2015 BAM Awards

Hello All,

So another year passes at the BAM Awards. Just a few quick reminders on procedure.

  1. The nominations are what I belabor more than the honorees. I will try and give each performance or film its due in my write-up.
  2. Only films I’ve personally viewed are eligible.
  3. I will be updating this list LIVE. Category-by-category as the decisions are announced one-by-one. Check back early and often. Bottom line: it’s cooler to live-blog the honorees because it’s like a real award show, and it’s also a necessary because my schedule is a bit unpredictable today.
  4. Lastly, I welcome your comments and opinions on nominees and the honorees but the decision in the end is mine alone. If my choices bother you that much WordPress is free, you can pick your own winners.

Without further ado, the awards (in reverse order of the nomination field).

First up…

Best Soundtrack

This category is back owing its resuscitation to strong soundtracks in recent years such as Warm Bodies.

Nominees

All the Wilderness
Big In Japan
Bloody Knuckles
Metalhead

Ten Thousand Saints

Big in Japan is not a feature-length ad for Tennis Pro but an interesting look at a subculture of bands more popular abroad than in their home country. Their stuff is really catchy so they end up here. Listen to it on Spotify.

Bloody Knuckles has good source music throughout but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the first song selected has much to do with their nomination.

Metalhead being about mostly death metal and set in Iceland has much quality source music.

However, the two standouts use music to establish tone and setting for their films.

Ten Thousand Saints goes into the underground punk scene in 1980s New York, in source music and plot.

However,

the Awards goes to

All the Wilderness (2014, Screen Media Films)

All the Wilderness

Jónsi and Alex are a bulk of the sourced music and it works brilliantly and everything selected for this film seems like it was written for the film rather than hand-selected. It’s teenager like in its mixtape aptitude, which is very appropriate seeing as how this is a coming-of-age story.

Best Song

Best Song is one I track with parenthesis around the word original. It doesn’t have to be written for the movie, that’s hard to prove anyway. So here are the songs that not only stood out musically and mattered to the film. 

“Lord Knows/ Fighting Stronger” Meek Mill, Jhene Alko, Ludwig Goransson Creed
“Gruss vom Krampus/ Krampus Karol of the Bells” Bree Olinda High School Singers Krampus
“Svarthamar” Petúr Ben Metalhead
“Wrecking Ball” Seth Rogen and Miley Cyrus The Night Before
“Kiss from a Rose” Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins Vacation

What this usually comes down to is how functional the song is in the plot of the film. As great as Krapus’ song is, it is in the credits. As good as the medley in Creed is it merely accompanies a montage. The last three are showstopping numbers that are also functions of their protagonist(s).

The award goes to…

Metalhead (2013, Cinelicious Pics)

“Svarthamar” Petúr Ben Metalhead

However, aside from being a great song “Svathamar” is a massive plot point in metal head and the apex of the film. Therefore, it’s an easy winner.

Best Visual Effects

Best Visual Effects is getting tougher to gauge because it’s not just for show anymore but about making the impossible not just possible but practical. So how do these nominees stack up?

Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ex Machina’s making a robot human was impressive but wasn’t something heretofore unseen and not necessarily a groundbreaking treatment of a visual motif like Gravity was.

Jurassic World wasn’t perfect, but there is some color grading to blame for that and there were practicals there too. Sometimes but not enough.

Mission ImpossibleStar Wars, and Mad Max are the best blend of effects and real elements of the three.

Mission Impossible created sets but even knowing that the feats weren’t as impressive.

It was great to see Star Wars do what Star Wars does, especially in a more old school way, but that’s still a high bar but not one they necessarily raised for themselves.

What was new was, and the Award goes to…

madmaxresdefault

Mad Max: Fury Road

Yes, much of it was practical. However, there were effects. It’s harder to notice because of all the practical stuff, but it is all a brilliantly strung together vision.

Best Makeup

I don’t always pick a horror film but I do tend to go with one for this award because: I love them and they tend to rely heavily on practical make-up. Still. For now anyway.

The nominees are…

Creed
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mr. Holmes
Sinister II
We Are Still Here

Creed does great work selling you on in-fight injuries.

Mad Max‘s madcap makeup is just another tool used in building its world.

Mr. Holmes brilliantly conveys two ages of the iconic character as well as the raves of dementia on the body.

But the award goes to…

WE-ARE-STILL-HERE_Dagmar

We Are Still Here

We Are Still Here uses its make up to be evocative and strike fear, and succeeds wonderfully.

While I think it does juggle the ball a little toward the end it still hinges on the effectiveness of make-up work.

Best Art Direction

Art Direction is clearly important as it has one of the most direct impacts on the mise-en-scène of a film. It’s usually one of my most excruciating decisions, and this year is no different; it was the last decision made. 

The nominees are…

Cinderella
Krampus
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Sinister II

In this situation it’s not about Star Wars being Star Wars. In certain ways The Force Awakens does things better in this department than an other episode, it’s just the others in this category did it better.

Sinister II and Krampus both want to achieve horror in their settings but Krampus seeks more and gets it.

Therefore, it’s a three horse race.

Krampus does some great things in fantasy terms and with a homebound setting and truly creates a world.

Cinderella uses tremendous set pieces and locations and makes opulence gorgeous to look at rather than ostentatious and offensive in a nearly Old Hollywood way.

Then Mad Max makes the Australian outback look otherworldy with real and practical effects.

There were small glimpses of: a world beyond and other houses in Krampus, poverty in Cinderella, and lushness in Mad Max.

 

Two of these films hearken back to an older era of Hollywood films, but the one that provided the most surprises is the recipient here…

krampus8

Krampus

There’s world-building in any film but there are glimpses of worlds here, and locations that speak and breathe, and a few surprising choices that will not be spoiled here that clinch it for this film.

Best Costume Design

One way in which I treat Art Direction and this category in similar fashion is that films that films that feature disparate time-periods or styles have an advantage. However, it all usually comes down not only to intangible aesthetics but also how well those costumes contribute to the story telling.

The nominees are…

Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
Crimson Peak
Jupiter Ascending
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One thing these awards prove is that I do compartmentalize, and because just because a movie doesn’t work overall (i.e. Jupiter Ascending and Crimson Peak) doesn’t mean one can’t appreciate an aspect or performance therein.

One thing that Star Wars changed that those harping on similarities to its progenitor miss is that they did mix up the costuming a bit and bring new ideas to that universe. However, two cinematic universes proved stronger…

Better than the first film around the Antboy films are the best superhero films you’re not (probably) not watching, and if the last film is an indicator the3rd will be even better.

However, the award goes to…

charlize-theron-in-mad-max-fury-road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Not only does this film paint its world nearly impeccably but it also has within it cultural icons in the making, Furiosa being among them and her costume being a big reason why.

Best Cinematography

Pictures. Pictures that move and are moving, that don’t disorient but mesmerize, that tell a story be it beautiful or ugly compellingly and gorgeously. These are the films that told their stories best visually and looked beautiful doing it. 

The nominees are…

Maryse Alberti Creed
Nikolas Karakatsanis Cub
Adam Newport-Berra All the Wilderness
Marius Panduru Aferim!
John Seale Mad Max: Fury Road

Creed‘s single-takes alone made it worthy of inclusion but it’s in for more than that.

Cub making horror in the woods is not as easy as it sounds, making horror look this majestic.

All the Wilderness explodes in gorgeous sunlight-dappled scenes, well-saturated colored-monotone, and high contrast shots.

Aferim! is the finest example of glorious black-and-white of the year.

However…

The award goes to…

AP FILM REVIEW-MAD MAX: FURY ROAD A ENT

John Seale Mad Max: Fury Road

Action doesn’t mean the camera has to do too much, the edit can work. The moves can be precise, the framing precise and balanced. The color here is blissfully deep, and in a world that bleak it’s a necessary antidote. Every single frame is glorious.

Sound Editing/Mixing

As mentioned in the past Editing and Mixing sound are two distinct disciplines and arts. I am not trained enough to parse them out. Not only that but even the Academy Awards tend to award the same film for both, albeit they honor different artists.  So here are…

The nominees

Mad Max: Fury Road

Jurassic World
Krampus
Sinister II
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There is much of the similar artistry in Star Wars and Jurassic World that have been evident throughout the series. The biggest difference was creating new characters like the Indominus Rex and BB-8.

Sinister II and Krampus have similar jobs at hand as the job of the soundscape is mostly to frighten, and about as pivotal as the other nominees, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of this film.

And the Award goes to…

lead_960
Mad Max: Fury Road

 

The silence speaks volumes, as does the ambience. The home watch can be more detail-oriented listening: the engines roar, the guitars wail and the beat doesn’t stop.

Best Editing

Editing is far too often miscategorized as a technical award. It is an art. It’s an art that requires a high degree of technique and technical proficiency but an art nonetheless. It’s often referred to as the third time you make a film (the first two being writing and principal photography). It’s the last time you make the film and maybe the most important.

The nominees are..

John-Michael Powell All the Wilderness
Claudia Castelo and Michael P. Shawver Creed
Douglas Crise and Billy Fox Dark Places
Cecilia Zanuso Human Capital
Margaret Sixel Mad Max: Fury Road

Human Capital‘s elliptical structure is not just a feat of the script but also one of mise-en-scène and the edit. It should be noted and applauded.

Dark Places similarly has many flashbacks and pushes stories forward on multiple plains to a similar end.

Creed is one of many films that dispels the erroneous notion that there’s less aptitude in editing needed when several long takes are used. It’s a job brilliantly done, and it really hums.

The more lousy films you see the more you realize that running time and pace are not the same. All the Wilderness is a short film but it moves and is moving throughout and there’s hardly an ounce of fat on it.

But one film stands tall..

9e513e79-10fb-4f48-b87e-9ac67d057f0f

Margaret Sixel Mad Max: Fury Road

Walter Murch wrote a book called In the Blink of an Eye. It’s his treatise on editing and his theory about how unconscious things like blinking can help dictate cut-points. Were Margaret Sixel to write a book on editing it  should write Joining Dreams. In British English you do not cut film, you join it . Thus, the name indicates that her editing (joining) of dream-like imagery is some of the best I’ve seen. Exemplary.

Best Score

This is one of the harder ones to judge because sometimes it’s best to go on what stuck out as separating the music from the image can be a bit misleading as you are removing part of what made it work for you – the narrative synchronicity, the spotting of it.

The nominees are…

Steve Moore Cub
Hauschka Futuro Beach
Weigel and Meirmans Life According to Nino
Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) Mad Max: Fury Road
Tomandandy Sinister II

Cub is a great ode to Gialli and Italian Horror scores that’s worth a listen.
Hauschka’s Futuro Beach score is memorable but hard to find online. I got a trailer as my only reminder. The film should be seen anyway.

Life According to Nino and Sinister II create brilliant an appropriate ambience appropriate to their films but they’re not quite good enough…

And the Award goes to…

FURY ROAD

Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) Mad Max: Fury Road

Music is one of several intrinsic pieces to the film. When there is a guitar geek credited you know music plays an intricate role even if it’s not about music. Furthermore, it makes the music almost wholly organic, and my word, is it pulse-pounding.

Best Adapted Screenplay

It’s often said that adapting material into a screenplay has to be treated like an original, but that’s kind of like a way to get started. There are differences and different things to consider. Here are the Adapted Screenplay nominees who faced disparate challenges…

Radu Jude and Florin Lazarescu Aferim!
Gilles Paquette-Brenner and Gillian Flynn 
Dark Places
Paolo Virzì, Francesco Bruni, Francesco Piccolo and Stephen Amidon Human Capital
Paul King, Hamish McColl and Michael Bond Paddington
Jeffrey Hatcher, and Mitch Cullin and Arthur Conan Doyle Mr. Holmes

Paddington does the unlikely of capturing the spirit of a piece without being a literal adaptation.

Mr. Holmes is a creative spin on the unexamined life of the unexplored portion of a popular character’s life.

Human Capital’s structure and subtextual commentaries are nearly impeccable.

Dark Places does so in a similar manner.

However, there is one film that not only brings its source material brilliantly to life but also culls from myriad sources and paints not only a personal, humorous, loving albeit sardonic portrait of an individual but also one of a people, place and time…

The Awards goes to…

aferim-berlin-film-festival-review

Radu Jude and Florin Lazarescu Aferim!

Aferim! is a portrait of the Szgany people of Romania. A tale of one man taken from the accounts of many and brilliantly done.

Best Original Screenplay

One thing that’s always interesting about trying to formulate these categories is trying to parse original an adapted screenplays. I don’t wait for the Academy to rule, or necessarily go by the credits or what the WGA says. Therefore, you’ll see Mad Max below when it’ll probably be considered for Adapted at the Oscars. Anyway, without further ado…

The nominees are…

David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer Charlie’s Country
Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Meg Lefauve and Josh Cooley Inside Out
Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields Krampus
George Miller, Brandon McCarthy and Nico Lathouris 
Mad Max: Fury Road
Simon Blake Still

Charlie’s Country is and unorthodox and brilliant tale of an an aborigine man struggling to hold on to his land, his life and his heritage.

Inside Out is simply put Pixar at its best and really intelligently down.

Still is a compelling, layered and evocative drama.

Mad Max is a futuristic parable that relies heavily on its images to build its myth.

However, the award goes to…

krampus_movie

Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields Krampus

There’s so much this film does it’s not a wonder to see many names attached to the script, that and that’s how screenplays often work anyway. There’s a legend to build, laughs to deliver, and horror tropes to be brilliantly inserted. None are easy all accomplished easily in timely fashion and at times simultaneously.

Best Youth Ensemble

It was apropos to mention last year and this year that the world of television is not entirely excluded from these awards. Usually, TV movies and specials have been included in the negative categories of the awards but last year and this year it’s a good thing. A few years ago it finally occurred to me to finally give young performers all the same categories their adult counterparts get. So here goes…

The nominees are..

Oscar Dietz, Samuel Ting Graf, Astris Juncher-Benzon, Amalie Kruse Jensen, Marcus Jess Petersson, Johannes Jeffries Sørensen and Hectores Brøgger Andersen Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
Lino Facioli, Muri Grossi, Ravi Hood and Giovanna Rispoli The Boy in the Mirror (O Menino no Espelho)
Maurice Lutjien, Gill Eeckelaert, Noah Tambwe Kabati, Ricko Otto, Louis Lemmens, Tomas de Smet, Pieter de Brabandere, Jessie Tweepenninckx, Isah De Zutter, Hauke Geirnaert, Ebe Meynckens, Ymanol Perset and Nabil Missoumi Cub
Mace Coronel, Casey Simpson, Aidan Gallagher, Lizzy Greene, Jace Norman, Sean Ryan Fox, Ella Anderson, Riele Downs, Brec Bassinger, Jackie Radinsky, Coy Stewart, Buddy Handleson, Maya Leclark, Thomas Kuc, Rio Mangini, Isabella Moner, Cree Cicchino, Madisyn Shipman, Benjamin Flores, Jr., Diego Velazquez, Addison Riecke, Lilimar, Owen Joyner, Jaheem Toombs, et al. Nickelodeon’s Ho Ho Holiday Special
Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lucas Jade Zumann, Jade Klein, Laila Haley, Caden Marshall Fritz, Olivia Rainey, Grace Holuby, Victoria Leigh Morales, Nico Cruea and Alex Ludwig Sinister II

The first time I awarded this category there was an unusual split between the Best Cast  (The White Ribbon) and Best Youth Ensemble (Nanny McPhee Returns). I explained it by using a sports analogy. The cast was a team the Youth Ensemble was a unit of the team like the defense or the bullpen. Sports analogies will work here again as I kind of compared casts and had them play-off seeing which was deepest of the two and moving on.

Is there a weak link in Antboy? No. O Menino no Espelho? Not especially but Antboy is a bigger deeper cast.

Kudos to the eliminated: The Boy in the Mirror (Portuguese title above) is really good and should have seen US distribution.Lino Facioli best known for Game of Thrones is fantastic in it.

Antboy vs. Cub. The Cub cast is big, but how many make an impact? 3 or 4; advantage Antboy.

Kudos to the eliminated: Cub is an epic horror tale and these kids make it.

Antboy vs. Sinister II. How about we consider nominations now? Tie 2-2; only All the Wilderness and Secrets of War had two but their ensembles weren’t big enough.

Antboy standouts: 6; Sinister II 4 or 5. Advantage Antboy.

Kudos to the eliminated: There are standouts and nominees in Sinister II. It’s the kids’ story, they need to be great for it to work and it did.

Antboy vs. Ho Ho Holiday Special

If Nickelodeon parades their stars out anew, I will gladly watch and I’m sure it’ll be great because they’re stable of talent right now is wonderful, the best and deepest they’ve yet had, but ultimately (last sports analogy of this explanation) a fairly deep bench will not beat a starting line-up that is just that good.

The award goes to…

Antboy 2: The Revenge of the Red Fury

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

It seems obligatory to say how hard these categories were but it is true especially with the young performers it seems to get more difficult every year.

The nominees are…

Toby Bisson William’s Lullaby
Joes Brauers Secrets of War
Dartanian Sloan Sinister II
Ty Simpkins Jurassic World
Steele Stebbins Vacation
Lucas Jade Zumann Sinister II

The kids from Sinister II got their notice in my review and it still holds true. They did great.

Dartanian on the other hand inhabits the role of bully and can strike fear, and causes shock in the blink of an eye.

And

Lucas Jade Zumann as Milo who delivers the most hypnotically serpentine performance by a young actor since Frank Dillane in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Steele Stebbins, as indicated by his turn in A Haunted House 2, is perfect as the bullying younger brother, and hilarious.

My review of William’s Lullaby discusses Toby Bisson’s deserving this honor despite his very young age.

Toby Bisson deals with material far more difficult than most young actors his age are asked to deal with and does so with near-prodigious ability.

Joes Brauers in Secrets of War despite being a supporting player is the standout performance.

The Award goes to…

 

Jurassic World (2015, Universal)

Ty Simpkins Jurassic World 

My massive tome on Jurassic World this summer pretty much said it all:

Gray is a character who is a necessity to the film, a kid who knows dinosaurs […] Simpkins brings out genuine enthusiasm, authoritative knowledge[…]

Following Simpkins’ last blockbuster go-around (Iron Man 3) this is a natural progression for him as an actor as he aids in bringing the wonder, joy, and fear to the audience.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

While compiling the nominations here, and sadly for the leads, was a bit easier picking a winner was not.

The nominees are…

Alyvia Alyn Lind A Deadly Adoption
Isabelle Fuhrman All the Wilderness
Astris Juncher-Benzon Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
Claudia Kanne T.I.M.
Mia Xitali Max

I could waste many words defending A Deadly Adoption but Alyvia Alyn-Lind is much of why it works.

Astris Juncher-Benzon plays a great counterpart to Oscar Dietz’ Antboy.

Claudia Kanne embodies the love-hate relationship that the protagonist has with her.

Mia Xitali steals every scene in Max she’s in.

But the award goes to…

All the Wilderness (2014, Screen Media Films)

Isabelle Fuhrman All The Wilderness

The counterpart Kodi Smit-McPhee’s character needed played to tee. Consistently locked-in and troubled in a different way than Smit’s character Fuhrman is one of twin towers of this film that holds it up and makes it so strong.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

I may not have chosen the best way to preserve the drama of these winners, and this one will be my worst effort in that regard for the way I have to go about talking about it. 

The Nominees are…

Emjay Anthony Krampus
Ed Oxenbould The Visit
Levi Miller Pan
Kodi Smit-McPhee All the Wilderness
Rohan Timmermans Life According to Nino
Jakob Salvati Little Boy

If there was not such brilliant work by young actors in 2015 then Kodi Smit-McPhee easily could’ve had three nominations, and though he still deserved three because he’s so prodigious; I decided I had to share the wealth and there were other performances I could not ignore.

Jakob Salvati delivered perhaps the best performance I’ve seen by a child his age (seven when the film was made).

Rohan Timmermans made himself a name to keep an eye on in Dutch cinema with his commanding performance.

Levi Miller had an astonishing debut as Pan.

Ed Oxenbould is a young actor who may just be scratching the surface of his talents at the moment and is marvelous in The Visit. 

And Emjay Anthony encapsulates holiday frustrations of a child doubting his faith in Santa, Christmas, and people.

But as you guessed the award goes to…

90

Kodi-Smit McPhee All the Wilderness

Don’t worry, kids, he’s graduating from this category! Watch out everyone else because he has such mastery already.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role 

When girls and women don’t get nearly the amount of roles boys and men do at least they can be really good, and these are. 

The nominees are…

Pippa Allen Secrets of War
Isabella Blake-Thomas Little Glory
Mia Helene Solberg Brekke Kick It (Cool Kids Don’t Cry)
Raffey Cassidy Tomorrowland
Olivia DeJonge The Visit
Amalie Kruse Jensen Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury

Pippa Allen finds herself torn in Secrets of War and does very well paired with both boys.

Isabella Blake-Thomas is a revelation in Little Glory.

To use the cliché, Mia Helene Solberg Brekke is the heart and soul of her film.

And Amalie Kruse Jensen is not just a sidekick.

The award goes to…

The Visit (2015, Universal)

Olivia Dejonge The Visit

My post on The Visit tells you why:

It excels mostly because Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould are both inordinately exceptional and achieve the unique tricks of appearing natural as if the camera is just rolling, being believably awkward when the moment demands it, and also entirely inhabiting their characters.

[…]DeJonge’s interpretation of Becca is that of clearly intelligent girl without a note of falsity or petulance, heartbreaking in her embittered memories of her father. These two are really the glue that holds the film together.

Best Cast

This one is always complicated and time-consuming. It’s not only so because of the decision-making but also because I want to hunt down all the names I can find to give as many cast members credit as I can. 

The nominees are…

Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Matilde Gioli, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Guglielmo Pinelli, Fabrizio Gifuni , Gigio Alberti, Valeria Golino , Silvia Cohen, Luigi Lo Cascio, etc. Human Capital
Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jonno Davies, Jack Davenport, Alex Nikolov, Samantha Womack, Mark Hamill, Sofia Boutella , Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine and Taron Egerton, etc. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, etc. Krampus
Tim Downie, Madeleine Worrall, Lottie Steer, Geoffrey Palmer, Theresa Watson, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Michael Bond, Matt Lucas, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman, etc. Paddington
Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Simon Pegg, Warwick Davis, Iko Uwais, Judah Friedlander, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Bill Hader, Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor, etc. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

All these casts are great, strong and deep, but only one did I find no fault with at all. Not one.

Krampus

Best Supporting Actor

This one was unusually difficult and not like I expected it to be. 

The nominees are…

Joel Edgerton The Gift
Skyler Gisondo Vacation
Burghart Klaußner 13 Minutes
Sonny Young Still
Sylvester Stallone Creed

There are two young bucks here, two veterans, and one jack-of-many-trades seemingly entering the prime of his career.

Youth ought not preclude a nomination as was evidenced last year. The parity among the youth and the veterans is great but that middle-ground of roles deserves representation also, and they get it here.

Comedy also need not be ignored as evidenced by Gisondo’s nomination.

One of the more visceral checklist items for nominations are “my god he’s incredible in this” being a thought that runs through your mind. That thought occurred to me especially in three performances: Klaßner’s (though that was more about the fact that it wasn’t just The White Ribbon), Young’s and Stallone’s.

The two most powerful were Stallone and Young.

And the award goes to…

still

Sonny Young Still

He’s such a testament to the movie and does such a 180 that it’s impossible to deny him the honor.

Best Supporting Actress

Supporting actor awards are about presence, and presence on film in this capacity is about looming larger than the part you play.

The nominees are…

Louise Bourgoin The Nun
Soufia Issami Traitors
Virginia Madsen All the Wilderness
Fabiula Nascimento A Wolf at the Door
Phylicia Rashad Creed

All these ladies are marvelous. However, there is one who looms largest.

louise-bourgoin

Louise Bourgoin The Nun

Bourgoin’s presence in this film is titanic.

Best Actor

This is perhaps the most diverse group of nominees yet and their roles were differently challenging an compelling in disparate ways. There’s little equal ground to compare them on so on to the nominees…

Christian Friedel 13 Minutes
Aiden Gillen Still
David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country
Michael B. Jordan Creed
Wagner Moura Futuro Beach

And the Award goes to…

Charlie'sCountry (2013, Entertainment One Films)

David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country

If you can hold the screen in silence, and move me to tears likewise; there’s not much more you need to do to clinch the award, but he does so much more.

Best Actress

It’s not just for equality sake that I put Best Actress closer to Best Picture on the rundown, it’s also that these winners are usually harder to pick and more memorable.

The nominees are…

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Human Capital
Pauline Etienne The Nun
Leandra Leal A Wolf at the Door
Maika Monroe It Follows
Julianne Moore Still Alice

If all performances are equally impressive in different way then arc has to be one of the tie-breakers. In which case, Monroe goes 0 to 60 fast and stays there, Tedeschis arc is obscured in the structure of the narrative but is increasingly alienated, vulnerable with her lover and passionate; Leal shows a more duplicitous nature faux-charm, possessive, passionate, psychotic; Moore’s arc is clear and power being a linguist, and highly intellectual and loses her faculties to Alzheimer’s. Etienne plays a victim of circumstances whose faith gets smashed by a hypocritical society and Church establishment.

So it’s really down to Leal, Tedeschi and Moore.

I can’t hold that Moore was part of last year’s Oscar race against her. I, a plebian, did not get to see the film ’til January.

Leal always hid and was convincing, Tedeschi showed facets and was magnetic but the film was not a one woman show – sadly that does sometimes factor in as Charlize Theron’s two brilliant turns this year were snubbed.

However, on a visceral level Moore’s performance also moved me tremendously.

Was the film blindingly brilliant, no; was she? Absolutely.
Yes, films viewed in January can win here. The Awards goes to…

Julianne-Moore-in-Still-Alice

Julianne Moore Still Alice

Best Director

I always feel the need to discuss the possibility of a split, and what that means. I rarely have splits between Best Picture and Best Director and usually, unlike other shows, I tell you why. 

Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen Inside Out
Michael Dougherty Krampus
Rolf de Heer Charlie’s Country
George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road
Paolo Virzì Human Capital

Who the winner is reminded me of this quote:

“I’ve got vision up the butt, so just go with it,” -Jack Black, School of Rock

There’s really one director on this list that that quote adequately describes, and it’s not that it was a blowout, but it’s truest of this man.

And the award goes to.

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Tom-Hardy-George-Miller

George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Overlooked Picture

In picking this award lately I have gravitated towards the films without US distribution, this year there is only one film that fits that bill. However, before I discuss that one allow me to give these other films their due.

The nominees are:

13 Minutes
Antboy 2: Revenge of the Red Fury
All the Wilderness
The Boy in the Mirror (O Menino no Espelho)
Charlie’s Country
Dark Places
Kick It (Cool Kids Don’t Cry)
Little Glory
Metalhead

T.I.M.

And the award goes to…

20120703gb1744.jpg

The Boy in the Mirror (O Menino no Espelho)

Best Foreign Film

Truth be told. I usually start creating my top whatever films list with this category in mind, picking that ranking shortcuts my deciding this category.

The nominees are…

13 Minutes
Aferim!
Cool Kids Don’t Cry (Kick It)
Cub
Futuro Beach
Human Capital
Metalhead
Reckless
T.I.M.
The Wolf Behind the Door

And the Award goes to…

Human Capital (2014, Film Movement)

Human Capital

In a film market that seems to, at times, think we can’t have our cake and eat it too this film knows that’s nonsense, and delivers emotion, pathos, and tension while also crafting a story of sociological relevance and leaving the soapbox out of it. It clicks like a film you can maniacally eat popcorn to and just let it wash over you, but invites you dig deeper and think on it long and hard. What more can you ask for?

Before Best Picture there are some important announcements:

  • First, the announcement of Lifetime Achievement, Entertainer of the Year, Neutron Star (if there is one), and Special Jury Award(s) will occur tomorrow January, 10th because time has run short today.
  • Second, changes to this process will be worked on for next year and decided upon ASAP. 

Without further ado…

Best Picture

The nominees…

Bloody Knuckles
Charlie’s Country
Creed
Human Capital
Inside Out
Krampus
Mad Max: Fury Road
Paddington
Slow West
Still

In this decision I’ve vacillated between two disparate pairs of films: Charlie’s Country and Human Capital; and then Krampus and Mad Max: Fury Road. I don’t recall a year where there has been this much among four films. Usually I talk about a clear delineation from the top three to the rest of the best.

So how to break this stalemate?

Mad Max caught me confusing a turning point for the end; Krampus did something similar with less time but it was clear there was going to be something else…

Human Capital never dips but may not be as strong, and does wait until the end title card to explain its title. It’s a powerful moment but unexpected.

Charlie’s Country has a true-to-life Eastern kind of pacing that does not hold it back as it much stories with less power behind it.

As I tried to pick a number one, I really alternated only two of the four titles: Mad Max and Krampus.

And the BAM goes to…..

krampus_2040.0.0

Krampus

I saw each twice and liked Krampus more twice.

The two allusions I drew in seeing Krampus were to older films I now consider to be classics, in the standing the test of time way rather than in technique- Gremlins and Home Alone.

The Home Alone similarity is in Emjay Anthony’s rant about families. “I don’t want a new family. I don’t want any family. Families suck!” Kevin McAllister exclaims and his sentiments are similar and drew spontaneous applause in my second viewing.

There’s far more intangible things that it taps into, and that’s where Gremlins comes in: it’s not just the Christmas-set horror comedy aspect, Krampus is the 2015 PG-13 movie equivalent of Gremlins’ hard PG in 1984.

When you’re citing films that are 25 and 31 years old respectively, you know you’re entering rarified air.

Yet, much like Super 8 from a few years ago, it’s not just the Spielbergian-Amblin influence that makes Krampus work.

Krampus is hilarious, it’s very much the zeitgeist for the year of its release but like Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat may have conquered a mandatory viewing slot on a major holiday.

The Krampus is not a new or original creation. However, in the US knowledge of the Krampus and discussion of him has remained underground like he was out of the Necronomicon, or better yet has come to a heightened awareness and popularity many years after his “death” like Lovecraft.

Yet, though the Krampus has featured on quite a few TV shows, the feature film eluded it. Then as with any idea in Hollywood many raced to create a story based around a legend, a mythical figure so rife with potential especially in genre cinema.

Kevin Smith was the first name I heard associated with a Krampus-themed film, but that has yet to come to the fore as he’s developing many other thing. So, it’s a but like the victory that was Ender’s Game or other anticipated adaptations – it’s the realization of a dream except I didn’t know how this movie where this movie was going to go, just that I wanted to see where it went every step of the way.

It was the ideal major motion picture “debut” of this Icon.

It took an old mythology and made it new and vibrant, and like the film it tussled with so violently for the title it intimated of much story aside than what was on screen. Ultimately, I always try to compartmentalize; therefore, it’s not a matter of “Well, Mad Max is amazing and won all these awards therefore it has to win Best Picture.” What the equation really is is: How well did the film in question perform in all categories plus factor in the story and how that played.

Krampus got me and I got in a way no other 2015 release did, bar none. Not even close.

See you all tomorrow for the last few trophies. Congratulations to those nominated who made 2015 a great year in film.

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