Thursday, February 24, 2011

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The Hollmann Awards: The Sexy Categories

The awards you've all been waiting for.... are after the jump. Click Read More if you want to explore my opinion....




Black Swan
Scott Franklin/Mike Medavoy/Arnold Messer/Brian Oliver
Sexy, psychotic, operatic, horrifying. Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky create a literal danse macabre together, and it is beautiful.
Ranking:


The Fighter
Dorothy Aufiero/David Hoberman/Ryan Kavanaugh/Todd Lieberman/Paul Tamasy/Mark Wahlberg
How can a movie give us such frustrating characters like Alice and Dickie and still get us to sympathize with them? How can it get career-best work from an ensemble of already strong performers? How can it keep me on the edge of my seat even when I already know the ending? Impressive.
Ranking:


I Am Love
Luca Guadagnino/Francesco Melzi d'Eril/Marco Morabito/Tilda Swinton/Alessandro Usai/
Massimiliano Violante
Poetic. Operatic. Sheer beauty.
Ranking:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Eric Gitter/Nira Park/Marc Platt/Edgar Wright
I like it more and more every time I see it, and that's going on four times now. Not just a great sense of fun, but a poignancy is there. I tear up every time those opening chords to "Ramona" play. And I'm sorry, anyone who says this is the same old Michael Cera isn't watching the movie.
Ranking:


The Social Network
Dana Brunetti/Cean Chaffin/Michael De Luca/Scott Rudin
Seriously, who knew a movie about Facebook would be this interesting, this masterfully-made? It's the story of my generation, of friendship betrayed, love lost, the cost of the American Dream. And the main cast are all under 30. Ha! Awesome!
Ranking:


[UPDATED: Producers nominated for Best Picture, as of 1/13/2017]

BEST DIRECTOR
Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky
He and Fincher are the only directors I've nominated twice. Once again, Aronofsky triumphs. He's fooled the Academy and the Critics into taking OTT horror seriously -- and why shouldn't they? He paces it perfectly, building the tension and insanity, culminating in a beautifully realized finale. Horror done this well, at this level of insanity, is to be held up as a shining example of the genre.
Ranking:


Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance
After ten years of development, Cianfrance made a strong debut. Gosling and Williams are usually great, of course, but Cianfrance guides them through two of their rawest performances. He's the one who enables them to explore their unpleasant sides, and he's the one encouraging moments like that ukulele serenade. Great instincts.
Ranking:


The Fighter
David O. Russell
Much of the film's strength lies with him. It should be your standard biopic, but his influence on certain aspects -- the women, for instance -- elevates the material. He gets great work from his stars, certainly, but I'm also impressed with his coverage of some scenes. Specifically, I'm in love with that back and forth between Micky and an opponent in the ring. Oh, and it was Russell who decided to use HBO cameras to cover the matches.
Ranking:


I Am Love
Luca Guadagnino
Another ten-year labor of love. Guadagnino brought us art. The film is beautiful, bringing an old-fashioned, theatrical elegance to a family drama (that's almost an ensemble piece!). Guadagnino's made a soapy melodrama into respectable cinema, making him a worthy successor to Sirk and Mark Robson.
Ranking:


The Social Network
David Fincher
Fincher made Sorkin's material epic. I'm a fan of Sorkin, and his script is strong, but in lighter hands, this could have been a lighter film. In strong hands, it could be a strong film. In Fincher's hands, however, The Social Network is an important, era-defining film. We can talk about the strength of Sorkin's screenplay and the actors' performances, but it's Fincher who knows how to execute the former and influence the latter. He's one of only two directors to get another nomination from me. And he deserves it.
Ranking:



BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Black Swan
Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin
Story by Heinz
It's not just a director's film: it's all there in the screenplay. The writing is as eloquent and off as the visuals of the film. Superb and ingenious integration of the ballet, too.
Ranking:


Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
Specific yet flexible. Even if we don't know what went wrong in between, the writers lay the groundwork for it.
Ranking:


Easy A
Bert V. Royal
Frank and hilarious. The actors are great, but Royal is giving them gems to work with.
Ranking:


The Fighter
Scott Silver, Eric Johnson, Paul Tamasy
Story by Keith Dorrington, Johnson, Tamasy
Character-specific and unexpectedly funny. You've seen this story before, but it still keeps you on your toes.
Ranking:


Get Low
C. Gaby Mitchell, Chris Provenzano
Story by Provenzano, Scott Seeke
Subtly funny, slow-burning. Duvall's monologue is beautifully, simply written. Though not all of them have arcs, each character is fully developed, with unseen regrets, memories and loves...but they are conveyed.
Ranking:



BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The American
Rowan Joffe
from A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth
Allows room for the director to work his own magic. And I give extra points because I write my screenplays much the same way Joffe does, in a brief, telegraphic style that gets the point across without getting bogged down.
Ranking:


Never Let Me Go
Alex Garland
from the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
Literate, beautiful, melancholy.
Ranking:
 
  
Rabbit Hole
David Lindsay-Abaire
from his play
Seamlessly opens up his original work; you'd never guess this began as something stagebound.
Ranking:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Edgar Wright, Michael Bacall
from the Oni Press graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley
True to the source while still being uniquely Wrightian. Sharp dialogue, great set-ups.
Ranking:


The Social Network
Aaron Sorkin
from The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich
That dialogue! That structure! That voice!
Ranking:
 


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams as Charlene Fleming
The Fighter
Adams impresses me with each new turn: her debut as the dim cheerleader in Drop Dead Gorgeous; the pretty princess Giselle in Enchanted; the nun clutching onto her innocence in Doubt (for which she won the Hollmann Award). Her latest role is leagues beyond the others. As tough-talking bartender Charlene, Adams gets to show off her feisty side -- and it's not that sexy. No, her Charlene is a Lowell broad who rips out hair and punches people in the face. Her love for Micky is genuine, and for a while we're relieved that she's taken the reigns from his destructive family. Her change from savior to just-as-bad is subtle and quick, and we must thank Adams for crafting a fluid, winning performance.
Ranking:


Melissa Leo as Alice
The Fighter
But here's the real broad, both woman and performance. Leo has to play it big, because Alice is a personality: Alice doesn't enter a room, she makes an entrance, the better to assert control. It's frustrating to watch this woman blindly sabotage Micky's chances while still glorifying the past successes of crack-addicted Dickie. It's even more frustrating when she actually catches Dickie in the act; she's hurt and disappointed, but she decides to turn a blind eye. Yet Leo also gets my sympathies: she genuinely loves all of her children -- maybe not equally, but she loves them. When she looks at Charlene and says, "I don't know you, why are you talking?", I was on her side for a moment. She's been raising these boys their entire lives, who does Charlene think she is? Some MTV girl? Classic line delivery.
Ranking:


Maria Paiato as Ida
I Am Love
Full write-up here.
Ranking:


Sissy Spacek as Mattie Darrow
Get Low
I'm fond Sissy Spacek, but I admit that I'm lacking in my Sissy Knowledge (Coal Miner's Daughter? In the Bedroom? 3 Women? Missing? Never saw 'em). Perhaps it's that limited exposure that makes me consider Mattie Darrow her best since Carrie (looooove that one), but there it is. Spacek keeps Mattie from being that stereotypical One that Got Away/Woman Wronged through mere glances. It's romantic when she realizes she may have a second chance at the man she loved long ago, and it's frustrating when she tries to shy away from it. Naturally one must mention the scene in Felix's cabin, where Spacek runs from nervous to girlish to heartbroken to furious. We see little of her afterward, but Spacek is so solid in that scene that it's enough to secure her position here.
Ranking:
 

Ellen Wong as Knives Chau
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Wong nails the hyperactive energy of the sixteen-year-old, blindly believing in the virtues and musical tastes of the current love of her life. Knives is a difficult character to play, since she's always skirting the line between adorable and annoying. Wong never gets anywhere near that line, and instead presents a believable -- and hilarious -- portrait of a vulnerable girl on the brink of maturity looking for an identity to cling to, whether it be Girlfriend, Fan, or Wronged Ex. Bonus points:

Ranking:



BEST ACTRESS

Kim Hye-ja as Mother
Mother
Not every actress can bring the crazy without hamming it up.  Not every actress can be unhinged and controlled at the same time. Not every actress can surprise you while remaining consistent within a performance. But then, not every actress is Kim Hye-ja.
Ranking:


Nicole Kidman as Becca
Rabbit Hole 
All I can say is that I think an actor has succeeded when I recognize either someone I know or a part of myself in their performance. Not just the character, either; I mean when the line readings and physicality make me go, "YES. I know that person. Intimately." Those of us who love Kidman, and even those who don't, should rank this in her Top Five Performances...maybe even Top Three.
Ranking:


Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers
Black Swan
Somewhere, Jessica Harper is watching Black Swan and shaking her fists in rage...or appreciation. We've seen how hard Portman trained for her dance scenes, and we can see for ourselves the neat way she goes from "frigid little girl" to Queen Bitch. One could call this performance limited (or limiting), but God help me I think horror performances are so very difficult to get right, especially this one. Like Sissy Spacek in Carrie, she has to play victim and monster, sowing the seeds for each one in the other. She's just snippy at the beginning (in the dressing-room, remember? the other girls don't seem to like her), so we can only imagine how RAWRR she'll get when she lets loose. AND THEN SHE DOES.
Ranking:


Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast
Easy A
Easy A is a funny movie with a great cast and clever script, but it really should have been just another teen comedy that I enjoy but kind of forget about months later (She's the Man, I love you, but I barely remember you). Yet Emma Stone walks in and gives it Instant Classic status, making Olive Penderghast a soon-to-be iconic (I hope) comic heroine. And that girl can sing!
Ranking:


Tilda Swinton as Emma Recchi
I Am Love 
A quiet performance, but effective nonetheless. Swinton suggests the years of repression without outright telegraphing it. Her liaison is dizzily carnal, but begins with the right bit of trepidation. Oh my God that final scene is just magic for everyone involved, isn't it?
Ranking:



BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund
The Fighter
Bale's performance is just a wonder to behold. After his last few roles established what I can only call a Christian Bale Role -- deadly serious, mumbled speeches, frowny face -- the loost, reckless, spontaneous Dicky Eklund is almost a treat! Bale gets Dicky's ego and recklessness but never passes judgment, making him into a charming individual whose personality has been letting him get away with shit for years. You want to hug him and slap him at the same time.
Ranking:


Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin
The Social Network 
All the promise of youth coupled with the hurt of betrayal. His line readings at the lunch with Sean are killer, but it's the way he looks at Mark when he arrives soaking wet in Silicon valley that confirms his place here.
Ranking:


Bill Murray as Frank Quinn
Get Low
He takes his slick city undertaker and marks it with his trademark wit. There's also sadness, as in the scene with Sissy Spacek where he mentions his wife. A surprisingly deep performance.
Ranking:


Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
The King's Speech
Rush dials down his charming theatricality to subtly portray Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, out of place in this new country. Logue is funny, warm, and honest, and I do love that last look of his as he watches his King from the background.
Ranking:


Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley
The Runaways
Simply outrageous. Shannon's creation is straight out of Phantom of the Paradise, Beef and Swan coming together to form a maniacal monster. It's a hoot of a performance, but also frightening: you have no idea what he's going to do next, how far he's willing to push the girls. And if they start to lose it from the drugs and booze he's insisting on having around, it's not his fault. They just just can't handle it.
Ranking:



BEST ACTOR
Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 
Cera isn't just the nice nerd here. He makes Scott hilarious and friendly, remembering that though Scott is the good guy, he's also an unconscious asshole. The film simply doesn't work without a great lead, and Cera is that great lead. Surprisingly believable in his action sequences, too. Good work!
Ranking:


Robert Duvall as Felix Bush
Get Low 
Beautiful performance of a hermit wrapped up in loneliness and guilt. Duvall keeps Felix guarded with his humor, fearing that he'll hurt (or be hurt) if he's open. His Big Speech at the end is masterful: the pauses, the pain, the attempts to shrug it off. So, too, is his mid-film dinner with Spacek's Mattie, full of confusion and guilt. One of the best delivers one of his best.
Ranking:


Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network
Two things: his killer line readings ("Did I adequately answer your condescending question?"), and his eyes. The subtlest shifts completely change Mark from asshole to friend, cutthroat to sympathetic.
Ranking:


Colin Firth as Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor, King George VI
The King's Speech
Firth is having a great two years, isn't he? Bertie looks so uncomfortable in his own skin he had me squirming. The torturous stammer, the safeguard of anger, the surprising good humor, all come naturally in Firth's performance. He never forgets to make his king a man, but he also never forgets to make this man a royal: Bertie genuinely looks down on Logue's nationality and station when they first meet. This is dialogue, certainly, but Firth's behavior conveys it first, making his subtle transformation all the more impressive.
Ranking:


Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward
The Fighter 
As Adams cat-scratches, Leo bellows, and Bale jumps out of windows, Wahlberg keeps things grounded. His almost passive Micky is a subtly-crafted thing, and as Bale pointed out, the other performances just don't work without a quieter leading man. It's this kind of quietness, one realizes, that keeps him under his mother's thumb for so long, but the resentment is always there, too.
Ranking:



BEST ENSEMBLE
Teamwork!
Easy A
Lisa Miller
What a hilarious group she's gathered, and so believable, too! Not only does the repartee work, but it's a believable family unit, believable frenemies, and convincing faculty members. Bonus points for Malcolm McDowell as the principal.
Ranking:

 
The Fighter
Sheila Jaffe 
The four leads. Police officer/trainer Mickey O'Keefe as himself. Dickie's crack friends. George Ward. And, of course, that gaggle of big-haired sisters. Everyone looks like they come from the streets, and there's not a self-conscious performance in the bunch.
Ranking:


For Colored Girls
Robi Reed
A number of our greatest blacktresses gathered together to create an ensemble of excellence. It's like when the Power Rangers made a Megazord.
Ranking:


The Kids Are All Right
Laura Rosenthal
A real family unit. Everyone's listening, everyone's reacting.
Ranking:


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Robin D. Cook, Jennifer Euston, Allison Jones
A large group of talented young actors, playing hilariously off each other. Brandon Routh has never been better; Anna Kendrick and Michael Cera are great screen siblings; Jason Schwartzman is clearly having the time of his life.
Ranking:

3 comments:

Caleb Strul said...

You're making me wanna see Get Low.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

(Oh god you need to see In the Bedroom. Sissy is astounding.)

Okay, discussions: I can't fete the screenplay for The Fighter even though I can for Russell because for me he makes it work in spite of its script confines (incidentally, also how I feel about Aronofsky and Black Swan).

I can't appreciate Murray over Lucas Black in Get Low. I sort of feel badly for Black that NO ONE seems to care for him there.

(And that picture of Easy A, if that was the whole film. Sigh. I want a sequel in the family home only.)

TomS said...

OK my friend..you must relinquish your Voting Card until you see "Coal Miner's Daughter".

So happy for your love for "Black Swan". This is much more than OTT horror. There's a purpose there beyond gross-out...the way it symbolizes the primal fears of coming-of-age is terribly emotional. Great choice!


At least Mr. Eisenberg can bask in the Hollmann Awards glory...

Thanks for including excerpts from the screenplays, too!