Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mid-year awards

2006 is halfway over. Hard to believe. We've got a few good films from it, but nothing to compare with the wonders of 2004, when we were so lucky as to have Kill Bill Vol. 2, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and arguably The Passion of the Christ.

my picks, for so far:

Best Picture:
Brick
United 93
V For Vendetta
A Prairie Home Companion
Hard Candy

I'd give it to United 93 for its... astounding and surprising success at taking a tragic event and presenting it to us as truthfully as it can. Stone's film looks to have an upbeat feel to it, and I don't feel that's what should be done. That day, is a historic tragedy, easily one of the eeriest and most unsettling days in our nation's history. To compromise that with saying, "It was a horrible day, but we got out of it and hope prevailed" is bullshit. We, as a nation, are not TOTALLY in the gutter, granted, but as a result of that day we're in another unnecessary war, we have corporations taking advantage of every penny they can find by blaming the wretched event, and we have people talking of conspiracy within the government itself saying that they knew about it and did nothing to stop it. (Wouldn't entirely surprise me, honestly. We all know they'd been wanting to go to war with Iraq for some time, and this gave them reason to do so.)
But I'm not making assumptions and I'm not even gonna talk politics. What I am going to say is that United 93 shocked me to the point where I burst out into tears halfway through the film, and did not stop until after the credits had rolled. I haven't cried in a movie in two years. This broke the mold. For that reason alone, it would've gotten a nom. The fact that it is such an unmitigated artistic success is what makes me pleased to award it with the wonderful stamp of "Best Film so far this year".

Winner: United 93

Best Actor:
Joseph Gordon Levitt - Brick
Aaron Eckhart - Thank You for Smoking
Denzel Washington - Inside Man

Eckhart and Washington are fillers, this easily goes to Levitt. He gave one of the best performances of last year in Mysterious Skin, so to see him do a complete 180 and present this fine piece of work, I was ecstatic as I don't know what. Brilliant.

Winner: Levitt

Best Actress:
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Ellen Page - Hard Candy
Natalie Portman - V for Vendetta

Portman did struggle a bit with Vendetta, but she's still young. She'll master the accent eventually, and even so she still managed to turn in a very respectable perf. Meryl Streep once again astounded with Prada, but neither compare to the brilliance of Ellen Page. To go from an innocent to a sadist in such a short amount of time and make us buy it? Nom-worthy. But to take hold of the role, to shake it to its very core... to utilize every single moment you have and just bring the audience to its knees? Oscar worthy. This is the best performance of the year thus far.

Winner: Page

Best Supporting Actor:
Paul Bettany - The Da Vinci Code
Clive Owen - Inside Man
Kevin Kline - A Prairie Home Companion

Kline makes anything and everything he participates in work. Brilliantly. And Clive Owen is like Morgan Freeman in the way that he doesn't have to do a damn thing differently for each role... he just reads the script and he GETS IT. He's so deliciously good in this, it's... sinful. But Bettany, as the albino whack-job who believes he's fighting for the lord's word, is as tragic a figure as I've seen in years. He pours pathos into his very core, and makes this strange figure into the only bit of that film you can't take your eyes off of.

Winner: Bettany

Best Supporting Actress:
Nora Zehetner - Brick
Jodie Foster - Inside Man
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada

Foster: A "magnificent cunt". And almost unbearable amounts of fun.
Zehetner: The sexiest performance so far this year. She exudes charmisma, grace, and packs a wallop as the femme fetale of Brick. She also gives my favorite line reading thus far this year: "Keep up with me now." Babe, if only I could.
I'm giving the award to Blunt though, because she took what could've been a boring, basic bitch of a character and turned her into something real. She's still a bitch, but damn if she isn't just the funniest, wittiest, most vibrant bitch this side of Rachel McAdams in "Mean Girls". Glorious.

Best Director:
Paul Greengrass - United 93
Rian Johnson - Brick
Robert Altman - A Prairie Home Companion

Altman is a master. We all know that. But that doesn't stop you from getting goosebumps when you feel his touch on a film. Here, he throws in a little death with his light comedy, and the result is the funniest and most vibrant film so far this year. Johnson has not only revived the noir genre (laid to rest these past few years), but also infused it with modern day situations and characters. Brilliant.
But nothing will beat Greengrass and his meticulous attention to detail, as he manages to infuse an incredible amount of mourning, celebration and respect for the men and women on board United 93. Some will never view the film, for one reason or another, which is a shame really. Because I highly doubt any other picture will come as close, be as painful or show as much respect to the passengers as this film right here. What a magnificent motion picture.

8 Comments:

Blogger RC said...

whew...aren't you glad we still have a lot of year yet.

i agree so far United 93 is the winner.

i haven't seen brick but eckhert did a pretty good job in thank you for not smoking...i hope he gets some more good pictures to star in.

I hope Greengrass does more good stuff like this also...i certainly am not into the bourne trilogy so i am interested in what he'll do after that.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

10:33 AM  
Blogger DL said...

I loved Brick and Untied 93 soooo much and I think the former has a shot at making it to my own End of the Year Awards, particularly for it's screenplay and Levitt's perf.

But I really hated Ellen Page and Paul Bettany in their movies. If you wanna see those 2 do some real great acting, I suggest Wilby Wonderful (Page) and Dogville (Bettany).

Otherwise, great reviews.

4:32 PM  
Blogger DL said...

After only 5 posts, I'm completely in luv with your blog!! ♥ You should blog more often though ;)

4:36 PM  
Blogger Beau said...

REALLY??!?! you hated page in Hard Candy!??!
i'm... WOW, i'm intrigued!!! i mean, the character itself may not have been as fleshed out as it could have been, but she nailed that role so much I was DAZZLED.

And Paul Bettany has been better, definetely, (I did see Dogville, and found his character fascinating. Master and Commander he deserved all the acclaim as well) but since it's been so weak this year in terms of supporting actors, he deserved the nom by just accepting the role. But by becoming the most intriguing, confusing and ultimately tragic figure in the film, he was more magical than anything around him, (even sir Ian).

and thank you so much for your warm comments. trust me, they are greatly appreciated. :)

4:51 PM  
Blogger Michael J said...

United 93 stands as my favorite film this year, Beau. It's an amazing film. Might even be my favorite of 06. Depends on if the fall has quite a line up

7:20 AM  
Blogger DL said...

Half my problem with Page's performance was in the writing of her character. Her lines were so poorly-written that even the most talented of actresses would've seemed amateur in the role.

And Silas was "the most intriguing, confusing and ultimately tragic figure in the film" but I'm not sure that had to with his acting.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Beau said...

honestly, i felt the way she was written was perfect. she's entirely unsympathetic, unwilling to back down... she's fascinating from beginning to end.

yeah, silas was written that way of course, but the character could've easily become a charicature or a mockery of how it was intended. (an albino with frightening eyes doing the 'work' of god.) could've gone so many wrong directions, but bettany kept it on course. brilliant.

good debating with you though, ;D. and thanks mike j. for the comment!! it might very well end up being the best film of the year, the way it's going. ;)

4:52 PM  
Blogger StinkyLulu said...

So nice to see such love for Brick -- possibly the only the film I've seen this year that's really "stuck" with me. (Well, Water too.)

I really must see Hard Candy.

10:48 AM  

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