Archive for January, 2012

The Real(ism) Thing

Posted: January 31, 2012 in movie reviews

Weekend  ***1/2

Richard Linklater charmed a large audience with his 1995 surprise hit Before Sunrise. The success of that film was a surprise not only because it was ostensibly independent and “small”; it was also structurally risky, being composed almost entirely of lots of dialogue between only two characters over a limited amount of time – one night. The fact that one of them was getting on a plane in the morning provided the only traditional dramatic tension. Like My Dinner With Andre, it was practically an experimental film – albeit one that made over five and a half million dollars off a budget less than a quarter of that.

What made such an unlikely movie work was a combination of three elements: absolute likability of the two performers (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, both at their prime), very engaging dialogue, and beautiful locations, all over the city of Vienna, by night. The new film Weekend, written and directed by Andrew Haigh, is predicated upon the same set of challenges – two characters, lots of dialogue, limited time-frame – and even has the same dramatic engine, albeit this time, it’s a train that one of the characters is getting on – but a train to the airport, to catch a plane. Despite these similarities, the bittersweet Weekend is a very different fish to Before Sunrise.

The two leads – actors Tom Cullen and Chris New – are extremely likable, without a doubt, without the movie star gloss of Hawke and Delpy. They play Russell and Glen, two lads who hook up at a gay club in Nottingham on a Friday night, and spend the weekend together. One of them has the aforementioned train / plane combo to catch on the Sunday. That’s it, at least for premise, plot and structure. We follow the boys over the weekend, and listen to them talk – a lot – as they get to know each other, and we get to know them.

The dialogue is not always completely engaging and Nottingham is not Vienna. Indeed, in both of these areas, Haigh goes for such realism – and the film is nothing if not realistic – that he almost seems to emphasize how ugly and depressing Nottingham is while simultaneously allowing – and recording – Cullen and New’s murmurs, asides and back-to-camera mutterings. The oppressive grimness of Russell’s Nottingham world – a small flat on the fourteenth floor of a council building, where homophobic ASBOs make homophobic comments in the central “courtyard” below – is enforced and emphasized by skies that never seem to actually achieve real daylight, even in the late morning, and an almost constant stream of passers-by, in the city, who are chattering about nothing more than their next drink or lay.

As a slice of life drama – as pure realism, and an inside look into ordinary lives – the film is very well constructed, of a piece and ultimately surprisingly moving. There are slow patches, there’s no doubt – Russell and Glen discuss a wide range of topics and not all of them are interesting. Occasionally, they hit a high note – particularly when one of them makes the other (and thus us) laugh. I could have done with more ruthless editing, but Haigh here is striving – and succeeding – at capturing the rhythms of real life, and real life isn’t always as exciting as the movies.

It’s Not About You

Posted: January 28, 2012 in movie reviews

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ***1/2

I don’t read spy novels, and I tend not to seek out spy movies. I do seek out Bond movies, but they’re not about a spy, they’re about a stylish, sexy superhero. There’s nothing sexy or superheroic about George Smiley, Gary Oldman’s character in this very faithful adaptation of John Le Carré’s massively enduring novel, but there is style galore in Oldman’s performance, and in this film, directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In). It features stunning – indeed, breathtaking – period production design, cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema), original music (Alberto Iglesias) and casting. If it wasn’t so difficult to follow, it would be a contender for film of the year.

This is why it’s important to note that I don’t read spy novels. I suspect people who do will find this film much easier to follow than I did. And I suspect people that love the underlying novel (and many, many people do) will love this adaptation, as it feels nothing if not authentic (needless to say I have not read the book). There are many quirky, intriguing details that feel that they must have come from the book. (Indeed, from reading reviews by a couple of others who have read the book, I understand there is only a single scene in the film that is not directly from its pages).

Will you enjoy the film if, like me, it oftentimes confounds and confuses you? I did. The mood and tone of the film are impeccably and thrillingly realised. I loved reveling in the sheer strangeness of the weird world of British spies during the Cold War, even during the many bits in which I had no idea what they were talking about. The (almost entirely male) cast are superb. John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Stephen Graham and Simon McBurney all obviously read the book with great attention, because it’s obvious that they’re all telling the same story, even as that story may occasionally float above the audience’s head. They’re all excellent, and committed, and collectively do something that’s quite difficult – pretend to do a job (spying) that, by its very nature, is not open to being understood by anyone other than those who do it.

Of course, the really important character is George Smiley, and Gary Oldman plays him perfectly. It is a deeply unflashy role – indeed, for the first three quarters of the movie, Smiley has barely any screen time and barely any dialogue. He’s investigating a mystery, and, as such, he’s a listener, and Alfredson and his editor Dino Jonsater do the Hollywood-unthinkable thing of constantly favouring those doing the talking rather than Oldman doing the listening (I would warrant that Cumberbatch, Strong and Hardy have more screen time and more dialogue than Oldman – over the course of the entire film). But Smiley is the hero, and comes powerfully into his own as the film moves towards its climax. I am certain that Oldman’s nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards this year has much more to do with a recognition of his entire career (remarkably, he has never been nominated for an Oscar before this), because the role of Smiley simply isn’t an attention-grabber. Still, reserved, quiet, Smiley’s success comes from doing his job in a way that absolutely does not call attention to itself. Oldman has been brave enough to portray Smiley appropriately, to his great credit, and his restraint perfectly matches Alfredson’s cool, methodical approach to such cold, hard material.

The world created by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is astonishingly rich. It is a slow, deliberate movie, and if the machinations of Cold War espionage leave you cold, the movie probably will as well. Or maybe, like me, you’ll love it anyway, for its precision, style, and sheer, undeniable class.

Oscars 2012: The Wrap Up *

Posted: January 27, 2012 in movie reviews

Well, the Oscars for 2012 are over and the winners were once again extremely predictable. Nevertheless, here’s a rundown of some of the highlights of this year’s ceremony.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

It was no surprise to anyone when Jonah Hill stood up to accept the Oscar for his turn in Moneyball. His speech was succinct: “Fuck Christopher Plummer.” Later, at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Christopher Plummer was asked his opinion of the result, whereupon he reached into his pocket, held up a champagne bottle in his left hand, and read his acceptance speech. He was then helped from the room by his “companion”.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Pretty much not a surprise when Melissa McCarthy’s name was read out for her gut-wrenching turn in Bridesmaids. Speaking for thespians everywhere, McCarthy said that the Bridesmaids shoot was “the most harrowing ordeal of my life.”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Nor real surprises here as Lisy Christ took the gold statue for Anonymous. Said Christ from the stage, accepting her award: “When you make a film that literally everyone in the world wants to see, you know you’ve got a shot.”

BEST MAKEUP

No-one was surprised when Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng ascended the stage to accept the award for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. Accepting the award for the three men, Funk said, “Really, Meryl Streep’s makeup in The Iron Lady was strictly amateur hour.”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Surprising no-one, Real Steel’s Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg took away the big statuette. Speaking for the group, Gillberg said “Look, we liked Hugo and Harry Potter and Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Transformers, but we had boxing robots, and everybody likes boxing robots.”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Not really presenting much of a surprise, this year the Academy decided to offer a split decision, awarding the gold statuette to both A Cat In Paris and Puss in Boots.

BEST SCORE

As the unsurprising winner of this year’s Best Score Academy Award, 68-time Best Score Academy Award Winner John Williams said nothing as he collected his award for War Horse. Later, backstage in the Press Room, when asked how it felt to win a 69th Oscar, far more than any other living being, Mr. Williams again said nothing.

BEST WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Accepting his unsurprising award for Best Original Screenplay, Margin Call scribe J.C. Chandor said “I so fuckin’ knew I was gonna win this.”

BEST ACTRESS

No surprises here as Glenn Close won for her blistering portrayal of a chick dressed as a dude in Albert Nobbs, the hysterical cross-dressing gentle comedy sensation that has so far taken over $200million at the box office. Close was graceful in her acceptance speech, calling Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher “silly”.

BEST ACTOR

Unsurprisingly it was Gary Oldman who took the stage to accept his very first Oscar, from his very first nomination, for his gripping, highly physical, scene-stealing and heavily emotional, soul-exposing work in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Accepting the Oscar, Oldman claimed that he was inspired by such subtle actors as Nicholas Cage, Al Pacino, the late Dennis Hopper and his mentor Crispin Glover.

BEST DIRECTOR

Certainly the least surprising award of the night was Woody Allen for Best Director for Midnight in Paris. Allen, characteristically, was absent from the Awards, preferring to send Scarlett Johansson to accept on his behalf, despite this being the first of his last five films in which she did not appear.

BEST PICTURE

No real gasps of surprise here as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close took out top honors. Producer Scott Rudin said in his pithy acceptance speech, “Really, we were never worried, as everyone knows that, in the end, people are more interested in September Eleventh than they are in movie stars, civil rights, Paris, baseball, parenthood, family, childhood, horses and war.”

 

 

 

* The Oscars haven’t actually happened yet and will be held on the 26th of February.

Best Picture

“The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer

WILL WIN, HAVEN’T SEEN

“The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers

NUP

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer

WHAT?

“The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers

NUP

“Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers

BRILLIANT, WON’T WIN

“Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers

NUP

“Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers

BRILLIANT, WON’T WIN

“The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined

WELL THAT’S NOT GONNA WIN

“War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

TOO MUCH HORSE BEFORE THE WAR

Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”

I’M SURE HE’S BRILLIANT. NO CHANCE IN HELL.

George Clooney in “The Descendants”

AND THE AWARD FOR PLAYING GEORGE CLOONEY GOES TO…?

Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”

HAVEN’T SEEN, WILL WIN. UNLESS THEY AWARD CLOONEY FOR PLAYING CLOONEY (SEE ABOVE)

Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

SOOOOOOO GLAD HE’S NOMINATED. WON’T WIN. WILL LOOK COOL IN A TUXEDO.

Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

SOOOOOOO GLAD HE’S NOMINATED. WON’T WIN. WILL LOOK COOL IN ANYTHING.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”

GLAD HE EARNED AN INVITE. NOT NOMINATED FOR DIRECTING “THOR”.

Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”

I’D LIKE HIM TO WIN. HE IS UNLIKELY TO EVER BE NOMINATED AGAIN…

Nick Nolte in “Warrior”

DID ANYONE SEE THAT? WHAT WAS THAT?

Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”

WILL WIN. 82. WE’LL ALL BE HAPPY. BY THE WAY, HE’S NOT ENGLISH, HE’S CANADIAN.

Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. BUT IF IT DOES, HE’S ALREADY BEEN TOLD HOW TO APPROACH THE MICROPHONE FOR HIS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH.

Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”

GO HOME. DID ANYBODY IN THE WORLD RUSH OUT TO SEE THIS MOVIE?

Viola Davis in “The Help”

MIGHT WIN. AND POSSIBLY SHOULD.

Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

GETS $500,000 FOR HER NEXT PICTURE. OR MAYBE A MILLION. BUT HER CHANCES OF WINNING THIS ARE SIMILAR TO THE CHANCES OF CHARLIZE THERON GETTING IT ON WITH PATTON OSWALT. WAIT A MINUTE…

Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”

MIGHT WIN – VS VIOLA DAVIS. BOTH FILMS NOT GOOD, PERFORMANCES GOOD. I’M BETTING 55/45 MERYL/VIOLA

Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

WISH SHE WOULD WIN. WON’T. WISH SHE WOULD COME OVER. WON’T.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”

HAVE NOT SEEN. I’M SURE HER VOICE IS LOVELY.

Jessica Chastain in “The Help”

BRILLIANT BEYOND BELIEF.

Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”

SERIOUSLY?

Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”

WHO SAW THAT MOVIE? (NOT ME, OBVIOUSLY. SHOULDN’T BE MEAN. BUT… THERE WAS NOTHING IN THAT AD CAMPAIGN FOR ME. NOTHING.)

Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

COULD WIN. VERY FUNNY, QUITE BRILLIANT. MOST OF HER SCENES ARE WITH THE ABOVE-MENTIONED JESSICA CHASTAIN, WHICH KIND OF MEANS… THEY BOTH SHOULD WIN. SHARE THE AWARD!

Cinematography

“The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman

YEP.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth

NUP.

“Hugo” Robert Richardson

WILL WIN, IF THE ARTIST DOESN’T.

“The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki

OR MAYBE THIS WILL WIN.

“War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

NUP.

Costume Design

“Anonymous” Lisy Christ

HA HA.

“The Artist” Mark Bridges

YEP.

“Hugo” Sandy Powell

NUP BUT CLOSE.

“Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor

OH YEAH, LIKE THIS HAS A CHANCE. WEIRD!

“W.E.” Arianne Phillips

HYSTERICAL.

Directing

“The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius

WILL WIN.

“The Descendants” Alexander Payne

LUDICROUS.

“Hugo” Martin Scorsese

COULD HAVE WON BUT FOR THE ARTIST.

“Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen

SERIOUSLY?

“The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

OKAY THAT’S JUST STUPID

Film Editing

“The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius

WHO KNOWS?

“The Descendants” Kevin Tent

THAT WOULD BE STRANGE. THAT MOVIE HAS A VERY ODD TEMPO.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

HAVE NOT SEEN

“Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker

A GREAT MOVIE BUT THE EDITING IS OF THE “LET’S LEAVE IT ALL IN” APPROACH…

“Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

EXTREMELY AMAZING AND HARD EDITING ABOUT A SUBJECT WE DON’T ALL LIKE BUT MADE US LIKE IT – SHOULD BE IN THE RUNNING

Best Foreign Language Film

“A Separation” Iran

THERE’S NO CHALLENGE HERE. WRITE YOUR SPEECH! YOU WON ALREADY!

Makeup

“Albert Nobbs” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle

NUP

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng

NUP

“The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

YEP. AMAZING. NOTICE “J. EDGAR” DIDN’T GET A NOMINATION?

Music (Original Song)

“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie

YEP. THIS WILL BE THE BEST AWARD OF THE NIGHT. BRET MCKENZIE, OSCAR WINNER!

“Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

NUP

Visual Effects

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson

NUP

“Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

YEP

“Real Steel” Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg

HA HA

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett

CLOSE BUT NO HUGO

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

OH PLEASE

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

“The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

WILL WIN BUT SHOULDN’T

“Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan

SHOULDN’T WIN – GOOD FILM, BUT TOTALLY WEIRD SCREENPLAY – WHO WAS THE AUDIENCE?

“The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

JUST THE PLAY ON SCREEN. BUT VERY SHARP

“Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin

SHOULD WIN BUT WON’T – BRILLIANT

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

LEFT FIELD. LONG.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

“The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius

WILL WIN AND PROBABLY SHOULD

“Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

THEY’VE ALL ADMITTED MUCH OF WHAT IS ON SCREEN IS IMPROVISED!

“Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor

HE HAS A GOOD CAREER ON HIS WAY, BUT HE’S VERY UNLIKELY TO NEED TO PREPARE THIS SPEECH

“Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen

C’MON!

“A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

MIGHT WIN

Not the Second Coming of SIDEWAYS

Posted: January 22, 2012 in movie reviews

The Descendants *** (out of five)

An overhyped movie can be a very disappointing thing. The Descendants is a very decent family drama, fueled by fine acting and a unique sense of place. But please, don’t go in expecting the Second Coming of Sideways.

That film – also directed by Alexander Payne – used the Santa Barbara’s Wine Country to provide backdrop for a semi-comic tale of two losers out to get lost. The Descendants has George Clooney in Hawaii as a very rich man who is about to become mega, stinking, stupid rich. His character here, Matt King, is no loser. He’s a winner all the way.

His wife is in a coma and is going to die – that’s his problem. His two extremely intelligent and pretty daughters are a mystery to him, but they’re by no means lost causes. And he has to decide whether to sell an inherited parcel of prime oceanfront land to someone for five hundred million dollars or to someone else for a little less than that. 

I know – first world problems, right?

A Big Surprise that you still might not know about happens early on in the picture, and I’m not going to spoil it here (although the trailer does – and does the film a terrible disservice by doing so), and it propels Clooney and his daughters on an improvised, knockabout quest – not dissimilar to the extremely wayward jaunt taken in Sideways. Along the way, Clooney connects with his daughters, and learns how to be a better Dad.

That’s it, and the predictability of that – coupled with the fact that it’s practically impossible to sympathise with the man’s central dilemma (where pursuing either of the “moral” choices still results in lifelong wealth) – are the film’s weaknesses, and they’re significant ones. It does have significant strengths, however. Clooney is in fine form; he knows how to deliver a line, he knows how to use the camera, and he is very aware of the power of restraint. I always see Clooney, however; I don’t lose the actor to the character the way I do with, say, Charlize Theron, who is every bit as movie-star gorgeous as Clooney but who completely vanishes into her characters (see Young Adult), or Clooney’s Ocean’s colleague Brad Pitt, who this year completely disappeared into two completely distinct characters in The Tree of Life and Moneyball. Now, I love Clooney, so I love watching Clooney – but I’m watching Clooney play Matt King, not watching Matt King. I don’t know why this is so – why his persona is always stronger than that of the characters he’s playing – but I strongly suspect it’s in his vocal inflections – he definitely has a “George Clooney” delivery style that he carries from movie to movie, so there’s always a bit of Danny Ocean in there, and Danny Ocean is invincible, which, if you follow my logic, makes Matt King invincible too, and therefore not a particularly sympathetic character. With Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando, you always thought they were one step away from losing everything. Clooney seems incapable of losing anything. (I also believe that, in every Clooney movie, some reference should be made to the fact that he’s ludicrously handsome. He just doesn’t sit in the normal world. There was a perfect opportunity in this movie – “You can’t buy your way out of this, Mr. King”. They should have just added “And your looks won’t save you either.”)

All the supporting acting is good, particularly Shailene Woodley as the eldest daughter – you can count on seeing her in everything over the next couple of years. The humour is very gentle, but there are laugh-out loud moments. And it’s the first film I’ve ever seen that is set in contemporary Hawaii, and Payne gives us plenty of local flavour. In some ways it’s more about the place than the man.

The film just won the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Film. This is certainly not the best drama I’ve seen all year – I definitely had better times at Contagion, Moneyball, Young Adult and Drive to name but a few. But by all means see it; revel in Clooney and the insider glimpse of Hawaii (albeit the Hawaii inhabited by a millionaire); you might even get a good cry out of it. Go in below the hype. Then rent Sideways again and revel in Payne’s true masterpiece.

Reitman + Cody + Theron = Amazing

Posted: January 20, 2012 in movie reviews

Young Adult **** (out of five)

Charlize Theron is one of the bravest of all movie stars, Jason Reitman one of the bravest of movie directors, and together they make a very brave combination indeed. Young Adult is Reitman’s darkest film so far, and Theron plays an unlikeable character with incredible, fearless commitment.

Like Reitman’s Up in the Air, this is a tragedy masquerading – on the film’s posters and trailers – as a comedy. Theron plays Mavis, a depressed, alcoholic ghost writer of young adult fiction who returns to the miserable small town of her youth to try to win back her high-school boyfriend – even though he’s happily married and has just had a baby girl. That this mission is insane is not a plot liability – it’s part of the point. Theron’s character, blessed with stratospheric good looks (the same looks possessed by Charlize Theron – there’s no Monster makeup going on here) has been on the receiving end of so much lust, longing and intense envy over the course of her life that she has become delusional. Really delusional.

Last year, Bad Teacher had a similar, though far from identical, premise – and it was a failure, as a comedy, as a story, as a film. I wrote that having a lead character who is completely unlikeable makes for a ludicrous challenge. Well, Reitman and Theron are creative professionals of the highest order, and where Bad Teacher failed, they brilliantly succeed. Mavis really is terribly unlikeable – but the movie is anything but. It’s sad, revealing, true and powerful. It looks at some of the most basic human qualities – both good and bad – with an intense gaze that is at times uncomfortable for the audience, but really, only, because they can relate. Mavis is unlikeable – but there are elements of her that we’ll all recognize in ourselves – and if we don’t, maybe we’re as delusional as her.

Diablo Cody writes smart screenplays and this is her smartest. It’s nowhere near as funny as Juno – because it’s not particularly funny at all. Despite the poster and the trailer, it’s most certainly not a comedy – it’s a drama, it’s a tragedy. It’s a sad, honest look at some of the darker aspects of being human.

Second-billed Patton Oswalt launches, at age 42 and with 95 acting credits listed on IMDB, what will now be a stellar movie career. He plays Matt, a leftover in Mavis’ hometown, one of those boys who was in the same year as her in high school and who she simply never acknowledged – never even saw. Their relationship forms the heart of the movie, and it’s an original and extraordinary one. There is no reason he shouldn’t get nominated for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Oscars. So should Cody, for original screenplay.

So should Theron, for Best Actress. She is simply extraordinary. The whole movie relies on having a central character of jaw-dropping beauty, and Theron, in every single scene of the film, kept my jaw suitably floored the whole film long. But Theron is so much more than the most beautiful woman in the world; she is an extraordinarily honest and truthful actress, and every moment of the film is filled with absolute commitment to the character. She has some extremely hard material to navigate here, and she doesn’t miss a single beat.

I can’t say this is Reitman’s best film. I can say that, just as with Thank You For Smoking, Juno and Up In The Air, he has made yet another painstakingly crafted film, jammed full top to bottom with perfect performances, that asks questions, seeks truths, and is never anything other than thoroughly entertaining, even as it twists our guts.

And My Awards…

Posted: January 1, 2012 in movie reviews

AWARDS 2011:

The Best Film of 2011, without a doubt, is Snowtown, and it follows that it’s the best directed film of the year (Justin Kurzel).

Other bits and pieces:

Best Performance of the Year: Daniel Henshall in Snowtown

Second Best Performance of The Year: Saoirse Ronan in Hanna

Best Actor (American): Philip Seymour Hoffman in Moneyball

Best actress (American): Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. Best Performance in a terrible movie, too.

Best Score: Hanna / The Chemical Brothers

Best Editing: Contagion / Stephen Mirrione

Honorable mentions:

Armie Hammer in J. Edgar

Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin

Josh Lucas and John Batchelor in Red Dog

Kriv Stenders for making a modern classic in Red Dog

Joe Cornish for an amazing debut with Attack the Block

Jason Segal for keeping The Muppets real

The Help director Tate Taylor for not going too schmaltzy

Andy Serkis for Cesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Brad Pitt for The Tree of Life and Moneyball

Ryan Gosling for Drive

Duncan Jones for Source Code

Rob Lowe for Stories I Only Tell My Friends – easily the best film book of the year.

The death of Voldemort in Harry Potter Part End: The End Bit. It was beautiful.