To begin with: the category of Best Original Screenplay.
Max Winkler's Ceremony focuses on a creative soul occasionally playing at adulthood while stuck in an arrested development. The self-absorbed ensemble, from the protagonist pursuing an engaged woman through suits and a bad mustache to the bridegroom obsessively screening his films while referencing the many plaudits received, seem, at first, insufferable. But layer by layer is excised so that we see the wounds each is still healing from, and the ways in which they are able to cope with who they are.
Naturally, though, the win goes to the darker one. A truly dark comedy that stings more than it tickles, our winning screenplay gets points for avoiding any sugarcoating, lesson-learning, or redemption. Every character is nuanced and real -- and God, that's a shame. It's scary because it is life. It's funny because it is life. And in the end, I will embrace first that which I recognize to be true. The Hollmann Award Winner for Best Original Screenplay:
This is Cody's first win on her second nomination. She was previously nominated in this category for Juno.
How absolutely thrilling: a woman with awards from the Academy, BAFTA, National Board of Review, Writers Guild and Independent Spirits has a Hollmann. If there was trophy, she could add it to her collection. While we're on this high of talented ladies, let us greet the Supporting Actresses:
It's been a magnificent year for the supporting actresses, but ultimately, there was only one person who could take this. Her subtle, unfussy performance (accidentally?) stole the entire movie from her more famous co-stars. We are assured of the character's expertise, even as she quietly rebels against the system. Such revolt makes her the film's hero, but in her shying away from the credit, her love for her father, her professional practicality, we recognize just another human being doing what she believes is right. The award for Best Supporting Actress goes to:
playing Dr. Ally Hextall
This is her first nomination and win. I hope it's not her last. She's so great in this movie.
Lovely. And not that we mean to remain on the actors, but there are four categories for them, and they're much easier to talk about. So let's return to the ladies of the cinema. Let's go to Best Actress:
Was there a more appropriate scene in Super 8 then the shoot at the train station? As the adolescent filmmakers commence production on their homemade zombie film, they are awestruck by the moving, sincere, surprisingly "adult" performance given by their ingenue, Alice Dainerd. Similarly, we the audience are awestruck by the strong, sensitive, confident performance given by Elle Fanning. We can sympathize with her home life without pitying her, marvel at her strength while hoping for her to open up, and root for the romance between her and the protagonist. A star is born.
And then there's the ghost writer of a best-selling series of novels, nearing forty but still emotionally stuck in high school. The television she watches: reality shows in which beautiful women suffer from the rest of the world not meeting their expectations. The food she eats: ha, don't be silly, this woman drinks, whether it be 2-Liter bottles of soda or a steady stream of booze. The dog she owns: another accessory, mostly forgotten. Not the easiest thing in the world, surely, to play someone this self-deluded, unlikable, and unrepentant, but she owns every frame. Your Best Actress:
playing Mavis Gary
This is Theron's first win on nomination #1. Perhaps it's time to visit her performance in Monster.
Shall we take a look now at the craft categories? It surrounds the actors, it's showcased by the cinematographers, it fleshes out the script. I'm talking about Art Direction.
Recreating 1920s Paris, right down to a surrealist dinner, while also capturing that sleek, less intimate modernity of now, we nominate production designer/art director Anne Seibel and set decorator Helene Dubreuil for Midnight in Paris.
Recreating the Globe Theatre, cluttering the busy study of the genius Oxford, dirtying the basement pub frequented by writers, preserving the immaculate court of Elizabeth I, we nominate production designer Sebastian T. Krawinkel, supervising art director Stephan O. Gessler, and set decorator Simon-Julien Boucherie for Anonymous.
You can't be too surprised at the way this turned out, though. Also a 1970s piece, this team pulled off a remarkable stylization that still meshes with the understated craft of the rest of the film. It's done so well so far, why not give them the award for Best Art Direction?:
Maria Djurkovic, production designer
Tom Brown, supervising art director
First nominations, first wins. A lucky night for the first-timers.
Lovely. Let's all take a seat -- or, if you're sitting, take a stand -- as we go into our music break. This time, let's let the Original Scores entertain our ears.
ATTACK THE BLOCK
Steven Price and Basement Jaxx
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
And your winner for Best Original Score:
His first win on his first nomination. The Hollmann Awards like new blood. New to them, anyway.
Howard Shore, Charlize Theron, Diablo Cody...the Hollmann Awards are only four to ten years behind the Oscars, which are only ten to twenty years behind everyone else. Bodes well.
Meanwhile, we all know that a film is nothing unless you can see what's going on, and even then everything hinges on how you see it. So let's give it up for Best Cinematography:
Hoyte von Hoytema
Newton Thomas Sigel
Look at those. Beautiful, evocative, haunting. We commend all of them, but most especially the winner of the Hollmann Award for Best Cinematography:
This is his first win and nomination. Sometimes, the truth cannot be denied.
Breathtaking. Well, we've done the ladies, we've gotten the support out of the way, so there's nothing left to do but leave it to the men. Best Actor:
We have Michael Fassbender in Shame, and boy is it a tough sit. He is absolutely dead in the eyes in between conquests, but rarely looks physically at ease until he's inside someone. Even then, his intense, spastic, hateful fucking seems to suck out his soul with every thrust. He seems to age ten years in a single shot during a threesome, and looks tragically confused by a date's attempts to make love. Brandon and Cissy: sad, sad, sad.
And we have our champion, an actor known for his chameleonic abilities and sometimes over-the-top performances. This time, he barely moves a muscle as he roots out a double agent, yet still conveys depths of confusion, worry, epiphany, and caution with a sideways glance, a slight lowering of the brow, or even a well-timed swallow. He only opens up three or four times, and each one hits hard. It's surprising, but it's perfectly in step with his creation. You know who I'm talking about. The Hollmann Award for Best Actor goes to:
playing George Smiley
This is Oldman's first win on his second nomination. He was previously cited in Best Supporting Actor for his work in The Dark Knight.
We're almost to the Zero Hour. But before we let the whole evening culminate in our crowning of Best Picture...let's pay some reverence to the men at the helm. For while you can't make a film without any of the elements we've awarded tonight, it's much, much more difficult without the Director:
But above all, there's the man who marries a retro vibe with an arthouse aesthetic to make a gritty thriller that still possesses an almost dreamlike beauty. The Hollmann Award for Best Director goes to:
This is the first nomination and win for Winding Refn, and Hollmann never thought that he would one day hand a top prize like this to the man who directed Marple: Nemesis.
So. It has all led to this. In order, from fifth to first, these are the Films designated out of the ninety-two screened this year as the Best of 2011:
Because sometimes, being the best means having one of the best performances and best writing of the year.
Because it's okay to let yourself be carried off like Goldie Hawn in Everyone Says I Love You...or like Owen Wilson in that yellow car.
Because it's very rare to recognize oneself in escapist fare.
Because great beauty can be very bloody.
And the Hollmann Award for Best Picture goes to:
Because after three viewings, I still want to live in that slow, musty, monochomatic space. It keeps you thinking, it keeps you excited -- it keeps you.
And so we once again close the books on a cinematic year. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy reigns victorious, with six wins out of eleven nominations, but let us also remember the films nominated against it. These were films of imagination, beauty, real feeling. They are to be watched and re-watched. Whether excelling in Art Direction, Costumes, Editing, or Music, they were the Best of 2011.
Disclaimer: Maggie Smith neither endorses or is aware of the Hollmann Awards. I wish she did and was. Use of her name and image is for strictly parodic purposes only.