Sunday, February 27, 2011

McBone Presents: The Fourth Annual McBoner Awards

As the Middle East boils over with popular uprisings and public workers fight for their livelihoods in the Midwest, it's time to step away from such goings-on and steep ourselves for a few hours in our favorite cesspool of privilege and excess: the Academy Awards.  Yes, fellow moviegoers, it's that septic spectacle we call Oscar Night.  We at McBone annually wade our way through the Versace frocks and endless dark glasses to see which motion pictures are deemed worthy to enter the Academy's canon.  Yes, I will watch every second, and yes I'll come out feeling like I've bathed in (and drunk from) the Ganges (minus the sacredness).

But before I begin weeping for civilization, I'll offer my own take on the year in cinema.  This year's McBoners go to:

Get Low--Best film.  My early favorite withstood an onslaught from some stiff competition, and just edges out Winter's Bone, (an obvious choice for the McBoner), True Grit and the mesmerizing documentary, Catfish.  I'm not sure what this exquisite picture did to deserve complete and utter indifference from the award givers of the world.  I suppose I'm biased in my love of grizzled old men with beards, but so much of Get Low was done with love and care by director Aaron Schneider, who, unlike the Coen Brothers (hellbent on crafting a masterpiece of quirks), sticks with authenticity in the name of good storytelling.  Throw Sissy Spacek into the pot with some apt screenwriting and magnificent cinematography and you get this folkloric tale of regret and redemption.

Geoffrey Rush--Best Actor, The King's Speech.  Sorry Colin; your convincing stutter earned our sympathy for King George, but Geoffrey Rush owns this movie as his irreverent mentor.  Rush (in this leading role, in spite of what the Academy says) is perfection as he unceremoniously does away with all the pomp and ceremony that goes with being King, using patience and great humor to free his pupil from the stifling weight of his position. Apologies to: James Franco.

TIE!  Michelle Williams, Jennifer Lawrence--Best Actress, Blue Valentine, Winter's Bone.  The superiority of these two performances made it impossible for me to decide.  Both women enact their parts with understated artistry.  Both deserve the prize.  Apologies to: Hailee Steinfeld, who should have been nominated for the Oscar in this category.

Barry Pepper--Best supporting actor, True Grit.  My inclination with this award is usually to choose the smallest performance that makes the biggest impression.  Pepper makes the most of his five minutes on screen, letting the spittle fly from his green-toothed gape.  Apologies to: Get Low's Bill Cobbs.

Rooney Mara--Best supporting actress, The Social Network.  The quick-tongued Mara puts on a clinic on how to broom a d-bag boyfriend.  Apologies to: Amy Adams, who atones for her awfulness in Doubt, and Chloe Moretz of Kick-Ass.

Debra Granick--Best director, Winter's Bone.  Granick makes us see the perils and pitfalls of back-woods poverty.  Her portrait is terrifying and she weaves a nearly perfect story without the benefit of major studio backing.  Apologies to: Christopher Nolan.

Aaron Sorkin--Best screenplay, The Social Network.  I admire films that resist the urge to load up on dialogue, but I tend to give this award to the more talkative films.  The Social Network has too many memorable lines to ignore, particularly: 'I'm 6'5" 220 and there's two of me.'  Apologies to: Coen bros.

Get Low--Best art direction.  As much as Tron and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World were awesome spectacles, I applaud how director Aaron Schneider makes the most of a small budget to transport us back 100 years to erstwhile Tennessee.

Crushing disappointments of 2010: Tron: Legacy, Iron Man 2, Never Let Me Go, Love and Other Drugs

For those of you who think me a hopeless imbecile, we offer you the Alex Awards:

Best film: My heart this year belongs to Winter's Bone.  From the very first frame I was both insanely tense and transfixed by this gorgeous, hard-hitting story and its characters.  Blue Valentine comes second, and, although the awards ignored it completely, I thought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 took what in the books is a tedious journey and turned it into a mesmerizing story about growing up and coming to terms with who we are while the world is falling apart around us.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence owns Winter's Bone. Whether she's skinning squirrels, battling the meth mafia, or protectively looking after her siblings, Lawrence makes Ree into a hero for our postmodern times.  Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine comes a very close second, handling the beginning and the end of love with no tricks or mannerisms, just pure, authentic emotion. 

Best Actor: Blue Valentine's Ryan Gosling makes for the most charming and lovable drunken fuck-up in years, so much so that you almost, but not quite, forgive him when he loses it.  Gosling makes clear how a woman can be with someone like him and manage to find happiness in the midst of the chaos and sadness he brings her.  Kudos to Collin Firth and Jesse Eisenberg as well.

Best Supporting Actress: Dale Dickey from Winter's Bone.  As the terrifying meth world matriarch, Dickey is the only worthy match for Jennifer Lawrence's Ree.  With one of the most expressive and sorrow-filled faces I've ever seen on the screen, Dickey gives us an awe-inspiring picture of female power and pain.  Melissa Leo, another frightening matriarch comes a close second.  Mia Wasikovska made the stress, confusion and hopefulness of the pre-college months with their uncertainty and impending family separation look beautiful and tangible in The Kids Are All Right.

Best Supporting Actor: Winter Bone's John Hawkes makes loose cannon, creepy and good-hearted (in a twisted, fucked-up way) find new meanings with his performance as Uncle Teardrop. 

Best Director: Debra Granick makes magic with her actors and eerie storytelling in Winter's Bone, all while keeping her amazingly capable hands wrapped around our hearts.  The authentic, lyrical way in which she weaves her tale visually should be studied by directors with much larger budgets.  A close second goes to Derek Cianfrance, who spent 12 years working on Blue Valentine and created the most profound exploration of relationships I have seen in years.  Lisa Chodolenko also created something beautiful in the relationship department with The Kids Are All Right, going beyond couples to explore how the nuclear family can come together and fall apart as they try to find their own personal happiness within the larger family structure.

Best Original Screenplay:  Blue Valentine for having some of the most gorgeous and heartbreaking dialogue this year.  The Kids Are All Right's wit and emotional power comes second.

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Winter's Bone for bringing to life such a visceral tale into a story that looks like it could not belong anywhere but on the screen.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, I would argue, improved on the book and created some truly enchanted moments like Harry and Hermione's dancing scene, that, although not in the book, perfectly belong in the story.

Best Art Direction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, for finding the most haunting places in England and creating a whimsical, painful space for our three favorite wizards to find themselves, and, in the process, maybe run into a few Horcruxes.

Previous winners:


nwb and AHA


Jeff said...

Glad to see that the two best actors are represented in this least to some degree. Bill Murray with Get Low and Ryan Gosling for Best Actor!

As always, great work!

McBone said...

Thanks for reading!


Darin said...

I think Aaron Schneider, not Sorkin, directed Get Low. I think it wasn't nominated for Oscars because it had festival releases in 2009, but didn't get wider release until 2010. It did, however, get some Indie Spirit nominations and took home the Indie Spirit Award for Best First Feature, showing once again that the Indie Spirit Awards trump The Academy Awards.

McBone said...

Schneider, that's what I get for waiting till the last minute. Thanks for catching it! Well, I figured it was kind of a tweener and that was why it didn't get more attention. Ah well.