|Posted on January 5, 2011 at 12:33 AM|
Awards are stupid. They just are. It's hard to just point to one single thing and say "you, there...yeah you're the best. Now take your little gold action figure." So because of my stubborn stance, I have decided to give out some awards to one single person/movie.
Some people get "directing" and "cinematography" confused. Cinematography is the photographic element of what you see on screen. How things are placed, lit and so forth. It's photography only in motion. If I were to choose that, The Social Network or True Grit would be my choices.
Directing is keeping everything in line. Knowing how to set the scene, frame the shot and get what you need from the actors to make the story work. The best directing in a film I saw probably would need to be The Social Network. Every single scene, shot and cut was with purpose. That combined with the scope of the story makes it even that more impressive. Fincher will go down as one of the greats when it's all said and done, and it's far from done.
Second choices would be Inception, for pretty much the same reasons, and The King's Speech.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network
So many movies are adapted from books, and so many of this year's best were adapted from books...so how can I choose just one? True Grit? The Social Network? Winter's Bone? The Town? The Ghost Writer?
Hell if I can choose just one, but I think if push comes to shove, Sorkin's The Social Network was just fantastic. That script MADE that movie. Period. The dialogue demands repeated watching and the flow and consistency and the ability to keep everything in perspective and clear is an impressive feat.
Best Original Screenplay
(tie) Black Swan, Inception
It's really down to Black Swan and Inception for me. Both are hugely original and amazing bits of writing and to see two wildly original ideas not based on anything and the writers and filmmakers just running with it was a great thing to see. The film snob in me will probably say The King's Speech as well, but really, Black Swan and Inception all the way.
Best Special Effects
Chris Nolan's approach to special effects are really how they should always be done. He's very practical and uses computer effects only when it can really help add to a scene. He does that sparingly in Inception, making the moments when major things happen that much more impressive. The now-classic rotating hallway fightscene, the train engine steamrolling down a busy street and the countless dream locations were all done on actual sets with actual, tangible things, so when you see stuff like limbo and upside down cities, it just takes your breath away even more.
(ties) Wall Street Money Never Sleeps, Tron: Legacy and The Social Network.
All soundtracks were just amazing. You have David Byrne and Brian Eno re-creating an 80s sound for Wall Street, Daft Punk making music a character itself in Tron and Trent Reznor creating one of the most unique sounding scores I've ever heard in The Social Network. I loved all these soundtracks.
Best Artistic Design
Scott Pilgrim versus the World
It's literally a living, breathing comic book come to life with odes and homages in every single corner. It demands repeating because you can easily miss a little minor thing that could get you to laugh or say "wow, that's cool." Nothing looks like Scott Pilgrim because most movies wouldn't dare.
Best Direct to DVD Movie Award
Batman: Under the Red Hood
Didn't see a ton of these, but if you haven't seen Batman: Under the Red Hood, you are doing yourself a disservice. It's a pretty mature, adult-oriented piece of animation from a studio that has been bringing out some damn good direct to DVD animated features the past couple of years. This is probably their best yet and highly enjoyable. A good runner up is Altitude, a Lovecraft-inspired thriller with tentacles to boot. Runner up here is the surprisingly well done Universal Solider Regeneration..or whatever it was called. Not as memorable, but some great action in that one.
Movie With the Most Wasted Potential Award
It all boiled down to The Expendables having a cool cast and lots of action. Well, it got the cast, but missed the action as Stallone simply has shown he is unable to handle action sequences. It's not nearly as funny or witty as it should be (The A-Team takes that crown) and it's not as well-directed as it needs to be (Salt and Red taking that other crown). It was supposed to be the action movie of the year, it had all the elements in place, and it just squandered it. The Tourist is the close second.
The "I guess I can't put this on my awards list " Award
(ties) The Good the Bad and the Weird, Mother, A Prophet
All those films are damn good movies. In fact, The Good The Bad and the Weird is one of my favorite action flicks ever. Here's the thing, while they really weren't seen until 2010, all three come from 2009 (I think GBW is from 2008, as well). In fact, both Mother and A Prophet were up for awards at the end of last year, A Prophet nominated for an Oscar (Mother was submitted but did not get in). It would seem a little unjust to put them on a list, even if I did only see them until this year. But if you close your eyes.
No, don't do that, then you can't read. Ok, imagine my Top 25, The Good the Bad and the Weird (an old movie, mind you) would have been top 10 easily, Mother in the Top 15 and A Prophet probably near the bottom around The Crazies area. All fantastic movies, but I'm going by Awards submission criteria - the same reasons I won't put The Way Back on next year's list, even though it's not out until 2011 it's being submitted this year for awards consideration.
The "You Almost Had It" Award.
(Movies that were damn near good to great, but just lost their footing towards the end)
(tie) Kick Ass and The Kids are All Right
Both enjoyable films, but both films contradict their own purpose. In Kick Ass, we have a hero that takes a stand and is a moral compass. Eventually it mixes up its message and says the only way to achieve anything is to kill people, which is not what that other stance that's meant to parallel our lovely Hit-Girl and Big Daddy is meant to do. Close, but no cigar, and I've heard the comic actually sees it far better at the end.
The Kids are All Right seems to throw it's ideals out the window as it closes out as well, turning realism into melodrama and not ending itself effectively. The final moments feel like a writer that didn't quite know how to end it and just decided to make it work best they could. A good film, but damn was it close to being great.
So many films could be put in here, though. The Wolfman comes to mind, but that one had so many issues I wouldn't know where to begin...but some things it got right it really got right.
The "Your Character is Too Dislikable to Care About" Award. (Movies that have mixed messages)
I Love You Phillip Morris and Barney's Version
The problem with some films is they have characters they want us to like and sympathize with, but never take the time to give us reasons to do so. In the Case of I Love You Phillip Morris, Steven (Jim Carrey) is someone we're supposed to applaud and care for as he loves (or obsesses) over Phillip (Ewan McGregor). It wants to be funny and irreverent, but then you have to remind yourself that Steven abandoned his family behind it all. Just decided he wanted to be gay. They didn't do anything to deserve that.
In the case of Barney's Version, Barney is just too much of an asshole to care about, selfish and insincere to where we don't even know if we can believe what he says. Bad things do happen to the guy, but instead of routing for him, we pity him in that "I would care if he wasn't such an ass" kind of way. Neither film I fully recommend in seeing based on the characters alone - unfortunate as Carrey and Giamatti are great actors and do their respective bests.
The "In Three Years, People Will Love This Movie" Award (Cult Award)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Wold
There is simply nothing like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Judging by its sub-bar box office success, there probably won't be anything like it ever again. It's a one-of-a-kind movie and I think over time it will become a classic. It had good success on DVD/Blu Ray and Edgar Wright and the cast have been promoting the hell out of that (including a local get-together at Amoeba records which I sadly missed on...as well as the screening...blast!) Right now, it's niche. Over time, it's going to be regarded as a cult favorite.
Movie that Exceeded Its Own Concept Award
I was close to putting The Social Network here, afterall it's a movie that on paper is about Facebook but went beyond that to be a commentary on an entire generation, but this early 2010 thriller kept nagging at me. The Crazies could have just been another horror flick. Put in some violence and blood and voila, easy money. Instead, though, the filmmakers went above the call of duty and crafted a damn fine thriller movie that outdoes the very-average original film by a considerable margin. It all starts with the casting. Rather than making this another teenage-sex filled dumb horror flick, they put in actual actors and adults into the thing. That already has a dose of credibility going for it. Then you have a damn-fine paced script with pitch-perfect reveals and a satisfying end. A testament that you shouldn't throw off the idea of "remakes" so haphazardly, it was one of the best horror/thrillers of the past few years and one of the best remakes of all time, on par with The Thing and The Fly as an instant classic.
The "Now You See It, Now You Don't" Award
If there's one movie that just came and went and completely forgotten, it has to Robin Hood. A large scale production with Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe tackling one of greatest figures? Well, mixed reviews and bad word of mouth made it vanished quickly. It was bland and, for the most part, uninspired. Now I will give Scott the benefit of the doubt, I won't call it a "failure" until I see the director's cut. As anyone can tell you, the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven vastly improved the film, making it one of Scott's best. It was tighter, better paced, had more character development and was just an overall better movie. It probably would have one the same award when it was released, because by all accounts it should have been a hit. Robin Hood...we'll wait and see, but right now it's a very forgettable movie.
The "Glad to See You" Award
Given to an actor or filmmaker that we just haven't seen in a while that really came on this year, this one should be pretty obvious. Director Peter Weir's passion project was great to see on many levels, not least of which to see classic epic filmmaking on screen again as we cross Siberia, Mongolia, the Himalayas and eventually India to tell this story. Ambitious as usual from Weir and he really is one of those directors you don't realize you've missed until he comes out with another film, this one seven years after his previous one.
The "Please go Away" Award
Yeah, maybe this should be for M. Night, but really, his Night Chronicles probably saved him from the axe because I'm curious where that might go, so I don't want him to go away just yet. But I really need a break from parody movies. I don't even bother to see them. They're never funny and are forgotten about in a year...but goddamn it they rake in the cash because, I guess, the moviegoing audience just doesn't know better. Maybe they're holding out for hope that it might be good, but it's been so beaten to death the best thing the entire genre can do is die for a few years then come back with something good. It's overdone and out of jokes. Hell, it's been out of jokes for twenty years.
Most Pathetic Oscar Bait Award
Frankie and Alice
I said in the review of Frankie and Alice that I really don't like the term "Oscar bait." But I'm having this category made special because there is no other term for the film. It's not due out until next year, February, in limited to release but the distributor rushed it out to one little theater in Los Angeles just so it could qualify for awards season. It then had itself a campaign aimed for Halle Berry, who is a producer of the film as well I might add, to get her nominations. Sure, there's barely any reviews for the film, but the few critics that have managed to see it have offered up mixed reactions. Why? Because the film isn't very good, that's why. Sure, Berry is fine, but it's so obvious in its purpose that it's utterly pathetic. It knows it would be forgotten in 2011, so rush it out the door at the last minute in 2010, throw money at the campaign and see what you get.
The "I'm not giving you an award but you rocked" Award
I can't give Carlos a spot on my Top 25 films of 2010...because it's not a film. It's a mini series that was cut down to theatrical length to qualify for awards. Sure, that's fine and all, but I'm not going to award some stripped down version of the thing like the LA Critics Circle did, for some reason, and I can probably guarantee that they had the five hour version in mind even though it's the two and a half hour version one that qualifies as a "feature." Still, though, it's a fantastic series and I would recommend catching it when the full release emerges someday. I don't know what the future US DVD release will be, I have a feeling just the shorter version, but get the five+ hour one if you can.
Doubly so for..
I Saw the Devil
I don't think this is officially out until 2011 despite being seen around this year in foreign lands, this little brilliant (I need to watch it again, because I can't do a review to do it justice just yet) little flick from Kim Jee Woon is premiering at Sundance next year and I'm sure will be much talked about. ...this is one hell of a movie. I know my review is well overdue on it, but I'll get to this eventually. I expect this on my list for next year, certainly as it known suspense and tension as well as you can ask for and is one of the best revenge thrillers...possibly ever.
The Underappreciated Movie Award
Really, this should probably go to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. But that's too easy of a pick. So instead, I'm going with my pals the Spierig Brothers and their sci-fi/horror flick Daybreakers. Why? a) they actually made vampires seem fresh again. b) it's ambitious for its modest budget - you certainly have not seen a film quite like it and c) it has a damn good little cast going on as well. Yeah, I'm biased here. I know Peter and Michael well. I'll also be the first to say it's not a film that is perfect. It has some plotting issues. But it also has a great look and atmosphere and made vampires vampires again and retains the vampire mythology while re-molding it into something unique (in other words, succeeding where Twilight failed). I enjoyed it quite a bit but applaud its willingness to do something really new even more.
Best Sex Scene
A good sex scene doesn't need nudity or anything like that. I prefer a scene that has meaning and weight to it (but still be hot, you know). There were three candidates: Black Swan (obviously), Blue Valentine and Chloe. Here it's the strange seductive quality between Julianne Moore and Amanda Seifried in Chloe that gets the nod and probably something else. It's an intense scene that is not only sexy, but actually has a purpose. In other words, it's not just gratuitous but gives a little meaning to the plot.
Best Fight Scene
Sure, it's no Gymkata, but the wonderfully done scenes of Hit Girl and Big Daddy were the show-stealers (for better or worse) of Kick Ass. Nicely directed. Specifically, though, the scene of Big Daddy taking out the baddies in the warehouse is probably the one that really did it for me. It's short, but just great...plus it's Nic Cage. It was a close call because Scott Pilgrim also had some nicely done and inventive fight sequences, but this is what Kick Ass made its name with.
New Filmmaker to keep an Eye On
Sure, I lambasted Monsters and even put it on my worst of the year list, but for a debut feature...it's a damn good foundation for a filmmaker to build on. The low budget both helped and hindered Monsters at times, but I certainly won't say the directing was the worst part of it. He really was able to make something out of nothing and show a lot of potential for a future genre director.
The Sequel Syndrome Award
Iron Man 2
You know, one thing I have to say about 2010 is it didn't have too many sequels happening. So really, because there's not a ton to choose from, you kind of just have to choose Iron Man 2 by default. What Sequel Syndrome is, basically, is a movie that just had a ton to live up to and probably, unfairly, didn't quite get out of its predecessor's shadow. Still, though, it's still a good movie. Far from bad and it at least carries over the tone and feel of the first one. As good as we saw in the first? Not exactly. But still highly enjoyable as watching a man in a flying metal suit can be.
And that's it for 2010 everybody. Hope you enjoyed these stupid awards, because it's awards season and now it's time for all the actors, producers and directors to take everything overly seriously.