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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…

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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.

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Writers Guild of America Nominations Announced

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

And the guilds keep rolling in. Now, when it comes to Oscar, one cannot hold the WGA up to the same predictive powers as, say, the SAG or the PGA. This is not because the voting bodies don’t match up very well, because they do. It’s because of the Writers Guild annual list of discriminatory ineligibility standards. This year, a number of very promising scripts have been cast by the wayside. The potential frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay “The Artist” will not be found here, along with “Shame,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Beginners,” and “Margin Call” (among many others). In adapted, “Carnage,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “Drive” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” are SOL. I don’t mind saying every year that the WGA needs to stop shunning great writers just because they don’t pay their annual dues. With that, on to who does.

If you take a good look at that ineligible list above, you will notice that Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is not there. That’s right, it missed out on this nom out of sheer lack of votes. This is the second guild in a row to snub the film, and yet, I still do not believe it’s Best Picture chances have been tarnished. What has, however, been taken down a notch is George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” which got a bit of a boost with Tuesday’s PGA nominations, but really could have used this one, as well. If the man, himself, doesn’t grab a DGA nod on Monday, I’d consider “Ides” to be down and out.

So enough of what’s been missing guilds and on to what’s been racking them in. Out of all the movies from this year, only two have nailed nominations in each of the four guilds, thus far: “The Help” and…that’s right…”Bridesmaids.” Chew on that for a bit, and begin to accept the film’s Best Picture chances. I’m still not sold, but am certainly entertaining the idea. However, a film enjoying perhaps an even better week is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and I could not be more pleased. Granted Steven Zallian’s script may be ousted by one of the ineligibles in a couple of weeks, this makes 3 out of 4 guild nominations (and let’s be real, an Ensemble Cast nomination was never really in the cards, given the film’s dynamic). If David Fincher is able to score his second straight DGA nomination, it will be difficult to deny this fantastic film’s chances.

One final note. Congratulations to Zallian and Sorkin for writing the BEST screenplay of the year. Hands down.

Well, I’ll let the nominees do the rest of the talking, themselves. Check them out:

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Steven Zallian
“The Help” by Tate Taylor
“Hugo” by John Logan
“Moneyball” by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“50/50” by Will Reiser
“Bridesmaids” by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
“Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen
“Win Win” by Tom McCarthy
“Young Adult” by Diablo Cody

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Better this World” by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek
“Nostalgia for the Light” by Patricio Guzman
“Pina” by Wim Wenders
“Position Among the Stars” by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich and Leonard Retel Helmrich
“Senna” by Manish Pandey

And You Thought We Were Done: San Francisco and Indiana

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

As if yesterday wasn’t quite ridiculously chaotic enough, a handful of cities decided to pile on. Along with these choices, Detroit and Houston also decided to issue their lists of nominees. At this point in time, one has to ask if it’s really necessary for cities such as Detroit or Houston to actually issue nominees. Therefore, I will postpone posting about their decisions until they actually make them.

In the meantime, here are the winners of the always interesting San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the particularly unusual and surprisingly unique decisions of the Indiana Film Critics Association. “Win Win” was certainly the unsung favorite of the hoosier state (despite “The Artist” taking the top prizes). Meanwhile, San Francisco chose to honor “The Tree of Life,” while also being the first critics group to finally bestow some love on “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

Here’s the winners:

 

SAN FRANCISCO FILM CRITICS CIRCLE:

 

BEST PICTURE: “The Tree of Life”

BEST DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick – “The Tree of Life”

BEST ACTOR: Gary Oldman – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

BEST ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Albert Brooks – “Drive”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Vanessa Redgrave – “Coriolanus”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “Margin Call”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Tree of Life”

BEST ANIMATED FILM: “Rango”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Certified Copy”

BEST DOCUMENTARY: “Tabloid”

SPECIAL CITATION: “The Mill and the Cross”

 

INDIANA  FILM JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION:

 

BEST FILM: “The Artist”

runner-up: “The Descendants”

BEST DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
runner-up: “Terrence Malick – “The Tree of Life”

BEST ACTOR: Paul Giamatti – “Win Win”
runner-up: Ralph Fiennes – “Coriolanus”

BEST ACTRESS: Elizabeth Olsen – “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
runner-up: Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
runner-up: Albert Brooks – “Drive”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis – “The Help”
runner-up: Amy Ryan – “Win Win”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “The Descendants”
runner-up: “Moneyball”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “Win Win”
runner-up: “Margin Call”

BEST MUSICAL SCORE: “The Artist”
runner-up: “Hugo”

BEST ANIMATED FILM: “Rango”
runner-up: “Winnie the Pooh”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “The Skin I Live In”
runner-up: “13 Assassins”

BEST DOCUMENTARY: “Project Nim”
runner-up: “Into the Abyss”

ORIGINAL VISION AWARD: “The Tree of Life”
runner-up: “The Artist”

HOOSIER AWARD: Lindsay Goffman, producer – “Dumbstruck”

Washington D.C. Film Critics Announce Nominees

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I had a feeling that these guys were going to stick their heads up this week. They have a tendency of announcing early and without warning. While the results of their voting is apparently still being tallied and the winners will be announced on Monday, we can take a look at the nominees right now.

Well, there’s not much question as far as what film will likely go all the way here, and that is the emerging critical darling “The Artist.” The film received eight nominations, practically in every category that it was eligible. “Hugo” comes in second with six nominations, continuing to baffle me. I’m sure that I’m going to be saying that a lot this awards season.

The overrated, but still exceptionally cool, “Drive” picked up four nominations, including one for it’s phenomenal director Nicholas Wending Refn. “The Descendants” also continued its string of love with five nominations. Octavia Spencer receives her first of what I’m sure will be a long string of nominations for her work in “The Help,” likewise for Viola Davis. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing both of those ladies with gold in their hands come Oscar night.

A surprisingly absent film from these nods is a little title about a war and a horse. Not sure if you’ve heard of it. For a critics group that largely trends towards the Oscars, it’s highly unusual to find Mr. Spielberg’s latest largely vacant from these nominations. True it picked up a few tech nods, yet this film is believed by many to potentially be the nomination leader next month. One can’t say that the group has a beef with the director, either, for they were the first and one of the only to award “Munich” Best Picture back in 2005.

The big story here is Tom McCarthy’s “Win Win” picking up a nomination for Best Picture, beating out the above mentioned “War Horse” and a number of others. Quite a coup for this little delight of a film. Yet, as intriguing as this nomination is, I doubt it will pan out much for the rest of the year, at least in terms of Best Picture. However, a screenplay nomination for McCarthy is becoming more and more likely.

Some underdog victories abound here that are worth mentioning. Michael Shannon asserts himself as a certifiable contender, getting a nod for his fantastic work in “Take Shelter.” It’s also very refreshing to see Andy Serkis get his first and hopefully not last nomination as a motion captured ape in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” His is certainly the most interesting campaign of the season, and if it succeeds, it will make Oscar history. While I despise the precedent that it will set, I admit that I can’t help feeling proud of Andy Serkis. If it’s going to happen, it should happen to him. From Gollum, to Kong, and now Ceasar, the man has truly put his heart and soul into his work and has ultimately changed the face of cinema in a lot of ways.

Hands down, my favorite pick of the evening has got to be Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids.” A good movie that this lady really took to another level with her incredible comedic skills. Her performance, if it continues down this track, could end up being one of the funnest nominations since Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder.” Kudos to the WAFCA for getting the ball rolling, there.

Check out the full list of nominations after the cut:

Best Film
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Drive”
“Hugo”
“Win Win”

Read more…

2011 Independent Spirit Award Nominations

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Wow. Busy morning. Lots of multitasking. I will try to add my two cents about these later. But in the mean time, I ask one question.

WHERE IS “SHAME”?

Eligibility? Who knows. I’ll try to come up with some hard information on why one of best-reviewed films of the year was shut out of the awards that it should have owned.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

Best Feature
50/50
Beginners
Drive
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

Best Director
Mike Mills, Beginners
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best First Feature
Another Earth
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

Best Male Lead
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Best Female Lead
Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me
Rachel Harris, Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye, Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Supporting Male
Albert Brooks, Drive
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris

Best Supporting Female
Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston, 50/50
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000
Bellflower
Circumstance
Hello Lonesome
Pariah
The Dynamiter

Best Documentary
An African Selection
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

Best Cinematography
Joel Hodge, Bellflower
Benjamin Kasulke, The Off Hours
Darius Khondji, Midnight in Paris
Guillaume Shiffman, The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron, The Dynamiter

Best First Screenplay
Mike Cahill & Brit Marling, Another Earth
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Patrick DeWitt, Terri
Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser, 50/50

Best Screenplay
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

“Win Win” Review at The DePaulia

As some of you know, I recently started writing for The DePaulia, DePaul University’s official newspaper. It’s not the Chicago Tribune, but it is a highly respected student publication and is a big step for me in building my reputation in the Chicago area. I recently published my first review for them and it is available online. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“Over the last decade, writer/director/actor Tom McCarthy has championed himself as a voice for the underappreciated. His pair of independent features (“The Station Agent” and “The Visitor”) stands as an ode to those ordinary people we see on the street and don’t give a second thought to, despite them having interesting stories to tell. With “Win Win,” the director crafts a true modern parable of contemporary middle class life and it’s a treat to behold.”

I was very pleased with the film, as well as my own review. I’m still not sure about the ethics or permissions of posting the actual reviews on my blog once they’ve been published in the paper. Meanwhile, below is a link to the full review at The DePaulia Online. Hope everyone enjoys it and wishes me luck on this new venture.

“Win Win” is a Victory for the Common Man” (DePaulia)