Friday, October 28, 2016

2004--The Year in Review

Goodness, what a difficult puzzle this was to work out. Initially, I was ready to go with Jonathan Glazer's Birth, a stunningly gorgeous take on a horror story, with Nicole Kidman as a woman in such longing for her dead fiancee that she's willing to devote herself to a child claiming to be his reincarnation. But then I rewatched it, and found minor but significant flaws. I was then almost willing to go with the Academy's choice, Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby, but I always had issues with some of its iffy acting, lesser scenes, and problematic plot points. I see Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes bio-pic The Aviator as a well-produced, highly entertaining mixed bag that gets better as it goes along. Meanwhile, Mike Leigh's Vera Drake is beyond reproach, yet seems a bit dark for Best Picture (the same goes for Hirokazu Kore-Eda's beautifully depressing tale of child abandonment Nobody Knows). I momentarily toyed with Napoleon Dynamite (way too light, though it might be the 2004 movie that's provided me with the most joy, repeatedly), Downfall (too dour, though its lead actor was a powerhouse shoo-in even against the popular choice: Jamie Foxx's uncanny Ray Charles), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (too knowingly hip). But, in the end, I had to find for the year's critical favorite, Alexander Payne's Sideways, a gloriously performed and scripted movie I find I can watch repeatedly without it falling apart before my eyes (yet I ended up choosing Mike Leigh for Best Director; his Vera Drake is just too magnificent to ignore, with his superb script and Imelda Staunton's lead performance its primary drives). This is a year of many fine films, but few seem like totally suitable, "oh, yeah, of course..." or even "I can see that" Best Picture winners. Even Sideways feels a curiously akin to its title. 2004 is yet another sign that things are changing for movies, and not necessarily for the better. 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: SIDEWAYS (US, Alexander Payne)
(2nd: Vera Drake (UK, Mike Leigh)
followed by: Nobody Knows (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-Eda)
Million Dollar Baby (US, Clint Eastwood)
Downfall (Germany, Oliver Hirschbiegel)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (US, Michel Gondry)
The Incredibles (US, Brad Bird)
Napoleon Dynamite (US, Jared Hess)
The Aviator (US, Martin Scorsese)
Birth (US, Jonathan Glazer)
Before Sunset (US, Richard Linklater)
In The Realms of the Unreal (US, Jessica Yu)
2046 (Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wai)
Primer (US, Shane Carruth)
Shaun of the Dead (UK, Edgar Wright)
Team America: World Police (US, Trey Parker)
I ♥ Huckabees (US, David O. Russell)
Moolaadé (Senegal, Ousmane Sembene)
Head-On (Germany, Fatih Akin)
Spider-Man 2 (US, Sam Raimi)
Kung Fu Hustle (Hong Kong, Stephen Chow)
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (US/Mexico, Niels Mueller)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (US, Wes Anderson)
Keane (US, Lodge Kerrigan)
Tropical Malady (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Maria Full of Grace (US/Colombia, Joshua Marston)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (US, Kerry Conran)
Ray (US Taylor Hackford)
Teacher’s Pet (US, Timothy Bjorklund)
The Bourne Supremacy (US, Paul Greengrass)
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (US, Xan Cassavetes)
Born Into Brothels (US, Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman)
Collateral (US, Michael Mann)
The Girl Next Door (US, Luke Greenfield)
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (US, Kevin Willmott)
Moog (US, Hans Fjellestad)
Millions (UK, Danny Boyle)
The Machinist (US, Brad Anderson)
Howl’s Moving Castle (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki)
The Village (US, M. Night Shymalyan)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (US, Michael Moore)
Tarnation (US, Jonathan Caouette)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (US, Alfonso Cuaron)
Kinsey (US, Bill Condon)
Closer (US/UK, Mike Nichols)
The Sea Inside (Spain, Alejandro Aménabar)
The House of Flying Daggers (China, Zhang Yimou)
The Passion of the Christ (US, Mel Gibson)
The Motorcycle Diaries (Brazil, Walter Salles)
Last Days (US, Gus Van Sant)
Hotel Rwanda (US, Terry George)
Finding Neverland (UK, Marc Forster)
A Very Long Engagement (France, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
The Libertine (UK, Lawrence Dunmore)
Troy (US, Wolfgang Petersen)
Shrek 2 (US, Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon)

ACTOR: Jamie Foxx, RAY (2nd: Bruno Ganz, Downfall, followed by: Paul Giamatti, Sideways; Sean Penn, The Assassination of Richard Nixon; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator; Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite)

ACTRESS: Imelda Staunton, VERA DRAKE (2nd: Nicole Kidman, Birth, followed by: Hillary Swank, Million Dollar Baby; Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace; Annette Bening, Being Julia)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Morgan Freeman, MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2nd: Thomas Hayden Church, Sideways, followed by: Phil Davis, Vera Drake; Jon Gries, Napoleon Dynamite; Cameron Bright, Birth; Mark Wahlberg, I ♥ Huckabees)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Virginia Madsen, SIDEWAYS (2nd: Cate Blanchett, The Avitator, followed by: Natalie Portman, Closer; Irma P. Hall, The Ladykillers; Lily Tomlin, I ♥ Huckabees; Laura Linney, Kinsey)

DIRECTOR: Mike Leigh, VERA DRAKE (2nd: Alexander Payne, Sideways, followed by: Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Nobody KnowsClint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby; Jared Hess, Napoleon Dynamite)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: NOBODY KNOWS (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda) (2nd: Downfall (Germany/Italy/Austria, Oliver Hirschbiegel), followed by: 2046 (Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wei); Head-On (Germany/Turkey, Faith Akin); Moolaade (Burkina Faso/France, Ousmene Sembene); The Sea Inside (Spain, Alejandro Amenábar); Howl’s Moving Castle (Japan, Hayao Miyakazi); Kung Fu Hustle (Hong Kong/China, Stephen Chow))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL (US, Jessica Yu) (2nd: Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (US, Xan Cassavetes), followed by: Born Into Brothels (US, Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman); Moog (US, Hans Fjellestad); Fahrenheit 9/11 (US, Michael Moore))

ANIMATED FEATURE: THE INCREDIBLES (US, Brad Bird) (2nd: Howl’s Moving Castle (Japan, Hayao Miyakazi), followed by: Teacher’s Pet (US, Timothy Bjorklund))

ANIMATED SHORT: RYAN (Canada, Chris Landreth) (2nd: Guard Dog (US, Bill Plympton), followed by: Lorenzo (US, Mike Gabriel); Birthday Boy (Australia, Sejong Park))

LIVE ACTION SHORT: TWO CARS, ONE NIGHT (New Zealand, Takita Waititi) (2nd: Six Shooter (Ireland, Martin McDonagh), followed by: Wasp (UK, Andrea Arnold); Agent Orange (US, Tony Scott))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2nd: Mike Leigh, Vera Drake, followed by: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jonathan Glazer and Milo Addica, Birth; Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess, Napoleon Dynamite; Brad Bird, The Incredibles)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, SIDEWAYS (2nd: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Sunset, followed by: Paul Haggis, Million Dollar Baby; Bernd Eichinger, Downfall; Jose Rivera, The Motorcycle Diaries)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robert Richardson, THE AVIATOR (2nd: Harris Savides, Birth, followed by: Robert Yeoman, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; Caleb Deschanel, The Passion of the Christ; Christopher Doyle and Pung-Leung Kwan, 2046)

ART DIRECTION: THE AVIATOR, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, A Very Long Engagement, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

COSTUME DESIGN: THE AVIATOR, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Ray, Troy, Finding Neverland 

FILM EDITING: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, Napoleon Dynamite

SOUND: THE AVIATOR, The Incredibles, Ray, Kung Fu Hustle, Spider-Man 2


ORIGINAL SONG: “Je T’Aime Tant” from BEFORE SUNSET (Music and lyrics by Julie Delpy) (2nd: “A Waltz for a Night” from Before Sunset (Music and lyrics by Julie Delpy), followed by: "America, Fuck Yeah!" from Team America: World Police (Music and lyrics by Trey Parker); "I'm So Ronery" from Team America: World Police (Music and lyrics by Trey Parker); “Ocean Man” from The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (Music and lyrics by Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo); "Al Otro Lado Del Río" from The Motorcycle Diaries (Music and lyrics by Jorge Drexler); "Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" from The Chorus (Music by Bruno Coulais, lyrics by Christophe Barratier))

ORIGINAL SCORE: Alexander Desplat, BIRTH (2nd: Michael Giacchino, The Incredibles, followed by: Howard Shore, The Aviator; John Debney, The Passion of the Christ; Edward Shearmur, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow)

ADAPTED OR SONG SCORE: Trey Parker, Marc Shaiman and Harry Gregson-Williams, TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (2nd: Craig Armstrong, Ray, followed by: Cheri Steinkellner, Randy Petersen, Kevin Quinn, Bryan Woodbury, Peter Lurye, and Stephen James Taylor, Teacher's Pet)

SPECIAL EFFECTS: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Kung Fu Hustle

MAKEUP: THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Hellboy, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

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