of a computer got nominated for an award is absurd.

So why not give them the honor they deserve? The Academy’s little banquet seems a bit half-hearted given how important the technical crew is today. Hell, all the award recipients don’t even get that coveted statuette. The awards are divided into three categories, two of which entitle the winner a plaque or, shudder, a certificate of achievement.

Pretty much, the guy who spent countless hours typing the ones and zeros that put “Avatar” up on the big screen could end up with something akin to the perfect attendance award he got in kindergarten.

To remedy this problem, we should honor the technical artists as much as the artsy-artists.

Granted, combining the technical awards with the Oscars would make the already painfully long telecast even more bloated.

But if it means the people who, for better or for worse, actually make most of the biggest movies what they are get the honor they deserve, I think a little trimming wouldn’t be out of turn.

Firstly, if we never have to sit through another cringe-worthy song and dance number — complete with Hugh Jackman, Billy Crystal and, just for good measure, Justin Timberlake all prancing around onstage making topical quips that, for the sake of our psychological health, the only reasonable reaction to is complete denial of their having been uttered — we will all be better off.

Also, what’s the deal with the technical awards they do give out at the Oscars? Best sound and best sound editing? I know, I know, they’re two different things, but why not just make one umbrella award to cover all sound design?

It’s not like I really need to know the difference between the people who made the unbearably fussy, nerve-wracking noise-design for “Transformers” and the people who edited it all together. I’ll be sending mail bombs to all of them in any case.

Would this theoretical hybrid awards ceremony be better than what we’ve already got? Actually, it’d probably be even more unwatchable, but at least it wouldn’t be so remiss.

 


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