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Friday, 28 February 2014

2013 - The Thin White Dude's 7th Annual Best And Worst Of The Year In Film



As I said in my review for The Wolf Of Wall Street, I've been at this seven years and finished school, got a degree, been unemployed and employed, and through all this time, I've had these films to review. Good or bad, they've always given me food for thought and afforded me the opportunity to hone my craft. For this, as in all aspects of life itself, I am grateful, and will continue to strive to do this to the very best of my abilities. As you can see, the poster is for The Act Of Killing, the winner of the 2nd Thin White Dude's Championship for Independent/Unique Contribution to Cinema in 2013, so while that award may be a cheap plug, if you will, it still means that I'm putting a full year's worth and my own weight behind it (for what that's worth. You know, being Thin White Dude and all...). Last year, I saw sixty-two films, four shy of my all-time record of sixty-six, but hey, no capsule reviews (aside from my Texas Chainsaw rant espousing Blogger to not glitch on me and making a poxy attempt to tie into the struggle of the working man), so it's my most prolific year from a purely 'words' standpoint. Once again, I'm proven right (in the eyes of I) about my theory that we get four or five masterpieces every year (yes, Mr. Coppola, every year!), so, we better get crackin' and find out the happenings of 2013.

Ground Rules

1. A movie must have received a release in theatres or on DVD in 2013

2. The numbers of eligible nominees for all categories are between five and ten, with the potential for increase if need be on Best Film and Worst Film.

3. Being a professional (though unpaid as I am), I am only going to discussing movies I saw in 2013 (so no Her, Nebraska, Stoker etc.), and the movies in discussion have been watched in full, from start to finish. I won't be pulling any Rex Reed's here!

4. Most, but not all categories are arranged by alphabetical order in relation to the film nominated and not the individual(s) nominated.

5. No new categories this year, I figure there's plenty enough as it is, but hey, if something comes to mind that I might be missing out, feel free to give me a shout!

6. These are opinions of a jury of one, so take that into account, as I have, in relation to my tone and occasional digression into the majestic plurals.

7. Feel free to comment or share your opines regarding this or your own Best and Worst of 2013.

Signed
The Thin White Dude





The 7th John Carpenter Award for Best Horror Film of 2013

American Mary (Evolution Pictures/430 Productions/Twisted Twins Productions) – The Soska Sisters
Evil Dead (Ghost House Pictures/FilmDistrict) – Fede Alvarez
Maniac (Canal+/Cine+/La Petite Reine/Studio 37/Blue Underground) – Franck Khalfoun

And the winner is… Maniac (Canal+/Cine+/La Petite Reine/Studio 37/Blue Underground) – Franck Khalfoun

Strange year for horror cinema, in that two remakes which do their own thing are among the best, and the best non-remake is a twisted little picture from two women. However, amongst this weird barrel of scares, Maniac is the best of them. It’s a full-on and uncompromising piece of pulp, the POV nature of the film giving it a strange voyeuristic quality, grounded by a creepy central performance by Elijah Wood that gets under your skin.



The 6th Kenneth Loach Award for Best Drama of 2013

Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Quat’sous Films/Wild Bunch) Abdellatif Kechiche
Dallas Buyers Club (Truth Entertainment/Voltage Pictures) Jean-Marc Vallee
12 Years A Slave (Summit Entertainment/Regency Enterprises/River Road Entertainment/Film4/Plan B) Steve McQueen
What Maisie Knew (Red Crown Productions) Scott McGehee/David Siegel

And the winner(s) are… Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Quat’sous Films/Wild Bunch) Abdellatif Kechiche and 12 Years A Slave (Summit Entertainment/Regency Enterprises/River Road Entertainment/Film4/Plan B) Steve McQueen

This year, there were two certifiable masterpieces in the drama genre, so while I may be cheating, to split the two and say one is better than other would be very hard for me. Blue Is The Warmest Colour is a beautifully emotional journey of the teenage central character, and her love and relationship with an older art student, while 12 Years A Slave is one of the most harrowing, brutal and unflinching portrayals of racism and the strength of the human spirit I’ve ever seen. Both are honest, truthful works of art, which I felt privileged to see, and are among the best films of 2013.


The 6th Sylvester Stallone Award for Best Action/Adventure Film of 2013

Fast & Furious 6  (Original Film/One Race Films) Justin Lin
The Last Stand (di Bonaventura Pictures) Kim Jee-woon
Rush (Exclusive Media/Revolution Films/Working Title Films/Imagine Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures) Ron Howard
White House Down (Centropolis Entertainment/Mythology Entertainement) Roland Emmerich
World War Z (Skydance Productions/Hemisphere Media Capital/GK Films/Plan B Entertainment) Marc Forster

And the winner is… Rush (Exclusive Media/Revolution Films/Working Title Films/Imagine Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures) Ron Howard

In what surely has to go down as one of the major Oscar snubs in recent memory, this masterpiece from Ron Howard failed to garner a single nomination, not even in the technical categories. No such injustice will happen here, for Rush is right up there at the top of the food chain. It has action, drama, racing and a battle of wits in a Frost/Nixon manner between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, the ingredients of which make it one of the most accessible movies of last 2013. Wonderful movie, deserves more than being short-changed the way that it has been.





The 7th GWB Award for Most ‘Unintentionally’ Offensive Film of 2013

After Earth (Overbrook Entertainment/Blinding Edge Pictures/Relativity Media) M. Night Shyamalan: pissed off anti-Scientologists, to a lesser extent Scientologists themselves, and those who felt nepotism was at play
A Belfast Story (Adnuco Pictures) – Nathan Todd: pissed off people before they saw the movie with its stupid press pack, those of the non-nationalist opinion and myself, because I don’t like to see ‘Minstrel Irish’ onscreen
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Quat’sous Films/Wild Bunch) Abdellatif Kechiche: pissed off frigids who felt uncomfortable during the film’s long sex scenes
The Counsellor (Scott Free Productions/Nick Wechsler Productions/Chockstone Pictures)Ridley Scott: pissed off everyone who didn’t confuse the film’s pseudo-philosophical babble with profundity
Diana (Ecosse Films/Le Pacte/Film I Vast/Filmgate Films/Scope Pictures)Oliver Hirschbiegel: pissed off critics, the royal family, Hasnat Khan, etc.
Grown Ups 2 (Happy Madison) Adam Sandler: pissed off everyone who believes in good humour and legitimate narrative cinema
Only God Forgives (FilmDistrict/Gaumont/Wild Bunch/Film i Vast) Nicolas Winding Refn: pissed off people who though it was stylistic overkill, those repulsed by onscreen violence and feminists

And the winner is… Diana (Ecosse Films/Le Pacte/Film I Vast/Filmgate Films/Scope Pictures)Oliver Hirschbiegel: pissed off critics, the royal family, Hasnat Khan, etc.

Diana was unique in that before its release it looked like the kind of movie that could be an awards season player, especially in the wake of The King’s Speech. However, it opened to critics who dismissed the saccharine love story, banning the royal family from attending it’s premier, and having Hasnat Khan, Diana’s lover, portrayed in the film by Naveen Andrews, coming out and saying it’s a bunch of baloney. Speaking personally, it didn’t annoy as much as bore me, as I started to fall asleep watching it until my mother saw it fit to ensure that I was awake to endure the rest of this dribblesome bore of a film.





The 7th David Fincher Award for Best Thriller of 2013

Captain Phillips (Michael De Luca Productions/Scott Rudin Productions/Trigger Street Productions) – Paul Greengrass
Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) – Daniele Vicari
Only God Forgives (FilmDistrict/Gaumont/Wild Bunch/Film i Vast) – Nicolas Winding Refn
Prisoners (Alcon Entertainment) – Denis Villeneuve
Trance (Cloud Eight Films/Pathe International/Film4 Productions/Indian Paintbrush) – Danny Boyle

And the winner is… Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) – Daniele Vicari

Considering that you’ve got Paul Greengrass in this category this year, it’s a testament to the strength of Daniele Vicari’s Diaz that he out-Greengrass’s Paul Greengrass. Focusing on the storming of the Diaz school in Genoa by law enforcement amidst the 2001 G8 summit, it’s a frank and shocking depiction of these events. It also completely objective in the portrayal’s of the police and the activists/journalists on both sides, showing people simply as people. A movie that really grabs you by the horns.





The 7th Philip K. Dick Award for Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Film of 2013

Frozen (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios) – Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) – Alfonso Cuaron
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/WingNut Films) – Peter Jackson
Oblivion (Relativity Media/Chernin Entertainment/Monolith Pictures/Radical Studios) – Joseph Kosinski
Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures) – Guillermo del Toro

And the winner is… Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) – Alfonso Cuaron

This was a strong year for science-fiction/fantasy film, and over the years I’ve seen many great movies; the past winners of this award are The Host, Wall-E, Avatar, Inception, Source Code and Dredd, and I think this years winner, Gravity, is the best of the bunch. This is now the standard bearer against which all others will be judged. At risk of sounding sweeping, I think it will be at least a decade before we see anything as game changing as Gravity.


The 7th Stan and Ollie Award for Best Comedic Film of 2013

American Hustle (Atlas Entertainment/Annapurna Pictures) – David O. Russell
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Apatow Productions/Gary Sanchez Productions) – Adam McKay
Filth (Steel Mill Pictures/Film i Vast) – Jon S. Baird
In The House (Mandarin Cinema) – Francois Ozon
Philomena (Pathe/BBC Films/British Film Institute/Canal+/Cine+/Baby Cow Productions/Magnolia Mae Films) – Stephen Frears
The Wolf Of Wall Street (Red Granite Pictures/Appian Way Productions/Sikelia Productions/Emjag Productions) – Martin Scorsese

And the winner is… The Wolf Of Wall Street (Red Granite Pictures/Appian Way Productions/Sikelia Productions/Emjag Productions) – Martin Scorsese

In an outstanding year for comedy (The Heat, The Internship, This Is The End, Cloudy 2 and Monsters University all got kicked back from nomination), the wise old sage prevails. With a back catalogue across six different decades, it’s amazing to still see Martin Scorsese make a movie as wild and energetic as The Wolf Of Wall Street. Individual scenes of the film could be taken as sketches, with such graciously obscene dialogue and downright hilarious scenarios. Furthermore, such ‘gratuitousness’ is used as a (successful) satirical riff on the society of excess; there’s real depth to this bad boy.


The 7th ‘I Am Legend’ Award for Biggest Disappointment of 2013

The Counsellor (Scott Free Productions/Nick Wechsler Productions/Chockstone Pictures) – Ridley Scott: what could/should have been a great film is instead a bunch of soliloquies crammed together and marketed as narrative cinema
47 Ronin (Relativity Media) – Carl Rinsch: big-budget period jidaigeki/chanbara samurai film with lots of action: why is this so dull?
The Great Gatsby (Village Roadshow Pictures/Bazmark Productions/A&E Television/Red Wagon Entertainment) – Baz Luhrmann – an incredibly frustrating, over-stylised mess which has all the qualities of an aneurysm
Man Of Steel (Legendary Pictures/Syncopy/DC Entertainment) – Zack Snyder – Superman, yes, Christopher Nolan, yes, Zack Snyder, ye-… oh…
Star Trek Into Darkness (Bad Robot Productions/K/O Paper Products/Skydance Productions) – J.J. Abrams: after the terrific first reboot film, with the same crew on board, why does this fall flat on it’s face?

And the winner is… Man Of Steel (Legendary Pictures/Syncopy/DC Entertainment) – Zack Snyder – Superman, yes, Christopher Nolan, yes, Zack Snyder, ye-… oh…

I’ve seen all the movies subject to my best and worst this year, so, being past the stage of objectivity, I make no bones about the fact that I’m making a point about Man Of Steel. It’s so self-important without any pinch of salt or any real inclination towards a sense of humour, and its big, bloated, turgid, un-engaging, uninteresting and does absolutely nothing for the character or universe he inhabits. People always bitch about Superman Returns, believe me, this movie sucked!



The 5th Walt Disney Award for Best Animated Film of 2013

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (Sony Pictures Animation) Cody Cameron/Kris Pearn
Frozen (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
Monsters University (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios) Dan Scanlon

And the winner is… Frozen (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee

At risk of sounding real poxy, I think Frozen had a winning combination: there was both a love and respect towards the tradition of Disney musicals, but not so much that it hampered the quality of the film. Frozen is an original picture with plenty of personality, with songs that will become canonical in the Disney oeuvre (especially with Disney On Ice such a big draw) and a strong animated film.


The 3rd Sergei Eisenstein Award for Best Propaganda Film of 2013

After Earth M. Night Shyamalan: Smith Family Robinson = sci-fi brilliance or turgid mess?
The Counselor – Ridley Scott: everyone will buy into pseudo-philosophical babble about sexuality, morality and all-sorts because, hey, it’s Cormac McCarthy
Diana Oliver Hirschbiegel: people will care about a saccharine romance because it’s Lady Di
47 Ronin Carl Rinsch: put Hossein Amini (drama) and Chris Morgan (action) together, you’re bound to get the best of both worlds. Right?
The Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann: when adapting a literary classic, the given M.O. is to make as bombastic and ludicrous as is possible
Grown Ups 2Dennis Dugan: that Adam Sandler gave a rats ass about the quality, or lack thereof, of the worst movie I’ve reviewed in seven years
The Hangover Part III Todd Phillips: that it’s okay to sell a movie this dull on the basis of its predecessors
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom – Justin Chadwick: Nelson Mandela was a figure of messianic proportions not dissimilar to Jesus Christ
The Starving Games Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer: Friedberg & Seltzer are now maverick indie-filmmakers without major studio backing

And the winner is… After Earth M. Night Shyamalan: Smith Family Robinson = sci-fi brilliance or turgid mess?

There are several others here that could have walked this, but I do think that I am right in picking After Earth as Best Propaganda Film. I’m not talking about the discussed links between the film and Scientology (if there are, so be it, woop woop!), but just the idea that you can make something so dull and get away with it. And don’t get me wrong, this is not M. Night Shyamalan’s fault, he’s a director-for-hire here, the blame lays solely at the feet of The Smiths, more specifically Will Smith. Jaden may be a bad actor, but it’s his Dad, a smart and very charismatic person, who put him at the forefront of a $130 million movie (Lord knows where the money went, the movie looks like shit!) without any real depth or backbone. 


The 5th Walter Murch Award for Best Sound Design/Mixing in a Film from 2013

Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) Daniele Vicari
Elysium (Alphacore/Media Rights Capital/QED International)Neill Blomkamp
Evil Dead (Ghost House Pictures/FilmDistrict)Fede Alvarez
Frozen (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) Alfonso Cuaron
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/WingNut Films) Peter Jackson
Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures) Guillermo del Toro
Rush (Exclusive Media/Revolution Films/Working Title Films/Imagine Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures) Ron Howard
12 Years A Slave (Summit Entertainment/Regency Enterprises/River Road Entertainment/Film4/Plan B) Steve McQueen
And the winner(s) are… Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) Alfonso Cuaron and Rush (Exclusive Media/Revolution Films/Working Title Films/Imagine Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures) Ron Howard

To be frank, there are three or four among the nominees who I’d say would be deserving winners, but seeing as how I’m cheating anyway with my joint winners, I’ll have to settle for two. Anywho, both of these films had spectacular sound design/mixing that put us completely into the atmosphere the characters’ inhabited. Whether going between soundless space and oxygenated stations or flying around a racetrack in the cockpit of an F1 during a Grand Prix, both of these films had incredibly immersive sound that helped the audience buy the legitimacy of their worlds.


The 6th Paul Schrader Award for Best Film Screenplay of 2013

Abdellatif Kechiche/Ghalia Lacroix (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche
Craig Borten/Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club) Jean-Marc Vallee
Laura Paoluci/Daniele Vicari (Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood) Daniele Vicari
Jon S. Baird (Filth) Jon S. Baird
Alfonso Cuaron/Jonas Cuaron (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron
Peter Morgan (Rush) Ron Howard
John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)Steve McQueen
Carroll Cartwright/Nancy Doyne (What Maisie Knew) Scott McGehee/David Siegel
Terence Winter (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese

And the winner is… John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)Steve McQueen

12 Years A Slave is a movie that works in so many ways, but part of this is down to the terrific adapted screenplay by John Ridley. Adapting a hundred-fifty-year-old memoir can’t have been an easy process, but Ridley beautifully (if what happens onscreen can be called ‘beauty) realises the atmosphere of life on a plantation in the 1840s. The suffering of the protagonist is portrayed with such honesty and in a frank nature, with three-dimensional characters beyond the distillation you might expect with such contentious issues being confronted. The dialogue, pitched between profundity (“I don’t want to survive, I want to live”) and engaging colloquial language, is note perfect, and as a whole it’s the most balanced screenplay of the year.


The 4th Edith Head Award for Best Costume Designs in a Film from 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Adam McKay
47 Ronin Carl Rinsch
Gravity Alfonso Cuaron
The Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Peter Jackson
Iron Man 3 Shane Black
Pacific Rim Guillermo Del Toro
Rush Ron Howard
12 Years A Slave Steve McQueen
The Wolf Of Wall Street Martin Scorsese

And the winner is… The Great Gatsby Baz Luhrmann

Give the devil its due; while I did not like the movie as a whole, I’d be a liar if I tried denying that Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby had a tremendous mise-en-scene, and the costumes were a big part of that. Be it lavish dresses, tailored suits or whatever the actors in the film may be wearing, the costumes and their designs are of such a consistently high standard that this’ll be the envy of the catwalk fashion show world for a good while.


The 7th ‘Real Steel’ Award for Most Surprisingly Entertaining Film of 2013

Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) Daniele Vicari: released direct-to-DVD in the UK, never heard of it, really took me aback
Evil Dead (Ghost House Pictures/FilmDistrict)Fede Alvarez: had trepidations, but Alvarez does here his own thing with the franchise
Fast & Furious 6 (Original Film/One Race Films) Justin Lin: genuinely insane, a big treasure-box for action movie fans
The Internship (Regency Enterprises/Wild West Picture Show Productions/21 Laps Entertainment/Dune Entertainment) Shawn Levy: went in expecting to hate it, came out thinking that it had no right to be this enjoyable; a real anomaly
Maniac (Canal+/Cine+/La Petite Reine/Studio 37/Blue Underground)Franck Khalfoun: thought it could have been New York Ripper-esque trash, turned out to be stylistically fascinating and frightening picture

And the winner is… The Internship (Regency Enterprises/Wild West Picture Show Productions/21 Laps Entertainment/Dune Entertainment) Shawn Levy: went in expecting to hate it, came out thinking that it had no right to be this enjoyable; a real anomaly

This may as well be called the Shawn Levy award, let’s face it. His Real Steel was the name sake for this, and once again he’s defied expectation, delivering the best Vince Vaughan movie in a long time. Most people hated it, cited it as a big advertisement for Google, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but I got a lot of good laughs out of this. Vaughan and Wilson are very funny as completely out of touch interns, and seeing the two (particularly Vaughan) on a webcam interview is one of the most terrifying things I saw all year.


The 6th Christopher Doyle Award for Best Cinematography in a Film from 2013

Sofian El Fani (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) – Abdellatif Kechiche
Gherardo Gossi (Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood) – Daniele Vicari
Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) – Alfonso Cuaron
Maxime Alexandre (Maniac) – Franck Khalfoun
Larry Smith (Only God Forgives) – Nicolas Winding Refn
Guillermo Navarro (Pacific Rim) – Guillermo Del Toro
Roger Deakins (Prisoners) – Denis Villeneuve
Anthony Dod Mantle (Rush) – Ron Howard
Sean Bobbit (12 Years A Slave) – Steve McQueen
Giles Nuttgens (What Maisie Knew) – Scott McGeheee/David Siegel

And the winner is… Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) – Alfonso Cuaron

This is Lubezki’s second award in this category from yours truly. When I reviewed Gravity, I made another of my sweeping statements that I so regularly tell off other critics for, saying Gravity is “the best shot movie since The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford,” but here’s the thing, I was right. The film’s long takes are breathtaking, doing much to tell the story in an engaging, visual manner and aspects of what Lubezski does here not only advances the medium technically but also serves the plot appropriately. The benefit of hindsight has made me realise that this cinematography is something that, outside of how it fits into the bigger picture, deserves recognition in and of itself.


The 4th Rick Baker Award for Best Make-Up/Hair in a Film from 2013

American Hustle David O. Russell
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Adam McKay
Elysium Neill Blomkamp
Evil Dead Fede Alvarez
The Great GatsbyBaz Luhrmann
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Peter Jackson
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom Justin Chadwick
Only God Forgives Nicolas Winding Refn

And the winner is… Elysium Neill Blomkamp

Neill Blomkamp’s sophomore feature is a flawed work, but one of the places it succeeds is from a design standpoint, and nowhere is this more so the case than in the makeup and hair. At times it’s a violent film, and the artists handle all the nasty gore, bits and viscera rather well. WETA Workshop did an amazing job here, but the exoskeleton suit Matt Damon’s character wears is miles ahead of the curve. You can see quite clearly that this a physical thing grafted onto the character, and that Damon was able to run around and do all sorts of stuff while in it is quite an achievement.



The 6th Lucio Fulci Award for Most Excessively Violent Film of 2013

After Earth (Overbrook Entertainment/Blinding Edge Pictures/Relativity Media) M. Night Shyamalan
Devils Of War (Paradise City Pictures) Eli Dorsey
A Good Day To Die Hard (Giant Pictures/TSG Entertainment) John Moore
The Great Gatsby (Village Roadshow Pictures/Bazmark Productions/A&E Television/Red Wagon Entertainment) Baz Luhrmann
Grown Ups 2 (Happy Madison)Dennis Dugan
The Hangover Part III (Legendary Pictures/Green Hat Films) Todd Phillips

And the winner is… The Great Gatsby (Village Roadshow Pictures/Bazmark Productions/A&E Television/Red Wagon Entertainment) Baz Luhrmann

Now, before y’all say “hang on, Gatsby wasn’t violent,” allow me to make a pre-emptive retort. While I admit that it was way more grounded in the second half, the first hour or so of this movie is as much a cinematic assault as I can remember experiencing. I understand they were trying to get across the excessive lifestyles of these characters, but The Wolf Of Wall Street did that without making you feel like you were being hit continually with a sledgehammer. As someone who has been kicked in the head, at least I can say that didn’t last as long as The Great Gatsby.


The 6th Ennio Morricone Award for Best Original Score/Soundtrack in a Film from 2013

Jean-Paul Haurier/Elise Lugern/Other Contributors (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche
Roque Banos (Evil Dead) Fede Alvarez
Clint Mansell (Filth) Jon S. Baird
Christophe Beck/Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez (Frozen) Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
Steven Price (Gravity)Alfonso Cuaron
Cliff Martinez (Only God Forgives) Nicolas Winding Refn
Ramin Djawadi (Pacific Rim) Guillermo Del Toro
Johann Johannsson (Prisoners) Denis Villeneuve
Hans Zimmer (Rush)Ron Howard
Hans Zimmer (12 Years A Slave) Alfonso Cuaron

And the winner is… Steven Price (Gravity)Alfonso Cuaron

Even with one of my old favourites, Maestro Hans Zimmer bagging two nominations, the best score of the year is Steven Price’s work on Gravity. I compared it in my review to the work of Klaus Schulze, and indeed what Price does is follow the emotional course of the story, be it soothing choral voices in moments of reflection or distorted, pulsating synths during intense scenes. There is something inherently otherworldly yet wholly transcendent about this music. When deciding this award, I listening to the music from these films again, and then I realised I had listened to Price’s work unprompted on several occasions, on all times taking me back to the movie and reminding of everything good about it.


The 2nd Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra (EMO) Award for Worst Film Score/Soundtrack of 2013

James Newton Howard (After Earth) M. Night Shyamalan
Nick Glennie-Smith/Mac Quayle (A Belfast Story) Nathan Todd
Nathan Barr (The Big Wedding) Justin Zackham
Daniel Pemberton (The Counselor) Ridley Scott
Keefus Ciancia/David Holmes (Diana) Oliver Hirschbiegel
Craig Armstrong/Other Contributors (The Great Gatsby) Baz Lurhmann
Rupert Gregson-Williams (Grown Ups 2)Dennis Dugan
Timothy Michael Wynn (The Starving Games) Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer
John Frizzell (Texas Chainsaw) John Luessenhop

And the winner is… Rupert Gregson-Williams (Grown Ups 2)Dennis Dugan

It’s not the easiest to think of bad music when you’re listening to Dick Dale, but when I think of bad music, it’s easy to think of Rupert Gregson-Williams’ work on Grown Ups 2. This is the second time I’ve given out this award and two years in a row Rupert Gregson-Williams has got it. Perhaps I should rename it in his honour (or dishonour)? Having become the Happy Madison in-house composer, he has got some serious questions to ask himself, being associated with and openly producing such tripe. Among the worst things in contemporary cinema, Gregson-Williams’ willingness to ‘humour’ Adam Sandler is another reason why the comic’s career has gone down the toilet.


The 2nd David Bowie Award for Best Theme/Song in a Film from 2013

Lykke Li: “I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix)” (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche
Idina Menzel: “Let It Go” (Frozen) Idina Menzel
The Undertones: “Teenage Kicks” (Good Vibrations) Lisa Barros D’Sa/Glenn Leyburn
Steven Price: “Don’t Let Go” (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron
Rob feat. Chloe Alper: “Juno” (Maniac) Franck Khalfoun
Cliff Martinez: “Wanna Fight?” (Only God Forgives) Nicolas Winding Refn
Ramin Djawadi: “Pacific Rim” (Pacific Rim) Guillermo del Toro
Hans Zimmer: “Lost But Won” (Rush) Ron Howard
Hans Zimmer: “Boat Trip To New Orleans” (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen

And the winner is… Steven Price: “Don’t Let Go” (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron

Steven Price’s score for Gravity is a remarkable work, and the track Don’t Let Go sonically personifies everything that the music (and the film) is trying to achieve. Beginning moody and melancholic, it makes a slow transition into an intense, high-energy aural landscape. Listening to that track over again on YouTube, I’m thrust right back into the world of the movie, which is exactly what good music from any movie should do. In the same way you have Urge Overkill’s Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon bring you back to Uma Thurman dancing, or Nino Rota’s main Godfather theme conjures the image of Don Vito Corleone by his desk in a dark room, Don’t Let Go takes me back to Sandra Bullock swinging around on the arm near the beginning of Gravity.



The 4th Dante Ferretti Award for Best Production Design in a Film from 2013

Elysium Neill Blomkamp
Gravity Alfonso Cuaron
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Peter Jackson
Oblivion Joseph Kosinski
Only God Forgives Nicolas Winding Refn
Pacific Rim Guillermo Del Toro
Rush Ron Howard
12 Years A Slave Steve McQueen

And the winner is… Pacific Rim Guillermo Del Toro

Although once again, I feel myself leaning towards the tremendous work others did on the nominees here, without question the best production design of 2013 is that on Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Toro has always been painstaking in the details towards his films’ production design, and this is the case here, although given the colossal nature of the piece, everything is that much bigger. Not only the Jaegers and the Kaiju, but also the space the characters inhabit is awesome in terms of sheer size. It’s a movie of real scope and loving craft full deserving of this award.


The 5th Stan Winston Award for Best Special/Visual Effects in a Film from 2013

Elysium Neill Blomkamp
Gravity Alfonso Cuaron
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of SmaugPeter Jackson
Iron Man 3Shane Black
Man Of Steel Zack Snyder
Oblivion Joe Kosinski
Pacific Rim Guillermo Del Toro
Rush Ron Howard
Star Trek Into Darkness J.J. Abrams

And the winner is… Pacific Rim Guillermo Del Toro

Much as I was thinking Gravity (again), the effects work is a key part and integral to the success and legitimacy of Pacific Rim. It’s amazing to think about the difference between this and a similarly themed franchise about robots hitting each other, just in terms of the sheer weight behind the Jaegers and the Kaiju. You can genuinely feel the force of each blow, and the fight scenes, or more appropriately, ‘battle’ sequences are amazingly realized. The special and visual effects teams have done a tremendous job here; beautifully designed with both legitimacy and painstaking detail, the lovingly crafted work deserves this award.


The 5th Vic Armstrong Award for Best Stunts/Choreography in a Film from 2013

Elysium - Neill Blomkamp
Fast & Furious 6 - Justin Lin
A Good Day To Die Hard - John Moore
Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Jackson 
Only God Forgives - Nicolas Winding Refn
Rush - Ron Howard
White House Down - Roland Emmerich
World War Z - Marc Forster
And the winner is... Fast & Furious 6 - Justin Lin

Watching Fast & Furious 6 was like a wet dream for crazy action enthusiasts/fetishists like myself. While Fast Five was to change the format of the series from that of a street racing franchise into that of a heist/caper series, and this sequel is further down the loophole. Eschewing much of the self-important boohick, there's car chases, crashes, explosions, gun battles, foot chases, martial-arts based fight sequences, just about everything on a checklist for an action movie fan. Genuinely gobsmacking in its impact, the stunts of Fast & Furious 6 of a consistently high standard.


The 6th Thelma Schoonmaker Award for Best Editorial Work in a Film from 2013

Niels Pagh Andersen/Erik Andersson/Charlotte Munch Bengtsen/Janus Billeskov Jansen/Ariadna Fatjo-Vilas/Mariko Montpetit (The Act Of Killing) Joshua Oppenheimer
Eli Despres (Blackfish) Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Christopher Rouse (Captain Phillips) Paul Greengrass
Bryan Shaw (Evil Dead) Fede Alvarez
Mark Eckersley (Filth)Jon S. Baird
Alfonso Cuaron/Mark Sanger (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron
Jabez Olssen (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug)Peter Jackson
Daniel P. Hanley/Mike Hill (Rush) Ron Howard
Joe Walker (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen
Thelma Schoonmaker (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese

And the winner is… Mark Eckersley (Filth)Jon S. Baird

There were other films that were perhaps more technically astute in terms of their editing, but from the practical standpoint of how editing is used to tell a story, Mark Eckersley’s work in Filth is the one that stands out. There is a unified field of seamlessness throughout the picture, but Eckersley gives this tale a Warholian pop-art collage quality, so that while it’s consistent, there is a huge level of multimodality. It is the editing by Eckersley that makes this an almost enchanting romp that is thoroughly entertaining and highly watchable.


The 7th James Cameron Award for Best Sequel of 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Apatow Productions/Gary Sanchez Productions)Adam McKay: remains respectful to the memory of the original while upping the ante
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (Song Pictures Animation) Cody Cameron/Kris Pearn: a bizarro follow-up that becomes an ecological commentary
Fast & Furious 6 (Original Film/One Race Films) Justin Lin: goes further down the precedent set by Fast Five and hits the ball out of the park
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/WingNut Films)Peter Jackson: after the (slight) disappointment of An Unexpected Journey, they’ve really nailed it with this one; an amazing third act
Monsters University (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios) Dan Scanlon: a solid return to form for Pixar after Cars 2 and a welcome addition to the Monsters universe

And the winner is… The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/WingNut Films) – Peter Jackson: after the (slight) disappointment of An Unexpected Journey, they’ve really nailed it with this one; an amazing third act

When An Unexpected Journey came out, loads were fawning over it because of the memory of The Lord Of The Rings films, and while it was very good, it wasn’t worthy of some of the five-star reviews it garnered. Here, on the other hand, we have a movie that not only does it’s own thing, unrestricted from establishing the source, but also abiding rather loyally by it in spirit. As I said, the third act is tremendous, and one of the most well timed endings of a movie I can remember seeing.






The 6th Werner Herzog Award for Most Ingenious Film Concept of 2013

The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer: (giving mass-murderers the means to film re-enactments of their own monstrousness)
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Quat’sous Films/Wild Bunch) Abdellatif Kechiche: (relationship between two women not portrayed as a niche thing, but instead in bold, no uncertain terms as love)
Evil Dead (Ghost House Pictures/FilmDistrict)Fede Alvarez: (taking the base of the original and developing it’s own story from the ground up)
Filth (Steel Mill Pictures/Film i Vast) – Jon S. Baird: (the most loathsome protagonist cast as the centerpiece of a comedy)
Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) Alfonso Cuaron: (a $100 million 3D b-movie in space about getting from point A to point B)
Maniac (Canal+/Cine+/La Petite Reine/Studio 37/Blue Underground)Franck Khalfoun: (succeeding with an entire picture shot in POV)
Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures) Guillermo del Toro: (building-size robots versus colossal sea monsters)
Philomena (Pathe/BBC Films/British Film Institute/Canal+/Cine+/Baby Cow Productions/Magnolia Mae Films) Stephen Frears: (delivering the big reveal half way through, unveiling it’s true focus as an engaging theological debate)
12 Years A Slave (Summit Entertainment/Regency Enterprises/River Road Entertainment/Film4/Plan B) Steve McQueen: (a bald, unflinching portrayal of human suffering, endurance and a vivid, uncompromised exploration of the race issue)
The Wolf Of Wall Street (Red Granite Pictures/Appian Way Productions/Sikelia Productions/Emjag Productions)Martin Scorsese: (being incredibly excessive in depicting excess)

And the winner is… The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer: (giving mass-murderers the means to film re-enactments of their own monstrousness)

On paper, it’s simple, but in practice, the concept behind The Act Of Killing is truly frightening and rather daring. To be able to film these men with objectivity and not let your opinions cloud the production is an achievement in itself, but to have them film re-enactments of their own murders is another thing altogether. This is such an audacious, daring and subversive picture, made all the more pertinent by shedding light on major human rights issues and it’s place in reality.


The 4th ‘Cemetery Junction’ Award for Most Overlooked Film of 2013

Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) Daniele Vicari: one of the best films of 2013 didn’t even receive a theatrical release in the United Kingdom
Filth (Steel Mill Pictures/Film i Vast) – Jon S. Baird: well-received critically, but broke even at UK box-office and as of this writing has yet to be released the United States
A Good Day To Die Hard (Giant Pictures/TSG Entertainment)John Moore: critically slaughtered, but not as bad as some believe it to be
The Internship (Regency Enterprises/Wild West Picture Show Productions/21 Laps Entertainment/Dune Entertainment) Shawn Levy: cynical viewing as a two-hour Google advertisement I feel may have distorted perspectives
Maniac (Canal+/Cine+/La Petite Reine/Studio 37/Blue Underground)Franck Khalfoun: how many people made stupid ‘Frodo’ jokes before going into this? I rest my case.
Oblivion (Relativity Media/Chernin Entertainment/Monolith Pictures/Radical Studios) Joseph Kosinski: intelligent paranoid science fiction underperforms both critically and at the box-office
Only God Forgives (FilmDistrict/Gaumont/Wild Bunch/Film i Vast) Nicolas Winding Refn: I don’t think people were ready to see Nic Winding Refn attempt to defy the boundaries of narrative cinema
Rush (Exclusive Media/Revolution Films/Working Title Films/Imagine Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures) Ron Howard: why this is not battling it out among this year’s major Oscar contenders is beyond me
What Maisie Knew (Red Crown Productions) Scott McGehee/David Siegel: could have been a real hit on the indie/art-house circuit if pushed properly from a marketing standpoint

And the winner is… Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) Daniele Vicari: one of the best films of 2013 didn’t even receive a theatrical release in the United Kingdom

Looking at this from a purely technical standpoint, it has to go to Diaz. As I mentioned, this movie didn’t even get a theatrical release in the United Kingdom, which even if I’m given a reason I’m sure the fact itself will continue to baffle me. When you look at how films like City Of God, Elite Squad, The Raid caught on recently, and that Diaz is comparable to Paul Greengrass and of the tradition of the highly influential Italian neo-realists, it’s a strange one. If I was a potential distributor, this is the kind of movie I’d be giving a slow trickle limited release and then a big push after. I feel that it would succeed.


The 6th Katherine Hepburn Award for Best Supporting Role by a Female Actor from 2013

Jennifer Garner: “Dr. Eve Saks” (Dallas Buyers Club) Jean-Marc Vallee
Jennifer Lawrence: “Rosalyn Rosenfeld” (American Hustle) David O. Russell
Julianne Moore: “Susanna” (What Maisie Knew) Scott McGehee/David Siegel
Carey Mulligan: “Daisy Buchanan” (The Great Gatsby) Baz Luhrmann
Lupita Nyong’o: “Patsey” (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen
Margot Robbie: “Naomi Lapaglia” (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese
Lea Seydoux: “Emma” (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche
Kristin Scott Thomas: “Crystal” (Only God Forgives) Nicolas Winding Refn

And the winner is… Lea Seydoux: “Emma” (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche

Although serving a different part in the overall scheme of things as compared to Adele Exarchopoulous in the lead role, Lea Seydoux is equally praiseworthy in the part of Emma. She’s charming, intelligent, witty, and perhaps would have been a caricature if Seydoux didn’t portray her with such grace and humanity, so it’s easy to see why Adele (the character) falls in love with Emma. It’s also a wonderfully detailed performance, giving that little bit extra with every sideward glance, a curve at the corner of the mouth, so that we, like Adele, are watching this woman with the same level of detail and focus that she gives her performance. 


The 6th R. Lee Ermey Award for Best Supporting Role by a Male Actor from 2013

Barkhad Abdi: “Abduwali Muse” (Captain Phillips) Paul Greengrass
George Clooney: “Lieutenant Matt Kowalski” (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron
Sharlto Copley: “Agent C.M. Kruger” (Elysium) Neill Blomkamp
Benedict Cumberbatch: “Commander John Harrison” (Star Trek Into Darkness) J.J. Abrams
Benedict Cumberbatch: “Smaug” (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) Peter Jackson
Michael Fassbender: “Edwin Epps” (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen
Jake Gyllenhaal: “Detective David Loki” (Prisoners) Denis Villeneuve
Jonah Hill: “Donnie Azoff” (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese
Jared Leto: “Rayon” (Dallas Buyers Club) Jean-Marc Vallee

And the winner is… Jake Gyllenhaal: “Detective David Loki” (Prisoners) Denis Villeneuve

The more I think about it, I need to go back and watch Prisoners because there was a lot I liked about that film, and part of that is down to the performances, not least of all the magnificent supporting role from Jake Gyllenhaal. His character’s calm demeanor and quiet, reserved way of speaking suggests that Loki’s holding something back something potentially volcanic underneath. This is further emphasised by subtle facial expressions, such as Loki’s trademark twitch. Gyllenhaal has always been a fine actor, and this is among the best I’ve seen from a guy whose career is still relatively young. 


The 4th ‘Extras’ Award for Best Bit Part in a Film from 2013

‘The Cameo’ (Fast & Furious 6) Justin Lin
Harrison Ford: “Mack Tannen” (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues) Adam McKay
“Groovy!” (Evil Dead) Fede Alvarez
Joanna Lumley: “Aunt Emma” (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese
Emma Watson: “Emma Watson” (This Is The End)Evan Goldberg/Seth Rogen

And the winner is… Harrison Ford: “Mack Harken” (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues) Adam McKay

While of course it’s fabulous to see Joanna Lumley in such a big picture, Harrison Ford’s riffing off of his long-term label of being a grumpy ‘serious man’ is one of the funniest things going today, and his Mack Tannen is a highlight in the second Anchorman. Ford displays in his short time onscreen a real adeptness for comic timing not dissimilar to Leslie Nielsen. Stonewalling around Will Ferrell is no easy feat, but Tannen comes across as a powerful, intimidating and slightly perverse character in his small part in the bigger picture.


The 5th Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film of 2013

The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer
Beware Of Mr. Baker (Insurgent Media) Jay Bulger
Blackfish (Manny O. Productions) Gabriela Cowperthwaite

And the winner is… The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer

Upon release in the United Kingdom last June, The Act Of Killing came with the weight of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris endorsing it, along with a real word-of-mouth following. Now that it’s racking up awards in major ceremonies, not only is there vindication for me in knowing I was right about this becoming the phenomenon it has, but there is something truly extraordinary at work here. Not only does it shed light on pertinent human rights infringements, but the objective truth with which Joshua Oppenheimer displays his subjects, in a world where the word ‘documentary’ has become synonymous with polemic, is really quite a subversive movie. The most important documentary since Anvil! The Story Of Anvil.


The 5th Peter Sallis Award for Best Vocal Acting in a Film from 2013

Kristen Bell: “Anna, Princess Of Arendelle” (Frozen) Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
George Clooney: “Lieutenant Matt Kowalski” (Gravity)Alfonso Cuaron
Billy Crystal: “Mike Wazowski” (Monsters University) Dan Scanlon
Benedict Cumberbatch: “Smaug” (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) Peter Jackson
Benedict Cumberbatch: “Commander John Harrison” (Star Trek Into Darkness) J.J. Abrams
Leonardo DiCaprio: “Jordan Belfort” (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese
Idris Elba: “Nelson Mandela” (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom) Justin Chadwick
James McAvoy: “Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson” (Filth) Jon S. Baird
Idina Menzel: “Elsa, the Snow Queen” (Frozen) Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee

And the winner is… Benedict Cumberbatch: “Smaug” (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) Peter Jackson

Benedict Cumberbatch has a great voice anyway, but Smaug’s one of those characters that’s a hit or a miss, and even an actor of talents could depict it the wrong way; Cumberbatch does it with brilliance. Smaug is a deep throated, highly intimidating beast, but within his years of solitude you get the impression of time spent formulating his personality, and there is even a sort-of regal charm to the dragon. Everything, from pitch to diction to line delivery in note-perfect, and as a result Smaug is an engrossing screen presence. 

The 7th Cate Blanchett Award for Best Leading Role by a Female Actor in 2013

Onata Aprile: “Maisie Elizabeth Beale” (What Maisie Knew) Scott McGehee/David Siegel
Sandra Bullock: “Dr. Ryan Stone” (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron
Rosario Dawson: “Dr. Elizabeth Lamb” (Trance) Danny Boyle
Judi Dench: “Philomena Lee” (Philomena) Stephen Frears
Adele Exarchopoulos: “Adele” (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche
Jane Levy: “Mia Allen” (Evil Dead) Fede Alvarez

And the winner is… Adele Exarchopoulos: “Adele” (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche

The central relationship of Blue Is The Warmest Colour between Adele and Emma has already etched itself as among the great screen romances. However, this is quite clearly Adele’s movie, and Exarchopoulos is nothing short of tremendous in the lead role. In this beautiful coming-of-age tale of self-discovery, Exarchopoulos portrays Adele with heart-warming conviction and honesty. Considering she herself doesn’t age, the subtle complexity in the changes she gives Adele over the film’s years is the mark of a great talent. You get the impression that there is nothing but the entire fibre of her being thrown into the part, warts (or rather snot) and all, and through the whole thing, Exarchopoulos is a wonder.


The 7th Kevin Spacey Award for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role from 2013

Daniel Bruhl: “Niki Lauda” (Rush) Ron Howard
Leonardo DiCaprio: “Jordan Belfort” (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese
Chiwetel Ejiofor: “Solomon Northup” (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen
Idris Elba: “Nelson Mandela” (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom) Justin Chadwick
Tom Hanks: “Captain Richard Phillips” (Captain Phillips)Paul Greengrass
Chris Hemsworth: “James Hunt” (Rush) Ron Howard
Hugh Jackman: “Keller Dover” (Prisoners) Denis Villeneuve
James McAvoy: “Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson” (Filth) Jon S. Baird
Matthew McConaughey: “Ron Woodruff” (Dallas Buyers Club) Jean-Marc Vallee
Elijah Wood: “Frank Zito” (Maniac) Franck Khalfoun

And the winner is… Chiwetel Ejiofor: “Solomon Northup” (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen and James McAvoy: “Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson” (Filth) Jon S. Baird

It was looking like James McAvoy was going to walk away with this one, but then Chiwetel Ejiofor came along. Much as I hate indecisiveness, I think this is fair game, for any time I made an argument for or against, a tangle of vice-versas. Both markedly different performances, but both are terrific. Ejiofor’s Solomon Northup is a testament to the strength, courage and dignity of the human spirit, while McAvoy’s Bruce Robertson is a testament to its corruption and depravity. While very much yin and yang, they both represent everything that’s good about acting.


The 2nd Straight-To-Video Award for Best Home Media Film Release of 2013

Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango) Daniele Vicari
Sanitarium Bryan Ortiz/Bryan Ramirez/Kelly Valderrama

And the winner is… Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango) Daniele Vicari

Last year, I founded this award for movies like Daniele Vicari’s Diaz. Debuting on DVD in June 2013, this was above and beyond the usual standard you might expect from direct-to-DVD releases; Diaz was the kind of movie you’d expect to see in cinemas from Paul Greengrass or playing the art-house classic circuit in a neo-realist season alongside Rosselini and De Sica. How this movie didn’t get a theatrical release in the United Kingdom is beyond me, but it’s my gain from having seen it. I’d advise you to do so too.


The 6th Akira Kurosawa Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2013

(Language: Indonesian/Country(s): Norway, Denmark, United Kingdom) The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer
(Language: French/Country(s): France, Belgium, Spain) Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Quat’sous Films/Wild Bunch) Abdellatif Kechiche
(Language(s): Italian, German, French, English, Spanish/Country(s): Italy, Romania, France) Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) Daniele Vicari
(Language: French/Country: France) In The House (Mandarin Cinema)Francois Ozon

And the winner is… (Language: Indonesian/Country(s): Norway, Denmark, United Kingdom) The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer

There were two masterpieces in this category, the other being Blue Is The Warmest Colour, and I feel The Act Of Killing just marginally ekes it out on this one. Furthermore, though it’s easy for me to say because I’m biased, I don’t think that there has been a foreign-language film, documentary or otherwise, that has made as much of an impact on the international film scenes as The Act Of Killing has. The questions it poses upon the viewer are of universal, transcontinental nature that goes beyond the borders of language and country, looking long in the proverbial abyss of human nature.


The 5th Orson Welles Award for Most Promising Debut Filmmaker of 2013

Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead): takes Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and makes it his own, highly original take on the series
Jay Bulger (Beware Of Mr. Baker): displays both an affinity and objectivity towards his subject, two important traits for documentarians
Evan Goldberg/Seth Rogen (This Is The End): a fresh, well-paced and oftentimes very funny debut giving the impression of real crackpot comedy to come
Jennifer Lee (Frozen): shows both a respect for the tradition of the Disney Animated Classics and the smarts to craft new and engaging material

And the winner is… Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead): takes Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and makes it his own, highly original take on the series

When I look at this award for debut filmmakers, which I think is among the most important of my own awards, the key thing I look for is potential, and Fede Alvarez has that written all over him. You watch his Evil Dead and if you didn’t know about Sam Raimi’s films, you’d think this something he came up with. Even still, his film is gloriously operatic in its sheer grotesqueness, taking as much after New French Extremity as the Evil Dead franchise. I could very well see him becoming a great genre filmmaker.


The 6th Steven Spielberg Award for Best Producer(s) on a Film from 2012

Robbie Brenner/Nathan Ross/Rachel Rothman (Dallas Buyers Club) Jean-Marc Vallee
Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi/Robert Tapert (Evil Dead) Fede Alvarez
Vin Diesel/Neal H. Moritz/Clayton Townsend (Fast & Furious 6) Justin Lin
Alfonso Cuaron/David Heyman (Gravity) Alfonso Cuaron
Guillermo Del Toro/ Jon Jashni/Mary Parent/Thomas Tull (Pacific Rim)Guillermo Del Toro
Kira Davis/Broderick Johnson/Adam Kolbrenner/Andrew A. Kosove (Prisoners) Denis Villeneuve
Dede Gardner/Anthony Katagas/Jeremy Kleiner/Steve McQueen/Arnon Milchan/Brad Pitt/Bill Pohlad (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen
Riza Aziz/Leonardo DiCaprio/Emma Tillinger Koskoff/Joey McFarland/Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street) Martin Scorsese

And the winner is… Dede Gardner/Anthony Katagas/Jeremy Kleiner/Steve McQueen/Arnon Milchan/Brad Pitt/Bill Pohlad (12 Years A Slave) Steve McQueen

Along with The Act Of Killing, 12 Years A Slave is the gutsiest film of 2013, the difference being that 12 Years had studio backing from the get go. They could have went for a movie that dealt with race issues like Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom in a very politically-correct way, but instead they decide to go all-out with blunt force. Furthermore, the realization of the picture atmosphere wise, from the standpoint of the mise-en-scene to the frank depiction of racism, required a group of producers who were willing to go that extra step to make this a truly special and important film, and that they were.


The 7th Stanley Kubrick Award for Best Director of a Film for 2013

Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead)
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim)
Ron Howard (Rush)
Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue Is The Warmest Colour)
Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)
Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act Of Killing)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street)

And the winner is… Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

2013 was a year that saw directors take great risks in the pursuit of their artistry, from industry veterans such as Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard to young debutants like Fede Alvarez. However, no filmmaker went further in exploring the possibilities of cinema and how it can affect an audience than Alfonso Cuaron with Gravity. Only a director of such strength of conviction and determination could have made a picture so extraordinary, both from a technical standpoint and that of the film’s depiction of the depths of the human spirit. Be it at $5 million (Y Tu Mama Tambien), £49 million (Children Of Men) or $100 million as in the case of Gravity, Cuaron’s purpose is of clear intent.


The 2nd Thin White Dude’s Championship for Independent/Unique Contribution to Cinema

The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Act Of Killing is an important film that needs to be seen, and if getting as many people, even one, to see this means me plugging it, then so be it. I created this award for such a reason, and this is the kind of movie that fits its bill: it’s outrageous, it’s shocking, it’s hilarious, it’s often all of those things at the same time, and the objectivity with which Joshua Oppenheimer pitches this, in such bald and uncertain terms, that there is always a palpable line of tension running through it. Indonesia and its human rights issues haven’t seen much light in the Western world, but after The Act Of Killing, you will never forget that such madness walks and breathes the same air as we. 


The 5th ‘Drag Me To Hell’ Awards for 2013’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer (Screenwriters and Directors of The Starving Games): without studio backing, the less-than dynamic duo have somehow got worse with their totally unfunny parody-film schtick.
Cormac McCarthy (Screenwriter of The Counselor): while among the greatest living writers, this does not excuse the bone-headed compilation of soliloquies making up The Counselor.
  Adam Sandler (Producer, Screenwriter and Actor in Grown Ups 2): last year, I gave off at Dennis Dugan for his complicity. This year, Adam Sandler, a funny, talented man, reaches an all-time career low.
Zack Snyder (Director of Man Of Steel): it’s not all his fault, but he’s the man running the ship here, calling the shots that made this the most dull and bland interpretation of Superman I’ve seen committed to film.



The 5th Alfred Hitchcock Award for Most Significant Player (Member of the Film Community) in 2013

Sandra Bullock (Lead Actor in ‘The Heat’ and ‘Gravity’)
Steve Coogan (Lead Actor in ‘The Look Of Love,’ Supporting Actor in ‘What Maisie Knew,’ Voice Actor in ‘Despicable Me 2,’ Writer/Lead Actor of ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa,’ Writer/Producer/Lead Actor of ‘Philomena’)
Alfonso Cuaron (Editor/Producer/Writer/Director of ‘Gravity’)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Supporting Actor in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ ’12 Years A Slave’ and ‘August: Osage County,’ Motion-Capture/Voice Actor in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug,’ Lead Actor in ‘The Fifth Estate’)
Guillermo Del Toro (Producer/Writer/Director of ‘Pacific Rim’ and Writer/Project Consultant of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’)
Idris Elba (Supporting Actor in ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ Lead Actor in ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’)
James McAvoy (Lead Actor in ‘Welcome To The Punch,’ ‘Trance’ and ‘Filth)
Matthew McConaughey (Supporting Actor in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street,’ Lead Actor in ‘Mud’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’)
Steve McQueen (Producer/Director of ’12 Years A Slave’)
Joshua Oppenheimer (Producer/Director of ‘The Act Of Killing’)

And the winner is… Benedict Cumberbatch (Supporting Actor in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ ’12 Years A Slave’ and ‘August: Osage County,’ Motion-Capture/Voice Actor in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug,’ Lead Actor in ‘The Fifth Estate’)

Many people in the film industry had a great year, but none more so in my opinion than Benedict Cumberbatch. The classically trained actor has been just about everywhere this year, and on film he has no less than five rather diverse screen credits to his name. Furthermore, every project that he has worked on has benefitted and been elevated by his contributions; he’s the best thing in Star Trek Into Darkness, delivers a fine part in 12 Years A Slave, and puts over the legitimacy of motion-capture technology as a legitimate means of acting as much as the likes of Andy Serkis and Doug Jones preceding him. He’s a one of a kind actor whose star is only going to rise higher.


The 7th Ed Wood Award for Worst Film of 2013

After Earth (Overbrook Entertainment/Blinding Edge Pictures/Relativity Media)M. Night Shyamalan
The Big Wedding (Two Ton Films/Millenium Films)Justin Zackman
The Counselor (Scott Free Productions/Nick Wechsler Productions/Chockstone Pictures) Ridley Scott
Devils Of War (Paradise City Pictures) Eli Dorsey
Diana (Ecosse Films/Le Pacte/Film I Vast/Filmgate Films/Scope Pictures)Oliver Hirschbiegel
47 Ronin (Relativity Media) Carl Rinsch
Grown Ups 2 (Happy Madison) Dennis Dugan
The Hangover Part III (Legendary Pictures/Green Hat Films)Todd Phillips
Man Of Steel (Legendary Pictures/Syncopy/DC Entertainment) Zack Snyder
The Starving Games (Safran Company/3 In The Box) Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer
Texas Chainsaw (Twisted Pictures/Nu Image/Millenium Films/Mainline Pictures) John Luessenhop

And the winner is… Grown Ups 2 (Happy Madison) Dennis Dugan

The ten other nominees in this list are all bad movies, but Grown Ups 2 is almost epochal in just how horrible it is. The first one was rubbish, but this makes it look a whole lot better than it is. There is no plot and the movie is essentially an assortment of bits and pieces jumbled together and released as a feature film. Last year, Dennis Dugan was one of my Horsemen Of The Apocalypse for Jack & Jill, the worst film of 2012, but this year Adam Sandler is going in, because I am fed up with this. Here we have a funny guy who does have a good sense of humour, and you’re telling me he doesn’t know fine rightly that what he is making is complete and utter trash with the only at its centre being a big ringing cash till? I went to see this with my mother and sister, with the former leaving the cinema twenty-five minutes in, saying “I can’t take this any more,” and the latter spending the entire movie groaning about how bad it was. These are people who thought that Diana and Bride Wars were good films, so I wouldn’t call them hard to please (okay, when I comes to my Mum, that’s a lie!). In my review, I said that it would be more fun rolling around naked in a landfill for just shy of two hours, and I stand by that sentiment. I want anyone and everyone who reads this to know that the following statement comes from the heart, not from some recessive group of brain cells forcing me to use gross hyperbole: this is the barometer by which I shall judge everything that’s wrong about cinema. In seven years of reviewing films, Grown Ups 2 is the very worst film I’ve had the displeasure of seeing.


The 7th Clockwork Award for Best Film of 2013

The Act Of Killing (Final Cut For Real) Joshua Oppenheimer
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Quat’sous Films/Wild Bunch) Abdellatif Kechiche
Dallas Buyers Club (Truth Entertainment/Voltage Pictures) Jean-Marc Vallee
Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Fandango/Le Pacte/Mandragora Movie) Daniele Vicari
Filth (Steel Mill Pictures/Film i Vast) – Jon S. Baird
Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) Alfonso Cuaron
Maniac (Canal+/Cine+/La Petite Reine/Studio 37/Blue Underground)Franck Khalfoun
Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures) Guillermo del Toro
12 Years A Slave (Summit Entertainment/Regency Enterprises/River Road Entertainment/Film4/Plan B) Steve McQueen
The Wolf Of Wall Street (Red Granite Pictures/Appian Way Productions/Sikelia Productions/Emjag Productions)Martin Scorsese

And the winner is… Gravity (Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films) Alfonso Cuaron

As I mentioned in the my Worst Film of 2013 Award, I’ve been at this seven years, and once again, 2013 shows why it was a unique year in just how tough it was to pick a best film. There are ten nominees here, but right at the top I had this, The Act Of Killing and Blue Is The Warmest Colour as viable candidates, and then I saw 12 Years A Slave and it became a four-horse race for a potential winner. However much I don’t like to be dismissive in any way, shape or form of those other three films, for me the best film of 2013 is unquestionably Gravity. When I saw Gravity in the cinema, watching it was an experience wholly unique to the film itself, unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and leaving the cinema I felt more aware and appreciative of the world around me. I have since seen a terrific Blu-Ray rip of the movie with a great HD-TV/surround sound set-up at my friends house, and nothing could take away from it’s brilliance, and I know that as soon as this comes out on DVD, I will be shelling out the £17 Amazon is charging for a Blu-Ray 3D+Blu-Ray+UV Copy package. This is truly one of those things that come along once every four or five years that feels really special. From here on out, not just the science-fiction genre, but cinema as a whole is going in a different direction. Gravity is the game-changer, the one that will be a standard bearer for future generations of filmmakers. In a melding of expensive, highly-advanced technology and an affinity for the human spirit, Alfonso Cuaron has changed the shape of cinema, which as we know it will never be the same again. Change is hard, but if we continue to get masterworks like Gravity going through the process and coming to terms with it’ll be a whole easier.


Multiple Award Winners


Gravity: 7 awards - The 7th Clockwork Award for Best Film of 2013, The 7th Stanley Kubrick Award for Best Director of a Film from 2013 (Alfonso Cuaron), The 2nd David Bowie Award for Best Theme/Song in a Film from 2013 (Steven Price: "Don't Let Go"), The 6th Ennio Morricone Award for Best Original Score/Soundtrack in a Film from 2013 (Steven Price), The 6th Christopher Doyle Award for Best Cinematography in a Film from 2013 (Emmanuel Lubezki), The 5th Walter Murch Award for Best Sound Design/Mixing in a Film from 2013, The 7th Philip K. Dick Award for Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Film of 2013.

Grown Ups 2: 3 awards - The 7th Ed Wood Award for Worst Film of 2013, The 5th 'Drag Me To Hell' Awards for 2013's Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Adam Sandler), The 2nd Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra (EMO) Award for Worst Film Score/Soundtrack of 2013.

12 Years A Slave: 5 awards - The 5th Alfred Hitchcock Award for Most Significant Player (Member of the Film Community) of 2013 (Benedict Cumberbatch), The 6th Steven Spielberg Award for Best Producers(s) on a Film from 2013 (Dede Gardner/Anthony Katagas/Jeremy Kleiner/Steve McQueen/Arnon Milchan/Brad Pitt/Bill Pohlad), The 7th Kevin Spacey Award for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role from 2013 (Chiwetel Ejiofor), The 6th Paul Schrader Award for Best Film Screenplay of 2013 (John Ridley), The 6th Kenneth Loach Award for Best Drama of 2013.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug: 3 awards - The 5th Alfred Hitchcock Award for Most Significant Player (Member of the Film Community) of 2013 (Benedict Cumberbatch), The 5th Peter Sallis Award for Best Vocal Acting in a Film from 2013 (Benedict Cumberbatch), The 7th James Cameron Award for Best Sequel of 2013.

Man Of Steel: 2 awards - The 5th 'Drag Me To Hell' Awards for 2013's Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Zack Snyder), The 7th 'I Am Legend' Award for Biggest Disappointment of 2013.

The Act Of Killing: 4 awards - The 2nd Thin White Dude's Championship for Independent/Unique Contribution to Cinema, The 6th Akira Kurosawa Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2013, The 5th Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film of 2013, The 6th Werner Herzog Award for Most Ingenious Film Concept of 2013. 

Diaz - Don't Clean Up This Blood: 3 awards - The 2nd Straight-To-Video Award for Best Home Media Film Release of 2013, The 4th 'Cemetery Junction' Award for Most Overlooked Film of 2013, The 7th David Fincher Award for Best Thriller of 2013.

Filth: 2 awards - The 7th Kevin Spacey Award for Best Male Actor in a Leading from 2013 (James McAvoy), The 6th Thelma Schoonmaker Award for Best Editorial Work in a Film from 2013 (Mark Eckersley).

Blue Is The Warmest Colour: 3 awards - The 7th Cate Blanchett Award for Best Leading Role by a Female Actor in 2013 (Adele Exarchopoulos), The 6th Katherine Hepburn Award for Best Supporting Role by a Female Actor in 2013 (Lea Seydoux), The 6th Kenneth Loach Award for Best Drama of 2013.

Pacific Rim: 2 awards - The 5th Stan Winston Award Best Special/Visual Effects in a Film from 2013, The 4th Dante Ferretti Award for Best Production Design in a Film from 2013.

The Great Gatsby: 2 awards - The 6th Lucio Fulci Award for Most Excessively Violent Film of 2013, The 4th Edith Head Award for Best Costume Designs in a Film from 2013.

Rush: 2 awards - The 5th Walter Murch Award for Best Sound Design/Mixing in a Film from 2013, The 6th Sylvester Stallone Award for Best Action/Adventure Film of 2013.


R.I.P. 2013/2014

A short list of noteworthy deaths of people whose work I admire, in some shape or form, over the past twelve months


Richard Griffiths (Actor): 31st July, 1947 - 28th March, 2013 - Gahndi, Withnail & I, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell Of Fear, Sleepy Hallow, Harry Potter film series, Venus, The History Boys, Hugo

Roger Ebert (Film Critic): 18th June, 1942 - 4th April, 2013 - Chicago Sun-Times, Siskel & Ebert At The Movies

Bigas Luna (Director): 19 March, 1946 - 6th April, 2013 - Anguish, The Ages Of Lulu, Jamon, Jamon, Huevos De Oro

Les Blank (Director): 27th November, 1935 - 7th April, 2013 - Werner Herzog Eats His Shoes, Burden Of Dreams, Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers, Always For Pleasure

Ray Harryhausen (Stop-Motion Animator): 29th June, 1920 - 7th May, 2013 - The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad, Jason And The Argonauts, Clash Of The Titans

Nino Baragli (Editor): 1st October, 1925 - 29th May, 2013 - Django, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In The West, Duck, You Sucker, Salo, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom, Once Upon A Time In America

James Gandolfini (Actor): 18th September, 1951 - 19th June, 2013 - The Sopranos, True Romance, Get Shorty, The Mexican, In The Loop, Where The Wild Things Are, Killing Them Softly, Zero Dark Thirty

Karen Black (Actor): 1st July, 1939 - 8th August, 2013 - Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Nashville

Stephenie McMillan (Set Decorator): 20th July, 1942 - 19th August, 2013 - The English Patient, Chocolat, Harry Potter film series

Gilbert Taylor (Cinematographer): 12th April, 1914 - 23rd August, 2013 - The Dam Busters, Dr. Strangelove, Repulsion, Frenzy, The Omen, Star Wars, Flash Gordon

Luciano Vincenzoni (Screenwriter): 7th March, 1926 - 22nd September, 2013 - For A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Duck, You Sucker, Malena

Marcia Wallace (Comedian): 1st November, 1942 - 25th October, 2013 - The Merv Griffin Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Hollywood Squares, Password Plus, The $25,000 Pyramid, The Simpsons

Syd Field (Screenwriting Guru): 19th December, 1935 - 17th November, 2013 - Screenplay, The Screenwriter's Workbook, The Definitive Guide To Screenwriting

Paul Walker (Actor): 12th September, 1973 - 30th November, 2013 - Fast & Furous film series, Pleasantville, Flags Of Our Fathers

Peter O'Toole (Actor): 2nd August, 1932 - 14th December, 2013 - Lawrence Of Arabia, Becket, The Lion In Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favourite Year, Venus, The Last Emperor

James Avery (Actor): 27th November, 1945 - 31st December, 2013 - The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling

Saul Zaentz (Producer): 28th February, 1921 - 3rd January, 2014 - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Lord Of The Rings (Ralph Bakshi), Amadeus, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, The English Patient

Riz Ortolani (Composer): 25th March, 1926 - 23rd January, 2014 -  Mondo Cane, Goodbye Uncle Tom, Cannibal Holocaust, House On The Edge Of The Park, Kill Bill, Drive

Maximillian Schell (Actor): 8th December, 1930 - 1st February, 2014 - Judgement At Nuremberg, First Love, The Odessa File, The Man In The Glass Booth, Cross Of Iron

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Actor): 23rd July, 1967 - 2nd February, 2014 - Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, Capote, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, Synecdoche, New York, Jack Goes Boating, The Master

Harold Ramis (Actor/Director): 21st November, 1944 - 24th February, 2014 - National Lampoon's Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Analyse This, Knocked Up

Finalment

Apart from formatting being a usual biotch (remind me to do this onto Blogger directly next year, as opposed to cut-and-paste and resizing the margins about ten times before getting it right), this particular Best and Worst was plain sailing. While I do say that there were four real strong horses in the Best Film race, I feel that though I have a personal investment in The Act Of Killing (the theatrical  cut for which I reviewed, more news on that film soon), Gravity was the right movie to go with. I'm hoping on Sunday the Academy feel the same way.

"Peace"

The Thin White Dude

EL FIN