Digital Polyphony

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Movies of 2012: Best Individual Categories

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 12:25 AM

Part three, and then a final list of my favorite movies this Friday.

Best Actor

Favorite: Yes, the given right now is Daniel-Day Lewis in Lincoln, and I won't argue. He's more than deserving. For me, though, it's Jack Black in Bernie. I just love the turn here and would love to see him get a nod for it. He probably won't, but he's deserving.

Runners Up: Denzel Washington in Flight, creating a contemplative and seemingly personal character study of a man's regrets.

Richard Gere in Arbitrage.

Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook showing his range as a man with mental illness in a movie that's surprsingly funny without undermining that drama.

Everyone in Django Unchained.

John Hawkes in The Sessions, a surprisingly funny movie with Hawkes really carrying it all on his shoulders. It's only as good as he is, and he's damn good.

Anders Danielsen Lie in Oslo, August 31st. Another substance-abuse film, but much more thought-provoking and, arguably, heart-breaking. Anders quietly shows us a very candid, and I have a feeling very personal, performance of a man struggling to stay sober.

Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson. Likely to go overlooked, Murray is charming, funny, sincere and delivers his lines with assuredly that he is absolutely FDR. It's not hammy or cheesy, but a very subtle performance by a pretty under appreciated actor. People love him for comedy, but he can act when he really wants to.

Tom Hanks, who won't even get acknowledged I'm sure, in Cloud Atlas.

Best Actress

Favorite: Quvenzhané Wallis in Bests of the Southern Wild.There's no question here for me. Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild commands the screen every step of the way and you will absolutely fall in love with her and with her character, Hushpuppy.

Runners Up: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Llinings Playbook.

Marion Cottiard in Rust and Bone testing your emotional fortitude.

Judi Dench in Skyfall bringing a very grounded, human side to the story.

Naomi Watts in The Impossible, a movie that asks a ton of her and she does it in stride.

Helen Hunt in The Sessions, likely to be nominated for Best Supporting.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Smashed opposte Pinkman.

Kara Kaywood in Moonrise Kingdom, sweet and charming in a movie that's sweet and charming.

Extra: Actors who I seemed completely unable to avoid: Mark Duplass and John Goodman

Duplass and Goodman seemed to be in every movie this year, and even some made last year that were just now released this year. Duplass showed up in Your Sister's Sister, the indie-darling Safety Not Guaranteed, the melodrama People Like Us and the thriller, Zero Dark Thirty.  Goodman was in Argo, Trouble With the Cruve, Flight and had a small voice stint in ParaNorman. I think it's a rule that if you're going to make a movie, it has to have a character geared towards one of these guys. Not that I'm complaining, I loved both, Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed and Goodman in Flight especially.

Best Screenplay

Oh man, so many great ones here. I don't know if there's a "clear" winner in this regard because there's so much variety. There's great cahracter pieces, great comedies, great adaptation and even great handling of bit "blockbuster" movies that, to me, raised the bar on how those movies should be written.

Favorite: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained. A movie that dares to one-up itself even when you think it's nearing an end. One of the most satisfying stories put to screen this year.

Runners Up: Joss Whedon for The Avengers. Rian Johnson for Looper. Tony Kushner for Lincoln. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom. Chris Terrio for Argo. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan for Skyfall.

If an award was given for ambition alone: Cloud Atlas. Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski made a film not about a singular story, but about an idea. I think they pulled it off.

Best Score

Not really one in particular here, but Beasts of the Southern Wild still resonates with me. The Hobbit, Cloud Atlas and Lincoln also all had fantastic socres.

Best Visual Effects

Favorite: Cloud Atlas, based on variety alone, really. It has everything and attempts everything, and all those shots always look good.

Runners Up: The Hobbit, Skyfall, The Avengers, Life of Pi and I'll throw in Prometheus which certainly had a good looking aesthetic to it.

Best Cinematography

Some damn good looking movies out this year.

Favorite: Anna Karenina. You can pretty much tell from the trailer alone that this is a good looking movie. It's Joe Wright with cinematographer Seamus McGarvey again (who also did The Avengers this year, I might add)

Runners Up: Linus Sandgren for Promised Land. Mihai Malaimare Jr. for The Master. Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi. Óscar Faura for The Impossible. Ben Richardson for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Roger Deakins for Skyfall. Janusz Kaminski for Lincoln. Frank Griebe and John Toll for Cloud Atlas. Danny Cohen for Les Miserables.

Best Directing:

We kind of know the favorites at this point, don't we? It's a strong year, but I'm thinking smaller here. As much as I loved the near-impressionist paiting of Ang Lee's Life of Pi or the intimate portrait in Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz or the ability to just construct a compelling thriller without resorting to cliche with Affleck's Argo and Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, it really came down to just one movie for me.

Favorite: Wes Anderson for Moonrise Kingdom. It's "typical" Anderson style, but I feel it's his most focused movie to the point where you can truly feel his command of every single scene that comes along. Some might call that a director drawing attention to himself, I say it's just an understanding of presentation.

Runners Up: Rian Johnson for Looper. Sam Mendes for Skyfall. Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Sarah Polley for Take This Waltz. Ben Affleck for Argo. Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. Juan Antonio Bayona for The Impossible. Paul Thomas Anderson for the Master. Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. And certainly Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained.

If an award was given for ambition alone: Cloud Atlas. I loved Cloud Atlas. A lot, actually. It's unique and ambitous, the way movies like that should be, so a quick nod to the three directors, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, for even attempting it.

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