Lest you thought awards season was over the Oscars…oh, there’s still time to honor the best films, performances and other assorted cinematic things of 2012. That’s right, folks – it’s time for the second annual Brownie Awards!
I’m honor to honor the best of the year that was in 2013, with a few non-Oscar categories tossed in and a few Oscar categories tossed out. (With all due respect to Best Documentary Short, of course.)
Before we do so, though, I’d like to announce that the day has come once again to put Kevin Reviews Things on some sort of a hiatus. That doesn’t mean the blog is going away – I’ve got a few neat ideas cooked up and some collaborations in the works. But it means that the blog will no longer be a weekly thing. If I feel like posting something, I’ll post it. If not, I won’t. Eagle-eyed readers could probably see this coming with the lack of posts over the past few weeks, but I’m making it official now. Let me now conduct a brief Q&A session with myself.
What does this mean for the blog’s future? Not much, really – it’ll be sporadically updated during baseball season once again and likely return to full force in the fall. It’s certainly not dying out.
Why do this now? I want to focus on a couple other things I’m working in – mainly a screenplay I’m co-writing. The blog takes up quite a chunk of that creative time.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’m glad you asked! I actually wrote a college essay on this topic when applying to the University of Maryland, in which I surmised that the chi…
Shut up. I didn’t really ask that question. Noted.
So now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the Brownies. Today, we’ll tackle the first nine awards in Part One. Tomorrow, we’ll finish up with another nine, including some of the more “major” categories. And let’s start right where the Oscars did…
Best Supporting Actor
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook – De Niro plays Pat Solitano, Sr. like he’s known this character for ages. Equal parts gruff and tender, this is a welcome return to form for an on-screen legend. (Best Scene: His tearful exchange with Bradley Cooper in the attic.)
Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild – No prior acting experience, no matter. This bakery owner plucked from across the street by Beasts‘ producers turns in a breathtaking, gripping performance as Hushpuppy’s dad. (Best Scene: Shooting the storm with a shotgun.)
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master – It feels unfair to call him a “supporting” actor, but technically, Joaquin Phoenix is the lead. That being said, Hoffman is asked to do just about everything an actor do in this film and rises to the occasion every time. (Best Scene: Processing.)
Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained – It’s not easy to steal a film that features Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Don Johnson in a Colonel Sanders suit and, oh, yeah, the guy who actually won this Oscar this year (Christoph Waltz). Jackson does. His every line delivery absolutely kills, and he fits right into the skin of one of Quentin Tarantino’s all-time best characters. (Best Scene: His introduction, on the steps of Candyland.)
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln – The line deliveries. The cadences. The tones. Jones has a bevy of colorful lines, and knocks every one of them out of the park. (Best Scene: Re. Pub. Li. Can.)
Honorable Mention: Bruce Willis soars in Looper, especially in that scene after he’s eliminated a potential Rainmaker…Jude Law, stoic and steely in Anna Karenina…Jason Clarke, the male MVP of Zero Dark Thirty…Leonardo DiCaprio, whose simmering intensity boils over as Django Unchained moves along…and even if the movie was a muddled mess, Tom Hardy deserves a mention for his menacing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.
And the Brownie goes to…Philip Seymour Hoffman! Simply masterful, if you’ll pardon the pun. Runner-up: All the other nominees. Sensational field.
Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina – Beautifully shot and lit from the omnipresent stage to the lush outside worlds.
Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi – How much of it is computer-animated? I don’t know for sure – but what’s real, or what looks close to real, is mind-blowing work.
Mihai Malamaire, Jr., The Master – You probably wondered what the hell was going on in this movie at many points. But hey, at least it always looked great.
Roger Deakins, Skyfall – Shanghai. The fiery cabin. Silva’s entrance. The depths of MI6. It all comes after that gorgeous opening shot, an answer to the typical gun-barrel entrance.
Luc Montpellier, Take This Waltz – I almost didn’t include this…but Montpellier doesn’t have nearly as much to work with, and he makes Toronto look so vivid here, and the shots are so perfect to go with Margot’s changing feelings…he’s a last-second substitute.
Honorable Mention: Grieg Frasier got the boot despite outstanding work on Zero Dark Thirty…Ben Richardson for Beasts of the Southern Wild.
And the Brownie goes to…Roger Deakins, Skyfall. If the Oscars won’t recognize him, I sure as heck will. Priorities, Roger. Runner-up: Miranda, Life of Pi.
Best Visual Effects
The Avengers – Somebody finally got The Hulk right.
The Cabin in the Woods – The elevator scene. I’ll say no more, but it’s amazing how many great looks are here from a fairly low-budget movie.
Life of Pi – Richard Parker, a CGI creation like no other.
Prometheus – The engineers, the expanding globes, the massive ship.
Ted – Seriously. The bear looks absolutely incredible. It’s the best part of the movie.
Honorable Mention: The tsunami scene in The Impossible is extraordinary…The Dark Knight Rises makes strong use of some typically great practical effects.
And the Brownie goes to…Life of Pi in a landslide. Runner-up: Ted.
Best Costume Design
Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina – I mean, look at this movie. It’s basically made to win all of these awards. Costumes galore! Hooray!
Lindy Hemming, The Dark Knight Rises – Bane’s tentacled mask and trench coat somehow fit together perfectly. Speaking of fitting together, nice Catwoman suit.
Paco Delgado, Les Miserables – For Valjean’s changing wardrobes alone.
Joanna Johnston, Lincoln – You don’t feel like you’re watching a film, you feel like you’re watching an actual reenactment of Cabinet meetings, and the ultra-real looks are a big reason why.
Kasia Walicka-Maimone, Moonrise Kingdom – The birds, the Boy Scouts, Bruce Willis’ buttoned-down uniform, Kara Hayward’s canary-yellow…so many iconic looks in this one.
Honorable Mention: Sharen Davis, Django Unchained (love Jamie Foxx’s blue shirt).
And the Brownie goes to…uh, wow, I really have no idea. I’ve exhausted all my knowledge of Costume Design, if there is such a thing. Moonrise Kingdom, I suppose. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master – She’s Amy Adams. If she’s making a movie that’s not about February 29, she’s here. And she’s great in a rather odd role. (Best Scene: Well, her personal best scene is that one by the sink…which is one of the weirdest scenes of the entire year…)
Samantha Barks, Les Miserables – Considering the role of Eponine was rumored for Taylor Swift and a host of other actresses, casting Barks was the smartest thing Tom Hooper and crew did. She’s played Eponine on stage before, including in the 25th anniversary Les Miz concert, and it’s hard to imagine there’s anyone better out there. (Best Scene: “On My Own”, in the pouring rain.)
Sally Field, Lincoln – She portrays an unstable, essentially bipolar Mary Lincoln, but more than holds her own to the mighty Daniel Day-Lewis. As you knew she would. (Best Scene: Mrs. Lincoln greets some of her husband’s political opponents at a party, with just the right blend of charm and sarcasm.)
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables – Go ahead, criticize her speeches or her “I’m so surprised I won again!” shtick. But don’t criticize her showstopping, breathtaking rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”. Has it ever been better? (Best Scene: You know the one.)
Kara Hayward, Moonrise Kingdom – She was 12 years old at the start of Moonrise, and she carries herself like a 22-year-old. An impressive performance that stands out in a year full of impressive newcomers. (Best Scene: The first kiss with Jared Gilman’s Boy Scout.)
Honorable Mention: Emily Blunt stands out in a more-complex-than-it-first-seems part in Looper…Kelly Reilly holds up well with Denzel Washington in Flight.
And the Brownie goes to…Hathaway. Sometimes the narrative gets it right. Runner-up: Barks.
Best Sound (I’m combining Editing and Mixing. Sue me.)
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
There is nothing whatsoever I can add to this.
And the Brownie goes to…Skyfall. Seemed to do a nice job with the train chase, the battles, the mix of dialogue and score. Logical enough choice, right? Ah, hell, you don’t know anything easier.
Best Original Score
Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina – Apparently Marianelli scored the majority of the film beforehand to give director Joe Wright an idea of how to stage his scenes. Why wasn’t this nearly as heavily promoted as the Les Miz-our-sound-editing-was-the-best campaign? (“No one cares” is probably the answer.)
Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild – Because “debut feature film director” wasn’t enough for Mr. Zeitlin, apparently.
Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises – Not quite as good as The Dark Knight‘s score, but how could it be? The chaotic and frenetic chanting themes are über-memorable.
David Holmes, Haywire – OK, an awesomely jazzy score is no shock in a Steven Soderbergh film, but this mixes in an awesome spy motif with a flourish of other sounds. If only the movie hadn’t been released in January.
Jonny Greenwood, The Master – Listen, Academy…if you can give Trent Reznor an Oscar, you can nominated the guy from Radiohead. Seriously, it’s OK. You did have your ears open during The Master, right?
Honorable Mention…Oscar-winner Mycheal Danna did some obviously great work on Life of Pi…Alexandre Desplat scored Zero Dark Thirty, Argo and Moonrise Kingdom. Not bad for a year’s work.
And the Brownie goes to…Dario Marianelli. Hard to think of a film whose music matched its action better than Anna Karenina. Runner-up: Holmes, Haywire.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill, 21 Jump Street – You better believe there’s room for the funniest movie of the year on here. Not much “adaptation” going on from the old TV show, from what I’ve told – just killer line after killer line.
Tom Stoppard, Anna Karenina – An 864-page book distilled down to a two-hour movie that never feels like it’s dragging. Jaw, meet floor.
David Magee, Life of Pi – I can attest to this one. Didn’t much care for the book, fell in love with the movie. Magee deserves quite a bit of that credit for turning the “unfilmable” into one of the year’s best pictures.
Tony Kusher, Lincoln – Yes, it’s two-and-a-half hours of people sitting around and talking. And yes, it’s mostly brilliant and poetic.
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook – It pulls you in with some of the funniest scenes of the year, some of the most heartbreaking ones and a whole heaping of the best dialogue around. Extraordinary.
Honorable Mention…Oscar-winner Chris Terrio for the tense and engaging Argo…Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan for reinventing Bond while playing plenty of homage to his past in Skyfall.
And the Brownie goes to…David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. This is a tough one – Stoppard’s work on Anna probably makes for a higher degree of difficulty, but ultimately, Playbook is the best-written film of the year, and that’s got to count for something. Runner-up: Stoppard.
Best Original Screenplay
Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods – Flips the horror genre on its head – and, most importantly, gives the great Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins a whole career’s worth of great moments.
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained – Self-indulgent at times? Sure. But wouldn’t you pay to see the four-hour director’s cut of Django that’s out there somewhere? I sure would.
Rian Johnson, Looper – Inventive and original science-fiction – the kind we don’t always get anymore. Bonus points for that great diner scene.
Sarah Polley, Take This Waltz – An incredibly-written lead in Margot, a pack of great supporting characters and a great knowledge of when to up the verbal ante. Speaking of diner scenes… (We’ll get to this one later.)
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty – The fact that this film got made as quickly as it did as an incredible testament to Boal. And outside of some inside-baseball CIA jargon at the start, it’s pretty much perfect.
Honorable Mention: Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola’s vividly well-versed Moonrise Kingdom…John Gatins‘ brutally frank portrayal of alcoholism in Flight…Max Landis and Josh Trank’s wildly inventive Chronicle.
And the Brownie goes to…Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty. Torture this. Runners-up: Tarantino and Johnson.