It is that time again when the year is drawing to a close and the cinematic twelvemonth is summed up in a myriad Best Of lists and the trophy cabinets are being prepped from the Academies on both side of the Atlantic to hand out their golden trinkets.
We, too, are continuing our tradition of awarding The Truffles – the annual HeyUGuys movie awards where when we make up the categories in order than the prizes given more accurately reflect our feelings on year in film. The team have given their choices below, if you care to you can click here to see our previous years’ awards, and finally see you all next year!
Best Jason Statham One-Liner of the Year: “I’ll kill you with this spoon” – Hummingbird
Fans of Jason Statham (you’re out there somewhere…) will have been thrilled with the amount of ‘Stath’ that illuminated the big screen this year, with three productions to his name. He starred in Hummingbird, Parker and Homefront – three easy to indulge in, conventional action thrillers, each being blessed with a series of memorable one-liners.
Whether it’s the writing or the execution, it’s hard to tell what makes a Statham one-liner quite so special. However “I’ll kill you with this spoon” just about edges out its competitors. Why? Because Jason Statham probably could kill you with his spoon, and it would be amazing to watch him try.
Best Haircut of the Year: American Hustle (shared)
There have been some fantastic haircuts this year. From James Franco in Spring Breakers, to Javier Bardem in The Counsellor, to the entire cast and crew of Behind the Candelabra. However where haircuts (and yes, facial hair is dutifully included in this) came into their element, is in David O. Russell’s latest picture, American Hustle.
Now it may seem like something of a cop-out to not reward one actor in particular for their fine effort in the hair department, but American Hustle has an array of wonderful examples of what can achieved in contemporary cinema. Like most films with amazing barnets, this picture is set in the 1970s, and with Christian Bale’s sublime comb-over, Jeremy Renner’s unmistakable quiff, Bradley Cooper’s ridiculous perms – or even Jennifer Lawrence’s mop – it’s a pure delight for fans of cinema, and haircuts.
The Biggest Tear-Jerker of the Year: Captain Phillips
Crying in the cinema is a common act for many of us. To be blown away by the emotional gravitas (some may call it manipulation) of films, and get so involved and caught up in somebody else’s life and story, that it can move you to tears. However very few films can provoke not only tears but noise – and there is nothing worse than crying in the cinema while making noises at the same time. However it’s a feat that Paul Greengrass somehow managed in Captain Phillips, when Tom Hanks turned in arguably the finest two minutes of his career.
To give away what happens in the scene itself is a spoiler, so let’s just say that it beat off some stiff and worthy competition, with Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks and The Selfish Giant all close runner ups. Don’t even get me started on the melancholic Belgian dramas The Broken Circle Breakdown and Our Children. Blimey.
The Best Facial Expression of the Year: Rob Lowe – Behind the Candelabra
This award is similar to a lifetime achievement. In that, there aren’t any nominations, there are no competitors – there’s just one person that needs to be acknowledged for what they’ve achieved this year in film, and instead an entire award has been created just to magnify this fact.
So, ladies and gentlemen, the greatest facial expression of the year goes to Rob Lowe. A facial expression you can only truly impersonate if you place your palms on your cheeks, and fingers on your temples, and then proceed to pull back as much as you can. Go on, practise your Rob Lowe.
The Best Part Three of a Trilogy: Before Midnight
This year has seen a handful of franchises bring out their third (and in some cases, final) addition to their trilogy of films. We’ve had Iron Man 3, The Hangover Part III, The World’s End, and for you world cinema aficionados out there, Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Hope. However the very finest third instalment this year, has to go to the wonderful Before Midnight.
The first two films in this series, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, directed by Richard Linklater – are near perfect romantic productions. With nine years between each feature, it’s been a long time since we delved into the lives of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) – and it’s fair to say there were some apprehensions about whether or not it may work, and if they’d manage to progress this story in an intelligent manner. Well they managed to surpass their expectations, taking the audience everywhere they wanted to go, and even further. It’s a world we can stay in forever, and fingers crossed in nine years time, The Truffles will have create a new category for “Best Fourth Addition to a Franchise” just to honour whatever comes next.
Most inconsistent concern for loss of human life – Man of Steel
So. Mr Superman. You and Zod level entire cities, with the likely loss of human life running into the thousands if not tens of thousands. That seems to be fine, until Zod tries to give the lasery-eye treatment to a family huddled by the stairs. That was too much. Maybe “straw that broke the camel’s back” arguments prevail here, but it does seem as though allowing countless anonymous victims to die is less of a moral/dilemma than a handful whose faces are in front of you. Naughty, Mr Steel. Very naughty.
Most laudable lack of sympathy for an abandoned child – Iron Man 3
Credit where it is due, Iron Man 3 kept character integrity intact in the face of its most threatening nemesis – sad, lonely child. Without turning Tony Stark into a horrendous, unsympathetic monster, or swinging the other way and making him inconsistently mushy and sentimental, the script from Drew Pearce and Shane Black managed to have Stark helping out the kid with a garage full of awesome kit and gadgets, but not before delivering the film’s finest line:-
“Hmm… which happens, dads leave, no need to be a pussy about it, here’s what I need…”. Perfectly crafted, perfectly delivered.
Most determined use of Christmas as a film backdrop for films that have nothing to do with Christmas – Shane Black
After Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Lethal Weapon, Shane Black returned to Christmas time, just because he felt like it. Like those three previous films, Black could have set them at any time of the year and the lack of snow makes things seem not very Christmassy, but in this case the film was also a summer tent-pole release. Peculiar, but charming in its own way.
The Jon Voight/Anaconda Award for unrepentant scenery chewing – Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch is an incredibly gifted actor and like Tom Hiddleston is showing himself extremely adept at elevating genre fare to something much loftier. Star Trek Into Darkness was excellent fun and although it fell short of its predecessor it still has much to commend it. What it also has is some properly ramped up over-acting by Cumberbatch which works perfectly well, but nonetheless needs to be called out for what it is.
Excellent fun, but you can’t help but feel that his announcement of his “proper name” could easily have been accompanied by “dun dun duuuuuuunnn!!!!!!” on the soundtrack. Over-egged.
The Second Annual Self-Pity Award for Best Film I didn’t get to see – Various
As always, lots slipped through the net this year. Blockbusters, smaller independent efforts, essentially almost everything apart from the films referenced above (plus Les Mis, Wreck It Ralph, The World’s End and Monsters Uni). Notable absences from my viewing list? Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Stoker, Thor: The Dark World, Gravity, Blue Jasmine, Pacific Rim & Wolverine (needs the big screen, even if they’re not very good), Elysium, The Hunger Games, The Place Beyond The Pines and Only God Forgives. On the plus side, I was also spared Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Grown Ups 2, Die Hard 5 and The Host. So it’s not all been bad news!
Best wrapping up of a loose thematic and stylistic trilogy – The World’s End
Of course Shaun of the Dead remains the high water mark of Pegg, Frost & Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto/Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy, but that doesn’t stop The World’s End being an excellent film in its own right and a fitting end to the series.
Balancing sci-fi tropes with nostalgia and laugh out loud comedy is far from easy, but it is accomplished here with ease and aplomb. The whole cast gives excellent value for money and the nods to previous entries in the series are smart and subtle.
Worst set piece: The Hurricane, Man of Steel.
It’s no secret that I didn’t enjoy Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, and that in my personal opinion the film was little more than a bloated parade of terrible scenes. But by far the worst of the lot — even more dreadful than the weightless scenes of wanton destruction in Metropolis — was the bit where Kevin Costner was sucked into the sky while his adopted son (Superman) just watched on from the safety of his mother’s arms.
Overlooking for a moment the fact that Kal El acts completely out of character, hiding his identity for the first and pretty much only time in the entire movie, the scene is Truffle-worthy for looking even less convincing than the testicles hanging from Hugh Jackman’s neck in Movie 43.
Most annoying character: Gary King, The World’s End
It’s telling that in a year that also featured both The Hangover’s Alan and Despicable Me’s minions, my least favourite character is to be found elsewhere. The World’s End is not a meritless movie by any means; there are some great gags, a few impressive effects and the supporting cast are reasonably good fun. Unfortunately, the film is almost single-handedly spoiled by Simon Pegg, not so much in his capacity as writer but in his role as star. Gary had to be a self-involved for the film’s themes to work, but his unlikeability is pushed so far that his company becomes almost unbearable. By the time the film nears its conclusion and it becomes clear that his character is going to remain undeveloped, it becomes increasingly difficult to care for the character — and by extension the film – at all.
Biggest disappointment: Stoker
When it was first announced, the name, the involvement of Park Wook-Park and the fact that the black-listed script had been written by none other than Him From Prison Break helped to make it one of the most anticipated of the year.
Unfortunately, the film didn’t exactly live up to expectations. Featuring no vampires but an abundance of shoes, ice cream and equally inconsequential shots of spiders, the film squandered the talents of Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode on characters that weren’t so much enigmatic as unconvincing qw human beings. It’s atmospheric and handsome, but that’s about it.
Most pleasant surprise: Dark Skies
The trailer for Dark Skies was laughable; the earnestness with which it approached a story apparently too ridiculous to be scary produced more laughs than many alleged comedies can manage in their entire running times. Happily, the film was far better made — and considerably scarier — than the trailer suggested.
Under director Jason Blum, actors Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton and Dakota Goyo go a little further than is usual in the horror genre to create characters that the audience might reasonably care about. They have relatable worries and interesting weaknesses, and when J. K. Simmons tells them that aliens are planning to abduct their children their reactions are surprisingly credible.
Funniest running gag: Quinoa Latte, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2: Revenge Of The Leftovers
2013 was unusually plush with great gags (from Michael Cera’s cameo in This Is The End to Thor asking directions on the London tube), and if we’re being honest many of the best were to be found in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs sequel Revenge Of The Leftovers. As much as I laughed at the food puns, tingling chest hairs and straight-faced references to the FLDSMDFR, it was Flint Lockwood’s first day at Live Corp that had me lolling in the aisles. As Flint receives his induction from Chester V, assistant Barb hands out a never-ending string of increasingly unlikely lattes that leave him ever-more wide-eyed and over-caffeinated. I’m laughing just at the thought of it.
Film of the decade: Cloud Atlas
I know this is the 2013 Truffle Awards, but the achievements of Cloud Atlas — directed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer — are such that they not only tower above every other film released this year, but also when compared to any other film in recent memory. Gravity was a great film that in different circumstances might have warranted this award, boasting as it does astonishing special effects, terrific performances and a beautiful score. Cloud Atlas, however, was six great films in one. Literally.
An adaptation that genuinely reimagines David Mitchell’s source material, the film cuts between different stories, genres and protagonists as it tells a narrative about narrative. Everything about the film is transcendent, with the actors unconstrained in their performances by gender, race or sexuality thanks to unprecedented prosthesis, and the result is a piece of indisputable art that speaks to everyone, about pretty much everything.
The Truffle for “The longest time I forgot to breathe while watching a film due to being so tense” Award goes to:
From the time the shrapnel starts to hit to the moment Clooney comes and rescues Bullock from her spin into space. It is genius film making and the most tense and atmospheric moment in film in 2013.
The Truffle for “It’s 2013 right? Surely CGI has advanced to a better level than what was displayed in front of me for a few hours and pretty much ruined the film for me” Award goes to:
MAN OF STEEL
Those fights were just incoherent unwatchable twaddle where nothing really made sense and it was hard to see who hit who, with what or how many times. It was too fast, badly edited and to bumpy to enjoy. It almost ruined a film that had so much to like. Shame, but hey! At least we have a sequel to look forward too. Batman grumble gumble, Wonder Woman grumble grumble
The Truffle for “The biggest loss in film in 2013” Award goes to:
No one made a bigger impact in film that Ray did with his incredible work that inspired me to love films from such an early age. Sinbad, Clash of the Titans and Jason & the Argonauts were on constant play in my home. He inspired many and entertained millions.
The Truffle for “The surprise film saving performance” Award goes to:
JAMES FRANCO IN SPRING BREAKERS
I really enjoyed Franco in Spring Breakers. Without him it was a film that wasn’t working for me, struggled with the idea of these girls getting deep into crime but with his introduction it worked wonders and carried a majority of the film with it.
The Truffle for “NO F’N WAY! I Did not expect that” Award goes to:
SIR BEN KINGSLEY – MANDARIN/TREVOR.
Never has a twist in plot been so unexpected and so well done. Not only was the twist excellent but the sheer audacity of having a knight of the realm go from lead villain to drunk struggling actor in such an entertaining way was utter genius.
The Truffle for “Best Film of 2013 because deep down inside you know it was (well, mainly for how much (silly) fun it was)” Award goes to:
FAST & FURIOUS 6.
Fair enough I haven’t been to the cinema much in 2013 but FF6 was without doubt the most fun I would have had in the cinema this year if I saw every film released this year. It had everything, good old blighty as its backdrop, ridiculous action, great fights, the world’s longest runway running the length of Europe and Vin Diesel, The late Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and the rest of the crew spoiling us with jaw dropping moments are car stunt silliness. Loved every second of it.
The Truffle for “Well I loved it” Award goes to:
I went into the film not expecting too much but came out with a big grin on my face. Pacific Rim had its stupid moments and cheesy dialogue but who cares! It’s an action film of immense fun with big beautifully designed Robots taking on huge monsters.
The design was stunning from the robot control system, the bases where the robots were docked and the destruction of each city. Thoroughly entertaining for me and really hope a sequel comes about, Del Toro deserves another go at it.
The Truffle for “Biggest disappointment of 2013” Award goes to:
THE WORLDS END
Not many bigger fans of Shaun of the Dead than me, Loved Hot Fuzz and enjoy it more each time I see it. Worlds End however left me feeling disappointed greatly. The opening was so good and build up to robot/alien thing was excellent but when it entered a Doctor Who level of quality and design I totally fell out of love with it. I hate Doctor Who with a passion, every since it tried to do Sci Fi beyond its affordability and therefore making it embarrassing to watch as it strained to fulfil its ambitions. Worlds End hit these heights and it just didn’t work for me. It was funny but not a patch on the previous two films.
The Truffle for ”Wow, you really ruined everything that made the original film great” Award goes to:
KICK ASS 2
Awful film. Jim Carrey was excellent though. Apart from Jim there was nothing enjoyable or comparable to Kick Ass’s fun, originality and brutality. Such a shame as it had a solid ground to work from but a new director tried to recreate the same vibe as Matthew Vaughn but failed miserably. The jokes fall flat, all the additional characters, bar a few, were so weak and clearly there solely on budget constraints that it just didn’t work.
Best Credit Sequence: Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 was infinitely better than IM2, but to be honest, the first is still my favorite. Shane Black put his stamp all over this film and it starts with the opening credits. Like Black’s other excellent film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 was full of wit and pieces of sharp dialogue, and gave audiences a more humbled Tony Stark as well as, in my opinion, a more enjoyable villain. The opening and closing credits were perfect bookends to the third entry in the Iron Man films.
Best Quotable Line of 2013: Olympus Has Fallen
“Why don’t you and I play a game of f*ck off. You go first.”
What else needs to be said about this line? Nothing. The film itself was pretty entertaining and I liked it much more than A) I thought I would and B) much more than White House Down. It was ridiculous and over the top and I was totally OK with all of it. I also have to give Melissa Leo props because she was a feisty little ball of fire as the Secretary of Defense, Ruth McMillian. This line is one that is quoted in my house often, for no reason at all.
Best Sports Film About a Sport I Know Nothing About: Rush
I don’t know the first thing about Formula One racing. Or racing at all for that matter but Ron Howard’s film about Formula One racing legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda and their rivalry had me white knuckling the armrest during the race scenes.
The “I Didn’t Make It Past The First 10 minutes” Award: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Obviously I can’t say much about this film except what I did see was absolutely dreadful. In every sense of the word. What was Jeremy Renner thinking? Oh….I know….PAYCHECK!
Worst Decision Made By A Character EVER!: The Call
When veteran 911 operator Jordan Hall is disconnected from the young girl who called in to report an intruder, Jordan dials her back, knowing the girl is hiding from the intruder. Jordan’s bad judgement gives the girl’s location away, and she ends up getting murdered. Really Jordan? As a 911 operator you should know that is NOT the thing to do. I can say this because my father was a 911 operator for 30 years. I asked him if he, or any of his co-workers would go see this and he laughed at me saying “Nope. Seen trailers and that was enough. No dispatcher on the planet would try the crap depicted in the movie.” Straight from a pro, people.
The “Surprised I Didn’t Hate It” Award: World War Z
I had a real issue with this movie being made, especially when I found out it would not follow the format of the book. I adored the book so much and was appalled after I saw that first trailer. But, being a fan of film, I had to try, so I went into this film, putting my love of the book aside, and judging the film on it’s own…and I’m so glad I did because I actually enjoyed it.
To be honest, there really isn’t a way to adapt the book as is, in film form. The book itself would be best served, if adapted as a series on HBO or Showtime due to how each chapter deals with a different character. It’ll never happen, but Brad Pitt’s zombie apocalypse film was quite entertaining in its own right.
The Bored Stiff Award: The Heat
I like Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock so I figured this was going to be comedy gold. Turns out it wasn’t. This should also get the “Funniest Parts Were In The Previews” Award.
The “OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE IT” Award: Pacific Rim
It’s giant robots fighting giant monsters. GIANT ROBOTS. FIGHTING GIANT MONSTERS! What’s not to love? Guillermo del Toro had me hooked with the premise alone. Then he threw in Idris Elba and there was no turning back for me. I loved this film LOVED IT!
I even watched it on my 45 million hour flight home from London because it was that awesome! I get that it may be lacking in the substance department but again I say….giant robots fighting giant monsters. One shouldn’t expect an Oscar quality film here am I right? It was fun, and the perfect type of summer fare that my science fiction addiction craves. Also: RON PERLMAN!
The “I Wanted To Love It, But Didn’t” Award: Elysium & Riddick (TIE)
I don’t know if it was Jodie Foster’s crazy accent, or what, but this film was not as great as I wanted it to be. Perhaps my expectations were a bit high considering how much I loved Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. Whatever the case may be, I felt a bit let down by this sci-fi extravaganza.
The character of Riddick is my favorite out of all of the characters I’ve seen Vin Diesel portray. Yes yes, I know that’s a tough morsel to swallow considering his part in The Pacifier, but alas, it’s true. Pitch Black was the first film I saw him in, and that film and character remain among my favorites in the genre. Chronicles of Riddick left something to be desired, so imagine my joy when I heard that the third film would go back to its roots. I didn’t expect to basically get three films in one, each of them leaving me wanting something more. Maybe this one requires a second viewing to sway me, but the first viewing didn’t do much for me at all sadly.
The “Maybe I Don’t Want To Go To Space Afterall” Award: Gravity
I have always had a desire to go to space and gaze upon the Big Blue Marble from the extended arm of the shuttle. What a revelation that would be right? Well, Alfonso Cuarón’s majestic film has cured me of that urge I think. The beginning of this film has the calming qualities of a ballet, but quickly pulled a 180 and turned into an intense ride, especially with that (SPOILER ALERT!) approaching shrapnel storm. Gravity also showed THE BEST representation of space and what it is to be in space that I have ever seen on the big (or small) screen. It was a masterpiece.
Best Use Of A Runway…And Everything Else For That Matter: Fast and the Furious 6
Who would have thought that the sixth installment of any series would be its best? Certainly not me, but this film is. Fast 6 also had the best reintroduction of a character previously thought dead, and there was also that chick fight between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez which totally kicked ass. Sure, there were the car chases, the other car chases, oh and that one RIDICULOUS car chase, but it was that runway scene that really tied the room together.
At one point during that scene, I leaned over to my friend and mentioned how that had to be the longest runway in the world. Calculations were made by other, smarter people and it turns out that runway would have to be about 26 miles long. That’s the length of a full marathon, people. And then there was that car shooting out of the front of the plane! Sure it may be silly, but it was loads of fun. The mid credit sequence had me amped for part 7, until the tragic news of Paul Walker’s untimely death. Fast 6 was the full package of fun, corny, and exciting and sits proudly at the top of my 2013 list.
Best Performance By An Actor We’ve Never Seen or Heard of Before: June Squibb in Nebraska. As the shrewish, long suffering Kate Grant, wife of the irascible Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), Ms. Squibb nearly steals the film from Dern. In one emotive scene late in the film, she reveals a side of Kate which completely softens and humanises her. Where has this woman been? Watch her clean up come awards time (hopefully, she and Dern will both take armfuls of ‘em home).
Best Performance by 3D (Ever!) in an Otherwise Largely ‘Meh’ Film: Gravity. I know zilch about science and maths, and even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to buy into the last 2/3 of the film, but the 3D was employed brilliantly in the creation of suspenseful sequences in the opening 1/3 that had me literally holding my breath.
Most Weight Shed for a Role (Sponsored by Weight Watchers): Matthew McConnaughey, Dallas Buyers Club. The most fascinatingly awful act of starvation on screen since Christian Bale wasted himself away for The Machinist.
Most Welcome Return to Something Like Form: Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive. Droll, louche vampires? Yes please Jim, say I.
Actor Who is Far Better Looking Than the Person Portrayed: Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt, Rush.
Best Trailer Award: Interstellar
It was only just released this month, but the first teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar blew me away. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.
Recent years have seen us bombarded by trailer after trailer, and increasingly even more so with teaser trailers for trailers and teaser trailers for teaser trailers.
That is something that can’t be said for Nolan’s work. The marketing campaign for Inception was remarkable, and if this first tease for Interstellar is anything to go by (and you really have to expect that it is), then we’re in for another real treat in the run-up to November 2014.
Matthew McConaughey’s monologue over the top is brilliant, and despite only showing a few glimpses of footage from the film, it sets the tone perfectly.
Best Left Turn Award: The Place Beyond the Pines
With Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper billed as the leading duo, you’d thoroughly expect The Place Beyond the Pines see them duke it out throughout the full run-time, but Derek Cianfrance’s crime drama takes a hugely unexpected left turn early on, which sees Gosling’s stuntman-turned-bank robber, Luke Glanton, killed by Bradley Cooper’s cop, Avery Cross.
The moment I saw Gosling’s body lying on the pavement, dead, I was left totally stunned, largely because I was expecting to see Gosling on screen from start to finish.
It was an amazing move from Cianfrance, and whilst I could have given the film a slew of awards for all its brilliance, it was this left turn that really left its mark. A masterful way to undercut expectations in one of the finest films of the year.
Serenity Award for Best Directorial Debut: The Way, Way Back (Nat Faxon & Jim Rash) / Thanks for Sharing (Stuart Blumberg) / This Is The End (Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg)
After winning an Oscar for their first screenplay, writing Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash reunited this year to make their first film at the helm, The Way, Way Back.
Led by the young Liam James (see below, Best Breakthrough Performance), the comedy-drama tells the story of a reserved teenager who comes out of his shell whilst on summer vacation. With a bit of an Adventureland feel to it, the film certainly bodes well for what is to come from the emergent writer-directors.
Stuart Blumberg similarly made his directorial debut this year with Thanks for Sharing, another of the year’s best comedy-dramas. Earning an Oscar nomination for co-writing The Kids Are All Right, Blumberg reunited with Mark Ruffalo for his follow-up, giving a straight and funny look at sex addiction, rarely seen on the big screen.
Like Jonah Hill in Moneyball, Josh Gad truly owns the supporting role alongside Ruffalo as a fellow sex addict, and with Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, and Alecia (‘Pink’) Moore completing the ensemble, it makes for a real treat.
Best Song Award: Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) by Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford (Inside Llewyn Davis)
If you see one film in the coming weeks, let it be the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis.
The songs featured throughout easily make for the best soundtrack of the year, and Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford’s rendition of Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) is the standout track amongst them all.
The only crying shame is that, because it’s based on a traditional song, it’s not going to be eligible for Best Original Song at the Oscars. If it were, it would win it, hands down.
2nd Place: Lana Del Rey’s Young and Beautiful (The Great Gatsby)
3rd Place: Ellie Goulding’s How Long Will I Love You? (About Time)
Best Breakthrough Performance (Actress): Brie Larson (Short Term 12)
The breakthrough performance award is a difficult one to hand out, especially when it involves an actress like Brie Larson, who has been known to us all for years for her work in the likes of Scott Pilgrim and Rampart.
But with Short Term 12 this year, she’s really made a name for herself as a leading actress – something we don’t get to see very often from her – and with a performance as strong as this one, it’s easy to see why she’s topping so many breakthrough performance awards.
She truly brings the role of Grace to life in Destin Daniel Cretton’s drama, with one of the most remarkable and memorable performances I’ve seen in recent years. Needless to say, it bodes well for the years to come, in which I hope she’ll be seen much more frequently in leading roles.
Best Breakthrough Performance (Actor): Liam James (The Way, Way Back)
One actor who seems to be largely overlooked in this category so far this year is Liam James.
For the most part, recognition in a category like this has gone to Oscar Isaac, whose work in Inside Llewyn Davis you cannot speak too highly of. Whilst I would argue Larson is eligible for the Breakthrough Award, I think Isaac is just beyond its reach. Similarly, Miles Teller’s outstanding performance in The Spectacular Now warrants a mention, but I would also argue that his past work makes him ineligible, and thus I settle on James for his terrific performance in The Way, Way Back.
The premise of the film, in many ways, is somewhat similar to the recent classic, Adventureland, but it’s James’ performance – so different to that of Jesse Eisenberg’s – that distinguishes it from Greg Mottola’s comedy-drama.
James’ shy young teenager, Duncan, comes out of his shell through the course of a summer vacation, with Sam Rockwell’s water park manager Owen to look up to in the absence of a proper father figure. Wrongly cast, the part could have been an incredibly grating one in the hands of lesser talent, but James superbly navigates the awkwardness required as his character really comes into his own by the end of the film. Like Larson, he’s definitely one to watch.
Best Chemistry Award: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now) / Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde (Drinking Buddies)
Two films that are easily amongst the finest of the year.
The casting of young actors and actresses can be a real nightmare, but you’d never guess it looking at Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now. At a LFF screening earlier in the year, James Ponsoldt himself had said that he wasn’t entirely sold on Woodley before meeting with her, but after that meeting, he knew she was the one to play Aimee. And equally, just as Woodley is brilliant in the young female lead, Teller knocks it out the park as Sutter.
Ponsoldt has a real way with dealing with co-dependent characters, and Teller and Woodley’s chemistry makes watching this comedy-drama that much more enjoyable.
In much the same way, the chemistry shared by Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson in Drinking Buddies is outstanding. Add to that the fact that Joe Swanberg’s comedy-drama was largely improvised, and how impressed you are by their performances is heightened all the more.
Questioning which is worse in a relationship, physical or emotional cheating, we see Wilde and Johnson’s characters go down the latter path, and it’s amazing to see their relationship develop through the course of just ninety minutes. Spending their time drinking and flirting, and teetering on the edge of delivering on their emotional affair, the two co-workers are an utter delight to watch. And with Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston completing the leading quartet, Swanberg’s movie is one of the best you’ll see this year.
Iron Man Award for Best Franchise-Starter: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
For all the bad press that it got upon release, and for all of the lack of sizable profits it made at the box office, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is definitely this year’s best franchise-starter, in my books.
Despite having never read the original source material, I thoroughly enjoyed Harald Zwart’s fantasy action-drama, and thought Lily Collins was superb as the young lead. (Even if I’m not at all keen on the [what I can only assume is a fictitious] name, ‘Clary’.)
There were so many potential franchise-starters in the young adult market this year, and pretty much all of them failed to live up to their potential. But I’m almost surprised at how glad I am that Constantin Film announced they’ll be returning with The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes, despite initially postponing the sequel.
2nd Place: Now You See Me
The Royal Tenenbaums Award for Best Original Screenplay: Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel and Ethan Coen
Every time the Coen brothers come back with a new film, it’s always something to get excited about. Their long list of credits speaks for itself, and Inside Llewyn Davis is perhaps their greatest work yet.
Llewyn Davis may well be loosely based on the real-life Dave Van Ronk, and his memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street, but he feels entirely like a Coen brothers creation, and one of their finest at that.
In all of his flaws, he’s incredibly lovable. And although it’s one of their darkest works yet, it also leaves you feeling warm, in spite of itself.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, adapted by Joss Whedon / The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber / Iron Man 3 written by Shane Black and Drew Pearce
Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing needs little introduction. The film bowed at TIFF last year to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.
Working once more with many of his frequent collaborators, he has made my favourite adaptation of Shakespeare ever committed to film, and that is not an easy feat at all. So to have it happen certainly makes him worthy of this award.
The comedy is even greater on the screen than it is when reading Shakespeare’s text, and a very big part of that is down to Whedon’s adaptation.
Four years after making their writing debuts with (500) Days of Summer, Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter returned this year with their third feature, The Spectacular Now. Marking their first full adaptation – The Pink Panther 2 had original characters, but not a direct source material – the comedy-drama is incredibly well written. The characters of Sutter and Aimee superbly penned, and their relationship wonderfully shown developing towards a kind of co-dependency, which is something too rarely seen on the screen, despite its frequency in real life. It goes without saying, then, that I’m looking forward to their work adapting John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars for director Josh Boone.
Hovering somewhere between original and adapted – so much as been said of how the duo veered away from Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s Extremis arc – Drew Pearce and Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 script is easily one of my highlights of the year.
Setting the film at Christmas, kicking things off on New Year’s Eve (and with a return from Shaun Toub as Yinsen in a nod to the first Iron Man), seeing Rhodey suit up in the Iron Patriot suit, seeing Tony struggling to come to terms with himself, his suits, and life as he knows it in a post-The Avengers world – all these things and more earn the film and its script a place amongst my top three movies of the year.
Most amazing party of 2013 – The Great Beauty opening
The bouncing lavish and decadent Rome rooftop soirée in Paolo Sorrentino’s magnificent drama offered cinemagoers a glimpse at what is undoubtedly the greatest place on earth to celebrate. Taking up over ten minutes of screen time, I never wanted it to end.
Best title reveal – Maniac
None of the content in this vastly underrated and superior remake of the cult 1980 splatter fest was for the faint-hearted, but the title introduction offered a particularly gruesome and shocking jolt in a film which revelled in a brutality and unease.
Biggest disappointment of the year – The World’s End
Perhaps third time lucky was a big ask, but sadly the Wright/Pegg/Frost combo finally came a cropper for me with last in the self-mythologising Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. The film’s fantastical elements just didn’t mesh together in that same satisfying way the content in both previous films did, and the whole endeavour felt like a contrived, forced mess. Worst of all, rewatchability factor is a big fat zero, something Wright’s usual, lovingly-detailed work begs for.
Most emotional scene – The Stone Roses’ first rehearsal session in Made of Stone
As a fan it was a moment I thought would never happen, but the see the foursome, now in their early 50’s, coming together and enjoying the opportunity to revisit the songs which meant so much to me as a kid was surprisingly touching and awe-inspiring . Shane Meadows, I salute you.
Best debut – Jack Reynor in What Richard Did
This third feature from respected Dublin-born director Lenny Abrahamson (Adam & Paul, Garage) was one of the year’s best, but the naturalistic, very human performance from Reynor in the titular role was magnificent. Managing to remain on the side of the audience even when the less appealing aspects of his character surface, Reynor displays the kind of star quality which doesn’t come around too often. Next up for him is a co-starring in role in Michael Bay’s forth Transformers movie, which should hopefully see his stock rise considerably over the pond.