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2nd Annual Edgy Award Winners

February 25, 2012 2 comments

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.

Read more…

The 2nd Annual Edgy Award Nominations

February 21, 2012 2 comments

One of the primary focuses of this site is to analyze and report on each year’s film awards race, and many of you know this to be my true passion in life. However, if there’s one thing I enjoy more than following the Oscars, it’s making my own. Therefore, it has become a tradition of mine to gather up all my favorite aspects of the year’s filmmaking, break them down into nominations and then award what I believe to be the best of the year. And while I’ve been doing this for a long time, The Edge of the Frame gave me a chance to name them. Therefore, I present to you fine readers the 2nd Annual Edgy Award Nominations.

This year has certainly delivered a mixed bag of finalists. A total of 39 films received nominations, although 19 of those only garnered a single nomination apiece. While some categories may have some resemblance to the Academy’s choices (sometimes, they do actually make wise decisions), there are some striking differences. Thank goodness for that, for as a film critic, if my picks matched up with the Oscars, I wouldn’t be able to respect myself in the morning. Many of you have already seen my choices for Best Picture, what with my Top Ten List being released earlier in the week, and you’ll have noticed that only three films also find themselves in Oscar’s top nine ballot. Also, for the first time in my long history of doing this, not a single one of my Best Director nominees overlaps with the Academy’s.

A few notes to cover before we get started. I’ve used a similar format as last year’s nominations, listing out each nominee by name, instead of just the films themselves. Now, some of you will be bound to wonder how, if these are only the 2ND Annual Edgy Nominations, some individuals will have more than 2 mentions under their belts. The answer is because I have a slate of personal awards for each year going back over seven decades. I’ve got endless spreadsheets cataloging my choices for film winners from long before I was even born, I just don’t have the means (yet) to make those available to the public. The annotations refer to the amount of past nominations each individual has had in their respective category, except for performers who’s mentions overlap with all the other acting categories.

Now, for any readers who need more info, don’t understand or just think I’m full of it, I’ve provided a link to a separate document which holds a complete list of every single one of this year’s nominees, coupled with a complete record of their Edgy nominations and wins. Have I gone overboard with these things? Absolutely, but I have an anal retentive need to be comprehensive, not to mention that I have a devotion to all things statistical. Hope at least one person gives it a look.

One other thing to point out is that, this year, I have refrained from creating categories for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Film. To be honest, I just haven’t seen enough foreign fare to make up an accurate barometer of the year’s best. As far as animation goes, I honestly just avoided this year, practically, all together. Just a weak field that I didn’t bother focusing my income towards. I did, however, add a full category for Best Ensemble Cast. I do believe that when a film pulls off an effective ensemble performance, it’s worth taking note of because it help’s define the film and its quality. If only the Oscars shared this opinion.

So, without further ado, here are the 2011 nominations:

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“The Living Proof”
featured in “The Help”
Music and Lyrics by Mary J. Blige (2nd Nom)

“Marcy’s Song”
featured in “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Music and Lyrics by Jackson C. Frank (1st nom)

“Never Be Daunted”
featured in “Happythankyoumoreplease”
Music and Lyrics by Jaymay (1st nom)

“Shelter”
featured in “Take Shelter”
Music and Lyrics by Ben Nichols (1 nom)

“Think You Can Wait”
featured in “Win Win”
Music and Lyrics by The National (1st nom)

Read more…

My 2011 Top Ten List

February 16, 2012 2 comments

My favorite time of the year has finally come. It’s the time when I can finally take a break from reporting on other individuals and groups choices for best of the year and actually focus on my own. If any of you missed last year’s, here’s a link to last year’s big list. Over the next week, leading up to the Oscars, I’ll be writing a series of posts that will encompass my feelings on the 2011 year in films. I’ll start things out with my Top Ten List, featured here, followed by two posts chronicling the nominations and winners of the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. Hopefully, I can maintain concentration and get all of this done before the entire awards season comes to a head.

To be quite honest, this is probably my least favored year of films in terms of quality in at least a decade. I’m not sure what exactly went wrong or rubbed me the wrong way, but there was something lacking in the overall caliber of releases. Disappointing to say the least. Perhaps, it’s not even the overall batch of films, but rather some favorites of the film critic and connoisseur community just did not register in my book. Yet, even with the diminished standard, I still feel compelled to give a shout out of recognition to the films that were more than respectable. The following seven films, listed alphabetically, are some examples of damn fine filmmaking, but had just a few too many flaws that kept them out the final ten.

Here we go. The runners-up are as follows:

“The Artist”

Written and Directed by
Michel Hazanavicius

A delightful and sometimes intriguing romp into the throwback world of silent filmmaking, highlighted by some great design qualities and a stellar lead performance by Jean Dujardin. Yet, the film really suffers from having…well…nothing really important to say or leave us with.

Read more…

My Reaction: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly, Part 3

January 25, 2012 1 comment

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…

THE UGLY

 

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…

2012 Cinema Audio Society Nominations

January 19, 2012 1 comment

I’m not gonna lie. I always get truly psyched about this particular guild every year. It’s not that I have extensive experience in the field of sound mixing, nor have a particular penchant for the medium (though I certainly enjoy a great 5.1 mix on my home theater system as much as the next person). I suppose I get enthralled by the CAS just because of the massive wrench that they usually throw into the works.

This is no ordinary wrench, though. The CAS often has a tendency to name some completely unexpected sound mixes, ones that were once considered done and out of the race. A person might be immediately inclined to dismiss these nominees and say to themselves, “There’s no way the Academy will go this route.” Yet, that’s the crazy thing about the CAS is that they aren’t just a small part of the race, they really do define it. In the last ten years, the CAS has correctly forecasted at least 4/5 Oscar nominees six times. The other four years, they were 3/5. In the Society’s eighteen year existence, only once has their lineup been as low as a 2/5 matchup, and never less than that. Not a bad record.

The nominees for this year’s Cinema Audio Society are as follows:

“Hanna”

“Hugo”

“Moneyball”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

“Super 8”

When it comes to these nominees, I just have to stop and observe a moment of unadulterated joy for the recognition paid to the sound crew of “Hanna.” In my mind, this is, and has been from 2011’s outset, one of the year’s most intricate and powerful works of audio. After viewing it again on blu ray, my opinion has not changed. Listening to this sound mix on a 5.1 system is like having God in your living room. Fabulous work that, even if it does not go beyond this point, is worthy of it’s moment of glory.

Among the rest of the nominees, the second biggest surprise was the inclusion of “Moneyball.” This might be the most easy to dismiss pick of the bunch, but there’s a lot going on in that mix. Plus, Sorkin dialogue does take a lot of post-production audio to make it work. I can’t say I’m too thrilled to see the fourth “Pirates” movie show up here. I mean, come on. Do we really need to keep awarding this franchise for beating itself to death and taking the audience down with it? And speaking of a film beating itself to death, one such flick that wholly deserved a nomination here and failed was “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” The film itself is nothing to be proud of, but every two years, this franchise astounds us with it’s insanely detailed aural accomplishments and it should have taken the “Pirates” slot.

It’s nice to see “Super 8” pick up some steam, here. I was close to considering it down and out after it got eliminated from the Visual Effects finalists. Yet, there’s some great work happening amongst all that alien ruckus that Oscar should consider. And finally there’s “Hugo,” the one name here that I don’t think anyone was surprised to see. Don’t be shocked if it goes on to pocket the award for both this and the perennial honors in February.

In closing, I leave you with this clip from the film, “Hanna.” While it’s impossible to truly appreciate the sound mix without a high quality, multi-channel playback, this scene, alone deserves all the credit in the world. My advisement: rent or buy this movie on blu ray as soon as possible, and go ahead and buy a home theater system just to watch it on.

Art Directors Guild Announces Nominees

January 4, 2012 1 comment

Following quickly on the heels of the Producers Guild, the first of the technical achievement societies was announced late last night. Every year, for 16 years running, the Art Directors Guild honors films that exemplify excellence in art direction and production design. A few years ago, they had bumped their number of nominees up to 15 features to fill three categories: Period Film, Fantasy Film and Contemporary Film.

The nominees were as follows:

EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR A PERIOD FILM
“Annonymous”
“The Artist”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR A FANTASY FILM
“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Captain America: The First Avenger”
“Cowboys and Aliens”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR A CONTEMPORARY FILM
“Bridesmaids”
“The Descendants”
“Drive”
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

When looking at the Period nominees, the elephant in the room is undoubtedly the absence of a major Best Picture contender: “War Horse.” The lavish countrysides and muddy trenches were thought to be all but a shoo-in for this nomination. Perhaps the film is not as strong as we all thought. It was replaced by Roland Emmerich’s Shakespeare expose, “Annonymous,” which apparently has chops, I’m just not sure how much anyone actually takes it seriously. The winner here is “Hugo” in a landslide. Even a harsh critic of the film such as myself has to admit that the meticulous detail put into recreating early twentieth century Paris is completely awards-worthy. Nearly every shot contains something impressive to gaze at. The potential spoiler is “The Artist,” which, if it does succeed, will prove how unstoppable it really is.

The Fantasy selection is probably one of the weakest I’ve seen in years. “Harry Potter” will take this one down in a walk. Perhaps the only other film with a fighting chance is “Tintin,” which I’m still not entirely sure what it’s doing here. Is seems weird for an animated film to show up in a nomination pretty much designated for live-action work. To be honest, I don’t think anyone in Hollywood has a clue how to classify this film anymore. Regardless, this is “Potter”‘s award, and will likely be the only thing to give “Hugo” a run for its money at the Oscars.

The choices in Contemporary this year were really quite appalling to me. Some fantastic work went completely unmentioned last night. Most notably is that of Coen Brothers collaborator Jess Gonchor’s work in “Moneyball.” The drab detail at play in the clubhouses, locker rooms and residences is completely mention-worthy. Perhaps the most unforgivable snub, however, is “Hanna.” While, the film could arguably be considered a Fantasy film, the sets largely define an imaginative and whimsical kind of contemporary thriller that should have been better-noticed. Anyway, the winner here is really a toss-up and may depend on which film has the most support in general. I am very happy to see “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” show up, though. The gathering support of the film may lead to a well-deserved, though unexpected, Best Picture nomination.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Announces Winners LIVE

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment


It’s basically the Awards Season’s equivalent of Super Tuesday, except it’s super sunday. Going to be busy all day. Keep checking back as more winners are announced!

I’ll have a full recap, later, but I must say that the Chemical Brothers win has got to be the smartest and most creative award any critics body has made yet.

BEST PICTURE: “The Descendants”
runner-up: “The Tree of Life”

BEST DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick – “The Tree of Life”
runner-up: Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”

BEST ACTOR: Michael Fassbender – “Shame,” “Jane Eyre,” “A Dangerous Method,” and “X-Men: First Class”
runner-up: Michael Shannon – “Take Shelter”

BEST ACTRESS: Yun Jung-Hee – “Poetry”
runner-up: Kirsten Dunst – “Melancholia”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
runner-up: Patton Oswalt – “Young Adult”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain – “The Tree of Life,” “Coriolanus,” “The Help,” “The Debt,” and “Take Shelter,”
runner-up: Janet McTeer – “Albert Nobbs”

BEST SCREENPLAY: “A Separation” by Asghar Farhadi
runner-up: “The Descendants” by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Tree of Life”
runner-up: ?

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: “Hugo”
runner-up: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “Hanna” by The Chemical Brothers
runner-up: “Drive” by Cliff Martinez

BEST ANIMATED FILM: “Rango”
runner-up: “The Adventures of Tintin”

BEST DOCUMENTARY/NONFICTION: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
runner-up: “The Arbor”

BEST INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL FILM: “Spark of Being”