2018 BAM Nominations

Introduction

There were not monthly considerations posts or shortlists this year. However, I have been tracking eligible titles I’ve seen on Letterboxd. There you’d see that my viewings of eligible titles (and films in general) dipped. It went down to about the level it was when I started making these as a high school student. 

giphy-13

That quote is true in many ways and sometimes life happens and the releases viewed slow down by choice, circumstance or both. This year was a lot of both. Many things I prioritized highly I didn’t get to see, but as I realized a few years ago when posting these awards on my blog these awards are kind of like a yearbook. They may include many films or few, all the awards contenders or none, some I wrote on extensively and many I did not; these awards are my attempt to encapsulate what impressed me and why. 

Whom I select and why will be announced on January 10th. So without further ado, here are this year’s nominees…

Best Picture

A Quiet Place

All These Small Moments

Alpha

Annihilation

Black Panther 

Eighth Grade

Hereditary

Insect

Paddington 2

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Most Overlooked Picture

All These Small Moments

Every Day

The House with a Clock in its Walls

Insect

Mowgli

Best Director

Bo Burnham Eighth Grade

Ryan Coogler Black Panther

Melissa Miller Costanzo All These Small Moments

Alex Garland Annihilation

John Krasinski A Quiet Place

Best Actress 

Emily Blunt Mary Poppins Returns

Emily Blunt A Quiet Place

Toni Collette Hereditary 

Jemima Kirke All These Small Moments

Natalie Portman Annihilation

Best Actor

Jason Bateman Game Night

Chadwick Boseman Black Panther

John Krasinski A Quiet Place

Brendan Meyer All These Small Moments

Kodi Smit-McPhee Alpha

Best Supporting Actress 

Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween

Jennifer Jason Leigh Annihilation

Blake Lively A Simple Favor

Molly Ringwald All These Moments

Anya Taylor-Joy Thoroughbreds

Best Supporting Actor

Thomas Brodie-Sangster Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Hugh Grant Paddington 2

Michael B. Jordan Black Panther

Dennis Quaid I Can Only Imagine

Alex Wolff Hereditary

Best Cast

Molly Ringwald, Jemima Kirke, Harley Quinn Smith, Brian d’Arcy James, Brendan Meyer, Roscoe Orman, Salena Qureshi, and Sam McCarthy All These Small Moments

Natalie Portman, Benedict Wong, Sonoya Mizuno, David Gyasi, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh,  Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Sammy Hayman and Josh Danford Annihilation

Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, and Leon Rossum A Quiet Place

Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Leatitia Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Basset, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, David S. Lee, Nabiyah Be, et al. Black Panther

Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, et al. Hereditary

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Pixie Davies Mary Poppins Returns

Elsie Fisher Eighth Grade

Isabela Moner Instant Family

Storm Reid A Wrinkle in Time

Millicent Simmonds A Quiet Place

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Rohan Chand Mowgli

Joel Dawson Mary Poppins Returns

Noah Jupe A Quiet Place

Deric McCabe A Wrinkle in Time

Owen Vaccaro The House with a Clock in its Walls

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Bronte Carmichael Christopher Robin

Julianna Gamiz Instant Family

Abby Ryder Fortson Ant-Man and the Wasp

McKenna Roberts Skyscraper

Isabella Sermon Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role 

Ian Alexander Every Day

Sam McCarthy All These Small Moments

Orton O’Brien Christopher Robin 

Gustavo Quiroz Instant Family

Nathanael Saleh Mary Poppins Returns 

Best Youth Ensemble

Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, and Rowan Blanchard A Wrinkle in Time

Elsie Fisher, Jake Ryan, Daniel Zolghardi, Fred Hechinger, Luke Prael, Shacha Temirov, Thomas John O’Reilly, Tiffany Grossfeld and William Alexander Wunsch Eighth Grade

Angourie Rice, Lucas Jade Zumann, Ian Alexander, Charles Vandervaart, et al.  Every Day

Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Billy Barratt, Felix Collar, and Kate Atwell  Mary Poppins Returns

Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz, Julianna Gamiz and Carson Holmes Instant Family

Best Original Screenplay

Brian Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski A Quiet Place

Melissa Miller Costanzo All These Small Moments

Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt and Albert Hughes Alpha

Bo Burnham Eighth Grade

Ari Aster Hereditary

Best Adapted Screenplay

Alex Garland and Jeff VanderMeer Annihilation

Christopher Markus and Joe Russo, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan, Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen, Jim Starlin, Larry Lieber Avengers: Infinity War

Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole; Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Black Panther

Jan Svankmajer and Karel Capek and Josef Capek Insect

Paul King and Simon Farnaby, Michael Bond, and Jon Croker Paddington 2

Best Score

John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies Halloween

Marco Beltrami A Quiet Place

Joseph S. DeBeasi and Michael Stearns Alpha

Dario Marianelli Paddington 2

Anna Meredith Eighth Grade

Best Editing

Christopher Tellefsen A Quiet Place

Russell Costanzo and Matt Garner All These Small Moments

Sandra Granovsky Alpha

Andrew Wehde Eighth Grade

Jan Danhel Insect

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

A Quiet Place

Alpha

Annihilation

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

Best Cinematography

Dion Beebe Mary Poppins Returns

Charlotte Bruus Christensen A Quiet Place

Martin Gslacht Alpha

Matthias Königsweiser Christopher Robin

Pawel Pogorzelski Hereditary

Best Costume Design

Jenny Beavan Christopher Robin

Ruth E. Carter Black Panther

Veronika Hrubá Insect

Judianna Makovsky Avengers: Infinity War

Sandy Powell Mary Poppins Returns

Best Art Direction

A Quiet Place

Insect 

Mary Poppins Returns

Paddington 2

Hereditary 

Best Makeup

A Wrinkle in Time

Alpha

Black Panther

Halloween

The Predator

Best Visual Effects

A Quiet Place

Alpha

Annihilation

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

Best Soundtrack

A Simple Favor 

Black Panther

Game Night

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Tag

Best Original Song

“Goodbye, Farewell” Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Mohammed, and Sarah Sheen Christopher Robin

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” Emily Blunt Mary Poppins Returns

“A Conversation” Ben Whishaw Mary Poppins Returns

“Love Thy Neighbour” Tobago and d’Lime Paddington 2

“Rub and Scrub” Tobago and d’ Lime Paddington 2

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer(s) of the Year Award(s)

To be announced January 10th.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

To be announced January 10th.

Neutron Star Award(s)

To be announced January 10th.

Special Jury Award(s)

To be announced January 10th. 

 

Still here, and Year-End Posts are Coming!

As I’ve had occasion to mention when I have happened to post this year: I am still here. Until late Spring (early Summer in the moviegoing calendar), I at least stopped by to say “Yes, I am still here, but here’s why I’ve not been as active…” that slowed to a halt after a guest post on Rupert Pupkin Speaks.

giphy-13

“Life finds a way,” can mean a lot of things and one is that it can get in the way a bit. 

Teenage-Death-Songs-Kindle

Much of what was occupying my time earlier in the year still was and is: much more fiction writing, some in preparation for the next volume of this series of short stories I’m working on and some for other pursuits.

BAM-Awards-Laurels

Despite that 2018 BAM Award nominations are still happening.

I hope to be able to post more next year. One thing that spoiled me in 2017 and into early 2018 was that I had many reviews ready to post for older titles that kept the site active without my adding to the backlog of content. Maybe knowing I have to create the BAM posts will bring forth more posts afterward.  

Regardless, year-end posts are coming.

2017 BAM Award Nominations

Here are the nominees for the 2017 BAM Awards. Winners will be announced on January 9th. Some films did qualify after 12/24. Some gross omissions, as speculated in the shortlists were corrected. Collages that may feature in the honoree post will feature on my Instagram page over the course of the next week. Without any further ado … enjoy!

Best Picture

The Big Sick
Blade Runner 2049
Coco
Get Out
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Split
Wind River
Wonderstruck

Best Foreign Film 

Few qualifiers. Jury prize may be announced on January 9th.

Most Overlooked Picture

1922
All Saints
Columbus
The Dark Tower
The Glass Castle
The Space Between Us
Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein
Wind River
Wonderstruck
XX

Best Documentary 

Few qualifiers. Jury prize may be announced on January 9th.

Best Director

Andy Muschietti It
Jordan Peele Get Out
Michael Showalter The Big Sick
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina Coco

Best Actress

Carla Gugino Gerald’s Game
Sally Hawkins The Shape of Water
Haley Lu Richardson Columbus
Aubrey Plaza Ingrid Goes West
Frances McDormand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan Lady Bird

Best Actor

James Franco The Disaster Artist
Ryan Gosling Blade Runner 2049
Daniel Kaluuya Get Out
James McAvoy Split
Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Denzel Washington Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Supporting Actress

Betty Buckley Split
Carrie Fisher Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Holly Hunter The Big Sick
Catherine Keener Get Out
Laurie Metcalf Lady Bird
Carla Juri Blade Runner 2049

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown Marshall
Dave Franco The Disaster Artist
Richard Jenkins The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Bill Skarsgård It

Best Cast

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, Frank Oz, Warwick Davis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gareth Edwards

The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, David Alan Grier, Ed Herbstman, Shenaz Treasury, Kuhoo Verma, Mitra Jouhari, Myra Lucretia Taylor

Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howert, Erika Alexander

The Disaster Artist

James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Jacki WeaverMegan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Nathan Fielder, Hannibal Buress, Bob Odenkirk, Ike Batinholtz, Kevin Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Kristen Bell, J.J. Abrams, Lizzy Caplan, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

It

Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Stuart Hughes, Geoffrey Pounsett, Molly Jane Atkinson

Wind River

Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen, Tantoo Cardinal, Eric Lange, Gil Birmingham, Althea Sam, Tokala Clifford, Jon Bernthal

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Ella Anderson The Glass Castle
Sophia Lillis It
Millicent Simmonds Wonderstruck
Izabela Vidovic Wonder
Lulu Wilson Annabelle: Creation
Maddie Ziegler The Book of Henry

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Oakes Fegley Wonderstruck
Noah Jupe Suburbicon
Judah Lewis The Babysitter
Jaeden Lieberher It
Tom Taylor The Dark Tower
Jacob Tremblay Wonder

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Lilly Aspell Wonder Woman
Chiara Aurelia Gerald’s Game
Lola Flanery Home Again
Peyton Kennedy XX
Amiah Miller War for the Planet of the Apes
Olivia Kate Rice The Glass Castle

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Jack Dylan Grazer It
Wyatt Oleff It
Chosen Jacobs It
Noah Jupe Wonder
Jeremy Ray Taylor It
Finn Wolfhard It

Best Youth Ensemble

The Glass Castle 

Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Charlie Shotwell, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Olivia Kate Rice, Shree Grace Crooks, and Ellen Grace Redfield
It

Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jackson Robert Scott and Nicholas Hamilton

Wonder 

Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, James Hughes, Elle McKinnon, Millie Davis, et al.

Wonderstruck 

Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Jaden Michael, Sawyer Niehaus, et al.

Rico, Oskar und der Diebstahlstein 

Anton Petzold, Juri Winkler, and  Tristan Göbel
The Beguiled

Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard

Best Original Screenplay

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani The Big Sick
Jordan Peele Get Out
Lee Unkrich & Jason Katz & Matthew Aldrich & Adrian Morris Coco
M. Night Shyamalan Split
Martin McDonagh Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Adapted Screenplay

Zak Hilditch and Stephen King 1922
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, and Philip K. Dick Blade Runner 2049
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Greg Sestero and Tom Bisse The Disaster Artist
Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard, and Stephen King Gerald’s Game
Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman,  and Stephen King It

Best Score

Carter Burwell Wonderstruck
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Wind River
John Williams Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Benjamin Walfisch It
Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch Blade Runner 2049

Best Editing

Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss Baby Driver
Jason Ballantine It
Jon Gregory Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Gregory Plotkin Get Out
Joe Walker Blade Runner 2049

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Cinematography

Roger A. Deakins Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte Van Hoytema Dunkirk
Ben Richardson Wind River
Edward Lachman Wonderstruck
Chung-hoon Chung It

Best Art Direction

1922
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
It
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Costume Design

 

The Dark Tower
The Greatest Show
It
Wonderstruck
Victoria & Abdul

Best Makeup

1922
Gerald’s Game
It
The Shape of Water
Wonder

Best Visual Effects

Bladerunner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Soundtrack

Baby Driver
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
Ingrid Goes West
The Disaster Artist
The Shape of Water

Best Song

“This Is Me” Keala Settle and The Greatest Show Ensemble The Greatest Showman
“Remember Me” (Reunion) Anthony Gonzalez, Ana Ofelia Murguía Coco
“Un Poco Loco” Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal Coco
“La Llorona” Alanna Ubach, Antonio Sol Coco
“Proud Corazón” Anthony Gonzalez Coco

Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer(s) of the Year Award(s)

To be announced.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award(s)

To be announced.

Neutron Star Award(s)

To be announced. 

Special Jury Award(s)

To be announced.

Updates: 9/12/2017

For a while at the start of 2017 I had a backlog of posts I had scheduled that could tide me (and you over) while I was sidetracked on other projects. As you may have noticed that backlog vanished.

For the second time ever I blew a blogathon contribution. I will attempt to make up that posting that piece by an alternate means be it here or elsewhere.

There are things in the offing and I will take a few days to keep you abreast of them. I’ll do them one at a time to not overload you.

21427332_10156037422353455_811978796702905278_o

The first thing that bears noting is that I am still tracking new releases viewed, you can track those best on my Letterboxd list. While I haven’t posted monthly or quarterly considerations lists The BAM Awards will be happening with the previously established deadlines in tact.  The potential contenders this year (and yes It is a strong one) have been bolstered as I am now using MoviePass and I love it.

There will be more to update you on tomorrow.

 

61 Days of Halloween 2015 & In Memoriam: Wes Craven

Today is a big day on this blog.

Vampyr (1932)

First, as you may have noticed I already posted my 6th and final contribution to the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge.

The Movie Rat

Secondly, it’s the first of the month, therefore, it means it’s time to compile another list of BAM Awards considerations. Those can be viewed here.

My Soul to Take (2010, Rogue)

Thirdly, September 1st marks the first day of my most gargantuan of annual themes known as 61 Days of Halloween.

As the name indicates, I will be focused on horror films for the next two months. However, thanks to the backlog of films I’ve written on and can repurpose, the site will not stay myopic.

Furthermore, I would be remiss in starting a horror film theme without a few words about Wes Craven.

In Memoriam: Wes Craven

Wes Craven (2015, Wes Craven)

There is a nearly invariable amount of adoration that comes to the fore when a beloved filmmaker or actor dies. With Craven it is genuine, and speaking only for myself, these glowing praises for many of his works have not been formed posthumously.

Writing in the zeitgeist about My Soul to Take I was higher on it than most giving it not only this review, but placing it in my top 10 of 2010.

Prior 61 Days of Halloweens got me more up-to-date on his most iconic series. As a child, like many youngsters in the ‘80s; Freddy did scare me, and I caught pieces of the films but didn’t sit down to see all of them until recently. New Nightmare’s inclusion on this list is a testament to the brilliance of its reinventing the series.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994, New Line Cinema)

Some Craven films I had not gotten a chance to see yet for one reason or another will be a focus this year. In my Lifetime Achievement Awards I try in a maverick spirit to buck the Oscar trend and not award people “too late,” but you can’t get them all (I have gotten horror represented though). However, as Edgar Wright brilliantly stated: “It’s never too late to see a movie.” So I will become more a completist with him this year.

Happy Horrors all, may you find those films that sate your need for catharsis and may you find the works of Craven if you have not yet.

Rest in peace, Wes.

Wes Craven (All Rights Reserved)

2014 BAM Award Honorees

Here in a live blog format you will see this year’s honorees in the BAM Awards (Bernardo Villela’s personal selections) be posted.

When the list is complete it will be indicated. It will work its way up from the bottom of the nominations list to the top.

-Post Complete-

Best Picture

A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Calvary
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Finn
Into the Woods
The Judge
St. Vincent
Stations of the Cross
The Way He Looks

And the award goes to…

The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks (2014, Strand Releasing)

Explanation

Picking up where I left off in the Best Foreign Film discussion significance and greatness are not always things that go hand in hand. There are films that are narrative or technological leaps forward that just do not connect with me. What The Way He Looks has in its favor is that it boasts all these qualities that make it an important work but is also warm, sensitive, human, impeccably acted and expertly directed such that it connects without trying to hard such that it almost seems as if it’s not trying at all. There’s a deft slight-of-hand at play that’s enviable indeed.

The way he looks takes characters and situations that are by no means simple but renders them simply, visually in a heartfelt way that can surely endear itself to almost anyone.

The other Best Picture candidates will be discussed on the site in the Best Films of the Year: 10-1 post which is forthcoming.

Best Director

Richard Linklater Boyhood
John Michael McDonagh Calvary
Rob Meyer A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Daniel Ribeiro The Way He Looks
Frans Weisz Finn

And the award goes to…

Daniel Ribeiro The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks (2014, Strand Releasing)

I rarely feel compelled anymore to split between Best Picture and Best Director in nominations anymore. The only instance of it happening this year was Richard Linklater making the cut whereas Boyhood did not. In that case I did feel the achievements in directing there outweighed those of the film itself. However, in terms of picking a Best Director that is different than the Best Picture winner that happens far more rarely and I cannot justify it here. Daniel Ribeiro wrote and directed this movie based on a short film he himself created and there is no doubt that it is his confident and unseen hand that is the author of this film’s triumph.

Best Foreign Film

20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg
The Custody
Finn
Ilo Ilo
It’s Not Me, I Swear
Misunderstood
The Mystery of Happiness
Stations of the Cross
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
The Way He Looks

And the award goes to…

The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks (2014, Strand Releasing)

Explanation

The good thing about having multiple foreign films in your top ten is that it’s not a dead giveaway as to which film will be named the Best that just happens to be foreign. Clearly, all the films nominated are highly recommended. I highly hope Stations of the Cross finds someone who will be willing to bring it to the US. Finn, has North American distribution but just needs more eyes that will be able to find it. All of the above are worth looking into.

What is it that makes The Way He Looks walk away with the prize is a few factors. The largest one that cannot be ignored is that by having Leonardo be blind it instantly without having to soapbox does away with a lot of the encumbrances of gay coming-of-age stories. The fact that he is blind and wants his parents to give him a little room to breathe instantly puts elements into play that are bigger than his sexual orientation which is not something there’s ever been evidence he struggled with. Also, by having Leo be blind it becomes clear it’s the person and the way they make him feel that attracts Leo at first. In downplaying the physical element in this way it is a further humanizing step. A while back I discussed how positive stories needed to exist in the world of gay cinema. Ultimately though I think it’s of even greater importance that truthful and universal films that connect with people that are not necessarily the intended audience matter quite a bit as well. That’s just a little of the significance of the film on and off-screen.

Most Overlooked Picture

20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg
The Boxtrolls
The Famous Five 3
Finn
It’s Not Me, I Swear
Labyrinthus
Mission: Sputnik
Misunderstood
Stations of the Cross
The Way He Looks

And the award goes to…

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross (2014, Beta Cinema)

Explanation

Earlier this year I wrote a post where I chronicled how in one way or another Hollywood was fighting a losing battle in its attempt to provide faith-based entertainment. Whether it be the fault of the film, or the faithful there has usually been a disconnect. While on the indie circuit films like Calvary have proven that just because a film deals ostensibly with ecclesiastical concerns doesn’t mean it needs to pander or be bereft of intelligence as far too many faith-based films feel they need to be. In following a pattern where I have factored in the US distribution status of a film into choosing the recipient of this prize Stations of the Cross takes the cake here. The transparency with which this film transcribes the fourteen stations of the cross make it accessible and the debate or interpretation and non-judgmental character study make it a film that can be relatable to an audience whether they agree with the application of Catholicism practiced in this film or not. It bears noting that Misunderstood, 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg and The Famous Five 3 all need and deserve North American distribution as well.

Other films in this and further categories can be found in my year-end posts.

Best Actress

Amrita Acharia I Am Yours
Juliette Binoche 1,000 Times Good Night
Essie Davis The Babadook
Charlotte Gainsbourg Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Shailene Woodley The Fault in Our Stars

And the award goes to…

Charlotte Gainsbourg Nymphomaniac: Volume II

Nymphomaniac: Volume II (2014, IFC Films)

Explanation

The genre where a performance finds itself should not be held against an actress as the inclusion of Essie Davis and last year’s win for Imelda Staunton can testify to. Age should not be an encumbrance as the inclusion of Shailene Woodley is a testament to. Nor should performing in a language that is not your birth tongue shouldn’t be an encumbrance as is exemplified by Amrita Acharia and Juliette Binoche, who also have the distinction of bilingual turns. Acharia, Binoche and Gainsbourg all turn in superlative performances due in large part to cinematic nature of their performances, meaning it’s not just about their dialogue scenes. What takes Gainsbourg over the top is not just that fact, but the fact there is an exploratory nature and a nearly incomparable lever of bravura in her interpretation of a character who is less-than desirable.

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage Joe
Brendan Gleeson Calvary
Tom Hardy The Drop
Tom Hardy Locke
Robert Downey, Jr. The Judge

And the award goes to…

Brendan Gleeson Calvary

Calvary (2014, Fox Searchlight)

Explanation

I do not believe in either combining performances by the same actor, which accounts for Tom Hardy being nominated twice. Nor do I really believe in performances by the same actor canceling each other out which explains how Hardy ends up 3rd and 4th on the list this year were I to rank the acting performances individually. A locked-in, good Nicolas Cage is always a great thing and too rare a sight, which is part of why his turn in Joe is up here. Robert Downey, Jr. is probably equally as capable as a serious and comedic actor. His sensitive portrayal of an estranged, jaded lawyer earns him a nomination anew. However, the seriocomic balance being a factor as well as how much of a load a lead had to factor is ultimately what leads to Brendan Gleeson to the top of the heap. In a tale of a good priest in a world that openly questions the role of religion in the secular lives of parishioners the easy temptation is to write and portray that character simplistically; this priest is anything but the same goes for Gleeson’s nuanced detailed performance.

Best Supporting Actress

Ximena Ayala The Amazing Catfish
Ellen Burstyn Flowers in the Attic
Jessica Lange In Secret
Melissa McCarthy St. Vincent
Meryl Streep Into the Woods

And the award goes to…

Jessica Lange In Secret

In Secret (2014, Roadside Attractions)

Explanation

As one can expect there was no easy answer to be found here. Melissa McCarthy in  St. Vincent has more of a layered character to play than in any of her films that were strictly comedies. Having better material makes her an easy selection. Ximena Ayala has a complicated task of a woman with a past she seeks to distance herself from but it not 100% forthcoming in  addressing. Then there’s Ellen Burstyn who dominates this film and leaves you scratching your head as to why you don’t see nearly enough of her. Yes, Flowers in the Attic is a made-for-TV film but I’ve never discriminated against them and the line between the two blurs on an yearly basis. As delicious as that role was there was not as much variation between that role and the others, which leaves two legendary figures to choose from Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep.

Streep provides comedy, her usual dramatic flair and sings her character’s big song wonderfully. I was very tempted again to select a devious character, Lange’s interpretation contains her usual sensitivity, litheness and intensity. It’s not a wholly black character which makes it a bit more harrowing to watch, and is ultimately what pulls her through. In creating sympathy for the devil an old-hat melodramatic Gallic tale has new life thanks to Miss Lange.

Best Supporting Actor

Jan Decleir Finn
Robert Duvall The Judge
Gabriel Garko Misunderstood
Logan Lerman Fury
Brendan Meyer The Guest
Mark Ram 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg

And the award goes to…

Robert Duvall The Judge

The Judge (2014, Warner Bros.)

Explanation

With the young actor categories there was parity not only in the categories but I did not single out any fields for the six-nominee maximum. With the open categories I only went with one. In terms of the nominations threshold there was an unbreakable flatfooted tie. Ultimately, I couldn’t penalize any actor for the size of their supporting turn. Similarly, Brendan Meyer who was playing quite a few years younger than his actual age is so spot-on in The Guest that that fact could not be used against him. Gabriel Garko plays a character so absurdly broad that his more serious, human moments should but it is his talents and openness as an actor that allows those to translate as the flipside of his overly-emotional and superstitious self. Logan Lerman plays the conscience of his narrative which can be a thankless task, but his expressiveness and readable doubts and fear allow us to take the journey with him. The cast of 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg is strong all around such that the players were in the running throughout all the categories. With Ram it was his dealing with newly-resurfacing secrets and the contradictory traits of human nature that propel him. Jan Decleir in Finn has to be a presence even bigger than his screentime, he needs to be an ideal and a wish-fulfillment of a young child and he accomplishes that in spades. What takes Robert Duvall over the top is not just the exacting version of a crusty persona, not just the battle-weary fatigue of a life that’s fought back hard, but also the quiet truths that moments elicit from him. There is a universal individuality to character that he drives home, a kindness that exudes from beneath his gruffness and a sensitivity that circumstances and age bring forth from him.

Best Cast

Nils Verkooijen, Mark Ram, Marcel Musters, Anneke Blok and Marieke Heebink 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg
James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Joanna Riding, Meryl Streep, Mackenzie Mauzy, Chris Pine, Billy Rasmussen etc. Into the Woods
Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Dexter Darder, Kayla Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, etc. The Maze Runner
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gabriel Garko, Giulia Salerno, Anna Lou Castoldi, Asia Argento, Olimpia Carlisi, Alice Pea, Carolina Poccioni, etc. Misunderstood
Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepherd, Emma Tremblay, etc. The Judge

And the award goes to…

James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Joanna Riding, Meryl Streep, Mackenzie Mauzy, Chris Pine, Billy Rasmussen etc. Into the Woods

Into the Woods (2014, Disney)

Explanation

When judging the merits of a cast as a whole it can get complicated. All the consideration of course is about how the cast acquits itself within the work in question. The two biggest factors are usually the depth of the cast and how high the bar is set that the players are clearing. However, it must be acknowledged that when you think you know an actor and you see them surprise you that’s a great joy. That happens on a few occasions in this film. One of those instances is Chris Pine. Yes, having just seen Horrible Bosses 2 I knew he could be funny but his seemingly Shatner-inspired take on Prince Charming along with a good voice make his turn a joy. Meryl Streep is seemingly always in search of the next thing to show that she can also do and knocking one of the showstopping numbers out of the park is quite a boon. The portrayal of the Wolf in Into the Woods can be one of the most problematic, but Johnny Depp is in very good form here. Daniel Huttlestone follows through on one-upping his breakout in Les Mis. Tracey Ullman brings her usual persona and vocal chops the table. Christine Baranski is a very welcome addition to the cast. Lilla Crawford breaks out and is the stage-to-screen transition in this cast. James Corden may get the breakout performer from this cast showing great comic timing, and affable persona and vocals. Emily Blunt now adds leading lady in a musical to the list of things she can handle easily along with action star in the same year. All the cast get kudos for helping to make a traditionally produced (music recorded in studio and played back on set) musical watchable anew.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Annalise Basso Oculus
Lauren Canny 1,000 Times Good Night
Joey King Wish I Was Here
Giulia Salerno Misunderstood
Flora Thiemann Mission: Sputnik
Lea van Acken Stations of the Cross

And the award goes to…

Giulia Salerno Misunderstood

Misunderstood (2014, Good Films)

Explanation

This is likely the one I went back and forth on the longest. Annalise Basso is flawless in Oculus but what happens there is what happens in many films that split time. There’s less of a load to shoulder so it works against that performer some. Lauren Canny is really much of what drives 1,000 Times Good Night and holds her own against Juliette Binoche. Joey King is likely known to many now for a great performance in Wish I Was Here. Flora Thiemann is the heart and soul of Mission: Sputnik.

It was a flip-flopping tug-of-war between two performances: van Acken in Stations of the Cross and Salerno in Misunderstood. Both should be seen, both are special, but the deciding factors are that Salerno did have more notes that she needed to play in hers, and while working in single takes is difficult, it can be even more unnerving to work in close-ups and Salerno does that a lot. The world of the story is Aria’s and Aria needs to be wholly owned by the actress playing her to be driven home, and she most certainly is.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Spencer Bogaert Labyrinthus
Antoine L’Écuyer The Custody
Antoine L’Écuyer It’s Not Me, I Swear
Kodi Smit-McPhee A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Garrett Ryan Oculus
Nils Verkooijen 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg

And the award goes to…

Antoine L’Écuyer The Custody

The Custody (2014, Attraction Media)

Explanation

On the rare occasion when it’s been applicable I’ve acknowledged that some selections (like Alan Rickman’s win) were influenced by a body of work. To not mention a body of work when it comes to Antoine L’Écuyer there is a quirk of film distribution that allowed two performances by the young actor, one four-to-five years old and another two-to-three years old to debut in the same year. When viewing his first performance it was one of the most impressive first viewings of a young actor I had seen in some time. Then he came along and blew that one out of the water in The Custody.

This all is not meant to detract from another sparkling turn by Kodi Smit-McPhee that made A Birder’s Guide to Everything one of the best films of the year, or Spencer Bogaert’s wonderful debut or Garrett Ryan’s shouldering of a significant workload in a horror film after being a strong supporting cog a few times, or Nils Verkooijen’s layered contribution to 20 Lies… What happens is ultimately great timing for L’Écuyer and unfortunate timing for all others.

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Anna Lou Castoldi Misunderstood
Adrianna Cramer Curtis 1,000 Times Good Night
Lilla Crawford Into the Woods
Catherine Faucher It’s Not Me, I Swear
Lorelei Linklater Boyhood
Emma Verlinden Labyrinthus

And the award goes to…

Emma Verlinden Labyrinthus

Labyrinthus (2014, Attraction Media)

Explanation

All the young actor categories were hard to pick this year, and it seems that will remain the norm for quite some time. Here you have the loud, brash evolution of Lorelei Linklater in Boyhood; the enigmatically harsh realism of Catherine Faucher in It’s Not Me, I Swear; the sensitive bried dreamer in Adrianna Cramer Curtis in 1,000 Times Good Night; Lilla Crawford’s innocent thief-turned-tough Little Red Riding Hood and Anna Lou Costoldi’s implicative nature in Misunderstood. The only thing that can trump all of that is Emma Verlinden’s turn in Labyrinthus for she in it is not only a smart, independent thinker but she well-embodies being one a lead can enamor themselves with and can also play a hero very well.

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Peter DaCunha Tormented
Reese Hartwig Earth to Echo
Daniel Huttlestone Into the Woods
Felix Maesschalck Labyrinthus
Art Parkinson Dracula Untold
Tye Sheridan Joe

And the award goes to…

Tye Sheridan Joe

Joe (2014, Roadside Attractions)

Explanation

This year this category is as strong if not stronger than the leading category: Reese Hartwig brings humor and emotion to Earth to Echo, Daniel Huttlestone solidifies his stardom in more standalone musical moments that will hopefully beget another song-and-dance turn from him, Art Parkinson on the big screen shows that House Stark on Game of Thrones may be the finest corps of young actors in the world at present with his riveting emotional turn in Dracula Untold, Peter DaCunha again helps to drives home the scares with visceral humanity in Tormented and Felix Maesschalck has a well-rounded turn as a humorous, romantically-minded best friend. Any could be a very worthy winner, but one young actor brought more out of every frame they were on screen and that was Tye Sheridan.

One way in which the Academy Awards, or any other award shows, can be knocked is that they will rarely reward someone’s out of the box breakout. I’ve not been afraid to do that in the past per se, but I also do not allow previous performances to dictate current results. I was an outlier with Tye Sheridan not winning for Mud, but what happens more and more with young actors now is that they tend to build more impressive resumes sooner. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz and many others have racked up many Young Actor nominations. I had a feeling Tye’s turn in this film was going to be special anew, what I didn’t know was that his character would take such a backseat to Nicolas Cage’s that I’d think he’d make more sense being in the Supporting Actor category. While his emotional scenes are great again, he also adds some humor, anger, subjugation and wide-eyed ingenue scenes to his repertoire.

Best Youth Ensemble

Kodi Smit-McPhee, Katie Chang, Alex Wolff and Michael Chen in A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Valeria Eisenbart, Quirin Oettl, Justus Schlingensliepen, Neele-Marie Nickel and Davina Weber The Famous Five 3
Spencer Bogaert, Felix Maesschalck, Emma Verlinden, Nell Cattrysse and Pommelien Tijs Labyrinthus
Flora Thiemann, Finn Fienbig, Luca Johanssen, and Emil von Schönfels Mission: Sputnik
Giulia Salerno, Anna Lou Castoldi, Carolina Poccioni, Andrea Pittorino Misunderstood
Raúl Rivas, Daniel Cerezo, Claudia Vega, Fran García, Marcos Ruiz, Christian Mulas, Aníbal Tártalo, Alberto López, Javier Cifrián and Álex Angulo Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang

And the award goes to…

Spencer Bogaert, Felix Maesschalck, Emma Verlinden, Nell Cattrysse and Pommelien Tijs Labyrinthus

Labyrinthus (2014, Attraction Media)

Explanation

If this year is any indication then the Youth categories will only continue to get more intolerably difficult to decipher. This was likely the 2nd most challenging category to make a decision in and one I went back and forth on quite a bit. As I often say the nomination process is a truly hard and one I give a great deal more importance too. However, once the nominees are figured out then you have to figure out how to split hairs.

All these ensembles are, of course, fantastic and when deciding among nominees its more about who is the absolute strongest and not about “weak links.” Zip and Zap’s cast gets the humor and  conveys the adventure of the tale well, the cast of Birder’s bring a lot of honesty, humor and heartfelt emotion to their roles, The Famous Five are a great adventurous bunch, The young cast of Misunderstood had many notes to hit.

It came down to Labyrinthus and Mission: Sputnik. Both films are very highly recommended. Ultimately, the success of Labyrinthus had more to do with its cast than the former film. That one has a lot else going for it that buoys it. Here the cast, the young cast especially is what makes it work. With this being the most globalized category it was hard to remove national considerations, but it ultimately had to be about the film and the actors, which is why Labyrinthus takes home the honor.

Best Original Screenplay

Anna Brüggemann and Dietrich Brüggemann Stations of the Cross
Bruno Forzani, Hélène Cattet The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Steven Knight Locke
Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dan Hageman, and Kevin Hageman The Lego Movie
Janneke van der Pal Finn

And the award goes to…

Stephen Knight Locke

Locke (2013, A24 Films)

Explanation

There are, as per usual, fairly disparate things happening in each of the screenplays nominated here. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears pays homage to and also updates the giallo formula, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller bring much intelligence, humor, heart and creativity to what could be too easily a solely commercial project, Stations of the Cross examines religion under a harsh light while still respecting the religious characters who are under that light, Finn tells a heartfelt holiday tale that is wonderful for the whole family to watch.

What takes Locke above and beyond is the sheer audacity of it aside from its brilliance. Its a tale that’s what I called a mobile chamber drama. Life-changing events occur for our protagonist as he drives to a hospital. He has to manage a job, bosses, his home life and the woman he’s going to see; he battles himself, ghosts and traffic. The dialogue works, is evocative and is always fitting. It takes a concept that should only work on radio really (even stage would take some doing) and makes it work not just well but brilliantly, which is what makes it so noteworthy.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughn X-Men: Days of Future Past
Gary Hawkins and Larry Brown Joe
James Lapine Into the Woods
Dennis Lehane The Drop
Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Duncan Rouleau, Steven T. Seagle and Paul Briggs and Joseph Mateo Big Hero 6

And the award goes to…

Dennis Lehane The Drop

The Drop (2014, Fox Searchlight)

Explanation

There were some very interesting balancing acts done by the screenplay adapters nominated. Two of them were transforming a story of theirs to a new medium, another had to blend superhero and Disney sensibilities, Joe had to capture a character-driven tale, externalize it and visualize it and the X-Men had to bring one of their biggest stories to the big screen in a compact form. What takes it over the top for The Drop is the tense build, the balance of character and plot intrigue and the little moments elucidated, touched upon and inferred that build to a pretty big, satisfying conclusion.

Best Cinematography

Eric Adkins and Pat Sweeney The Boxtrolls
Dion Beebe Into the Woods
Manuel Dacosse The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Florian Hoffmeister In Secret
Nicola Pecorini Misunderstood

And the award goes to…

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears

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

Explanation

The nominees in this category boast strong usage of sunlight and neutral tones in In Secret, combinations of creative lighting techniques and CG while bringing wondrous settings to life frame-by-frame in The Boxtrolls, the gorgeously expressive use of film to capture the 1980s in Rome in Misunderstood, the use of myriad storybook motifs and stage inspirations in Into the Woods and lastly the usage of movement, creative framing, harshly vibrant gelled lights; deep, penetrating backgrounds and precision movements in The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears.

Quite frankly the only word to adequately describe the images carved out in this film is astonishing. There’s a lushness that far exceed the prowess of gialli that inspired it and brand themselves on the eyes and minds of those who see it. Sure, it’s excessive but it is so with definite intentions and planning and is all the more breathtaking because of it.

Best Editing

Sandra Adair Boyhood
Bernard Beets The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
James Herbert and Laura Jennings Edge of Tomorrow
Wyatt Smith Into the Woods
Marie-Hélène Dozo Stop the Pounding Heart

And the award goes to…

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013, Strand Releasing)

Explanation

In this category you have the preeminent sculptors in time from the past year. In Stop the Pounding Heart a unique language is created, In Into the Woods dynamic cut-points match with moving shots on the the other end and bounce our attention around the interweaving narratives, Edge of Tomorrow plays perhaps more cleverly with the Groundhog Day concept than any other film and boyhood turns over a decade of a life into just under three smooth, free-flowing hours. Then there is The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, which does cut frequently but with purpose. It is almost nearly living in someone’s psyche and attempting to replicate that with it also moving through time, creating frames and meaning visually it is clearly the most outstanding work of the year.

Best Visual Effects

The Boxtrolls
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Into the Woods
Interstellar

And the award goes to…

The Boxtrolls

Boxtrolls (2014, Laika)

Explanation

Essentially the winners in this category have to be selected for those who best aided their story through the use of VFX, and cannot always be based on advancing the state of the art or the handling of a motif or technique. Therefore, even though Interstellar handles space better than Gravity in graphic terms, Captain America continues to keep the bar elevated for Marvel films and Into the Woods fairly naturally incorporates most of its magic in rendering a fantasy world they cannot come away with the prize. And while the creation of futuristic battles and lithe robotic suits is admirable there’s a combination of old and new, of computerized work and craftsmanship in The Boxtrolls that just cannot be equaled.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edge of Tomorrow
The Lego Movie
Locke
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears

And the award goes to…

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013, Strand Releasing)

Explanation

First what must be said is that for some categories such as this one the teams are a bit larger than the key artists and engineers usually cited therefore it is why I single out the film and not key members. There were quite a few different aural tapestries created this year: Locke told most of its story through bypassing traffic, phone calls and inner-monologue, The Lego Movie needed a mix as varied and as imaginative as its land, Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes needed to create very different futures with different kinds of warfare. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears assaults the senses throughout its duration and the ears are not exempt. Many of the jolts, much of the impact is through the mixing of effects, dialogue and score and helps contribute to its dreamy flow greatly.

Best Makeup

Gone Girl
Into the Woods
Maleficent
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken

And the award goes to…

Unbroken

Unbroken (2014, Warner Bros.)

Explanation

The ultimate tiebreaker among even matched competition is not just the amount of work but how vital the work is to the telling of a story. Unbroken in many ways is a story told through it’s make-up effects. Louie Zamperini is a physically changed man, of course, we examine his mental state as he struggles to persevere but we also need to see it on his face and on his body throughout. It clearly the most exceptional work of the year.

Best Art Direction

Curt Enderle The Boxtrolls
Alan Spalding, Said El Kounti and Hauke Richter Son of God
Dennis Gassner, Andrew Bennett, Ben Collins, Chris Lowe, and Mary Mackenzie Into the Woods
Julia Irribarria The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Juan Pedro De Gaspar and Géza Kerti Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang

And the award does to…

Dennis Gassner, Andrew Bennett, Ben Collins, Chris Lowe, and Mary Mackenzie Into the Woods

Explanation

There were a number of different ways I could have gone with this choice. Zip and Zap features not only Old World architecture of a sprawling school, but also hidden worlds,  The Boxtrolls creates a world entirely from scratch, Son of God recreates many Biblical lands, The Strange Colors… creates a myopic metropolis in Europe as haunting as it is dazzling. What Into the Woods does is not merely create a storybook world, but finds room for many wondrous (and some of my favorite visual motifs) it also transforms a stage play into a newly realized world, one where none of these stories feel out of place but rather feel like they always should’ve lived together.

Best Costume Design

Colleen Atwood Into the Woods
Deborah Cook The Boxtrolls
Nicoletta Ercole Misunderstood
Louise Mingenbach X-Men: Days of Future Past
Pedro Moreno Cannibal

And the award goes to…

Colleen Atwood Into the Woods

Into the Woods (2014, Disney)

Explanation

When it comes to Best Costume Design I do like to think outside the box whenever possible in terms of selecting a crop of nominees. Two of the films include period work: X-Men: Days of Future Past and Misunderstood. Both of those films have additional styles: X-Men deals in superhero attire and there are subcultural uniforms invoked. In Cannibal clothing are very much a manifestation of character as the antagonist is a tailor. Many will overlook the production aspects of The Boxtrolls and I have come close to nominating other departments on Laika films before, but this film is a new peak in their powers and I can only hope they continue to reach new heights. With something like Into the Woods there is period influence, and also a fantastical element, but it is not just craftsmanship but creativity that takes it over the top. The epitome of this in the Wolf’s Zoot Suit which is one of the wisest uses of anthropomorphic costuming I’ve yet seen.

Best Score

Ramin Djawadi Dracula Untold
Pino Donaggio Patrick
Michael Giacchino Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Fons Merkies Finn
A.R. Rahman The Hundred-Foot Journey

And the award goes to…

Finn

Finn (2013, Attraction Distribution)

Explanation

This was perhaps the most difficult category to set the nominations. I made a Spotify playlist and played a bunch of albums. Yet, even having listened to most of if not all of them I still needed quite a bit of deliberation. Alexandre Desplat Monuments Men, Christophe Beck Edge of Tomorrow, Jeff McLlwain and David Wingo Joe, Mark Mothersbaugh The Lego Movie
Henry Jackman Big Hero 6, Michael Montes Ping Pong Summer; could’ve easily been nominated as well. The nominees featured great and varied musical stylings to fit their films A.R. Rahman fused Indian and classical styles to create the score of The Hundred-Foot Journey, Michael Giacchino drove home the emotion of the Dawn of the planet of the Apes, Rahmin Djawadi added the necessary gravitas to Dracula Untold and Pino Donaggio composed a staggeringly beautiful classically-inspired horror score for Patrick.

Then there is Finn. In Finn the violin and its music are of such paramount importance it is virtually a character and the music is so soaringly beautiful it threatens to dominate the film but the symbiosis they create is what makes the film so special and the score so memorable.

Best (Original) Song

“Everything is Awesome” Jo Li The Lego Movie
“The Boxtrolls Song” Mark Orton, Loch Lomond and Sean Patrick Doyle The Boxtrolls
“Quattro Sabatino” Dario Marianello, Peter Harris, Alex Tsilogiannis, Thomas Kennedy and Edmund Saddington The Boxtrolls
“The Bald Guy” (“Skallamann”) from Baldguy Cast in Fun in Boys Shorts
“Prologue: Into the Woods” James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Joanna Riding, Meryl Streep and Stephen Sondheim Into the Woods

And the award goes to…

Into the Woods

Into the Woods (2014, Disney)

Explanation

There has been a bit of evolution for me with this category throughout the years. In essence, the function of the song within the narrative aside from how much I like the song matters. The word original appears in parenthesis because it is optional as to whether it is limited to songs that were crafted for a specific film. The relevance to the plot question is what drops “Quattro Sabbatino,” while it does humorously use solely the names of cheeses to underscore the obsession with them in The Boxtrolls, but “The Boxtrolls Song” is about the fear and motivation to capture them in the story. While “Everything is Awesome” has an anthem-like invocation and does offer commentary that “No everything is not that great,” for these figures. It is not as pivotal as the top two songs are. While one is a short and another is a feature both are musical numbers from films constructed as musicals. What takes the song from Into the Woods over-the-top is not just the virtuosity of the entire cast’s performance, but also the fact that it sets the table for all strands of narrative in the film and incorporates a a theatrically conceived company number in cinematic trappings beautifully.

Neutron Star Award

The honoree can be found here.

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

The honoree can be found here.

Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year

The honoree can be found here.

Special Jury Awards

The honorees of this year’s special jury awards can be found here.

Nominations

Into the Woods – 12 (4 Wins)
Misunderstood – 9 (1 Win)
The Boxtrolls, Finn – 7 (1 Win Each)
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears – 6 (3 Wins)
Labyrinthus (2 Wins), Stations of the Cross (1 Win); 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg – 5
A Birder’s Guide to Everything, The Way He Looks (3 Wins) – 4
Edge of Tomorrow, The Lego Movie, Locke; 1,000 Times Good Night; It’s Not Me, I Swear; Mission: Sputnik, Joe (2 Wins) , Boyhood, Calvary (1 win), The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Judge – 3
Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang, Dracula Untold, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Oculus, In Secret (1 Win), The Drop (1 Win), The Famous Five 3, The Custody (1 Win), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, St. Vincent -2
Fun in Boys Shorts, Dracula Untold, Patrick, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Cannibal, Son of God, Unbroken (1 win), The Theory of Everything, Maleficent, Gone Girl, Interstellar, Stop the Pounding Heart, Big Hero 6, Earth to Echo, Tormented, Wish I Was Here, The Maze Runner, The Amazing Catfish, Flowers in the Attic, I Am Yours, The Babadook, Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 (1 Win), The Fault in Our Stars, The Mystery of Happiness, Ilo Ilo, Fury, The Guest– 1

-Post Complete-

BAM Awards: Neutron Star Award Winners

Here you will find a historical list of the honorees of this recently-created award. A neutron star is one that glows more brightly after it “death,” similarly these filmmakers and actors do. It’s a counterpart to the Lifetime Achievement Award which is intended for filmmakers and actors who are very much alive and kicking.

The Neutron Star Award

OK, so what is the Neutron Star Award? As I watched older selections through the year, I was frequently compelled to pick a film based on the fact that Vincent Price was in it. When I was younger I was very actor-oriented, more so than with directors. The fact that an actor had that kind of draw, and was one who is sadly no longer with us, made me think there had to be some kind of way I could honor them.

2015: Dickie Moore

dickie-moore-and-pete-the-pup-from-our-gang-ca1933jpg-1f9eded7279ba808

Here’s one I thought I wasn’t going to hand out this year.

However, even though I knew Dickie Moore from things like The Little Rascals, Oliver Twist, The Word Accuses, Three on a Match, and saw him in a few titles this year; I thought his star couldn’t grow to me – matching the definition of a neutron star – a star bigger after its death. However, after his passing I started to realize he would fit.

Blonde Venus (1932, Paramount)

In April I covered a movie he was in for the Pre-Code Blogathon, Blonde Venus.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (1984, Harper & Row)

For the Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge I covered his book Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, which is a bittersweet-at-best account of the early days of child stardom, which includes the perspective of many young stars (himself included) from the early days of sound when he caught up with them again in the 1980s.

The World Accuses (1934)

Then less than a month later he passed away at the age of 89. One of the better obits I read was this one.

Bogged down with other things I didn’t eulogize him at the time. I believe the one I did for Wes Craven was the only one this year.

There is precedent for the recipient dying in the year he was awarded.

Miss Annie Rooney (1942, RKO)

So, while there will not be Film Discoveries like there was for 2013 (Miss Annie Rooney and The World Accusses) for Moore this year, his TCM homage is taking up much of my DVR with many titles I was hoping to have seen for quite some time.

dickie-moore-435

So 2016 and beyond will likely feature more of his films. No one perfectly captures all of film’s past as they learn to love and fully embrace the art. For as much as you learn and know about technique and production there is a tendentiousness to things, and everyone develops personal favorites and preferences. Some films and people are inarguably greats, or talented if their films don’t happen to reach you on a visceral level.

732288_ori

Despite the fact that he may not have been a Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney or a Freddie Bartholomew; Dickie Moore is one of my favorites. He was undoubtedly a star in his own right, he was just surrounded by many of them in a crowded system. I look forward to getting to know more of his films that remain with us though he may be gone from this world.

RIP

2014 Honoree

Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin

So I thought literally about stars, and being a nerd I confirmed that a neutron star fits the definition of a star that has gone out but glows more brightly after its passing.

Mickey-Rooney-and-Judy-Garland-Andy-Hardy-Meets-Debutante-1940

This one was not easy to figure out. Much of the reason this award proved difficult to choose is that with my viewings being somewhat down across the board it was difficult to find a number of actors or filmmakers who jumped up in prominence this past year. Usually, they were known as well. However, with Mickey Rooney’s unfortunate passing I did have cause to post my first In Memoriam in some time and I did feature some of his shorts after the incident, and had seen some earlier titles he appeared in. I still have, and have been meaning to see, many of his Andy Hardy titles sitting around. Then in December he reprised his role in the Night at the Museum series. As always this kind of appearance was bittersweet (particularly as Robin Williams always features prominently in those films also). For Mickey some of the bittersweetness owed to the fact that the lingering effects on his speech of a stroke were apparent. The saving graces were that he did fine and the film very classily and prominently dedicated a title card to them both.

Rooney’s credits are many and I will continue to seek them out, and who knows I may find more that I can share legally here. I hope that seeing his later works will encourage new fans to discover some of his earlier works. Many of them, from varied points in his career, have been with me for quite some time.

Ironically, the first I ever heard of Rooney was through an impersonation of him by Dana Carvey on SNL. Like a lot of impersonations there was some basis in fact for it, much as there was for Mickey to legitimately claim he was once the biggest star in the world. That point can be debated if you like but his impact and longevity may not be matched anytime soon. Therefore, any growth in the appreciation of his work is worthwhile.

“It’s never too late to see a movie.”
-Edgar Wright

2013 Honoree

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder (RWFF)

The award was created last year to recognize an actor, but this year’s winning selection is a slight fudge. However, I don’t feel I’ll be likely to re-define or expand the award any time soon so I’m going to go with it.

Basically, the winner did act in films and did even play leading roles, however, to be completely honest, Rainer Werner Fassbinder is winning this award for his work as a writer and director. Now a bit like Jackie Searl I did have some familiarity with Fassbinder in the past. He made appearances on both my 2011 and 2012 Favorite Older Movies list.

However, 2013 was much more viewing many more appearances and was topped off by my getting both the Region 2 box sets of his films. Granted even those aren’t all his works.

When you see a few things by a director you are responding to individual titles, when you see quite a few you start responding to a voice and Fassbinder’s was a voice I sought to hear speaking repeatedly through 2013, and I’m sure that will continue into the new year. In tandem with this award you should look out for this year’s favorites list, which will include his titles; and I may create a subsequent series designed to reflect the year’s winner as I have with other body-of-work awards in the past.

Fassbinder had a knack, in standard feature-length dramas, making the first forty minutes impossibly gripping over and over, of also creating approachable density and magnetic melancholy, and it’s why I sought to come back to his works many times over last year and why he is the recipient of this award.

2012 Honoree

Vincent Price

Vincent Price
As tends to be the case when I’m breaking out a new honor (e.g. The Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award or the Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year), my initial write-up about it will be fairly short.

OK, so what is the Neutron Star Award? As I watched older selections through the year, I was frequently compelled to pick a film based on the fact that Vincent Price was in it. When I was younger I was very actor-oriented, more so than with directors. The fact that an actor had that kind of draw, and was one who is sadly no longer with us, made me think there had to be some kind of way I could honor them.

So I thought literally about stars, and being a nerd I confirmed that a neutron star fits the definition of a star that has gone out but glows more brightly after its passing.

Which brings me back to Price. If you look at my older films list this year you’ll find Vincent Price all over it. He was not only a talent, and not only elevated works he took part in, but in a way elevated the entire horror genre; in large part because of the horror icons he arguably was the longest-lasting and most identified with it. Christopher Lee, for example, has for years been synonymous with other kinds of films, but once Price got his foothold it was nearly his sole dominion.

I fight Netflix indecisiveness so anyone that great that makes me say “Oh, he’s in it? Good enough for me.” Is certainly worthy of some honor.

I truly like this idea and I hope it acts as another incentive to discover and get to know other actors’ filmographies in the future.

Underrated Dramas: Benelux

Introduction

Recently I decided to partake in another great theme going on at Rupert Pupkin Speaks. The last list I did there was for the Underrated Comedies series. As I anticipated, there was far more competition among movies I like to make the dramas list than the comedies list. So much so that I decided to post ancillary lists here before the big list debuts there. I wasn’t able to get all the contenders onto these lists but I was able to feature the most competitive regions (foreign films were one of my main foci). This is the second list, here is the first.

Underrated Dramas: Benelux

Benelux is the collective name for the region of Europe comprised of the Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. I’ve yet to see a film made and set in Luxembourg, but I hope that changes soon.

In the past few years it seems that all the movies I’ve seen from the region are outstanding films, and I have not yet seen some more well-known ones (Such as Bullhead). Regardless the point needs to be made as only only two of the eight would not be considered recent.

In many cases, I’ve already written about these films before so the blurbs will be brief and there will be links included. This is as much a declaration of an emerging and vibrant region, that many seem to be overlooking; as it is a list.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Jeanne Dielman (1975, Janus Films)

I only ever heard of this film thanks to something I read in a booklet that accompanied a Bela Tarr film on DVD. The fact that it took that, to me, makes it an underrated film. It’s one that admittedly I had to give a second chance, but I’m glad I did.

Winter in Wartime (2008)

Winter in Wartime (2008, Sony Pictures Classics)

This is a film I viewed by myself, and it made quite a big dent in that year’s BAM Awards. This was an official selection for the Netherlands to the Academy Awards but took a while to get picked up and didn’t make a lot of noise when it did; it ought to have.

Ciske the Rat (1984)

Ciske the Rat (1984, Concorde Film)

This is a film that fits one of the criteria I set out of being out-of-print. To tell you of some of the levels in which it excels would be to give away too much, but it is a film both sensitive and shocking, that has endearing and infuriating moments that are all completely by design.

The Misfortunates (2009)

The Misfortunates (2009, NeoClassics Films)

The upbringing of an artist is a narrative that always intrigues me. More often than not these tales tell of less-than-pristine circumstances wherein the protagonist overcomes misunderstanding or even lack of support to excel against the odds. The Misfortunates doesn’t break that mold necessarily but it tells its tale well within it, as I tweeted:

“The Misfortunates” a well-acted, interestingly constructed, creatively told family drama about an author’s upbringing in Flanders.

Considering I saw this well ahead of the other films it could benefit greatly from a revisit as I’ve grown more accustomed to the sensibilities and aesthetics that seem to be the zeitgeist in the region at current.

North Sea Texas (2011)

North Sea Texas (2011, Strand Releasing)

While nominated at the most recent GLAAD Awards, it sadly didn’t walk away a winner there. I still assert that the test of time will treat this film very well. I included it in many ways in the 2012 BAM Awards, with significant wins and submitted it to OMIEs and LAMBs and will continue to champion it.

The remaining three could make some serious hay in the upcoming BAM Awards:

The Giants (2012)

The Giants (Kino Lorber, 2011)

In any year, there are those films that stand out, and continue to, long after they’ve been seen. This is one of them. This film recently came to not again for me after reading Mike Scott’s take. It’s a strong film, that treats adolescence in less-than-ideal-circumstances a very real way that doesn’t have sensationalized “grit” and doesn’t forsake soul. Highly, highly recommended.

Allez, Eddy! (2012)

Allez, Eddy! (2012, Benelux Film Distributors)

Creativity and quirkiness abound in this tale that transcends the usual trappings of underdog-sports-tales and children’s films to be rather artistic, humorous, moving and heartwarming.

Time of My life (2012)

Time of My Life (2012, Strand Releasing)

The most wondrous thing about this film is that from the outset you know how it’s going to end, but that doesn’t make it any less effective as a statement or as a piece of raw, human drama.

My Radar

This is a post that I’m creating for a few purposes. First, it will serve as an unofficial checklist for my BAM Awards. I will not hold up the awards in anticipation of seeing these films. A deadline is a deadline. It will help me either define Gray Area films or keep an eye out for undistributed titles. Secondly, this will serve as a back-up to my watchlist on GoWatchIt, which is a great site to get notifications about film releases. I anticipate I’ll update this bi-weekly as I do with films watched and older film posts.

1. The Fifth Season

Played SxSW 2013. Belgian film about a endless winter. Made known to me by Scott E. Weinberg.

2. To the Wonder

New Malick. Ebert’s last review. SOON TO BE VIEWED

3. White Elephant

From Strand Releasing. Look for it on Netflix.

4. Sister
Foreign language film nominee. Missed Theatre N date. Seek out on video.

5. Amour

Amour (2012, Sony Pictures Classics)

Only nearby engagements in 2013. Have missed them. For more about qualifying for the BAM Awards read this.

6. 56 Up

Knew it was hitting both Philly and local theaters and didn’t get out to it.

7. Our Children

Heard of it during Oscar-season last year, appears to be hitting screens, at least in the UK.

8. Mud

Heard of it last year at Cannes. Has been at Philadelphia Landmark theater(s) for two weekends and I haven’t been yet.

9. In the House

Heard of Ozon’s latest in late ’12. Have followed some reactions and release dates. Have had three weekends to see it. Haven’t yet.

10. The Dirties

The Dirties (2012, Phase 4)

Heard it was picked up by Phase 4 this week in THR.

11. Cody the Robosapien

There’s a one sheet. Not much in the way of release date information as of yet.

12. Dark Frontier

Saw the trailer for this film before watching Deep Dark Canyon.

13. Jacob

Was to be my second Redbox freebie recently had my other code not expired.

14. Faust

Heard of Sokurov’s version last year. Currently at Film Forum in NY.

15. Tragedy of Man

The Tragedy of Man (2011, Mozinet)

I know this hit an New York screen while I was not there. Haven’t heard about it being on video.

The following films are those which are on my GoWatchIt queue as of today (5/15/13):

Dracula-3D

16. Elles SOON TO BE VIEWED
17. Jack and Diane
18. Dracula 3D
19. In Their Skin
20. Beyond the Hills
21. Antiviral (SOON TO BE VIEWED)
22. Me and You
23. Post Tenebras Lux
24. Reality
25. Good For Nothing
26. Just the Wind
27. Thursday Through Sunday
28. Father’s Chair
29. I Killed My Mother SOON TO BE VIEWED

The following are selections based on Larry Richman’s top picks of 2012.

Dead Europe (2012, Wild Bunch)

30. Stuck in Love
31. Vanishing Waves
32. Una Noche
33. Pavilion
34. The Hunt SOON TO BE VIEWED
35. DELETED – DUPLICATE
36. Apartment in Athens
37. Tio Papi
38. The Playroom SOON TO BE VIEWED
39. I Declare War
40. Funeral Kings
41. Electrick Children SOON TO BE VIEWED
42. Blackbird

And a random one I just called which stars a BAM Nominee from last year for Best Original Song, Troye Sivan.

Spud 2: The Madness Continues (2013, Nu Metro Films)

43. Spud 2: The Madness Continues

The following title was made known to me by frequent reader/commenter Connie:

La Jaula de Oro (2013, Machete Producciones)

44. La Jaula de Oro

The following titles are ones I hear much buzz about recently in general or out of Cannes:

The Kings of Summer (2013, CBS Films)

45. Frances Ha
46. Stories We Tell
47. Blue is the Warmest Color
48. Inside Llewyn Davies
49. Heli
50. Nebraska
51. Ilo Ilo
52. The Past
53. The Kings of Summer
54. The Place Beyond the Pines
55. What Maisie Knew
56. Ginger and Rosa


57. Satellite Boy
58. Blackfish
59. The To Do List
60. Fruitvale Station
61. Only God Forgives
62. Chennai Express
63. Blue Jasmine
64. Standing Up
65. Summerhood
66. Horrid Henry: The Movie
67. The Human Promise
68. Hannah Arendt
69. Child’s Pose SOON TO BE WATCHED
70. The Rocket
71. Blancanieves SOON TO BE WATCHED
72. The Weight of Elephants
73. The Wicker Man (1973) Extended Cut
74. V8
75. The Double
76. Staten Island Summer

77. Leap 4 Your Life
78. Headlong (Corps Perdu)
79. The Art of the Steal
79. Grand Piano
80. Slow West
81. Beyond the Heavens
82. Bunks
83. As I Lay Dying
84. The Lost Medallion SOON TO BE WATCHED
85. Category 8
86. The Fall
87. Side Effects SOON TO BE WATCHED
88. Child of God
89. The Short Game SOON TO BE WATCHED
90. The Contest
SOON TO BE WATCHED

91. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

The-Chronicles-of-Narnia-The-Silver-Chair-Christian-MovieFilm-DVD_5117

Yes, I know the odds are I won’t miss this one. However, not only do I plan for many of these titles to crossover into next year (and beyond) but this is the film I wanted next.

92. The Borgman
93. Joe
94. Concrete Night
95. Rhymes for Young Ghouls
96. WNUF Halloween Special
97. Chennai Express
98. Torment
99. Kid
100. Into the Woods
101. 13/13/13
102. Crystal Fairy
103. Prince Avalanche

See also: John Waters’ Best of 2013 list.
and Cahiers du Cinema for more options.