Let’s get this show on the road. Below are my picks for the best in each category from the 2014 movie season. I threw in a slew of fun categories at the end, for shits and giggles. Feel free to enjoy and comment if you like. Soon, I’ll be moving on to the current year at hand.
And the winners of the 5th Annual Edgy Awards are:
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Lost Stars” featured in “Begin Again”
Music and Lyrics by Gregg Alexander (1st win) and Danielle Brisebois (1st win)
Runner-Up: “Glory” featured in “Selma”
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Rob Simonsen (1st win)
BEST MAKEUP and HAIRSTYLING
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
Eizabeth Yianni-Georgiou (1st win) and David White (1st win)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Scott Fisher (1st win), Paul J. Franklin (2nd Win), Ian Hunter (1st win) and Andrew Lockley (2nd win)
Runner-Up: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
Erik Aadahl (2nd win) and Ethan Van der Ryn (3rd win)
Runner-Up: “Edge of Tomorrow”
BEST SOUND EFFECTS MIXING
Greg Landaker (4th win), Gary Rizzo (2nd win) and Mark Weingarten (2nd Win)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Milena Canonero (3rd win)
Runner-Up: “Inherent Vice”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
George DeTitta Jr. (1st win) and Kevin Thompson (1st win)
Sandra Adair (1st win)
Runner-Up: “Edge of Tomorrow”
“Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Emmanuel Lubezki (3rd win)
Runner-Up: “A Most Violent Year”
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amanda McBaine (1st win) and Jesse Moss (1st win)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Paul Thomas Anderson (2nd win)
Runner-Up: “Gone Girl”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Richard Linklater (1st win)
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST PERFORMANCE
“Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Lindsay Duncan, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Merritt Wever
BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
Patricia Arquette – “Boyhood”
Runner-Up: Carrie Coon – “Gone Girl”
BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
J.K. Simmons – “Whiplash”
Runner-Up: Edward Norton – “Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”
Runner-Up: Julianne Moore – “Still Alice”
BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
Michael Keaton – “Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Runner-Up: Jake Gyllenhaal – “Nightcrawler”
Bennett Miller – “Foxcatcher”
Runner-Up: Richard Linklater – “Boyhood”
BEST MOTION PICTURE of the YEAR
Runner-Up: “Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Some say that this movie is all hype; a cinematic stunt that’s quality doesn’t measure up to the bar set by it’s premise. This could not be further from reality. The truth is that there has never been anything quite like this film and likely will not be again. Beyond the 12 year hook, which in and of itself is something to marvel at, “Boyhood” is a phenomenal collaboration between Richard Linklater’s extraordinary vision and the dedicated performers bringing it to life. The film takes what someone might consider insignificant moments in the life of an adolescent boy, and proves them to not only be the moments that matter, but a window into the soul. This may be the most impacting and influential film of the decade. Bravo.
As mentioned, here’s a collection of victors whose feats can’t really be honored in traditional categories. Therefore, the only way to give due props is to make up all new ones. I’ll then close it out with my ranked top ten list, which closes out 2014 and moves us on to what’s currently playing at a theater near you.
“The Lego Movie”
MOST EXCITING FILM
“Edge of Tomorrow”
MOST EMOTIONALLY MOVING FILM
MOST SURPRISING FILM
MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
MOST UNDERRATED FILM
“A Most Violent Year”
MOST OVERRATED FILM
“The Theory of Everything”
Alan Turing – “The Imitation Game”
Amy Dunne – “Gone Girl”
Louis Bloom – “Nightcrawler”
John and Alice Howland – “Still Alice”
Mark Schultz, David Schultz and John du Pont – “Foxcatcher”
“Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Bread and Roses – “Pride”
BEST LINE OF DIALOGUE
Terence Fletcher: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.”
FILM I REALLY WANTED TO SEE BUT NEVER GOT AROUND TO
MY TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014
2. “Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
5. “A Most Violent Year”
6. “Gone Girl”
8. “The Overnighters”
10. “Inherent Vice”
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.
And now, the final segment of my three part thought piece on yesterday’s announcement of the 2012 Oscar nominations. After I’ve had a day to contemplate everything that has transpired, there’s still more than a handful of things that just aren’t sitting well with me. Like a bad case of food poisoning, they just aren’t letting me get any sleep.
Expect this segment to be longer than the others…
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the nomination that was so phenomenally bogus, you could count on one hand the amount of pundits who were predicting it. And if they were, they did it through gritted teeth. Announced at the end of the linup, like Sharek and Lawrence were in on some kind of sick, inside joke, the ninth Best Picture nomination was “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Despite not receiving nominations from the Producers, Directors, Writers or Screen Actors Guild, and being nearly universally panned by critics, the Academy somehow decided that this film was one of the nine best on the year. Granted, I will not be seeing it until sometime this weekend and therefore won’t be able to vent the movie through my own opinion until then. However, a film with a negative score from both Metacritic (46) and Rotten Tomatoes (48) has no business in any collective BEST Picture of the Year lineup.
Now, that we’ve gotten through with what shouldn’t be there, let’s get started on the long and sad list of the nominations that weren’t. Here come the snubs, and of them, one definitely reigns supreme. Steve McQueen’s unnerving and enlightening “Shame,” despite being one of the year’s greatest examples of direction, editing, writing, and all the other things that make up a damn good movie, failed to receive a single nomination. Even worse over was the exclusion of the film’s fine acting. Both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan both delivered performances that all but topped their respective categories and are nowhere to be seen. While Demien Bechir’s nomination is an inspiring and heartwarming surprise, Fassbender should have shown up here based solely on merit. A fine waste of phenomenal acting.
There were a few other above-the-line snubs that really bothered me. For one, Bennett Miller should not only should have been among the Best Director nominees, but a part of the conversation this whole time. Who do people think directed this phenomenal film? It received some of the best critical reviews of the year and earned itself six Oscar nominations, and yet Miller has not received even a single mention from any awards body or film critics society this year? I suppose that the film’s script is so good that critics and industry-types thought that the film simply ran on autopilot, but I disagree. There’s a very visible sense of style, mood and pacing in the film that only a skilled director’s touch could have brought. I really wish this man made more films, but he picks his battles, very wisely.
Even though I didn’t come close to predicting her, for I knew that this would be in far too good of taste for the Oscars to stomach, Olivia Colman was the most unappreciated individual of the day. Her astounding work in “Tyrannosaur” is good enough to stand by some of the best of Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda. Poor U.S. distribution and a lousy campaign really stinted her chances, but I’d like to believe that, in a perfect world, this is the type of work that could take home the gold. Yet, as yesterday’s nominations showed, we do not live in a perfect world.
While it still managed to earn a Best Picture nomination, I was disappointed by the underwhelming overall showing for “The Help.” Aside from its three acting nominations, the film was overlooked in a lot of areas. I think that Tate Taylor’s lively and entertaining screenplay deserved a mention. Also, the colorful and authentic costume design, which brilliantly accented the setting and vibe of the film, was overlooked. I can only hope that what little support it has is still enough to push Viola Davis through to a well-deserved victory in the Best Actress category.
Another film that was highly unappreciated was Joe Wright’s livewire action-fest, “Hanna.” Despite receiving a nod from the Cinema Audio Society, the film’s outstanding sound mix somehow missed the cut. On top of that, I had hoped that in the wake of honoring a fresh new style of scoring with last year’s “The Social Network,” the Academy would see the fantastic electronic rhythms of The Chemical Brothers score. Instead, the music branch opted to go back to traditional themes, not even giving mention to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ fantastic follow-up work in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
Speaking of the music branch, we come to probably the most appalling announcement of the morning. I am, of course, speaking of this year’s slate of nominees (or lack, thereof) for Best Original Song. There was a lot of fine work done by a wide range of artists this year, including “Lay Your Head Down” from Albert Nobbs,” “The Living Proof” in “The Help,” or the fantastic track “Think You Can Wait” from “Win Win.” And yet all they can conjure up is two nominations: “Man or Muppet,” one of the more underwhelming numbers from that title and “Real in Rio,” a song that most people who have actually seen the film cannot even remember.
I am so baffled by this category, I keep trying to search for explanations as to how they could have screwed up so bad. Perhaps it’s due to a flawed balloting system or maybe any sense of good taste really has been exhausted from said music branch. Some people think that the Academy just really wants to do away with the category all together, after emplacing more and more restrictions on it and even nixing last year’s nominated songs from even performing live during the telecast. If they a reserious about ditching the award, then they should just do it. Don’t insult songwriters and viewers of the Oscars by nominating songs that, quite simply, have no business being nominated at all, let alone ousting much more qualified work. This category is one of the biggest jokes in the history of the Academy Awards, plain and simple.
That about does it for my thoughts on the matter. Now starts the final leg of the race. My next order of business will be my first round of winner predictions for this year’s awards. To be quite honest, the image looked a lot clearer before the nominations were even announced. This is going to take a bit of effort. Stay tuned…
I really didn’t even feel like doing this. In fact, I’ve always had an aversion to predicting the DGA. Trying to correctly predict these five nominees feels a bit like shooting fish in a barrel with an unloaded gun. Sure, there’s the chance that they’ll be exactly what people are expecting, but…no…they never are. there’s always that fifth slot that never does what you want it to do.
The one nice thing about the DGA is that it makes things infinitely clearer in the actual Oscar race. I can recall only twice in the last ten years that the DGA hasn’t lined up with the Academy’s five Best Director nods with at least 4 out of 5 slots, and twice in those ten years, it’s been a perfect match. Ever since the Academy altered the number of Best Picture nominees, using the DGA as a predictive tool has changed a bit, as well. Instead of using it as a guide for the five nominees, the lucky directors now point to which films are absolute locks. Ironically, during the age of five nominees, the DGA was actually a better predictor for Best Picture then for its own category.
All right, well, here’s how I see the cookie crumbling. I would say that the two locks are Michael Hazavanicius and Martin Scorsese. Of the major contenders, they’ve divvied up nearly all of the critics awards and just seem to have the most clout, right now. Next on that list would be Alexander Payne. While his direction isn’t the strong point of the movie, the film is just too strong of a contender, thus far, for him to simply be left out.
The last two spots get kind of tricky. Despite the difficult time “War Horse” is having with the guilds, Spielberg shouldn’t have much trouble making his way in here. The same was happening with “Munich” in ’05 (a much superior film to “War Horse,” I might add) and he still handled the DGA. This seemed to single-handedly resurrect it back into the Oscar race. To be honest, the DGA has always drooled over Spielberg. Ten career nominations, three wins and a lifetime achievement award. When he has a film in contention, it’s simply more likely to see him nominated than not.
So for the final spot, I am going to make my “out on a limb” choice by saying that Woody Allen will miss. This will be the decision that I’ll likely be kicking myself for tomorrow, but as you are about to read, I have my reasons. At this point in Allen’s career, even if this is somewhat of a comeback film, I feel that the industry will be satisfied with just recognizing his writing. As it has been since the early nineties, nominating the film’s screenplay should suffice, making his directorial efforts easy to overlook.
As for who’s taking his spot, there’s plenty of choices. It’s quite possible Terrence Malick’s clout might carry over into the guild of his peers, yet I get the feeling that “The Tree of Life”‘s support will likely remain among the critics. Until this past week, near-rookie Tate Taylor seemed like a long shot, but the overwhelming love for “The Help” in the guilds has made said nomination more and more of a possibility. If wishing made it so, I would enjoy seeing Bennett Miller show up here in recognition for his steady and assured crafting of “Moneyball.” After all, not many saw his previous nomination coming for “Capote.” Yet, the young artist’s failure to bring in even a single nomination this season has left that option unlikely. One choice that would certainly throw a wrench in the mix would be the stellar Nicholas Wending Refn, who’s work on “Drive” earned him this award at Cannes. But, lack of a PGA mention for the film makes his chances less promising.
That leaves me with the one and only David Fincher. While his re-adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” isn’t turning quite as many heads as the studio had hoped, the film’s director has something going for him which puts him a step ahead of his competition. That factor is the enormous amount of residual respect leftover from last year’s awards season. After both the DGA and the Oscars incomprehensibly snubbed the master of his much-deserved awards for “The Social Network,” I imagined that there had to be a fair amount of guilt churning around the industry. And while “TGWTDT” isn’t quite as extraordinary as the former, it’s certainly good enough for his peers to throw him an apologetic bone. I’ve had this aching feeling all year long, and with the film nabbing unexpected nominations from the PGA, ADG and WGA, said scenario seems now more likely than ever before.
1. Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”
2. Michael Hazavanicius – “The Artist”
3. Alexander Payne – “The Descendants”
4. Steven Spielberg – “War Horse”
5. David Fincher – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
6. Woody Allen – “Midnight in Paris”
7. Tate Taylor – “The Help”
8. Bennett Miller – “Moneyball”
9. Terrence Malick – “The Tree of Life”
10. Nicholas Wending Refn – “Drive”
Well, there you have it. Check back tomorrow afternoon to see which choice (or choices) I’ll be crying over.
There are four major film festivals that occur in the world which Oscar pundits eagerly anticipate. Sundance kicks things off in Utah during January. Springtime brings about the prestige and glory of the Cannes in southern France. The season is then capped off with bicoastal festivals in Venice, Italy and Toronto, Ontario, both occurring in the month of September.
Presently, we’re halfway through the year and September is fast approaching. While the TIFF announced its lineup last week, Venice has recently joined the club. Both showings are killer and contain more than a few likely contenders. Expect “The Ides of March,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “A Dangerous Method” to develop as Oscar contenders (as well as a good horse to bet on for the Festival’s prize). However, don’t count out “Carnage” (featured below) directed by European favorite Roman Polanski or “Shame” the sophomore effort by Steve McQueen to take home the Venice gold.
Here is the lineup for the 2011 Venice Film Festival:
Venice 2011 Competition
The Ides Of March – George Clooney (US) [opening film]
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Tomas Alfredson (UK, Germany)
Wuthering Heights – Andrea Arnold (UK)
Texas Killing Fields – Ami Canaan Maan (US)
Quando La Notte – Cristina Comencini (Italy)
Terraferma – Emanuele Crialese (Italy/France)
A Dangerous Method – David Cronenberg (Germany/Canada)
4:44 Last Day On Earth – Abel Ferrara (US)
Killer Joe – William Friedkin (US)
Un Ete Brulant – Philippe Garrel (France/Italy/Switzerland)
A Simple Life (Taojie) – Ann Hui (China/Hong Kong)
The Exchange (Hahithalfut) – Eran Kolirin (Israel)
Alps (Alpeis) -Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece)
Shame – Steve McQueen (UK)
L’ultimo Terrestre – Gian Alfonso Pacinotti (Italy)
Carnage – Roman Polanski (France/Germany/Spain/Poland)
Chicken With Plums – Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud (France/Belgium/Germany)
Faust – Aleksander Sokurov (Russia)
Dark Horse – Todd Solondz (US)
Himizu – Sion Sono (Japan)
Seediq Bale – Wei Te-Sheng (Taiwan)
Out of Competition
Vivan las Antipodas! – Victor Kossakovsky
(Germany/Argentina/Holland/Chile/Russia) [opening film]
Damsels In Distress – Whit Stillman (US) [closing film]
La Folie Almayer – Chantal Akerman (Belgium/France)
The Sorcerer And The White Snake (Baish Echuanshuo) – Tony Ching Siu-Tung (China/Hong Kong)
Giochi D’estate – Rolando Colla (Switzerland/Italy)
La Desintegration – Philippe Fauchon (Belgium)
The Moth Diaries – Mary Harron (Canada/Ireland)
Alois Nebel – Tomas Lunak (Czech Republic/Germany)
W.E. – Madonna (UK)
Eva – Kike Maillo (UK)
Scossa – Francesco Maselli, Carlo Lizzani, Ugo Gregoretti, Nino Russo (Italy)
La Cle Des Champs – Claude Nuridsany, Marie Perennou (France)
Il Villaggio Di Cartone – Ermanno Olmi (Italy)
Wilde Salome – Al Pacino (US)
Tormented – Takashi Shimizu (Japan)
Contagion – Steven Soderbergh (US)
La Meditazione Di Hayez – Mario Martone (Italy) (short)
Tahrir 2011 – Tamer Ezzat, Ahmad Abdalla, Ayten Amin, Amr Salama (Egypt)
The End – Collectif Abounaddara (Syria)
Vanguard – Colleftif Abounaddara (Syria)
Evolution (Megaplex)(3D – Marco Brambilla (US)
Out of Competition Events
Questa Storia Qua – Alessandro Paris, Sibylle Righetti (Italy)
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel – Lisa Immordino Vreeland (US)
Golden Career Lion – Nel Nome Del Padre – Marcho Bellocchio (Italy)
The Toronto Fest includes some of the same titles, but in addition will also feature some stellar contenders such as:
“The Descendants” by Alexander Payne,
“Albert Nobbs” by Rodrigo Garcia
“360” by Fernando Merielles
“Moneyball” by Bennett Miller
“Corolianus” by Ralph Fiennes
“Drive” by Nicolas Winding Refn
“Machine Gun Preacher” by Marc Forster
“Melancholia” by Lars von Trier
“Rampart” by Oren Moverman
“The Skin I Live In” by Pedro Almodovar
“Take Shelter” by Jeff Nichols
“Twixt” by Francis Ford Coppola
There are more than a few that I did not even bother to mention, so, just from looking at this list, I’m beginning to realize that this movie season has potentially quite a bit to offer. I look forward to covering it.