Friday, January 17, 2014

Golden "I"


Presenting...the 2013 Golden Steve Awards.

Far and away the most coveted of motion picture accolades, Golden Steves are frequently described as the Oscars without the politics. Impervious to bribery, immune to ballyhoo, unswayed by sentiment and riddled with integrity, this committee of one might legitimately be termed "fair-mindedness incarnate." Over 170 of the year's most acclaimed features were screened prior to the compilation of this ballot. First, some caveats:

1) Owing to a lifelong suspicion of prime numbers, each category is comprised of six nominees, not five.

2) This list is in no way connected with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—a fact that should be apparent from its acumen. Please look elsewhere for Oscar analysis.

And now, the worthy honorees:

Best Picture
Before Midnight
Blue Jasmine
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Mud
Museum Hours

Best Director
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Ethan and Joel Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Jem Cohen, Museum Hours
Spike Jonze, Her
Richard Linklater, Before Midnight
Jeff Nichols, Mud

Best Actor
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Joaquin Phoenix, Her
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emilie Dequenne, Our Children
Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color

Best Supporting Actor
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Andrew Dice Clay, Blue Jasmine
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Rutger Hauer, Il Futuro
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Sam Rockwell, The Way Way Back

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Scarlett Johansson, Her
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Vanessa Redgrave, Unfinished Song
Lea Seydoux, Blue Is the Warmest Color
June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Screenplay--Adapted
Before Midnight (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater)
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Carl Joos, Felix Van Groeningen)
Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz)
Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

Best Screenplay--Original
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
Museum Hours (Jem Cohen)
Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

Best Animated Feature
Despicable Me 2 (Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud)
Ernest & Celestine (Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner)
Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee)
A Letter to Momo (Hiroyuki Okiura)
The Suicide Shop (Patrice Leconte)
The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)

Best Non-Fiction Film
The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
After Tiller (Martha Shane, Lana Wilson)
56 Up (Michael Apted)
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel)
The Square (Jehane Noujaim)
Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)

Best Foreign Language Film
Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)
Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh)
Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendonca Filho)
Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz)
The Past (Asghar Farhadi)

Best Original Song
"Amen," All Is Lost
(Alex Ebert)
"Let It Go," Frozen
(Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez)
(Karen O)
"Please Mr. Kennedy," Inside Llewyn Davis
(T-Bone Burnett, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, George Cromarty, Ed Rush, Justin Timberlake)
"You and I Ain't Nothin' No More," Lee Daniels' The Butler
(Lenny Kravitz)
"Young and Beautiful," The Great Gatsby
(Lana Del Ray, Rick Nowels)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Golden Ticket


Presenting...the 2012 Golden Steve Awards.

See circumlocution just above.

And now, the worthy honorees:

Best Picture
Amour
The Deep Blue Sea
Holy Motors
In the Family
The Master
Tabu

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Leos Carax, Holy Motors
Terence Davies, The Deep Blue Sea
Miguel Gomes, Tabu
Michael Haneke, Amour
Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Anders Danielsen Lie, Oslo, August 31st
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Nina Hoss, Barbara
Rachel Mwanza, War Witch
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Supporting Actor
Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Clarke Peters, Red Hook Summer
Christopher Walken, A Late Quartet
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Asti, Unforgivable
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Rinko Kikuchi, Norwegian Wood
Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
Donna Murphy, Dark Horse

Best Screenplay--Adapted
Bernie (Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth)
Chicken with Plums (Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud)
The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
Lincoln (Tony Kushner)
Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

Best Screenplay--Original
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Flight (John Gatins)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
In the Family (Patrick Wang)
The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan)

Best Animated Feature
Consuming Spirits (Chris Sullivan)
From Up on Poppy Hill (Goro Miyazaki)
The Painting (Jean-Francois Laguionie)
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Peter Lord, Jeff Newittt)
The Rabbi's Cat (Antoine Delesvaux, Joann Sfar)
Zarafa (Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie)

Best Non-Fiction Film
The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon)
5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi)
The Gatekeepers (Dror Moreh)
The Invisible War (Kirby Dick)
The Queen of Versailles (Lauren Greenfield)
This Is Not a Film (Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Jafar Panahi)

Best Foreign Language Film
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Barbara (Christian Petzold)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
War Witch (Kim Nguyen)

Best Original Song
"Ancora Qui," Django Unchained
(Ennio Morricone, Elisa Toffoli)
"Big Machine," Safety Not Guaranteed
(Ryan Miller)
"California Solo," California Solo
(Adam Franklin)
"Cosmonaut," Lawless
(Nick Cave, Warren Ellis)
"Skyfall," Skyfall
(Adele, Paul Epworth)
"Who Were We?," Holy Motors
(Leos Carax, Neil Hannon)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Les Steves d'Or


Presenting...the 2011 Golden Steve Awards.

See above pontification...

And now, the worthy honorees:

Best Picture
The Artist
Certified Copy
Margaret
Mysteries of Lisbon
Poetry
The Tree of Life

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy
Chang-dong Lee, Poetry
Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Raoul Ruiz, Mysteries of Lisbon

Best Actor
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Best Actress
Juliette Binoche, Certified Copy
Khomotso Manyaka, Life, Above All
Brit Marling, Another Earth
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Anna Paquin, Margaret
Jeong-hie Yun, Poetry

Best Supporting Actor
Adriano Luz, Mysteries of Lisbon
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. Reilly, Terri
David Wenham, Oranges and Sunshine

Best Supporting Actress
Alice Barnole, House of Tolerance
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jeannie Berlin, Margaret
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Screenplay--Adapted
The Hedgehog (Mona Achache)
Moneyball (Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian, Stan Chervin)
Mysteries of Lisbon (Carlos Saboga)
The Princess of Montpensier (Jean Cosmos, Francois-Olivier Rousseau, Bertrand Tavernier)
The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodovar)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan)

Best Screenplay--Original
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
Beginners (Mike Mills)
Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
Poetry (Chang-dong Lee)
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)

Best Animated Feature
The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg)
Arthur Christmas (Sarah Smith, Barry Cook)
A Cat in Paris (Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol)
Chico and Rita (Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba)
Rango (Gore Verbinski)
Winnie the Pooh (Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall)

Best Non-Fiction Film
The Arbor (Clio Barnard)
Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog)
The Interrupters (Steve James)
Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzman)
We Were Here (David Weissman, Bill Weber)

Best Foreign Language Film
House of Tolerance (Bertrand Bonello)
Mysteries of Lisbon (Raoul Ruiz)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Poetry (Chang-dong Lee)
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr)

Best Original Song
"Coeur Volant," Hugo
(Elizabeth Cotnoir, Isabelle Geffroy, Howard Shore)
"Lay Your Head Down," Albert Nobbs
(Brian Byrne, Glenn Close)
"Life's a Happy Song," The Muppets
(Bret McKenzie)
"Pictures in My Head," The Muppets
(Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, Chen Neeman)
"Think You Can Wait," Win Win
(The National)
"Walk Lightly on the World," Jane's Journey
(Katie Melua)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's that time again!


Presenting...the 2010 Golden Steve Awards.

Same pontification as above...

And now, the worthy honorees:

Best Picture
Animal Kingdom
The Ghost Writer
Of Gods and Men
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Best Director
Xavier Beauvois, Of Gods and Men
Sofia Coppola, Somewhere
David Fincher, The Social Network
David Michod, Animal Kingdom
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Best Actor
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Vincent Cassel, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version
Luis Tosar, Cell 211

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Carey Mulligan, Never Let Me Go
Noomi Rapace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Paprika Steen, Applause
Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Pierce Brosnan, The Ghost Writer
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Michael Lonsdale, Of Gods and Men
Ben Mendelsohn, Animal Kingdom
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actress
Anne-Marie Duff, Nowhere Boy
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Rosamund Pike, Barney's Version
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer

Best Screenplay--Adapted
Barney's Version (Michael Konyves)
The Ghost Writer (Robert Harris, Roman Polanski)
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Tamara Drewe (Moira Buffini)
Toy Story 3 (M. Arndt, J. Lasseter, A. Stanton, L. Unkrich)
True Grit (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)

Best Screenplay--Original
Animal Kingdom (David Michod)
Another Year (Mike Leigh)
Buried (Chris Sparling)
Greenberg (Noah Baumbach)
The King's Speech (David Seidler)
Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)

Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders)
The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet)
Megamind (Tom McGrath)
My Dog Tulip (Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger)
Tangled (Nathan Greno, Byron Howard)
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)

Best Non-Fiction Film
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy)
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (M. Hozer, P. Raymont)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson)
Last Train Home (Lixin Fan)
Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg)
Prodigal Sons (Kimberly Reed)

Best Foreign Language Film
Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos)
Everyone Else (Maren Ade)
I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
The Strange Case of Angelica (Manoel de Oliveira)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (A. Weerasethakul)

Best Original Song
"Darkness Before the Dawn," Holy Rollers
(M.J. Mynarski, Paul Comaskey)
"If I Rise," 127 Hours
(A.R. Rahman, Dido Armstrong and Rolo Armstrong)
"I See the Light," Tangled
(Alan Menken, Glenn Slater)
"Life During Wartime," Life During Wartime
(Marc Shaiman, Todd Solondz)
"The Only One," Hey Hey It's Esther Blueberger
(Paul Mac, Bertie Blackman)
"Le Refuge," Hideaway
(Louis-Ronan Choisy)


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Once more unto the breach!


Presenting...the 2009 Golden Steve Awards.

Scroll up for pontification...

And now, the worthy honorees:


Best Picture
An Education
The Hurt Locker
The Secret in Their Eyes
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
The White Ribbon

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Juan Jose Campanella, The Secret in Their Eyes
Ethan and Joel Coen, A Serious Man
Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon
Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Colin Firth, A Single Man
John Malkovich, Disgrace
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Adam Scott, The Vicious Kind
Toni Servillo, Il Divo

Best Actress
Katie Jarvis, Fish Tank
Hye-ja Kim, Mother
Yolande Moreau, Seraphine
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Tilda Swinton, Julia

Best Supporting Actor
Niels Arestrup, A Prophet
Peter Capaldi, In the Loop
Guillermo Francella, The Secret in Their Eyes
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Jessica Haines, Disgrace
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Alice Krige, Skin
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Mo'Nique, Precious

Best Screenplay--Adapted
The Damned United (Peter Morgan)
Disgrace (Anna Maria Monticelli)
An Education (Nick Hornby)
In the Loop (J. Armstrong, S. Blackwell, etc.)
The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan Jose Campanella)
Up in the Air (J. Reitman, S. Turner)

Best Screenplay--Original
The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Mother (Joon-ho Bong, Eun-kyo Park)
A Serious Man (Ethan and Joel Coen)
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)

Best Animated Feature
Coraline (Henry Selick)
Mary and Max (Adam Elliot)
Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki)
The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore)
Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley)
Up (Pete Docter)

Best Non-Fiction Film
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi)
The Beaches of Agnes (Agnes Varda)
October Country (Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri)
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)
Tyson (James Toback)
The Way We Get By (Aron Gaudet)

Best Foreign Language Film
Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Mother (Joon-ho Bong)
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)
The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan Jose Campanella)
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)

Best Original Song
"Ayayayay," The Maid (Pedro Piedra)
"Hideaway," Where the Wild Things Are (Karen O)
"I Can See in Color," Precious (Mary J. Blige)
"Innocent Child," Skin (H. Muddiman, M. Stockley)
"Smoke Without Fire," An Education (Duffy)
"The Weary Kind," Crazy Heart
(R. Bingham, T-Bone Burnett)


Monday, December 7, 2009

Just what civilization needs...


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Another weigh-in on the best films of the decade.

(Some temptations can be resisted. Some should be but cannot. Sometimes reticence is regretted. Sometimes resistance is futile.)

Today: 15 runners-up and the 25th [superlative inflection of positive adjective] motion picture of the decade spanning 2000-2009.
Tomorrow through December 31st, daily: Countdown to #1.

***

Honorable mentions, listed alphabetically:
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater); Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron); The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Piui); Gosford Park (Robert Altman); Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog); The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow); Little Children (Todd Field); My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin); Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro); Safe Conduct (Bertrand Tavernier); The Sea Inside (Alejandro Amenabar); A Serious Man (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen); The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach); 25th Hour (Spike Lee); United 93 (Paul Greengrass)

***

25. 
No Country for Old Men (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
24. 
Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel)
23. The Fog of War (Errol Morris)
22. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron)
21. 
You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan)
20. Adaptation (Spike Jonze)
19. Zodiac (David Fincher)
18. Kings & Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
17. Capturing the Friedmans (Andrew Jarecki)
16. Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
15. Sideways (Alexander Payne)
14. The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand)
13. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
12. Junebug (Phil Morrison)
11. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
10. The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana)
9. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar)
8. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
7. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel)
5. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
4. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)
3. City of God (Fernando Meirelles)
2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
1. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)

Friday, May 1, 2009

"And when it's done, we'll both be free..."


Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—I’m sure I’ve seen the film 20 times. It inspired the longest, thorniest paper of my academic career. And though I chafe at perfunctory rankings of art, my perennial fascination with the Master’s most self-expressive work assures its place on that desert island for which connoisseurs prepare in itemized fashion.

Outshining its palpable wonderments, in my view, is its capacity to reveal uncharted pockets of genius on each viewing. Sometimes it’s a quick shot, sometimes an extended set piece; regardless, you always come away with newfound reverence for Hitchcock’s twisted virtuosity. I had occasion to watch it recently in a venue that did full justice to its grandeur, and this time my attention was seized by a quiet interlude which before then seemed like little more than connective tissue. (This is where I urge you to stop reading if you’ve never seen Vertigo—and let your artistic compasses know they've failed you.)

I refer to the ten-minute sequence which begins after the inquest into Madeleine’s death, and ends with Scottie’s compulsion to enter Judy’s apartment. The parenthesis comprises the saddest, tenderest, most genuine treatment of grief and refusal to unfasten the shackles of lost love I have ever seen on film. Scottie drifts through days as though trapped in a lucid dream, unresponsive to stimuli except those that fuel his need to believe Madeleine is not really gone from him. He returns to familiar locales—the Elsters’ old residence, the bar at Ernie’s, the gallery where Carlotta’s portrait emblematizes past forfeitures to love—almost as if he believes Madeleine is hiding from him, teasingly and in plain sight. The faintest validation of his faith reengages him with the world, but the sting of each setback pushes him further into withdrawal. How tenaciously he questions the woman who would presume to drive Madeleine’s distinctive green car; how thoroughly he retreats upon learning she is the new owner.

The frenzied nightmare that triggers Scottie's breakdown is vintage Hitchcock—the specters of Gavin and Carlotta, the wary but purposeful march to the empty grave, the crime scene-esque silhouette of Scottie plummeting downward into worse things than death. But the compositions that follow are anomalous in the extreme, especially for a filmmaker often linked with sensation over emotion, with economy before patience. The long, slow pan across San Francisco’s skyline attests that all machinations, even Hitchcock’s, must sometimes cede their urgency, and Bernard Herrmann’s soaring soundscape, marked by a literalization of heartstrings, has the curious effect of rendering the passions on display even more shrouded and internalized.

I don’t mean to give the impression of narrative stasis within these scenes. Hitchcock uses the interval to prepare his canvas for the imminent sublimation of helplessness into tyranny; when the time comes, he has subtly groomed us to be revulsed but not confounded. He also exhibits his deft command of parallelism, as the fateful premonitions of Scottie’s dream remind us of Madeleine’s self-fulfilling prophesy, as dire interrogations prefigure unyielding demands, as Midge’s micromanagement of Scottie’s recovery anticipates the exactitude of Judy’s reinvention. But what registers most pronouncedly is the study of a shattered soul—of bereavement in something close to real time. Many handlings of the predicament hasten us through numbness into primal rage, sensual surrender and release. By lingering on the bargaining stage, Hitchcock reveals himself as the master of a different kind of suspense—the suspended animation of the lovelorn survivor.