Sunday, January 3, 2010

End-Of-Year: 2009 Film Winners

On Friday, I posted my favorite (and not so favorite) films and film performances of 2009. Today, I present to you the winners...

Best Actor
Sharlto Copley, District 9
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 500 Days of Summer
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are
Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation and Avatar

I can see a lot of people scratching their heads over the inclusion of Worthington, but I thought he was the best part of the unfairly maligned Terminator movie and more importantly didn't buck under the pressure of holding together a film (Avatar) of blockbuster proportions. Records was delightful as Max and really captured that sense of loneliness that was required for the role, while Firth delivers his best performances as a grief stricken man losing his lover. For me though it came between two summer performances that clung to me even until now. Both actors were required to juggle so many things with their roles and both did it superbly. Copley delivered geeky, scared, tough, and vengeful. Gordon-Levitt delivered geeky, romantic, desolate, and vengeful. I'd rather give them a tie than pick a sole winner, but I'd give the award to Copley this time around.

Best Actress
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Ellen Page, Whip It!
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia and It's Complicated
Tilda Swinton, Julia
Rachel Weisz, The Brothers Bloom

It's really disheartening that both Page and Weisz's movies and roles didn't get more critical hype or box office business this year especially since I much preferred these two roles over their previous Oscar-nominated ones. Laurent is wonderful and thus an extraordinary job in being the glue to Tarantino's vision. But in the end it's down to two Oscar-winning actresses who portrayed a woman named Julia this year. One played a legendary cook while the other an alcoholic disaster. Both Streep and Swinton fully embodied their characters that you sort of just forget you're watching actors. Swinton's performance was raw, but Streep was effortless so she edges out Swinton by just a tiny bit for me.

Best Supporting Actor
Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen
Tom Felton, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
John Krasinski, It's Complicated
Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia and The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inlgourious Basterds

I confess that my list seems a bit odd, but what can I say? Krasinski came out of nowhere, quickly becoming my favorite part of his movie (and it starred Streep, Baldwin, and Martin!). Jackie Earle Haley was riveting as Rorschach in a movie that I didn't even particular like. Felton flew past the other wizard kids delivering such a vulnerable and even sympathetic Draco Malfoy. Tucci was just fantastic in his two very different roles this year as Meryl Streep's husband and as Saoirse Ronan's killer. But the winner has got to be Christoph Waltz who has been racking up the critic awards and deservedly so for playing a Nazi.

Best Supporting Actress
Drew Barrymore, Whip It!
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Rinko Kikuchi, The Brothers Bloom
Mo'Nique, Precious
Julianne Moore, A Single Man

Kikuchi is absolutely memorable even though she barely had any lines in the movie. Drew Barrymore was so much fun in the film which was also her directorial debut. Julianne Moore did the best (and then some) out of the limited screen time she had (and really isn't that what supporting actors should be doing?). But the two that's going to be fighting for the Oscar is also my top two pick. There's lots of love for the subtler acting that Kendrick's co-stars, Clooney and Farmigia, did in the movie, but it was Kendrick who connected most emotionally to me. And then there's Mo'Nique who delivered such a visceral and raw tour de force of a performance, that I understand why she's been getting all the raves and the awards as of late. I'd hate to go 2 for 2 in agreeing with the critics, but I say Mo'Nique takes this.

Best Ensemble
An Education
The Brothers Bloom
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Where the Wild Things Are

It's so difficult to really pick a winner here, because I find the cast of all of these films to be really wonderful and whoever did casting should be given an award. In the end, I'll pick Star Trek because not only did they have to pick actors that matched well with the iconic role but also actors that reminded people of the actors who used to play these roles without people thinking they were just cheap imitations. Most, if not all, of them did this to a tee and special kudos to Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto for pulling it off so well with two of the most difficult characters to pull off.

Worst Film
Ghost of Girlfriends Past
GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra
Eating Out: All You Can Eat
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I'd ask you to wait until I posted my ranked list of movies I saw this year, but really the less time I spend thinking about these movies, the better. X-Men Origins and Transformers 2 were ripe old messes and this is coming from someone who has seen previous movies from both franchises and liked them. GI Joe was just awful all around--the cast, the special effect, the script. Eating Out 3 proves that gay cinema still has long ways to go. But the absolute worst film I saw this year is Ghost of Girlfriends Past. I saw it on an airplane so I didn't exactly pay for it, but damn it was just so bad (i.e. sexist) in so many levels, I wanted to jump out of the plane just to avoid it.

Most Disappointing Film
The Lovely Bones
State of Play

I had high hopes for all of these movies especially since they were all adapted from highly regarded source materials. I hadn't read The Lovely Bones or the Watchmen comics, but I knew they were good. So when I saw both movies and came out with a "meh" it was a sad day. But the most disappointing movie for me this year is State of Play. I saw the British miniseries this was based on and absolutely LOVED it. When I heard they were making an American film version of it, I was wary but excited. It also starred Rachel McAdams and Helen Mirren. How could it go wrong? And yet it did. They got rid of the most interesting storylines/characters from the miniseries to deliver an ultimately bland, boring, and empty film.

Worst Acting Performance
Matthew Mcconaughey, Ghost of Girlfriends Past
Channing Tatum, GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra
Megan Fox, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Kate Hudson, Bride Wars
Anne Hathaway, Bride Wars

I'll forgive Hudson and Hathaway. For now. But yeah that movie was useless as their shriektastic performances. Fox and Tatum seem to be cut from the same cloth in that a lot of people (read horny people) are really into them, but damn if I can think of one good performance they've given not only this year, but ever. But the award for worst performance has got to go to Mcconaughey because I have a sick feeling he's playing himself and that's just sadder than I can even imagine if true.

Best Netflix Movie
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Bright Young Things
Electric Shadows
Letters from Iwo Jima
The Princess Bride
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Royal Tenenbaums
Schindler's List
Tell No One

These are films that didn't come out in 2009, but I eventually caught for the firth time using Netflix this past year. It's always difficult to pick from a list that contains so many different types of movies made during different times. It's also hard when all of them were rated the same way by me (5 stars). I'll offer up a tie between Adaptation and Schindler's List. I can't do better than that. BTW, last year it was The Lives of Others. Rent it!

I'll post my film rankings sometime this next week. For now here's a reminder of my top ten films of the past year:

Best Film
500 Days of Summer
The Brothers Bloom
District 9
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up in the Air
Where the Wild Things Are

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