Saturday, March 18, 2017

2014--The Year in Review

At the end of 2014, I was so mesmerized by Alejandro Inarritu's genuinely wild cinematic experiment Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance that its late December appearance, and Michael Keaton's slashing comeback performance, sneakily erased my admiration for the real film achievement of the year: Richard Linklater's autumnal release, a furtive production called Boyhood, filmed in secretive fits over the course of a decade in a certainly comparative experimental mode. Low-key as it is, it's a singular achievement, completely moving and so well executed. Its transitions from year to year are among the film world's most special special effects, and while watching it you say to yourself "Am I actually SEEING what I'm seeing?" I was glad that Richard Linklater's consistent brilliance was now being noticed, even so many years after Dazed and Confused and the Before series. As enjoyably chaotic as Birdman was (and I sense I'm in the minority in thinking so, even if it did become one of the most unlikely Best Picture winners ever), Boyhood contained the ensemble of the year, with Ellar Coltrane becoming the bravest hero of 2014 as an untrained actor jumping into this long commitment feet first, bringing so much authentic heart to it. And then we have veterans Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke providing umph to the story, making it more a movie about parenthood. I have to add Lorelei Linklater, the director's daughter, as a major asset, since she almost steals the movie from them all (seriously, she's terrific here). A shining needle-drop song score and adept editing adorns Linklater's movie, making the year's must-see achievement. It would work well on a double bill with another of my 2014 faves, Lukas Moodysson's adaptation of his sister Coco's graphic novel We Are the Best!, about a trio of nerdy, '80s-era Swedish tween girls haggling over their desire to launch a punk band; what a fantastic joy that film is.

As I attended the Atlanta Film Festival, the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival this year, my final lineup is packed with obscure films. Chief among them is Raymond St. Jeans' resplendent A Chair Fit for an Angel, which certainly, for me, leads a powerful lineup of documentaries this year by deftly conflating so many art forms in its short running time. It's nearly impossible to put this film's jolt into words. The Shakers are a religious community founded in 18th Century England, and their music, transmitted entirely by voice, sounds like it's being beamed from medieval times, while the modern works of Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen provide stunning counterpart, perhaps against the stern grain of the Shakers but somehow melding with their musical relics perfectly. Documentaries really exploded this year, with fantastic entries as diverse as Frederick Wiseman's regal National Gallery, as well as Jodorowsky's Dune, Red Army, Stray Dog, Sunshine Superman, the little-seen The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue, Finding Vivien Meier, Steve James' Roger Ebert bio-pic Life Itself, and Albert Maysles' final film Iris (I was not an enthusiastic fan of the eventual Best Documentary winner, the scooping but visually dull Edward Snowden profile Citizenfour). Meanwhile, world cinema contributed brilliance with films like the remarkable Wild Tales from Argentina's Damián Szifron (the finest anthology film in all of cinema), and three radically different tales of family dissolution from Sweden's Reuben Ostland and Force Majeure, Russia's controversial Leviathan by Andrey Zvyagintsev, and Two Days, One Night by Belgian superstars Jean Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, led by an aching performance from Marion Cotillard. In the end, 2014 acquitted itself mightily as a major year in film history. 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: BOYHOOD (US, Richard Linklater) (2nd: Wild Tales (Argentina, Damián Szifron), followed by: Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (US, Alejandro Inarritu); Inherent Vice (US, Paul Thomas Anderson); We Are the Best! (Sweden, Lukas Moodysson); A Chair Fit for an Angel (Finland/Canada, Raymond St. Jean); Whiplash (US, Damien Chazelle); Force Majeure (Sweden, Reuben Ostland); National Gallery (US, Frederick Wiseman); Leviathan (Russia, Andrey Zvyagintsev); Two Days, One Night (Belgium, Jean Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne);  Jodorowsky's Dune (US/France, Frank Pavich); Red Army (US/Russia, Gabe Polsky); Mr. Turner (UK, Mike Leigh); Stray Dog (US, Debra Granik); Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (US, Matt Reeves); The Grand Budapest Hotel (US, Wes Anderson); Nightcrawler (US, Dan Gilroy); Sunshine Superman (US, Maura Strauch); '71 (UK, Yann Demange); A Standing Still (US, Scott Ballard); The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue (US, Tim Wilkerson); Foxcatcher (US, Bennett Miller); The Foxy Merkins (US, Madeleine Olnek); Wild (US, Jean Marc Vallee); Finding Vivien Meier (US, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel); Only Lovers Left Alive (US, Jim Jaramusch); Life Itself (US, Steve James); Love is Strange (US, Ira Sachs); Gone Girl (US, David Fincher); Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live Die Repeat) (US, Doug Liman); Iris (US, Albert Maysles); A Most Violent Year (US, J.C. Chandor); Cheatin' (US, Bill Plympton); The Babadook (Australia, Jennifer Kent); Guardians of the Galaxy (US, James Gunn); Evolution of a Criminal (US, Darius Clark Monroe); Selma (US, Ava Duvernay); 120 Days (US, Ted Roach); Limo Ride (US, Gideon C. Kennedy and Marcus Rosentrater); The Lego Movie (US, Chris Miller and Phil Lord); American Sniper (US, Clint Eastwood); Saint Laurent (France, Bertrand Bonello); Are You Here (US, Matthew Weiner); Kids for Cash (US, Robert May); Tracks (Australia, John Curran); The Homesman (US, Tommy Lee Jones); Begin Again (US, John Carney); Cesar Chavez (US/Mexico, Diego Luna); Runoff (US, Kimberly Levin); The Overnighters (US, Jesse Moss); Top Five (US, Chris Rock); Art and Craft (US, Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker); Fed Up (US, Stephanie Soechtig); The Kill Team (US, Dan Krauss); Out of Print (US, Julia Marchese); Get On Up (US, Tate Taylor); Dear White People (US, Justin Simien); Having Fun Up There (US, Frankie Frain); 99 Homes (US, Ramin Bahrani); Bobo (Portugal, Inês Oliveira); The Trip to Italy (UK/Italy, Michael Winterbottom); Eden (France, Mia Hansen Love); What We Do in the Shadows (US/New Zealand, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi); Little Accidents (US, Sara Colangelo); Nymphomania (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Chef (US, Jon Favreau); WildLike (US, Frank Hall Green); Jersey Boys (US, Clint Eastwood); Still Alice (US, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland); Deli Man (US, Erik Anjou); St. Vincent (US, Theodore Melfi); Maps to the Stars (US/Canada, David Cronenberg); Midlife (US, Greg Travis); Cake (US, Daniel Barnes); 15 to Life: Kenneth's Story (US, Nadine Pequeneza); The Sublime and Beautiful (US, Blake Robbins); I Believe in Unicorns (US, Leah Meyerhoff); The Frontier (US, Matt Rabinowitz); Obvious Child (US, Gillian Robespierre); The Fault in Our Stars (US, Josh Boone); And So It Goes (US, Rob Reiner); Kumiko The Treasure Hunter (US/Japan, David Zellner); The Imitation Game (UK, Morton Tyldum); The Theory of Everything (UK, James Marsh); Interstellar (US, Christopher Nolan); Citizenfour (US/Germany/UK, Laura Poitras); Labyrinth of Lies (Germany, Giulio Ricciarelli); The Skeleton Twins (US, Craig Johnson); Big Hero 6 (US, Don Hall and Chris Williams); The 50 Year Argument (US, Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi); Manakamana (Nepal/US, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez); The Rover (Australia, David Michôd); The Immigrant (US, James Grey); John Wick (US, Chad Stahelski); Clouds of Sils Maria (France/Germany/Switzerland, Olivier Assayas); White God (Hungary/Germany/Sweden, Kornél Mundruczó); Rich Hill (US, Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos); Godzilla (US, Gareth Edwards); It Follows (US, David Robert Michell); Jauja (Argentina/Denmark, Lisandro Alonso); God's Not Dead (US, Harold Cronk); Into the Woods (US, Rob Marshall); Enemy (Canada/Spain/France, Denis Villeneuve); Left Behind (US, Vic Armstrong); Unbroken (US, Angelina Jolie); God's Pocket (US, John Slattery); Noah (US, Darren Arenofsky); Frank (UK/US/Ireland, Lenny Abrahamson); Locke (UK, Steven Knight); Fort Tilden (US, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers)) 



ACTOR: Michael Keaton, BIRDMAN, OR: THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2nd: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner, followed by: Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; Aleksey Serebryakov, Leviathan; David Oyelowo, Selma; Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher; Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper)


ACTRESS:  Marion Cotillard, TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (2nd: Essie Davis, The Babadook, followed by: Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Lisa Loven Kongsli, Force Majeure; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Jackie Monahan, The Foxy Merkins; Lisa Haas, The Foxy Merkins; Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Sara Robbin, A Standing Still

 
SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons, WHIPLASH (2nd: Ethan Hawke, Boyhood, followed by: Edward Norton, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; Roman Madyanov, Leviathan; Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Michael Shannon, 99 Homes; Martin Short, Inherent Vice; Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler

 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette, BOYHOOD (2nd: Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice, followed by: Erica Rivas, Wild Tales; Marion Bailey, Mr. Turner; Rene Russo, Nightcrawler; Emma Stone, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; Kim Dickens, Gone Girl; Lorelei Linklater, Boyhood; Laura Dern, Wild)



DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, BOYHOOD (2nd: Damián Szifron, Wild Tales, followed by: Alejandro Inarritu,  Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice; Lukas Moodysson, We Are the Best!; Reuben Ostland, Force Majeure; Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan; Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Raymond St. Jean, A Chair Fit for an Angel)  



NON-ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILM: WILD TALES (Argentina, Damián Szifron) (2nd: We Are the Best! (Sweden, Lukas Moodysson), followed by: Force Majeure (Sweden, Reuben Ostland); Leviathan (Russia, Andrey Zvyagintsev); Two Days, One Night (Belgium, Jean Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Saint Laurent (France, Bertrand Bonello); Bobo (Portugal, Inês Oliveira); Eden (France, Mia Hansen Love); Nymphomania (Denmark, Lars Von Trier))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: A CHAIR FIT FOR AN ANGEL (Finland/Canada, Raymond St. Jean) (2nd: National Gallery (US, Frederick Wiseman), followed by: Jodorowsky's Dune (US/France, Frank Pavich); Red Army (US/Russia, Gabe Polsky); Stray Dog (US, Debra Granik); Sunshine Superman (US, Maura Strauch); The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue (US, Tim Wilkerson); Finding Vivien Meier (US, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel); Life Itself (US, Steve James); Iris (US, Albert Maysles); Evolution of a Criminal (US, Darius Clark Monroe); 120 Days (US, Ted Roach); Limo Ride (US, Gideon C. Kennedy and Marcus Rosentrater); Kids for Cash (US, Robert May); The Overnighters (US, Jesse Moss); Art and Craft (US, Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker); Fed Up (US, Stephanie Soechtig); The Kill Team (US, Dan Krauss); Out of Print (US, Julia Marchese); 15 to Life: Kenneth's Story (US, Nadine Pequeneza); Citizenfour (US/Germany/UK, Laura Poitras))



ANIMATED FEATURE: CHEATIN' (US, Bill Plympton) (2nd: The Lego Movie (US, Chris Miller and Phil Lord), followed by: Big Hero 6 (US, Don Hall and Chris Williams))


 
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: THE PHONE CALL (UK, Mat Kirkby and James Lewis) (2nd: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (US, Ellen Goosenberg Kent) (won as Documentary Short), followed by: Thirteen Blue (Greece, Jacqueline Lentzou); Waging War (France, Cosme Castro and Léa Forest); Butterfly Fluttering (Russia, Roman Kayumov))



ANIMATED SHORT FILM: ME AND MY MOULTON (Norway/Canada, Torill Kove) (2nd: The Bigger Picture (UK, Daisy Jacobs), followed by: Feast (US, Patrick Osborne))
 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Richard Linklater, BOYHOOD (2nd: Alejandro Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, followed by: Damián Szifrón, Wild Tales; Ruben Ostland, Force Majeure; Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Lukas Moodysson, WE ARE THE BEST!, (2nd: Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice, followed by: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Paul Webb, Selma; James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki, BIRDMAN, OR: THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2nd: Jean-Francois Lord, A Chair Fit for an Angel, followed by: Dick Pope, Mr. Turner; Robert Elswit, Inherent Vice; Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel)

ART DIRECTION: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Mr. Turner, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, The Imitation Game 


COSTUME DESIGN: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Saint Laurent, Mr. Turner, Inherent Vice, Maleficent



FILM EDITING: WHIPLASH, Wild Tales, Boyhood, '71, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

SOUND: WHIPLASH, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Wild, Edge of Tomorrow, American Sniper 



SOUND EFFECTS: AMERICAN SNIPER, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Antonio Sanchez, BIRDMAN, OR: THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2nd: Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner, followed by: Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl; Johann Johannson, The Theory of Everything)



ORIGINAL SONG: "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from GLEN CAMPBELL...I'LL BE ME (Music and lyrics by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond) (2nd: "Ryan's Song" from Boyhood (Music and lyrics by Ethan Hawke), followed by: "Glory" from Selma (Music and lyrics by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn); "Hate the Sport" from We Are the Best! (Music and lyrics by Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne, Julia Forssell, and Niels Berglund); "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (Music and lyrics by Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley and Nick Southwood); "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie (Music and lyrics by Shawn Patterson); "Everyone Hides" from St. Vincent (Music and lyrics by Jeff Tweedy); "Heart Like Yours" from If I Stay (Music and lyrics by Heitor Pereira))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Edge of Tomorrow 


MAKEUP: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Guardians of the Galaxy, Foxcatcher

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2013--The Year in Review

2013 was a fantastic year for movies. Its prime entry was the eventual winner of the Best Picture Oscar, British director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave--a film like no other and one completely of today, since this crime of humanity has hardly been vanquished, and particularly original because it dissects the miserable lives lived by both the enslaved and slavers. Unflinching and highly emotional, to the point of sheer hopelessness and then to miraculous release, and beautifully acted by a peerless cast (headed by the remarkable Chewitel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o), it's a stunning display of bravery and wisdom in the face of insistent pain. That it has been so controversial is a sure sign that we still have a lot to get over in this country, and in the world (hell, most of civilization has been built on the backs of slaves). McQueen's movie--adapted by John Ridley from Solomon Northup's memoir--deserves to be a key part of that necessary discussion, as well as of a desperately needed confrontation of history, and an equal healing. There may have been other movies from this year I'd want to watch again, but there is no other 2013 film I'm more glad to have seen or seen made12 Year a Slave is absolutely required viewing.

This was an astounding year for the sci-fi genre, though. Spike Jonze's astounding Her believably presupposed a world in which humans fall deeply in love with their computer helpers, while Ari Folman's The Congress vividly visualized a future in which humans squander their lives away in completely fabricated realities. Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess, meanwhile, delved deep into the digital past, dramatizing with great wit the initial adoration pioneering nerds had for this new world (Bujalski wisely chose to shoot this convention between such devotees on black-and-white, '80s-era videotape, and did so with tremendous creativity). The big winner at the Oscars, Alfonso Cueron's sensational tale of survival Gravity, stunned everyone with its immersion in the dangers of space travel (its 3D and big-screen IMAXness justly convinced everyone of its greatness--once you've seen it, you feel you've a veteran astronaut). Meanwhile, films like Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer's splendid account of an alien taking a female form in order to study male humans, with Scarlet Johannson in the lead, and Mica Levi's ravishing debut as a film composer), Shane Carruth's dazzling Upstream Color, Bong Joon Ho's barreling actioner Snowpiercer, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's jovial apocalyptic scenario This is the End, and Mark Forster's enthralling adaptation of Max Brooks' zombie killfest World War Z all ratcheted up the genre's cinematic reputation.

But then there are earthbound movies like Martin Scorsese's breathless damnation of modern money-making The Wolf of Wall Street, commanded by Leonardo DiCaprio's astounding lead as a vicious, drug-addicted economic parasite feeding on the greed inherent in the American economy, turned out to be the director's most dynamic movie since The Age of Innocence nearly two decades earlier. UK filmmaker Clio Bernard burst onto the scene with her unflinching look at poor British kids trying to make a buck in The Selfish Giant. And France's Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme D'Or (along with his two lead actresses, Adele Exarchopolis and Lea Seydoux, in an unusual Cannes joint commendation) for his depiction of a naive lesbian love affair in Blue is the Warmest Color. There's Paul Greengrass' exciting Captain Phillips, with the terrific Tom Hanks in the lead, but also generous enough to cast the unknown Barkhad Abdi as the incredibly dynamic head pirate. And then there are the Coen Brothers, offering one of their most morally challenging movies (and that's really saying something) with Inside Llewyn Davis, an account of a '60s-era folk musician seriously disconnected from the concepts of right and wrong. In the end, there's no question that 2013 stands as the finest movie year of recent memory. 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: 12 YEARS A SLAVE (US, Steve McQueen) (2nd: Her (US, Spike Jonze), followed by: Blue is the Warmest Color (France/Belgium/Spain, Abdellatif Kechiche); The Congress (Israel/Germany/France, Ari Folman); Computer Chess (US, Andrew Bujalski); The Wolf of Wall Street (US, Martin Scorsese); Gravity (US, Alfonso Cuarón); The Selfish Giant (UK, Clio Barnard); Under the Skin (US, Jonathan Glazer); Inside Llewyn Davis (US, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen); Gloria (Chile, Sebastian Lelio); Nebraska (US, Alexander Payne); The Lords of Salem (US, Rob Zombie); All is Lost (US, J.C. Chandor); A Teacher (US, Hannah Fidell); Beyond the Hills (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Behind the Candleabra (US, Steven Soderburgh); Blue Jasmine (US, Woody Allen); The Spectacular Now (US, James Ponsoldt); Short Term 12 (US, Dustin Daniel Cretton); Ida (Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski); This is The End (US, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen); The Crash Reel (US, Lucy Walker); Enough Said (US, Nicole Holofcener); 56 Up (UK, Michael Apted); Joe (US, David Gordon Green); Tim's Vermeer (US, Teller); Blackfish (US, Gabriela Coperthwaite); Sarah Prefers to Run (Canada, Chloé Robichaud); Captain Phillips (US, Paul Greengrass); Upstream Color (US, Shane Carruth); Prince Avalanche (US, David Gordon Green); Snowpiercer (South Korea/Czech Republic/US/France, Bong Joon Ho); The Grandmaster (Hong Kong/China, Wong Kar Wei); Begin Again (US/Ireland, John Carney); Only Lovers Left Alive (US/Germany/UK.France, Jim Jarmusch); Blue Ruin (US, Jeremy Saulnier); The Great Chicken Wing Hunt (US, Matt Reynolds); Side Effects (US, Steven Soderburgh); World War Z (US, Marc Forster); Night Moves (US, Kelly Reichardt); Afternoon Delight (US, Jill Soloway); August: Osage County (US, John Wells); The Bling Ring (US, Sofia Coppola); Touchy Feely (US, Lynn Shelton); Forev (US, Molly Green and James Leffler); The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan, Isao Takahata); Good Ol’ Freda (US/UK, Ryan White); Metalhead (Iceland, Ragnar Bragason); The Great Beauty (Italy, Paolo Sorrentino); Ain't Them Bodies Saints (US, David Lowery); The Wind Rises (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); The Great Gatsby (US/Australia, Baz Luhrmann); Like Father Like Son (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda); A Touch of Sin (China/Japan/France, Zhangke Jia); Fruitvale Station (US, Ryan Coogler); Mud (US, Jeff Nichols); Dallas Buyers Club (US, Jean-Marc Vallee); The To Do List (US, Maggie Carey); The Trials of Muhammad Ali (US, Bill Siegel); Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride (US, Amy Nicholson); The Institute (US, Spencer McCall); Casting By (US, Tom Donahue); The Way Way Back (US, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash); We're the Millers (US, Rawson Marshall Thurber); 20 Feet From Stardom (US, Morgan Neville); Our Nixon (US, Penny Lane); Before Midnight (US, Richard Linklater); Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (US, Stephen Frears); This is Martin Bonner (US, Chad Hartigan); American Hustle (US, David O. Russell); The English Teacher (US, Craig Zisk); Belle (UK, Amma Asante); The Lunchbox (India/US/France, Ritesh Batra); Words and Pictures (US/Australia/Canada, Fred Schepisi); Inequality for All (US, Jacob Kornbluth); Iron Man 3 (US, Shane Black); Last Love (US/France, Sandra Nettelbeck); Prisoners (US, Denis Villeneuve); Frozen (US, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee); Now You See Me (US, Louis Leterrier); Alan Partridge (UK, Declan Lowney); Philomena (UK, Stephen Frears); Dealin’ With Idiots (US, Jeff Garlin); HazMat (US, Lou Simon); Only God Forgives (Denmark/France/US, Nicolas Winding Refn); Saving Mr. Banks (US, John Lee Hancock); The Zero Theorem (UK/US, Terry Gilliam); Escape Plan (US, Mikael Håfström); Escape from Tomorrow (US, Randy Moore); Sharknado (US, Anthony C. Ferrante)) 

 

ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2nd: Robert Redford, All is Lost; followed by: Chewitel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave; Joaquin Phoenix, Her; Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Bruce Dern, Nebraska)



ACTRESS: Adele Exarchopoulos, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (2nd: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine, followed by: Paulina Garcia, Gloria; Brie Larson, Short Term 12; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said; Lindsay Burge, A Teacher)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Barkhad Abdi, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2nd: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club, followed by: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Gary Poulter, Joe; James Gandolfini, Enough Said; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Will Forte, Nebraska)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2nd: Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color, followed by: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska; Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street; Scarlett Johansson, Her)



DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2nd: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity, followed by: Spike Jonze, Her; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street; Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color; Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin; Andrew Bujalski, Computer Chess; Ari Folman, The Congress)


NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (France, Abdellatif Kechiche) (2nd: Gloria (Chile, Sebastian Lelio), followed by: Beyond the Hills (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Ida (Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski) (won in 2014); Sarah Prefers to Run (Canada, Chloé Robichaud); The Grandmaster (Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wei); The Wind Rises (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Metalhead (Iceland, Ragnar Bragason); The Great Beauty (Italy, Paolo Sorrentino); The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan, Isao Takahata); Like Father Like Son (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda); A Touch of Sin (China/Japan/France, Zhangke Jia)) 

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: THE CRASH REEL (US, Lucy Walker) (2nd: 56 Up (UK, Michael Apted), followed by: Tim's Vermeer (US, Teller); Blackfish (US, Gabriela Coperthwaite); The Great Chicken Wing Hunt (US, Matt Reynolds); Good Ol’ Freda (US/UK, Ryan White); The Trials of Muhammad Ali (US, Bill Siegel); Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride (US, Amy Nicholson); The Institute (US, Spencer McCall); Casting By (US, Tom Donahue); 20 Feet From Stardom (US, Morgan Neville); Our Nixon (US, Penny Lane); Inequality for All (US, Jacob Kornbluth)



ANIMATED FEATURE: THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA (Japan, Isao Takahata) (2nd: The Wind Rises (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki), followed by: Frozen (US, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)

 
  
ANIMATED SHORT: GLORIA VICTORIA (Canada, Theodore Yushev) (2nd: Subconscious Password (Canada, Chris Landreth), followed by: The Missing Scarf (Ireland, Eoin Duffy); Hollow Land (Canada/Denmark/France,  Michelle Kranot and Uri Kranot); Mr. Hublot (Luxembourg/France, Alexandre Espigares and Laurent Witz))

 

LIVE ACTION SHORT: JUST BEFORE LOSING EVERYTHING (France, Xavier Legrand) (2nd: Silence (Iran, Pegah Arzi), followed by: Cavedigger (US, Jeffrey Karoff); Winter Hill (US, Melissa Bruno); Comic Book Palace (US, Felipe Jorge))


 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Spike Jonze, HER
(2nd: Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said, followed by: Bob Nelson, Nebraska; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis; Clio Bernhard, The Selfish Giant))



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: John Ridley, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2nd: Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix, Blue is the Warmest Color, followed by: Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street; Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin; Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Spectacular Now))


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Bruno Dubonnel, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2nd: Benoit Dobie, Spring Breakers, followed by: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity; Phillipe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster; Brandon Troust, The Lords of Salem)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: THE GREAT GATSBY, Her, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis

COSTUME DESIGN: THE GREAT GATSBY, American Hustle, Her, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club

 

FILM EDITING: 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Her

 

SOUND: GRAVITY, All is Lost, Captain Phillips, World War Z, Inside Llewyn Davis 



SOUND EFFECTS: ALL IS LOST, Gravity, Iron Man 3 



ORIGINAL SCORE: Steven Price, GRAVITY (2nd: Mica Levi, Under the Skin, followed by: William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her; Alex Ebert, All is Lost; Mark Orton, Nebraska)



ORIGINAL SONG: "Please Mr. Kennedy" from INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (Music and lyrics by Ed Rush, George Cromarty, T Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen) (2nd: "For The Time Being" from The Way Way Back (Music and lyrics by Edie Brickell), followed by: "Young and Beautiful" from The Great Gatsby (Music and lyrics by Elizabeth Grant and Rick Howels); "Let It Go" from Frozen (Music by Robert Lopez, lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez); "The Moon Song" from Her (Music by Karen O, lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze); "Atlas" from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Music and lyrics by Chris Martin, Guy Berrymkan, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion); "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Music and lyrics by Paul Hewson, David Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., and Brian Burton); "In Summer" from Frozen (Music by Robert Lopez, lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez); "Get Used to Me" from The Sapphires (Music and lyrics by Diane Warren))



SPECIAL EFFECTS: GRAVITY, World War Z, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3



MAKEUP AND HAIRSYLING: DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, American Hustle, Snowpiercer

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2012--The Year in Review

Rarely can I remember a film falling so swiftly from grace as did Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. Met with excited anticipation and confused raves upon its October release, but abandoned with utter contempt only a month later, Paul Thomas Anderson's superb character study left many viewers wondering "What went wrong?" But why?! The picture's quality and intent was crystal clear. Joaquin Phoenix delivered the performance of the year--I mean, James Dean-level brilliance--as Freddie Quell, a twisted, horndog, alcoholic war veteran who parlays his mastery of photography and chemistry into a friendship with Lancaster Dodd, a megalomaniacal cult leader played with equal grandeur by Philip Seymour Hoffman. This film seemed so simple: it was about the battle for Freddie's soul, and this is something Freddie is not going to give up so easily. What was wonderfully complex about The Master was that Lancaster Dodd's questionable brainwashing methods actually DO help Quell come to some sobering conclusions about himself. But this doesn't mean Quell owes Dodd his LIFE! (And this is where the film's main criticism of Scientology lies.) It remains, though, that The Master has profound feelings for both of its main characters (and deep suspicions about its most villainous presence, in the unlikely, chilly embodiment of Amy Adams as Dodd's imperious wife). It has great respect for Lancaster and Freddie's friendship, but it also knows that Freddie has other fish to fry, and it generously let's him go about doing so (this is underlined in the film's gloriously carnal final scene). With another earth-rocking score from Jonny Greenwood and astounding 70mm photography from Mihai Malaimaire Jr. (I swear, I gasped when those reproductions of Freddie's '40s-era photographic set-ups flashed onto the big screen), The Master left my body and soul buzzing after seeing it, as if I'd imbibed some of Freddie's intoxicating jet fuel. It was clearly the best film of the period, and glaringly worthy of the sweep I give it (and certainly better than the still entertaining Oscar winner Argo). 

Still, 2012 was a terrific year for international cinema, with Michael Haneke's end-of-life love story Amour; Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho's riveting tale of a high-rise bedeviled by crime Neighboring Sounds; the little seen truck-stop romance Araf/Somewhere in Between, from Turkey's Yesim Ustaoglu; the terrific political film No, shot on '80s-era videotape by Spain's Pablo Larrain; the stunningly idiosyncratic Holy Motors, from French auteur Leos Carax (and starring the remarkable Denis Levant); the often over-the-top, time-hopping, makeup-caked international production Cloud Atlas; and especially the deeply moving musical documentary Searching for Sugar Man by Sweden's Malik Bendjelloul (who, sadly, committed suicide only a year after winning the Oscar). As for the Americans, I was dazzled by Craig Zobel's account of a real-life hoax perpetrated against the workers at a fast food joint. Compliance was easily the most unfairly overlooked film of the year, with an ensemble cast that miraculously make you see how something this astoundingly wrong can happen with ease (it's Ann Dowd, in the nominal lead as the restaurant's confused manager, who really grabs us by the throat--it's arguable, the notion that hers is a supporting performance rather than a lead, but I'm siding with the latter, since she's the first and last major character we see on screen). It and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's tense account of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, landed along with P.T. Anderson's movie as the best American products of the year, though I loved Behn Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, Don Hertzfeldt's mindbending animated feature It’s Such a Beautiful Day, Steven Spielberg's regal Lincoln, Hamony Korine's wild ride Spring Breakers, Richard Linklater's underappreciated Bernie, David O. Russell's hit romance Silver Linings Playbook, and Steven Soderburgh's utterly fun Magic Mike. All in all, an encouraging year for film. 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 MASTER (US, Paul Thomas Anderson) (2nd: Searching for Sugar Man (Sweden/UK, Malik Bendjelloul), followed by: Amour (France, Michael Haneke); Zero Dark Thirty (US, Kathryn Bigelow); Compliance (US, Craig Zobel); Neighboring Sounds (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça Filho); Araf/Somewhere in Between (Turkey, Yesim Ustaoglu); No (Spain, Pablo Larrain); Frances Ha (US, Noah Baumbach); Holy Motors (France, Leos Carax); Cloud Atlas (US/Germany/Hong Kong, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lara Wachowski); Beasts of the Southern Wild (US, Benh Zeitlin); It’s Such a Beautiful Day (US, Don Hertzfeldt); Lincoln (US, Steven Spielberg); Spring Breakers (US, Harmony Korine); Bernie (US, Richard Linklater); Silver Linings Playbook (US, David O. Russell); Magic Mike (US, Steven Soderburgh); Wreck-It Ralph (US, Rich Moore); What Maisie Knew (US, Scott McGehee and David Siegel); A Hijacking (Denmark, Tobias Lindholm); Haywire (US, Steven Soderburgh); Hope Springs (US, David Frankel); The Cabin in the Woods (US, Drew Goddard); Killing Them Softly (US, Andrew Dominik); The Sessions (US, Ben Lewin); Django Unchained (US, Quentin Tarantino); Passion (US, Brian De Palma); Your Sister’s Sister (US, Lynn Shelton); Skyfall (US/UK, Sam Mendes); The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway, Joshua Oppenheimer); Player Hating: A Love Story (US, Maggie Hadleigh-West); After Lucia (Mexico/France, Michel Franco); Frankenweenie (US, Tim Burton); Anna Karenina (UK, Joe Wright); This is 40 (US, Judd Apatow); Detropia (US, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady); The Avengers (US, Joss Whedon); Jeff Who Lives at Home (US, Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass); West of Memphis (US, Amy Berg); Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Col. Bruce Hampton (US, Tom Lawson and Michael Koepenick); Argo (US, Ben Affleck); Return (US, Liza Johnson); How to Survive a Plague (US, David France); Flight (US, Robert Zemeckis); The Dark Knight Rises (US, Christopher Nolan); You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (France, Alain Resnais); Life of Pi (US, Ang Lee); Street Dogs of South Central (US, Bill Marin); The Queen of Versailles (US, Lauren Greenfield); Le Capital (France, Costa-Gavras); The Hunt (Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg); Stories We Tell (Canada, Sarah Polley); Liv and Ingmar (Norway/Sweden, Dheeraj Akolkar); Paul Williams Still Alive (US, Stephen Kessler); Celeste and Jesse Forever (US, Lee Toland Kreiger); The Place Beyond the Pines (US, Derek Cianfrance); To the Wonder (US, Terrence Malick); Arbitrage (US, Nicholas Jarecki); Pitch Perfect (US, Jason Moore); The Guilt Trip (US, Anne Fletcher); Rock of Ages (US, Adam Shankman); 21 Jump Street (US, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller); Musical Chairs (US, Susan Seidelman); A Late Quartet (US, Yaron Zilberman); Trash Dance (US, Andrew Garrison); The Perks of Being a Wallflower (US, Stephen Chbosky); The Giant Mechanical Man (US, Lee Kirk); Whore’s Glory (Germany/Austria, Michael Glawogger); Stand Up Guys (US, Fisher Stevens); Hitchcock (US, Sasha Gervasi); Brave (US, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell); Les Miserables (US/UK, Tom Hooper); The Pirates: Band of Misfits (UK, Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt); The Impossible (US/Spain, J.A. Bayona); On the Road (US/UK, Walter Salles); Moonrise Kingdom (US, Wes Anderson); Barbara (Germany, Christian Petzold); The Hunger Games (US, Gary Ross); The Imposter (UK, Bart Layton); Cosmopolis (US, David Cronenberg); Looper (US, Rian Johnson); The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (US/New Zealand, Peter Jackson); Prometheus (US, Ridley Scott))



ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix, THE MASTER (2nd: Denis Levant, Holy Motors, followed by: Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln; Jack Black, Bernie; Denzel Washington, Flight; Jean-Louis Tritignant, Amour; Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; John Hawkes, The Sessions)



ACTRESS: Ann Dowd, COMPLIANCE (2nd: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour, followed by: Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Qu’venzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Meryl Streep, Hope Springs; Onata Aprile, What Maisie Knew)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, THE MASTER (2nd: Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike, followed by: James Franco, Spring Breakers; Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained; Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Adams, THE MASTER (2nd: Helen Hunt, The Sessions, followed by: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables; Mickey Sumner, Frances Ha; Sally Field, Lincoln; Dreama Walker, Compliance; Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas; Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises)


DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson, THE MASTER (2nd: Malik Bendjelloul, Searching for Sugar Man, followed by: Michael Haneke, Amour; Pablo Larrain, No; Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty; Craig Zobel, Compliance; Leos Carax, Holy Motors; Yasim Ustaoglu, Araf/Somewhere in Between)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: AMOUR (France, Michael Haneke) (2nd: Neighboring Sounds (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça Filho), followed by: Araf/Somewhere in Between (Turkey, Yesim Ustaoglu); No (Spain, Pablo Larrain); Holy Motors (France, Leos Carax);  A Hijacking (Denmark, Tobias Lindholm); After Lucia (Mexico/France, Michel Franco); You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (France, Alain Resnais); Le Capital (France, Costa-Gavras); The Hunt (Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg); Barbara (Germany, Christian Petzold))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (Sweden/UK, Malik Bendjelloul) (2nd: The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway, Joshua Oppenheimer), followed by: Player Hating: A Love Story (US, Maggie Hadleigh-West); Detropia (US, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady); West of Memphis (US, Amy Berg); Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Col. Bruce Hampton (US, Tom Lawson and Michael Koepenick); How to Survive a Plague (US, David France); Street Dogs of South Central (US, Bill Marin); The Queen of Versailles (US, Lauren Greenfield); Stories We Tell (Canada, Sarah Polley); Liv and Ingmar (Norway/Sweden, Dheeraj Akolkar); Paul Williams Still Alive (US, Stephen Kessler); Trash Dance (US, Andrew Garrison); Whore’s Glory (Germany/Austria, Michael Glawogger))



ANIMATED FEATURE: IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (US, Don Hertzfeldt) (2nd: Wreck-It Ralph (US, Rich Moore), followed by: Frankenweenie (US, Tim Burton); The Pirates: Band of Misfits (UK, Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt); Brave (US, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell))



ANIMATED SHORT: FRESH GUACAMOLE (US, Adam Pesapane) (2nd: Adam and Dog (US, Minkyu Lee), followed by: Requiem for Romance (Canada, Jonathan Ng); Paperman (US, John Kahrs); Feral (Canada, Daniel Sousa))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: IK BEN ECHT NIET BANG! (I’M NEVER AFRAID) (Netherlands, Willem Baptist), (2nd: Curfew (US, Shawn Christensen), followed by: Last Words of the Holy Ghost (US, Ben Sharony); Buzkashi Boys (US/Afghanistan, Sam French); Patti (US, Haley Webb))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Paul Thomas Anderson, THE MASTER (2nd: Craig Zobel, Compliance, followed by: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty; Michael Haneke, Amour; Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:  Pedro Peirano, NO (2nd: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook, followed by: Richard Linklater and Skip Hollandsworth, Bernie; Lucy Alibar and Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern WildChris Terrio, Argo)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mihai Malaimaire Jr., THE MASTER (2nd: Roger Deakins, Skyfall, followed by: Benoit Debie, Spring Breakers; Frank Gribe and John Toll, Cloud Atlas; Grieg Fraser, Zero Dark Thirty)

ART DIRECTION: ANNA KARININA, Lincoln, Cloud Atlas, Moonrise Kingdom, Skyfall


COSTUME DESIGN: ANNA KARININA, Moonrise Kingdom, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, Lincoln 



FILM EDITING: ZERO DARK THIRTY, The Master, Searching for Sugar Man, Skyfall, Haywire 

SOUND: ZERO DARK THIRTY, Skyfall, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln

SOUND EFFECTS: ZERO DARK THIRTY, Skyfall (tied at the Oscars), The Avengers 



ORIGINAL SCORE: Jonny Greenwood, THE MASTER (2nd: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas, followed by: Cliff Martinez, Spring Breakers; Dan Roman and Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Dario Marinelli, Anna Karinina)



ORIGINAL SONG: “Looking for a Sign” from JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME (Music and lyrics by Beck Hansen) (2nd: “Metaphorical Blanket” from Any Day Now (Music and lyrics by Rufus Wainwright), followed by: “Who Were We?” from Holy Motors (Music by Neil Hannon, lyrics by Leos Carax and Neil Hannon); “Skyfall” from Skyfall (Music and lyrics by Adele and Paul Epworth); “Who Did That To You? from Django Unchained (Music and lyrics by John Legend); “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice (Music and lyrics by J. Ralph); "Dull Tool" from This is 40 (Music and lyrics by Fiona Apple); "Wide Awake" from Katy Perry: Part of Me (Music and lyrics by Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Bonnie McKee, Maz Martin and Henry Walter); "Anything Made of Paper" from West of Memphis (Music and lyrics by Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth); "Still Alive" from Paul Williams Still Alive (Music and lyrics by Paul Williams))


SPECIAL EFFECTS: LIFE OF PI, Cloud Atlas, The Avengers


MAKEUP: CLOUD ATLAS, Holy Motors, Lincoln