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.
2015 Entertainer of the Year: Will Ferrell
Sometimes it’s next to impossible to pick this award and not confuse it with a Lifetime Achievement award. Though the main difference is, even though this is also a body-of-work trophy it’s awarded for a year’s work irrespective of the accomplishments made in prior years.
Yes, Will Ferrell has been at it longer than many of us care to realize right now and I’ve been a fan for quite some time and think he has had very few misses along the way. However, this year there was a lot of stuff, all throughout the year, and it was all hilarious; at least his involvement was.
I like to be inclusive of comedy, and horror, and any other genres the awards generally disregard, so those are just some reasons this funny man is honored this year. Now, for some more specifics about his 2015….
First, there was Get Hard, as with any projects he does with Adam McKay behind the scenes there is silliness and farce in equal measure. There’s much topical humor about the world of high finance aside from broad generalizations and stereotypes exploited for comedic value.
A Deadly Adoption really should have sealed it any, but these awards are ones that kind of occur to me rather than being ones that I consciously plot more often than not. First, this film was a secret project. It was then a surprise announcement as a Lifetime Movie mocking Lifetime Movies, mysteriously pulled from its premiere then rescheduled. It then received a drubbing from those not prepared for the film’s tongue-so-firmly-planted-in-cheek. Will McKinley’s take on it echoes my sentiments on it perfectly. It’s very effective, funny when the absurdity hits you with its subtlety and marks the 2nd straight year a TV film has been included in the BAM Awards.
Ferrell Takes the Field is Ferrell taking his love of baseball to a hilarious extreme to help a charity, create a documentary and promote the MLB by making appearances at 10 positions in real Spring Training games. It aired on HBO and is well worth your time if you like him or baseball or both.
Shortly after that I discovered that perhaps his most hilariously insane character Orson Welles caricature (my reading) Eric Jonrosh had The Spoils Before Dying on IFC. I was able to stream the first two so far. It doesn’t start as strongly as The Spoils of Babylon but he’s as funny as ever.
Then came Daddy’s Home, a re-teaming with Mark Wahlberg and a return to more family-friendly fare where he’s more successful than most comedians.
The cherry on top of his 2015 was his unannounced return to SNL in a recent cold open as Dubya.
Clearly it was a great year for him, and one thing Wahlberg said in his junket/circuit interviews was true, to paraphrase he said “His comedy doesn’t come from a dark place, he just genuinely wants to me make people laugh,” and in 2015 he made me laugh quite a lot.
One of the awards in the universe of them that has always particularly bothered me are handed out at the ShoWest Convention. They are the Male and Female Star of Tomorrow. What bothers me is that usually when I see these winner announcements there is very little that the recipient has done to earn it. Seeing as how it is labeled as a “tomorrow” prize I can allow that to slide, but it gets my hackles up and gets me feeling like going on a good Dennis Green-style tirade. Even the BAFTA Rising Star Award to contrast usually has nominees who are a bit more accomplished. This roundabout lead-in is to explain the fact that at 25 years of age, yes, Brenton Thwaites is young but he had a breakout year unlike too many I’ve seen and I’ve missed one of his credited titles.
Early in 2014 he was one of four actors to give an absolutely tremendous performance in Oculus. Horror movies are both notoriously overlooked in terms of performance but also typically don’t even seem to care if there are good ones being turned in. His work as a young man who has just been released from psychiatric observation for a traumatic experience that lead to his conviction for the murder of his father is a tremendous part of the success of this film.
Then there is the small, yet significant role, that seems to need to factor into this award on an annual basis. He plays Prince Phillip in Maleficent. Now, one of the things that Maleficent did get right it is that the film was about Maleficent and Briar Rose almost exclusively, and similar to Sleeping Beauty (and other Disney tales) the prince is almost incidental, but he is cast well and carries himself quite regally.
Also in the summertime he was the face, the centerpiece of Jeff Bridges’ longtime-coming labor of love The Giver. Being the memorykeeper of his dystopian futuristic society he has to come off as the dreamer and a hero and does so in both calls to duty. He shares the screen with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep among others and does amazingly well in a film I thought to be highly underrated.
Lastly, there’s The Signal, which is far more than an “indie cred” project but a twist-heavy sci-fi tale that continuously wanders down the rabbit hole. Confused by his circumstances Thwaites’ character here is like a cross of his two other performances on the year and he has not only much dialogue to handle, but plenty of solo time in the early stages of act two where he excels.
It’s rare for a performer in one year to go from unknown to the reason to see a movie, but Thwaites certainly did that in 2014 in my estimation. If I were to place a bet on his future I would think it’s a sure thing but this award, unlike those others, is solely about the year you just had. Whereas, I had cause to nominate some actors twice like Tom Hardy, Thwaites certainly did threaten to earn individual nods, had a great year and established a cinematic presence one that I believe will both grow and linger for quite some time.
2013 James Franco
In what ended up being a prescient post I was assigned James Franco in a Facebook Actor Game. Basically I was assigned him by a friend and asked to categorize movies he’d been in. Here were my observations, both general and on one of his films of this year. In general:
In my first time playing I was assigned James Franco, which is a pretty interesting choice, and not just because he’s already in the running for Entertainer of the Year this year. So I figured I’d share my thoughts in something slightly larger than a Facebook post here. Also, if you’re so inclined you can like The Movie Rat’s Facebook page here.
And on the specific film from this year, This is the End:
It’s too early to tell if this film really is a game-changer, however, what can be said is that it’s a fantastically executed concept and uproariously funny. Crass and immature, yes, but funny too.
As it turns out it was a bit of a game-changer for James Franco, as opposed to a comedy trend (as of yet), because I saw a few other titles with him since then that sealed the deal.
Oz the Great and Powerful is no great shakes, but it wasn’t in my estimation a poor or disconnected Franco but rather a fairly flat film that he made a little more interesting and a less-than-admirable character.
As for more specifics about his participation in This is the End, if it was the last film I’d seen him in this past year, I’m likely picking someone else as a winner. However, the fact that in the middle of the performances of his I saw is a hilarious send-up of how he’s perceived (being perhaps overly-intellectual and perhaps pretentious) while shouting down Danny McBride’s masturbatory habits is the jewel in the crown, for lack of a more humorous term.
Following that I saw Homefront. In Homefront he plays a character named Gator in what is essentially one of the more ideal Jason Statham vehicles yet devised. And while I’d fall short of calling his antagonistic turn there multi-faceted it is a bit more dimensional than most characters of that ilk are given the leeway to be. Franco’s handling of the character and the way he operates surely make Gator stand out more than he likely wold have in the hands of most other actors.
Lastly, at least based on what I saw, there was Spring Breakers, now you’ll note I didn’t particularly care for that film. However, make no mistake about it that there are things about it that I appreciated, and had it not been for Franco as Alien I may not have even have had the desire to complete it because after a certain point he was all that tethered me to the narrative.
That just takes into account what I could see. Many other things Franco was involved in hit Netflix later in the year, or didn’t even get there by year’s end, and they are things I do want to see, like: Interior. Leather Bar., Lovelace, As I Lay Dying, Palo Alto and Child of God.
And that’s just film work. With Franco going to adapt classic works of literature like The Sound and the Fury, I’m more than a little curious about his fiction. All that and he’ll be back perhaps a bit more inspired of all this for the continuation of the Apes prequels. One way in which this award can be viewed as in a career-path altering one, at least in terms of perception. My first selection, the namesake, was a comeback; next a multiple hat-wearer; next a breakout star; next an established star with a varied year; here it’s more an established name elevating his standing in my eyes based on an incredible run, may it keep going.
2012 Samuel L. Jackson
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 unquestionably 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.
2011 Andy Serkis
Now, I know what you’re thinking but believe it or not this has very little to do with The Rise of the Planet of the Apes though I will get to that at some point.
Andy Serkis was the lead in the first qualified movie of 2011 an indie film called Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll where he played Ian Drury a punk rock frontman and icon. The film covered a lot of time chronologically and he had a lot of character to play and was nearly honored by the BAM Awards with an acting nomination. It’s a film that makes some interesting creative decisions that is worth seeking out.
Next I saw him playing a completely different type of character entirely, as is par for the course it seems. He played Colleone in the British crime film Brighton Rock and every scene he had in it was just entrancing, he’s flamboyant and pure evil in it and it’s great to watch.
Not I will get to Planet of the Apes. I recognize and get a lot of the positive commentary Serkis received for that film. Whether or not motion capture work can and should be award fodder is a discussion for another time. He emotes for Caesar and makes him a character. In a film that could’ve used a bit more from the human cast he humanized the apes well.
What really seals it though is the fourth Serkis title I saw. When I went to see The Adventures of Tintin I saw his name in the credits and didn’t expect it. So I played a little game wherein I tried to figure out who he was. I had a guess but it wasn’t based on the fact that I knew it was him. It’s more like I know how versatile and impeccable he is.
The man truly is a chameleon and an entertainer to the core and more than deserves this honor.
2010 Chloë Grace Moretz
A few years ago Robert Downey, Jr. was hot on the comeback trail and he could do no wrong. He made Iron Man much cooler than we ever thought it could be and he was side-splittingly funny in Tropic Thunder. Conversely I had been considering creating an Entertainer of the Year award for the BAMs. When those events converged I decided to both name the award after him and have him be the first recipient.
The only real qualification is that you need to have at least two participations (meaning they can be either two films in which you played the same function actor, writer, director, etc. or two functions in one film in which you excelled). Last year’s winner was Michael Keaton for starring in and directing The Merry Gentleman.
This year’s winner is a young lady who has burst on to the scene with three very memorable performances in three disparate films and is now one of the most sought after actors in film.
Chloë Grace Moretz I first saw as a girl who is literally too cool for school in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. She is the kind of character who while somewhat jaded doesn’t waste time trying to be someone she isn’t or impressing people who don’t matter.
Then, of course, there is her performance as Hit Girl. A turn that only just slightly missed multiple nominations. She literally is the whole reason Kick-Ass works, she floats through a bloodbath of her own creation with ease unlike we’ve seen since the Kill Bill series.
As if that wasn’t enough Miss Moretz also took on the role of the vampire in Let Me In, an American rendition of the neo-classic Swedish film Let the Right One In. While the script and director dictate a different direction for her character than previously indicated she still brings to the role incredible vulnerability, menace and a certain disarming innocence, which help make the film great.
For all those reasons she is Entertainer of the Year.
2009 Michael Keaton
Due to Robert Downey, Jr.’s incredibly entertaining performances in 2008 I decided to name an Entertainer of the Year Award in his honor. Naturally, he was the first winner. This year, at first, qualifiers for that award were few as qualification was stringent to be in keeping with the award’s namesake, meaning that a candidate needed two magnificent parts in films that both equally deserve recognition. Then upon further thought the “Entertainer of the Year” portion of the award’s title came to the forefront and the criteria changed slightly to two participations of equally great entertainment value and thus the award could be easily handed to Michael Keaton for his performance and his direction in The Merry Gentleman, for few had two acting roles that merited recognition on that level.
Keaton not only confidently directs a very adept cast but tells a tale visually with great cinematography. It is also a very different kind of tale which, consistently defies expectations. Unlike some actors-turned-directors the part he plays is not very large in terms of dialogue or very glamorous but it is a great part and he plays it astoundingly well. It is a departure from his usual affable persona. Also, unlike many actors-turned-directors he is unafraid to tell his story in pictures.
In an interview with Guardian he said “It’s great to make your own choices, but there’s a price to pay.” While more mainstream films and appeal have alluded him he found a film here he connected with on many levels. He has crafted a film onscreen and off it that is an embodiment of his statement that “You don’t want to lose your status, but I was never willing to preserve it by doing things I didn’t want to do.” Keaton may not be the name he once was in terms of box office figures but as an artist he has grown in leaps and bounds and this project is a testament to that and this critic hopes there are more on the way.
2008 Robert Downey, Jr.
What else can you say about a man who actually inspires an award to come into being? He literally could’ve swept the male acting categories in 2008 and there wasn’t much that he did that wasn’t awesome and he’s been on a pretty good streak since as well. The award is something that needed to happen and he gave it the push necessary.