Another awards season has come and gone…from the Golden Globes, to the SAG awards, to the PGA, DGA, and WGA, to the Independent Spirit Awards, and finally the Oscars…we are now done with awards ceremonies until the winter of 2012. Or, depending on your beliefs in the Mayans, forever.
There is still one more ceremony to go…a ceremony that cannot be bought by Harvey Weinstein, making it the only true awards ceremony left in the world of movies. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 1st annual Brownies, selected by yours truly! I’ve added some non-Oscar categories of my own doing, and I’ve merged sound mixing and editing into one, because, why not, really?
Please feel free to give your thoughts, agree or disagree. I’d love to hear them.
After lots and lots of second- and third-guessing…the envelopes, please…
George Clooney (The Descendants) – This is what we’ve come to expect from Clooney, another masterpiece of a performance. Bonus points here for Clooney managing to turn himself into just an ordinary dad.
Jean Dujardin (The Artist) – Silence was, indeed, golden for Dujardin. (OW, PUN HAMMER.) His charisma, smile, dancing and wide range into the darkest spectrum of emotions made him a shining star who I hope to see again.
Michael Fassbender (Shame) – As vulnerable a performance as we saw this year. His intensity was scary good at times.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50) – I’m not sure how I made it through 50/50 without tears, and JGL was a big reason why. It seemed to be as realistic of a performance as any on screen in 2011.
Ryan Gosling (Drive) – The best of his three outstanding 2011 turns. This guy was a sappy romantic in The Notebook? Really?
Toughest omissions: Gary Oldman was mystifying in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…Tom Hardy was to Warrior what Gosling was to Drive…newcomer Hunter McCracken, in his first film role, was a surprise standout in The Tree of Life.
And the Brownie goes to…Jean Dujardin! Merci beaucoup, indeed. Runner-up: Clooney.
Berenice Bejo (The Artist) – She was nominated in Supporting, but I’m giving Bejo credit for a leading role – she gets plenty of screen time in The Artist, and I’m not sure she ever stops smiling. A charmer.
Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) – You know this role was going to be great, and in an otherwise cold and inconsistent movie, Mara is perfect. Terrifying and seductive.
Carey Mulligan (Shame) – I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen during her sloooooooooow rendition of “New York, New York.” In fact, it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen at any point Mulligan is on anymore. She’s hit a home run every time I’ve seen her.
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) – This movie seemed to exist for the sole purpose of letting Meryl Streep do a lot of good acting. And boy, is she good. She plays Margaret Thatcher in her early years and in the current ones, and never once does it feel anything less than superb.
Charlize Theron (Young Adult) – Theron took a brutally unlikable lead character and made you feel some sympathy for her. An absolutely amazing performance.
Toughest omissions: This was essentially seven women for five spots, and the unlucky ones are Viola Davis (The Help) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)…I wish I could have included them both. (Of course, I could have just made seven nominations.)
And the Brownie goes to…Charlize Theron! The biggest snub of this year’s Oscars. Runners-up: Bejo, Streep.
Best Supporting Actor
Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) – My favorite comedic performance of the year. I love this guy. I really do.
Nick Nolte (Warrior) – Overall, he’s great, and he has a couple of just killer scenes. Awesome work in an under-appreciated movie.
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult) – Why did the Oscars hate Young Adult so much? Oswalt was dark, funny and serious – sometimes all at once. An unforgettable performance.
Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life) – I don’t know why Pitt’s performance in Moneyball was regarded as his best work of the year, because this role was the best I’ve ever seen from Pitt.
Christopher Plummer (Beginners) – I didn’t think this was the awards shoo-in that everyone else perceived it to be, but Plummer is tremendous without overplaying a role that’s begging to be overplayed.
Toughest omissions: A bunch. Corey Stoll and Michael Sheen stole just about every frame they were in from Midnight in Paris…Chris O’Dowd’s chemistry with Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids was off the charts…Chris Cooper was a delight as the villain in The Muppets…John Hurt was the best of a terrific cast in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…James Cromwell’s melancholy assistant really moved me in The Artist…Christoph Waltz was the MVP of Carnage.
And the Brownie goes to…Brad Pitt! In a movie where a bunch of things didn’t make sense, he always did. Runner-up: Gosling.
Best Supporting Actress
Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) – Melissa McCarthy got all the accolades (and one more here), but Byrne was the film’s secret weapon. Just a perfect performance in the role of a character that we all know in some fashion.
Jessica Chastain (The Help) – She was great in The Tree of Life, but I’ll fall victim to the flashier performance here. A sometimes peppy, sometimes heartbreaking delight.
Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help) – The villain can be a thankless role, especially in a movie like this, but Howard crushed it from the very first second. She made it easy to hate her – which, in this, was a good thing.
Anjelica Huston (50/50) – Four or five scenes. And she knocked every one of them out of the park.
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) – I was really close to taking her out of the five here, but then I re-watched the scene where she gives Kristen Wiig a pep talk, and I just can’t do it.
Toughest omissions: A bunch here, as well…Octavia Spencer deserved one for The Help, and probably missed out by a spot…Judy Greer could have had Anjelica Huston’s “amazing in limited time” spot for The Descendants…Carey Mulligan was superb again in Drive…Marion Cotillard was a joy in Midnight in Paris.
And the Brownie goes to…Rose Byrne! The ultimate scene-stealer in a movie full of them. Runner-up: Chastain.
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) – Great ensemble, great performances, great shots, great script. Yep, it’s Woody.
Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) – His first live-action film is expertly paced and shot. An action blast.
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) – What a gamble and what a payoff. A worthy Oscar winner.
Alexander Payne (The Descendants) – Manages to turn a film with George Clooney and Hawaii into something less than sexy, yet still hugely effective. Now THAT is an accomplishment.
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) – Realistic and brutal violence interspersed with lots of slow-moving parts, but it never feels like the pace is off.
Toughest omissions: Terrence Malick would have been here if The Tree of Life made a little more sense…as far as action films goes, Matthew Vaughn’s work was top-notch on X-Men: First Class.
And the Brownie goes to…Nicolas Winding Refn! And I can finally pronounce his name! Runners-up: Allen, Bird.
Best Original Screenplay
50/50 (Will Reiser) – Touching, funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking – this was just awesome.
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) – Is it bad that I no longer need to look up that guy’s name? Anyway, this was probably even tougher to write than a screenplay with dialogue, so major props to Mr. H.
Bridesmaids (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) – Not as laugh-out-loud funny as I expected, but surprisingly realistic in its situations and characters.
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen) – Never a dull moment. Hey, it’s Woody.
Young Adult (Diablo Cody) – Darkly, darkly funny. Again, what did the Oscars have against this movie?
Toughest omissions: Beginners was a sweet little film that won me over by the end…Drive made the most of limited dialogue.
And the Brownie goes to…Midnight in Paris! Whether or not Woody shows up to collect it. Runner-up: 50/50.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Carnage (Roman Polanski, Yasmina Reza) – Whip-smart and funny. Of course, the cast helps a whole hell of a lot.
The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim “Dean Pelton” Rash) – The first third of it was a bit mucky. The remainder of it was perfection.
The Ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon) – You could see where the story was going, but that didn’t make it any less compelling.
Moneyball (Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian) – How the HELL was this book made into a good movie? It’s about on-base percentage!
The Muppets (Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller) – The smile-iest movie of the year.
Toughest omissions: Eh, nothing, really.
And the Brownie goes to…The Descendants! The final two-thirds of it is so good, I forgot about the beginning voiceover. Runners-up: The Muppets, Moneyball.
Hugo (Robert Richardson) – That 3D was like, woah.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Robert Elswit) – This deserves a nomination for the Burj Khalifa scenes alone.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Hoyte van Hoytema) – Moody and atmospheric. I loved the yellowish background of Control headquarters, the occasional bloody shots…plenty of memorable images from this one.
The Tree of Life (Emmanuel Lubezki) – A total mind-bleep. You won’t know what’s going on, and you still can never turn away from this.
War Horse (Janusz Kaminski) – This is sort of an ugly generic pick…but really, the film does look damn gorgeous. The orange setting at the end is magnificent.
Toughest omissions: The dirty look of Shame was just about perfect…The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo felt as cold as it was…Drive was chock-full of memorable scenes and images…Warrior perfectly captured the brutality of MMA fighting.
And the Brownie goes to…The Tree of Life! I think this is the best-shot film I’ve ever seen. Every frame is mind-blowingly good. (Of course, it didn’t win the Oscar.)
Best Art Direction
The Artist – Just look at the title.
Hugo – Arty Marty.
Midnight in Paris – This is sort of cheating, because the damn film’s set in Paris.
Rango – Cartoonishly awesome. Gore Verbinski helped to create a zany and memorable Western world with wonderful character design.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Arty because it was ugly.
Toughest omissions: Drive, because it was awesome in everything…The Tree of Life for obvious reasons…Harry Potter 7.2 had a strong vivid look…The Descendants managed to show Hawaii in a non-glorious way, which worked.
And the Brownie goes to…Hugo! The main train station set is astonishing. The inner workings of the clocks, the automaton, the design, the whole thing. Beautiful. Runners-up: Rango, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Best Original Song – The Oscars are only nominating two? Fine, so are we. (So am I.)
“Life’s A Happy Song” (The Muppets)
“Pictures In My Head” (The Muppets)
Toughest omissions: The rest of The Muppets.
And the Brownie goes to…Life’s A Happy Song! From the moment it kicked in, you knew The Muppets was going to be a ridiculous amount of fun.
Best Original Score
The Artist (Ludovic Bource) – Sorta doubled as a screenplay. And always worked.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) – This Reznor guy’s pretty talented, eh?
Rango (Hans Zimmer) – I loved everything about this Western-themed score, a homage to old Western music while developing its own sound.
The Tree of Life (Alexandre Desplat) – Edged out another Desplat score, for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close…this one really added to the breathtaking shots.
War Horse (John Williams) – Again, old-fashioned and generic, but there’s a reason these guys are good.
Toughest omissions: Extremely Loud, as stated above…Michael Giacchino’s work on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol updated the series with some seriously Bond-esque music…Howard Shore, always strong, did nice work on Hugo.
And the Brownie goes to…Ludovic Bouce for The Artist! This is sort of cheating, because the score just permeates the entire movie, but it was excellent throughout. I can’t get the ending tap-dance tune out of my head. Runner-up: Rango.
Best Film Editing
Beginners – Flashbacks, flashforwards, flashsidewayses…it was never hard to follow.
Drive – Fast when it needed to be. Slow when it needed to be.
Midnight in Paris – Never lingered too long in the past or present, helping to make our French journey a memorable one.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – Tough to have that much action and keep it all coherent.
Warrior – Churns along until its fearsome finale.
Toughest omissions: The Artist and The Muppets were close, with their sing-songy cheer just missing out.
And the Brownie goes to…Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol! Coherent and easy-to-follow fight scenes in ridiculous places. I dig.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – Voldemort!
The Iron Lady – Old Margaret Thatcher!
Young Adult – Comparatively Ugly and Then Really Pretty Charlize Theron!
Toughest omissions: Nope.
And the Brownie goes to…The Iron Lady! Why not, really.
Best Costume Design
The Artist – Dujardin, always classy.
Drive – The Gosling scorpion jacket.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – Lifetime achievement.
Hugo – Love the Sacha Baron Cohen train inspector getup.
Thor – The whole Norse god theme here could have been totally ludicrous, but it all worked for me.
Toughest omissions: I don’t know.
And the Brownie goes to…Thor! Because I want Thor to get a Brownie.
Drive – The one thing it got an Oscar nomination for. Sigh.
Hugo – A deserving Oscar winner.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – How was this not nominated for anything???
Super 8 – The train crash. Sensational.
War Horse – What else do you expect from a Spielberg war picture?
Toughest omissions: None, really.
And the Brownie goes to…Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol! Because it sounded good. Runners-up: Super 8, War Horse.
Best Ensemble Cast
Bridesmaids – When Jon Hamm is the FIFTH-best performance in your movie, that’s pretty good. (Even if he only is in three scenes.)
Drive – A slimy Albert Brooks, a shaky Bryan Cranston, a menacing Ron Perlman, a brooding Oscar Isaac, a fragile Carey Mulligan…oh, and THE GOS.
The Ides of March – Gosling. Clooney. Hoffman. Giamatti. Wood. Tomei. Wright. Next?
Midnight in Paris – Owen Wilson (who knew?) is a tremendous Woody Allen surrogate. Sheen, Stoll, and Adrien Brody are scene-stealers. Kathy Bates, too, and Cotillard, and Rachel McAdams…
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Every good British actor, please report immediately.
Toughest omissions: The Artist had a small but memorable main ensemble…The Help had a large one…Crazy, Stupid, Love. was full of funny people…so was 50/50…and the four actors in Carnage were all excellent.
And the Brownie goes to…Midnight in Paris! Special recognition to Brody, who absolutely crushes his one scene in the film.
Shot of the Year
Drive – Ryan Gosling on the beach with the mask on.
Hugo – The sweeping opening shot into the train station.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa 140 stories up.
War Horse – The final shot, set against an orange horizon.
Warrior – A menacing Tom Hardy stares down his opponent.
Toughest omissions: So many to count!…George and Peppy on the stairs in The Artist…just about anything from The Tree of Life…Michael Fassbender out for a run in Shame…Benedict Cumberbatch sneaking up behind a colleague as the elevator door opens in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…George Clooney out for a frantic run in The Descendants…or the entire gang together for “The Rainbow Connection” in The Muppets.
And the Brownie goes to…Drive! Terrifying, Halloween-esque stuff, if you’ve seen the movie. One of several shots I could have picked out.
And, finally… the nominations for Best Picture…9 of ’em, in Academy style.
50/50 – The best film without an Oscar nod. Great cast. Funny script. Almost had me in tears.
The Artist – Hard to find words to describe its brilliance. Which makes sense, since there are no words. (OK, there are some…)
The Descendants – 70% of this is as good as anything from 2011. The other 30%, not so much.
Drive – The greatest Gosling of the year. A difficult task.
Midnight in Paris – Someone, please, get me a plane ticket to Paris.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – The best pure action movie I’ve seen since…I don’t know, Casino Royale?
The Muppets – I don’t know how I made it through this without crying. I don’t like my chances for the next time I see it.
Warrior – Riddled with sports movie cliches and it doesn’t matter. A hugely powerful underdog story.
Young Adult – Brutal. And brutally funny.
Toughest omission: In what would have been its only Brownie nomination, X-Men: First Class was my 10th favorite of the year.
And the Brownie goes to…Midnight in Paris! By a nose over The Muppets and The Artist, it’s Woody Allen’s delight that takes the ultimate Brownie. Chocolate syrup not included. Good night!
…Actually, one more to hand out…let’s call this a “special Brownie.”
Line of the Year
There are no other nominations.