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The Forgotten Oscars 2012: A Celebration of Unsung Sci-Fi, Horror, and Action Films

Wherein we roll up our sleeves, get angry, and give The Academy a swift punch in the nuts
By MICHAEL NEEL  |  February 27, 2012

Best Cinematography: Karim Hussain forHobo with a Shotgun
Release Date: May 6

Hobo with a Shotgun gives you exactly what it promises: a grizzled, world-weary hobo who becomes a vigilante hero to the downtrodden, fighting crime with his own brand of street justice. Oh, and in case you couldn't figure it out, his gavel is a 20-gauge shotgun.

Such an exploitation film needs only to reach a certain bar to be entertaining — let's face it, if I'm going to see a film called Hobo with a Shotgun, I want to see over-the-top violence, seedy cops and criminals, and a plethora of depravity and bad taste. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that this film was so damn well-made: director Jason Eisener directed the classic uber-gory Christmas horror/comedy Treevenge, wherein Christmas trees fight back after years of being exploited during the holidays, and he is perfectly suited to make Hobo with a Shotgun much more than an average genre flick. The plot, although simple, is well told, the unbelievably excessive violence is creative and original, and the acting is top notch. Genre legend Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Hitcher, Sin City, and 134 more roles) plays the titular Hobo with so much nuance and attention to physical and emotional detail — far more than the part requires — that you can't help but love his grizzled, shotgun-wielding persona.

[READ:Phoenix review of Hobo with a Shotgun]

One of the big reasons for this film's success is Karim Hussain's cinematography. He shows an exquisite mastery of color palette, with hues so saturated that they verge on the surreal. This effect isn't just mesmerizing and compelling, it's based in film history: many of the low-budget exploitation films of the 1970s were shot on 16mm reversal film, which creates the same highly saturated colors. Hobo with a Shotgun feels like it could have come from that era, even though Hobo wasn't shot on 16mm at all — it was filmed digitally and manipulated in post-production to mimic the 16mm look, an example of Hussain's (and his post production team's) true mastery of the medium. The cinematography creates a mood that perfectly fits the movie: not only the colors but the exaggerated angles, camera movement, and compositions stylize the film's world so that Hobo with a Shotgun is fun and exciting, not sullen and depressing. Gut-slitting, blood-bathing, decapitations, and countless shotgun-induced exploding body parts have never been this much fun.

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