How I Voted

Tracy Wright in TRIGGER

Whenever I compile my year-end film lists, I shy away from naming best actors, directors, screenplays etc; because I eventually need to do that for Chlotrudis Awards, and I don’t want to give the game away before I vote. Thus, here’s my ballot for this year – the winners will be announced Sunday, March 18 at the Brattle Theatre starting at 5. Please think about attending if you’re in Boston  – this year’s honoree is Atom Egoyan, a filmmaker whose work deeply influenced my immersion into/appreciation of independent film.

My vote for each category is in bold. I tried to see at least four nominees in each category (and fell short only twice); those I didn’t see are in italics. I’ve also included one “should have been nominated” entry for each category, except for Buried Treasure where the three titles I stumped for all made the ballot.

ENSEMBLE CAST
Another Year
Artist, The
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris
Separation, A
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

THE ARTIST features a typically strong Mike Leigh ensemble and A SEPARATION very nearly attains the Iranian equivalent of one, but TINKER TAILOR still has the most dazzling collection of British actors I’ve seen outside of a Harry Potter film–my only quibble is that the story didn’t include more female characters.

Should have been nominated: CEDAR RAPIDS – even Anne Heche is good in it!

PRODUCTION DESIGN
13 Assassins
Artist, The
Illusionist, The
Last Circus, The
Melancholia
Midnight in Paris

I admired the deeply distinctive worlds created in the von Trier and Chomet films, but not as much as I adored THE ARTIST’S painstakingly intricate recreation of its period’s (and genre’s) style.

Should have been nominated: POTICHE – not only is it set in the 1970s, it looks and feels like a film made in the 1970s (not always easy to convincingly pull off).

CINEMATOGRAPHY
13 Assassins
Artist, The
Bellflower
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Melancholia
Tree of Life
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

I could make a strong case for any of the nominees I saw, but I keep coming back to the Malick film’s otherworldly imagery and lithe, fluid camera movements.

Should have been nominated: LE QUATTRO VOLTE – obviously not enough members saw this for it to make the cut, ’cause it deserved to for the goat birth shot (and the edit preceding it) alone.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Descendants, The
Hedgehog, The
Higher Ground
Music Never Stopped, The
Submarine

Almost went for SUBMARINE’S scrappy, shaggy teenage angst, but I can’t deny a good, suitably understated Alexander Payne script – even if it has little of ELECTION’S bite.

Should have been nominated: JANE EYRE, a subtly revisionist but still faithful adaptation of the Bronte warhorse.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year
Guard, The
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Poetry
Weekend

I found MARTHA MARCY’S screenplay less noteworthy than its impressive cast and interesting tonal shifts. ANOTHER YEAR and POETRY are more than solid, but WEEKEND’S story does so much with so little, practically redefining one genre and recontextualizing another.

Should have been nominated: THE SKIN I LIVE IN – Almodovar’s most deranged, twisted and arguably original narrative in years.

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer for Beginners
Jean-Pierre Darroussin for Havre, Le
John Hawkes for Martha Marcy May Marlene
Shahab Hosseini for Separation, A
John C. Reilly for Terri

I almost went with Reilly, as he’s continually underrated and does some of his best work ever here (even better than in CYRUS). But although he won the Oscar (and can often irritate elsewhere–see his Tolstoy in the relentlessly middlebrow THE LAST STATION), I just can’t deny the graceful, touchingly ebullient Plummer his due.

Should have been nominated: Viggo Mortensen for A DANGEROUS METHOD (and I’m not just sayin’ it because my theatre recently honored him) – he was nearly unrecognizable as Freud, and a wonderfully droll Freud at that.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lesley Manville for Another Year
Shailene Woodley for Descendants, The
Frances Fisher for Janie Jones
Kristin Scott Thomas for Love Crime
Kim Wayans for Pariah
Melissa Leo for Red State

I still think Manville’s more of a lead but, breakthrough performances they may be, neither Woodley or Wayans reside in the same league as her.

Should have been nominated: Jessica Chastain for TAKE SHELTER, the very best of her quartet of fairly impressive performances in 2011 films.

ACTOR
Jean Dujardin for Artist, The
Javier Bardem for Biutiful
Chris New for Weekend
Stellan Skarsgard for Somewhat Gentle Man, A
Michael Shannon for Take Shelter
Tom Cullen for Weekend

I could argue that I simply couldn’t decide between New and Cullen, as their film wouldn’t be so strong if one of them was lesser than the other, but Shannon’s presence pretty much cancels them out. He gives a tremendous performance in every sense of the word – easily my single favorite (male or female, lead or supporting) of the year.

Should have been nominated: Eric Elmosnino for GAINSBOURG – on one level, an uncanny impersonation, but like the rest of Joann Sfar’s unconventional biopic, it captures an essence of the real thing and interprets it imaginatively.

ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo for Artist, The
Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene
Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia
Adepero Oduye for Pariah
Jeong-hie Yun for Poetry
Tracy Wright for Trigger

A tough choice to make as all have their merits. In the end, I just can’t avoid a somewhat sentimental vote for the now-deceased Wright in her last performance; it was also one of her few leading roles, and it fully illustrates how gifted a talent she was.

Should have been nominated: Mia Wasikowska for JANE EYRE. I actually nominated every person on this list, so I shouldn’t complain. But for me, this is where Wasikowska goes from Carey Mulligan territory to potential Julianne Moore of her generation.

DIRECTOR
13 Assassins
Another Year
Artist, The
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Melancholia
Separation, A

I didn’t see A SEPARATION until after the nominations were due (because of its Boston release date) and would have stumped for it in at least five categories – of the three it made, I feel most comfortable honoring its direction, but would have loved to honor it for Original Screenplay or Best Movie even more.

Should have been nominated: Andrew Haigh for WEEKEND – I’ll explain why when we get to Best Movie.

DOCUMENTARY
Bill Cunningham New York
Buck
Into the Abyss
Pina
Senna
Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

No contest here: SENNA, BUCK and even TOPP TWINS are all competent, entertaining profiles, but BILL CUNNINGHAM analyzes in-depth its remarkable subject without ever seeming obvious or heavy-handed.

Should have been nominated: TABLOID. Whatever you think of Joyce McKinney’s sincerity (or Errol Morris’, for matter), their musings on celebrity and subjectivity are of the moment and may look more prescient in years to come.

MOVIE
Another Year
Artist, The
Pariah
Poetry
Weekend

With one exception, all of these titles made my year-end top ten (PARIAH may have squeaked into the top thirty), but for me, WEEKEND was the most refreshing and affecting. Although the two leads add a lot, it’s Andrew Haigh’s simple but profound concept and careful, skillful execution that makes the film a rare gem, especially as gay cinema (if one wants to reduce it to that).

Should have been nominated: MEEK’S CUTOFF. I suspect it was too divisive to make the final cut, but I wish Kelly Reichardt’s daring, meditative Western would’ve received at least one nod.

BURIED TREASURE
Arbor, The
Littlerock
These Amazing Shadows
Trigger
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

This is Chlotrudis’ centerpiece award, and the only category where one must see all the nominees in order to vote for it. For the first time, I had actually seen all five when the ballot was set. The only one that doesn’t belong is THESE AMAZING SHADOWS: it’s entertaining, informative, but not essential. TRIGGER is more noteworthy for its performances than anything else. That leaves the three I stumped for, and I could’ve picked any one of them. Although LITTLEROCK achieves what all microindies should strive for and THE ARBOR innovates, compels, and resonates unlike any doc I’ve seen since THE ORDER OF MYTHS, I went with UNCLE BOONMEE–it’s the one I can most imagine returning to over and over again and finding something new in each time.

Check back early next week for the winners.

2 Responses to How I Voted

  1. Pingback: How I Voted (with thanks to Kriofske Mix) » Just Giblets

  2. Pingback: “Trudie” Winners « KRIOFSKE MIX

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