The National Board of Review Gives It Up For “Hugo”


 

It took them a while but, earlier today, the folks who made up the National Board of Review (nobody’s quite sure who they are) finally announced their picks for the best of 2011.  And the winner is — Martin Scorsese’s Hugo!  As anyone who was on twitter earlier today knows, this was something of a surprising result and most of the self-appointed film experts out there seemed to be convinced that the NBR would honor either War Horse or The Artist.  Seeing as it took the NBR longer than usual to announce the winners, I’m assuming that the voting was fairly close.  The NBR is usually considered to be a precursor to the Academy Awards so, if nothing else, this result would seem to bode well for Hugo‘s chances to pick up a best picture nomination.  Here are the winners with the occasional editorial comment from me:

Best Film:
Hugo

(I loved Hugo, though my favorite film of the year remains, at this point, Hanna)

Best Director:
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Actor:
George Clooney, The Descendants

(I may be the only person in America who thinks that The Descendants is overratedCertainly, the members of the NBR disagree with me on that point.)

Best Actress:
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

(This was kind of surprising since I think the conventional wisdom was that Meryl Streep would win everything for The Irony Lady.)

Best Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

(I have a feeling that Plummer’s going to be the sentimental favorite at the Oscars.)
Best Supporting Actress:
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Reiser, 50/50

(Yay!  This film has been strangely underrated as an awards contender but it deserves a lot more attention.)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants

Best Animated Feature:
Rango

(Another yay!)
Breakthrough Performance:
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy

Breakthrough Performance
:
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

(Bleh.  On twitter, I already went into a rant about how too many of my fellow film bloggers have allowed themselves to be co-opted into a conspiracy to both  force The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake down our throats and to try to make us forget about the original trilogy and the fact that Noomi Rapace gave a brilliant performance as Lisbeth.  I’ll hold off on going into that again until it’s time to review the remake but seriously, people — the Hollywood establishment is not going to give you a promise ring, I don’t care how much you kiss their ass.)

Debut Director:
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Best Ensemble:
The Help

(Believe it or not, I still need to see this one.)

Spotlight Award
:
Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)

(Oh. My. God.  So.  Hot.)

NBR Freedom of Expression
:
Crime After Crime

NBR Freedom of Expression:
Pariah

Best Foreign Language Film:
A Separation

Best Documentary:
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Special Achievement in Filmmaking:
The Harry Potter Franchise – A Distinguished Translation from Book
to Film

(This is probably my favorite award to be given out by NBR.  Seriously, the Harry Potter franchise provided me — and so many others — such a blessed escape whenever life seemed overwhelming.)

Top Films (in alphabetical order)

The Artist (Can’t Wait To See It)
The Descendants
(Overrated)
Drive (Yay!)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Bleh)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Yay!)
The Ides of March (One of the worst films of the year)
J. Edgar (Bland and forgettable but well-made)
Tree of Life
(Yay!)
War Horse
(Going to see it but I feel obligated to do so and I resent it, to be honest)

Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)

13 Assassins
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Footnote
Le Havre
Point Blank

Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)

Born to be Wild
Buck
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Project Nim
Senna

Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)

50/50 (Yay!)
Another Earth
(Whatever, this was a terrible movie)
Beginners (A good film that deserves to be seen)
A Better Life
(Overrated)
Cedar Rapids (Likable but nothing spectacular)
Margin Call
(Need to see it)
Shame
(Fassbender!)
Take Shelter
(Yay!)
We Need To Talk About Kevin
(Looking forward to it)
Win Win
(Yay!)

And finally…The Independent Spirit Award Nominations


In one final bit of Oscar Season news, the 2011 Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced on Tuesday.  Because of the sheer number of nominees and awards, I’m just going to post the nominees and refrain from offering up any commentary beyond noting that 1) it’s nice to see Drive, Take Shelter, and 50/50 recognized and 2) that the Independent Spirit Award nominations have a pretty iffy record when it comes to predicting and/or influencing the actual Oscar nominations. 

Best Feature
50/50
Beginners
Drive
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

Best Director
Mike Mills, Beginners
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best First Feature
Another Earth
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

Best Male Lead
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Best Female Lead
Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me
Rachel Harris, Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye, Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Supporting Male
Albert Brooks, Drive
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris

Best Supporting Female
Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston, 50/50
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000
Bellflower
Circumstance
Hello Lonesome
Pariah
The Dynamiter

Best Documentary
An African Selection
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

Best Cinematography
Joel Hodge, Bellflower
Benjamin Kasulke, The Off Hours
Darius Khondji, Midnight in Paris
Guillaume Shiffman, The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron, The Dynamiter

Best First Screenplay
Mike Cahill & Brit Marling, Another Earth
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Patrick DeWitt, Terri
Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser, 50/50

Best Screenplay
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best International Film
A Separation
Melancholia
Shame
The Kid With a Bike
Tyrannosaur

Piaget Producer’s Award
Chad Burris, Mosquita y Mari
Sophia Lin, Take Shelter
Josh Mond, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Someone to Watch Award
Simon Arthur, Silver Tongues
Mark Jackson, Without
Nicholas Ozeki, Mamitas

Truer Than Fiction Award
Heather Courtney, Where Soldiers Come From
Danfung Dennis, Hell and Back Again
Alma Ha’rel, Bombay Beach

Robert Altman Award for ensemble
Margin Call (Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci)

2011 Gotham Awards Recap


In my previous post, I announced the start of “Oscar season” by offering up a recap of the films and performers honored by the New York Film Critics Circle earlier today.  However, the Oscar season was actually kicked off on Monday night with the Gotham Awards.  Much like the Independent Spirit awards, the Gothams are meant to honor the best in the year’s independent films.  Below is a recap of which films were honored at this year’s ceremony.

Best Feature

Beginners(tie)
The Tree of Life(tie)

Best Ensemble Performance

Beginners

Best Breakthrough Actor/Actress

Felicity JonesLike Crazy

Best Breakthrough Director

Dee ReesPariah

Best Documentary

Better This World

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

Scenes of a Crime

The big news here has been that Beginners and Tree of Life tied for best picture.  (Actually, I’m not surprised as both films pretty much explored the same themes of memory, aging, and love.)  It’ll be interesting to see if either one of these films manage to maintain the momentum of their victory through the rest of the Oscar season. 

As for me, I have a new mission and that is to see Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same.

The New York Film Critics Circle Names “The Artist” Best Picture of 2011


This is my favorite time of year.  It’s Oscar season, the time when films and actors manuever to win nominations and awards.  This is the time of year when anything seems possible, when you think that maybe Exit Through The Gift Shop will get a best picture nomination or perhaps Christopher Nolan will be nominated for best director for Inception.  In short, this is the month and a half before bitter disillusionment sets in.

During Oscar season, several mysterious groups hand out awards of their own.  These groups are made up of critics desperately trying to convince themselves that they matter and the awards that they hand out are often seen as an indicator of what will eventually end up getting nominated.  Last year, just about every single critical group named The Social Network as best picture and David Fincher as best director and we all remember how little that actually meant once it came time for the actual Academy Awards to be handed out. 

Earlier today, the New York Film Critics Circle helped to start things off by announcing their picks for the best of 2011.  Reportedly, they held off a day on selecting their picks so that they could attend a special screening of David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  And how did that work out?  Well, check out what won:

Best picture: “The Artist”

Best director: Michael Havanavicius, “The Artist”

Best actor: Brad Pitt (“Moneyball,” “Tree of Life”)

Best actress: Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”)

Best supporting actor: Albert Brooks (“Drive”)

Best supporting actress: Jessica Chastain (“The Tree of Life,” “The Help” and “Take Shelter”)

Best screenplay: Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, “Moneyball”

Best cinematography: Emmanuel Lebezki, “Tree of Life”

Best non-fiction film (documentary): “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

Best foreign language film: “A Separation”

Best first feature: “Margin Call”

Just a few comments on these awards: I have yet to see The Artist but I’m really looking forward to it.  I have a feeling I’m either going to love it or else I’m going to hate it with a passion.  It just appears to be one of those films.  I also haven’t seen Margin Call because its subject matter — Wall Street — makes me go “Bleh!”  But I may have to see it now because it appears to be becoming a bit of an awards dark horse.

I have a feeling that Brad Pitt’s going to win an Oscar for his performance in Moneyball but I really didn’t think it was anything that special.  I thought Pitt was likable but not much else.  Some of that could have had a bit to do with the fact that I couldn’t really follow the film as I’m about as interested in baseball as I am in Wall Street.  Hopefully, I won’t have to sit through another Aaron Sorkin acceptance speech at next year’s Oscar ceremony.  Seriously, there’s only so much time I can spend listening to a pompous millionaire talking about how he thinks the world works.

I haven’t seen The Iron Lady yet but its going to be boring and people are going to feel obligated to pretend like they got something out of it.

Finally, yay to the NYFCC for awarding both Albert Brooks and Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Deams