Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2011 Pretentious Film Awards - Top Ten (5-1)


(dir. Sean Durkin)

I can't think of another film in recent memory that left me as frightened and physically unsettled as this one.  I literally felt my body unclench as the end credits began to roll.  It is so arresting and startling, almost from start to finish, due to all the elements clicking so perfectly.  Firstly, there's Sean Durkin's writing and direction, already discussed at length that I still cannot praise enough.  He exerts so much control over this story, laying things bare and keeping information at bay at all the right moments.  Elizabeth Olsen's breakthrough performance, which by all rights should have been the acting ascension story on everyone's lips during awards season, carries the film while still having remarkably few externalities to lean on.  Finally, the sound design of the film, which is worked organically into the film in a really eery, evocative fashion, so much so that you often don't know (much like Martha) where certain aural sensations are coming from.  The level of craft and polish on this film, a low-budget indie debut, really shocked me and I (broken record, I know) can't help but think that given a bigger budget and more resources to play with next time at bat, Sean Durkin will emerge as a creative force to be reckoned with.

(dir. Terrence Malick)

I have to admit my bias up front, which is that Terrence Malick is my favorite living filmmaker.  I was always inclined to be receptive to The Tree of Life, which I understand is polarizing.  I understand, but thoroughly don't care.  While it remains, for me, Malick's least "successful" film to date, that statement is much more a testament to Malick's overall brilliance and sure hand as a director, rather than a denigration of The Tree of Life itself.  As with most Malick films (with the possible exception of Badlands), narrative, rigid structure and traditionally drawn character beats remain secondary to tone and imagery, but no more so than here.  While depicting the birth, life and death of the universe (a lot to bite off), Malick somehow (mostly) avoids painting in broad strokes, with the exception of Jessica Chastain's Mrs. O'Brien; a cipher character (an effective one, but a ciper nonetheless).
The Tree of Life is not a perfect film.  It is deeply frustrating, as engrossing as it is and there are one or two sequences that, while interesting as stand alone vignettes, do not really function as a cohesive part of the rest of the film.  I'm not talking about the dinosaurs, which is what everyone has had their claws out about since Cannes 2011.  Specifically, the scene on the beach, which plays a little maudlin in the context of the rest of the film, but still strikes an emotional chord that is pretty undeniable.  But none of this underwrites the film's power.  What I saw were moments of truth, maybe not in a traditionally narrative fashion, but laid out one after another.  The way the film so effectively (and almost wordlessly) addresses the inexplicable need in little boys to be violent.  The effect that death and grief have on a family, even in (especially in, rather) adulthood. I've revisited it twice since my initial viewing and I already know that it will be a film I continue to revisit, gathering something new to behold each time.


 (dir. Lynne Ramsay)

An artful, visually interesting, sometimes ugly looking movie that puts you at alarmingly close range with the horror it's depicting.  The story of a grieving mother named Eva (Tilda Swinton) nursing her guilt after her son Kevin (Ezra Miller) commits an archery massacre at his school is told in fragmented snippets as it jumps back and forth between four separate chronologies; Eva's life before marriage and children, Kevin's infancy/toddlerhood, Kevin's adolescence and the aftermath of the massacre.  I must say, We Need to Talk About Kevin is very high up on my top ten list for a film in which there are several things that don't quite click.  The relationship between Swinton's Eva and her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) is a peculiar, nebulous one.  I wouldn't go so far as to call it  unbelievable, but there are definite pieces missing as to why this woman and this man met and fell in love.  I don't normally balk too much at the absence of backstory, but given the film's structure, this sometimes felt like vagueness for its own sake.
Those story and character elements aside, the visual language in this movie succeeds gracefully and admirably where a film like The Lovely Bones (originally slated to be directed by Lynne Ramsay before Peter Jackson got the job) failed so miserably.  The imagery in We Need to Talk About Kevin sticks with you, unwilling to let go  Close, lingering shots of Kevin's face, pock marks, dead eyes and pores are some of the most jarring visuals of the year.  The production design is jarring, unforgettable and stark, but it feels purposeful and specific.  Even the family house (a sticking point for many detractors who feel it too sparse, untended and nondescript) feels purposeful, in that Eva never unpacked and settled into her new life/role as a mother.  Combine this visual style with the absolutely fascinating spectacle of watching Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller go toe-to-toe as guilty mother/demon seed, respectively and the result is frightening.
*Completely extrinsic to the film itself, watch or listen to an interview with Ezra Miller if you have the chance. Because what the world clearly needs more of are ridiculously beautiful, asshole actors who you hate all the more because they're also talented.  (I'm not even sure what, if any part of that was sarcasm).


(dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

Look...what I'm about to say will offend people, even fans of the film (and it's my second favorite of the year, clearly) but it needs to be said.  Drive is fucking ridiculous.  At times, laughably so.  And everyone involved, from Refn, to Gosling, to Mulligan to the key grips is aware of it.  When you have Carey Mulligan(!) playing the young mother of a cute Chicano imp whose father's name is "Standard"; or when Christina Hendricks plays a character named "Blanche" who scarcely utters a word and kind of walks like Peg Bundy; or when you have Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan staring at each other for what feels like the entire length of a song only to have Gosling snap out of his romantic stupor and literally smash a man's face into a jelly; OR (last one I swear) when you have Ron Perlman doing ANYTHING to ANYONE EVER...I have to believe that you know exactly what you're doing. 
My reaction to Drive was something akin to my reaction to Crank (stay with me).  Totally different films, I'm well aware, but both of genre-pieces are made with a supreme level of confidence.  They also both hinge on everything running like a well-oiled machine.  The direction, acting, cinematography, editing and (clearly) the soundtrack seem to be operating on a certain kind of next-level sleekness, to the film's credit.  Drive also wisely plays on Ryan Gosling's smoldering charisma in new and interesting ways and it will likely be this role that people look at as a marker of his transition from Indie-God to bona fide movie star.



 (dir. Steve McQueen)

With his sophomore effort, Steve McQueen cements his status one of the most exciting emerging directors working today.  Shame, like its predecessor (Hunger) is obsessive in its filmmaking, every shot meticulously composed, every bit of production design has been fussed and combed over, ever scene and character beat feels specific.  A film that begins with the hot-button, controversial (in certain circles) subject of sex-addiction is, in a way, behind an 8-ball to start with (which makes Shame's success as a piece of filmmaking all the more spectacular).  The question loomed before I sat down to watch; will this film value honest and poignant depictions of the human conditions at least as much as it values ham-fisted controversy?  I consider movies like Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom and Oldboy, neither of which are terrible films, but both of which seem to collapse under the ponderous weight of "The Thing They're About," often leaving out character, emotion or even something interesting to say on the matter (Oldboy especially).
What McQueen achieves here in Shame is quite remarkable.  The reports of much sex and nudity have not been widely exaggerated.  None of it is arbitrary.  There is very little excess or bloat in this film, perhaps with the exception of a sequence towards the end involving a particularly bad bender for Brandon (Michael Fassbender).  Said sequence in no way sinks the movie, so beautifully shot and acted it is.  This is the story of a man whose achieved a certain balance with his addiction, which is a scary place to be in.  It is not seriously affecting his work or his physical well-being.  He is affluent and physically fit.  What, therefore, is his incentive to stop and is stopping the issue?
A lot of these questions are raised, in some way or another, and not necessarily answered, which will serve to alienate much of the audience.  But everything here just felt so real and resonant, tapping into the ugly truth about our basest human instincts.  I'm not being puritanical and speaking just of the sex, which is very clinical and matter-of-fact (with one exception).  The relationship between Brandon and his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan like you've never seen her before) is so realistically ugly.  His frustration with her, fair or unfair, which permeates every uttered word between them, even if it is said with a smile.  Her selfishness and almost pathological inability to reciprocate any sort of kindness or generosity is palpable.  There is an unspoken undercurrent of some possible trauma (be it shared by the siblings or inflicted by one onto the other) from their childhood and the scenes between Brandon and Sissy are the hardest to watch in the film.  This is due in large part to performances by Fassbender and Mulligan, who both deliver early career-best performances.  Mulligan especially surprised, hitting an unfussy emotional register of pain and self-destruction that, while I've been previously impressed with her, I didn't know she was capable of achieving.
I remember, very distinctively, the first time I watched Shame.  I was in the theater alone, as were (apparently) many of the other audience members at the sparsely attended screening.  There was very little conversation as we trudged out of the theater, unable to shake what we had just seen and felt.  For many movies (and not necessarily in a bad way) the experience ends when the film ends.  For days, I felt the weight of Shame, the more I considered it and it just refused to let go, which is incredibly powerful.

Complete list of nominees and winners after the jump. Thanks for reading!

4th Annual Pretentious Film Awarsd Complete List of Nominees/Winners
*Denotes Winner
**Denotes First Runner-Up
***Denotes Second Runner-Up

Best Picture

Martha Marcy May Marlene
The Tree of Life
We Need to Talk About Kevin***

Best Director

Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive***
Lars von Trier - Melancholia
Steve McQueen - Shame*
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life**
Lynne Ramsay - We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Jean Dujardin - The Artist***
Michael Fassbender - Shame**
Ryan Gosling - Drive
Ewan McGregor - Beginners
Brad Pitt - Moneyball*

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Viola Davis - The Help***
Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia*
Elizabeth Olsen - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Charlize Theron - Young Adult**

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Ezra Miller - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Patton Oswalt - Young Adult***
Brad Pitt - The Tree of Life**
Christopher Plummer - Beginners*
Corey Stoll - Midnight in Paris

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Nicole Beharie - Shame
Rose Byrne - Bridesmaids**
Jessica Chastain - The Help***
Carey Mulligan - Shame*  
Sarah Paulson - Martha Marcy May Marlene

Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast

The Artist
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Uggie

Cast: Rose Byrne, Jill Clayburgh, Jon Hamm, Ellie Kemper, Matt Lucas, Melissa McCarthy,Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris O'Dowd, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Rebel Wilson

Cast: Brady Corbet, Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, John Hurt, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Skarsgård, Cameron Spurr, Kiefer Sutherland

Midnight in Paris***
Cast: Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Adrien de Van, Kurt Fuller, Yves Heck, Tom Hiddleston, Mimi Kennedy, Rachel McAdams, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Owen Wilson  

The Tree of Life
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Laramie Eppler, Hunter McCracken, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Fiona Shaw,  Tye Sheridan

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Mills for Beginners
Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene
Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan for Shame***
Andrew Haigh for Weekend** 
Diablo Cody for Young Adult*

Best Adapted Screenplay

Hossein Amini fo Drive (Based on James Sallis’s novel of the same name by)***
Pedro Almodóvar for The Skin I Live In (Based on the novel “Tarantula” by Thierry Jonquet)
Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian for Moneyball (Based on the book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis)**
Rory Stewart Kinnear and Lynne Ramsay for We Need to Talk About Kevin (Based Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name)*
 Apichatpong Weerasethakul for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Loosely Inspired by “A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives” by Phra Sripariyattiweti)

Best Editing

Beginners - Olivier Bugge Coutté
Drive - Matthew Newman*
Moneyball - Christopher Tellefsen**
Shame - Joe Walker
Young Adult - Dana E. Glauberman***

Best Costume Design

The Artist - Mark Bridges*
Drive - Ericn Benach 
Captain America: The First Avenger - Anna B. Sheppard 
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Trish Summerville*** 
The Skin I Live In - Paco Delgado and Jean Paul Gaultier**

Best Art Direction

The Artist**
The Skin I Live In*
The Tree of Life

(Note: I'm aware how it seems like I'm purposely going against the grain by not citing Hugo here, but the award is best art direction, not most art direction. The art direction in Hugo, while extravagant, often served very little, if any narrative function.)

Best Cinematography

Drive - Newton Thomas Sigel
Hanna - Alwin H. Küchler
Melancholia - Manuel Alberto Claro***
Shame - Sean Bobbitt**
The Tree of Life - Emmanuel Lubezki*
Best Visual Effects

The Tree of Life*

Best Original Score

Ludovic Bource - The Artist
Roger Neill, Dave Palmer and Brian Reitzell - Beginners**
The Chemical Brothers - Hanna***
Mychael Danna - Moneyball
Alberto Iglesias - The Skin I Live In*

Best Sound Mixing

Martha Marcy May Marlene**
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives***
The Tree of Life

Best Sound Editing

Captain America The First Avenger
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo***
Martha Marcy May Marlene*
We Need to Talk About Kevin

Nomination Tallies
Drive - 9 Noms/2Wins
Shame - 8 Noms/3 Wins 
Melancholia - 7 Noms/1 Win
Martha Marcy May Marlene - 6 Noms/1 Win
The Tree of Life - 6 Noms/1 Win
 We Need to Talk About Kevin - 6 Noms/1 Win
The Artist - 5 Noms/1 Win
Beginners - 5 Noms/1 Win
Moneyball - 4 Noms/1 Win
The Skin I Live In - 4 Noms/2 Wins
Young Adult - 4 Noms/1 Win
Hanna - 3 Noms
Bridesmaids - 2 Noms
Captain America: The First Avenger - 2 Noms
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 2 Noms
The Help - 2 Noms
Midnight in Paris - 2 Noms
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives - 2 Noms
Hugo - 1 Nom
Weekend - 1 Nom

Top Ten Films of 2011

1. Shame (dir. Steve McQueen)
2. Drive (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
3. We Need to Talk About Kevin (dir. Lynne Ramsay)
4. The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick)
5. Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir. Sean Durkin)
6. Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier)
7. Weekend (dir. Andrew Haigh)
8. Young Adult (dir. Jason Reitman)
9. The Skin I Live In (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
10. Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller)

1 comment:

bảo bảo trịnh said...

Thuốc bổ mắt Tobicom có tốt không, giá bao nhiêu ?Mụn luôn là nổi ám ảnh của các chị em, mụn không chỉ khiến gương mặt trở nên xấu, khó nhìn mà theo năm tháng mụn còn để lại vết thâm, vết đen
Người cận thị nên sử dụng loại thuốc bổ mắt nào tốt ?Kem đánh răng không chỉ được sử dụng dùng để đánh răng mà còn có nhiều tác dụng khác như làm mát vết bỏng, giảm sưng do bị ong đốt,…
Top 3 loại thuốc bổ mắt dành cho người cận thịĐau bụng kinh là một hiện tượng sinh lý bình thường ở phụ nữ chúng ta. Đau bụng trong kỳ kinh thường bắt đầu trước kỳ nguyệt san 1 tuần và kéo dài cho tới ngày thứ 2 hoặc thứ 3 của kỳ nguyệt san
Thuốc bổ mắt của Nhật Bản có tốt không, giá bao nhiêu?Chanh là loại quả thông dụng trong làm đẹp và chữa trị mụn hiệu quả. Cách thực hiện trị mụn ở lưng bằng chanh như sau: bạn hãy cắt đôi một quả chanh rồi lấy một nửa chà nhẹ nhàng lên da lưng trong 5 phút rồi rửa sạch lưng bằng nước ấm.
Thuốc bổ mắt Vinaga có tốt không, giá bao nhiêu?Do nhiễm bộ phận sinh dục mà gặp nhiều nhất là viêm tuyến tiền liệt. Đây là cơ quan sản xuất ra tinh dịch, giúp nam giới có thể xuất tinh và duy trì nòi giống.
Người già nên sử dụng loại thuốc bổ mắt nào?Có nhiều nguyên nhân khiến cho mắt yếu, không nhìn rõ, một trong số đó là biểu hiện của lão hóa.
Top 3 loại thuốc bổ mắt dành cho người giàVậy, phải làm sao để giúp những người già có thể nhìn thấy rõ hơn và phòng chống các bệnh về mắt một cách tốt nhất?
Thuốc bổ mắt dầu cá là gì, có tốt không?Qua bài viết dưới đây, chúng tôi sẽ phân tích thành phần dưỡng chất cũng như tác dụng của viên uống dầu cá để các bạn cùng tham khảo và lựa chọn sản phẩm phù hợp với mình.
Thuốc bổ mắt Ocuvite có tốt không, giá bao nhiêu?Đôi mắt là “cửa số của tâm hồn”, nơi tiếp nhận và xử lý những thôn ting hàng ngày, cũng là nơi biểu lộ cảm xúc một cách rõ ràng và chân thực nhất.
Trẻ em nên sử dụng những loại thuốc bổ mắt nào?Mắt yếu không chỉ do lão hóa gây ra, mà chủ yếu xuất phát từ thói quen sinh hoạt và chế độ dinh dưỡng không hợp lý.
3 Loại thuốc bổ mắt tốt nhất dành cho trẻ emKhi còn nhỏ, các hệ cơ quan trong cơ thể đều trong quá trình hoàn thiện nên việc bổ sung các dưỡng chất thiết yếu cho sự phát triển của trẻ ở giai đoạn này là cần thiết.