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; Kevin Corrigan, Big Fan; 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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2008: The Year in Review

This is an odd year in that it left me searching desperately for answers. It is the first period of the most modern era that clued me into the downturn in cinematic quality--the Hollywood studios seemed unwilling to do anything great, and so I had to search through indie output for a conclusion. The surprise ascension of Danny Boyle's ho-hum Slumdog Millionaire still leaves me with a feeling of "What the hell happened here?" So I had to rewatch the year's output all over again to find what production I really felt was the best. At first, I was ready to go with Tomas Alfedson's brilliant blending of horror and young romance Let The Right One In, but it didn't feel completely correct as a Best Picture choice. As much as I loved Charlie Kaufman's dazzlingly personal epic Synecdoche, New York, I also realized it's an incredibly odd film that probably would not connect with most viewers. Neither does Mike Leigh's most challenging work Happy-Go-Lucky, juiced by Leigh's unusual script and astounding performances by Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan. Meanwhile, the 2009 Best Picture winner, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, first revealed at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival and a recipient of a few 2008 Independent Spirit nominations, was terrific in its visceral recreation of the Iraq War, but is also not factually correct in its depiction of military operations; I wish the movie was more well-researched (many veterans had problems with the film's screenplay). But it is incredibly strong in its most tense moments, and so there was a big push to make Bigelow the first female winner of the Best Director Oscar the following year. But I consider The Hurt Locker to be a 2008 release, and as such, I have to deny Bigelow the top spot. And, also, I see The Hurt Locker as a terrific imitation of a male-oriented tale, and so I am in search of something else.

I definitely agree that a female director finally needed to be recognized. And in my recount of 2008's output, I uncovered the film I believe should've been roundly lauded. Kelly Reichardt's debut, 1994's River of Grass, was a black-and-white, beautifully low-key hit at that year's Sundance Film Festival, but it would be years before her real breakthrough landed with 2006's Old Joy, a minimalist masterpiece about the last gasps of a male friendship, all breathed during a tentative, woodsy reunion. With only two films under her name, Kelly Reichardt had already commanded a unique place in American cinema. But this position was cemented by her biting, totally moving tale of poverty and desperation Wendy and Lucy. Reichardt lent her own sweet yellow dog Lucy as the film's co-lead and, in doing so, she perfectly portrays the undying adoration humans can have for animals (a focus I find needs more support from filmmakers; this is the most affecting film on this largely unexplored subject since Paul Mazursky's 1974 movie Harry and Tonto).

More importantly, Reichardt expertly portrays the desperation of poor people trying to find their way to happiness without a cent in their pockets (making it a perfect film for 2008, where the US and world economy took an epic dive). Michelle Williams, in the lead, delivers a crushing show as a woman whose savior trip to Alaska, dog in tow, is interrupted by complications that will send any pet-loving viewer into a frantic, head-grabbing tizzy. The economical Wendy and Lucy is easily the year's most emotionally effective movie--one that I defy anyone not to weep at its conclusion. And so I ultimately had to find in its favor as 2008's best film. It has so much to say to us. To those who haven't seen it: be patient. This is miles away from the year's most popular movie The Dark Knight (a well-crafted superhero movie most notable for Heath Ledger's startling supporting performance). Wendy and Lucy carefully dramatizes the desolate places we are headed. Are you a pet owner? It makes me sad to say it, but you might have to get ready to really experience something like this in the future. Even if you don't share your life with an animal, anyone with any empathy whatsoever will be reduced to tears and to further understanding by Reichardt's remarkable movie, and by Michelle Willams' undeniably ravishing performance. I love, love, love the bravery of Reichardt's subtly profound 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: WENDY AND LUCY (US, Kelly Reichardt) (2nd: Synecdoche, New York (US, Charlie Kaufman), followed by: Let The Right One In (Sweden, Tomas Alfredson); Happy-Go-Lucky (UK, Mike Leigh); The Hurt Locker (US, Kathryn Bigelow) (won in 2009); Still Walking (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-Eda); In Bruges (UK, Martin McDonagh); The Beaches of Agnès (France, Agnès Varda); WALL-E (US, Andrew Stanton); The Promotion (US, Steve Conrad); Somers Town (UK, Shane Meadows); The Wrestler (US, Darren Aronofsky); Hunger (UK, Steve McQueen); Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Canada, Sacha Gervasi); Tropic Thunder (US, Ben Stiller); Man on Wire (US, James Marsh); Of Time and the City (UK, Terence Davies); Julia (France/US/Mexico/Belgium, Erick Zonca); Trucker (US, James Mottern); Two Lovers (US, James Gray); Vicki Christina Barcelona (US, Woody Allen); Nights and Weekends (US, Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg); The Dark Knight (US, Christopher Nolan); Doubt (US, John Patrick Shanley); Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (US/UK, Marina Zenovich); Role Models (US, David Wain); Medicine for Melancholy (US, Barry Jenkins); Waltz with Bashir (Israel, Ari Folman); Blindness (US, Fernando Meirelles); Bronson (UK, Nicolas Winding Refn); Idiots and Angels (US, Bill Plympton); Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes (UK, Jon Ronson); Departures (Japan, Yôjirô Takita); Pray The Devil Back to Hell (US, Gini Reticker); W. (US, Oliver Stone); Everlasting Moments (Sweden, Jan Troell); The Class (France, Laurent Cantet); Be Kind Rewind (UK/France/US, Michel Gondry); The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany, Uli Edel); Iron Man (US, Jon Favreau); Burn After Reading (US, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen); 35 Shots of Rum (France, Claire Denis); Changeling (US, Clint Eastwood); The Wild Man of the Navidad (US, Duane Graves and Justin Meeks); The Bank Job (UK/US/Australia, Roger Donaldson); Frozen River (US, Debra Granik); Gran Torino (US, Clint Eastwood); I’ve Loved You So Long (France, Philippe Claudel); Frost/Nixon (US, Ron Howard); Forgetting Sarah Marshall (US, Nicholas Stoller); JCVD (Belgium/Luxembourg/France, Mabrouk El Mechri); Lovely Still (US, Nicholas Fackler); Transsiberian (Spain/Germany/UK/Lithuania, Brad Anderson); Dying Breed (Australia, Jody Dwyer); What Just Happened (US, Barry Levinson); Baghead (US, Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass); Revolutionary Road (US, Sam Mendes); Che I & II (US, Steven Soderbergh); Zack and Miri Make a Porno (US, Kevin Smith); Rachel Getting Married (US, Jonathan Demme); The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (US, David Fincher); Shine a Light (US, Martin Scorsese); Gran Torino (US, Clint Eastwood); Wanted (US, Timur Bekmambetov); Milk (US, Gus Van Sant); Slumdog Millionaire (UK/India, Danny Boyle); Australia (US/Australia, Baz Luhrmann); Me and Orson Welles (US/UK, Richard Linklater); Speed Racer (US, Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski); The Reader (US, Stephen Daldry); Twilight (US, Catherine Hardwicke); Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (US, Steven Spielberg); The Happening (US, M. Night Shyamalan))


ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, THE WRESTLER (2nd: Michael Fassbender, Hunger, followed by: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Synecdoche, New York; Tom Hardy, Bronson; Joaquin Phoenix, Two Lovers; Josh Brolin, W.; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon)



ACTRESS: Michelle Williams, WENDY AND LUCY (2nd: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky,  followed by: Tilda Swinton, Julia; Michelle Monaghan, Trucker; Angelena Jolie, Changeling; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You for So Long)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT (2nd: Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky, followed by: Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road; Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading; Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker; John C. Reilly, The Promotion)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis, DOUBT (2nd: Penelope Cruz, Vicki Christina Barcelona, followed by: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Tilda Swinton, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Amy Adams, Doubt; Samantha Morton, Synecdoche, New York; Lina Liandersson, Let The Right One In)


DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt, WENDY AND LUCY (2nd: Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche New York, followed by: Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In; Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky; Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (won in 2009); Andrew Stanton, WALL-E; Agnès Varda, The Beaches of Agnès)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Sweden, Tomas Alfredson) (2nd: Still Walking (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-Eda), followed by: The Beaches of Agnès (France, Agnès Varda); Waltz with Bashir (Israel, Ari Folman); Departures (Japan, Yôjirô Takita); Everlasting Moments (Sweden, Jan Troell); The Class (France, Laurent Cantet); The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany, Uli Edel); 35 Shots of Rum (France, Claire Denis); I’ve Loved You So Long (France, Philippe Claudel))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: THE BEACHES OF AGNES (France, Agnès Varda) (2nd: Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Canada, Sacha Gervasi), followed by: Man on Wire (US, James Marsh); Of Time and the City (UK, Terence Davies); Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (US/UK, Marina Zenovich); Waltz with Bashir (Israel, Ari Folman); Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes (UK, Jon Ronson); Pray The Devil Back to Hell (US, Gini Reticker)))



ANIMATED FEATURE: WALL-E (US, Andrew Stanton) (2nd: Idiots and Angels (US, Bill Plympton), followed by: Waltz With Bashir (Israel, Ari Folman))



ANIMATED SHORT: LAVATORY--LOVESTORY (Russia, Konstantin Bronzit) (2nd: The House of Little Cubes (Japan, Kunio Kato), followed by: This Way Up (UK, Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith); I Am So Proud of You (US, Don Hertzfeldt))



LIVE ACTION SHORT:  THE WITNESS FROM THE BALCONY OF ROOM 306 (US, Adam Pertofsky) (2nd: Next Floor (Canada, Denis Villeneuve), followed by: Toyland (Germany, Jochen Alexander Freydank); Signs (Australia, Patrick Hughes))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Charlie Kaufman, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2nd: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges, followed by: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky; Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Jim Reardon, WALL-E; Steve Conrad, The Promotion)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: John Ajvide Lindqvist, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2nd: Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, Wendy and Lucy; followed by: John Patrick Shanley, Doubt; Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David Goyer, The Dark Knight; Justin Haythe, Revolutionary Road)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Hoyte van Hoytema, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2nd: Frederick Elmes, Synecdoche, New York, followed by: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight; Sam Levy, Wendy and LucyAnthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire)


ART DIRECTION: SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, The Dark Knight, Australia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

COSTUME DESIGN: REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Duchess, Australia, Synecdoche New York 



FILM EDITING: THE HURT LOCKER (won in 2009), Wendy and Lucy, Let The Right One In, In Bruges, The Bank Job

SOUND: THE HURT LOCKER (won in 2009), The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Wanted, Iron Man

 

SOUND EFFECTS: WALL-E, The Hurt Locker, Wanted, The Dark Knight, Speed Racer



ORIGINAL SCORE: Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, THE HURT LOCKER (2nd: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire, followed by: Thomas Newman, WALL-E; Johan Söderqvist, Let the Right One In; Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, The Dark Knight)



ORIGINAL SONG: “The Wrestler” from THE WRESTLER (Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen) (2nd: “Down to Earth” from WALL-E (Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; lyrics by Peter Gabriel), followed by "Gran Torino" from Gran Torino (Music and lyrics by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, and Michael Stevens); “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire (Music by A.R. Rahman; lyrics by Gulzar))


SPECIAL EFFECTS: THE DARK KNIGHT, Iron Man, Synecdoche New York, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Speed Racer

MAKEUP: TROPIC THUNDER, The Dark Knight, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2007--The Year in Review

An incredible year for movies, top-heavy with masterpieces to the point where this can assuredly be deemed the last most astounding period for the art form. The top four are all western-US-themed--two set in the old (or nearly old) West, and two in a radically new West, and each are now violent modern classics. It was very difficult to pick the best of the best this year, but I had to go with the one that absolutely would not leave my mind after I saw it, and for years afterwards. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was abandoned to a dismal box office showing by uncaring Warner Brothers execs. But when I first saw it on the big screen opening weekend, I was so dazzled by it that I left the theater stumbling in amazement at writer/director Andrew Dominick's complete mastery with words and images, all employed to transport us back to this momentous place in history, and all able to connect with our present fascination with celebrity and public adulation. I love that the film was further adorned with Casey Affleck's sadly empty and desirous Robert Ford (a performance I almost counted as a lead) and Roger Deakins' absolutely incredible widescreen cinematography, which literally makes us feel as we're seeing the past through a new (though old) lens. Still, I can watch it again and again, mining more great things from it. It endlessly feels like poetry.

At about the same time, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood was unleashed, and though I didn't get it the first time around (though I was instantly impressed with Daniel Day Lewis's reprehensible oil tycoon Daniel Plainview), I found myself gravitating to the movie more and more, to the point where I now see it as another invaluable P.T. Anderson masterpiece. Same goes for the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, a gripping adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Texas-set crime novel, and certainly a worthy choice for Best Picture, as the Academy deemed it. The saddest thing is that the Academy didn't even give one nomination to David Fincher's brilliant (though slightly flawed) look at the Zodiac killings that kept the San Francisco area in fright for more than a decade. Zodiac, with its remarkably invisible visual effects, remains perhaps the most underrated movie of the year, though it has competition in Sidney Lumet's nerve-wracked final film Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's pitch-perfect tribute to '70s B-movie glory Grindhouse (which I'm still waiting to see again on digital media in its original form), Mexican director Carlos Reygadas' completely gorgeous Silent Light, Gus Van Sant's unexpectedly beautiful look at the skateboarding subculture Paranoid Park, Andrzej Wajda's unbelievably devastating war drama Katyn; Danny Boyle's deeply felt yet faulty sci-fi drama Sunshine, and James Gray's tense tale of crime and family called We Own the Night. Though there were two movies that fought against it all (the Marion Cotillard-anchored Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose and Julian Schnabel's inspiring The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), the sureness of death and darkness overtook the movies of 2007, to the point of utter brilliance. 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 ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (US, Andrew Dominik) (2nd: There Will Be Blood (US, Paul Thomas Anderson), followed by: No Country for Old Men (US, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen); Zodiac (US, David Fincher); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (US, Julian Schnabel); No End in Sight (US, Charles Ferguson); Grindhouse (US, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino); Encounters at the End of the World (US, Werner Herzog); Silent Light (Mexico, Carlos Reygadas); 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Paranoid Park (US, Gus Van Sant); Katyn (Poland, Andrzej Wajda); Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (US, Sidney Lumet); My Winnipeg (Canada, Guy Maddin); Gone Baby Gone (US, Ben Affleck); We Own The Night (US, James Gray); [●rec] (Spain, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza); La Vie En Rose (France, Olivier Dahan); The Edge of Heaven (Turkey, Fatih Akin); The Visitor (US, Thomas McCarthy); Ratatouille (US, Brad Bird); Superbad (US, Greg Mottola); American Gangster (US, Ridley Scott); I’m Not There (US, Todd Haynes); Michael Clayton (US, Tony Gilroy); Charlie Wilson's War (US, Mike Nichols); The Savages (US, Tamara Jenkins); Into the Wild (US, Sean Penn); Once (Ireland, John Carney); La Vie en Rose (France, Olivier Dahan); Waitress (US, Adrienne Shelly); Sicko (US, Michael Moore); Persepolis (France, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Strapi); Sunshine (UK, Danny Boyle); Smiley Face (US, Gregg Araki); Knocked Up (US, Judd Apatow); Taxi to the Dark Side (US, Alex Gibney); A Girl Cut in Two (France, Claude Chabrol); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (US, Tim Burton); Hannah Takes The Stairs (US, Joe Swanberg); King of California (US, Mike Cahill); Hot Fuzz (UK, Edgar Wright); Enchanted (US, Kevin Lima); My Blueberry Nights (Hong Hong/US, Wong Kar-Wai); Year of the Dog (US, Mike White); Lars and the Real Girl (US/Canada, Craig Gillespie); Across the Universe (US, Julie Taymor); The Bourne Ultimatum (US, Paul Greengrass); Atonement (UK, Joe Wright); Juno (US, Jason Reitman); Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (US, Jake Kasdan); Cassandra's Dream (US/UK, Woody Allen); Death at a Funeral (US/UK/Netherlands, Frank Oz); The Lookout (US, Scott Frank); The Mist (US, Frank Darabont); Paranormal Activity (US, Oren Peli); Redacted (US, Brian De Palma); Helvetica (US, Gary Hustwit); In the Valley of Elah (US, Paul Haggis); Eastern Promises (UK/Canada, David Cronenberg); The King of Kong (US, Seth Gordon); Control (UK, Anton Corbijn); The Darjeeling Limited (US, Wes Anderson); Lust, Caution (Hong Kong/China/US, Ang Lee); Transformers (US, Michael Bay))



ACTOR: Daniel Day Lewis, THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2nd: Tommy Lee Jones, No Country For Old Men, followed by: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You‘re Dead; Michael Douglas, King of California; Brad Pitt, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford; Chris Cooper, Breach)



ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, LA VIE EN ROSE (2nd: Anna Faris, Smiley Face, followed by: Anamaria Marinca, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days; Laura Linney, The Savages; Adrianne Shelley, Waitress; Ellen Page, Juno; Amy Adams, Enchanted)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Casey Affleck, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men, followed by: Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood; Robert Downey Jr., Zodiac; Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild; Kurt Russell, Grindhouse; Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, I‘M NOT THERE (2nd: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton, followed by: Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Marisa Tomei, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead; Laura Vasiliu, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days; Sally Hawkins, Cassandra's Dream)



DIRECTOR: Andrew Dominik, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood, followed by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men; David Fincher, Zodiac; Julian Schabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Carlos Reygadas, Silent Light; Cristian Mungiu, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (France/US, Julian Schnabel) (2nd: Silent Light (Mexico, Carlos Reygadas), followed by: 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Katyn (Poland, Andrej Wadja); [●rec] (Spain, Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza); La Vie En Rose (France, Olivier Dahan); The Edge of Heaven (Germany/Turkey/Italy, Fatih Akin))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: NO END IN SIGHT (US, Charles Ferguson) (2nd: Encounters at the End of the World (US, Werner Herzog), followed by: My Winnipeg (Canada, Guy Maddin); Sicko (US, Michael Moore); Taxi to the Dark Side (US, Alex Gibney); Helvetica (US, Gary Hustwit))



ANIMATED FEATURE: RATATOUILLE (US, Brad Bird) (2nd: Persepolis (France/US, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrepi))



ANIMATED SHORT: I MET THE WALRUS (Canada, Josh Raskin) (2nd: My Love (USSR, Alexander Petrov), followed by: Peter and the Wolf (US, Suzie Templeton); Madame Tutli-Putli (Canada, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski); The Ark (Poland, Grzezorj Jonkajtys))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: DENNIS (Denmark, Mads Matthieson) (2nd: Hotel Chevalier (US, Wes Anderson), followed by: Cutlass (US, Kate Hudson); The Mozart of Pickpockets (France, Philippe Pollet-Villard); Tanghi Argentini (Belgium, Guy Thys))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Kelly Masterson, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (2nd: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, and Jim Capobianco, Ratatouille, followed by: Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; Tamara Jenkins, The Savages; Diablo Cody, Juno)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2nd: Andrew Dominick, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, followed by; Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be BloodRonald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson's War)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood, followed by: Roger Deakins, No Country For Old Men; Christopher Doyle and Rain Li, Paranoid Park; Darius Khondji, My Blueberry Nights)

ART DIRECTION: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

COSTUME DESIGN: ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Across the Universe, There Will Be Blood



FILM EDITING: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, There Will Be Blood, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, The Bourne Ultimatum, Zodiac

SOUND: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, There Will Be Blood, The Bourne Ultimatum, Sunshine, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 



SOUND EFFECTS: THERE WILL BE BLOOD, No Country for Old Men, The Bourne Ultimatum



ORIGINAL SCORE: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (2nd: Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood, followed by: Dario Marinelli, Atonement; Alberto Iglasias, The Kite Runner; David Shire, Zodiac)

ADAPTED OR SONG SCORE: Glen Hansard, ONCE (2nd: Alan Menken, Enchanted, followed by: Michael Andrews, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story; Marc Shaiman, Hairspray; Paul Gemignani, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street



ORIGINAL SONG: "Falling Slowly" from ONCE (Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) (2nd: “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwarz), followed by: “Walk Hard” from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Music and lyrics by Marshall Crenshaw, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan); “Le Festin” from Ratatouille (Music and lyrics by Michael Giacchino); “Way Back Into Love” from Music and Lyrics (Music and lyrics by Adam Schlesinger); “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwarz))



SPECIAL EFFECTS: ZODIAC, Sunshine, Grindhouse

MAKEUP: LA VIE EN ROSE, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2006--The Year in Review

2006 is dominated by two movies for me: one, a sickeningly tense historical thriller about the new realities in the fight against terrorism, and the other, an utterly transporting epic about the power of imagination (actually, one of two such stories this year, both commandeered by young girls). Tarsem Singh's The Fall--which I didn't see until its summer 2008 US release--and Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth were positively psychotropic in their assured visions, yet The Fall had so much more weight to it because of its tremendous lead performances from Lee Pace (as a depressed silent-era movie stuntman laid up with a broken body and heart) and the astonishing Catinca Untaru, a Romanian girl who at seven years of age delivers the kind of searing, funny, charming performance that actors ten times her age would love to have on their resume; her performance is a miracle, and I'm particularly glad to give this near-toddler my Best Actress nod. In The Fall, she plays a young hospital patient with an awkward arm cast who pays friendly visits to Pace's character and gets drawn into his vividly bold tales of fantasy. The Fall is such a superb film--surprisingly, maybe the greatest superhero movie ever (it gets to the heart of why we find such tales fascinating). It's so gorgeous as it tours us literally all around the world (it was filmed on location in over 20 different countries) and it's so damn moving that it's wholly difficult for me to not award it Best Picture (if I was choosing it as a film from 2008, when I first saw it, it'd win assuredly). But The Fall really had its first showing (probably unfinished) at a film festival in 2006, so I have to consider it a product of that time. Still, if I had one 2006 film to steer people towards, it'd be this one. I love Del Toro's cult hit, but it doesn't move me nearly as much as The Fall, though Pan's Labyrinth greatly impresses my eyes. However, given all this, I'm proud to award the top spot to among the most gut-wrenching movies ever made.

Paul Greengrass' United 93 is, markedly, the earliest narrative commentary on the 9/11 tragedy and, to date, the very last cinematic word on the subject. Will any film director ever in history be able to give us the sense of actually being there, on the earth, above on the flight, in the conference rooms and the towers, at that moment the planes hit the World Trade Center? United 93 sets an impossibly high bar. Greengrass made a daring choice in casting many of the aviation and military officials that were actually working that day (Ben Sliney, the newly-named Federal Aviation Administration's head officer, recreates his nascent hours on the job with such incredible power that I had to nominate him for Best Supporting Actor). This lends a dazzling palpability to what we see. But then we have the superb actors cast as the passengers on the doomed flight, all of them (the ones playing the terrorists included) forming a spectacular ensemble that inseparably mingles with the unimaginably authentic work from the real-life non-actors. The British filmmaker Greengrass gives more aching truth to his work with cinematographer Barry Ackroyd's textbook-correct handheld camerawork, while the obscuring sound design, sharp editing. and nearly invisible special effects are all perfectly utilized to put us right in the seats of some who lost their lives that day. United 93 is a film that succeeds horribly and magnificently even though we know how it has to end. To this day, after watching it over and over, it still gets my blood up. It's that powerful--I can't state it any more starkly. I stand in wonder: how did this filmmaker do it? How was he able?

I really adored many other movies from 2006--Alfonso Cuarón's astoundingly mournful and masterful sci-fi tale Children of Men (the perhaps rightful favorite of many movie lovers); the chilly but moving Cold War yarn The Lives of Others (led by the haunted Ulrich Muhe, who was dying of cancer while the film was being made); Old Joy, Kelly Reichardt's little-seen, low-key yet profoundly revealing story of fading male friendship; Todd Field's almost anthropological dissection of American suburban malaise Little Children (with one-time child star Jackie Earle Haley returning to greatness); Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century, an eerie anecdote cementing this Thai newcomer's work as an alternative to stale Western cinema; the hilariously muscle-spraining Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, a perfect translation of Sasha Baron Cohen's humor from the small screen to the big--a rare success in that fashion and one which made him a worldwide star; Shane Meadow's This is England, an exacting '80s-set recount of a British kid's intro into the punk-driven skinhead movement, with young Thomas Turgoose heading a superb cast; Darren Aronofsky's challenging, time-hopping romance The Fountain; and Robert Altman's cinematic wake, a raucously prescient farewell to movies and a worldwide love letter based on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. I, too, adored Martin Scorsese's maze-like crime film The Departed, but as I have already given accolades to this genius for Taxi Driver, The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, and A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, I'm not in the position of having to sheepishly hand him, as the Academy did, a make-up award for a fine but lesser film. I have no doubts as to the best movie of 2006: it's the one that captures me once I see a single frame of it and lets me go only at its brutally crushing end. There will, I hope, never be another like it. 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: UNITED 93 (US, Paul Greengrass) (2nd: The Fall (US/India, Tarsem Singh), followed by: Children of Men (US/UK, Alfonso Cuarón); The Lives of Others (Germany, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck); Old Joy (US, Kelly Reichardt); Little Children (US, Todd Field); Syndromes and a Century (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (US, Larry Charles); This is England (UK, Shane Meadows); The Fountain (US, Darren Aronofsky); A Prairie Home Companion (US, Robert Altman); Inside Man (US, Spike Lee); Friends with Money (US, Nicole Holofcener); The Departed (US, Martin Scorsese); Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico, Guillermo Del Toro); Away From Her (Canada, Sarah Polley); Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (US, Adam McKay); Inland Empire (US, David Lynch); Idiocrasy (US, Mike Judge); Casino Royale (US/UK, Martin Campbell); Tell No One (France, Guillaume Canet); Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (UK, Stephen Kijak); Babel (US/Mexico, Alejandro González Iñárritu); Alpha Dog (US, Nick Cassavetes); Paprika (Japan, Satoshi Kon); The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (UK/Austria/Netherlands, Sophie Fiennes); Letters from Iwo Jima (US, Clint Eastwood); The Prestige (US, Christopher Nolan); Half Nelson (US, Ryan Fleck); Longford (UK, Tom Hooper); Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders (US, James D. Scurlock); 12:08: East of Bucharest (Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu); The Hoax (US, Lasse Hallstrom); Notes on a Scandal (UK, Richard Eyre); The Prestige (US, Christopher Nolan); Marie Antoinette (US, Sofia Coppola); Apocalypto (US, Mel Gibson); The Wind That Shakes the Barley (UK/Ireland, Ken Loach); The Break-Up (US, Peyton Reed); Sherrybaby (US, Laurie Collyer); Manufactured Landscapes (US, Jennifer Baichwal); Jindabyne (Australia, Ray Lawrence); Black Book (Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven); Iraq in Fragments (US, James Langley); Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Germany/France/Spain/US, Tom Tykwer); The Queen (UK, Stephen Frears); The Bridge (US, Eric Steel); The Namesake (India/US, Mira Nair); The Little Death (US, Morgan Nichols); Rescue Dawn (US, Werner Herzog); The Good Shepherd (US, Robert De Niro); This Film is Not Yet Rated (US, Kirby Dick); Jesus Camp (US, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady); Little Miss Sunshine (US, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris); An Inconvenient Truth (US, Davis Guggenheim); A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints (US, Dino Montiel); The TV Set (US, Jake Kasdan); The Illusionist (US, Neil Burger); Thank You For Smoking (US, Jason Reitman); Volver (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) (US, John Schienfeld); Rocky Balboa (US, Sylvester Stallone); Infamous (US, Douglas McGrath); Dreamgirls (US, Bill Condon); Flags of Our Fathers (US, Clint Eastwood); Black Snake Moan (US, Craig Brewer); Hollywoodland (US, Allen Coulter); Monster House (US, Gil Kenan); Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (US, Stanley Nelson); Southland Tales (US, Richard Kelly); Happy Feet (US/Australia, George Miller); The Last King of Scotland (UK, Kevin MacDonald); The Host (South Korea, Bong Joon-ho); Shortbus (US, John Cameron Mitchell); The Black Dahlia (US, Brian De Palma))


ACTOR: Ulrich Muhe, THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2nd: Sasha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, followed by: Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson; Thomas Turgoose, This is England; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed; Lee Pace, The Fall; Richard Gere, The Hoax)

ACTRESS: Catinca Untaru, THE FALL (2nd: Laura Dern, Inland Empire, followed by: Kate Winslet, Little Children; Julie Christie, Away From Her; Helen Mirren, The Queen; Judy Dench, Notes on a Scandal; Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sherrybaby)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jackie Earle Haley, LITTLE CHILDREN (2nd: Mark Wahlberg, The Departed, followed by: Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland (won as Best Actor); Ben Sliney, United 93; Stephen Graham, This is England; John C. Reilly, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Hudson, DREAMGIRLS (2nd: Shareeka Epps, Half Nelson, followed by: Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal; Frances McDormand, Friends With Money; Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine; Phyllis Sommerville, Little Children; Adriana Barraza, Babel)



DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass, UNITED 93 (2nd: Tarsem Singh, The Fall, followed by: Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men; Kelly Reichardt, Old Joy; Florian Henkel von Donnensmark, The Lives of Others; Todd Field, Little Children; Apiachapong Weerasethakul, Syndromes and a Century)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Germany, Florian Henkel von Donnensmark) (2nd: Syndromes and a Century (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul), followed by: Tell No One (France, Guillaume Canet); Paprika (Japan, Satoshi Kon); Letters from Iwo Jima (US, Clint Eastwood); 12:08: East of Bucharest (Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu); Black Book (Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven); Volver (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); The Host (South Korea, Bong Joon-ho))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: SCOTT WALKER: 30 CENTURY MAN (UK, Stephen Kijack) (2nd: The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (UK/Austria/Netherlands, Sophie Fiennes), followed by: Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders (US, James D. Scurlock); Iraq in Fragments (US, James Langley); The Bridge (US, Eric Steel); This Film is Not Yet Rated (US, Kirby Dick); Jesus Camp (US, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady); An Inconvenient Truth (US, Davis Guggenheim); Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) (US, John Schienfeld); Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (US, Stanley Nelson))

ANIMATED FEATURE: PAPRIKA (Japan, Satoshi Kon) (2nd: Monster House (US, Gil Kenan), followed by: Happy Feet (US/Australia, George Miller))



ANIMATED SHORT: EVERYTHING WILL BE OK (US, Don Hertzfeld) (2nd: The Danish Poet (Norway/Canada, Torill Kove), followed by: The Little Match Girl (US, Roger Allers))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: LA MORTE ROUGE (Spain, Victor Erice) (2nd: West Bank Story (US, Ari Sandel), followed by: Touch (US, David Hamilton))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Florian Henkel von Donnensmark, THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2nd: Paul Greengrass, United 93, followed by: Nicole Holofcener, Friends With Money; Shane Meadows, This is England; Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, Old Joy)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby, CHILDREN OF MEN (2nd: Sasha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hine, Peter Baynham, Dan Mizer and Todd Phillips, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, followed by: Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, Little Children; William Monahan, The Departed; Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis, and Tarsem Singh, The Fall)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Colin Watkinson, THE FALL (2nd: Emmanuel Lubezki, Children of Men, followed by: Wally Pfister, The Prestige; Guillermo Navarro, Pan's Labyrinth; Barry Ackroyd, United 93)

ART DIRECTION: PAN'S LABYRINTH, Marie Antoinette, The Fall, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, The Fountain


COSTUME DESIGN: THE FALL, Marie Antoinette, The Fountain, The Prestige, Dreamgirls



FILM EDITING: UNITED 93, Children of Men, The Departed, The Fall, Inside Man

SOUND: UNITED 93, Children of Men, World Trade Center, Apocolypto, Casino Royale



SOUND EFFECTS: WORLD TRADE CENTER, Apocolypto, Letters from Iwo Jima



ORIGINAL SCORE: Clint Mansell, THE FOUNTAIN (2nd: Gustavo Santolalla, Babel, followed by: John Powell, United 93; Philip Glass, Notes on a Scandal; Alexandre Desplat, The Painted Veil)



ORIGINAL SONG: “I Need to Wake Up” from AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (Music and lyrics by Melissa Etheridge) (2nd: “O Kazakstan” from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Music by Erran Baron Cohen; lyrics by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Beter Baynham, Todd Phillips, Dan Greaney, Jeff Poloquin and Patton Oswalt), followed by: “A Father’s Way” from The Pursuit of Happyness (Music and lyrics by Seal))



ADAPTED OR SONG SCORE: Richard A. Dworsky, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (2nd: Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger, Dreamgirls)



SPECIAL EFFECTS: CHILDREN OF MEN, United 93, Pan's Labyrinth

MAKEUP: PAN’S LABYRINTH, Apocolypto, The Fall

Friday, November 4, 2016

2005--The Year in Review

A remarkable year for movies, especially for the top ten. But, for me, there is only one choice–my favorite film of the 2000s, Terrence Malick's uplifting retelling of the now-mythic discovery of North America, guided by the delicate yet complex romance between an unruly British ship captain, John Smith (Colin Ferrell) and a young Native American princess Pocahontas, unnamed here and played impeccably by newcomer Q’Orianka Kilcher (whose previous brush with fame had been as the sister of then-popular singer Jewel; this unknown stance unjustly kept her far away from the Best Actress race). The New World is, when seen on the big screen, a tremendously moving account of innocence lost, its gorgeousness first commanded by an uplifting use of Richard Wagner's ever-escalating prelude to Das Rheingold as bookends to Malick's ravishing work (the use of Wagner's spectacular music, alone, moved me to tears, especially when coupled with Emmanuel Lubezski's unbelievable cinematography and Malick's perfect direction; this was as sublime as anything I'd ever seen cinema offer). The New World, throughout, still moves me to copious tears with its overwhelming beauty, but so does Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, the Hollywood movie that everybody thought was destined for Best Picture glory. Both Heath Ledger's and Jake Gyllenhaal's performances as conflicted '50s-era cowboy lovers jolted the collective culture. Yet the Academy decided for Paul Haggis' race-driven, early year hit Crash, in probably the most unfortunately surprising Oscar conclusion ever.

Meanwhile, more moving, foreign-flavored pictures like Michael Haneke's tense tale of family secrets Caché, Belgian brothers Jean-Luc Dardenne and Pierre Dardenne's devastating L’Enfant, and Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog's belated collaboration with animal-loving loner Timothy Treadwell (who deserved a co-director credit); all were worthy of Best Picture consideration, even though each of these movies emerged with not a single nomination between them. I nonetheless loved the remaining Best Picture nominees--Steven Spielberg's continually rewarding and mature Munich, George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck, an elegant black-and-white account of the clash between CBS news scion Edward R. Murrow and scuzzy US senator Joseph McCarthy, and Bennett Miller's Capote, detailing that author's internal struggle to get In Cold Blood down on the page (which resulted in the exquisite Philip Seymour Hoffman winning the Best Actor Oscar, even if it now seems another actor, Toby Jones, later proved himself better suited for the Capote role). As for the Supporting Oscars, Clooney justifiably nabbed the top spot for his tense portrayal of a conflicted CIA operative driving himself insane on behalf of U.S. oil superiority, but I was devastated at Amy Adams being denied the Supporting Actress victory for her lovely, wide-eyed mother-to-be in Junebug; this fine actress has been searching for a make-up award ever since. 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 NEW WORLD (US, Terrence Malick) (2nd: Brokeback Mountain (US, Ang Lee), followed by: Caché (France, Michael Haneke); L’Enfant (Belgium/France, Jean-Luc Dardenne and Pierre Dardenne); Munich (US, Steven Spielberg); Grizzly Man (US, Werner Herzog and Timothy Treadwell); Capote (US, Bennett Miller); The Constant Gardener (UK, Fernando Meirelles); Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (UK, Michael Winterbottom); Bob Dylan: No Direction Home (US, Martin Scorsese); The Squid and the Whale (US, Noam Baumbach); Good Night, and Good Luck (US, George Clooney); In Her Shoes (US, Curtis Hanson); Into Great Silence (Germany/France, Philip Gröning); Junebug (US, Phil Morrison); Hustle and Flow (US, Craig Brewer); The 40 Year Old Virgin (US, Judd Apatow); The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (US, Tommy Lee Jones); Syriana (US, Stephen Gaghan); Paradise Now (Palestine, Hany Abu-Assad); Me and You and Everyone We Know (US, Miranda July); A History of Violence (US/Canada, David Cronenberg); Batman Begins (US, Christopher Nolan); Mirrormask (US/UK, Dave McKean); Shopgirl (US, Anand Tucker); Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (US, Shane Black); Forty Shades of Blue (US, Ira Sachs); Joyuex Noel (France/Germany/UK, Christian Carion); Ballets Russes (US, Daniel Keller and Dayna Goldfine); The Matador (US/Ireland, Richard Shepard); Oliver Twist (UK/France/Italy/Czech Republic, Roman Polanski); Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (UK, Nick Park and Steve Box); Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (US, Albert Brooks); Sophie Scholl: The Last Days (Germany, Marc Rothemund); Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (US, Alex Gibney); The Upside of Anger (US, Mike Binder); Stay (US, Marc Forster); Jarhead (US, Sam Mendes); March of the Penguins (France, Luc Jacquet); Match Point (UK/US, Woody Allen); Mad Hot Ballroom (US, Marilyn Agrelo); Duma (US, Carroll Ballard); The Descent (UK, Neil Marshall); Why We Fight (US, Eugene Jareki); Corpse Bride (US, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson); I Am a Sex Addict (US, Caveh Zahedi); Everything is Illuminated (US, Liev Schreiber); Happy Endings (US, Don Roos); Murderball (US, Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro); Walk the Line (US, James Mangold); Lord of War (US, Andrew Niccol); North Country (US, Niki Caro); Down in the Valley (US, David Jacobson); Sin City (US, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and Frank Miller); Crash (US, Paul Haggis); Transamerica (US, Duncan Tucker); Dark Water (US, Walter Salles); Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (US, Liam Lynch); Cinderella Man (US, Ron Howard); Manderlay (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Serenity (US, Joss Whedon); The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, Cristi Puiu); The Proposition (Australia, John Hillcoat); V for Vendetta (US, James McTeague); King Kong (US, Peter Jackson); Memoirs of a Geisha (US, Rob Marshall); The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (US, Andrew Adamson); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (US, Tim Burton); Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (US, George Lucas); Mysterious Skin (US, Gregg Araki))



ACTOR: Heath Ledger, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2nd: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; followed by: Daniel Autiel, Cache; Terrence Howard, Hustle and Flow; Pierce Brosnan, The Matador; Jeremie Renier, L'Enfant; David Straithairn, Good Night, and Good Luck)



ACTRESS: Q’Orianka Kilcher, THE NEW WORLD (2nd: Juliette Binoche, Cache; followed by: Dina Korzun, Forty Shades of Blue; Cameron Diaz, In Her Shoes; Toni Collette, In Her Shoes; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line; Charlize Theron, North Country)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: George Clooney, SYRIANA (2nd: Matt Dillon, Crash, followed by: Ed Harris, A History of Violence; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; Clifton Collins Jr., Capote; Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain; Rob Brydon, Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Adams, JUNEBUG (2nd: Rachel Weitz, The Constant Gardener, followed by: Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain; Taraji P. Henson, Hustle and Flow; Deborah François, L'Enfant; Sheetal Sheth, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World; Catherine Keener, Capote)

DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick, THE NEW WORLD (2nd: Michael Haneke, Cache, followed by: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, L’Enfant; Steven Spielberg, Munich; Werner Herzog and Timothy Treadwell, Grizzly Man; Bennett Miller, Capote)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: CACHE (Belgium/France, Michael Haneke) (2nd: L’Enfant (Belgium, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne) followed by: Into Great Silence (Germany/France, Philip Gröning); Paradise Now (Palestine, Hany Abu-Assad); Sophie Scholl: The Last Days (Germany, Marc Rothemund); The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, Cristi Puiu))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: GRIZZLY MAN (US, Werner Herzog and Timothy Treadwell) (2nd: Bob Dylan: No Direction Home (US, Martin Scorsese), followed by: Into Great Silence (France/Germany.Switzerland, Philip Groning); Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (US, Alex Gibney); March of the Penguins (France, Luc Jacquet); Ballet Russes (US, Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine); Mad Hot Ballroom (US, Marilyn Agrelo); Why We Fight (US, Eugene Jarecki); Murderball (US, Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro))

ANIMATED FEATURE: WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (UK, Nick Park and Steve Box) (2nd: Corpse Bride (US, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson))



ANIMATED SHORT: THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION (US, John Canemaker) (2nd: Rabbit (UK, Run Wrake), followed by: 9 (US, Shane Acker); Milch (US, Igor Kovalyov)



LIVE ACTION SHORT: CASHBACK (UK, Sean Ellis) (2nd: Starcrossed (US, James Burkhammer), followed by: Mute (US, Melissa Joan Hart); Boys Grammar (Australia, Dean Francis))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Michael Haneke, CACHE (2nd: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, L’Enfant, followed by: Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale; Guillermo Arriaga, The Three Burials of Meliquiades Estrada; Angus MacLachlan, Junebug)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2nd: Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich, followed by: Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener; Frank Cotrell Boyce, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story; Jennifer Weiner, In Her Shoes)



CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki, THE NEW WORLD (2nd: Dion Beebe, Memoirs of a Geisha, followed by: Wally Pfister, Batman Begins; Robert Elswit, Good Night and Good Luck; Philip Groning, Into Great Silence)

ART DIRECTION: MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Good Night and Good Luck, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The New World, Mirrormask

COSTUME DESIGN: MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Walk The Line, The New World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oliver Twist



FILM EDITING: MUNICH, Brokeback Mountain, Syriana, The New World, Grizzly Man



SOUND: KING KONG, War of the Worlds, The New World, Brokeback Mountain, Batman Begins



SOUND EFFECTS: WAR OF THE WORLDS, King Kong, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 



ORIGINAL SCORE: Gustavo Santolalla, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2nd: John Williams, Munich, followed by: James Horner, The New World; Dario Marianelli, Pride and Prejudice; Julian Nott, Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit)



ORIGINAL SONG: “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from HUSTLE AND FLOW (Music and lyrics by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard) (2nd: “Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica (Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton), followed by: "Whoop That Trick" from Hustle and Flow (Music and lyrics by Alphonzo Bailey))


SPECIAL EFFECTS: KING KONG, War of the Worlds, Sin City, Mirrormask, Batman Begins

MAKEUP: THE NEW WORLD, Sin City, Memoirs of a Geisha