2005 BAM Awards

As those who are my friends on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter know, in December I am gearing up for my annual film awards (The BAM Awards), and that only partially explains my recent reposting of all past winners. Since these are picks made by one person, the nominating process is even more important. Aside from the the past years, the full slate of nominees from all years past was no public knowledge. This is because essentially the first time I did them, in 1996, I created them by myself for myself. At the time, I knew a lot less about how these decisions are made, campaigning, the year-end barrage of contenders and the like, such that the releasing of the Academy Award nominees was even more frustrating. Rather than just bemoan it I decided to create an award slate based on what I had seen. Back then I was ticket stub pack rat, at the time it was the only way to track anything. So I created the list, picked winners and printed it out. The fact that I stuck with hard copies and no back-up created issues, however, it was just for me at the time. I called them the BAM Awards because I needed a name. I suppose I came up with Bernardo Academy of Movies because I was being reactionary to The Academy. How one man by himself can be an Academy I didn’t fully consider. I thought it was kind of a silly name even at the time so eventually it just became BAM. Slowly, the awards widened: soon I emailed a select group of friends (that created eventual storage issues), a few years ago when I was on the Site That Must Not Be Named I decided to really take it public. I didn’t think about it ahead of time, it just occurred to me roundabout late November of ’09 that I could. The publication was an exciting and unnerving process regardless of how many or how few people would actually care to see them. While there are a two categories (which I now and again consider ending, and have skipped on occasion) which are negative, it is a positive emotion that brings me to these announcements. I want to at the end of this period of time share what I thought an why, and all winner announcements come with some explanation, and I do belabor them and struggle with them. So it is heartening that last year, for the first time, the actual honorees, be they nominees or winners, on occasion acknowledged it. Now that may seem like a self-aggrandizing statement, but what I liked was knowing the news reached them and other people and they were pleased to hear it. The design of these awards are to cement what performances, works and films most affected me, I make no bones about that, and sharing that felt like a gamble, but it’s been rewarding for that and many other reason. Of course, if you see a film missing from any year you may inquire, and there is room for intelligent discourse, but the above statements are true: trolling or disrespectful comments aimed at who was chosen won’t be tolerated. Your own awards are just a blog post away. I apologize for even needing to insert that statement but I did have cause to make similar points last year. Anyway, with how much I enjoyed last year’s and how much I’m looking forward to this year’s awards, I thought it’d be a good idea to put all I have out there in a “reverse” countdown. So here goes… 2005 Typically, in my emailing days, I would lead with a message. I have decided to lead with that message here in lieu of statistical oddities.

A Message from the President If ever there was a year where I felt like doing a top 10 list, this year was it. Not because I thought there were 10 brilliant movies that I felt deserved being mentioned for Best Picture, but because the margin that separated #10 from #5, and similarly #5 to #1, was slim. There was not a slam dunk winner and the most consistently excellent film from beginning to end, especially at the end, won out. While this year’s field doesn’t necessarily stack up against that of year’s past. I feel that in 2005 we did get another addition to the list of truly great film adaptations. One oddity you’ll notice below is that generally Best Picture wins the most awards. When the year began and I learned of Ingmar Bergman releasing what was supposed to be his last film I wanted to institute a Lifetime Achievement Award. I may next year but this year it was unnecessary as Saraband earned 11 nominations. Without much further ado here are are the winners, and here’s to a stronger field next year.

Winners are in BOLD and pictured. Best Picture The Dust Factory Machuca Saraband Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Foreign Film Saraband (2003, Sony Pictures Classics) March of the Penguins Les Choristes Machuca La Mala Educacion Saraband Best Director Andres Wood Machuca Eric Small The Dust Factory Ingmar Bergman Saraband Harry Newell Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Andrew Adamson The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Original Screenplay Robert Rodriguez, Racer Max Rodriguez The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Eric Small The Dust Factory Charlie Kaufman Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Andres Wood Machuca Ingmar Bergman Saraband Best Adapted Screenplay David Koepp based on the novel by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds David Koepp based on the book by Chris Van Alsberg Zathura Paul Haggis based on the short stories by F.X. Toole Million Dollar Baby Steven Kloves based on the novel by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Anne Peacock and Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely based on the novel by C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Warddrobe Best Actor Capote (2005, Sony Pictures Classics) David Strathairn Good Night, and Good Luck Ryan Kelley The Dust Factory Don Cheadle Hotel Rwanda Borje Alstedt Saraband Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote Best Actress Saraband (2003, Sony Pictures Classics) Hilary Swank Million Dollar Baby Virginia Madsen Sideways Julia Dufvenius Saraband Emma Watson Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Rosario Dawson Rent Best Supporting Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl The Dust Factory Morgan Freeman Million Dollar Baby Erland Josephson Saraband Brendan Gleeson Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Skandar Keynes The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Supporting Actress Saraband (2003, Sony Pictures Classics) Sophie Okonedo Hotel Rwanda Liv Ullmann Saraband Miranda Richardson Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Maggie Smith Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Tilda Swinton The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Visual Effects The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005, Disney) Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith War of the Worlds Zathura Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Original Song

Vois Sur Ton Chemin Les Choristes Caresse sur L’Ocean Les Choristes Lueur d’Ete Les Choristes La Nuit Les Choristes In Memoriam Les Choristes Best Cast Ryan Kelley, Hayden Panetierre, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Michael Angarano, Peter Horton and Kim Myers The Dust Factory Matias Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Ernesto Malbran, Aline Kuppenheim, Francisco Reyes and Tiago Correa Machuca Borje Alstedt, Julia Dufvenius, Erland Josephson, and Liv Ullmann Saraband Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Miranda Richardson, Brendan Gleeson, Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Tilda Swinton, and Liam Neeson The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Warddrobe Best Editing Waiting... (2005, LionsGate) Andy Blumenthal and David Finfer Waiting… Michael Kahn War of the Worlds Glenn Farr The Dust Factory Mick Audsley Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Sim-Evan Jones and Jim May The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Soundtrack The Chorus (2004, Nonesuch Records) The Lords of Dogtown Les Choristes Saraband Rent The Squid and the Whale Best Sound Editing Batman Begins Star Wars- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith War of the Worlds Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire The Chrinicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Best Costume Design The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Batman Begins Star Wars- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Worst Picture Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life The Sandlot 2 Jack Nobody Knows Syriana Most Underrated Picture The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (2005, Troublemaker Studios) The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Land of the Dead Zathura Rent The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Most Overrated Picture Syriana (2005, Warner Bros.) Batman Begins Jack Nobody Knows Rock School Syriana Best Makeup Star Wars- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Land of the Dead Zathura Rent The Chornicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Best Performance by a Child Actor War of the Worlds (2005, Paramount) Dakota Fanning War of the Worlds Jonah Bobo Zathura Emma Watson Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Skandar Keynes The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Owen Kline The Squid and the Whale Best Cinematography War of the Worlds (2005, Paramount) Janusz Kaminski War of the Worlds Tom Stern Million Dollar Baby Stefan Eriksson, Jesper Holstrom, Per-Olof Lantto, Sofi Strindh and Raymond Wemmenlov Saraband Roger Pratt Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Donald McAlpine The Chronicles of Naria: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Nominations Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 14 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 13 Saraband 11 The Dust Factory 7 Les Choristes 7 War of the Worlds 6 Zathura 5 Machuca 5 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith 4 Million Dollar Baby 4 Rent 4 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D 3 Batman Begins 2 The Squid and the Whale 2 Hotel Rwanda 2 Syriana 2 Land of the Dead 2 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 1 March of the Penguins 1 La Mala Educacion 1 Waiting… 1 The Lords of Dogtown 1 Good Night, and Good Luck 1 Sideways 1 Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life 1 The Sandlot 2 1 Nobody Knows 1 Jack 1 Rock School 1

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Rewind Review- Is Anybody There?

I’m not one who enjoys the phrase “sleeper hit” because almost any movie is looking for some bit of success. However, it comes to mind for this movie because I hadn’t heard of it until midway through the week in which I saw it. Even on the independent film scene it seemed to have slipped under the radar.

This film is in a word: beautiful. It is funny in one moment, shocking in another and absolutely heartbreaking the next. It is a movie that searches for the meaning of life without ever being pretentious, and is always being sincere. The meaning is searched for backwards and uniquely. It tells the tale of Edward (Bill Milner), a young boy who lives with his parents in their old folks’ home, and who thus, becomes obsessed with death.

After a chance encounter with Clarence (Michael Caine) Edward finds him in the home. After some head-butting the two grow closer. The one sheet for this film is the kind that will get you nervous with anticipation for Michael Caine’s performance, one critic citing it as “the performance of his career.” Thankfully, this is no lie. We all know Caine can be funny, acerbic and occasionally charming. This performance, however, is magnificent in its arc and power and even the man himself was unable to control his emotion watching this film, and neither was I. He is fantastic.

Caine’s performance alone is not enough to propel this film to the heights it reaches. The film’s young lead Bill Milner proved that the success of last year’s Son of Rambow was most definitely no fluke and this film reveals Milner to be unquestionably the strongest actor of his generation. Here Milner carries much of the film alone, whereas in Rambow he and Poulter played off each other. We see Milner here as a much more complex character: dissatisfied with life, angry, rebellious, confused, hopeful for something better, and yet somehow innocent throughout all this. Holding the screen and making a story that could be morbid funny and sharing the screen with a living legend make his performance nothing short of astonishing.

This film was written as a period piece set in 1987. I wholeheartedly applaud this decision and I think it was made in large part to make the piece more intimate to allow Edward’s quest for answers about the afterlife to be conducted through his own ingenuity most of the time, as opposed to the cold and distant research that the Internet Age would provide.

Many of the frames in this film are absolutely beautiful in terms of depth (looking down hallways, corridors, on a rooftop), the use of obstruction in the foreground (occasionally out of focus) and just the overall mise-en-scène is typically interesting. For example, in a scene where Edward and Clarence are walking and talking – the shot starts on the back of Clarence’s truck with the words “It’s Magic!” dominating the scene and then pans over to find them. Everything is well thought out from lights through the back window of Edward’s mother’s car to the reflections on the windshield.

It is a tender, funny, wonderful film which will likely be branded as coming-of-age which I think would not do it justice. This film can be seen and appreciated by all as it examines the human condition more so than anything else and says some wonderful things about it.

10/10

2012 Battle of the Nutcrackers

Last year I took inspiration from Ovation TV’s annual Battle of the Nutcrackers for a post on a cinematic version thereof. This year I decided to be a bit more literal about it.

While I’ve known of this programming block for years, and it’s served as background, or the occasional distraction during past year-end dashes, I have never seen enough of each selection to vote. This year I wanted to do so.

Now, clearly I will look for a cinematic treatment in a selection, but it does come down to the ballet. While I, through my production company, sponsor a competition, I can claim no expertise but I know what I like and know this story extremely well.

I could give this an over-analytical approach as I tend to compartmentalize and choose which one has the best in the following general categories: libretto, choreography, blocking, set design and depth thereof, filmic treatment, casting, then with show specifics: Russian Dance, Arabian Dance, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy; Look of the Nutcracker and Rats/Rat King; Tree, prince casting, the snowfall; and I just might next year, but this year I wanted to just give overall impressions and why I picked what I picked.

The Australian Ballet’s rendition of an alternate take called Clara’s Story is the better of the two non-traditional selections and the most cinematically rendered. The Casting of the San Francisco Ballet may be the best.

However, the best overall production in my mind, which did have its visual allure, is the Mariinsky production. The color palette is spectacular. The first half usually makes or breaks a production, the second is the tiebreaker. The consistency of costuming and color selections ties together the seemingly disconnected pieces of this tale. Also, lending to this cohesion is that some part of the town set is always visible. The execution of the individual dances is consistently excellent. Even though there is a lot of the musical conductor it is visually intriguing because of the occasional interesting shot or movement, the sets and costumes.

Overall, it was fascinating to view each of these unique productions, to compare and contrast. It’s a story I know well and enjoy, I could’ve easily voted for quite a few versions. The winner of the vote airs on Christmas Eve at 8PM EST. A marathon of encores airs all day on Christmas Day. For channels and schedules visit Ovation’s site.

Christmas Special Review- Frosty Returns

Where does one begin with Frosty Returns? Well, I supposed I could start out by simply saying that it is not recommended in the least and what follows will illustrate why:

Firstly, there is a stylistic incongruity to this special that’s hard to get over. The first few scenes set up different locations but are animated as if they are splicing scenes out of different projects. There is no sense of visual unity to the front end of the piece but it’s a problem that never fully rights itself.

Then there is the absolutely odd mixture of voice talents. The first mistake this special made in that regard was to carry on the tradition of creating a character that looks like the actor doing the narration. With the shoddy animation work and the fact that you have Jonathan Winters and not Jimmy Durante it’s a failed homage. You get a grab bag of comedic actors: Jan Hooks, Andrea Martin and Brian Doyle-Murray. Notable amongst the kids is Michael Patrick Carter a few year before his only true claim to fame in Milk Money.

Then there is John Goodman as Frosty, which ends up being the most troubling and much of the why doesn’t even have to do with him. He’s given quite a bit of weak dialogue to work with, nothing even shining a candle to what came before, and we all know John Goodman can sing but then he’s given songs not quite in his range and it wouldn’t work because the lyrics are terrible.

Then there’s this asinine plot about this aerosol type spray that will remove the snow, ruin a festival and the environment and in this crazed little town a majority of the kids hate snow, which is really weird.

If this hadn’t been included in the holiday specials set I got I never would’ve sought it out it really is an unfortunate misfire in all respects.