2nd Annual Edgy Award Winners
At last, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. After a lot of work and, actually, a lot more deliberation than I had originally imagined, it’s now time to announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. If you missed the original nominations, you can find the full list here. These winners encompass what I believe to be the best work put forth in each respective category. Now, I’m sure there’s a few that people are sure to disagree with, so, in addition to posting video clips that showcase the work, I’ll also provide a bit of commentary that will help to defend my decisions.
This year shows a very different distribution than the 1st Edgy Awards. Last year, nearly fifty percent of the awards were collected by only two films (“The Social Network” – 7 and “Inception” – 4). This year has seemed to take on a more “spread the wealth” fashion. For example, last year, there were only six films taking home one award apiece (and that was with an extra category). This year, there are thirteen. This might also be the first time in my history of giving awards that a different film has won each of the eight technical categories (Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Makeup). I guess that shows the diversity of filmmaking that this year brought to the table.
It’s time to sit back and enjoy. Here are your Edgy winners:
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Think You Can Wait”
Music and Lyrics by “The National
RUNNER-UP: “Shelter” from “Take Shelter”
Aside from just being a straight-up beautiful and enjoyable song to listen to, over and over, “Think You Can Wait” is a phenomenal companion piece to Thomas McCarthy’s “Win Win.” The longing melody and wistfully fluid lyrics encompass both the woes and lingering hopes of the suburban life experienced by the film’s characters. This winner was never a question in my mind. A fantastic song.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The Chemical Brothers
RUNNER-UP: “Jane Eyre”
Where Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross paved the way for a new generation of film music composition, last year, with “The Social Network,” Director ,Joe Wright and The Chemical Brothers have taken it to a whole new level. The pulsing beats synch perfectly with the high-octane energy of the action. With artists like these expanding on this new movement, we can only hope that more composers can reach this level and caliber. One hell of a thrilling score.
BEST MAKEUP EFFECTS
“The Iron Lady”
Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland and Marese Langan
RUNNER-UP: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
In the absence of any showy special effects work, in particular any decent gore makeup, this category is really a no-brainer. The makeup team for “The Iron Lady” really knocked it out of the park. Successful aging makeup is not just about making it look good, but also making it look real. The team from “J. Edgar” should have realized this (DiCaprio looks fantastic, though Armie Hammer’s character looked about 150 years old). Making Meryl Streep look older, younger and a true resemblance of the British Prime Minister is surely awards-worthy.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, R. Christopher White
RUNNER UP: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Looking at this award I almost never give it to the showiest or grandest work, but always the film that features effects that truly advance the medium. “Rise” is undoubtedly that film. The motion-capture technology trumps all others in the category (though props to the runner-up for some incredibly layered environments). Creating a character out of some motion capture dots that’s not only realistic, but an emotionally crucial facet of a film is a daunting task that’s bar was definitely set by “The Lord of the Rings.” The WETA folks and Andy Serkis have pulled it off, once again.
BEST SOUND EDITING
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Erik Aadahl and Ethan van der Ryn
RUNNER-UP: “Super 8”
When making these awards, I try to maintain a sense of objectivity. I want to judge the categories less on the overall quality of the films and focus on how accomplished they are in terms of their individual accomplishments. Therefore, I have to give credit where credit is due by awarding one of my least favorite films of the year for having some absolutely astounding Sound Effects Editing. The designers went to great lengths to create original and unique effects through use of recording and foley. It’s truly hard to find another film this year where you are more prone to say, “That just sounded awesome.”
BEST SOUND MIXING
Craig Berkey, Andrew Dudman, Christopher Scarabosio and Roland Winke
RUNNER-UP: “War Horse”
I feel fully confident in saying that you will be hard-pressed, amongst all the fantastic aural work done this year, to find a sound mix more layered with complexity and ingenuity. The marriage of recorded audio, sound effects and music is absolutely pulse-pounding and fulfilling. Listening to this film with a great 5.1 system is like having a god in your speakers. Even though its preferable not to do so, because of the movie’s visual expertise, this is probably the one film this year that I could close my eyes through its entirety and still feel satisfied.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
RUNNER-UP: “The Help”
Any good technical award, including costume design, is about more than making the wardrobe look pretty, detailed and authentic (although those traits are also essential). Success in these categories depends on how much the work contributes to the story, the characters and the overall big picture. For this reason, “The Artist” gets recognition in this category. Aside from generating some truly eye-catching period work, the way that the film’s wardrobe evolves through the film to capture both the rise of Peppy and the decline of George is essential to the film’s core. Wonderful work.
BEST ART DIRECTION
Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo
RUNNER-UP: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
While I greatly respect my runner-up (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) and the way it made it’s mis en scene approximate to the colors of smoke and whiskey, it is impossible to deny the work done in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.” It may well be the most overrated film of the year, but the production design is above reproach. The grandeur, detail and authenticity is absolutely astounding and the husband and wife team behind it deserve everything they have coming to them. Now, I couldn’t find a good clip or featurette that addressed the category as much as the trailer, so…
RUNNER-UP: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
The fact that Tellefsen is not the frontrunner to win the Oscar this year is a blatant absurdity. While last year’s winners, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, generated some great work yet again, no other cutting advanced the quality of a film like that of “Moneyball.” What could have been the most straightforward of plots is instead a complex and exciting example of storytelling. Blending stock footage, flashbacks and statistics into the narrative, the movie is well paced, fluid and always remarkable.
“The Tree of Life”
Surprisingly this was one of the awards that took me the longest time to decide on. Maybe it’s because the film itself did not blow my hair back the way it did for many others (hence this being its only nomination). However, it’s a movie that I respect much more than I enjoy, and much of that respect derives from Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning work. Other films this year had some truly amazing shots, yet no other film’s every frame exhibited such beauty and meaning. Further, when put into consideration that many of the shots were not preconceived and nearly the entire film was made with available natural light, this might be some of the most admirable cinematography of all time. There really are some shots, here, that are sure to go down in the history books.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
RUNNER-UP: “Into the Abyss”
This year was not quite so accomplished a year for documentaries as last. However, when picking the best, the decision has perhaps never been so easy. Steve James “The Interrupters” is everything a great documentary could need to be. It goes straight into the fray, dissecting it’s primary issue in many forms and at its roots. Also, in a time when many docs are trending more towards the theatrical (James Marsh, for sure, can be held accountable for this), “Interrupters” is as authentic and gritty as anyone could expect, shot almost entirely on Chicago’s south and west sides. Moreover, this is perhaps the most emotional experience to be had in a movie, this year. If you have any ties to the human race, you will leave the theater tremendously moved.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian
RUNNER-UP: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
For me, this was easily the biggest no-brainer of the entire awards season. It didn’t hurt that between the inconsistent voiceover of “The Descendants,” the fairly weak pivot points of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” the shoddy final twenty minutes of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and the strongly formulaic structure of “The Help,” all the other nominees were certainly too flawed to award. Yet, it wouldn’t have really mattered for the winner’s screenplay is practically as good as writing can possibly get. This film’s words, story and characters are ones that will truly stand the test of time. Bravo to two of cinema’s finest Shakespeares.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
RUNNER-UP: “Margin Call”
While the adapted field may be lacking, this year, its partner certainly is not. Every one of these nominees deserves strong recognition, and the final choice was close between this and Chandor’s tight, controlled and insightful Wall Street expose. Yet, not saying that Asghar Farhadi wrote the finest original script of the year would be lying. The story is thoroughly layered and detailed and its characters are of the most complex kind. Meanwhile, the story feels so completely grounded in reality and yet never loses a the viewer’s interest and attention for a moment. This screenplay’s brilliance must really be seen to be believed, so if you haven’t yet, do so, as soon as possible.
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Ahna O’Reilly, Sissy Spacek, Octavia Spencer, Mary Steenburgen, Emma Stone, Cicely Tyson
RUNNER-UP: “Margin Call”
The decision seemed a lot easier, earlier on, until I took a closer look at the nominees and the fantastic work they all put forth. However, in the end, none of the ensembles pulled it off as well as “The Help.” Every performance lights up the screen and leaves a lasting impact on the audience. Moreover, in a field that is largely filled with male-dominated ensembles, “The Help,” seems to shine even stronger in the way that an almost entirely female cast is able to hold its own and entertain as much, if not more, than any male cast could this year. In 2011, I sincerely believe there to be no better acting showcase than in this film.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids
RUNNER-UP: Carey Mulligan – “Shame”
Despite Carey Mulligan delivering her finest performance to date in “Shame,” even better than her Edgy Award-winning work in “An Education,” no other supporting performance elevated the quality of its film as much as Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids.” I’m not one who usually awards comedic acting, but this woman left me in stitches. Both her improvisational skills and fearlessness when it comes to physical comedy helped make her performance and character the funniest of the year. If it hadn’t been for McCarthy, I firmly believe that “Bridesmaids” might simply be a mediocre film. She so greatly elevated the material and that’s why this award goes to her.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
RUNNER-UP: Kenneth Branagh – “My Week with Marilyn”
This might have been the overall weakest field for Best Supporting Actor nominees in a long time, a sad state given how much I usually adore this category. However, the low competition only makes the obvious winner seem even stronger. Christopher Plummer has crowned his long and prosperous career with a complex character role that he absolutely nailed on all levels. As an elderly father coming out of the closet, Plummer not only embodies the individual well, but hits all the emotions of excitement, regret and satisfaction. A truly inspirational role that cannot even be considered a “re-ward” for past work, for this surely is the finest performance of his life.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Olivia Colman – “Tyrannosaur”
RUNNER-UP: Viola Davis – “The Help”
As much as I am excited about Viola Davis’ extraordinary turn in “The Help” and am strongly rooting for her to take home the Oscar, Olivia Colman’s performance in “Tyrannosaur” is a revelation of acting potential. During the course of the largely mediocre film, this woman had me in tears several times, because of both the emotions on display and simply by the sheer power of her talent. Every so often a actor or actress comes along who does things that we as viewers have never seen before and this is one of them. Bar none, male or female, lead or supporting, this is the finest performance of the year.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”
RUNNER-UP: Michael Fassbender – “Shame”
This award has put me through more turmoil, this year, than any other category. I came very close to calling it a tie between my top two favorites (the second being Michael Fassbender in “Shame” who absolutely floored me with his performance). However, in the end, I kept coming back to Mr. Pitt, who’s magnificent role in “Moneyball” is undoubtedly his career-best. It’s not a showy performance and it’s greatness isn’t spawned from a collection of emotional breakdowns. What Pitt truly excels at, here, is the way he completely becomes the character of Billy Beane, body and soul. Not even in “The Assassination of Jesse James” have I ever seen this actor completely disappear into a role. Because of that, we become captivated, we become involved and we come to love this character and the performance that made it shine. Well done, Mr. Pitt.
Bennett Miller – “Moneyball”
RUNNER-UP: David Fincher – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Bennett Miller seems to pick his projects carefully, this being only his second feature film in the last seven years, and wisely for both of these films and his work on them have been extraordinary. Despite going unnoticed this whole year, Miller’s work on this film is more than worthy of recognition. The dryness of the dialogue and use of selective stylization couples perfectly with the script, and Sorkin scripts are famous being complicated to direct. Most of all, I am always impressed by the restraint and patience Miller possesses and his lack of fear in using the stillness as an effective tool to enhance the impact of scenes. Despite what the opinion of awards bodies seems to think, this director truly elevated the work above what it could have been.
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
Michael De Luca, Rachel Horovitz and Brad Pitt
If you’ve already read my Top Ten List (and if not, you can check it out here), I’ve already said quite a bit to justify this as my Best Picture choice. Needless to say, this film is phenomenal on so many fronts, it would be impossible for anything else to take this award down. Bravo to the producers (Michael De Luca is 2/2 in as many years) and everyone involved for making this film all that it could have been and so much more.
And here’s a few more “just-for-fun awards” to further expand on my opinions:
FUNNIEST FILM of the YEAR
MOST EXCITING FILM of the YEAR
MOST EMOTIONALLY MOVING FILM of the YEAR
MOST SURPRISING FILM of the YEAR
MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM of the YEAR
MOST UNDERRATED FILM of the YEAR
MOST OVERRATED FILM of the YEAR
BEST PROTAGONIST of the YEAR
Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) – “Moneyball”
BEST ANTAGONIST of the YEAR
Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) – “The Help”
BEST ANTIHERO of the YEAR
TIE: Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) – “Shame” AND Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
BEST ROMANCE of the YEAR
Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig) and Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) – “Bridesmaids”
BEST OPENING of the YEAR
BEST ENDING of the YEAR
BEST SCENE of the YEAR
The 20th Win – “Moneyball”
BEST LINE OF THE YEAR
“You know when people stand on a ledge, their biggest fear isn’t that they might fall, it’s that they might jump.” – “Margin Call”
BEST DIALOGUE of the YEAR
Anything from “Moneyball,” but especially:
Billy Beane: “Would you rather get one shot in the head, or five to the chest and bleed to death?”
Peter Brand: “Are those my only two options?”
WORST FILM of the YEAR
FILM I’VE SEEN ONCE and MOST WANT TO SEE AGAIN
“The Tree of Life”
And there you have it. Unlike last year, I seem to be in the minority in regard to most of my choices. Tomorrow night is the Oscars. While, I wish that they’re choices could resemble mine a bit more, I’m sure that they won’t. Guess you can’t win them all. I’ll be posting my final predictions probably as close to the deadline as possible, as well as live-blogging and tweeting the winners (while simultaneously hosting an Oscar party at my apartment). After that, I’ll be glad to finally bring on the new movie season. See you all tomorrow evening!