Browse Articles by J. Don Birnam

REVIEW: Mortal Kombat Fights for Relevance in World of Violence it Created

April 2021
REVIEW: Mortal Kombat Fights for Relevance in World of Violence it Created

When the original Mortal Kombat arcade game was released in 1992, it was meant as direct competition to and to raise the stakes against the then-popular Street Fighter series. With its unique style of grotesque fighting, daring parents to object and appealing to what video game makers, Hollywood producers and now audiences alike want... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Contender Profile: Mulan’s Oscar-Nominated Costume Designer Bina Daigeler

April 2021
Contender Profile: Mulan’s Oscar-Nominated Costume Designer Bina Daigeler

The Costume Design race at the 93rd Academy Awards heated up in the last few days when the prescient Costume Designers Guild awarded top prizes to the craftspeople behind the garments in Mulan and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — the now presumptive Oscar frontrunners. In Mulan, German Costume Designer Bina Daigeler teamed up with... »

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Posted in Awards, Contender Portfolios, Costume Design, Featured, Film, For Your Consideration, Interviews |

Contender Profile: Costume Designer Massimo Cantini Parrini on Pinocchio

April 2021
Contender Profile: Costume Designer Massimo Cantini Parrini on <em>Pinocchio</em>

This year’s Best Costume Design race at the Academy Awards presents voters a difficult choice between five deserving but different styles of designing actors’ wardrobes. We spoke to Mank’s Trish Sommerville earlier this season, and she squares off against BAFTA, Costume Designers Guild, and Critics Choice winner (and past Oscar winner) Ann Roth (who... »

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Posted in Awards, Contender Portfolios, Costume Design, Featured, Film |

93rd Annual Oscars Spotlight on Make-up and Hair Styling

March 2021
93rd Annual Oscars Spotlight on Make-up and Hair Styling

For the second time in the history of the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling– a category that dates back to the 1982 ceremony– the makeup branch of the Academy has offered up five spectacular nominees for voters to choose from for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards. The nominated makeup and hairstyling teams... »

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Posted in Awards, Contender Portfolios, Featured, Film, For Your Consideration, Makeup |

Diane Warren and Laura Pausini Discuss Oscar-Nominated Song “Io Si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead

March 2021
Diane Warren and Laura Pausini Discuss Oscar-Nominated Song “Io Si (Seen)” from <em>The Life Ahead</em>

After 13 Oscar nominations with no wins, cinematographer Roger Deakins became a sort of Internet meme as one of our most popular, “always a bridesmaid” craftsmen. But what about American songwriting legend Diane Warren? Perhaps you have listened to some of the music she composed, including the Oscar nominated classic hits “I Don’t Want... »

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Posted in Awards, Contender Portfolios, Featured, Film, Interviews, Music |

Craft Spotlight: Pinocchio’s Oscar-Nominated Make-up and Hair Styling Team

March 2021
Craft Spotlight: <em>Pinocchio</em>’s Oscar-Nominated Make-up and Hair Styling Team

Many craft branches of the Academy are famous for looking outside the cadre of Best Picture contenders to find work to reward with nominations. The Make-up and Hair Styling Branch of the Academy is perhaps the most notable for this approach. When the 93rd Academy Award nominations were announced on March 15th, some were... »

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Posted in Awards, Contender Portfolios, Featured, Film, Interviews, Makeup |

Craft Spotlight: I Care A Lot Costume Designer Discusses Rosamund Pike’s Stunning Wardrobe

March 2021
Craft Spotlight: <em>I Care A Lot</em> Costume Designer Discusses Rosamund Pike’s Stunning Wardrobe

Rosamund Pike just won a deserved Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her turn as con artist Marla Grayson in Netflix’s I Care a Lot. As Pike’s character trapezes about scamming senior citizens who live in a retirement community and even engaging in a high-stakes kidnapping, she exudes a... »

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Posted in Costume Design, Featured, Film, Interviews |

Craft Spotlight: Boys State Cinematographer Thorsten Thielow Explains How the Oscar Short-Listed Doc was Filmed

March 2021
Craft Spotlight: Boys State Cinematographer Thorsten Thielow Explains How the Oscar Short-Listed Doc was Filmed

The documentary Boys State is among the dozen or so films on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. Having come out of Sundance in 2020 with a Grand Jury award, the film follows (as the title suggests) a group of young men who are interested in politics as they participate in an informative... »

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Posted in Camera, Featured, Film, Interviews |

The Little Things Makeup Designer Donald Mowat on Making Jared Leto Look Believably Insane

March 2021
<em>The Little Things</em> Makeup Designer Donald Mowat on Making Jared Leto Look Believably Insane

One of Hollywood’s most prolific and sought-after makeup artists, Donald Mowat, is on the short-list for the Academy Awards this year for his work on John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things. Mowat has decades of industry experience, with credits to his name including Blade Runner 2049, Stronger, Sicario, Nightcrawler, The Fighter, and another film about a misunderstood... »

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Posted in Contender Portfolios, Featured, Film, Interviews, Makeup |

United States v. Billie Holiday Production Designer Daniel Dorrance on Recreating Café Society and More

March 2021
<em>United States v. Billie Holiday</em> Production Designer Daniel Dorrance on Recreating Café Society and More

In Lee Daniels’ new film, The United States v. Billie Holiday, we catch a glimpse into the life of the iconic jazz singer during the 1930s and 40s, as she descends into drug abuse and despair while targeted by federal law enforcement officials. Starring Andra Day as Holiday, the period piece required Daniels and... »

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Posted in Art Direction, Featured, Film, Interviews |