Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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The 1993 Retro Hollmann Awards: Part 1 (of 3)

Oh, finally! One week later, and I finally have the first of my Retro Hollmann Awards for 1993 up! It was difficult to whittle everything down to these nominees, and then to actually choose a winner for each? Mercy! 

Yet I did just that, because that is what one does. Today, we're looking at six categories: Best Supporting Actor, Best Makeup, Best Ensemble, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. Out of the 29 nominees here, only five were also nominated in these categories at the Oscars.

And, naturally, the winners are encased in gold.

Sasha Jenson as Don Dawson
Dazed and Confused

As a character, as a performance, Don Dawson always surprises. Jenson's performance shows a character equally at ease with the jocks and the stoners, and while he may paddle incoming freshmen, it doesn't make him a dick -- he's pretty quick to welcome Wiley Wiggins into the fold. Before he even gives his great mini-speech at the end, we know that he's just doing "the best [he] can while stuck in this place". In his physicality, his laconic manner of walking and talking. It's my favorite performance in the movie.

Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern
Schindler's List

"Ben Kingsley is Itzhak Stern!" Not many people say that, but Kingsley so disappears into the role that one often forgets he's the Oscar-winning star of A Sound of Thunder. It's a quiet yet important role -- the anchor, the voice of reason. Kingsley plays him simply, a dull accountant whose only "hook" is that he could be anybody you know -- he is just a man, trying to survive. A humble and effective performance.

Sean Penn as Dave Kleinman
Carlito's Way

Penn could get in just based on that silent grin he gives when Carlito asks if he pocketed the mob boss's one million dollars. But he spoils us with so much more! Penn's high-pitched energy as Dave gets increasingly cokey is jaw-dropping, both in its outrageous hilarity (let's be honest) and uncomfortable tension. You're just waiting for bad things to happen. Penn's face, alternating between coked-out glee and childish pouting, guides us through the disaster-to-come.

Pete Postlethwaite as Giuseppe Conlon
In the Name of the Father

From my original post: "Postlethwaite gives so much by holding back. His humble Giuseppe really is an uncomplicated man, I think, one for whom there is no such thing as ambiguity. Which is why his faith is so strong, why it becomes something he clings to when his son gives up hope. It's a quiet and lovely performance of a man who may neither understand nor trust his son, but still loves him -- so much so that he's going to share a cell with him."

Zhi Yi as Teenage Douzi
Farewell My Concubine

I think it's the most confident performance in the film. The stoic mask that protects him informs our understanding of Leslie Cheung performance as the adult; when it gives way to a theatrical grin, despite the blood trickling out of his mouth, we see the unimpeachable talent within. A real Presence, even as he folds into himself.

Addams Family Values
Susan Germaine, supervising hair stylist
Kevin C. Haney, makeup designer
Steve LaPorte, special makeup effects artist

The team continues to do great work with Fester, Gomez, Lurch and Morticia, but this time they get to hag up Carol Kane and give Joan Cusack several new looks, as her black widow moves from victim to victim. The summer camp also provides plenty to work with, especially at the play.

Scott Williams, hair stylist
Tony Gardner, special makeup designer
Screaming Mad George, special makeup effects
Vance Hartwell, special makeup effects artist

The Dog Boy, the Human Worm, the Siamese Twins, Alex Winter's whole...thing. The comic grotesquerie begins with this group.

Mrs. Doubtfire
Yolanda Toussieng, key hair stylist
Greg Cannom, special makeup designer
Ve Neill, key makeup artist
One of the most recognizable faces in showbiz is unrecognizable as the elderly, prim Mrs. Doubtfire. You see enough resemblance for it not to become creepy, but it's also very believable that his own wife and kids don't recognize him.

Jan Archibald, hairdressing supervisor
Morag Ross, makeup supervisor

Ageless Orlando changes gender through 400 years of English history, thanks to the hair and makeup team that subtly conveys the distinctions of each era. They also make Quentin Crisp into an English queen, and Heathcote Williams goes from impoverished poet to polished publisher.

Cool Runnings
Chemin Sylvia Bernard/Jaki Brown-Karman
Genuine chemistry and camaraderie, a good thing for a triumphant sports flick. Everyone, from the island locals to the Olympians, has the air of authenticity. And most importantly: they're having a good time.

Dazed and Confused
Don Phillips
Awkward, over-confident, all-important; this is high school, all right. My favorite detail: most everyone, no matter the clique, is pretty much OK with each other. You get the sense they've spent three years, plus junior high, together.

Farewell My Concubine
It's just an all-around strong ensemble, but the significant factor here is the child acting. Besides Zhi Yin, I was impressed with Chun Li (as young Xiao), Yang Fei (the younger Shitou/Duan), and Dan Li (Laizi, who loved sweets). Where are they now? They were superb here!

Schindler's List
Juliet Taylor
Tova Cypin/Lucky Englander/Fritz Fleischhacker/Liat Meiron/Magdalena Szwarcbart
While the leads were certainly a coup themselves, it's the supporting ensemble that earns it this spot. You genuinely feel that you got to know every one of them, so that, like Schindler, we can't function without them. They all leave a lasting impression, no matter how fleeting the role.

Six Degrees of Separation
Ellen Chenoweth
From our protagonists to their friends to their kids to the numerous guests, hosts and geniuses that are frequently party to and eager listeners of their lives, everybody seems cut from that same distinguished cloth, noses physically in the air -- even the extras look smug.

Carlito's Way
Kristina Boden/Bill Pankow
Every De Palma movie is perfectly-edited, don't you think? The final chase sequence is breathtaking, I don't care how many times I see it.

Groundhog Day
Pembroke J. Herring
Keeps repetition fresh, jokes funny, and romance plausible -- oh, OK, and tear-jerkingly heartwarming, too.

Jurassic Park
Michael Kahn
The dino reveals are awe-inspiring; the resulting chaos is terrifying.

Searching for Bobby Fischer
Wayne Wahrman
Conveys the high-speed confusion of a chess match without losing you completely; we know what they know, see what they see, without being told. Miraculous.

Three Colors: Blue
Jacques Witta
A woman dealing with the deaths of her husband and child, and it's not a slog to sit through? Knows when to hold on Binoche's face, and when to focus on the minutiae she's fixed on.

Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater
Few explanations for who everyone is to each other; instead, Linklater allows the dialogue to provide all the information, so we get a sense for the different levels of intimacy and varying clique cultures. Smart move not to overdo the references to its 1976-ness. Like American Graffiti, it's simultaneously specific and universal.

Groundhog Day
Harold Ramis/Danny Rubin
story by Danny Rubin
It's insane that it works as well as it does. Insane. It keeps to its "same day, every day" premise without compromising the rules that would be in place, finding ways to tweak each situation so that it's not a repeat of the same joke. Surprisingly heartwarming, too, with a tender romance that melted my heart.

Manhattan Murder Mystery
Woody Allen/Marshall Brickman
Line for line, one of the funniest films to come from the Woodster. Is it any wonder that Brickman, who lent his talent to Annie Hall and Manhattan, had a hand in this, too? Developing the marital stagnation through the ongoing murder-mystery plot is unique and inspired, but the mystery itself is so well done, by turns creepy, absurd, and spot-on, that you wish these two had done another.

Ruby in Paradise
Victor Nunez
Ruby in Paradise really surprised me with how consistently it stuck to its heroine. You won't see many movies where the lead female makes the decision to better herself without finding love in the process, and while there is a romance, it's just another stop in Ruby's journey of the self. Nunez's script possesses the kind of insight that is usually reserved for non-visual mediums -- you know, novels -- making this largely interior arc accessible without compromising the depth. Beautiful work.

Sleepless in Seattle
Jeff Arch/Nora Ephron/David S. Ward
story by Jeff Arch
From my original post: "Relationships that ring true, dialogue that's both quotable and organic, characters that are equally sympathetic and frustrating, precocious kids who are also admitted pains in the ass. And while you're at it, a how-do-ya-do to one of the best romantic films ever made!"

James Ivory
The Remains of the Day
From my original post: "Patient and subtle. What, you want more? Ok, how about the (don't roll your eyes) oceans of emotion through every scene? How about the fact that his light touch makes the romance unexpected and yet inevitable? The Remains of the Day shows a sort of evolution for Ivory, and he seems equally at home here as he was at play."

Chen Kaige
Farewell My Concubine
As Andrew pointed out, Kaige is tackling all sorts of genres and emotions in this sweeping epic, yet never loses sight of the intimacy of the story. Despite the overwhelming potential for it, Kaige never allows his film to fall into melodrama. And anyone who can get those performances from a number of young actors, all inexperienced, must be a master.

Krzysztof Kieslowski
Three Colors: Blue
Intimate and bruising, moving because he refuses to manipulate you into tears or pity or overwhelming sadness. Kieslowski's frankness makes his story more recognizable, more human, and even though we may not have firsthand experience with what Binoche is going through, this is probably the closest we'll ever come to understanding it. Thank God.

Sally Potter
Despite the plot, high production value, bizarre casting, non-traditional score, and very early-90s Euro-trance final song, Potter approaches it like it's just, you know, one of those things. All those visuals and performances show that she has a sense for the fantastic, but it's also so unfussily-done that you can accept this world with surprising ease. Nails the tricky tone.

Steven Spielberg
Schindler's List
From my original post: "There is a grace and maturity here that many will find surprising. He doesn't overdo the sentiment, he doesn't trivialize or exploit the monstrosities, and he only intentionally shocks when events are appropriately shocking. The next time he would perform this flawlessly with an ensemble would be 2005's Munich. You can see his heart and soul bared in every frame, and the fact that he even tries to find the human element in some of the most despicable creatures is...well, it's surprisingly empathetic."

You know how I know 1993 was a great year? Each award here went to a different film. But don't worry -- that'll come to an end soon enough. In episode two: Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Supporting Actress, Best Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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