Saturday, March 6, 2010

McBone Presents: The Third Annual McBone Awards

Another year of moviegoing come and gone, and we find ourselves on the eve of the dreaded Academy Awards ceremony.  The idea of rich people giving each other awards makes me want to cough up a hairball, but, as always, I'll be glued to the tube, in an advanced state of intoxication, decrying the whole decadent mess at every turn.

Before I begin, allow me to sing a sad lament for all the movies we didn't see this year, whether because of the lack of independent movie theaters here, or because Hollywood would rather fill the cineplex with Nicholas Sparks adaptations.

I've said my piece.  Without further delay, the McBoners go to:

The Soloist--Best film. This already forgotten gem that was released in that nether period between Oscar years is one that has haunted me the most, and emerges from a pack of strong contenders that includes District 9, Where the Wild Things Are, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Inglourious Basterds and what was probably my favorite movie of the year, Watchmen.  Part of me just loves The Soloist because it is infused with some of my favorite Beethoven scores.  But there's more!  The story of Nathaniel Ayers' descent from Julliard prodigy into schizophrenia is told by director Joe Wright with a mastery that is matched by its two leads, Jamie Foxx and Robert Downy Jr.  What I really appreciate is that Wright takes the high road by not turning Ayers' tragedy into a feel-good story.  We have billions of movies about heroic white people coming to save the day, and Wright could easily have had us reaching for the barf bags.  Instead, he delves as deep as he can into the struggle that people (not just schizophrenics) face just to survive one day to the next (as illustrated by Downy).  Then Wright, in taking us through a journey through Ayers' mind, asks us to consider how impossible it must be for the mentally ill. Well done and bravo.

Christoph Waltz--Best Actor, Inglourious Basterds.  Am I cheating?  I don't think so.  Inglourious Basterds is driven, in my opinion, by three lead roles.  Waltz's turn as a terrifying, quadrilingual Jew hunter stands out as not only the single best performance of the year, but one of the greatest of all time.  Jeff Bridges will win the Oscar in this category.  That's cool.  Waltz will win for a supporting role.  That works too, but I believe he deserves better.

Mélanie Laurent--Best Actress, Inglourious Basterds.  Lost amid all the praise that Waltz is receiving is Laurent's role as the hunted Jew.  Tarantino loves a good revenge story, and Laurent is up to the challenge, filling her performance with muted pain and cold calculation.  The scene when she and Waltz share a strudel is one for the time capsule.  She edges Carey Mulligan from An Education, and Gabourey Sibide from Precious.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan--Best supporting actor, Watchmen.  In just a few scenes it is Morgan's job to play what really amounts to the central role of the film.  What he does is construct the most villainous hero imaginable, and you can't take your eyes off him as he runs roughshod over everyone he encounters.  Morgan beats out two tremendous performances from the latest entry in the Harry Potter saga, Alan Rickman and Jim Broadbent.  Oh, and I would like to mention Leonard Nimoy as well, who single handedly made that new Star Trek worth watching.

Mariah Carey--Best supporting actress, Precious.  I can't really believe I'm doing this, but she deserves it.   In about five minutes of screen time, Carey defines exactly what a supporting role should be--small, essential and unforgettable.  She edges Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart, Catherine Keener (is there a better actor alive?) from Where the Wild Things Are, and wallops the overrated Mo'nique from Precious, who has pretty much been anointed the Oscar winner.

Zach Snyder--Best director, Watchmen.  Never did get to the book yet, but I love movies that reward multiple viewings.  Every time I see Watchmen, I am more impressed by the care that this guy put into his film, how every frame is filled with meticulous detail.  For all its faults, and there are many, Snyder's ambition mostly pays off.  He beats Jason Reitman for Up in the Air and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds.

Quentin Tarantino--Best screenplay, for Inglourious Basterds.  No one writes better dialogue than Tarantino.  There is a LOT of talking in this film, and it's all awesome.  

The Fantastic Mr. Fox--Best art directionAvatar may be the most impressive, and will certainly win the Oscar, but I prefer the aesthetic of Mr. Fox, which had me laughing out loud.  Apologies to Coraline.

That's it, folks.  Think I'm a total idiot?  Take a look at the Alex Awards:

This year we didn't get to see The Last Station (which is about my favorite writer Tolstoy and has my beloved James McAvoy in it, so it probably would have been up there in the awards for me) and Invictus.  Not to mention all the foreign films and all the documentaries--except for the spectacular Food Inc--since bloody West Lafayette is allergic to such films and they're nowhere to be seen on Netflix yet. 

Best film: I'm going to go with Precious for its amazing courage and beauty.  The power and sincerity of all the actors and the fantastic way in which they get inside Precious's mind affected me more than any other film this year.  I also can't deny that from a political standpoint, I am eager for more stories like Precious to be told.  Obese and illiterate African American women rarely grace the screen, not to mention doing so under such loving care from everyone involved.  Here's to hundreds of films like it to come (let's hope!).

Best Actress: Gaborey Sibide gets my love here.  She nailed the brilliance of a mind that refuses to be beaten down in spite of living in the worst conditions possible.  She glows as she gets to live, really live, for the first time in this film. Carey Mulligan was fantastic too, and comes in a close second.

Best Actor: I have to give it to George Clooney for being the suavest and most brokenhearted of corporate sharks on celluloid.  A brokenheated man who thinks he's actually happy is a very tough role to play, and he does it with great dignity and sadness.  I must also give a big smile to Alec Baldwin, who played the most charming ex-husband-back-in-love-with-you bastard/not-really-a-bastard ever!  It's Complicated has gotten some slack from the critics but I saw screw them.  I had a marvelous time and much of it came from Baldwin.

Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick is my gal for this one.  She embodied corporate ambition and vulnerable youth so brilliantly.  From her uptight posture, to her rapid-fire speaking, to her devastation after firing her first peron, Anna embodies her character and makes us love her against our better judgement.  I also second my husband's praise of Mariah Carey.  That last scene in her office is pure devastating magic.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz is not to be beat here.  To take such delight in being evil, to do it so charmingly.  Oh, the milk, the strangled movie star, the joy of betraying the Fuhrer.  No, I can't say that anyone comes close.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow please, please, please!!!!  Sure, I'm a feminist and I'd love for this, only the fourth woman ever to be nominated for this award, to win for political reasons.  However, there is much more to it.  The Hurt Locker is the first film I've seen about Iraq or Afghanistan that captures the war with reality and compassion.  When you can create such devastating fear simply out of people looking out windows, you are a masterful director and it should be rewarded! 

Best Original Screenplay:  This has to go to my man Quentin for rewriting history with such delightful flare in Inglourious Basterds.  I think this may be my favorite Tarentino film because of its attempt to engulf the world in all those languages and the fabulous meditations on the destructive (explosive!) power of film.

Best Adapted Screenplay:  An Education gets my award here for giving us a charming, yet profound and rug-pulling tale.  You don't always get this much suspense in a love story, and you certainly don't get such loving attention to dialogue and how people relate to and deceive one another in most films.  A close second is the wonderful Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which captured the book's magic with arguably as much flare as Cuaron's version of the the third Potter film.

Best Art Direction: I will have to agree with my husband on The Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Who can forget the foxes eating or the confused eyes of the possum?  Close seconds go to Harry Potter and friends and to Where the Wild Things Are for their gorgeous and frightening universes.

Previous winners:


nwb and AHA


StevenLink said...

Thanks to you both for the recommendations. At times like these, I'm reminded how little time I spend in an actual movie theatre. I'm looking forward to seeing all of these films -- some day.

What's the prize for correct predictions? More gin?

Anonymous said...

you should see District 9

McBone said...


All told, it was a pretty decent year for film. There was a lot I really liked, but not much I loved. I don't know if you can beat 2007.


We did! Awesome movie. Probably my third favorite of the year.


Kid Shay said...

Once again, the Oscars have let me down. Although Jeff Bridges won, which I like to think of as belated recognition for Big Lebowski.

Anonymous said...

you also need to see Up & Star Trek

Darin said...

Nate, I agree with your comment that there were a lot of very good movies but few great ones in 2009. 2008 and 2007 had some much better films (Synecdoche, New York; In Bruges; Milk; Rachel Getting Married; Once; Lars and the Real Girl; I'm Not There).

I assume you chose The Soloist as the best film of the year because it was partly filmed in Cleveland.

McBone said...

Haha, didn't know it was filmed in Cleveland! I like it even better now.