2012 BAM Award Winners

Another year has come and gone so it’s time to announce the 2012 BAM Award winners. These awards are based solely on my opinion and what I was able to watch during the past year.

To see what qualified you can check any of these three posts for film, actor and behind-the-scenes categories.

I recently announced shortlists, and barring a few last minute entries, these nominations will come from those films.

If you want more insight into the history and development of the awards I have re-posted most of my old lists starting with 1996

The winners will be pictured and BOLD.

I will be live-blogging these winners from the bottom of the list up.

Best Picture

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

It may seem hard to believe, but I compartmentalize such that nomination totals surprise me, at times winners have surprised me to because I thought I’d do one thing, but then as I thought and wrote it was clear my thoughts were different than intially assumed. However, I was not surprised that the highest nomination totals weren’t terribly high and that the win totals have been fairly split throughout. Again, compartmentalizing.

So what was the most fun I had at the movies this year? The most gobsmacked by its construction? The most delighted intellectually? Oh, yeah, it made me laugh too. The answers to all these questions are Django Unchained What it does is that it takes what Tarantino did in Inglorious Basterds brings it to the US, shines a harsh light on our uncomfortable subject, then flagellates it, makes us laugh about it, think about, condemn it and root for good to triumph (as we know it will), and what’s best makes the point of making it an antebellum tale. It was hair-splitting that kept Django from getting other awards throughout the day, but this one was in the bag from when I was done watching it.

Anna Karenina
The Cabin in the Woods
The Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
The Dynamiter
Kauwboy
Les Misérables
North Sea Texas
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Turin Horse

Best Foreign Film

The Turin Horse (2011, Cinema Guild).

The Best Picture field has quite a few foreign films in it too, but here was another year where a foreign film set the standard early, held it for a long time and got nicked at the end of the year. I suggest you look into all these films to see which interest you as they are very different, and my winner is not likely to have the greatest mass appeal. The winner is The Turin Horse

Found Memories
Holy Motors
Kauwboy
Magic Silver
Monsieur Lazhar
North Sea Texas
The Raid: Redemption
La Rafle
Simon and the Oaks
The Turin Horse

Most Underrated Picture

Kauwboy (2012, Waterland Film)

Last year, started a real shift in how I treat this award. Basically, it stopped being about the IMDb and what critics and others said about the film and more about what smaller film, deserving of a wider audience do I think needs championing – thus next year this category may have a slightly different name.

This kind of ties into why I skipped on Worst Picture and Most Overrated. I could still tell you some for the past year, but I spent many of the wee hours nominating last week and all day today posting these winners, I want it to be all about positive things. Aside from philopsophical topics that’s what it boils down to.

So what film here deserves championing the most? Kauwboy. I am lucky and grateful to have seen it, but while it may have had festival and Academy screenings here to the best of my knowledge it does not have US distribution and is in my top 10 of the year.

The Aggression Scale
The Dynamiter
In the Family
Intruders
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
Kauwboy
Magic Silver
Meeting Evil
On the Ice
Simon and the Oaks

Best Director

Bela Tarr

All the men in this category had singular visions and are very deserving. However, only one can get this honor. In the past I delayed the creation of a lifetime achievement award because the director was still quite vital. I won’t exclude someone for getting that honor now that it exists, however. When there’s a director-picture split there should be a justification. Here there will be a quasi-split (you’ll see what I mean) and I think Béla Tarr earned it for having a more precise, exacting vision that’s greater not only than the sum of his ouevre but also of his aesthetic.

Bavo Defurne North Sea Texas
Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Rises
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained
Béla Tarr The Turin Horse
Joe Wright Anna Karenina

Best Actress

Anna Karenina (2012, Focus Features)

They might not all be in films that bring the biggest fanfare with them but these ladies all did spectacular jobs in varied ways. Ultimately, what this boiled down to was two ladies who did two very different things: one didn’t have as many cuts to work with and had to convey many emotions quickly and clearly, another due to the mind’s eye approach of the narrative had to quickly and visually communicate. However, the task assigned to Keira Knightley not only felt bigger to me but she steered the journey so magnificently; it’s literally breathtaking.


Erika Bók The Turin Horse

Keira Knightley Anna Karenina

Magaly Solier Amador

Tilda Swinton We Need to Talk About Kevin

Noomi Rapace The Monitor

Best Actor

Lincoln (2012, DreamWorks)

As likely as Daniel Day-Lewis is to continue to win Best Actor trophies this was by no means a blowout. Denis Lavant plays a plethora of characters, McConaughey is better than ever in Killer Joe; in The Perks of Being a Wallflower Logan Lerman reminds us all what he’s capable of and then Dane Dehaan broke through big time in Chronicle. However, there’s impersonating a figure, doing an impression of them and then theres inhabiting them, which seems to be what Daniel Day-Lewis does. It’s astonishing.


Dane DeHaan Chronicle
Logan Lerman The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln

Denis Lavant Holy Motors

Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe
Hugh Jackman Les Misérables

Best Supporting Actress

Les Misérables (2012, Universal)

Samantha Barks Les Misérables
Sally Field Lincoln
Gina Gershon Killer Joe
Anna Gunn Sassy Pants
Anne Hathaway Les Misérables

First thing that needs mentioning is that Sassy Pants is on netflix now, so stream it. It’s hilarious. Also, if you’re in for a weird time go for Killer Joe. Samantha Barks is unforgettable singing my favorite Les Mis song, however, here is one place where I will not be any different from any other award show between now and the Oscars, the winner is Anne Hathaway who more than deserves it. What an astoundingly great performance.

Best Supporting Actor

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

I love to see Leonardo DiCaprio really hooked into a part, when he’s a live wire he’s something special and he’s that here. Him in this form is about all that can sway me away from picking Sam Jackson in this category.

Mikkel Boe Foesgaard A Royal Affair
Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained
Samuel L. Jackson Django Unchained
Matthew McConaughey Bernie
Eddie Redmayne Les Misérables

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Monsieur Lazhar (2011, Music Box Films)

All these performaces are very strong as well, especially Ryan Simpkins’, however, if there’s one invocation I cannot disregard it’s that of Anna Chlumsky. That is who Sophie Nélisse reminded me of in a lot of ways and that’s why she takes it, aside from the obvious fact that she’s the conscious of a very tough movie for a young actor to be that intrinsic in.

Ryan Simpkins Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Sophie Nélisse Monsieur Lazhar
Yle Vianello Corpo Celeste

Natasha Calls The Possession

Ane Viola Semb Magic Silver

Rachel Mwanza War Witch

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Kauwboy (2012, Waterland Film)

This is another spectacular class, where quite literally any of them could’ve taken it. Quite honestly, it’s one of the decisions I most lamented having to make because I saw early on it was going to be a very strong category. Each of these actors is perfect for the role they’re assigned, however, the one who not only maximes the role and helps make his movie click above all others is Rick Lens.

Thomas Horn Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

James Rolleston Boy
Émilien Néron Monsieur Lazhar

Jelle Florizoone North Sea Texas
Rick Lens Kauwboy

Thomas Doret The Kid with a Bike

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Holy Motors (2012, Indomina)

Another reason that existed to create these Supporting categories for young actors is that there are times when a young actor is given a very tough assignment in complex film, such is this case of this winner Jeanne Disson in Holy Motors. She only has one scene but there’s a lot of subtext she’s playing and she has to get emotional in it at one point; emotional but restrained. It’s a truly great turn by her.

Isabelle Allen Les Misérables

Marie-Ève Beauregard Monsieur Lazhar
Jeanne Disson Holy Motors

Ashley Gerasimovich We Need to Talk About Kevin
Bailee Madison Parental Guidance

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Boy (2010, Unison Films)

This year really redeemed my decision to create equal categories for young performers. There were enough really good lead and supporting performances such that all but one of these categories expanded to six nominees. Drew Barrymore’s performance in E.T. has often been cited as a standard not just for Young Actors, but also for actors round about her age. This year I was reminded of that standard on a number of occasions.

Here’s a category where truly any one of the picks would have been a very valid choice, which just reinforces my belief that the nominating process is the most important, but citations aside, and upon further reflection, the most impressed I was this year was with Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu. In a film like Boy you expect the lead to be strong and have a lot of dramatic turns and situations foisted upon him, you do not expect that from the younger brother character and for him to rise to the challenge in a manner stoically belying his years.

Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu Boy
Sebastian Banes In the Family
Kyle Breitkopf Parental Guidance
Peter DaCunha The Barrens
Pierce Gagnon Looper
Daniel Huttlestone Les Misérables

Best Youth Ensemble

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

In years past there have been splits between Youth Ensemble and Best Cast. The best way to explain that is to use the sports analogy of comparing a whole team (cast) to a unit of the team (Defense), a team may be the best overall but not the strongest in a given unit.

Where with Best Cast I assessed that the adult players are vital due to the fact that they play key figures, the younger performers carry the film and there are more doing so that it would seem if you were to just read the synopsis. Both main characters Pim and Gino are represented at two ages, the younger age being a short, but vital tone-setter; but then there are also the girls in their lives who are necessary foils in a film of this nature. They too are very good and written better than you usually see.

Again the decision for North Sea Texas to win here is based on depth and prominence. Monsieur Lazhar has very strong stand-out performances by the kids, as is evidenced in the individual nominations, however, they split time and don’t shoulder as much as the cast of North Sea Texas does.

Ane Viola Semb, Johan Tinus Lindgren, etc. Magic Silver
Émilien Néron, Brigitte Poupart, Jules Philip, Seddik Benslimane, Marie-Ève Beauregard, Sophie Sanscartier, Vincent Millard, Louis-David Leblanc, Gabriel Verdier, Marianne Soucy-Lord Monsieur Lazhar
Ben Van den Heuvel, Nathan Naenen, Noor Ben Taouet, Jelle Florizoone, Nina Marie Kortekaas, Mathias Vergels North Sea Texas
Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, Kyle Breitkopf, Cade Jones, Mavrick Moreno, Madison Lintz, Justin Kennedy, Jade Nicolette Parental Guidance
Nick Romeo Reimann, Fabian Halbig, Leonie Tepie, Manuel Steitz, Javidan Imani, Robin Walter, David Hürten Vorstadtkrokodile 3: Freunde Fur Immer
Jean Texier, Louis Dussol, Harold Werner, Nathan Parent, Clément Godefroy, Théophile Baquet, Ilona Bachelier, Thomas Goldberg, Grégory Gatignol War of the Buttons

Best Cast

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

This was a year blessed with incredibly deep casts. What needed taking into account was how deep did the casts run and how strong was each individual performer in said role. Though a tale of coming of age and sexual awakening, North Sea texas does have a rounded cast with key adult players that needed to be on point to fill in the the world that was being created, and they to a person, more so than any other film, did that.

Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron, Marie-Eve Bearegard, Vincent Millard, Seddik Bensilmane, Louis David Leblanc, Dranielle Proux Brigitte Poupart, Jules Philip Monsieur Lazhar
Ben Van den Heuvel, Eva van der Gucht, Thomas Coumans, Katelijn Damen, Nathan Naenen, Noor Ben Taouet, Jelle Florizoone, Nina Marie Kortekaas, Mathias Vergels, Luk Wyns North Sea Texas
Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson-Taylor, Jude Law, Kelly MacDonald, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson, Matthew Macfayden, Oskar McNamara, Alicia Vikander, Eros Vlahos Anna Karenina
Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Straithairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Cross, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gulliver McGrath, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Lucas Haas, Dane DeHaan Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Sach Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter Eddie Redmayne, Elizabeth Allen, Daniel Huttlestone Les
Misérables

Best Original Screenplay

In the Family (2011, In the Family)

There are a number of ways to look at Best Original Screenplay. One can parse out the originality and go one way, look at the visual treatment and go another or one can take a very textual approach. One of these films is very quiet in terms of dialogue, two are quite eloquent, but one is intimate, another bombastic. Both the eloquent films treat flashbacks very well, one takes more time in them and is more creative chronologically; while another hums along mostly in the present of the tale. Of all awards this one is splitting hairs more than most others – because both top two also have statements to make. However, when you consider one’s Bergmanesque approach and its dramatic rendering of a perhaps dry deposition setting it has to go to Patrick Wang for In the Family.

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard The Cabin in the Woods
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained
Leos Carax Holy Motors
Patrick Wang In the Family
Laszlo Krasznahorki, Bela Tarr The Turin Horse

Best Adapted Sceenplay

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

I often have a little struggle in parsing original from adapted. I believe I vary from most awards in that if characters aren’t original, though the script be not made from source material, then I consider that an adaptation. We all have notions about James bond, Batman and the like. To work with them, no matter how out of the canon you take it, you still start with characters that are established.

I only had real knowledge about one of these sources, ultimately, it comes down to how well a vision is translated on screen, how concise, visual and exact is the script’s treatment of the subject matter. Though all these scripts are deserving the most surehanded approach came from Bavo Defurne’s handling of North Sea Texas.

Tom Stoppard (Leo Tolstoy) Anna Karenina
Bavo Defurne (Andre Sollie) North Sea Texas
Stephe Chbosky (Stephen Chbosky) The Perks of Being a Wallflower
William Nicholson (Claude-Michel Schoenberg, Alain Boubil, Victor Hugo, Herbert Kretzmer, Jean-Marc Natel, James Fenton) Les Misérables
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (Ian Fleming) Skyfall

Best Score

The difficulty in deciding this category was balancing the disparate intentions of each score. Each of these films are in different genres, thus, their scores had different tasks at hand and clearly all of them exceled. What it came down to is trying to quantify which score most exceled for what the intentions of the film were, regardless of musicality. When one thinks of The Turin Horse two sounds come immediately to mind: the wind and the score.

Adriano Cominotto North Sea Texas
Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese The Raid: Redemption
Helge Slikker Kauwboy
Christopher Young Sinister
Mihály Víg The Turin Horse

Best Editing

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011, Oscilloscope Labs)

What this category ended up being about in large part was non-linear communication of the narrative. No film did better with that than We Need to Talk About Kevin, which qualified for this year because I didn’t have a realistic chance to see it in 2011, per the Titus Conundrum.


Joe Bini We Need to Talk About Kevin

John Guerdebeke Keyhole
Mary Joe Markey The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Melanie Oliver Anna Karenina
Els Voorspoels North Sea Texas

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

The Woman in Black (2012, Hammer Films))

There are two films here that truly hinge on their sound design, one is indicated by the title and the other is The Woman in Black. Sinister also used its sound to great effect, but ultimately The Woman in Black was the most consistent, and well thought out design of them all.

Chronicle
Django Unchained
Neighboring Sounds
Sinister
The Woman in Black

Best Cinematography

Skyfall (2012, MGM)

Similar to my thoughts on black and white photography fully exploiting the latitude that gives you in something like The White Ribbon here Deakins exploits color wherever and whenever possible. There’s fire, ice and water, neon in the sky, chinese lanterns and much more; it’s a visual smorgasbord you can make yourself a glutton on.

Roger Deakins Skyfall
Benjamin Kasulke Keyhole
Fred Kelemen The Turin Horse
Seamus McGarvey Anna Karenina
Anton Mertens North Sea Texas

Best Art Direction

Anna Karenina (2012, Fox Searchlight)

If you’re going to commit to a stage-style version of anything you have to have brilliant art direction.

Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Magic Silver
Les Misérables
The Turin Horse
The Woman in Black

Best Costume Design

Cloud Atlas (2012, Warner Bros.)

As has been the trend recently, I reward variety of costuming. There are really two titles here that fit that bill and Cloud Atlas does so in spades.

Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Django Unchained
Holy Motors
The Turin Horse

Best Makeup

Holy Motors (2012, Indomina)

Not only does this film do a lot of prosthetics work on its lead, but it shows you the artifice and still makes you believe it, which is impressive.

The Devil’s Rock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Hitchcock
Holy Motors
The Moon Child

Best Visual Effects

Cloud Atlas (2012, Warner Bros.)

I had a pretty tough time with this one, and usually I would go for the creature-work heavy film but Cloud Atlas has many different landscapes it needed to create, and does so very effectively.

The Cabin in the Woods
Cloud Atlas
Beyond the Black Rainbow
John Carter
ParaNorman

Best Song

I had to do my due diligence and re-listen to these songs before deciding on a winner and it may just be the most varied best field ever. There were some awesome covers this year that would normally be eligible, but to not open pandora’s box and have another nomination sweep like The Chorus did in 2005 I eliminated songs that were not, to my knowledge, original; otherwise, Les Misérables would sweep and have an unfair advantange.

After a great and informative Twitter chat with Larry Richman, at some point between last year’s awards and now, I came to a new way of thinking about these nominees. All the nominees occur within the body of the film, meaning there are no end credit songs and all have some intrinsic value to the film. However, when factoring the quality of the song (where two were nearly neck-and-neck) plus how important the song is within the narrative construct of the film. The winner is clearly…


“You Are the One” Ricky Koole Kauwboy

“The Big Machine” Mark Duplass Safety Not Guaranteed
“Giving It All” Troye Sivan Spud
“Skyfall” Adele Skyfall
“The Thunder Buddy Song” Mark Wahlberg and Seth Macfarlane Ted

The Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

Bela Tarr

The Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year

Samuel L. Jackson

NOMINATION TABLE TO FOLLOW

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2012 Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year

This award is one I will present annually to the actor, writer, director or any combination thereof who has in my estimation the best year. The only real criteria is that they have multiple credits. The credits can be two responsibilities on the same film or more than one film. The idea came to me based on Robert Downey, Jr.’s incredible 2008. He was the first winner and the name stuck.

I think I did start to list potential candidates for this but then thought it’d take some of the drama out of it. Also, if you have to think too much about a body-of-work award like this one, it’s nearly invalidated.

So first there are honorable mentions…

I admit to being woefully ignorant about the oeuvre Joss Whedon before this year. I was not one of the legion following his TV series’. However, with the anticipation building towards The Avengers I saw Dr. Horrible and previously fell in love with The Cabin in the Woods.

Late in the year when this topic was bandied about Matthew McConaughey’s name was getting a lot of traction for roles in Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy and Bernie. Also, Mud did well on the festival circuit and is an anticipated 2013 film for me. McConaughey’s year was astoundingly good.

So why not those two? Whedon lacked the spontaneity of some of my past choices. I know of him but not his work and was looking forward to the releases based on premise/buzz. McConaughey’s accolades though mostly genuine almost seem like mea culpas. For whatever reason, he’s got a bad rap. I’ve always liked his work. He hasn’t always been put in the best situations casting-wise (I like Contact but that comes to mind) but if anyone sees Frailty they’d be willing to give him a permanent seal of approval. I’d argue he’s always been underrated and never phoned anything in unlike some who reach tongue-in-cheek cult status, and this year he found dynamite parts and knocked them out of the park. Always felt he could, but was a closeted fan.

However, owing to the fact that last year’s winner had four roles of note and set sort of a precedent and also appeared in films I saw at different stages of the year, those things are some of, but not the only reasons, I choose Samuel L. Jackson.

Jackson, of course, is part of the phenomenon that is The Avengers. To an extent Jackson’s work as Nick Fury is akin to Alan Rickman’s in the Harry Potter series. Jackson has been establishing Fury as the Marvel Universe built itself up on film. The culmination of the effort is the first Avengers film.

However, before and after that film in the year there were two indies that when combined with Django Unchained make him the clear choice.

Now, Meeting Evil and The Samaritan may not be the most universally embraceable films but I enjoyed both and he seemed to also. Sam Jackson has been quoted as saying that he sometimes bases decisions on roles by deciphering if he would’ve wanted to see these films when he was a kid. I think all his choices for 2012 pass that test with ease.

Last, but unquestionablty not least, is his performance in Django Unchained. What he does there is nothing short of astounding especially when you consider his screen time. He plays older than he is, adopts new physicality, puts a slightly different spin on his usual tough-guy persona, and then, with impeccable timing and brilliant results, sends up the sidekick subservience that far too many African-American actors of the the past had to settle for.

However, when hearkening to the past in a different way, Jackson also took part in two films that could be classified as neo-noir and played both sides of the equation (protagonist and antagonist).

Smauel L. Jackson is the kind of actor who upon being involved in a project elevates it and has the potential to do something extraordinarily special. He did so in 2012 four times over. If that’s not entertainer of the year, I don’t know what is.

BAM Award Winners: Best Cinematography

It’s quite obvious what the significance of cinematography is to anyone. It’s the visual signature of the film and the Director of Photography is second in command to a director and is a major contributor to the film’s overall aesthetic. Listed below you will see those who I feel not only created the best and prettiest images but also those who encapsulated their film the best and expressed it in visual terms. There are some repeat winners and some in foreign films but all treated each project uniquely and expressed their tale universally.

2018 Martin Gslacht Alpha

2017 Roger A. Deakins Bladerunner 2049

2016 The Revenant Emmanuel Lubezki

img_3418

2015 Mad Max: Fury Road John Seale 

AP FILM REVIEW-MAD MAX: FURY ROAD A ENT

2014 The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears Manuel Dacosse

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2014, Strand Releasing)

2013 The Old Man Murat Aliyev

The Old Man (2013, Kazakh Film Studio)

2012 Skyfall Roger Deakins

Skyfall (2012, MGM)

2011 Hugo Robert Richardson

2010 The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band) Christian Berger

2009 Before Tomorrow (Le Jour avant le lendemain) Norman Cohn and Félix Lajeunesse

2008 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) Janusz Kaminski

2007 The Seeker: The Dark is Rising Joel Ransome

2006 Fateless (Sorstalanság) Gyula Pados

Fateless (2005, Hungarian motion Picture Ltd.)

2005 War of the Worlds Janusz Kaminski

War of the Worlds (2005, Paramount)

2004 Kill Bill: Vol. 2 Robert Richardson

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004, Miramax)

2003 Peter Pan Donald McAlpine

Peter Pan (2003, Universal)

2002 Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones David Tattersall

2001 Artificial Intelligence: A.I. Janusz Kaminski

Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001, DreamWorks)

2000 Unbreakable Eduardo Serra

Unbreakable (2000, Touchstone Pictures)

1999 Sleepy Hollow Emmanuel Lubezki

Sleepy Hollow (1999, Paramount Pictures)

1998 Saving Private Ryan Janusz Kaminski

Saving Private Ryan (1998, DreamWorks)

1997 Mother Night Tom Richmond

1996 Romeo + Juliet Donald McAlpine

Romeo + Juliet (1996, 20th Century Fox)

2012 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

In my 2005 BAM Awards wrap-up, I wrote how I was considering creating a Lifetime Achievement Award and giving it to Ingmar Bergman. The idea was to award him upon completion of his swan song that proved unnecessary when I saw Saraband and it was one of my favorite films of that year and he won Best Director.

It seems this prize has now come full circle as another great director has made what he claims (and right now I believe him) is his last film and it is a great one. This year’s recipient is Bela Tarr.

Tarr is a director I’ve come to know well. However, when I first learned of him and what many consider to be his masterpiece (Satantango) I knew nothing save for the plot of the movie, that it was very long and I had to see it. I went in fairly cold and there was a sort of kinship there. I connected and I got it. That connection extended through much of Hungarian cinema, but it started with Tarr and it started instinctually.

I’ve since come to learn about him, read writings on his work – perhaps what is most fascinating about him is he went from stark cinéma vérité to an aesthetic all his own of long takes, moving cameras, black-and-white minimalist existentialism that is unique in all the world.

I’ve tackled Satantango a number of times, I agree it’s a film that could be viewed annually but I haven’t in a few years and its time to change that. I’ve, of course, seen as many of his films as possible.

It’s one I want to watch all over again. For one thing that is certain is that he proves that auteurism is indeed a live and well. He’s a rare breed, and is also giving back to the cinema fostering artists and striving for aesthetic excellence first and foremost.

The one thing that in my experience I’ve found Tarr has in common with Bergman is this brilliant final bow, his being The Turin Horse.

Tarr’s cinema is one that has evolved and is as exacting as Bergman’s, though not as prolific.

A great filmography is one where many films stand out and apart; Tarr has that:

Hotel Magnezit
Family Nest
The Outsider
Prefab People
Macbeth
Almanac of Fall
Damnation
Satantango
Journey on the Plain
Werckmeister Harmonies
The Man From London
The Turin Horse

I’ve come to know Hungarian cinema in part because of Bela Tarr and admire it. I admire this man, his work and his vision. This admiration grows leaps and bounds when you add the fact that he’s trying to help ensure the future of the artform in his home country, and around the world.

A great filmmaker’s films will last forever, even greater is the man whose trying to ensure cinema itself lasts forever.

BAM Awards: Best Supporting Actress Winners

What’s humorous, or better stated odd, is that when you finally start to amass these categories segregated from the totality of the yearly nominations you come across patterns that you wouldn’t have noticed. It’s a good thing I never noticed and it creates the smallest niggling doubt for years to come. The odd stat could very humorously and accurately be called “American Woman, Stay Away From Me.” Not only is there a high frequency of performers who speak English as a second language there are also English speakers from other nations: The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The only American-born winners to date have been: Melanie Griffith (’96), Michelle Pfeiffer (’97), Julianne Moore (’03), Anjelica Huston (’11) and Anne Hathaway (’12). Regardless of the statistical shenanigans there are some great performances listed below that you should watch if you haven’t. Below you will find ladies who really know how to steal scenes.

2018 Molly Ringwald All These Small Moments

2017 Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird

2016 Kathryn Hahn Bad Moms

img_3457 

2015 Louise Bourgoin The Nun

louise-bourgoin

2014 Jessica Lange In Secret

In Secret (2014, Roadside Attractions)

2013 Imelda Staunton The Awakening

The Awakening (2011, BBC Films)

2012 Anne Hathaway Les Misérables

Les Misérables (2012, Universal)

2011 Anjelica Huston 50/50

2010 Susanne Lothar The White Ribbon

pic_903330

2009 Diane Kruger Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (2010, The Weinstein Company)

2008 Penélope Cruz Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, The Weinstein Company)

2007 Judi Dench Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal (2006, Fox Searchlight)

2006 Catherine O’Hara For Your ConsiderationFor Your Consideration (2006, Warner Independent)

2005 Liv Ullmann Saraband

2004 Maia Morgenstern The Passion of the Christ

2003 Julianne Moore The Hours

2002 Toni Collette About a Boy

2001 Lília Cabral The Inheritance (A Partilha)

2000 Laura Fraser Titus

1999 Toni Collette The Sixth Sense

1998 Marília Pêra Central Station (Central do Brasil)

1997 Michelle Pfeiffer A Thousand Acres

1996 Melanie Griffith Mulholland Falls

Favorite Older Films First Seen in 2012, Part 4

This is an idea I first saw on @bobfreelander‘s blog. The idea is to list your favorite films from the past year that you saw for the first time, but exclude new releases. This allows much more variety and creates a lot of great suggestions if you read many of them.

Since I tracked these films much more closely this year my list grew long. I will occasionally combine selections by theme, but there is enough for five posts. These choices are in no particular order.

Enjoy!

Tales from the Hood (1995)

Tales From the Hood (1995, Universal)

There was a span of time when I was watching as many horror anthology films as I could stream. Most, as one would expect were inconsistent, on occasion one had one very memorable story. However, most surprising to me was that the most consistently excellent was the one I held out little hope for and watched on a whim; great unique takes, balanced with humor and social relevance.

Summer Interlude (1951)

Summer Interlude (1951)

If I got every Criterion release that intrigued me I’d watch nothing else. There are those that scream: “YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO BUY ME, RIGHT?” And and edition of a Bergman film I had yet to see is, indeed, one of those screamers. A really intrguing take that acts as a bridge from his early sensibility to the form we’re more used to seeing.

Brats (1930)

Brats (1930, MGM)

I didn’t catch too many Laurel & Hardy films in 2012, truth is when I was younger I saw most of them. This one where they play bratty little kids in forced perspective and composites struck me as new and humorous.

Always (1989)

Always (1989, Universal)

One heretofore unseen gem from a legendary filmmaker deserves another. I saw this at an awesome outdoor summer screening series and I figured it was the best way to finally see Always in preparing my oft-delayed Spielberg ranking.

Jet Boy (2001)

Jet Boy (2001, Smash It Up/Interstate 80 Entertainment)

This film is part road movie, homecoming, a tale of maturation and also of putting the past behind you. In a tale where a man and a runaway orphan cross paths by chance these bifurcated issues and wants can seem to be at odds, but they are combined in a very uniform way to good effect.

Student Bodies (1981)

Student Bodies (1981, Paramount)

If you miss old-school comedy parodies and have a sense of humor the horror genre this is for you. Works on both levels.

The Kingdom of the Fairies (1903)

The Kingdom of the Fairies (1903, Star)

It’s hard to keep your silent filmographies current especially when dealing with shorts but this Méliès seemed new to me, and is inventive even for him, especially being of such early vintage.

Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires (1965, MGM)

This sat around on my Netflix queue for quite a while. I’ve seen a lot of Mario Bava’s films and this one always struck me as an outlier, and not in a good way. I was delighted to be proven wrong. It’s an excellent, and as I later found out, influential work.

O Pagador de Promessas (The Promise Keeper) (1963)

O Pagador de Promessas (1963, Lionex Filmes)

This was one of the few films I was missing seeing to be more decisive about picking my most representative Brazilian film. It is also the only Latin American film to win the Palme d’Or and thankfully none of the fame or hype soured it for me at it. It is a brilliantly made film and a masterpiece of the Cinema Novo.



The Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

The Omen II: The Final Conflict (1981, 20th Century Fox)

Though I have my issues with the first installment, in the real of horror trilogies The Omen is one that gets overlooked far too often. Granted you’ll either buy how far this one takes it or not, think it’s appropriate or not, but at least it goes for it (no guts, no glory) and tries to bring the Damien chapter to a close. I think it does so very successfully.

The Best Horror Films of 2012

I was better at tracking my views, and it was a better cinematic year overall in my estimation, so this list has expanded to 15 selections this year.

15. Absentia

Absentia (2011, Constellation, Phase 4)

This is a case of faith rewarded. The beginning is a little rocky but I saw something in it that made me stick with it and I was rewarded several fold. The film really picks up in all aspects of production as the details of the narrative start to fall into place. It’s most certainly worth a look.

14. The Hidden Face

The Hidden Face (2011, Fox International Productions)

Fans of cinematic frames should rejoice at this film, which I will grant will likely grow from a revisit. It’s a very well orchestrated and constructed, twisted tale.

13. Cold Sweat

Cold Sweat (2010, Dark Sky Films)

Bring out the skeletons from your collective sociopolitical closets and great horror can be found. Cold Sweat really takes that premise and expound on it moreso than many other Argentine horror films I saw in a row this year. It’s expounding takes some suspension of disbelief but is quite effective.

12. Silent Night

Silent Night (2012, Anchor Bay)

This film has tremendous fun with its premise. Evil Santas of all shapes, sizes and styles should be on the comeback trail because there really is a tremendous amount of latitude there if you’re willing to trek it. Steven C. Miller makes his first of two appearances on this list and having seen two of his films I’ll be on the lookout for more. This film features some great supporting turns. It was also filmed in Manitoba, who seems to be positioning itself as a new hotbed of production in the Great White North, and I can see why based on the locales used here.

11. Excision

Excision (2012,  Anchor Bay Films)

Excision, moreso than any other film on this list, has a possibility to have its reputation blossom over the years to come. This film very much inhabits the mind of its protagonist. This film does not fear exposing the the delusions of its main character opaquely, slowly revealing a plan of action that unfolds with precise and exacting horror. The film also features a number of great performances and very well-cast players including AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords and Jeremy Sumpter. It is definitely the one film on the list that warrants warning the faint of heart or stomach not to apply.

10. Whisperer in the Darkness

The Whisperer in Darkness (2011, HPLHS)

While I can’t say this is as successful as The Call of the Cthulhu in transcending it period-mimicking trappings; it does again choose the right time period and cinematic style for its Lovecraft adaptation. If the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society continues blending old-style cinematic ethos with mythos they’ll have hits for years to come.

9. The Monitor

The Monitor (2012, Grindstone Entertainment Group)

Here’s one you could pigeonhole as psychological horror. It features two very strong lead performances by Noomi Rapace and Kristoffer Joner. It hints at a rather big twist early and delivers on more to follow to keep things intriguing. Mind-play, particularly in the horror genre, is under-utilized and can be highly effective and is used quite well here.

8. The Aggression Scale

The Aggression Scale (2012, Achor Bay)

You can call it a crime thriller if you like, and I’ll spend minimal time on this point, but I will address why I consider it horror. I don’t feel it’s a stretch. Any film that deals with home invasion can be considered horror if it plays towards that realm. Home Alone, which I compare this film to, never allows itself to be taken too seriously, this film ups the stakes, maims and kills people and is serious in tone, so: horror. Just because the villains are unmasked, in organized crime and have clear motives doesn’t make it less horrific.

The Aggression Scale also functions in large part due to the fact that it builds its character, in fact, quite a bit more than its situation at first. When things start coming to a head the two converge and the escalation of narrative intensity is quite great.

7. The Possession

The Possession (2012, Lionsgate)

I had better tracking of films and more horror watched this year, so the likelihood of another possession tale ending up on the list was actually lessened unless it was little better handled than last year’s pick. The Possession most certainly is. The Possession concerns itself less with differentiating details though Judaism, Dybbuk boxes and the like are new, as it does with character development, and that’s what makes it effective.

6. ParaNorman

ParaNorman (2012, Focus Features)

In some ways, I can’t help but feel that this film’s balance keeps it lower here than it should be. ParaNorman splits time between doing a lot of things, and it does so in a horror milieu but isn’t always a traditional horror film. However, since it’s excellent at whatever it does it belongs. ParaNorman not only tackles feeling like an outsider, a child coming to grips with death himself, and in essence that tired phrase coming-of-age, but in horror terms it also more effectively draws a distinct parallel between protagonist and antagonist by having him experience the anguish and isolation of the victimizer when they were victimized. However, especially since it’s ostensibly designed for kids, ParaNorman never sugarcoats the wrongdoing of its antagonist; it explains, it even empathizes but never forgives it – it states the obvious: you’re not getting out of it what you think you are. The zombies feeling persecuted and being persecutors is also a great touch such that reversals are near-constant.

I had yet to write about it so I could further discuss what ParaNorman does in other regards, but that’s about as succinctly as I can cover the horror angle.

5. [REC] 3

[REC] 3 (2012, Magnet Releasing)

Yes, [REC] 3 went somewhere I wasn’t expecting it to either, but I rather enjoy it nonetheless. In this film there are thematic expansions and new veins of thought explored if not literally picking up pre-exisiting narrative threads, which is all fine by me. It all comes down to how it’s done.

4. Intruders

Parallel narratives can be a double-edged sword. I’ve seen this film twice and it really works in both viewings in one I was naively accepting and offering no guesswork, in the second I knew it all and enjoyed it nearly as much as the first time. It’s a bilingual tale with a sensibility many horror fans will be familiar, one that’s uniquely Spanish even in the English portions of the film. It’s a different kind of approach to apparitions that I enjoyed.

3. Sinister

Sinister (2012, Blumhouse Productions)

You’ll note that this is the only title on this list in which any footage is even found, not that I’d consider this film a found footage approach per se. What Sinister does is take the concept of malevolent celluloid a step further than most and build a story around the film and not strap it diegesis or camerawork to a narrator-cum-camera. Sinister also interestingly works again with a male protagonist, oft times alone who is very expressive and his fear allows us to fear. Silence or gasping is scarier than incessant screaming. That’s just one thing Sinister understands so much better than many other films.

2. The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black (2012, Hammer Films))

There’s just something about Gothic horror tale done well that will affect me like few others do. There’s a primal hearkening to the sensitivities ingrained in us. The pitfall of the subgenre is that its been done to death and knowing tropes and protocols makes it hard for a style so old hat to work. However, there are some tweaks, techniques and approaches that dress up this old favorite and make it more effective than most.

1. The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods (2012, Lionsgate)

It’s one thing to deconstruct a genre, however, it’s another entirely to reconstruct it following said evisceration and build a beautifully grotesque new prometheus in its stead. It’s the second half of its master plan that put The Cabin in the Woods over the top.