Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Thin White Dude's Third Annual Best And Worst Of The Year: 2009 In Film

The Thin White Dude’s Third Annual Best And Worst Of The Year Presents 2009 In Film

Alright strangers, tis I, The Thin White Dude, Snoopcallymac, et al et al, and it is the night before the Oscars. At least that’s what I would be saying if I managed to meet my original deadline. However, the delay has let me put the finishing touches on this work, and I will say this much, I believe this to be one of the definitive visions of the best and worst of 2009. This delay could be put down to the fact that I have expanded my nominations from three to five for the most part. Also, the categories themselves have become far more expansive and farther reaching in the nuances of the film-making process. And well, if I say so myself, the presentation is looking far more dapper. Anyway, enough self-hype, let’s boogy. That is, if you want to? P.S. Apologies to the lack of pictures. Blogger, Bebo et al don't let me do so. This may not be my "director's cut" as such, but it's the one I'm putting out, and this is the way it's staying.

The Third Stan and Ollie Award for Best Comedic Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· (500) Days Of Summer
· Bruno
· Funny People
· The Invention Of Lying
· Zombieland

And the winner is… (500) Days Of Summer

Each of these films were a breath of fresh air and provided me with numerous laughs. The Invention Of Lying is a far better and more intelligent film than everyone is saying it is, and Ricky Gervais once again proves that he is unquestionably one of the best comedians in the world. Funny People is indeed just that, but also is a very human and powerful drama, with a strong central performance by Adam Sandler, who in truth just missed out on a nomination for Best Actor. Zombieland is a far better film than any movie as silly as it is deserves to be. The film is brilliantly stylised and boasts numerous laughs as a result of its ludicrousness. The case is likewise with Bruno, the “gay” concept of course giving Mr. Sacha Baron Cohen more to play around with (no pun intended). Not to mention, he is excellent in it. Nevertheless, I felt that in manner respects it was too similar to Borat, even structurally, which is only noticeable after you see Borat following a viewing of Bruno. Unquestionably for me, (500) Days Of Summer is the best comedy of the year. Why you ask? Well for starters, it has everything that it possibly could going against it as a potentially good film. Being a rom-com (yes, that horrible genre), the genre’s limitations could well have stopped it from being as good as it is. Also, with a twenty-something couple as the leads, it could well have polarised those below that age and above it. However, the theme of love proves as universal, and indeed has great resonance. Structurally, the non-linear plot works excellently, detailing the different aspects of a relationship excellently, giving a general basis and not that is only relative to the two characters. Furthermore, it is indeed very funny. While having some typical “gags” which do nothing special but raise a titter, there are some real wolf-woops, and numerous jokes are interwoven into the relationship, making light of the insecurities of the lead characters, but also giving the film a realism and relatable quality absent from most rom-coms. Finally, the film has a great amount of charm, which places the film leaps above every other comedy of the year.

The Third Philip K. Dick Award for Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Avatar
· Coraline
· District 9
· Moon
· Star Trek

And the winner is… Avatar

For years, I have been harping on about a severe lack of genuinely great science-fiction films in cinema. One cannot imagine how happy a nerd such as myself was every time I saw one of the four science-fiction films listed here. That is in no way an excuse to forget Coraline. What a majestic film. The artistic direction in Coraline is superb, and it is indeed a wonderful tale, certainly the kind of kid’s film that people should be taking their children to see. Nevertheless, these four science-fiction films represent a real turning point for the better in science-fiction cinema. Representing the franchise players, the Star Trek reboot was a really good film. Instead of the blockbuster film I was expecting, this was a really strong character drama, particularly in establishing the relationship between Kirk and Spock. Also, there is a very intelligent plot aspect which I thought was excellent. District 9 was an absolute pleasure to see. Harking back to glorious Reagan-era science-fiction such as Robocop, not only is it a thrilling romp, it is also a stunning commentary on slavery and racism, but also a scathing caricature of the Western powers-that-be through intelligent use of satire. Moon was an excellent view on the nature of the human mind and what can happen to a man in the midst of solitude, which brings to mind science-fiction of the 1970’s such as Silent Running. However, yes, I know, everyone is harping on about it, but Avatar truly is the best science-fiction/fantasy film of the year. Some say it is bloated, I say that it is a very dense film with much to say. While the plot may seem cliché in parts and the dialogue may not be brilliant, but didn’t Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales tell an old story in a new and interesting way? With Avatar, it seems that many tales are stranded together, creating a massive kaleidoscopic vision. With strong resonating themes of anti-war/military and anti-global exploitation, alongside an unquestionably pro-environmental cause, Avatar really does shine as a brilliant film despite its “Smurfahontas” awards-bait labels.

The Third John Carpenter Award for Best Horror Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Drag Me To Hell
· Let The Right One In
· Paranormal Activity
· Thirst
· Trick ‘R Treat

And the winner is… Let The Right One In

This was to me quite frankly an easy and unanimous decision amongst my various arguments and inclinations inside my head. Trick ‘R Treat is a good, fun little piece which really is a good debut feature from director Michael Dougherty and deserving of a lot more attention than it got. Paranormal Activity is of course the much-hyped horror film of the year, with its “real life” setting providing for some genuinely terrifying scares. Also, the “Paranormal Activity” concept in itself works very well. Thirst is a strong piece from Park Chan-wook that is indeed a very interesting take on the vampire story, which is genuinely twisted. Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre with Drag Me To Hell should be really hailed. It is as funny as it is scary and really is the perfect definition of a good fun rollercoaster movie. However, whilst each of these films are certainly very commendable and doubtless enjoyable, the only one of these films that is truly great is Let The Right One In. Adapted from the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel of the same name, which is one of my favourite books, whilst changing the tone of the books in many respects, remains true and focused to the central crux of the story, the relationship between Oskar and Eli. Yes, another vampire movie indeed, but it is the best movie of that horror sub-genre for quite some time. The reason for this is because it contributes something genuinely original to the genre and remains true to the idea of the vampire. While creating a strange, ambiguous relationship between Oskar and Eli that is very touching, the film is still very scary and terrifying. In truth, it is perhaps the most significant horror film to emerge from any country, much less the Western world, since Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. A masterpiece of true horror and poignancy.

The Third I Am Legend Award for Biggest Disappointment of 2009 – Nominees

· The Hangover
· Inglourious Basterds
· Jennifer’s Body
· New Moon
· The Soloist

And the winner is… Inglourious Basterds

Each of these films absolutely had the potential to be a lot better than they are. New Moon stands a pertinent example. While I do not think Twilight is the best thing since Crazy Frog, I appreciated the last film. However, New Moon which by all rights should be better, is far worse than the first, despite the improved material and lack of necessity for Basil Exposition plot development. The Hangover has been hyped as the best comedy of the year, and boy oh boy does it defy this label. Not just does it defy this label, it throws up on it. It really is just an unstructured bunch of bits stuck together, and does not resemble in any way a real situation. It doesn’t need to, but that’s just my opinion. The Soloist by all means had the potential to be your typical Joe-Oscar nominee, but had all the good elements in place. Instead, it is a dribblesome bore of a film, making the material seem horribly uneventful, despite being very interesting. Jennifer’s Body really could have been excellent. Instead, it (and the film-makers) were too busy in creating a cult film: cult films aren’t made by the film-makers, they are made by movie fans, so stop trying! The film won’t be embraced because it isn’t that good, despite good performances. However, Inglourious Basterds is definitely the most disappointing film of the year. The key criteria in this one were the fact that Quentin Tarantino has been working on this project for a long time, perfecting it. Furthermore, he is one of the best and most interesting film-makers in the world at his best moments. Also, there are moments (such as the first scene) which display absolute brilliance, and other occasions where the film is all wrong. QT unfortunately seems to lose focus and control, going mad in his attempt to make the greatest and craziest war movie ever. It’s not bad, it is a good film, it is just all over the place, way too long, and seems like bits are just mashed together in some gruel as an excuse for something to digest. Sorry Quentin, I love your films, and you can do what you wish, but please, stop making these exercises in genre film-making and go back to doing what you do best.

The Third David Fincher Award For Best Thriller Of 2009 – Nominees

· Bronson
· Fifty Dead Men Walking
· The Hurt Locker
· Public Enemies
· Transsiberian

And the winner is… The Hurt Locker

And once again, Dave Fincher strikes blank on his attempts to win best thriller. Just kidding man, it’s kind of our recurring private joke that Fincher never wins the award which has been named after him. This year saw some interesting thrillers, but it is undisputed as to the film that quite clearly deserved to win the award. Transsiberian, the new film by The Machinst director Brad Anderson is very interesting, with a Hitchcockian mystery unfolding before the viewer. Sir Ben (I’m never going to let him live this one down. If he wants to be called “Sir Ben,” he’s damn well going to be called Sir Ben) also stars in another of this years nominees for best thriller, Fifty Dead Men Walking. A very strong film which I think shows Jim Sturges as a promising actor in the future, it depicts the story of Martin McGartland reasonably well enough. Public Enemies is a very strong artistic film, with gripping cinematography and editing, the modern editing creating a strong and effective contrast to the 1920’s Prohibition-era Chicago gangster setting. Bronson is a fascinating look at the life of William Peterson, better known as Charles Bronson. With a tough central performance that completely powers the movie, Bronson is a really strong movie. However, the truly great thriller of the year, and one of the best of the decade, unquestionably is The Hurt Locker. Alongside Avatar, The Hurt Locker is the leading contender to the crown of the Academy Awards’ coveted Best Picture title. It is a very strong and absolutely intense thriller which grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. Also, the tone of the piece is to be admired, for it neither presents the Iraq-war as right or wrong, but presents to us the facts of the way of life that the bomb disposal squad endures. More importantly, despite the thrilling set-pieces and action-film setting, underneath it all it is a powerful human drama. Whilst Sergeant James is the central character, the overall interaction between each of the characters in the film and how they react to situations makes the film an absolutely fascinating study of the human mind and how each of us react towards the situation of being at war.

The Second Kenneth Loach Award for Best Drama Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· The Damned United
· Five Minutes Of Heaven
· Looking For Eric

And the winner is… Looking For Eric

About freaking time that one of these people won the awards for which their namesake is given. While certainly each of these dramas are commendable in their own ways, Looking For Eric is certainly the best drama film of the year. JCVD is a very interesting film, with airs of Being John Malkovich resonating throughout. As far as a fictional auto-biographical (don’t ask me) film goes, it’s pretty good, with some neat ideas thrown in there. Five Minutes Of Heaven, while struggling with the limitations of being a made-for-TV drama, excels due to strong acting from Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt and efficient direction from Oliver Hirschbiegel. The Damned United boasts a strong screenplay from Peter Morgan and an absolutely fantastic performance from Michael Sheen, complimented by the great Timothy Spall. However, without a doubt for me Looking For Eric is the best drama film of the year. I feel that this film may well be horribly overlooked due to the fact that it is being viewed by many as a sort of novelty film due to it’s featuring of Eric Cantona as himself. However, Ken Loach creates another majestically powerful social drama, with the implemention of Eric Cantona as very intelligent, all the more enhancing the stunning and very human lead performance from Steve Evets. The transformation of Eric Bishop over the course of the film is handled very well, and in truth, as the film progressed, I found myself absolutely entranced by its power and inspiration quality. It stands as a testament to the undying human spirit and social unity, a message which has strong and powerful resonance. The more I think about Looking For Eric, the more I am realising how much I enjoyed the film, but also from the sense of the critical perspective. It is well acted, written and directed and really deserves to be called the best drama film of the year.
The Second Sylvester Stallone Award for Best Action/Adventure Of 2009 – Nominees

· The Good The Bad The Weird
· Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
· Red Cliff
· Terminator: Salvation
· Up

And the winner is… Up

Yeah, say what you will, but Up is quite clearly an action/adventure film, even if not in the sense of shooting guns and wanton destruction and explosions throughout the film, such as the prime example that is given by Terminator: Salvation. The film is a lot better than it really should be, considering the criteria that it takes going into. Ludicrously insane action sequences? Check. Hack of a director? Check, yadda yadda yadda. I could go on and on. McG (don’t ask me why he goes by such a stupid name) directs a very competent and enjoying action film here. The Good The Bad The Weird is really everything I would want to see in an action film, and is an absolutely enjoyable rollercoaster ride of a film, really seek it out. The art direction is superb and the soundtrack is easily one of the best in a good while. Oh, and don’t forget Song Kang-ho is in it, who really is good in anything. The new Harry Potter could arguably be in my opinion the best out of all of them. Despite being a Potter fan, I was pleasantly surprised by the power of the story, particularly as the climax unfolded. Also, the cinematography of the piece is unquestionably brilliant. Red Cliff is the best thing that director John Woo has made since Face/Off, and is a magnificent artistic achievement in being brought to screen. Granted, the film is not phenomenal but in terms of action/battle sequences, it brings to mind the amazing work of Saving Private Ryan in terms of choreography on such a massive scale. However, once again a Pixar great must nab one of the genre awards, and this year’s recipient is Up. Like last year’s Wall-E, winner of best science-fiction/fantasy award, despite being a rollicking adventure, never ceases to look at what the real human story beneath it all is. They really are perhaps the greatest collection of visionaries in the film industry, universally connecting the adult and child worlds, and Up is another prime example of their supreme talent at doing so. Boasting strong vocal performances, much hilarity in parts and a really moving and powerful crux at its centre, Pixar have done it again with Up.

The Third GWB Award for Most “Unintentionally” Offensive Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Bride Wars
· Fast & Furious
· Marley And Me
· The Soloist
· Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

And the winner is… Bride Wars

Note the quotation marks beside highlighting unintentionally. The significance of those added quotation marks is because it seems like each of these films is designed to offend me or really make me angry. The Soloist in truth did not annoy me much, although the flashbacks and ridiculous over-explanation of everything in the film rather challenges the audiences’ intelligence with what I call one of film’s “audience retardation devices.” Fast & Furious really offended me in certain levels. Being opposed to violence in all situations bar self-defence, I found it very hard to believe in Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto being a born-again Christian when he holds a man hostage with a shotgun in a church and is able to crush a man between his and a stationary vehicle and not bat an eye. Marley And Me is very annoying because it presents your average American family, and how these are really nice people and what have you when in fact they are really annoying pains in the ass. Also, it is such a horribly smarmy film that the word “stereotype” does not do the film justice. The great Mark Kermode also puts it excellently in his disgust towards the film, summing it up in his usual deadpan manner: “Get a dog.” Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen has great reason to be offensive to many people. In the film, they pull the worst drug stereotypes in the history of film, the scene with Sam Witwicky’s mum on the University Campus bringing to mind the likes of Reefer Madness in its absurdity. Furthermore, it offends anyone who enjoys a good film (that means anyone). Crucially, the film has an absolutely despicable leery way of portraying women. Megan Fox, who I believe is more talented than this film makes her look, which is good and incredibly stupid at the same time, is photographed with a pornographic cameraman’s sensibility, not to judge or stereotype porno cameramen, they portray women better than these films do. However, none of these films offended me more than this year’s winner, Bride Wars. With a plot that follows two girls who dream of getting married, get engaged, but battle for their wedding is scheduled on the same day, the film has a hate factor that is enough to make the entire front row spew up vomit on the screen. The film portrays young girls as dreaming of getting married and this dream as being normal, which I believe to be deplorable. Children should be enjoying their childhood and not thinking too far ahead of themselves. People give off about teenagers acting too old, now its young girls acting too old. I do not believe in any one way of acting to be the right one, but to put across the message that this is what all, normal little girls do is very offensive and disgusting to me. In conclusion, while the feminists have a fight on their hands with the Transformers franchise, I am moving my pledge this year to the fight against our children’s indoctrination and subordination.

The Second Christopher Doyle Award for Best Cinematography In A Film In 2009 – Nominees

· Barry Ackroyd – The Hurt Locker
· Bruno Delbonnel – Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
· Trent Opaloch – District 9
· Dante Spinotti – Public Enemies
· The Burmese VJ’s – Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country

And the winner is… The Burmese VJ’s – Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country

You cannot say that this is in any way a sympathy award, please go and see Burma VJ. Anyway, the work in each of these films was impeccable, each being very commendable and worthy indeed. Dante Spinotti’s work for Michael Mann’s Public Enemies was stellar, giving life and depth to the Chicago underworld. Never has a Prohibition-era gangster movie been shot like this, and the visual style is absolutely fascinating and utilised well throughout the film. District 9 is efficiently photographed by Trent Opaloch, whose work brings a real sense of reality and familiarity to the film which is very eerie. The otherwise science-fiction setting of the film is more or less quashed, and much of this is due to the strong sense of focus on Opaloch’s part, particularly in what could have been shot as another run-of-the-mill shaky-camera film. Bruno Delbonnel’s work in the new Harry Potter movie must be absolutely commended. Giving the film a real sheen and glow to it, he also uses powerful cinematic techniques, proving himself to be a very wise and learned photographer who clearly knows his stuff. Now, Barry Ackroyd’s work on The Hurt Locker is absolutely tremendous, and is the one winning awards all round, and deservedly so, for it is really strong work. I don’t believe that I have seen a more intense film in an action setting in a long time, and much of this strength is due to his expert work. Ackroyd really captures a nice balance between shaky/gritty photography and actually showing us the action. He films it in a manner as though we are almost an active participant in the film, following the characters on their travels. However, despite the fact that this is great work, the award really must go to The Burmese VJ’s. Risking life and limb in the military state of Burma in order to bring more attention to the violation of human rights in the country, these journalists really do a great job of being able to capture the goings on of the country. Knowing that this film really is real gives it the sense of tension that most thrillers can only dream to achieve. To The Burmese VJ’s, I salute you for your amazing and courageous efforts, to those dead and alive, in the pursuit of exposing the injustice of your state. It is for this reason I give The Burmese VJ’s this much deserved award.

The Second Ennio Morricone Award for Best Original Score/Soundtrack In A Film In 2009 – Nominees

· Chan Young-gyu – The Good The Bad The Weird
· Bruno Coulais and They Might Be Giants – Coraline
· David Norland and various members of Anvil – Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
· Johan Soderqvist – Let The Right One In
· Various Artists – Bronson

And the winner is… Chan Young-gyu – The Good The Bad The Weird

Unfortunately, it seems that the powers that be at most major awards ceremony seem to think that the use of an excellent film soundtrack does not constitute an award for it is not original work. This rules out films with great soundtracks such as Pulp Fiction and the like of There Will Be Blood due to pieces of the score having already been commercially released. Not here, for I feel that the choosing of appropriate music for whatever reason is as vital to a film’s power as a strong original score and as such deserves to be commended. Anvil! The Story Of Anvil contains strong original work from David Norland, but the use of Anvil’s own work in the film for dramatic purposes must also be equally commendable. In Coraline, the score by Bruno Coulais and They Might Be Giants reflects the wonderous quality of the film, all the more adding to the power of the finished piece. The various artists involved in the completely original score of Bronson help reflect the kaleidoscopic madness of the film itself. In terms of maintaining hyper-reality and extreme stylisation, the work of The Walker Brothers and New Order greatly adds to this, and the film also introduced me to the work of the brilliant Glass Candy. Johan Soderqvist’s work on Let The Right One In is very strong and emotive, and while certainly being an orchestral work and generally the type of score that drives me insane is utilised perfectly at the right moments. However, the best music in any film in 2009 definitely goes to Chan Young-gyu for his work on The Good The Bad The Weird. A rollicking and highly entertaining rollercoaster of a film, the music in the film adds to the overall enjoyment of the film. With its sounds in a strong and very danceable Latin-flavour, it is indeed the epitome of a very cool score, and is very deserving of being commended with this year’s award.

The Third (Lack Of Namesake) Award for Most Surprisingly Entertaining Film of 2009 – Nominees

· (500) Days Of Summer
· Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
· The Good The Bad The Weird
· Star Trek
· Zombieland

And the winner is… Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

Each of these films were really surprisingly entertaining movies. With Zombieland, I was expecting a relatively enjoyable piece of schlock which would be a minor footnote of this year’s film output. However, the film is really funny and good fun to watch, with performances by Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson shining, and some ludicrously gory gags at the expense of a few hundred zombies. With The Good The Bad The Weird, I had similar expectations to that of Zombieland, but found that my expectations were completely quenched. It is a great rollercoaster of an action movie, and is certainly commendable as perhaps being the most enjoyable film of the year that does not try to make an artistic statement. In the case of Star Trek, I was expecting a good film, but in truth, not being a Star Trek fan, I was worried about being really put off by real geekiness and Trekkie-bait that might have made the fans happy, but not a grumpy film critic as I. I was pleasantly surprised by a really strong and expertly scripted character drama. The ambiguity aspect of my critical analysis came into play once again when starting to watch (500) Days Of Summer, a film which works within the realms of perhaps my least favourite genre, romantic-comedies. Nevertheless, it did not deter from my enjoyment of what is one of my favourite films of the year and a real bona-fide treat. However, Anvil! The Story Of Anvil takes the biscuit. While expecting a good film, and the critics would tell you that it was a good film, I tell you that it was a masterpiece. I feel that the fact I was expecting a relatively enjoyable rockumentary added to the power and emotion to the film altogether. Anvil really is an absolute testament to the power of reality and that you can not judge a book by its cover.

The Second Paul Schrader Award for Best Film Screenplay Of 2009 – Nominees

· Mark Boal – The Hurt Locker
· Paul Laverty – Looking For Eric
· John Ajvide Lindqvist – Let The Right One In
· Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – (500) Days Of Summer
· Ivan and Sam Raimi – Drag Me To Hell

And the winner is… Mark Boal – The Hurt Locker

This year saw some really interesting scripts being written, particularly with regards to bringing something new and original to the plate that is the film community. Ivan and Sam Raimi have crafted a very funny and horrific script with Sam’s new film Drag Me To Hell. Along with The Good The Bad The Weird, this was one of the film’s this year which gave me the most sheer enjoyment to watch. I remember watching this in the cinema and howling with my fellow esteemed critic (once again) and hearing people say behind me, “that’s not funny.” Moments like this will be cherished, and it is thanks to the script that much of the film’s enjoyment emerges. In the case of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber’s script work on (500) Days Of Summer, such a strong script in terms of creating brilliant characters should be acknowledged. The relationship between Tom and Summer is totally believable thanks to the two leads, who would have been nowhere with this script. It is terrifying to think that these two writing partners also scribed The Pink Panther 2 (the Steve Martin one). Similar strengths emerge from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s work on adapting his novel Let The Right One In, such as the believability and legitimacy of Oskar and Eli’s relationship. However, the thing about this script is the fact that Lindqvist, fast becoming one of the best horror novelists in the world, transforms the film into the lighter other half of the novel, changing events which are clearly unfilmable to new scenes altogether that fit the film’s slight change of tone better. Ken Loach’s frequent writing partner Paul Laverty writes a very solid script for Looking For Eric. One thing that people often forget about what make Loach’s films so good are the scripts, which contribute as much to the believability of the social realism as the performances in his films themselves, and Looking For Eric is certainly the case in point. Furthermore, Looking For Eric, with the football/Cantona premise, enters lighter and more “entertaining” territory excellently without dimming social realist aspects. The best script of the year though is that of The Hurt Locker by Mark Boal. Boal creates a script that will surely be studied in film schools for years to come. In terms of the characters written, and how developed they are with regards to their role in the film is balanced well, and the film’s structure works on so many different levels, both to build upon/work around the characters, but also to develop tension and anticipation in audience. Dialogue too is solid, seeming a delicate balance between theatre and reality. Finally, the film is developed around a strong central idea/concept that manages to be believable and engaging, giving the film a depth and firm entrenchment that most do not. This script really is something amazing, and anything less than an award is the cinematic equivalent of heresy.

The Second Thelma Schoolmaker Award for Best Editorial Work In A Film In 2009 – Nominees

· James Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen E. Rivkin – Avatar
· Julian Clarke – District 9
· Andrew Dickler and Jeff Renfroe – Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
· Nicholas Gaster – Moon
· Chris Innis and Bob Murawski – The Hurt Locker

And the winner is… Chris Innis and Bob Murawski – The Hurt Locker

The editing in each of these respective films works well for different reasons, and it was really a case of judging which of them worked best for dramatic purposes in enhancing the film’s overall quality. In the case of Moon, the editing is well done, giving the audience a glimpse into the mind of the film’s lead protagonist portrayed by Sam Rockwell. Also, it works very well subtly, slowly changing as the lead character changes throughout the film. In the case of Avatar, the editing efficiently captures the majesty of the world of Pandora, without putting too much into the film and stretching it out ridiculously. With Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, editors Dickler and Renfroe edit Anvil superbly, excellently capturing exactly the right moments of an absolutely fascinating story. The film is tight and very stripped down, and it is through the editing that this works so well as a whole. In District 9, Julian Clarke maintains the documentarian-reality that the filmmakers are so clearly trying to achieve. Mixing the digital and film formats expertly, Clarke’s work is great. However, it is the brilliant work of Chris Innis and Bob Murawski on The Hurt Locker that is the best editing work of the year. Working hand in hand with the superb cinematography, the film places us in the active observer’s perspective throughout the film. The dramatic effect means that we become absolutely engrossed in the story and the life of the characters in the film, with the editing not only keeping a feeling of reality, but also serving it’s clear and obvious theatrical purpose. District 9’s editing and cinematography work hand in hand, but I feel that in the case of The Hurt Locker and enhancing the film’s drama and power, this works far better. The intensity and power of the story is encapsulated here and as such is very worthy of this award.

The Second Lucio Fulci Award for Most Excessively Violent Film of 2009 – Nominees

· Inglourious Basterds
· New Moon
· Pandorum
· A Perfect Getaway
· Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

And the winner is… Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

Just to be clear, there are many other violent films that came out this year, it’s just that this award is for those films in which the violence does not seem to enhance or add to the dramatic quality of the film whatsoever. Inglourious Basterds’ violence did not bother me overly, for it does provide a few laughs, however, there are moments whenever it does descend into ludicrousness. In Pandorum, there are some interesting ideas, except that it just seems that it too busy trying to be Event Horizon instead of noticing that the violence serves as mere window dressing to the films nonsensically executed plot. With New Moon, the film is quite clearly meant to be focused on the central character of Bella Swan. However, it is pretty obvious that studio executives have putting on the pressure and asking for fight scenes and action sequences to be inserted into the film. The only thing they achieve as opposed to being “captivating, tense and exciting” is that Taylor Lautner is really buff and Robert Pattinson is the next Robert Smith if only he can learn to be as talented a musician as he is. Now, A Perfect Getaway’ use of violence is really stupid. For much of the film, it structures itself like a traditional, if relatively stupid thriller with really bad acting. However, once the big twist comes along, everything goes into over-stylised mode and a bit mad. It is as though for the fight/chase sequences, they have decided to hand over the reigns to Zack Snyder. Yes, Zack will inject some life into this lifeless film, because we are bored at watching a properly done thriller. One word: bonkers. However, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen must scoop up another award here because it really is excessively violent. It is not a violent film in the classical sense of being really bloody, but if you actually view all beings, whether or not they are human, living or animate, as being creatures, then the actually violence level of this film is significantly raised. If robots hitting each other and causing this much wanton destruction was rated on the same level as two humans violently attacking one another, this would be viewed as a disgusting and horrible piece of exploitation work, and would be banned and offers nothing to the world. Which it really doesn’t.

The Stan Winston Award for Best Use Of Special Effects/Make-Up In A Film in 2009 – Nominees

· Global Effects Inc., New Deal Studios and Quantum Creation FX Inc. -Watchmen
· Industrial, Light & Magic and Digital Domain – Star Trek
· Modus FX, The Orphanage, Frantic Films, Red FX and Prime Focus – Red Cliff
· Weta Digital – Avatar
· Weta Digital and Weta Worshop – District 9

And the winner is… Weta Digital – Avatar

It is rather appropriate that upon the inaugural Stan Winston Award for Special Effects/Make Up in a film that a film as groundbreaking in this department as Avatar comes along. Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that otherwise there was some excellent work in other films this year in this department. The special effects/make up were among the best things in Watchmen, a film which was for me a terrible disappointment and bloated mess. However, the effects, particularly with regards to creating a believability in the character of Dr Manhattan, work pretty well. The effects in Star Trek work excellently in terms of expanding the original series from what was clearly a set to that of a sound stage, translating brilliantly to the world of Hollywood franchise territory. Red Cliff’s effects are including with formidable aplomb in this film. With regards to create a scale in battles that is both believable and absolutely baffling for us to comprehend, it is a great achievement. Red Cliff’s battle sequences are amongst the best of the decade, and only through the special effects could this be fully achieved. In District 9, the effects are employed brilliantly to keep the film entrenched in reality. This helps the audience become more involved in the story and for us to sympathize both with the human and the non-human characters of the piece. However, unquestionably it is the special effects and the work seen in Avatar this year which must take the award for best special effects/make up. In terms of achieving the films novelty factor, when seen in 3D, the film does work fantastically. That’s not my ballot to say all films should be in 3D, for that would be a shame, but if every now and again we get films with the majesty of Avatar’s effects, that’s fine by me. This is a work which masterfully combines the work of digital animation and real shooting on a sound stage into a wonderful hybrid creation that is one the best films of the year. One of the golden rules of special effects is that they should never impinge upon the viewer’s enjoyment of the film: in the case of Avatar, the do not impinge on our enjoyment, but are an absolutely necessary and key component on the film’s enjoyment.

The Walter Murch Award For Best Sound Design/Mixing In A Film in 2009 – Nominees

· Ray Beckett, Ryan Juggler, Paul N.J Ottosson and Craig Stauffer – The Hurt Locker
· Beau Borders, Ed Novick and Kevin O’Connell – Public Enemies
· Christopher Boyes, Ken Fischer, Tony Johnson, William B Kaplan, Christopher Scarabosio, James M Tanenbaum and Marshall Winn - Avatar
· Hayden Collow, Melanie Graham and Dave Whitehead - District 9
· Mark Lawes and Patrick Owen - Moon

And the winner is… Ray Beckett, Ryan Juggler, Paul N.J Ottosson and Craig Stauffer – The Hurt Locker

The following award is named after the brilliant sound editor Walter Murch, who is also being inducted into The Thin White Dude’s Film Hall Of Fame this year. Each of the following films placed a great emphasis and importance on the piece’s overall sound. With District 9, alongside the special effects, it helps us to genuinely believe in the films aliens, through the sound editing of their vocal communication. Also, in the action sequences the sound works very well. In the case of Public Enemies, like most Michael Mann movies with gun fights, the sounds are realistic and used to strong effect. No film-maker films gun fights like Michael Mann, and they always sound fantastic, adding to the dramatic effect of the piece and the overall intensity of the gun battles. In Moon, the sound design is utilized brilliantly in order to convey not just a realistic and believable setting of the moon base, but also to validly portray the lead character’s increasing paranoia. The sound is very important is helping Sam Rockwell’s performance come across as convincing. Avatar is a brilliant sounding film, and with regards to be being a brilliant all-round technical achievement, it may well be the best in these departments. The action sequences are bombastic and extraordinary in how they sound with regards to their scale. Nevertheless, the four primary sound design/mixers of The Hurt Locker must take this award for their brilliant work on the film. Like Public Enemies, sound is key to the tension in the gun fights, but in The Hurt Locker, this is completely accentuated and brought to greater and higher grounds. The believability of the would not have been achieved without some excellent sound, and this is one film where the sound really makes the film a better piece. Like Avatar, but in a different manner, The Hurt Locker is a great technical achievement, and Ray Beckett, Ryan Juggler, Paul N.J Ottosson and Craig Stauffer really deserve this award.

The Second Werner Herzog Award for Most Ingenious Film Concept of 2009 – Nominees

· District 9
· The Hurt Locker
· Looking For Eric
· Moon
· Paranormal Activity

And the winner is… District 9

Each of the films presented her with the nominations for this award were ingenious in terms of the initial selling premise under which the films based their whole stories. In terms of ingenuity in the marketing sense, it would probably have to go to Paranormal Activity. We had already seen a similar film in The Blair Witch Project ten years ago, however, the film-makers introduced the idea in a very new and innovative way. In terms of remaining consistent to the initial concept of what the “Paranormal Activity” is, the film retains a great degree of focus. With Moon, the idea of psychosis through solitude has been done and dusted before, but here, like Paranormal Activity, the idea is done in a new and very innovative way. Now, the film’s “twist” comes in early as a big surprise, and despite retaining dedication to the film’s premise, the film subtly alters in tone and mood during the film, acting as a slow descent that enters a natural progression. In The Hurt Locker, a new light is shed upon the previously stagnant war film genre. It has taken years to see a genuinely new and original war film, and this is found through the film’s central study of “war is a drug.” This done really interestingly and the script is bent around this brilliantly. Ken Loach’s new film Looking For Eric really is rather unfortunately being sold on the premise of Eric Cantona’s presence, which is a shame, although he is really good in it. It’s just that it is so much more than that, but even so, the implementation of Cantona throughout the film is very wise. However, District 9 must be the winner of this award for best concept. In an award category based on strong ideas, this is the perfect example of this. Paralleling the mistreatment of the aliens in District 9 with that of slavery/apartheid in South Africa, this is handled wisely throughout, and heralds the coming of a great new director in Neill Blomkamp.

The (As Yet Named) Award for Best Production Design In A Film in 2009 – Nominees

· Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg - Avatar
· Ryan Church, Neville Page and John Eaves – Star Trek
· Nathan Crowley - Public Enemies
· Stuart Craig – Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
· Tony Noble - Moon

And the winner is… Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg - Avatar

This award category acknowledges the work of creating a believable set and atmospheric world to look at in a film. All of these films had really great production design, but Avatar really is the obvious pick for this award. With regards to Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Hogwarts once again really looks the part, and Stuart Craig’s strong production design convinces and comes across brilliantly. Nathan Crowley had a real tough job in his production design, seeing as how much of the period piece Public Enemies was shot on location. Nevertheless, he seemed to take it in his stride, and Public Enemies is completely convincing in the creation of the world its characters inhabit. The case is likewise with Moon. An otherwise fantastical setting is turned into something that one can completely believe in. With Star Trek, the proportions of this are put to the test. The colour pallet of Star Trek is great, and the mix between location shooting and set/sound stage shooting is done well in tandem with the production design. The cinematography also highlights just how good the design aspects of the film are and how detailed it is. On any other year, Star Trek would have won this award, however, Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg’s work on Avatar really has sent the benchmark for much of the future of production design. Never before has the sound stage been utilized in such an effective manner in creating a convincing world, and this is only helped with Carter and Stromberg’s work. Avatar is a truly masterful technical achievement, and the superb production design is only just an example of this. Film-making is such a complicated process that requires all of the little aspects that most people do not think about to be working properly in order to work as a whole, finished piece. With Avatar, this film is a fantastic team effort that every element involved is required to make it a great film.

The Vic Armstrong Award for Best Stunt Work In A Film in 2009 – Nominees

· Avatar
· District 9
· The Hurt Locker
· Red Cliff
· Terminator: Salvation

And the winner is… Red Cliff

Now, in the process of film-making this really is the category whose achievements to film-making are really overlooked. Named after the great Vic Armstrong, this award is dedicated to those great stuntmen who risk life and limb in order to create these crazy things that we flock religiously together to see called movies. The stunt work in each these films action sequences were really great. In Terminator: Salvation, the stunt crew do with the films action sequences what the dreadful robot movie could only dream of. The films work is comparable, yet the standard of work in each contrasts starkly. In District 9, we see not only more realistic action scenes handled well, but more fantastical and blockbuster territory work handled brilliantly by the film’s stunt team. With The Hurt Locker, we see the movements and work of the stunt mimic the actors’ work and personality in the film brilliantly, whilst also working well to convey the films sense of reality. We don’t see ludicrous sequences: we see people get shot and fall down. With Avatar, it is the completely opposite case, although in Avatar’s case, it actually works well. You will not see Hollywood-blockbuster action sequences done as well as Avatar’s in a long time. However, the winner of best stunts of the year is actually going to the stunning work on the Hong Kong war epic Red Cliff. Choreographed excellently (and not so excellently. A freak accident on set killed a man and injured six more), the action sequences in Red Cliff really are an amazing achievement. Not only does it realistically depict the battle of Red Cliff, it also delivers the awe and amazement that has been missing from most stunt work in films with the recent obsession digital effects. The art of the stuntman is slowly being nullified by Hollywood ludicrousosity, and it takes the work of talented Hong Kong stuntmen and choreographers to remind Hollywood just how necessary and important the stuntman is to cinema.

The Second Katherine Hepburn Award for Best Supporting Acting Role By A Female Actor in 2009 – Nominees

· Kim Ok-bin (Tae-ju) – Thirst
· Jane Lynch (Gayle Sweeney) – Role Models
· Amanda Seyfried (Anita “Needy” Lesnicki) – Jennifer’s Body
· Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine) – Avatar

And the winner is… Kim Ok-bin (Tae-ju) – Thirst

Say what you will, but in truth, these were the only female acting roles in the supporting category I thought that were deserving of a nomination, so sorry if I didn’t nominate five, but I don’t believe in just handing out nominations for filler. The big one in this I feel is that each of these actresses were horribly overlooked with regards to their acting contributions this year. As Grace Augustine in Avatar, Sigourney Weaver is so good at portraying a human character that she is able to completely disappear into her role and make people forget that it’s Sigourney Weaver they are watching. As far as providing what is essentially the film’s moral heart, Weaver does a brilliant job. Once again overlooked, even with regards to the film’s own relative acclaim is Amanda Seyfried’s role as Needy in Jennifer’s Body. Playing second fiddle in many sense to Megan Fox’s more domineering role, Seyfried also delivers a really strong performance. Unfortunately for that film’s fortunes, despite boasting these great performances, it really isn’t all that good. Not only are the horror and science-fiction genres horribly overlooked in terms of awards nominations, but comedy is also. I won’t lie, I’m partially guilty of this, although this years three on the short list I didn’t feel cut it. Digressions aside, I thought that Jane Lynch was excellent as Gayle Sweeney in Role Models. The film is nothing special, although I would be lying if I said I didn’t find it enjoyable, and Jane Lynch really is the best thing in the film. Providing all the best gags with her scathing deadpan humour brimming with bitterness, but also showing more to her characters person, Lynch steals the film from leads Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott, proving that a women can thrive in a lads movie. However, Kim Ok-bin delivers the best female supporting role of the year as Tae-ju in Park Chan Wook’s Thirst. Standing up to the more seasoned actor Song Kang-ho as the films female half, Ok-bin delivers a tremendous performance. During the course of the film, Tae-ju goes through numerous personality changes, and is done very wisely and realistically. By the end of the film, in no way does Tae-ju resemble the person she was, and these two different states from beginning to end only become so distinct through the power of Ok-bin’s performance, who really is deserving of this award.

The Second R. Lee Ermey Award for Best Supporting Acting Role By A Male Actor in 2009 – Nominees

· Zach Galifianakis (Alan Garner) – The Hangover
· Stephen Graham (Baby Face Nelson) – Public Enemies
· Zachary Quinto (Spock) – Star Trek
· Christoph Waltz (Colonel Hans Landa) – Inglourious Basterds
· Zhang Fengyi (Cao Cao) – Red Cliff

And the winner is… Christoph Waltz (Colonel Hans Landa) – Inglourious Basterds

Just to be slightly obsessive and pointing it out, I wonder if anyone noticed the amount of z’s amongst the category’s nominees. It’s not often you get one person with a z in their name, much less four, three of which are first names beginning with the letter. Forgetting digressions, the supporting actor role is oft considered to be the role in a movie which is often known for scene-stealing, and amongst these roles this year, certainly this was the case. In Public Enemies, despite only having about fifteen minutes worth of screen time, Stephen Graham gives the film’s best performance as Baby Face Nelson, in his second good role in 2009, alongside his role as Billy Bremner in The Damned United. Having proved himself to me through his superb turn as Combo in This Is England, this minimal role solidified to me just how good an actor he is. With Zhang Fengyi, a stereotypically clichéd part is taken by him, and Cao Cao is transformed into a very troubled individual, really dominating the film despite heavyweight star power such as Tong Leung Chiu-Wai and Takeshi Kaneshiro. In truth, I did not particularly enjoy The Hangover and though it was a rather poor and heavily overrated comedy. However, I will not deny that Zach Galifianakis’ Alan Garner is absolutely hilarious and is the only thing that would ever give me reason to watch the movie again, delivering both a performance that caters to those familiar with recent slew of Judd Apatow and his copycats, but it is also a very surrealistic and zany performance that can be very comically challenging at times. In the case of Star Trek, the ensemble cast all stand out as being really good in their performances, however, it is Zachary Quinto whose performance as Spock that was the film’s highlight for me. In terms of crafting an establishment of who this character it is very strong. Quinto plays brilliantly off of the conflicting sides of Spock, that of his colder and more calculus Vulcan-side, and his warmer humanity. It is a well-timed and restrained performance, and the way he retains his restraint enhances the tension between Kirk and Spock excellently. However, Christoph Waltz really does deliver this year’s best supporting male actor role as Colonel Hans Landa. I was really disappointed by Inglourious Basterds, but his performance as Landa is really something original. Waltz intelligently decides to play against type, that of mad Nazi villains screaming and shouting, and proves that never losing your cool and being very polite is as terrifying if not more than being angry. At least being angry, there is some degree of emotion with a lack of self-control, here Landa becomes a dark and twisted menace of legendary proportions. As the effective symbolic figure of death in the film, it is the twisting of expectations that really drive and power this performance, the first twenty minutes being a perfect example of this. While he is terrific throughout, that first sequence sold me onto the character, and this is why I give this award to Christoph Waltz.

The Peter Sallis Award for Best Vocal Acting In A Film In 2009 – Nominees

· Edward Asner (Carl Fredrickson) – Up
· Elif Ceylan (Eli) – Let The Right One In
· Jason Cope (Christopher Johnson/Aliens) – District 9
· Teri Hatcher (Mel Jones/Other Mother) – Coraline
· Kevin Spacey (GERTY) – Moon

And the winner is… Elif Ceylan (Eli) – Let The Right One In

An often overlooked presence in a film is that of the power of good vocal acting, and each of these films had really strong vocal performances which defied the fact that the characters they portrayed lacked their physical presence. In Moon, Kevin Spacey delivers a vocal performance that harks back to the likes of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Spacey has the fantastic ability of both being very likeable and very sinister at the same time, and this is employed to great effect throughout the film. Teri Hatcher’s performance(s) in Coraline are both very good, but it is her performance as the Other Mother which strikes a real chord. There is something really scary and tragic about a character who will do anything to love a child at all costs and dreams of motherhood. For District 9, Jason Cope’s various vocal roles as Christopher Johnson and the other aliens in the film brilliantly humanize the “prawns” of the film. Without his work, the film’s emotional power and resonance would not have been as strong. As the terminally grumpy and grieving Carl Fredrickson, Edward Asner delivers a very seasoned performance for Up. Both an absolutely hilarious and very human role, this another example of Pixar’s excellence is selecting the best actor to perform vocals for a characters. However, the award must go to Elif Ceylan for her vocal contribution to the character of Eli in Let The Right One In. Ceylan and Lina Leandersson, the physical presence of Eli, both contribute equally to the performance, and become one amazing and mesmerizing character as a result. Proving a deeper and less effeminate voice for Eli is perfect for giving the character that perfect sense of an otherworldly presence, and as such deserves to win the award for contributing tremendously to the film’s believability.

The Third Cate Blanchett Award for Best Lead Role By A Female Actor in 2009 – Nominees

· Zooey Deschanel (Summer Finn) – (500) Days Of Summer
· Katie Featherston (Katie) – Paranormal Activity
· Megan Fox (Jennifer Check) Jennifer’s Body
· Lina Leandersson (Eli) – Let The Right One In
· Alison Lohman (Christine Brown) – Drag Me To Hell

And the winner is… Lina Leandersson (Eli) – Let The Right One In

Once again, the recurring trends of cinema are popping up again. Hollywood fails once again to give female actors decent roles as opposed to your stereotypical “a woman on a journey” movie roles. The only exception to this of late was that of Angelina Jolie in Changeling, who even still plays a stereotype. It takes the overlooked contributions of horror cinema once again to give good female roles. This year is the most pertinent example of this since I have began reviewing, with four of the five nominations this year for women heading up a horror film. Katie Featherston for me has delivered the most overlooked acting performance of the year. Everyone is complementing how scary Paranormal Activity, and it is indeed no doubt, but the fact is this would not be the case if we genuinely did not sympathise with characters and believe them as human beings. Featherston gives a formidable performance indeed. With Drag Me To Hell, despite revolving around a magnificent script, Lohman really makes the material look even stronger and herself has been strongly overlooked. It is almost an “everyman” performance, even though she isn’t a man, and very subtly drives the film. The other performance of the year by a female actor that isn’t a horror film is a particularly strong performance by Zooey Deschanel as one of the two leads in (500) Days Of Summer. She portrays Summer as very much someone who has created their own public image as a form of body armour, and once that armour falls down, we see Deschanel aptly portray this very real and vulnerable young woman. However, once again, the horror films have stolen the show, and Megan Fox is indeed brilliant in Jennifer’s Body. Say what you well about her po-faced public image as a result of film’s like the Transformers franchise and paparazzi, she completely destroys that with this movie. Playing off public perception of her, she gives a very wise performance which is really funny, seductive and terrifying, usually at the same time, creating a very challenging character. Nevertheless, young child actor Lina Leandersson delivers the female acting performance of the year as the vampire Eli in Let The Right One In. Kare Hedebrant, who plays Oskar, also deserves mention before I forget and is great, for Leandersson’s performance does rely on his. However, in portraying a young girl who is essentially a 400-year-old wizened vampire, the conflicting personality is performed with excellence, especially by such a young girl. Frankly, the great irony of her youth is the fact that it is certainly the most mature performance of the year, and is very deserving of this award indeed. Furthermore, the female performances this year once again prove that female actors seem to get it better in horror films.

The Third Kevin Spacey Award for Best Performance By A Male Actor in 2009 – Nominees

· Sharlto Copley (Wikus Van De Merwe) – District 9
· Steve Evets (Eric Bishop) – Looking For Eric
· Tom Hardy (William Peterson aka Charles Bronson) – Bronson
· Jeremy Renner (Sergeant William James) – The Hurt Locker
· Michael Sheen (Brian Clough) – The Damned United

And the winner is… Tom Hardy (William Peterson aka Charles Bronson) - Bronson

Worth noting once again is the fact that the majority of these actors listed here have been overlooked in the major awards terms. Only Jeremy Renner has been gaining praise from the major awards ceremonies. Nevertheless, each of them gave great performances. A real surprise for me was finding how much I enjoyed Sharlto Copley’s performance as Wikus Van De Merwe in District 9. A good friend of the film’s director Blomkamp, for all of the scenes shot in a documentary digital video style, he improvised his lines, and may I say was excellent in doing so. He came across as a very real and believable character, and handles the superbly twisted irony in that as he becomes less human during the course of the film, he becomes more humane. Jeremy Renner, who I previously seen in bit part roles in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (I forgot how much of a mouthful that was) and 28 Weeks Later (better), and so I was glad to see him excel in a meatier role such as that of James. It is a very wise performance in that despite the character’s obvious mental health issues, it remains very restrained and not a bombastic and overacted performance. This restraint gives his performance a realism not often seen in war films with these kind of characters, Full Metal Jacket being an example. The most overlooked performance of the year is unquestionably that of Steve Evets as Eric Bishop in Looking For Eric. In a very subtle performance, his transition during the course of the film from his downbeaten former self is portrayed with finesse and real intelligence. In truth, this was the performance I most believed in as a “human” character of the year, and Evets really has quite shamefully been overlooked.
The next nominee is the majestic Michael Sheen for his tremendous role as Brian Clough in The Damned United. Nailing Clough’s accent perfectly, Sheen in terms of mannerisms nails Clough dead on the head. He also perfectly shows the unending determinism and the confident public face that Clough puts on, masking his deeper insecurities and doubts about his decisions. Michael Sheen is one of the few actors who have a terrific ability of being able to play just about anyone and make each performance watchable and terrifically three-dimensional. As if he didn’t need to prove his skills already, his has solidified his reputation as one of the world’s best actors with this film. However good Sheen is and will continue to be, and I do apologize to Michael, but Tom Hardy has created an amazing superhuman, comic-book-esque character out of the legendary British prisoner Charles Bronson. Having gained weight to play the role, Tom Hardy has a terrific physical presence in the film. It’s one of the few roles you could take any still shot of his face to know what he is feeling. Furthermore, in terms of leveling the character’s emotional gauge in parallel to the scene’s context, it could not have been done any better. Whilst I do not agree completely with the films stylistic approach and I think it tries to cover too much, Hardy’s multi-faceted performance is nothing short of tremendous and really is the powerhouse that drives the film.

The Orson Welles Award for Most Promising Debut Filmmaker Of 2009 – Nominees

· Tomas Alfredson – (Let The Right One In)
· Neill Blomkamp – (District 9)
· Sacha Gervaisi – (Anvil! The Story Of Anvil)
· Duncan Jones – (Moon)
· Marc Webb – ((500) Days Of Summer)

And the winner is…Neill Blomkamp – (District 9)

In 1941, theatre star and playwright Orson Welles at the age of 26 embarked on his first adventure into the crazy world that is Hollywood. The end result was Citizen Kane, a film often considered to be the greatest ever made. Many are of the opinion that it takes an experienced wise veteran to make a masterpiece, and while this may be true for some, other filmmakers have made their best work or start up a great career on the basis of some strong work upon their debut. Each of these filmmakers have had great debut films. Marc Webb’s direction in (500) Days Of Summer is all about efficiency, and it is this efficiency which captures everything that is necessary for the film to succeed. It makes you wonder if a different debut filmmaker were on the project, they would have handled it far differently, for the tone is dead perfect in this film. In the case of Duncan Jones, it is solid focus and restrain that is his greatest attribute on his debut film Moon. Jones remains firmly grounded and refuses to deviate from the heart of his story and go lose control, as seen in the likes of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. This is the debut of a very wise filmmaker. Sacha Gervasi, director of Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, takes guerilla filmmaking to a new level with this picture, keeping everything at ground level and always remembering that despite being a film about the weird and wonderful world of heavy metal, it is as much about the people involved as the music. Tomas Alfredson gets the unenviable task of helming his first film with a very difficult book indeed, but does it wonderfully. Let The Right One In feels like a fresh film, but also feels like it is the work of masters of the genre, despite both screenwriter/author John Ajvide Lindqvist and director Alfredson working on their first movie. However, Neill Blomkamp must receive the inaugural award. District 9 would have been a tough project for anyone, even producer Peter Jackson to have helmed. However, Blomkamp really directs with a kineticism that brings to mind the work of Paul Greengrass, especially with docu-drama style that is brought to the forefront in District 9. Furthermore, in terms of efficient filmmaking, this is perhaps the strongest of the entire year. In blockbuster terms it could be comparable to the likes of Star Trek, the robot movie and Avatar. The budget for each of these films: $150 million, $200 million and $237 million. The budget for District 9: $30 million. With Avatar’s budget, you could make District 9, have enough money left to make the robot movie (not that you’d want to anyway) and re-make Ken Loach’s entire back catalogue. The point is, Blomkamp proves that you can make films of blockbuster proportions on modest (by Hollywood’s standards) budgets, and his work is highly commendable, therefore he wins this award.

The Walt Disney Award for Best Animated Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Avatar
· Coraline
· Up

And the winner is… Avatar

This is where the controversy starts coming in, but lets get the rest of the nominees out of the way, shall we? Up is another example of just why Pixar are the best animation production company in the world. Yes, it’s an animated film and what have you, but Pixar never once forget that people actually go and see these films, and always a clear sense of humanity that permeates through each of their films. It is this humanity that sets Pixar as an animation house above all others, touching a universal chord, as opposed to just cute talking animals or in-jokes that no kid will get. In the case of Coraline, Henry Selick once again must receive a bow and a handshake for creating such a majestic piece. Stop-motion animation is becoming a rarity these days, and most people just use it for the novelty factor. Here, Selick’s film shines of inventiveness and while I personally find it to be a universal film, really is a brilliant portrayal of the wonder and awe of what it is like to be a kid. However, it is my opinion that Avatar is the best animated film of the year. Why oh why do you ask? I consider it to be an animated film because whilst it does feature live-action sequences and is being considered a “conventional” film with regards to the awards scene, it is definitely an animated film. Much of the film is digitally animated with motion-capture sequences. There are videogames by the studio Quantic Dream which comprise entirely of motion-capture sequences, yet they are considered animated, so why not Avatar? Because it is a movie? No, I’m sorry, please feel free to comment if you will, but I believe that the absolutely fantastic digital animation of Avatar in terms of adding to the film’s artistic merit deserves to be commended. While this may be one of those grey areas with regards to how to categorize a film, I have made a decision to consider, and will continue to consider Avatar as the best animated film of 2009.

The Drag Me To Hell Award for 2009’s Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse

· Michael Bay (Director of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen)
· Kate Hudson (Producer and Lead Female Actor of Bride Wars)
· Marley (Dog of Marley And Me)
· Melissa Rosenberg (Screenwriter of New Moon

This new award named after the new Sam Raimi film kind of serves the opposite purpose as that of the Alfred Hitchcock Award, and reflects my opinions that there is a lot more crap in cinema than there is good. Seeing as how this is the first Drag Me To Hell Award, I’ll explain that if one gets becomes a horseman of the apocalypse on different years (e.g. 2010, 2012), they will move up to the position of Grade 2-Horseman. Only amongst the evil is there such a thing as a hierarchy, and this is reflected amongst the horsemen. Our first horseman is a little heathen that goes by the name of Michael Bay, and is considered amongst many film critics to the cinematic equivalent of the Antichrist. Truly, he is, and I hate everything that he stands for as a film-maker, his work bar his early mid-90s work is horrible, and he is quite frankly a hack, and no one is more deserving of being labeled a horseman of the apocalypse. The next recipient is female, a siren if you will. Kate Hudson not only participates in this year’s most reprehensibly offensive in Bride Wars, but she is also one of it’s producers, so in she is more or less responsible for it in the first place. That is reason enough to get this label. Horseman number three is not even a horsemen, or a horse for that matter, but a dog by the name of Marley. Yes, Marley is played by multiple dogs, but they will be damned as a collective hybrid beast that will roam hell. In no way is this dog to be affiliated with the great Robert Nesta Marley (or Nesta Robert Marley, depending how big a fan or how prim and proper you are). Never have I wanted an animal to be put down more than Marley, and the great thing is he can never come back. Finally, Melissa Rosenberg must be condemned to saddle up with Bay, Hudson and Marley, for while she wrote a good script for the first Twilight, New Moon’s script was dreadful, and has brought all credibility not back to square one, but well into the minuses. All of these creatures should be thoroughly ashamed, and because their tenures as horsemen on last a year at a time, they do have chances to redeem themselves. Except Marley.

The Michael Moore Award For Best Documentary Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
· Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country
· Michael Jackson’s This Is It
· Tyson: The Movie

And the winner is… Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

Of late, the documentary film has become a medium of telling a story which I have become increasing fascinated by, and would certainly consider it among potential future endeavors in my life. As such, I am watching more and more documentary films every year, and this year produced some very interesting work. Of course, the big, mainstream documentary hit of the year has been Michael Jackson’s This Is It. Even since the singer’s death in July, we have seen a massive amount of media exposure and output regarding Jackson, and this is a prime example. Personally, seeing as how this is just footage, it was probably released in the wrong medium, it should have either been a TV-special, a direct-to-DVD release or a viral marketing campaign. It’s good work, sometimes in the media and arts culture, work is released in the wrong medium, and this is certainly the case. In the case of Tyson: The Movie, it presents a very fascinating look at the troubled life of the boxer. The editing is stylistically solid, and there are indeed genuine moments of sadness which give Tyson a pathos that most documentary subjects don’t have. The final two nominees here have proved this year the undoubted power of the documentary film, henceforth the fact that they have been nominated for best film. Burma VJ I cannot say enough about. This is the kind of film that the government should be exhibiting free of charge at schools around the country. While the Burmese human rights injustices have been at the forefront before, never before has the conflict been shown like this from the ground itself, and only thanks to this footage can we truly grasp the horrible injustice of the country. Nevertheless, despite Burma VJ’s power, it is Anvil! The Story Of Anvil which is this year’s best documentary film. Despite it’s labels as being a “rockumentary” and “this year’s Spinal Tap,” it completely defies these labels. It transcends the restrictions of it’s medium and for me seems like a universal film about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of all adversity. Furthermore, it is proof that sometimes, the best screenplays are not written, and that the truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

The Second Steven Spielberg Award for Best Producer(s) On A Film in 2009 – Nominees

· JJ Abrahms and Damon Lindelof – Star Trek
· Kathryn Bigleow, Mark Boal, Nicholas Chartier and Greg Shapiro – The Hurt Locker
· James Cameron and Jon Landau – Avatar
· Peter Jackson – District 9
· Michael Mann and Kevin Misher – Public Enemies

And the winner is… James Cameron and Jon Landau – Avatar

Each of these films had stellar production, and was nominated because of the great task that it must have been to assist the film’s directors in creating their vision. Four of these films were primarily or co-produced by the film’s director themselves, showing how dedicated and determined they were to fulfilling their vision. Peter Jackson, the only sole producer for a film with District 9, helps mentor director Neill Blomkamp from that of a fledgling talent to a very formidable director, delivering one of the year’s best films. JJ Abrahms and Damon Lindelof put upon themselves the unenviable task of rebooting the sagging Star Trek franchise. The first Star Trek movie of blockbuster proportions, it was a great risk which certainly paid off in the end product. Public Enemies, while not a great film by any means, in terms of production was really stellar, with Michael Mann and Kevin Misher painstakingly realizing a tough project. Considering the necessity to translate the film to a 1930’s America, this was a well-handled task if you ask me. With The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicholas Chartier and Greg Shapiro aptly tell a story not oft told in a war situation, shedding light on a very important issue, that of the addiction to war and the conditioning of soldiers into their situations. However, James Cameron and John Landau must be given the award for the realization of Avatar. Having been a pet project of Cameron’s for over a decade-and-a-half, and as such his creative vision has been in gestation for a long time. Also, the necessity for the two to fund and found the creation of new technology in order to facilitate the film’s artistic direction really speaks bounds of how much they believed in the project. Furthermore, the final film itself is nothing short of a masterpiece and majestic visuals and strong themes, and therefore Cameron and Landau are fully deserving of these awards.

The Second Akira Kurosawa Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2009 – Nominees

· Sweden/Burma – Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country
· South Korea – The Good The Bad The Weird
· Sweden – Let The Right One In
· Hong Kong – Red Cliff
· South Korea – Thirst

And the winner is… Sweden/Burma – Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country

As has been the trend for much of foreign language cinema in the first decade of the new century, once again it is the East Asian New Wave which have dominated the nominations, representing three films here. Two of these films came from South Korea, directed by two of the most formidable and prominent members of South Korean cinema. Kim Ji-woon, director of A Tale Of Two Sisters, creates one of the most entertaining films of the year with The Good The Bad The Weird. In terms of sheer enjoyment, this film is an impeccable achievement, and also has unquestionably this year’s best film soundtrack. The other is the far different film Thirst, directed by Park Chan-wook of Joint Security Area and The Vengeance Trilogy fame. Despite being overshadowed by the “other” vampire film this year (not New Moon), this is a formidable and very interesting entry into the horror genre. Also, the two films star Song Kang-ho as the lead character, once again proving his acting versatility. Also from East Asia, this time from Hong Kong, was the return of John Woo with his new film Red Cliff. In terms of grand scale and production design, the film is a stellar achievement. This is a film which John Woo should really be proud of alongside his classic earlier work. However, this undoubtedly the year for Swedish produced films. Firstoff, we have the majestic Let The Right One In. Adapted from the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel of the same name, they have masterfully crafted one of the best films of the year in this film. Whilst it is undoubtedly a horror film and creates new ground for the genre, it is the power of the central relationship between Oskar and Eli that completely sold the film to me. Nevertheless, and this might come as a surprise, but Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country is the best foreign language film of the year. Why, do you ask? In truth, the film is near enough up there with The Hurt Locker for sheer intensity and finger-biting moments, and is a hell of a lot better than most other “thrillers” out there. Furthermore, Burma VJ exists within the realm of reality, and as such there is a more powerful resonance to the film. People say I see some very little seen movies, this is the little seen movie of the year, and is absolutely fantastic. I seem to be the only person to fly this film’s flag in the entire province of Northern Ireland, so really, if anyone else loves this gem, tell me. This is a very important film that should be shown in schools around the country and really is deserving of this award. Congrats to all involved, and this is a tribute to the efforts of the Burma VJ’s themselves.

The Third Stanley Kubrick Award for Best Direction By A Filmmaker On A Film in 2009 – Nominees

· Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
· Neill Blomkamp – District 9
· James Cameron – Avatar
· Kenneth Loach – Looking For Eric
· Henry Selick – Coraline

And the winner is… Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker

The film-makers here have crafted certainly amongst the best films of the year, each of them with stellar and determined creative visions that serve the purpose of the film’s context. Coraline is the return of director Henry Selick to stop-motion animation, and his direction is nothing short of great. He clearly is familiar with the pros and cons of directing animation, and does everything in his power to accentuate the film’s positives. With Ken Loach’s work on Looking For Eric, it is like a wise old master telling a new version of a story told before. Deeply entrenched in his comfort zone of telling great social realist stories, Loach is given space to realize a really interesting version of the social realist tale, particularly in the aspects regarding Eric Cantona. The real revelation in directing this year is Neill Blomkamp. Peter Jackson made a very wise decision in finding this young filmmaker, and Blomkamp delivers a behemoth of a film debut, all the more incredible with the scale of the production. It is direction of true skill and class, and he has revealed himself certainly to be this year’s breakout filmmaker. James Cameron’s contribution to cinema cannot be forgotten, and his return with Avatar was certainly a big bang, indeed, only the biggest bang in cinema history in terms of box office gross. Also, the realization of such a vision is something that is highly commendable. However, much of Avatar’s success is due to the fact that it is a group project clearly, and Cameron’s direction does not shine as much as this year’s winner, Kathryn Bigelow. The Hurt Locker is directed with an efficiency and tenacity that most directors could only dream of. Despite the fact that The Hurt Locker is undoubtedly a film that is about and reflects lack of control, Bigelow’s director suggests great control and meticulousness, making sure that everything is absolutely right. James Cameron possesses many of these attributes also, but Bigelow quite clearly nails the end result with great finesse. Often overlooked for her directing skill, if her talent with previously misjudged, then the solid direction on this should solidify her reputation for life.

The Third James Cameron Award for Best Sequel Of 2009 – Nominees

· Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
· Terminator: Salvation

And the winner is… Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

In truth, I could have included more films into this category, but that would mean including Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, and everyone knows how bad that film is. Terminator: Salvation is your classic case of the kind of franchise that really does not need resurrected, but in truth it is a lot better than any Terminator resurrection deserves to be. It is an enjoyable film and sets up for a potentially interesting franchise, even if I am still ambiguous on the idea of new Terminator films. However, the new Harry Potter really does deserve this award. The Harry Potter franchise as a whole is a remarkable achievement. Even The Lord Of The Rings was only three films, and now the Harry Potter films have reached number six without falling flat on their face, the same cannot be said of The Twilight Saga, who have made it to a grand two. As far as moving the story of the franchise forward, The Half-Blood Prince does everything a fan could have asked for and more. The film is indeed very good, with some strong acting and absolutely fantastic cinematography and art direction.

The Alfred Hitchcock Award for Best Player (Member Of The Film Community) Of The Year

· James Cameron (Producer, Writer, Editor and Director of Avatar)

Last year, a similar award was handed out, with Judd Apatow, Guillermo del Toro and the winner Robert Downey Jr. up the award. This year, I have replaced it with this award which is simply an award for the person who single-handed has made the biggest splash in cinema this year. The inaugural award undoubtedly must go to James Cameron. He may well have only been working on one film, but this is one of those groundbreaking firsts in cinema that comes along very rarely. A pet project that Cameron has been harboring for over fifteen years, it is an impeccable feat of a film. Cameron decided against making it in 1999 because he believed that the technology was not available yet, and waited, a real sacrifice and compromise of one’s artistic drive. Furthermore, Cameron is one of the very few auteur film-makers to have penetrated the mainstream whilst maintaining a degree of their integrity. As far as his multi-tasking and innovation on the project of Avatar, serving as the film’s main funding-partner, screenwriter, co-editor and director, his contribution to cinema this year is unquestionable.

The Third Ed Wood Award for Worst Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Bride Wars
· Marley And Me
· New Moon
· Paul Blart: Mall Cop
· Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

And the winner is…Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

After I went to see each of these films, although I cannot remember if I did feel this way, the question that must have went through my head was, “Would I be sorry if this film didn’t exist?” For most of these my answer would be no. In truth, New Moon is not as bad as the rest of them, it’s just bad. Potentially great plot material is completely scuppered and mishandled. The once promising Twilight film franchise I fear may have been condemned for life in terms of enjoyment quality as a result of this bad film. Marley And Me’s absolute problem is the fact that it really plays out like a propaganda film in all aspects. Stereotypically tanned, blonde beautiful couple decides that it’s too early to have a baby, and decide to get the world’s cutest, but also the world’s worst dog. Furthermore, in film, if dialogue is to be poignant, it should also sound realistic and from the heart, as opposed to overly theatrical, especially considering the film is quite clearly not meant to be theatrical. It just annoys me greatly. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is bad on the non-annoying terms. I mean, despite being an ad campaign that says “hey, it’s alright to be obese,” the film’s moral values and child-friendly quality stop it from being overly offensive. It is however, nonetheless, absolutely crap film-making. In the case of Bride Wars, I cannot stand it’s horrible viewpoint which just seems to be out to corrupt and de-flower our children of their innocence and is also atrocious film-making. Nevertheless, despite some bad films and moralistically repugnant films, this last film, the worst of the year, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, is all this, but so much more, or as Mark Kermode would say, “with added PHWOAR!” The film has no contribution to society whatsoever with its horribly misogynistic viewpoints not being hidden to me underneath all of this added padded suits of armour. In truth, the cover of Spinal Tap’s album in This Is Spinal Tap is less misogynistic than this film. The script is bloated, crap and completely milked dry, and all acting participants involved are wooden and completely vacuous. Furthermore, the “stunning” cinematography and special effects, however long it took to make them look excellent, does not make them good. An old mantra applies: you can spend a lifetime sculpting crap, it’s still gonna be a crap. The most loathsome thing about the robot film (the film title is too long and I refuse to acknowledge it from here on in) is the fact that it cost $200 million to make, and scarily enough, gained over $800 million back. I hope they do something good with it, because if you are going to spend enough money on a film that could wipe out poverty in a third-world country, you might as well have something to show for it. How can someone make an action classic like The Rock and go on to making this? Michael Bay, this is a deplorable work, and never more in my time of being a critic have I felt so strongly to say that you should be ashamed of this lackadaisical piece of garbage. I can’t tell someone how to direct their film, but really, screw you. I am so angry and infuriated by everything this disaster of monolithic proportions stands for. It is enough to drive people towards paganism and burn you and the film inside a wicker man. Enough said, I am not wasting any more of my time on this film.

The Thin White Dude’s Acknowledgement For Contribution To Cinema Awards

The 3rd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Composition
Philip Glass

Despite initial ambivalence towards working in the medium of film, Glass’ impact on film composition ever since his masterful debut on Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi has been nothing short of impeccable. With work on ranging films from The Truman Show to Candyman, he is a great composer whose work deserves to be truly commended.

The 2nd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Editing
Walter Murch

In the midst of the New Hollywood film-makers of the late ‘60s-‘70s, the contributions and innovations of Walter Murch have been overlooked in terms of future impact upon cinema. Working on film’s such as Coppola’s The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, alongside Lucas’ THX 1138, Murch’s work has been truly outstanding in the editing of film sound.

The 3rd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Cinematography
Conrad Hall

With a body of work on film spanned five decades, Conrad Hall is certainly among the greatest cinematographers of all time. Most famous for his work on Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, Hall also had a strong period of activity towards the end of his life, winning Academy Awards for Sam Mendes’ American Beauty and Road To Perdition, which was posthumously dedicated to his memory.

The 3rd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Screenwriting
Oliver Stone

The real enfant terrible of screenwriting of the past three decades, Oliver Stone is never without controversy, be it writing for both films by other’s such as Parker’s Midnight Express and De Palma’s Scarface. Say what you will about his recent output, Stone wrote some incredible work, particularly on his own Platoon and re-working Tarantino’s Natural Born Killers into a masterpiece.

The 2nd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Female Acting
Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster has been a trailblazer in terms of sheer versatility of roles since her teens. In the same year, she played teenage prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver and Talullah in Bugsy Malone. She has since maintained an impeccable adult career, with Oscar-winning turns in The Accused and The Silence Of The Lambs, and strong turns in Panic Room and Inside Man of late.

The 3rd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Male Acting
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

Presently one of the best working actors in the world, Leung has had about as good a run of varied performances as any actor could ask for. With roles in films such as John Woo’s action classic Hard Boiled, Wong-Kar Wai’s In the mood for love, Zhang Yimou’s Hero and Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, Leung will in time be remembered as one of cinema’s greatest actors.

The 2nd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Producing
Arnon Milchan

While recent work would suggest that Milchan is a hack, having produced a number of classics until late, his work must be noted. Serving as producer on films such as Scorsese’s The King Of Comedy, Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America, Gilliam’s Brazil, Stone’s Natural Born Killers, Mann’s Heat, Hanson’s LA Confidential and Fincher’s Fight Club, this is a formidable body of productions by anyone’s standards.

The 3rd Hall Of Fame Inductee For Contribution To Directing
Clint Eastwood

One of the few actors to successfully make the transition from this role to that of film-maker, Eastwood has if anything only gotten better as a film-maker as time has went by. Beginning his directorial career in 1971 with Play Misty For Me, Eastwood has since directed films such as 1988’s Bird, Unforgiven for which he won an Oscar in 1992, 2003’s Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby in 2004, becoming one of the few two time Oscar-winning directors in history. His output has once again increased with The Iwo Jima films, Changeling and Gran Torino.

Class of 2009 Inductees To The Thin White Dude’s Film Hall Of Fame

This is a new category in the Hall Of Fame section I have been running for a few years now. I just feel that it is important not just to acknowledge the individuals who stand out in the film industry, but also the films which they have created. Every year, six films will be inducted to the Hall Of Fame in correspondence to the six main genres of film that are represented in my year-end awards

The 1st Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Comedic Film
Withnail And I

Quite frankly, Withnail and I has it all with regards to addressing all of the various aspects that can be included in comedy. It is ludicrous, satirical and completely tragic, often at the same time. For a comedy to be able achieve as much as Withnail and I is an incredible feat. Boasting superb performances from Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann and Richard Griffiths, Withnail and I truly is a milestone of comedic film.

The 1st Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Science-Fiction/Fantasy Film

No, I’m not trying to be difficult by declaring a Japanese anime film as one of my favorite science-fiction films of all time and the inaugural inductee here, it really is a tremendous work. Akira’s true greatness comes from the film’s great density. There really is few if any films that are as multi-faceted and ranging in topical themes as Akira, and it only seems that as time goes by and the movie is studied, more of these themes appear to emerge.

The 1st Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Horror Film
Night Of The Living Dead

If any one film director’s contributions to film have been overlooked by so-called “critics” it is George A. Romero. Don’t listen to the snoots who turn their noses up and thrust forth their chins, because Night Of The Living Dead is a masterpiece. Influential to this with its guerrilla cinematography being imitated in countless films of late, its lasting power is not just in its pure unadulterated horror, but the social messages regarding racism in America.

The 1st Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Thriller Film

Despite being a film from 1931, Fritz Lang’s classic has lost none of the suspense that powers this film. This is achieved and will continue to last because of the challenging topic matter, of the film creating sympathy for a character that would generally be sneered upon by most people. Peter Lorre is absolutely heartbreaking as Hans Beckert, the eponymous “M (murderer)” of the title, a child-molesting serial killer.

The 1st Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Drama Film
The Godfather

It’s cliché to say, but The Godfather truly is one of the greatest movies of all time. The film has aged like a fine wine, only getting better with age (roll on clichés), and seems like a fresh and new film. Hollywood filmmaking does not get better than this, with all elements, be it the top-notch acting, a sublime screenplay and powerful central direction to maintain structure, The Godfather will be viewed in the same light as Citizen Kane in years to come.

The 1st Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Action/Adventure Film
The Wages Of Fear

After over 100 years of cinema and the big-wigs of Hollywood trying to figure out the formula for a good action movie, why is it that a 1953 French movie that is still far better than Hollywood? Well, it boasts a brilliant concept that actually works and can be stretched for an entire film, is absolutely suspenseful and gripping, but also does not forget to establish the groundwork with wise characterization.

The Third Clockwork Award For Best Film Of 2009 – Nominees

· Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
· Avatar
· Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country
· The Hurt Locker
· Let The Right One In

And the winner is… Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

Every year, despite all of the rubbish that Hollywood can churn out in order to eat up our money like that giant robot in the robot movie that had a mouth like a jet engine, there are always shining lights of the greatness of cinema. However, while Hollywood does also attempt forays into this category of film with “for your consideration” films, sometimes you just have to take it upon yourself to find the best films in the world. Despite making tough decisions, this is what it is all about and I believe I have found my best picture. Hollywood’s big “for your consideration” film this year in fact turned out to be the biggest ever in Avatar. With a budget around six or seven times larger than that of the other four nominees put together, what Avatar offered was an experience like no other, completely mesmerizing with the best offering of visual effects yet to be seen in cinema. More importantly though, despite criticisms for weak characterization and dialogue, the film touches upon some very important issues and themes, and manages to keep the viewer engrossed throughout despite the odd few lapses. In the case of Let The Right One In, one of the best novels of the decade has been transformed into one of the best horror films of the decade. The key point with Let The Right One In is the fact that it remains true to its roots, while spreading its branches, and more importantly remaining consistently strong with a touching story in the relationship between Oskar and Eli. This will be looked back upon as a classic in the horror film genre and I will remember it fondly. Burma VJ is for me one of the most important films in existence right now, due to its prevalence in the exposure of the human rights injustices in Burma. It is a film which says more about the world than most of the rubbish coming out of cinema these days, and really should be used as a document to help pressure the military dictatorship of Burma into disintegration. This year’s Oscar winner The Hurt Locker really is a tremendous film, and to me shows a glimmer of hope in the Academy’s selections for Best Picture. Here, we have a film that genuinely deserves to win awards winning them, and is a really strong and formidable film in virtually all senses, be it the superb lead performance from Renner, editing by Chris Innis and Bob Murawski, Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography, Mark Boal’s script and Kathryn Bigelow’s direction. This is a perfect example of collaborative film-making at it’s best. Nevertheless, I stand by my belief that sometimes you have to fish out your own favorite film, and I have found it this year in Anvil! The Story Of Anvil. The story of two aging heavy metal members of the band Anvil, the film follows Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner in their misadventures of being in an “unsuccessful” heavy metal band. Structurally, the film is excellent, beginning with them at their peak in 1983, the cut to the present in their day jobs is a real club on the head. Anvil is one of those documentaries, like Burma VJ, that defies its medium’s limitations. It proves that reality can be as interesting, never mind stranger than fiction. This is the kind of story could not have been scripted, and as a result is far better. Undeterred by their lack of “success” Lips and Robb continue nevertheless, as a bunch of dreamers who continue to live it, despite being doubted everywhere else by everyone else. The story that is captured is a triumph the human spirit, but also a triumph of the power of companionship and friendship. Despite being very different, Lips and Robb are clearly two sides of the same coin, and are inseparable, existing as one whole. People called Slumdog Millionaire a feel-good film? I’m sorry folks, I liked the film, but this is the real deal, and is the best film of the year.

List of multiple award winners

· The Hurt Locker – 5 award wins: Best Thriller of 2009, Best Screenplay of 2009, Best Editorial Work of 2009, Best Director of 2009, Best Sound Design/Mixing of 2009
· Avatar – 5 award wins: Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy of 2009, Best Producer(s) of 2009, Best Special Effects/Make-Up of 2009, Best Production Design of 2009, Best Animated Film of 2009
· Let The Right One In – 3 award wins: Best Horror Film of 2009, Best Lead Role by a Female Actor of 2009, Best Vocal Performance of 2009
· Anvil! The Story Of Anvil – 3 award wins: Most Surprisingly Entertaining Film of 2009, Best Documentary of 2009, Best Film of 2009
· Inglorious Basterds – 2 award wins: Biggest Disappointment of 2009, Best Supporting Role by a Male Actor of 2009
· Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country – 2 award wins: Best Cinematography of 2009, Best Foreign Language Film of 2009
· The Robot Movie – 2 awards wins: Most Excessively Violent Film of 2009, Worst Film of 2009
· District 9 – 2 award wins: Most Ingenious Concept of 2009, Most Promising Debut Filmmaker of 2009

Top Ten Films Of 2009

1. Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country
4. Let The Right One In
5. Avatar
6. Looking For Eric
7. District 9
8. Moon
9. Coraline
10. (500) Days Of Summer

The Thin White Dude’s Year-End Average – 6.9

On A Final Note

I’ll keep this short, for I’m quite sure you’ll have had enough for now. If you have managed to read this through completely from start to finish, I am very gracious, and please post a comment so I can send you a certificate to certify you are officially as big a nerd as I am. Anyway, in seriousness, I can’t tell you how good it feels to know something you have put a full month’s work into has paid off. While it may seem like the unstructured ramblings of a madman, I have tried my best, so please do not be harsh in your judgment of me. Who am I kidding, who is reading this anyway? Get on with your life. Go on, shoo! I’ll be back to my usual umpire’s seat in a few weeks to scrutinize the never-ending horizon ahead of me. Every year, we get older, but the films we see ahead and leave behind are timeless. I’m The Thin White Dude, and as I prepare to saddle up and head forth toward the desert, I bid though farewell, or as the Vulcan’s would say “Live long and prosper.” See what a movie can do!

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