Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2014

2013 Top Ten & Ballot

I never did this. I’ve been thinking of doing it for a long time. And now I’m going to do it. I’m going to give my top ten and my ballot for 2013 along with future years. They can and will be edited as I see more films from any given year.

BEST PICTURE:
Blue is the Warmest Color
Drug War
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Like Someone in Love
No
Only God Forgives
Short Term 12
Spring Breakers
The Wind Rises

And the winner is…

the-wind-rises-theverge-1_1020

1. THE WIND RISES
I struggled with this. I looooove Spring Breakers and had it as my #1 for the majority of the year, but the film I keep coming back to in my mind from 2013 is none other than THE WIND RISES, the last masterpiece by one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live, Hayao Miyazaki. The central thematic question of, “Can you sympathize with Jiro?” is quite relevant and a powerful one to ask yourself, especially since so many of his creations killed US soldiers. Miyazaki creates a complex viewpoint on Jiro; he judges him, but he also celebrates him. The contradiction only digs deeper into the heart of the film’s questions as it develops the themes tenfold. The film is quite possibly the most beautiful film he’s made as well. I only wish Miyazaki made more films of this level of maturity. Regardless, it’s wonderful to see a director leave the craft on top of his game.

2. SPRING BREAKERS / 3. GRAVITY / 4. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS / 5. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

BEST DIRECTOR
Johnnie To, Drug War
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty
Harmony Korine, Spring Breakers
Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises

And the winner is…

la-et-mn-korine-spring-breakers-remix-20130619-001

1. HARMONY KORINE, SPRING BREAKERS
That being said, no other film was as visually exciting or more confidently directed than Korine’s surrealist odyssey exploration of spring break. Whether you “get” the film or not, it’s nearly impossible to deny the crazy charisma Korine brings in every shot and sound of SPRING BREAKERS. It’s difficult to get out of your mind after seeing it. So many films struggle to be simultaneously entertaining and visually original without compromising their bigger themes, questions, and ideas. No one else could have made this film other than Korine. It instantly solidifies him as a major talent.

2. HAYAO MIYAZAKI, THE WIND RISES / 3. ALFONSO CUARON, GRAVITY / 4. JOHNNIE TO, DRUG WAR / 5. PAOLO SORRENTINO, THE GREAT BEAUTY

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Adele Exarchopolous, Blue is the Warmest Color
Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy
Julie Louise Dreyfuss, Enough Said
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Brie Larson, Short Term 12

And the winner is…

i.3.brie-larson-short-term-12-movie

1. BRIE LARSON, SHORT TERM 12
There’s a lot of ways a woman could have played this character. For instance, someone else could’ve played this pretty straight and to-the-point. Or someone could play this quite dark. Larson avoids both of these and creates a pretty Earthy, down-to-Earth character that is mostly dominated by her emotions rather than her head. She’s arrogant and quick to anger – she’s desperately clinging onto some semblance of power, power that was robbed from her before the beginning of the film. What makes her performance are the moments between dialogue, the little mischievous smile after her boyfriend makes an inappropriate joke or the all-too-knowing slight frown after a confession by one of the kids. The arc of her character strains toward convention yet she keeps it believable in every second.

2. JULIA LOUISE DREYFUSS, ENOUGH SAID / 3. SANDRA BULLOCK, GRAVITY / 4. GABY HOFFMAN, CRYSTAL FAIRY / 5. ADELE EXARCHOPOLOUS, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Toni Servillo, The Great Beauty
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Vithaya Pansringarm, Only God Forgives
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Twelve Years a Slave
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

And the winner is…

only-god-forgives-chang

1. VITHAYA PANSRINGARM, ONLY GOD FORGIVES
I may be the only person on the internet to love ONLY GOD FORGIVES enough to declare it a Refn’s masterpiece and to recognize the great work of Pansringarm as the film’s undeclared lead. Gosling does some sublime, if inconsistent, work in the film as well, but it’s Pansringarm as the “God” in the film’s title that brings the most nuance of the film. It’s a subtle performance of non-performing. Part of the time, Pansringarm creates a cold persona that is near impossible to crack, but when it does, the humanity of the character bursts through. He cares deeply about the people that surround him, whether they be a criminal or not, but his ethical code stops him from ever allowing his emotions to get the hold of him. The key scene is at the end where this front is completely broken, as he cries during his karaoke song. I’ve gone through several of the listed nominees before as my winner, but none have an undeniably strong moment as Vithaya has in that one moment.

2. OSCAR ISAACE, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS / 3. LEONARDO DICAPRIO, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET / 4. CHIWETEL EJIOFOR, TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE / 5. TONI SERVILLO, THE GREAT BEAUTY

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color
Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station
Kaitlyn Dever, Short Term 12
Nicole Kidman, Stoker

And the winner is…

american-hustle-jennifer-lawrence-is-foul-mouthed-mother

1. JENNIFER LAWRENCE, AMERICAN HUSTLE
It was a tie between Lawrence and Seydoux, but honestly, whenever I think of the crazy fun time I had with AMERICAN HUSTLE, a severely underrated film by non-professional critics and cinephiles, I can’t help but think of the manic energy Lawrence and Cooper bring to the film. Lawrence’s performance here is utterly whacko insane; she’s obviously having a fun time with the character and we’re having just as much fun, if not more, as the viewer. It may get wildly inconsistent late in the film when the film abandons the majority of its plot, but the peaks are quite high and valleys are never too low. I contend that it is her best performance to date.

2. LEA SEYDOUX, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR / 3. MELONIE DIAZ, FRUITVALE STATION / 4. KAITLYN DEVER, SHORT TERM 12 / 5. NICOLE KIDMAN, STOKER

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Ryo Kase, Like Someone in Love
Keith Stanfeld, Short Term 12
James Franco, Spring Breakers

And the winner is…

springbreakers_franco

1. JAMES FRANCO, SPRING BREAKERS

Was there ever going to be anyone else? He’s the heartbeat of the film. In a lot of ways, he IS the film. An instantly iconic performance of bristling intensity, often in equal parts of humor and pathos. SPRING BREAKERS made me a believer of the skill of James Franco. He sells every line with remarkable depth. An important scene early on between Alien and Faith shows just how much Franco can command the psychopathy of the character. When he lets people into his mind and heart (as he does in the infamous gun-fellatio scene) he only exposes that he’s, at his core, a sad human being who is completely governed by anarchy which only makes him a more depressive human being. Without an identity, he could appear to be a blank slate, but Franco smartly over-compensates with a big, flashy performance that tricks the audience into believing that he is what he says he is even when he’s confronted with the brutal truth by his ex-boss and current lovers. Masterful.

2. JAMES GANDOLFINI, ENOUGH SAID / BRADLEY COOPER, AMERICAN HUSTLE / KEITH STANFELD, SHORT TERM 12 / RYO KASE, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE

BEST SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR FILM:
American Hustle by Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell
Enough Said by Nicole Holofcencer
Gravity by Alfonso & Jonas Cuaron
Only God Forgives by Nicholas Winding Refn
Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine

And the winner is…

Only God Forgives_1

1. ONLY GOD FORGIVES BY NICOLAS WINDING REFN
I mean, obviously? I’ve written extensively about it here. Quick note: I think it’s pretty disappointing that people so often ignored the strength of the screenplay of GRAVITY. Despite its simplicity and lack of meaningful dialogue, it is the best film I have seen about situational depression in decades.

2. ENOUGH SAID BY NICOLE HOLOFCENCER / 3. GRAVITY BY ALFONSO & JONAS CUARON / 4. SPRING BREAKERS BY HARMONY KORINE / 5. AMERICAN HUSTLE BY ERIC WARREN SINGER & DAVID O. RUSSELL

BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTED FOR THE SCREEN:
Blue is the Warmest Color by Abdellatif Kechiche & Ghalia Lacroix
Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel & Ethan Coen
No by Pedro Peirano
Twelve Years a Slave by John Ridley
The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki

And the winner is…

str2_mt_0304_Wind

Another should-be obvious choice. Granted, Miyazaki is adapting the screenplay by his own comic, but when that story is this poignant, deep, yet beautifully simple, there is no denying it.

2. TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE BY JOHN RIDLEY / 3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS BY JOEL & ETHAN COEN / BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR BY ABDELLATIF KECHICHE & GHALIA LACROIX / 5. NO BY PEDRO PEIRANO

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Solfian El Fani, Blue is the Warmest Color
Harris Savides, The Bling Ring
Emmanuel Lubzeki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Benoit Debie, Spring Breakers

And the winner is…

vlcsnap-2013-07-10-00h11m07s204

1. BENOIT DEBIE, SPRING BREAKERS
Strangely transfixing neon fever dream. This category is nearly impossible. Such strong work this year!

2. SOLFIAN EL FANI, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR / 3. EMMANUEL LUBZEKI, GRAVITY / 4. BRUNO DELBONNEL, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS / 5. HARRIS SAVIDES, THE BLING RING

BEST FILM EDITING:
Various, Blue is the Warmest Color
Allen Leung & David M. Richardson, Drug War
Abbas Kiarostami & Shogo Yokoyama, Like Someone in Love
Douglas Crise, Spring Breakers
Nicholas De Toth, Stoker

And the winner is…

drug-war1

Another tough category. I love the editing in BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR because it moved me swiftly through the three hour running time, but I had to give it to To’s DRUG WAR because it’s a master class in editing for an action film, something few filmmakers truly grasp.

2. VARIOUS, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR / 3. ABBAS KIAROSTAMI, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE / 4. NICHOLAS DE TOTH, STOKER / 5. DOUGLAS CRISE, SPRING BREAKERS

BEST ART DIRECTION OR PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Behind the Candelabra
Her
No
Only God Forgives
Pacific Rim

And the winner is…

production-design01-1024

1. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
A look into the mind of Liberace. Gay fantasia at its most extreme and fabulous. The final set-piece is to die for. Wonderful, beautiful, lovely.

2. HER / 3. NO / 4. PACIFIC RIM / 5. ONLY GOD FORGIVES

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Steven Price, Gravity
Hans Zimmer, Man of Steel
Cliff Martinez, Only God Forgives
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
Joe Hisaishi, The Wind Rises

And the winner is…

WindRises4

1. JOE HISAISHI, THE WIND RISES
Not only does the score evoke Ennio Morricone, it proudly stands amongst his best work, despite not being scored by him. The film may be Miyazaki’s last masterpiece, but it’s also Joe Hisaishi’s.

2. CLIFF MARTINEZ, ONLY GOD FORGIVES / 3. SHANE CARRUTH, UPSTREAM COLOR / 4. STEVEN PRICE, GRAVITY / 5. HANS ZIMMER, MAN OF STEEL

BEST SOUND:
Drug War
Inside Llewyn Davis
Spring Breakers
Stoker
Upstream Color

And the winner is…

stoker-chan-wook-park

1. STOKER
I wish I could find the image of her rolling the potato from the beginning of the film. Easily the best “sound” of the year. A feast for the ears, this movie.

2. UPSTREAM COLOR / 3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS / 4. SPRING BREAKERS / 5. DRUG WAR

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Fast & Furious 6
Gravity
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim

And the winner is…

GRAVITY

1. GRAVITY

Absolutely undeniable. Absolutely!

2. IRON MAN 3 / 3. PACIFIC RIM / 4. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE / 5. FAST & FURIOUS 6

BEST CASTING (ENSEMBLE)
1. Short Term 12
2. Drug War
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Nebraska
5. American Hustle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
1. Ellen Mirojnick, Behind the Candelabra
2. Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
3. Heidi Bivens, Spring Breakers
4. Trish Summerville, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
5. Paco Delgado, Blancanieves

BEST HAIR & MAKE-UP:
1. American Hustle
2. Behind the Candelabra
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
4. Faust
5. Star Trek: Into Darkness

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR FILM:
1. “I See Fire” from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
2. “Happy” from Despicable Me 2
3. “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12
4. “Young & Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby
5. “Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST SOUNDTRACK:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Spring Breakers
3. The Great Gatsby
4. The Bling Ring
5. Frozen

BEST ANIMATED FILM:
1. The Wind Rises
2. Get a Horse!
3. Frozen
4. Monsters University
5. The Croods

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
1. Stories We Tell
2. Room 237
3. The Act of Killing
4. Casting By
5. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wiki Leaks

Have Yet to See, May Update When I Do:
All is Lost, Museum Hours, War Witch, A Hijacking, A Touch of Sin, Berberian Sound Studio, Wadjda, Gimme the Loot, The Selfish Giant, Caesar Must Die, Rush, The Hunt, Philomena, Something in the Air, The Grandmaster (Chinese Cut), Prince Avalanche, Wolf Children, Drinking Buddies, The Broken Circle Breakdown, & Kon-Tiki.

Also, various documentaries, including At Berkeley, The Missing Picture, and 20 Feet from Stardom.

Read Full Post »