Saturday, January 14, 2017

2011--The Year in Review

As usual per the year in movies in the current era, I started off thinking this was the worst time ever to be a movie lover. But, by the fall, I began to see an extraordinary collection of largely contemplative films that were, in one way or another, pining for the past. Nostalgia is the dominant theme in 2011's movies: one could lump Midnight in Paris, The Artist, War Horse, Hugo, The Tree of Life, General Orders No. 9, and George Harrison: Living in the Material World all into a category wanting for the comforts and justice of bygone eras, presumably because the present is so trying. Also, the prevalence of end-of-the-world scenarios in films like Melancholia, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Another Earth, Contagion, Take Shelter and 4:44: Last Day on Earth is related to worldwide discord being felt by many. But I also found 2011's films also to be filled with a shining love of life, nature and humanity. It was a resolutely extraordinary period for film, and many of these in my top 25 will deserve to be studied again and again in the future.

Chief among these subjects will certainly be Terrence Malick's resolute masterpiece The Tree of Life, his radically unique take on a family drama centered in on a Texas clan led by a stern father (Brad Pitt) and a dreamy mother (Jessica Chastain, an actress who had a superb year with breakthrough roles in this, The Help, Coriolanus, and Take Shelter). The Tree of Life, with its dazzling tour through the world's biggest and smallest events, certainly deserves to be the third Best Picture spot I have awarded to this one-of-a-kind director. My thoughts on the film are best expressed in my review, which you can see here. But, from that review, I offer this: "Malick's filmic thoughts are resolutely unlike anything mainstream audiences of narrative cinematic storytelling have been treated to since Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I guarantee 99% of the audience watching the film with you when you see The Tree of Life have never experienced anything like it. That includes you, and me, too, really. Most viewers will be angry at the ultimate conclusion to Malick's film, because it doesn't conform to a paying customer's plotline/revelation payoff. But those who are disappointed will be regretful, or perhaps angry with their own reactions to the film itself 20 years down the line, where it will be commonly seen as one of cinema's most unparalleled visions. So comparisons to the similarly singular, divisive, fantastic 2001 are just. This is a movie for the ages. It's rare to see such a work, but here it is, in front of our eyes."

It hurts, though, to have to ignore other great movies from this year in this process. I had to find room for Nuri Birge Ceylan's stunning Turkish crime drama Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, a gorgeous and emotionally draining yarn that grabbed me from its very first well-constructed minutes and never let go (it contains my favorite shot of the year--an apple's slow motion tumble from the tree to a brook filled with rotting fruit). Asghar Farhedi's tense Iranian divorce drama A Separation likewise had me ensnared in its complex machinations early on, as its screenplay and cast were just too brilliant to ignore (Sareh Bayat, as the fractured family's caregiver who finds her family caught up in another's drama, had to emerge as my top Supporting Actress). The best mainstream Hollywood movie of the year was Bennett Miller's Moneyball, a highly entertaining account of a failing baseball team's winning foray into a controversially exacting brand of sports analysis; the movie was commanded by two fantastic performances--one from Brad Pitt, in his finest hour here as victory-hungry Oakland A's manager Billy Beane, and another from Jonah Hill, a comedic performer who achieved instant character actor status as Beane's apprehensive lead statistician.

Meanwhile, the Best Actress race was led by Kirsten Dunst as the heavily depressed bride in Lars Von Trier's apocalyptic Melancholia, Tilda Swinton as the overwhelmed mother of a psychopathic child in Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Anna Paquin as a manic teenager seeking justice for a fatal accident she had a hand in causing in Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, an unfortunately troubled production that really wouldn't get widely seen for a couple of years. It was a tough race, there, but I eventually found for the actress that I though dug deepest into her own soul than any other (and this was not an easy decision). I should also point out my adoration for perhaps the most little-known movie in my top ten, a decade-in-the-making labor of love by Georgia filmmaker Robert Persons dealing with the changing face of the Southern United States and, indeed, the ecological transformation affecting the world entire, in his poetic, beautifully photographed documentary General Orders No. 9; if you are a fan of Malick's The Tree of Life, then you definitely must make time for this work that could stand as its wholly in-step companion piece. With other superb films like Oslo, 31st August, Footnote, Take This Waltz, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, The Kid with a Bike, Goodbye First Love, Damsels in Distress, Silent Souls, Bridesmaids, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Pina, Buck, Contagion and Martha Marcy May Marlene, we can see now this was a shining year for world cinema. Even though I would've chosen differently, I don't even have a serious issue with Michel Hazanavicius' lovely ode to silent cinema The Artist as a Best Picture choice. In its own lighthearted fashion, it, too, was a film totally in keeping with the high quality of film work completed in 2011. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.

PICTURE: THE TREE OF LIFE (US, Terrence Malick) (2nd: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan), followed by: A Separation (Iran, Asghar Farhadi); Melancholia (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Moneyball (US, Bennett Miller); Margaret (US, Kenneth Lonergan); General Orders No. 9 (US, Robert Persons); The Artist (France, Michel Hazanavicius); Oslo, 31st August (Norway, Joachim Trier); Footnote (Israel, Joseph Cedar); We Need to Talk About Kevin (UK/US, Lynne Ramsay); Take This Waltz (Canada, Sarah Polley); Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (US, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky); The Kid with a Bike (France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Goodbye, First Love (France, Mia Hansen-Love); Damsels in Distress (US, Whit Stillman); Silent Souls (Russia, Aleksey Fedorchenko); Bridesmaids (US, Paul Feig); George Harrison: Living in the Material World (US, Martin Scorsese); Pina (Germany, Wim Wenders); Contagion (US, Steven Soderburgh); 5 Broken Cameras (Palestine, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi); Martha Marcy May Marlene (US, Sean Durkin); A Little Help (US, Michael J. Weithorn); Buck (US, Cindy Meehl); Win Win (US, Thomas McCarthy); There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (US, Liz Garbus); The Deep Blue Sea (UK, Terence Davies); The Autobiography of Nicholas Ceausescu (Romania/Germany, Andrei Ujica); Killer Joe (US, William Friedkin); A Dangerous Method (Canada, David Cronenberg); Tyrannosaur (UK, Paddy Considine); Play (Sweden, Rüben Ostlund); Hanna (US/UK, Joe Wright); The Inturrupters (US, Steve James); Into The Abyss (US/Germany, Werner Herzog); Winnie The Pooh (US, Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall); Pariah (US, Dee Rees); The Descendants (US, Alexander Payne); Warrior (US, Gavin O’Connor); The Future (US, Miranda July); The Devil’s Double (Belgium/Netherlands, Lee Tamahori); Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (UK, Tomas Alfredson); War Horse (US, Steven Spielberg); Source Code (US, Duncan Jones); Project Nim (US, James Marsh); Meek's Cutoff (US, Kelly Reichardt); Habemus Papam (Italy, Nanni Moretti); The Guard (Ireland, Michael McDonagh); The Raid (Indonesia, Gareth Evans); 50/50 (US, Jonathan Levine); Young Adult (US, Jason Reitman); The Help (US, Tate Taylor); Margin Call (US, J.C. Chandor); The Beaver (US, Jodie Foster); The Skin I Live In (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); In Darkness (Germany/Poland, Agnieszka Holland); Jane Eyre (UK, Cary Fukunaga); Disabled but Able to Rock (US, Blake Myers); Elena (Russia, Andrei Zvyagintsev); 4:44: Last Day on Earth (US, Abel Ferrara); Red State (US, Kevin Smith); Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (US, Brad Bird); My Week With Marilyn (UK/US, Simon Curtis), Crazy Stupid Love (US, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa); Take Shelter (US, Jeff Nichols); Paul (US, Greg Mottola); The Muppets (US, James Bobin); Hugo (US/UK, Martin Scorsese); Rango (US, Gore Verbinski); The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US, David Fincher); Carnage (US/France, Roman Polanski); Puss in Boots (US, Chris Miller); Coriolanus (UK/US, Ralph Fiennes); The Ides of March (US, George Clooney); Midnight in Paris (US, Woody Allen); Sleeping Sickness (Germany, Ulrich Köhler); Beginners (US, Mike Mills); Attack the Block (UK, Joe Cornish); The Mill and the Cross (Sweden/Poland/UK, Lech Majewski); Drive (US, Nicolas Winding Refn); Shame (UK, Steve McQueen); Rise of the Planet of the Apes (US, Rupert Wyatt); Super 8 (US, J.J. Abrams); Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (US, Stephen Daldry); Sucker Punch (US, Zack Snyder); The Iron Lady (US, Phyllida Lloyd); J. Edgar (US, Clint Eastwood); Restless (US, Gus Van Sant))



ACTOR: Brad Pitt, MONEYBALL (2nd: Jean Dujardin, The Artist, followed by: Anders Danielsen Lie, Oslo August 31st; Peyman Moaadi, A Separation; Peter Mullan, Tyrannosaur; Dominic Cooper, The Devil’s Double; Mel Gibson, The Beaver; Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe)



ACTRESS: Kirsten Dunst, MELANCHOLIA (2nd: Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin, followed by: Anna Paquin, Margaret; Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy Mae Marlene; Leila Hatami, A Separation; Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jonah Hill, MONEYBALL (2nd: Lior Ashkenazi, Footnote, followed by: Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close;  Albert Brooks, Drive; Nick Nolte, Warrior; Taner Birsel, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia; Christopher Plummer, Beginners)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sareh Bayat, A SEPARATION (2nd: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melancholia, followed by: J. Smith Cameron, Margaret; Jeannie Berlin, Margaret; Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids; Carey Mulligan, Shame; Octavia Spencer, The Help; Jennifer Ehle, Contagion)



DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick, THE TREE OF LIFE (2nd: Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, followed by: Lars Von Trier, Melancholia; Asghar Farhedi, A Separation; Bennett Miller, Moneyball; Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Robert Persons, General Orders No. 9; Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan) (2nd: A Separation (Iran, Asghar Farhedi), followed by: Oslo 31st August (Norway, Joachim Trier); Footnote (Israel, Joseph Cedar); The Kid with a Bike (France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Silent Souls (Russia, Aleksey Fedorchenko); Goodbye, First Love (France, Mia Hansen-Love); Pina (Germany, Wim Wenders); Play (Sweden, Rüben Ostlund); Habemus Papam (Italy, Nanni Moretti); The Raid (Indonesia, Gareth Evans); The Skin I Live In (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); In Darkness (Germany/Poland, Agnieszka Holland); Elena (Russia, Andrei Zvyagintsev); Sleeping Sickness (Germany, Ulrich Köhler); The Mill and the Cross (Sweden/ Poland/UK, Lech Majewski))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9 (US, Robert Persons) (2nd: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (US, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky), followed by: George Harrison: Living in the Material World (US, Martin Scorsese); Pina (Germany/France/UK, Wim Wenders); 5 Broken Cameras (Palestine, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi); There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (US, Liz Garbus); The Autobiography of Nicholas Ceausescu (Romania/Germany, Andrei Ujica); Buck (US, Cindy Meehl); The Inturrupters (US, Steve James); Into The Abyss (US/Germany, Werner Herzog); Project Nim (US, James Marsh); Disabled but Able to Rock (US, Blake Myers))


ANIMATED FEATURE: WINNIE THE POOH (US, Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall) (2nd: Rango (US, Gore Verbinski), followed by: Puss in Boots (US, Chris Miller))



ANIMATED SHORT: THE THOMAS BEALE CIPHER (US, Andrew S. Allen) (2nd: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (US, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburgh), followed by: La Luna (US, Enrico Casarosa); These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us (US, Michael Robinson))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: THE SHORE (Ireland, Terry George) (2nd: Time Freak (US, Andrew Bowler), followed by: Bear (US, Nash Edgerton); Sati Shaves Her Head (US, Tejal Shah))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Asghar Farhedi, A SEPARATION (2nd: Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret, followed by: Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Ercan Kesal, Once Upon A Time in Anatolia; Sarah Polley, Take This Waltz; Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin, MONEYBALL (2nd: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt, Olso 31st August, followed by: Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants; Christopher Hampton, A Dangerous Method)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki, THE TREE OF LIFE (2nd: Gohkan Tiraki, Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, followed by: Robert Persons, General Orders No. 9; Manuel Alberto Claro, Melancholia; Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist)


ART DIRECTION: HUGO, The Tree of Life, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Artist, Anonymous

COSTUME DESIGN: THE ARTIST, The Skin I Live In, The Mill and The Cross, Anonymous, Immortals



FILM EDITING: MONEYBALL, The Artist, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Contagion, The Tree of Life
 


SOUND: THE TREE OF LIFE, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, Hugo, Moneyball



SOUND EFFECTS: WAR HORSE, Super 8, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo



ORIGINAL SCORE: Ludovic Bource, THE ARTIST (2nd: Amit Poznansky, Footnote, followed by: Alberto Iglesias, The Skin I Live In; Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Tom Rowland and Ed Simons, Hanna)



ORIGINAL SONG: “So Long” from WINNIE THE POOH (Music and lyrics by Zooey Deschanel) (2nd: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets (Music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie), followed by: "The Sambola! International Dance Craze" from Damsels in Distress (Music and lyrics by Lou Christie, Michael A. Levine and Mark Suozzo); "Coeur Volant" from Hugo (Music by Howard Shore, lyrics by Elizabeth Cotnoir and Isabelle Geffroy); “Sparkling Day” from One Day (Music and lyrics by Elvis Costello); "Life's A Happy Song" from The Muppets (Music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie); "Masterpiece" from W.E. (Music and lyrics by Madonna, Julie Frost and Jimmy Harry); “Shelter” from Take Shelter (Music and lyrics by Ben Nichols))


SPECIAL EFFECTS: THE TREE OF LIFE, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Melancholia, Hugo, Real Steel

MAKEUP: THE IRON LADY, My Week With Marilyn, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2010--The Year in Review

Back in 2010, when this blog was a little less than two years old, my favorite movie of the year was Noah Baumbach's incisive character study Greenberg, about a failed NYC musician who, while temporarily transplanted to Los Angeles, continues with his exhausted aim to simply do nothing in life. It deeply struck me with its sterling dialogue and especially with its achingly revealing performances from Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans, and the stunning Greta Gerwig, an ultra-indie star who really broke through this year with her sweetly smart, dejected party girl who falls for the troubled title character against her questioning judgment (I still see Gerwig as one of the most exciting actors working--to me, her inclusion in any film's cast continually makes that movie a must-see). Mainly, I loved Greenberg because it seemed to be peering directly into my own brain in expressing Roger Greenberg's immense dissatisfaction with the way the drab world has turned out for him and for everyone else hailing from the utterly abandoned Generation X. But, nowadays, I feel like giving a movie Best Picture for this penetrating achievement is a little egotistical, and probably simply not justifiable (though I reward Greenberg in the two categories it absolutely deserved to be victorious in). Maybe this is just another chink in the self-destructive armor of my aimless generation. Sorry. Ultimately, I had to side for the movie that captured the zeitgeist to a tee.

David Fincher's The Social Network, with its dazzlingly fast-paced Aaron Sorkin script, is the complete package: immaculately photographed, acted, written, scored, and edited. This quasi-biopic of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg got lightly raked over the coals for straying from the facts (Zuckerberg himself just saw it as a good movie, and didn't really put up a fight), but the film is still a perfect example of how screenwriterly inventions can enhance the retelling of an ostensibly "true" story rather than hamstring it. In the face of such a gripping movie, the facts don't matter: The Social Network is radically successful in illustrating how this lonely genius and nascent billionaire codified life on the net in order to win friends and lovers, and yet ended up driving those closest to him far, far away--and let's remember: much of the movie is quite accurate. Fincher's film deserves comparisons to Orson Welles' Citizen Kane--that's how good it is (and this is by knowing design). Even so, I didn't get too upset when Tom Hooper's more traditional biopic The King's Speech ended up winning Best Picture at the Oscars; it, too, was a beautifully crafted piece, with some of the finest acting of the year, led by Colin Firth's superb take on the stuttering King George VI, and banked by Hooper's gorgeous direction and David Seidler's supreme scripting. It wasn't the best movie of the year, but at least it was a true contender.

2010 was another exceptional year for world cinema (led by Apichatpong Weerasethakul's otherworldly Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and by one more wonderful Mike Leigh film, Another Year, commanded by Leigh's longtime collaborator Leslie Manville, gutting us with her rich performance as a drunken, romantically desperate friend testing the patience of a happy London professional couple). There's also another impressive slate of documentaries this year, with Charles Ferguson's outstanding dissection of the 2008 economic meltdown Inside Job easily trumping its impressive competitors (documentaries are clearly getting more knowing in this era). But 2010 was also a year that made it increasingly clear that Hollywood studios were abandoning adult audiences in their over-catering to childish tastes, all in service of the big buck. The Social Network, Inception, Toy Story 3, and The Fighter, with Christian Bale's transformative supporting performance, would stand among the smartest studio product of the year, but the rest of 2010's most notable output largely hailed from indie and foreign outlets. And so the period's prime movies would become harder and harder for the masses to locate at theaters. This vexing issue's only gotten more seriously gnawing since, as it effectively lowers the tastes of a worldwide moviegoing public who'd already rather mindlessly be happy chomping popcorn on a rollercoaster instead of being eternally affected emotionally or intellectually by a work of art. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.



PICTURE: THE SOCIAL NETWORK (US, David Fincher) (2nd: Greenberg (US, Noah Baumbach), followed by: Another Year (UK, Mike Leigh); Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Inside Job (US, Charles Ferguson); The King’s Speech (US/UK, Tom Hooper); Inception (US, Christopher Nolan); Tiny Furniture (US, Lena Dunham); Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal/France, Raoul Ruiz); Tuesday, After Christmas (Romania, Radu Muntean); Marwencol (US, Jeff Malmberg); Of Gods and Men (France, Xavier Beauvois); The Fighter (US, David O. Russell); Never Let Me Go (UK, Mark Romanek); Carlos (France, Olivier Assayas); The Illusionist (France, Sylvain Chomet); Let Me In (US, Matt Reeves); Exit Through the Gift Shop (US, Banksy); Boxing Gym (US, Frederick Wiseman); The Ghost Writer (US/France, Roman Polanski); Easy A (US, Will Gluck); The Trip (UK, Michael Winterbottom); Poetry (South Korea, Lee Chang-dong); Please Give (US, Nicole Holofcener); Heartbeats (Canada, Xavier Dolan); Aurora (Romania, Cristi Puiu); Silent Souls (Russia, Aleksey Fedorchenko); The Kids Are All Right (US, Lisa Cholodenko); Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (US/UK, Edgar Wright); Certified Copy (France, Abbas Kiarostami); Black Swan (US, Darren Aronofsky); Blue Valentine (US, Derek Cianfrance); Frozen (US, Adam Green); Meek’s Cutoff (US, Kelly Reichardt); The Tillman Story (US, Amir Bar-Lev); Biutiful (Mexico, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu); A Letter to Elia (US, Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones); The Town (US, Ben Affleck); You Don’t Know Jack (US, Barry Levinson); Winter’s Bone (US, Debra Granik); A Little Help (US, Michael J. Weithorn); Toy Story 3 (US, Lee Unkrich); Catfish (US, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman); Film Socialisme (France, Jean-Luc Godard); Smash His Camera (US, Leon Gast); Rabbit Hole (US, John Cameron Mitchell); Restropo (US, Sebastian Junger and Tim Heatherington); The Oath (US, Laura Poitras); Louis C.K.: Hilarious (US, Louis C.K.); Solitary Man (US,  Brian Koppelman and David Levien); Four Lions (UK, Chris Morris); Animal Kingdom (Australia, David Michod); True Grit (US, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen); Barney’s Version (Canada, Richard J. Lewis); Senna (UK, Asif Kapadia); I’m Still Here (US, Casey Affleck); Cold Weather (US, Aaron Katz); Red (US, Robert Schwentke); Submarine (US, Richard Ayoade); Temple Grandin (US, Mick Jackson); A Cat in Paris (France/Belgium, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol); Monsters (UK, Gareth Edwards); Buried (Spain/US, Rodrigo Cortés); Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Germany, Werner Herzog); Tangled (US, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard); Splice (Canada/France/US, Vincenzo Natali); Salt (US, Philip Noyce); Insidious (US, James Wan); 127 Hours (UK/US, Danny Boyle); Leaves of Grass (US, Tim Blake Nelson); Iron Man 2 (US, Jon Favreau); Multiple Sarcasms (US, Brooks Branch); Tabloid (US, Errol Morris); Somewhere (US, Sofia Coppola); Stone (US, John Curran); Shutter Island (US, Martin Scorsese); The Strange Case of Angelica (Portugal, Manoel de Oliveira); Tamara Drewe (UK, Stephen Frears); How to Train Your Dragon (US, Dean de Blois and Chris Sanders); Kick-Ass (US/UK, Matthew Vaughn); The Killer Inside Me (US, Michael Winterbottom))



ACTOR: Colin Firth, THE KING'S SPEECH (2nd: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network, followed by: Edgar Ramirez, Carlos; Ben Stiller, Greenberg; Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine; Javier Bardem, Biutiful; Steve Coogan, The Trip; Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack)



ACTRESS: Leslie Manville, ANOTHER YEAR (2nd: Emma Stone, Easy A, followed by: Yun Jeong-he, Poetry; Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine; Juliette Binoche, Certified Copy; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone; Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale, THE FIGHTER (2nd: Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech, followed by: Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Peter Wight, Another Year; Rob Brydon, The Trip; David Bradley, Another Year; Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right; Jeremy Renner, The Town)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Greta Gerwig, GREENBERG (2nd: Amy Adams, The Fighter, followed by: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom; Haylee Steinfeld, True Grit; Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right; Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole; Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech)



DIRECTOR: David Fincher, THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2nd: Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, followed by: Mike Leigh, Another Year; Noah Baumbach, Greenberg; Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech; Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture; Christopher Nolan, Inception; Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan)


NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) (2nd: Of Gods and Men (France, Xavier Beauvois), followed by: Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal/France, Raoul Ruiz); Tuesday, After Christmas (Romania, Radu Muntean); Carlos (France, Olivier Assayas); The Illusionist (France, Sylvain Chomet); Poetry (South Korea, Lee Chang-dong); Heartbeats (Canada, Xavier Dolan); Aurora (Romania, Cristi Puiu); Silent Souls (Russia, Aleksey Fedorchenko); Certified Copy (France, Abbas Kiarostami); Biutiful (Mexico, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu); Film Socialisme (France, Jean-Luc Godard))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: INSIDE JOB (US, Charles Ferguson) (2nd: Marwencol (US, Jeff Malmberg), followed by: Exit Through the Gift Shop (US, Banksy); Boxing Gym (US, Frederick Wiseman); A Letter to Elia (US, Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones); Catfish (US, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman); Smash His Camera (US, Leon Gast); The Tillman Story (US, Amir Bar-Lev); Restropo (US, Sebastian Junger and Tim Heatherington); Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Germany, Werner Herzog); The Oath (US, Laura Poitras); Louis C.K.: Hilarious (US, Louis C.K.); Senna (UK, Asif Kapadia))



ANIMATED FEATURE: THE ILLUSIONIST (France, Sylvain Chomet) (2nd: Toy Story 3 (US, Lee Unkrich), followed by: Tangled (US, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard); A Cat in Paris (France/Belgium, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol); How to Train Your Dragon (US, Dean de Blois and Chris Sanders))



ANIMATED SHORT: MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON (US, Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate) (2nd: Day and Night (US, Teddy Newton), followed by: Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No (US, James Blagden))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: GOD OF LOVE (US, Luke Matheny) (2nd: Successful Alcoholics (US, Jordan Vogt-Roberts), followed by: I’m Here (US, Spike Jonze)



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jason Leigh, GREENBERG (2nd: Mike Leigh, Another Year, followed by: David Seidler, The King's Speech; Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right; Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Aaron Sorkin, THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2nd: Robert Harris and Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer, followed by: Alex Garland, Never Let Me Go; Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini, Winter's Bone; Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World)



CINEMATOGRAPHY: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, followed by: Mikhail Krichman, Silent Souls; Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network; Wally Pfister, Inception; Matthew Libatique, Black Swan)


ART DIRECTION: INCEPTION, Alice in Wonderland, The King’s Speech, Shutter Island, True Grit


COSTUME DESIGN: ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Mysteries of Lisbon, Heartbeats, The King's Speech, True Grit  


FILM EDITING: THE SOCIAL NETWORK, The King’s Speech, Inception, The Town, Greenberg



SOUND: INCEPTION, The Social Network, Black Swan, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, The King’s Speech

SOUND EFFECTS: INCEPTION, Salt, Toy Story 3



ORIGINAL SCORE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2nd: Hans Zimmer, Inception, followed by: Alexandre Desplat, The King’s Speech; James Murphy, Greenberg; Rachel Portman, Never Let Me Go)



ORIGINAL SONG: “Chason Illusionist” from THE ILLUSIONIST (Music and lyrics by Sylvain Chomet) (2nd: “Never Let Me Go“ from Never Let Me Go (Music and lyrics by Luther Dixon), followed by: “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 (Music and lyrics by Randy Newman); “We Are Sex Bob-Omb“ from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Music and lyrics by Beck Hansen); “Country Strong” from Country Strong (Music and lyrics by Jennifer Hanson, Tony Martin and Mark Nesler))


SPECIAL EFFECTS: INCEPTION, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Social Network

MAKEUP: THE WOLFMAN, Alice in Wonderland, Black Swan

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2009: The Year in Review

Seeing as the Best Picture choice for the Oscars this year, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, was really a film from late 2008, I gave myself free reign to go with another magnificent and more unusual war film as the winner of the top spot in 2009. Upon seeing it that summer, I knew that no other film this year would best Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, an uproariously entertaining reimagination of WWII history anchored by Christoph Waltz's tremendously venal supporting performance as a sly Nazi hunter of Jews (heading the year's best ensemble cast). It was easily, also, 2009's most accomplished film from a craft standpoint as well, though the Academy showed much love for James Cameron's hit 3D abomination Avatar, a movie that I thoroughly despised then, and hate perhaps more now. On the other hand, I had much love for Jacques Audiard's stunning crime drama A Prophet; Jane Campion's Bright Star, an elegant romantic biopic centered around 19th Century poet John Keats and his ardent lover Fanny Brawne; the Coen Brothers surreal morality tale A Serious Man; Wes Anderson's gorgeous, hysterically funny animated adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox; Gaspar Noé's unforgettably trippy Enter the Void; and Michael Haneke's black-and-white masterpiece of pre-Nazi horror The White Ribbon. Though 2009 was a great year for world cinema and animated film, I continued to believe that Hollywood was taking a downturn into the dregs of CGI-driven boredom. But, luckily, we still had the indie world to give us some terrific movies and performances here and there, with Waltz, Mo'Nique (both scary and heartbreaking as the abusive mother in Lee Daniels' Precious), Patton Oswalt (a comedian surprising us with a jolting dramatic turn as an unbalanced sports nut in Robert Siegel's Big Fan), and a superb Charlotte Gainsbourgh as another of Lars von Trier's tortured heroines in Antichrist all emerging as the leads in their categories, in my estimation. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.


PICTURE: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (US, Quentin Tarantino) (2nd: A Prophet (France, Jacques Audiard), followed by: Bright Star (Australia, Jane Campion); A Serious Man (US, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen); Fantastic Mr Fox (US, Wes Anderson); Enter the Void (France, Gaspar Noé); The White Ribbon (Germany/France, Michael Haneke); Big Fan (US, Robert Siegel); Antichrist (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Fish Tank (UK, Andrea Arnold); Collapse (US, Chris Smith); The Father of My Children (France, Mia Hansen-Love); My Dog Tulip (US, Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger); Moon (UK, Duncan Jones); The Cove (US, Louie Psihoyos); Lebanon (Israel, Samuel Moaz); Mary and Max (Australia, Adam Elliot); Mother and Child (US, Rodrigo Garcia); Wild Grass (France, Alain Resnais); The Informant! (US, Steven Soderburgh); White Material (France, Claire Denis); The Maid (Chile/Mexico, Sebastián Silva); Dogtooth (Greece, Giorgos Lanthimos); Mother (South Korea, Bong Joon-ho); In the Loop (UK, Armando Iannucci); Up (US, Pete Docter and Bob Peterson); Precious (US, Lee Daniels); A Single Man (US, Tom Ford); Where The Wild Things Are (US, Spike Jonze); The Yes Men Fix The World (US, Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonnano, and Kurt Engfehr); (500) Days of Summer (US, Marc Webb); Ponyo (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Coraline (US, Henry Selick); Up in the Air (US, Jason Reitman); An Education (UK, Lone Scherfig); The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (US,  Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith); A Town Called Panic (Belgium/ Luxembourg/France, Stephanie Aubier and Vincent Patar); Crazy Heart (US, Scott Cooper); Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (US, Werner Herzog); The Messenger (US, Oren Moverman); Away We Go (US, Sam Mendes); That Evening Sun (US, Scott Teems); Zombieland (US, Ruben Fleischer); Gentleman Broncos (US, Jared Hess); The Girl on the Train (France, André Téchiné); The Young Victoria (UK/US, Jean-Marc Vallée); I Am Love (France, Luca Guadagnino); The Art of the Steal (US, Don Argott); Observe and Report (US, Jody Hill); The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden, Nils Arden Oplev); Drag Me To Hell (US, Sam Raimi); The Girlfriend Experience (US, Steven Soderburgh); Agora (Spain, Alejandro Aménabar); Outrage (US, Kirby Dick); Star Trek (US, J.J. Abrams); The Secret of the Kells (Ireland, Tomm Moore); Youth in Revolt (US, Miguel Arteta); Sin Nombre (Mexico, Cary Fukunaga); Invictus (US, Clint Eastwood); The House of the Devil (US, Ti West); Adventureland (US Greg Mottola); Whip It! (US, Drew Barrymore); The Last Station (Germany/ Russia/UK, Michael Hoffman); Cairo Time (Canada/ Ireland/Egypt, Ruba Nadda); 9 (US, Shane Acker); Beeswax (US, Andrew Bujalski); The Invention of Lying (US, Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson); Micmacs (France, Jean Pierre Jeunet); The Road (US, John Hillcoat); The Lovely Bones (US/UK/New Zealand, Peter Jackson); Nine (US, Rob Marshall); District 9 (US, Neill Blomkamp); Avatar (US, James Cameron); Public Enemies (US, Michael Mann); Watchmen (US, Zach Snyder))



ACTOR: Patton Oswalt, BIG FAN (2nd: Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, followed by: Colin Firth, A Single Man; Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart; Sam Rockwell, Moon; Matt Damon, The Informant!; Morgan Freeman, Invictus)


ACTRESS: Charlotte Gainsbourg, ANTICHRIST (2nd: Katie Jarvis, Fish Tank, followed by: Catalina Saavedra, The Maid, Gabourey Sidibe, Precious; Abbie Cornish, Bright Star; Carey Mulligan, An Education; Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2nd: Paul Schneider, Bright Star, followed by: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger; Niels Arestrup, A Prophet; Matt Damon, Invictus; Michael Fassbender, Inglourious Basterds; Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo’Nique, PRECIOUS (2nd: Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds, followed by: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart; Julianne Moore, A Single Man; Anne-Marie Duff, Nowhere Boy; Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air; Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air) 

DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2nd: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man, followed by: Jacques Audiard, A Prophet; Gaspar Noe, Enter the Void; Wes Anderson, Fantastic Mr. Fox; Jane Campion, Bright Star; Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: A PROPHET (France, Jacques Audilard) (2nd: Enter the Void (France, Gaspar Noe), followed by: The White Ribbon (Germany/Austria, Michael Haneke); The Father of My Children (France, Mia Hansen Love); Lebanon (Israel, Samuel Moaz); Wild Grass (France, Alain Renais); White Material (France/Cameroon, Claire Denis); Dogtooth (Greece, Giorgios Lanthimos); The Maid (Mexico, Sebastian Silva); The Girl on the Train (France, André Téchiné); The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden, Nils Arden Oplev))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: COLLAPSE (US, Chris Smith) (2nd: The Cove (US, Louie Psihoyos), followed by: The Yes Men Fix The World (US, Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonnano, and Kurt Engfehr); The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (US,  Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith); The Art of the Steal (US, Don Argott); Outrage (US, Kirby Dick))


ANIMATED FEATURE: FANTASTIC MR. FOX (US, Wes Anderson) (2nd: My Dog Tulip (US, Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger), followed by: Mary and Max (Australia, Adam Elliot); Up (US, Pete Docter and Bob Peterson); Coraline (US, Henry Selick); A Town Called Panic (Belgium/Luxembourg/ France, Stephanie Aubier and Vincent Patar); Ponyo (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); 9 (US, Shane Acker); The Secret of the Kells (Ireland, Tomm Moore))



ANIMATED SHORT: LOGORAMA (France, Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy, and Ludovic Houplain) (2nd: A Matter of Loaf and Death (UK, Nick Park), followed by: French Roast (France, Fabrice Joubert)) 



LIVE ACTION SHORT: I KNEW IT WAS YOU: REDISCOVERING JOHN CAZALE (US, Richard Shepard) (2nd: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (US,  Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert), followed by: Rabbit a la Berlin (Poland/Germany, Bartosz Konopka))  



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Quentin Tarantino, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2nd: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man, followed by: Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon; Robert D. Siegel, Big Fan; Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer))



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2nd: Thomas Bidegain and Jacques Audilard, A Prophet, followed by: Jane Campion, Bright Star; Scott Z. Burns, The Informant!; Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche and Ian Martin, In The Loop)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Christian Berger, THE WHITE RIBBON (2nd: Grieg Fraser, Bright Star, followed by: Benoit Debie, Enter the Void; Robert Richardson, Inglourious Basterds; Anthony Dod Mantle, Antichrist)

ART DIRECTION: ENTER THE VOID, Inglourious Basterds, Bright Star, Avatar, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus


COSTUME DESIGN: BRIGHT STAR, The Young Victoria, Coco Before Chanel, I Am Love, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

 

FILM EDITING: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, A Prophet, A Serious Man, Enter the Void, Lebanon

SOUND: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, Up, Avatar, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek



SOUND EFFECTS: UP, Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek



ORIGINAL SCORE:  Marvin Hamlisch, THE INFORMANT! (2nd: Michael Giacchino, Up, followed by: Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox; Mark Bradshaw, Bright Star; James Newton Howard, Up in the Air)

ADAPTED OR SONG SCORE: T-Bone Burnett, CRAZY HEART (2nd: Carter Burwell and Karen O, Where the Wild Things Are)



ORIGINAL SONG: “The Weary Kind” from CRAZY HEART (Music and lyrics by T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham) (2nd: “You’ve Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger” from An Education (Music and lyrics by Beth Rowley and Ben Castle), followed by: “Other Father’s Song” from Coraline (Music and lyrics by John Flansburgh and John Linnell); “All Is Love” from Where The Wild Things Are (Music and lyrics by Karen O and Tom Biller); “Hideaway” from Where The Wild Thing Are (Music and lyrics by Karen O and Imaad Wasif); “Little One” from Mother and Child (Music and lyrics by Lucy Schwartz))



SPECIAL EFFECTS: ENTER THE VOID, Moon, District 9



MAKEUP: STAR TREK, Drag Me To Hell, The Young Victoria