Bernardo Villela is like a mallrat except at the movies. He is a writer, director, editor and film enthusiast who seeks to continue to explore and learn about cinema, chronicle the journey and share his findings.
I’m not going to over-elaborate in this section. In prior posts I have discussed some of the inconsistencies in the film. Here I will mention a few that I haven’t yet gotten around to, which leaves about two topics.
The CG is at times an issue, but at times I was surprised it worked so well. Sadly, the reason CG usually doesn’t work as well as it could have less to do with actual computer technology and other film trends. Even more surprising was the occasional actual practical effect like the dying Apatosaurus.
The implementation of the Phase One: Real World order rolls out slower than the execution of Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, as quite a bit of screentime passes before the last employee (the gyrosphere operator) hears about it.
In parsing through many smaller moments in the larger sections there are similarly not many elements I enjoyed that didn’t get mentioned. The first thing that bears saying is that Trevorrow successfully transitions from a small film with a fantastical element, Safety Not Guaranteed, to a fantastical story with smaller elements here.
As mentioned above the use of some practicals is greatly appreciated, and of course, I love that this was a film that brought the series back to its roots of a being a park of dinosaurs (which is coincidentally the Brazilian title), which two and three kind of skipped.
The pulse-pounding elements are also there aside from youthful wonder. Many of the at-the-screen 3D-aimed scares worked on me more than once, and the ACU (Asset Containment Unit) members’ deaths being accompanied by the sound of flatlining as they monitored their vitals was especially effective.
Character’s deaths can be among the trickiest things to handle in films. The handling of a death scene, like the genres of horror and comedy, can be highly subjective. The death of Zara (Katie McGrath) in the clutches of a Pterodactyl seems to hover in the gray area between comedy and horror, and it’s not a wonder its received a disparate range of reactions.
The reasons this scene works for me are myriad, among them being the morbid sense of humor, it’s the schadenfreude of taking out an annoying character, but the main reason is that it takes what is not inherently a threatening family of the dinosaur kingdom and really renders them terrifying by the torturous ordeal it puts her through, which ups the stakes for the other chases and battles, namely the one Claire ends, saving Grady, with cool confidence and a flurry of well-placed shots.
This series concludes tomorrow with Part 8: Conclusion.
It may seem hard to believe, but I compartmentalize such that nomination totals surprise me, at times winners have surprised me to because I thought I’d do one thing, but then as I thought and wrote it was clear my thoughts were different than intially assumed. However, I was not surprised that the highest nomination totals weren’t terribly high and that the win totals have been fairly split throughout. Again, compartmentalizing.
So what was the most fun I had at the movies this year? The most gobsmacked by its construction? The most delighted intellectually? Oh, yeah, it made me laugh too. The answers to all these questions are Django Unchained What it does is that it takes what Tarantino did in Inglorious Basterds brings it to the US, shines a harsh light on our uncomfortable subject, then flagellates it, makes us laugh about it, think about, condemn it and root for good to triumph (as we know it will), and what’s best makes the point of making it an antebellum tale. It was hair-splitting that kept Django from getting other awards throughout the day, but this one was in the bag from when I was done watching it.
The Best Picture field has quite a few foreign films in it too, but here was another year where a foreign film set the standard early, held it for a long time and got nicked at the end of the year. I suggest you look into all these films to see which interest you as they are very different, and my winner is not likely to have the greatest mass appeal. The winner is The Turin Horse
Last year, started a real shift in how I treat this award. Basically, it stopped being about the IMDb and what critics and others said about the film and more about what smaller film, deserving of a wider audience do I think needs championing – thus next year this category may have a slightly different name.
This kind of ties into why I skipped on Worst Picture and Most Overrated. I could still tell you some for the past year, but I spent many of the wee hours nominating last week and all day today posting these winners, I want it to be all about positive things. Aside from philopsophical topics that’s what it boils down to.
So what film here deserves championing the most? Kauwboy. I am lucky and grateful to have seen it, but while it may have had festival and Academy screenings here to the best of my knowledge it does not have US distribution and is in my top 10 of the year.
All the men in this category had singular visions and are very deserving. However, only one can get this honor. In the past I delayed the creation of a lifetime achievement award because the director was still quite vital. I won’t exclude someone for getting that honor now that it exists, however. When there’s a director-picture split there should be a justification. Here there will be a quasi-split (you’ll see what I mean) and I think Béla Tarr earned it for having a more precise, exacting vision that’s greater not only than the sum of his ouevre but also of his aesthetic.
Bavo Defurne North Sea Texas
Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Rises
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained Béla Tarr The Turin Horse
Joe Wright Anna Karenina
They might not all be in films that bring the biggest fanfare with them but these ladies all did spectacular jobs in varied ways. Ultimately, what this boiled down to was two ladies who did two very different things: one didn’t have as many cuts to work with and had to convey many emotions quickly and clearly, another due to the mind’s eye approach of the narrative had to quickly and visually communicate. However, the task assigned to Keira Knightley not only felt bigger to me but she steered the journey so magnificently; it’s literally breathtaking.
Erika Bók The Turin Horse Keira Knightley Anna Karenina
Magaly Solier Amador
Tilda Swinton We Need to Talk About Kevin
Noomi Rapace The Monitor
As likely as Daniel Day-Lewis is to continue to win Best Actor trophies this was by no means a blowout. Denis Lavant plays a plethora of characters, McConaughey is better than ever in Killer Joe; in The Perks of Being a Wallflower Logan Lerman reminds us all what he’s capable of and then Dane Dehaan broke through big time in Chronicle. However, there’s impersonating a figure, doing an impression of them and then theres inhabiting them, which seems to be what Daniel Day-Lewis does. It’s astonishing.
Dane DeHaan Chronicle
Logan Lerman The Perks of Being a Wallflower Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln
Denis Lavant Holy Motors
Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe
Hugh Jackman Les Misérables
Samantha Barks Les Misérables
Sally Field Lincoln
Gina Gershon Killer Joe
Anna Gunn Sassy Pants Anne Hathaway Les Misérables
First thing that needs mentioning is that Sassy Pants is on netflix now, so stream it. It’s hilarious. Also, if you’re in for a weird time go for Killer Joe. Samantha Barks is unforgettable singing my favorite Les Mis song, however, here is one place where I will not be any different from any other award show between now and the Oscars, the winner is Anne Hathaway who more than deserves it. What an astoundingly great performance.
I love to see Leonardo DiCaprio really hooked into a part, when he’s a live wire he’s something special and he’s that here. Him in this form is about all that can sway me away from picking Sam Jackson in this category.
Mikkel Boe Foesgaard A Royal Affair Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained
Samuel L. Jackson Django Unchained
Matthew McConaughey Bernie
Eddie Redmayne Les Misérables
All these performaces are very strong as well, especially Ryan Simpkins’, however, if there’s one invocation I cannot disregard it’s that of Anna Chlumsky. That is who Sophie Nélisse reminded me of in a lot of ways and that’s why she takes it, aside from the obvious fact that she’s the conscious of a very tough movie for a young actor to be that intrinsic in.
Ryan Simpkins Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life Sophie Nélisse Monsieur Lazhar
Yle Vianello Corpo Celeste
Natasha Calls The Possession
Ane Viola Semb Magic Silver
Rachel Mwanza War Witch
Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role
This is another spectacular class, where quite literally any of them could’ve taken it. Quite honestly, it’s one of the decisions I most lamented having to make because I saw early on it was going to be a very strong category. Each of these actors is perfect for the role they’re assigned, however, the one who not only maximes the role and helps make his movie click above all others is Rick Lens.
Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role
Another reason that existed to create these Supporting categories for young actors is that there are times when a young actor is given a very tough assignment in complex film, such is this case of this winner Jeanne Disson in Holy Motors. She only has one scene but there’s a lot of subtext she’s playing and she has to get emotional in it at one point; emotional but restrained. It’s a truly great turn by her.
Isabelle Allen Les Misérables
Marie-Ève Beauregard Monsieur Lazhar Jeanne Disson Holy Motors
Ashley Gerasimovich We Need to Talk About Kevin
Bailee Madison Parental Guidance
Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role
This year really redeemed my decision to create equal categories for young performers. There were enough really good lead and supporting performances such that all but one of these categories expanded to six nominees. Drew Barrymore’s performance in E.T. has often been cited as a standard not just for Young Actors, but also for actors round about her age. This year I was reminded of that standard on a number of occasions.
Here’s a category where truly any one of the picks would have been a very valid choice, which just reinforces my belief that the nominating process is the most important, but citations aside, and upon further reflection, the most impressed I was this year was with Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu. In a film like Boy you expect the lead to be strong and have a lot of dramatic turns and situations foisted upon him, you do not expect that from the younger brother character and for him to rise to the challenge in a manner stoically belying his years.
Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu Boy
Sebastian Banes In the Family
Kyle Breitkopf Parental Guidance
Peter DaCunha The Barrens
Pierce Gagnon Looper
Daniel Huttlestone Les Misérables
Best Youth Ensemble
In years past there have been splits between Youth Ensemble and Best Cast. The best way to explain that is to use the sports analogy of comparing a whole team (cast) to a unit of the team (Defense), a team may be the best overall but not the strongest in a given unit.
Where with Best Cast I assessed that the adult players are vital due to the fact that they play key figures, the younger performers carry the film and there are more doing so that it would seem if you were to just read the synopsis. Both main characters Pim and Gino are represented at two ages, the younger age being a short, but vital tone-setter; but then there are also the girls in their lives who are necessary foils in a film of this nature. They too are very good and written better than you usually see.
Again the decision for North Sea Texas to win here is based on depth and prominence. Monsieur Lazhar has very strong stand-out performances by the kids, as is evidenced in the individual nominations, however, they split time and don’t shoulder as much as the cast of North Sea Texas does.
Ane Viola Semb, Johan Tinus Lindgren, etc. Magic Silver
Émilien Néron, Brigitte Poupart, Jules Philip, Seddik Benslimane, Marie-Ève Beauregard, Sophie Sanscartier, Vincent Millard, Louis-David Leblanc, Gabriel Verdier, Marianne Soucy-Lord Monsieur Lazhar Ben Van den Heuvel, Nathan Naenen, Noor Ben Taouet, Jelle Florizoone, Nina Marie Kortekaas, Mathias Vergels North Sea Texas
Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, Kyle Breitkopf, Cade Jones, Mavrick Moreno, Madison Lintz, Justin Kennedy, Jade Nicolette Parental Guidance
Nick Romeo Reimann, Fabian Halbig, Leonie Tepie, Manuel Steitz, Javidan Imani, Robin Walter, David Hürten Vorstadtkrokodile 3: Freunde Fur Immer
Jean Texier, Louis Dussol, Harold Werner, Nathan Parent, Clément Godefroy, Théophile Baquet, Ilona Bachelier, Thomas Goldberg, Grégory Gatignol War of the Buttons
This was a year blessed with incredibly deep casts. What needed taking into account was how deep did the casts run and how strong was each individual performer in said role. Though a tale of coming of age and sexual awakening, North Sea texas does have a rounded cast with key adult players that needed to be on point to fill in the the world that was being created, and they to a person, more so than any other film, did that.
Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron, Marie-Eve Bearegard, Vincent Millard, Seddik Bensilmane, Louis David Leblanc, Dranielle Proux Brigitte Poupart, Jules Philip Monsieur Lazhar Ben Van den Heuvel, Eva van der Gucht, Thomas Coumans, Katelijn Damen, Nathan Naenen, Noor Ben Taouet, Jelle Florizoone, Nina Marie Kortekaas, Mathias Vergels, Luk Wyns North Sea Texas
Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson-Taylor, Jude Law, Kelly MacDonald, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson, Matthew Macfayden, Oskar McNamara, Alicia Vikander, Eros Vlahos Anna Karenina
Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Straithairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Cross, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gulliver McGrath, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Lucas Haas, Dane DeHaan Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Sach Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter Eddie Redmayne, Elizabeth Allen, Daniel Huttlestone Les
There are a number of ways to look at Best Original Screenplay. One can parse out the originality and go one way, look at the visual treatment and go another or one can take a very textual approach. One of these films is very quiet in terms of dialogue, two are quite eloquent, but one is intimate, another bombastic. Both the eloquent films treat flashbacks very well, one takes more time in them and is more creative chronologically; while another hums along mostly in the present of the tale. Of all awards this one is splitting hairs more than most others – because both top two also have statements to make. However, when you consider one’s Bergmanesque approach and its dramatic rendering of a perhaps dry deposition setting it has to go to Patrick Wang for In the Family.
Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard The Cabin in the Woods
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained
Leos Carax Holy Motors Patrick Wang In the Family
Laszlo Krasznahorki, Bela Tarr The Turin Horse
I often have a little struggle in parsing original from adapted. I believe I vary from most awards in that if characters aren’t original, though the script be not made from source material, then I consider that an adaptation. We all have notions about James bond, Batman and the like. To work with them, no matter how out of the canon you take it, you still start with characters that are established.
I only had real knowledge about one of these sources, ultimately, it comes down to how well a vision is translated on screen, how concise, visual and exact is the script’s treatment of the subject matter. Though all these scripts are deserving the most surehanded approach came from Bavo Defurne’s handling of North Sea Texas.
Tom Stoppard (Leo Tolstoy) Anna Karenina Bavo Defurne (Andre Sollie) North Sea Texas
Stephe Chbosky (Stephen Chbosky) The Perks of Being a Wallflower
William Nicholson (Claude-Michel Schoenberg, Alain Boubil, Victor Hugo, Herbert Kretzmer, Jean-Marc Natel, James Fenton) Les Misérables
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (Ian Fleming) Skyfall
The difficulty in deciding this category was balancing the disparate intentions of each score. Each of these films are in different genres, thus, their scores had different tasks at hand and clearly all of them exceled. What it came down to is trying to quantify which score most exceled for what the intentions of the film were, regardless of musicality. When one thinks of The Turin Horse two sounds come immediately to mind: the wind and the score.
Adriano Cominotto North Sea Texas
Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese The Raid: Redemption
Helge Slikker Kauwboy
Christopher Young Sinister Mihály Víg The Turin Horse
What this category ended up being about in large part was non-linear communication of the narrative. No film did better with that than We Need to Talk About Kevin, which qualified for this year because I didn’t have a realistic chance to see it in 2011, per the Titus Conundrum.
Joe Bini We Need to Talk About Kevin
John Guerdebeke Keyhole
Mary Joe Markey The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Melanie Oliver Anna Karenina
Els Voorspoels North Sea Texas
There are two films here that truly hinge on their sound design, one is indicated by the title and the other is The Woman in Black. Sinister also used its sound to great effect, but ultimately The Woman in Black was the most consistent, and well thought out design of them all.
Sinister The Woman in Black
Similar to my thoughts on black and white photography fully exploiting the latitude that gives you in something like The White Ribbon here Deakins exploits color wherever and whenever possible. There’s fire, ice and water, neon in the sky, chinese lanterns and much more; it’s a visual smorgasbord you can make yourself a glutton on.
Roger Deakins Skyfall
Benjamin Kasulke Keyhole
Fred Kelemen The Turin Horse
Seamus McGarvey Anna Karenina
Anton Mertens North Sea Texas
I had to do my due diligence and re-listen to these songs before deciding on a winner and it may just be the most varied best field ever. There were some awesome covers this year that would normally be eligible, but to not open pandora’s box and have another nomination sweep like The Chorus did in 2005 I eliminated songs that were not, to my knowledge, original; otherwise, Les Misérables would sweep and have an unfair advantange.
After a great and informative Twitter chat with Larry Richman, at some point between last year’s awards and now, I came to a new way of thinking about these nominees. All the nominees occur within the body of the film, meaning there are no end credit songs and all have some intrinsic value to the film. However, when factoring the quality of the song (where two were nearly neck-and-neck) plus how important the song is within the narrative construct of the film. The winner is clearly…
“You Are the One” Ricky Koole Kauwboy
“The Big Machine” Mark Duplass Safety Not Guaranteed
“Giving It All” Troye Sivan Spud
“Skyfall” Adele Skyfall
“The Thunder Buddy Song” Mark Wahlberg and Seth Macfarlane Ted