Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Golden Schmoos (2013 Edition)

Welp, it's about that time again. I skipped over doing this award business last year because I lacked the time and really wasn't that blown away at the cinema in 2012. I've seen a lot of different films this year - enough to be comfortable doing a year's best thing, but there are still a few notable movies that I just never got around to watching for one reason or another. For full disclosure, those that come to mind are: Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Her. I have my doubts that any of these are going to unseat my following picks, but in the event that they do, I'll be sure to amend them.

Anyway, giving out ten awards this year. Let's begin.

 Best Score:
1. Pacific Rim - Ramin Djawadi
2. Upstream Color - Shane Carruth
3. All Is Lost - Alexander Ebert
4. Only God Forgives - Cliff Martinez
5. Gravity - Steven Price  

WINNER: Shane Carruth for Upstream Color

This was really a great year for film scores. Lots of other films made my list of notable soundtracks, but these five stood out. The fact that Carruth wrote, directed and co-edited his film in addition to scoring it is beyond impressive. However, the music itself is remarkable, haunting and unique. Easily one of the best pieces of cinematic music in years, possibly ever.  No matter how many times I listen to it, it always evokes great feeling.

Best Cinematography: 
1. Upstream Color
2. 12 Years A Slave
3. All Is Lost
4. Aint Them Bodies Saints
5. The Hunt

WINNER: All Is Lost

Just a truly beautiful film, filled with beautiful imagery and impressive shots. 

Best Editing:
1. Upstream Color
2. Blue is the Warmest Color
3. Gravity 
4. All is Lost
5. Inside Llewyn Davis

WINNER: Upstream Color

Some people say that Upstream is hard to follow. I wouldn't say that. I'd call it challenging. A lot of it jumps around in time and between things that aren't obviously connected, but every bit of it is deliberate and full or purpose.

Best Screenplay:
1. Upstream Color
2. Aint Them Bodies Saints
3. Frances Ha
4. The Hunt
5. The Wind Rises

WINNER: Upstream Color

There is a lot of stiff competition in this category, but again I have to go with Upstream. It's just too unique and beautiful of a piece of cinema to deny. For all of its nebulous plotting, there's a very specific and mind-blowing bit of philosophical science fiction at its core. 

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years A Slave
2. Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
3. Scarlett Johansson - Don Juan
4. Rooney Mara - Aint Them Bodies Saints
5. Lea Seydoux - Blue Is The Warmest Color

WINNER: Lea Seydoux - Blue Is The Warmest Color

See "Best Actress".

Best Supporting Actor: 
1. Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
2. Michael Fassbender - 12 Years A Slave
3. Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
4. Ben Foster - Aint Them Bodies Saints
5. James Franco - Spring Breakers

WINNER: Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

Leto returned to the acting scene in a big way this year with his role in Dallas Buyers Club. This might be the only category that the Schmoos and the Oscars overlap. I know critics are almost too eager to laud performances requiring drastic physical transformations and Leto does pull off a dramatic one, but that's not the heart of the performance. His character, Rayon, is layered, tragic and one of the film's greatest assets. There one scene that will continue to haunt me: At a particular low-point, Rayon is being escorted to the hospital by a friend and she utters, "I don't wanna die". It was maybe one of the saddest and uncomfortably real things I saw on screen all year.

Best Actress:
1. Amy Seimetz - Upstream Color
2. Greta Gerwig - Frances Ha
3. Amy Adams - American Hustle
4. Adele Exarchopoulos - Blue Is The Warmest Color
5. Brie Larson - Short Term 12

WINNER: Adele Exarchopoulos - Blue Is The Warmest Color

The performances of both the female leads in Blue Is The Warmest Color were on another level from what I saw in 2013. Emotion pours out of these roles, especially Exarchpoulos' Adele, who shows range and an ability to play vulnerable and confused just about as well as anyone I've ever seen.

Best Actor
1. Robert Redford - All is Lost
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years A Slave
3. Mads Mikkelsen - The Hunt
4. Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
5. Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips

WINNER: Mads Mikkelsen - The Hunt

I already praised Mads heavily in my review of the film itself, but I'll re-iterate here: Mikkelsen elevated this solid film to something of greatness. His performance as a man falsely-accused of sexually abusing a child, evokes such pathos, rendering The Hunt the emotional roller-coaster that it is.

Best Director:
1. Thomas Vinterberg - The Hunt
2. Shane Carruth - Upstream Color
3. JC Chandor - All is Lost
4. Abdellatif Kechiche - Blue Is The Warmest Color
5. Steve McQueen - 12 Years A Slave

WINNER: JC Chandor - All is Lost

My instinct is to pile more praise on Shane Carruth here (and it's well deserved), but something needs to be said for Chandor's achievement as a director in All is Lost. From what I understand, the final product is the result of a 30-page screenplay. Therefore, the film's excellence strikes me as the result of quality direction, communication and vision. Never did All is Lost's lack of dialogue (or a cast beyond Redford) feel like a hindrance or a gimmick and that also says something about the quality of director that Chandor is.

Best Picture: 
1. The Hunt
2. All is Lost
3. Blue Is The Warmest Color
4. Upstream Color
5. 12 Years A Slave
6. Frances Ha
7. Aint Them Bodies Saints
8. The Wind Rises

WINNER: Upstream Color

What more can I say about Upstream Color? When I started writing this "Best Of' post, I wasn't sure that it was truly still my favorite film of the year. It made such an impression on me when I saw it earlier in 2013 and I was pretty sure it would be almost impossible to unseat. I watched it another time when it premiered on Netflix Instant and loved it even more, but it's still been awhile. However, when I watched the above-trailer, the images and music reminded me once again of how Upstream effected me as a viewer. Shane Carruth is a genius and the fact that we have someone with his level of talent working in the medium today is very exciting.