|The more generic the better, that's our motto.|
This year, inspired by the glut of awards-season stuff I've been reading for weeks on Twitter, I decided to give out my own awards. Mine are free of the capricious political bullshit (to say nothing of the sentimentality) that infects the Oscars. No, mine are more likely to result in my accidentally awarding Best Supporting Actor to Rajon Rondo because I'm getting distracted by the Celtics-Heat game on the TV as I type this. Which would be a neat little surrealist statement about how stupid movie awards are, but I'm going to stay on topic. EVEN IF IT KILLS ME.
As you'll notice, there are categories here that you won't find on the Oscars. These awards, not having been voted on by any kind of electoral body or bunch of critics or even my mom or her cat—and lemme tell ya, the cat was pissed at the over-representation of dogs this year, damn—just me and my lil ol' foul-mouthed lonesome. So these are all my usual blend of hyper-erudite genius, axe-grinding, and wildly overblown advocacy. And, of course, lots and lots of fucking cursing. Which is why the only possible nickname for the first annual Movies By Bowes ™ Academy of Motion Picture Farts and Scientology Awards is . . . The Fuckos. Let us now begin. Some spoilers, unavoidably, so be forewarned.
Best Performance By An Actor, male: George Clooney, The Descendants. It's an amazingly good performance, with so much done in the eyes. It helps that the movie's fucking great too, but a huge part of it being great is Clooney. This was a great year for lead performances by men; there are at least seven that I wouldn't mind seeing win the Oscar. For the Oscar, because it'd be awesome, I'm advocating Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor, but this here's “best” and that means Clooney this year. Though seriously, Brad Pitt in Tree of Life or Moneyball, Clooney, Gary Oldman, the dude from The Artist, Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes . . . loaded fuckin' year.
Best Performance By An Actor, female: Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method. When I first saw this, I couldn't quite figure out what it was about her performance that struck me as off. I thought it might have had something to do with Keira Knightley not having the formal training that Fassbender, Viggo, and everyone else had. But something I couldn't quite describe was telling me “Resist the knee-jerk reaction that she sucked. She didn't. Figure out why she didn't.” And the conclusion I came to was that her character (and characterization) was a challenge to the way men traditionally view women. She's very sexual but not in a way that's geared toward pleasing men. She's way the hell smart. And by the end of the picture, when she's figured out how to make her way in the world, she doesn't really need Fassbender (the POV character for dudes in the audience) anymore. So that's the character. As for the performance, Keira Knightley keeps throwing in these little darts to keep everyone off balance, so that no one, in the movie or out, quite knows what to make of her. She pulls all the focus to her, which sometimes works to the detriment of the movie at large but since A Dangerous Method is, more or less, all about her—she's the engine that drives the whole thing, including the Fassbender/Viggo Jung/Freud relationship—she did the job. And that's why Keira Knightley's performance in that picture deserves a little more love than she's been getting this award season. (6/1/12 EDIT: The preceding paragraph was written before I saw Young Adult. Charlize Theron was better. Sorry, Keira; I still stand by the above assessment of your performance, you have to share the trophy though.)
Best Performance By A Movie Star, male: I know, I know: “What the fuck, George Clooney's not a movie star?” Yeah, he totally is, he just happened to also out-act all the AC-TORRRRRs this year. This here's about swagger, ownage, and charisma, the un-subtle arts. And this category was looooooooooaded this year. From Vincenzo Gasolina (not to mention the Rock, nor Paul Walker) in Fast Five, to Baby Goose in Drive, to Salman Khan in Bodyguard, to Shahrukh Khan's both-barrels bid to reassert his status as king in Ra.One and Don 2 (hey, what can I say, they grow good movie stars in India, about which more later in the acting categories), it's Shahrukh's American analogue who takes this one: Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Dude hung off the hundred and what the fuck floor of the fuckin Burj Khalifa (roughly “REALLY FUCKING TALL BUILDING” in Arabic) by himself and did all that wacky rappelling shit and propped himself up on the fucking building by basically telling the building “Building? I'm a fuckin movie star. I can just chill here, right?” and the building went, “Sure. You are Tom Cruise, after all.” It was real nice to see Tom Cruise be the Tom Cruise that made him Tom Cruise again. That movie was fucking dope. Good to have ya back, Tom.
Best Performance By A Movie Star, female: Rooney Mara, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I still think the book is horseshit and that Lisbeth Salander is a creepy jerk-off fantasy. But holy God Rooney Mara swaggered in that. The script material undercut her but she was just like “Fuck this shit, I didn't get all these piercings for real and start smoking for real and get in shape for all those nude scenes I didn't really need to do but did anyway because I ain't no punk . . . I didn't do all this fuckin shit to let a fuckin script undercut me. Prepare to be owned.” Et voila.
Best Performance By A Dog: Another weirdly loaded category this year. I was about an inch and a half from giving this to that wonderfully taciturn long-faced dog in Hugo, especially because Marty being a wise-ass with the 3D really let us into that dog's trip, but I have to be a conventional asshole and give this one to Uggie in The Artist. It is “best” performance by a dog, after all.
Best Performance By A Cat: The Cat, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Before Stieg Shithead Larsson (spoiler alert) iced the cat in a sensationalist hysterical bid to get the audience to really hate the bad guy, there was enough business with the cat that Daniel Craig got to chill with him a bit and let David “Honey Badger” Fincher make the dumb joke “huh huh Blomkvist is a pussy, get it? Hahahahaha” because why not. I liked that cat. I didn't like him getting iced. (End spoiler)
Best Performance by a Dude Playing A Chimp: This whole category is just cuz of Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar is truth. Caesar is revolution. Caesar Occupies your entire shit. Yeah a huge part of that was the VFX, but they just rendered what Serkis gave 'em. Don't forget this movie, and don't sleep on it. This was good stuff.
Raddest Old Guy: Amitabh Bachchan, Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap. He is the Big B. All hail. There were other cool things about this movie, like Sonu Sood and the adorable Charmy (oh, Charmy . . .) but it would have just been another “meh, whatever” picture without Amitabh holding it the fuck down in the lead. He's pushing 70 but still owned the living crap out of every bad guy in the whole picture without even smudging any of those crazy white suits of his.
Best Nudity: This is a total protest category about how all the goddamn time in movies filmmakers feel like they have to justify nudity or de-eroticize it and it all has to be for some kind of “purpose.” Fuck that shit. So, while 2011 featured a lot of very attractive actresses appearing full-frontally nude, the context was frequently such that the audience was being scolded not to find it hot. Emily Browning in Sleeping Beauty, lit and made up luminously, is being pawed by skeevy old dudes, who are saddened by the experience (also that movie is inert, miserable crap). Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, we already covered that. So I guess by default it's Carey Mulligan in Shame because at least, brother-sister weirdness aside when Fassbender finds her in the shower, she's just kinda kickin' it, and she does look good, and the purpose of the scene isn't to leer over her or make her into some bullshit fantasy character. Actually, my rationalization just convinced me to strike the “default” part of that. Carey Mulligan, Shame.
Best Dudity: Michael Fassbender, Shame. Of course it was him. It had to be him. Michael Fassbender has a very good chance of being the first actor in the history of the Oscars whose penis gets a nomination while he splits the vote between his performances in this, Jane Eyre, A Dangerous Method, and X-Men. Cue months of tabloid stories about the split in the partnership between Michael Fassbender's Penis and Michael Fassbender; Fassbender's penis will go off to LA and make big gaudy movies and wear gold chains and hang out with fast women and start doing coke, while Fassbender spends most of his time bereft, on airplanes, heading to do another play or art movie, missing his old friend, before a tearful reunion in the third act preceding a renewed and glorious collaboration as the music and credits swell. A final kiss will only be possible if Fassbender does some serious yoga in preparation.
|Steven Spielberg, energized by War Horse and Tintin, plans to direct this many movies in 2012|
Best Directing, Big Budget: Martin Scorsese, Hugo. I had problems with this picture but exactly none of them had anything to do with what Marty S. brought to the table. Marty had a big fuckin' vision, he got someone to give him $150 million and some 3D cameras and he went and got a DP and a design team that'll make ya change gods. Marty got performances out of the kids, he kept Sacha Baron Cohen from flipping out and taking over the movie, and he got Ben Kingsley and said, “Be Ben Kingsley.” And Ben Kingsley said, “Fuck that, I'm gonna be George Méliès.” And Marty said, “Works for me. See you on set.” This picture drove me bonkers while I was watching it because I wanted to go find the writers and kick them in the balls for not being able to keep up with Marty's brain, but the more I think about it, the more I'm like, goddamn, that Marty S. sure knows what the hell he's doing with this filmmaking racket. If he keeps it up he might make something of himself.
Best Directing, Small Budget: Joe Cornish, Attack The Block. Yeah, $13 million's a lot of money in regular people terms, but it's a fuck of a lot less than 150, and Attack The Block's a better movie than Hugo is, so the math is pretty much done. In ten years, people are going to be like, “Yeah, I saw Attack The Block in theaters” and people are going to be like “Whooooooa . . . cool!” Because in ten years Attack The Block is going to be a cult classic of near-Lebowski (chill the fuck out, I said “near”) proportions. This is absolute. Quote this back to me in ten years and I'll say, “Don't ever argue with the big dog, the big dog's always right.”
Best Directing of Actors: Alexander Payne, The Descendants. This would have been close if Woody hadn't fucked up Rachel McAdams' character in Midnight In Paris, but he did, so it's not. Payne got performances out of George Clooney, multiple different kids (the youngest we can credit to Payne and maybe even Nick Krause as Sid channeling a hetero Keanu, but to be fair, when Shailene Woodley decides it's time to move on from that life of the American teenager show or whatever it is, she's going to be just fine with or without Alexander Payne), Beau Bridges, and the less scary killer from Scream, who's now all growns up and stuff. They all feel like real people who are of that place; whether or not they actually resemble native Hawaiians is up to Hawaiians to say, but there's a great connection between the actors and the place, and it's a movie to a very large degree about place. And that's that.
Best Directing of Ownage Sequences: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive. Could just as easily have been Justin Lin for Fast Five, Brad Bird in Mission Impossible: Motherfuckers I Shot Tom Cruise Hanging Off The Top Of The Fucking Burj Khalia: A Brad Bird Film Directed By Brad Bird's Testicles (the only reason he doesn't win this is because Tom Cruise owning Michael Nyqvist at the end wasn't as impressive as it might have been because, come on, Michael Nyqvist? Still a pretty cool sequence with all the moving parts, but definitely loses points because by that point Tom Cruise has demonstrated sufficient awesomeness that getting his ass kicked by the guy from the shitty Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo seemed implausible.) No, The Long And Winding Refn takes this one because hammers, straight razors, and Clippers games. And for involving Albert Brooks in an enterprise where he owns someone somehow other than verbally (and then doing it again) and having the audience be like, “Daaaaaaaamn, Albert Brooks a bad motherfucker!” rather than “Really? Albert Brooks? Please.” That right there wins this category, no question.
Best Understated Yet Vividly Clear Political Statement: Asghar Farhadi, A Separation. This movie was so goddamn good you forget it's a foreign movie—shit, I forgot I was reading subtitles—because the people are so recognizably and universally people. Then you're like, why's she so dead set on amscraying the country with the daughter (who's amazing in this, by the way), and why are these random schlubs in shitty offices wielding omnipotent power over these people's . . . ohhhh, right. It's a totalitarian regime where religion and the state control everything. That didn't even hit me until the final scene, at which point it just popped up in high definition like, “oh yeah, none of this shit needed to happen.” (Ed. Note: the reason Rise of the Planet of the Apes didn't take this is, if you'll recall, the political message wasn't subtle. It was “FUCK THE STATE, WE DROP EVIL WHITE GUYS IN SUITS OFF OF BRIDGES IN FLAMING HELICOPTERS UP IN THIS. WHAT.”)
Most Unexpected Homage: Woody's fucking Inception trip in the Belle Époque sequence in Midnight In Paris. Okay, okay, I know it wasn't a straight-up homage to Inception. It just needs mentioning how great Midnight In Paris was a few dozen more times. And because the idea of Woody Allen directing Inception is really funny.
VISUALS & EDITING:
Achievement in Camera Mastery: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree Of Life. Know why all the voice-overs in that were spoken in stunned fragmented whispers? They were watching the dailies while trying to talk. Those images were powerful, dude.
Most Immersive Production Design: The team that brought you Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I said in my Tor.com review, it felt like they had a time machine and shot on location in the 1970s. And, well, yeah. It felt like they had a time machine and shot on location in the 1970s.
Best Use of Visuals As an Expository Tool: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. They packed hundreds of pages of Stieg Larsson's bullshit into brisk, completely coherent minutes. That picture may have been two and a half hours but it was a fast two and a half, for sure.
Best Shot: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Gary Oldman + David Dencik + airplane slowly taxiing up behind them. Mmm mmm mmm that's some good stuff. Though, call me crazy, that one continuous shot in Hanna when Eric Bana walks through the airport, gets each baddie hiding behind each pillar to start following him, then lures them down into that underground walkway and owns all of them, concluding with throwing a knife through a dude's face (done without cutting away!) is a close second, and even better than Joe Wright's massive Dunkirk shot in Atonement, which was cool but it was also the only good thing about that movie. But there's something to be said for understated subtlety, which is why the Tinker Tailor airplane shot takes this one.
Uncanny Valley Memorial Achievement in VFX Verisimilitude: Rise. Dude Caesar was fucking real. (Resisted the urge to give this to the kid in Hugo, because otherworldly though he and those anime blue eyes were, he actually was a real person, I'm told.)
Best Editing, Action Movie: Drive. Cheating slightly because it's not an action movie, per se (as that batshit insane lawsuit plaintiff realized, much to her dismay) but the action sequences in this are put together fucking amaaaaaazingly. Patience goes well with action. Who knew?
Best Editing, Non-Action Movie: A Separation. Trust, that editing is crazy good. That movie isn't much more than people talking for an hour forty but damn is it ever intense. That's part writing and part performances, but the medium is montage. (Not in the Team America sense, wiseass, we talkin bout Eisenstein.)
Best Editing, “Damn, that picture didn't feel near that long” category: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Two and a half hours, and it barely felt half that. Runner-up, Fast Five, which—bizarrely—was two hours and twenty minutes long. It felt like the hour forty-five it should have been in any rational universe, which leads me to believe that Justin Lin might know the Jedi mind trick.
Best Original Score: Attack The Block. Nothing else other than Hanna even need think about asking to be part of this category; while the Chemical Brothers did an excellent job with that, that movie wasn't propelled by the score to the same extent Attack The Block was. Attack The Block owns all. Not only does it work perfectly in the movie, it's the best goddamn writing music ever recorded.
Best Original Song: “Life's A Happy Song,” The Muppets. Though I'll hear arguments for several other songs from that movie. And the title song from Bodyguard, with the whistle-whistle, flex-flex, guitar-guitar hook. But “Life's A Happy Song” for the win.
Best Basically Original Song: “A Real Hero,” Drive. Everyone whined about it being in their heads for weeks/months afterward but you know why? Because it's a good song, that's why.
Best Use of a Previously Existing Song: the Soviet national anthem, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. That scene at the Circus' Christmas party before any of the bad shit happens, and they're all a little lit and start singing along . . . that's just awesome. It's a nerd joke, it's them kind of making a dark joke about the enemy, but also, all political implications aside, that's a really good fucking song; The Hunt For Red October would have won this category with the same song in 1990.
Best Song Cast As Pearls Before Swine In A Shitty Movie: “Shelter,” The xx, I Am Number Four. Terrible movie, and the song was used really badly, just because the xx were trendy when they were shooting the movie. But, even though no one cares about the xx anymore (nor do they care about I Am Number Four, thankfully), this song is still great and their album has a bunch of other good stuff on it.
Best Soundtrack: Midnight In Paris. Seriously. This might have been Woody's best soundtrack ever. “But what about the soundtrack to Drive?” What about the soundtrack to Drive? Woody's got Sidney Bechet, Josephine Baker and Jacques fucking Offenbach on this fuckin thing. The soundtrack to The Descendants with all the Hawaiian stuff is right up there, but when Woody's awake and paying attention to detail, really good things happen.
|All due respect to Melissa McCarthy, this was the year's breakout comedienne.|
Best Joke: When Kumar goes to cop some weed off Patton Oswalt's mall Santa in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, and he's going through all the Christmas-themed kinds of weed and a couple Hanukah ones, Kumar mentions something being as good as the “Diwali Dank” Patton Oswalt had had in October. That was a damn good joke.
Funniest Movie: The Trip. Going by US release date, it totally counts. GENTLEMEN TO BED.
Achievement in Unintentional Comedy: Atlas Shrugged, Part 1. Everything about this is funny, from the fact that they made a movie out of the most boring part of Atlas Shrugged, to the fact that the adaptation goes out of its way to make the material seem as dumb as possible. Not enough was made out of the fact that the director voted for Barack in '08; this movie seems like an out-and-out trollpiece, presenting Atlas Shrugged just straight enough that all the Randian dummies will get boners about there being an Atlas Shrugged movie, but engaging in a whole bunch of subtle acts of sabotage (and some not subtle ones, like directing the male and female lead, the latter of whom can be seen in the above photo, to act like robot tards) so that the end result just flat-out fucking sucks. I cannot wait for parts two and three. Can. Not. Wait. The only way to improve on the first one is by hiring Tommy Wiseau.
Best Deadpan: Corey Stoll as Hemingway in Midnight In Paris. That speech he gives Owen Wilson capped with “Think about it” was gold.
|The concept, reified.|
Best Car Chase: Oddly enough, I think I gotta go with Priyanka chasing Shahrukh in Don 2. All charges of n00b infatuation with Bollywood can be referred to my dick. The car chases in Fast Five, the seeming clear favorite, were great and everything, but they were just like the car chases in the other four movies. And Drive was Drive, but that was more “good filmmaking” than “dope car chases,” which aren't mutually exclusive or anything, but when I think car chases I think of the director turning to some Australian 2nd unit director with an incomplete complement of eyes and limbs and going “it's all yours,” to which the Australian replies “Lit's git ta fuckin wehhk, mate!” and next thing you know stunt drivers are nearly getting blown up driving Dodge Chargers through oil tankers and shit. (Ed. Note: Australians own.) Now, the car chase in Don 2 wasn't, on the surface, all that flashy. It was just a basic meat-and-potatoes car chase, but with an ineffable batshit insanity that made it fucking rad. Also, Shahrukh fucking destroys his car, and as we all learned from The Blues Brothers (in which is the greatest car chase of all time) at the end of the car chase the car has to just be like fuck it. I'll debate this one, but only to a certain point.
Best Fight: Vincenzo vs. The Rock in Fast Five. Just don't even step to this one. I don't care that Justin Lin gets trendy with the shaky cam. I don't care that it was relatively short. It's Vincenzo Gasolina fighting against The Fucking Rock.
Best violent death: In a year with many contenders, among them several grisly ownings in the bullshit historical epic Ironclad, the gorilla grabbing his nuts and going “sure, I can take on a helicopter with machine gun turrets with nothing but my bare hands” (not only did he win, the evil white guy in a suit—who was played by a black actor, proving that Evil White Guy In A Suit is an attainable state of mind that crosses racial barriers, just as Cate Blanchett proved in Hanna that it transcends gender barriers too—eats it in the ensuing crash) in Rise, and The Rock casually putting two in Joaquim de Almeida's dome without breaking stride to go be homoerotic with Vincenzo, the prize has to go to Albert Brooks owning Bryan Cranston with that straight razor in Drive. He slices his wrists open lengthwise, and then while Cranston bleeds out he's like reassuring him that the worst part is over and he'll be dead soon. I mean holy fucking shit. Albert Brooks. Good God.
Best shirt removal: This is only a category so I can say what's up to Salman Khan in Bodyguard. The way the water hose filled his shirt up with water til it exploded, revealing Salman's muscles really needs to be seen to be believed. It manages to simultaneously be hilarious, ridiculous, awesome, and frankly kind of inspiring. And each quality depends on the simultaneity with the other three. There really is only one Salman Khan.
Greatest “Go fuck yourself” moment: The above-mentioned bit with the Rock casually putting two in Joaquim de Almeida's dome without breaking stride to go be homoerotic with Vincenzo, in Fast Five. I mean, come on. It's a shame JDA couldn't have still been alive for a second to be like, “Wow, yeah, okay, I understand the magnitude to which I just got owned.”
Best explosion: Gotta be when John Boyega, as Moses, detonates his apartment to kill all of “dem tings” at the end of Attack The Block. Not only was it a cool explosion, it was also Moses. Moses saved the fucking planet. Trust.
Best revolution: Caesar. Rise.
Awesomest hero: Moses. Attack The Block. Which, by the way, for anyone wondering how the Badass World Cup turned out, an update: there was a huge scandal surrounding North American Group Stage, when due to the fact that none of the participants would concede, America ended up pulling some 1980 Moscow Olympics shit and decided to withdraw from the competition entirely. The rest of the world kind of shrugged and went, “Well, with Makmende, Mad Max, the guy from The Secret In Their Eyes, Moses, and Tequila and Tony, America wouldn't even be a top seed, and fuck you guys for not letting Canada and Mexico play.” The only thing is, with America out of the Cup, American media stopped treating the Cup as if it existed (same as it ever was) and the wildly entertaining knockout stages, resulting in Moses' eventual victory, were lost to posterity. (Ed. Note: rumors that the real explanation is that Movies By Bowes ™ simply got bored with the conceit and had to write about other shit to pay the bills are scurrilous fucking Communism.) The point is, Moses is a hero. He saved the planet from dem tings. You do not attack the block and not get owned.
And those, dear readers, are the first annual Fucko Awards! Tune in in a couple days for the Top 11 movies of 2011!