My Ballot: LIONs for LAMBs and The OMIEs

As I indicated earlier, when there are public or open to membership voting that I qualify for, I will write a post here to discuss my picks and to publicize the poll. I have included two polls here.

They are both run by the LAMB, the Large Association of Movie Blogs, of which I am a part, or a member thereof. The first is Lions for the Lambs, which seeks ranked submissions in various categories. Since that closely reflects my BAM Award selections, I also included my Omie choices where I more closely considered “Oscar-viability” in my decision-making process.

LIONS for the LAMBs

Best Film

1. Django Unchained
2. The Turin Horse
3. Anna Karenina
4. The Dark Knight Rises
5. North Sea Texas
6. The Cabin in the Woods
7. Les Misérables
8. The Dynamiter
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
10. Kauwboy

Best Director

1. Bela Tarr The Turin Horse
2. Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained
3. Bavo Derfune North Sea Texas
4. Joe Wright Anna Karenina
5. Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Rises

Leading Male Performances

1. Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln
2. Hugh Jackman Les Miserables
3. Denis Lavant Holy Motors
4. Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe
5. Logan Lerman The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Leading Female Performances

1. Keira Knightley Anna Karenina
2. Tilda Swinton We Need to Talk About Kevin
3. Magaly Solier Amador
4. Noomi Rapace The Monitor
5. Erika Bók The Turin Horse

Supporting Male Performances

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

Supporting Female Performances

1. Anne Hathaway Les Misérables
2. Samantha Barks Les Misérables
3. Gina Gershon Killer Joe
4. Sally Field Lincoln
5. Anna Gunn Sassy Pants

Best Screenplays

1. Patrick Wang In the Family
2. Bavo Defurne and Andre Sollie North Sea Texas
3. Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained
4. Laszlo Krasznahorki and Bela Tarr The Turin Horse
5. Tom Stoppard Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina

Best Foreign Film

1. The Turin Horse
2. North Sea Texas
3. Kauwboy
4. Holy Motors
5. The Raid: Redemption

As for the Ormies, as intimated above, it’s more of a snubbed award so here are my choices based on Oscar expectations. A few are admittedly wished-for surprises. These are open to anyone. Submit your choices here via email.

Best Picture

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Best Director

Tom Hooper Les Misérables

Best Actress

Keira Knightley Anna Karenina

Best Actor

Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe

Best Supporting Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress

Samantha Barks Les Misérables

Best Original Screenplay

The Cabin in the Woods

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Foreign Language Film

Kauwboy

Animated Film

Rise of the Guardians

Documentary

Bully

Original Song

“The Big Machine” Safety Not Guaranteed

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Top 25 Films of 2012: 25-21

I try to keep my mind as open as possible during the year and as you start assembling a list like this you see there could be perceived slights. The fact of the matter is making this list was brutal. More than once I had to consider if I can stick to a previously made proclamation, more than once I jotted down additional titles to see if they could slide into the top 25.

T25. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close & Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Look, I’m not a big fan of calling ties in lists to fudge in an extra title but it’s justified here. I’ll get to why. However, I also didn’t want to throw a bone out of an honorable mention with little to no discussion of that title. Secondly, yes, Extremely Loud was nominated for an Oscar last year but I was nowhere near where it played for it’s Oscar-Qulaifying run so I only saw it when it opened wide in January.

Ok, so why a tie? Both these films deal with children who have lost their father, live in New York City and are on a mysterious journey to find an answer to a riddle their father seemingly left them. The biggest difference between the two is that in Jeremy Fink there’s not a whiff of 9/11. There are smaller ones but that’s the key. I wrote ad nauseum about my feelings on 9/11 and this film, and if forced to only pick one I’d take Extremely Loud, but that one has the fanfare and might bother you, and the other one is a smaller film, which you should not judge by its cover that’s worth a look if you like the essence of the tale and want that one element excised.

24. Lincoln

Lincoln (2012, DreamWorks)

The introductory paragraph talks about all the decisions made in this list but Lincoln particularly came to mind when writing it. To call something the 24th best film of the year sounds like a snide remark, until you consider how good the year was, the film in question and ultimately how malleable the list could be. I initially described Lincoln as a line drive for Spielberg. It’s a baseball phrase meaning he’s got a hit on his hands, extrapolating that it also refers to the constantpace of the film. The cloistered nature of the film, the political nature, the drama; are all great, but not as transcendent as some. I fully believe Spielberg got what he desired here and he was aiming for something very different list-making ultimately comes down to splitting hairs and this is where this one fell – no slight against it though.

23. Ted

I wrote about the pop of Ted and the significance that can have beyond mere identification, but what I didn’t note is that this film just works. What makes it funny and endearing is that it’s wish-fulfillment taken to comedic extremes. As kids we all wish certain things, the teddy bear one has particular pull for me, but don’t consider every eventuality. This film does that and the comedic trappings and pitfalls of the the arrested development that ensues make it great. To call it an overblown Family Guy episode would be to do it injustice because what MacFarlane and crew do here is what they can’t always do on the show, but the sensibilities and touches are there.

22. Boy

Where Boy really succeeds is in developing its characters. As I wrote about in the review, it’s really a story about accepting one’s family as is and the struggle to reach that point. The fact that it takes place in a Maori community makes it of interest to me (as I have seen good films in a similar milieu before) but the plight of the father to reconcile with his sons, and their search for acceptance and to forgive him his wrongs, are what make this film universal.

21. The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption (2011, Sony Pictures Classics)

Virtually the only mistake one can associate with this film is the indecipherable subtitle the distributor slapped on it. However, as I have argued about many a film, most notably Halloween III, “who cares what you call it? ‘cus I call it great.” I’ll readily admit things in the martial arts or action genres rarely achieve such heights for me, and my patience with them is typically thin. The story of the film has more to it than people give it credit for but the cinematography, score and fight choreography are really what make this film click as well as it does. It’s a great adrenaline rush.

Review- The Raid: Redemption

Iko Uwais in The Raid: Redemption (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Raid is quite an amazing story in the cinematic world. It was one of those movies that came off the festival circuit and as it was starting its limited release and receiving press screenings, it started to blow up my twitter feed. I didn’t want to know too much about it, even though I gleaned that plot-wise there wasn’t much to know. Yet, I knew how the movie was being touted and I was very much looking forward to it. However, I thought I’d have to ferret it out, then suddenly word of mouth caught on the film and its per screen average was ridiculous and it went wide for a weekend, hence I got to see it. An Indonesian action film, subtitles and all receiving a wide release. Wonders never cease.

One thing this film does very well, and something that I think is a bit overlooked in filmmaking at times, is the set-up. The set-up can be one of the better and more enjoyable parts of a film. It’s the hook and what ties you into the story. The set-up here doesn’t re-invent the wheel but it’s quick and it gets you going without belaboring things. There are a few more layers that will be introduced along the way but you have enough to start with.

Although, there are quite a few players, frantic action and kinetic camerawork, the narrative is kept straightforward such that I always know who’s who and what the stakes are. Whereas in some Japanese period films the players can be a bit muddled when combined with an involved narrative, here everything is crystal clear yet there are developments introduced slowly throughout. It really goes to show you that action films, more often than not are better off KISSing you (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I’m not typically a fan of the genre, but can appreciate it when it’s really well done and I came away enamored with this film.

Aside from simply being able to identify the characters they do get built to an extent and in-between the fighting you learn things and can even find points of identification. I will grant those moments are sparse but they’re also not wasted in the least, every single one is maximized. Another key is that everything serves to add context, and raise stakes for the fights. A fight by itself is just a fight. If the audience is not invested in the combatants, who care how cool it looks? This film excels on both levels.

With all that being said, the fight choreography is absolutely breathtaking at times. The lulls in between fights are where the quality of the film truly hinge but the battles are the visceral component that will pound your pulse or put you to sleep and I’ll admit, while it’s not all about being cool, I said “Oh, that is so cool!” to myself quite a number of times.

Yet, there’s always balance in this film. Those scenes that are few and far between where stakes get raised, plot moves forward and character is built are also well acted. You don’t necessary hang your hat on the acting in an action film but when you get a good turn on top of everything else it’s like the cherry on top, this film has quite a few.

This review will remain spoiler-free, however, I will say I love the way the story concludes itself. It truly is a great little button that has to be earned and absolutely is.

Some people have been asking things like “So do I really have to see The Raid?” I say this rarely but the answer is quite simply; “Yes!”

10/10