Saturday, February 5, 2011

2010 Pretentious Film Awards - Miscellaneous Honors

Breakthrough Performers
There has been much ballyhooing about Jennifer Lawrence and Hailee Steinfeld. I'm long on the record for loving Jennifer Lawrence's performance and I appreciate things about Steinfeld's turn in True Grit. However, I'm going to deviate a bit and give my breakthrough prizes to Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. I know the former (and arguably the latter) have been working long enough that "breakthrough" is a weird title to attach to them, but they both did excellent jobs this year in justifiably skyrocketing their cultural capital. By the way, this is in no way a plug for Spiderman: The Night Man Cometh (not the "official" title, but let's try things out).

Granted, neither performer made it all the way to the Oscars. Not that Emma Stone was ever really in contention, though I for one wouldn't have scoffed if her turn in Easy A had been cited. But I immensely watching both of them on the big screen. Every time I even think about thinking about (effusive much?) the way Garfield dances and sidles up to Eisenberg at the Caribbean party The Social Network--or the way Emma Stone gleefully croons Natasha Beningfield's "Pocketful of Sunshine," I'm filled with absolute glee. Both are up for "Best Rising Star" at the BAFTAs this year and my vote would happily go to either of them. I suspect they'll continue to work and make smart decisions (the Spiderman reboot notwithstanding, which I'm sorry to report I'm a little worried about). I'll even submit that missing that Oscar citation for your breakthrough is not always a bad thing. Talk to Keisha Castle-Hughes, Haley Joel Osment and Kate Hudson and find out how those lone Oscar nominations are helping their careers...Okay, so I suppose Kate Hudson does have a career post-Almost Famous, for reasons that confound and baffle me to this day.

And finally, I have to cite a Breakthrough Director Award for David Michôd, whose debut feature Animal Kingdom was incredibly potent, stripped down and intelligent. I can't wait to see what he does next. Which is a nice segue into...

Best Ensemble Cast of 2010
I appreciated the ensemble work in several films this year. The Social Network is alive with vibrant actors who (mostly) know how to work their way around Aaron Sorkin's rapid-fire dialogue. And there is incredible interplay going on between the performers. Ditto for The Fighter, where every character feels like a live wire (God, those sisters...). Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Kids Are All Right are both blessed with performers who completely inhabit their film's respective universe. In descending order, those would be my runners-up. But the top prize for best ensemble cast goes, unquestionably to...

This cast of Animal Kingdom. The Cody family is played by each actor (even newcomer James Frecheville, whose performance has been slighted by some), with lived-in, believable performances. They play off of each other so vibrantly and there's a wonderful fluidity to the familial dynamic being depicted here. It feels very real, lending to how foreboding and creepy the movie often is. They've all done some terrible things, those Codys...

Coming Up Next:
Best Films of 2010 (Honorable Mentions)

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