It’s my favourite time of the year – I’m a Christmas morning Scrooge today as HeyUGuys unveil their annual, alternative movie awards – The Truffles!
Rather than hold with tradition and throw out gold plated Chunks at the usual suspects of Best Actress or Best Film our lovely team of writers come up with their own awards with which to celebrate the year.
This year we have our biggest crop of awards ever, so many that we’ve had to cut them into two parts; Part 1 today, and Part 2 tomorrow.
Let us begin with a film which proves rather oddly popular with the HeyUGuys massive.
On Twitter: @Stefanpape29
The so bad it might be watched ironically in the future Award:
A New York Winter’s Tale
In an odd, somewhat perverse way, fans of cinema can revel in something that is so ineffably absurd and tremendously shit, that it can become quite entertaining.
Just take Run For Your Wife – the Danny Dyer classic which has recently been shown at cinemas, probably making more money than it did in the first place, just so fans can turn up and revel in the sheer dreadfulness of it all.
Well, this year the much coveted award goes to Akiva Goldsman’s A New York Winter’s Tale. Not sure if its the flying horse that’s technically a dog, or Will Smith playing Lucifer, but there’s something bizarrely mesmerising about this monstrosity of cinema.
Best performance by an actor wearing a fibreglass head:
Michael Fassbender (Frank)
Tough one to call this year, but Michael Fassbender does such a fine job acting wearing a fibreglass head in Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, that he just about triumphs over the plethora of close competitors.
Somehow, without quite knowing how, Fassbender was probably the best performer in this memorable feature, turning in such an intense, vulnerable and unhinged performance – despite the fact we don’t actually see his face. Top work. Can see a bright future for this kid.
The ‘they wanted an Oscar but have absolutely no chance’ award:
Though initially toying with Exodus: Gods and Kings – which is unlikely to be nominated for anything at all at the forthcoming Academy Awards, despite the fact Christian Bale grew a beard and mused into the distance on several occasions – Serena is the film that you just know everybody signed on to with an acceptance speech already formulating in their mind.
Hire a creative Oscar-winning filmmaker to take on directing duties – check. Set film in the past so everybody can dress up and pretend they’re from a different era – check. Cast Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in the lead roles, straight off the back of the multi-nominated American Hustle and Silver Lining’s Playbook – check. Make a terrible, tedious and innately dull film that will send you straight to sleep – hmm, check.
Best male grunting performance:
Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) and Gerard Depardieu (Welcome to New York) – Tie
2014 will forever be known as a great year for grunting in cinema. For that we have two men to thank; Timothy Spall and Gerard Depardieu, who grunted their way through Mr. Turner, and Welcome to New York, respectively. Spall’s grunting was somewhat more instinctive, like an inherent reaction to being told anything of note. For Depardieu it was more animalistic, more unrefined.
For these reasons it’s impossible to choose a worthy winner. Now we just look forward to the speeches. Grunt away, gentlemen.
The Special ‘let’s mutually agree this Wes Anderson film isn’t annoying’ award:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Every time there’s a new Wes Anderson film, what transpires is the inevitable divide of opinions. It seems that everybody is either a huge fan of the auteur’s work, or they can’t stand the whimsicality of it all, with rarely anybody standing somewhere in between.
However this year saw something quite remarkable; a mutual agreement of sorts. The Grand Budapest Hotel is whimsical, it is contrived in parts and it’s got Wes Anderson written all over it (not literally, that really would be self-indulgent), and yet even the most ardent of the director’s critics saw past that quirkiness to find a charming, unforgettable film that is both funny and heartwarming. Good work.
On Twitter: @popcornaddict
Most Pleasant Surprise:
There have been a few unexpected delights this year, or rather films that everyone expected to be awful but were in fact pretty good, if not genuinely amazing.
Early trailers for Paul King’s ultimately excellent Paddington, for example, didn’t exactly inspire much confidence, while the endless casting announcements during production on Bryan Singer’s equally enjoyable X-Men: Days of Future Past lead many to believe it would be at best overcrowded and at worst incomprehensible.
For me, however, the biggest surprise was John Carney’s Begin Again; tortured artists were dime a dozen this year, which made Keira Knightley’s happy-go-lucky singer-songwriter a welcome breath of fresh air.
Best Character Introduction:
Valka, How To Train Your Dragon 2
Sequels — particularly of animated movies — often struggle to incorporate new characters in a way that makes them feel important to the story or integral to the ensemble. For every Puss in Boots or Jessie the Cowgirl there are countless pointless sidekicks and superfluous love interests.
Just look at the Ice Age franchise, with Manny, Diego, Sid and Scrat apparently doomed to interact with a seemingly never-ending parade of forgettable faces. Queen Latifa’s been in every sequel to date but you’d be pushed to remember her character’s name, or recall her first scene.
Not so for Valka, as voiced by Cate Blanchett in the long-awaited How To Train Your Dragon 2. As her masked dragon-rider rises menacingly from the clouds below, immediately coming between Hiccup and Toothless, she makes a very memorable first impression indeed.
She’s immediately woven into the very fabric of the franchise.
Most Underrated Film:
The Amazing Spider-man 2
It’s been a very strong year for superhero movies, with Marvel earning a lot of praise with both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, and Bryan Singer making a triumphant return to the X-Men franchise with Days of Future Past.
For many, the exception was Sony’s The Amazing Spider-man 2, a film which was almost immediately dismissed as a critical and commercial disaster despite earning its fair share of favourable reviews and a not inconsiderable $709 million at the box office.
There’s a lot to admire in Marc Webb’s unfairly maligned super-sequel, not least an excellent ensemble, spectacular special effects and one of the most eclectic, experimental soundtracks of the year — courtesy of an inspired collaboration between Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr that comes to an incredible crescendo during the Times Square sequence.
Dance-off, Step Up: All In
There have been some astonishing action sequences in 2014, from that tracking tank-shot in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to Hiccup’s attack on the Alpha in How To Train Your Dragon 2 and The Great Flood in Noah, but as impressive as such displays of computerised wizardry are they are (arguably) nothing compared to a well-choreographed dance routine — and no, this isn’t a veiled reference to Guardians of the Galaxy.
Step Up: All In may not have been the best movie of the year — the acting is often amateurish and the writing workmanlike — but the physical performances are not to be underestimated.
The final dance-off is typically breathtaking, opening with an understated display of steampunked showmanship as Adam Sevani’s Moose takes to the stage alone before escalating to the point that you have performers emerging from sandpits, dancing with fire and skating on streets made out of bodies. It’s quite simply staggering.
Best Worst Film:
A New York Winter’s Tale
There is no denying that A New York Winter’s Tale is a terrible film. But what is up for debate is whether this amounts to a failure as entertainment. I know that anecdotal evidence is no evidence at all, but I would nevertheless like to testify that seeing Akiva Goldman’s latest in a near-empty screen at Cineworld Renfrew Street in Glasgow was the best cinema experience I’ve had all year, or at least up there with watching The LEGO Movie.
A New York Winter’s Tale is so nonsensical, so barnstormingly absurd that it is impossible to hate. In fact, there is much to love — whether guiltily, ironically or unashamedly — not least Russell Crowe’s laughable Irish accent, Colin Farrell’s ludicrous bowl-cut hair or the sublimely illogical plot. After all, any film that (spoiler alert) ends with a centuries-old thief flying into space on a magical horse with wings made of light is never likely to bore.
On Twitter: @paysannedeganwy
The ‘Roland Emmerich Award’ for Bad Science:
It was great to see Luc Besson back in action and Lucy did at least aspire to being something more than just a dumb shoot ‘em up. Good intentions, however were slightly undermined by the widely discredited theory that 100% brain activity will result in the human body transforming into a USB memory stick.
The ‘Psycho ’98 Award’ for The Stupidest Idea For A Film Which, On Account of Its Intriguing Casting, Started To Look Like It Might Be An Interesting Idea But Which Ultimately Proved To Be Just A Stupid Idea After All™:
Runner up: I, Frankenstein.
The ‘Cole Trickle Award’ for Most Idiotic Character Name:
Transformers: Age of Extinction’s Cade Yeager.
While 2014 failed to produce a moniker of such far-fetched implausibility as Pacific Rim’s ‘Stacker Pentecost,’ Transformers: Age of Extinction’s ‘Cade Yeager,’ came pretty close.
Michael Bay’s fourth toy movie also wins the ‘Peter Jackson AKA Editor, What Editor?’ Award for needlessly bloated running time (165 minutes!) which was more time than Stanley Kubrick required to depict a million years of human evolution.
The ‘Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles Award’ for Least Required Sequel:
The Expendables III
In an unmatched act of postmodern hubris, the plot of Paul Hogan’s third and completely unnecessary “Crocodile” Dundee movie revolved around a Hollywood production company laundering money by producing a series of repeatedly unsuccessful sequels that nobody wanted to see. It is hard to imagine anyone on earth who, having made it through the first Planes movie, thought to themselves, “Gosh, I sure hope they make another one of those soon.”
As soul-sappingly pointless as Planes: Fire & Rescue was, I am handing the award to Stallone’s third Expendables outing. The Joel Silver action movie version of a vast Los Angeles retirement home, this unstoppable franchise appears to be completely impervious to the fact that nobody bar its cast seems to want it to exist.
The ‘Risky Business / Big Bang Award’ for Superstar Creation Moment:
Guardians of The Galaxy and Chris Pratt
It is said that the moment Tom Cruise skidded into a living room doorway – shirt on, pants off – and threw serious shapes to Bob Seger’s ‘Old Time Rock n Roll’ in Risky Business, a superstar was born then and there. Such instantly iconic deification moments are rare, but we got one this year when Chris Pratt slipped on his 1980s headphones, did a little dance and got down tonight (where Cruise had his brass candlestick to mime into, Chris Pratt had a space chameleon).
By the time Peter Quill has outwitted and escaped from pursuing bounty hunters, many of us knew we had finally found something that we had been looking for in vain since 1983 – a new Han Solo. As well as being the most fun to be had in 2014, Guardians of The Galaxy is responsible for my third favourite line of the year: ‘I am not some starry-eyed waif here to succumb to your pelvic sorcery!’
The ‘Marshall McLuhan Award’ for The Most Intellectually Stimulating Deconstruction of Motion Picture Structure in Relation to 21st Century Franchises:
22 Jump Street
The art of breaking the fourth wall was taken to its zenith by directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (with The Lego Movie being their other movie this year, they are my nomination for heroes of 2014). What was so miraculous was the fact that even though the film reminded you that it was a blockbuster sequel every ten minutes, you still cared about the characters’ plights.
The funniest moment of the year is a toss-up between Jonah Hill’s slam-poetry scene, and every single thing Nick Offerman says. 22 Jump Street can also be congratulated for containing my second-favourite line of 2014: ‘I thought we had cate blanchette for the budget…’
The ‘M. Gustave Award’ for Favourite Line of The Year.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ralph Fiennes’s astonishing, moving and hilarious performance in Wes Anderson’s modern classic was built on the back of some of the most cherishable movie dialogue of the last decade.
The winner by a nose, and responsible for my loudest and most embarrassing auditorium guffaw was: ‘I’ve never seen her like that before; she was shaking like a shitting dog.’
The ‘Why I Love Cinema Award’ for The Best Cinema-set Experience of 2014:
Being taken to watch The Wind Rises by my eight year old daughter at The Little Theatre in Bath, which still has a ticket-dispensing booth and a concession stand selling choc-ices. She now wants to design aeroplanes.
Most Exceeded Expectations:
Interstellar / Edge of Tomorrow
I was expecting both these films to be good, but they each completely blew me away and went above and beyond what was necessary to captivate my attention.
Interstellar has easily been one of my favourite films of the year. I’ve said it before, but to quote Nolan’s own description of 2001, it is pure cinema. Absolutely brilliant and beautiful, an utterly bold blockbuster that was a real inspiration to watch.
Edge of Tomorrow, too, is one of my favourites of 2014. As a huge fan of Emily Blunt, in particular, I was expecting to fall in love with it, and the film delivered an even better experience than I imagined. A sci-fi blockbuster worthy of the genre, and a welcome new addition to the rarely-explored time loop sub-category. And getting to see Blunt take action titan Tom Cruise for a ride and having to show him the ropes was a real joy to see.
Best Sex-Death Scene:
This isn’t a category that comes up frequently, especially outside the world of horror, but if there’s anyone who knows how to shoot a sex-death scene and make it look amazing, it’s David Fincher.
Reading the book, I anticipated this being a scene only a director like Fincher could handle well, and boy, he really didn’t flinch in doing it justice. One of my favourite sequences of the whole year.
Best Breakthrough Performance (Actress):
Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)
Despite a noticeable snub in the recently-snubbed Golden Globes, Jenny Slate has been earning praise left, right, and centre for her hilarious leading performance in Gillian Robespierre’s comedy, Obvious Child.
With a wealth of experience in comedy throughout her career, both on the screen and doing stand-up, Slate is clearly going places. Obvious Child was a real breakthrough performance, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Fortunately, we won’t have too long to wait, as she stars as part of the ensemble in Joe Swanberg’s Sundance movie, Digging for Fire.
Best Breakthrough Performance (Actor):
Miles Teller (Whiplash)
Miles Teller has been on fire in the past few years, gaining much recognition for films like The Spectacular Now and Rabbit Hole. As such, he’s exactly typical Breakthrough Actor material, but his performance in Whiplash was so electrifying, I couldn’t help but give him the win here.
His delivery puts him on the radar of the Academy for the first time, which is just enough to warrant squeezing him in here. The film hits UK cinemas on January 16th, and is absolutely worth seeking out when it does. You won’t regret it.
Best Chemistry Award:
Daniel Radcliffe & Zoe Kazan (What If) / Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) / Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) / Lily Collins & Sam Claflin (Love, Rosie)
It’s not that often we get to see Zoe Kazan on the screen. She’s had a few really good years of late, rising to fame with Ruby Sparks, which she both wrote and starred in, and continued to win over audiences and critics with her performance opposite Daniel Radcliffe in What If this year.
The film, previously titled The F Word, saw the two share the screen as friends in a will-they-won’t-they scenario, and the chemistry they share is absolutely brilliant. You can cut the sexual tension with a knife. It’s perfect. A true gem of the year.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones’ chemistry, too, is simply beautiful. They work together impeccably well throughout, from budding romance to the hardships of their magic, and hearing director James Marsh tell of how they had to shoot the film out of sequence, it’s all the more impressive to imagine these two actors diving in and out of the different stages of their relationship on any given day.
Two years ago, I fell in love with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s chemistry in The Amazing Spider-Man, and I was no less in love with their return this year in the sequel.
There’s something about those two that just works on the screen. The characters are really well written, and they bring them to life wonderfully.
Similarly, I thought Juliette Towhidi’s adapted script for Love, Rosie was brilliant, and Lily Collins and Sam Claflin’s work on bringing these two characters to life is magical. They have all the youthful energy you’d expect in their younger years, as well as an ability to capture the slightly wearied feelings of their adult selves, and despite the ocean that separates them for a lot of the movie, the chemistry they share is flawless.
Best Post-Credits Scene:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I had a lot of fun with The Winter Soldier, and one of the things that got me most excited was watching the post-credits scene.
Written and directed by Joss Whedon himself, it brilliantly set up the new characters we’ve got to look forward next year in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I cannot wait to see how he brings them into the fold.
Best Use of Social Media:
Men, Women & Children / Chef
More and more, films are starting to incorporate social media in their narratives. Computers have been making appearances for years, but it’s taken a little longer for writers and directors to really get the hang of how sites like Facebook and Twitter can be used in a movie.
This is the first real year that I think they’ve hit it on the head, and Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children and Jon Favreau’s Chef both nailed it.
Most Fun I’ve Had in a Cinema:
Horrible Bosses 2 / The Voices / Kill Me Three Times
Three very different films, but all a wild ride. (Note: The ‘fun’ here is basically exclusively focused on comedy movies.)
Horrible Bosses 2 might be having a harder time to rise at the box office than some might have predicted, but it’s got nothing to do with the quality of the film itself. It’s genius, pure comedy from start to finish, and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing throughout.
I was lucky enough to catch The Voices at Sundance London back in the spring, and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival ever since. Ryan Reynolds’ work as a schizophrenic serial killer is amazing, a real must-see. I was hoping it would hit cinemas over Halloween this year, but it looks like 2015 will be the year for it instead.
Similarly, Kill Me Three Times gives us a slightly different side to Pegg, who plays a British gun-for-hire surrounded by a predominantly Australian ensemble cast. Much like Horrible Bosses 2, the film had me laughing all the way through, and I think this is going to do really well whenever it hits.
Best Comic Book Movie Apparently No One Liked Even Though it Made Over $700m. So Why is Everyone Saying No One Liked It? Award:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
What everyone’s problem was with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I’ll never know. I loved the film. You got more of the brilliant chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, more of Garfield’s entertaining take on the character that actually incorporates comedy, and more epic action and swinging between buildings.
I was going in hoping against hope that they might break from the source material, and was utterly devastated when you see Stone falling to her death.
The Imitation Game
I’m really rather hoping this one doesn’t pick up during the awards season, because I can’t think of a more unjustified win. I thought Keira Knightley’s performance was excellent, and Benedict Cumberbatch is great in the lead as well.
But I really didn’t take to the film’s treatment of Alan Turing’s homosexuality at all; I thought it swept over it and barely scraped the surface, despite being billed as doing quite the opposite. A good film, yes. A great film, no. And certainly not one I’d pick over most of the other major players this year, nor even many of the minor ones.
The Avengers Award: Best Ensemble:
Guardians of the Galaxy / Chef
This comes as no surprise. Pretty much everyone’s favourite summer blockbuster this year was, naturally, a Marvel movie. James Gunn put together a brilliant comic book movie, and the chemistry his cast shares is amazing.
They work together so well; they just click, and make it look easy. Like everyone, I’m looking forward to what Gunn’s got in store for us next.
Favreau’s Chef was also a highlight of the year for me.
I loved his return to his indie roots, and thought the cast he put together and their work together was exceptional. Really hoping that he’ll direct another indie after The Jungle Book next year.
The Notebook Award (Given to any film that has made me cry.):
Wish I Was Here / The Theory of Everything / Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter / The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Zach Braff’s sophomore effort was one I’d long been looking forward to from the day he announced it. I pledged my money on Kickstarter, watched as he delivered updates prior to and during production, and waited patiently for its arrival. When it came, I absolutely loved it. It was amazing, a really heartfelt film touching on the lives of this family that I really connected with.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones’ performances opposite one another in The Theory of Everything are spectacular.Not only is their chemistry brilliant, as mentioned already, but their performances are so strong that they are all but guaranteed to leave you in tears at least once during the film. Imagining yourself in either of their shoes facing some impossible hardships is not easy, in the least. Powerful stuff.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter might not be on your radar, but it really ought to be. I caught it at Sundance London and thought it was brilliant. Rinko Kikuchi’s lead performance is a stunner, and I can’t wait for more people to see it next year. She stars as a young Japanese worker who travels to America in search of the treasure she’s seen in Fargo, believing it to be a true story.Along with her adorable bunny, Bunzo, her spirit will have you rooting for her from day one.
As previously mentioned, the decision to stick with the source material and kill Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was utterly devastating for me. Part of me knew it was coming, but a bigger part of me, the one that was hoping against hope that they’d change it, couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.
Love Actually Award:
Best Romantic Comedy – Love, Rosie
I have so much love for this film. Last year, the romantic comedy genre for me was won by About Time. This year, it’s Love, Rosie.
Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are a delight to watch as their relationship changes over the years, and it’s a lot of fun to watch it all unfold. If you missed it in cinemas this year, be sure to pick it up on DVD/Blu-ray next year when it’s out in the spring.
The Cabin in the Woods Award:
Best Horror – The Green Inferno
Eli Roth has most definitely done it again, and it’s a huge shame that this one didn’t arrive in time for Halloween, as planned. I’m really hoping that it will get a theatrical release on both sides of the Atlantic in 2015, because his venture into cannibal horror is amazing.
Lorenza Izzo has reunited with Roth after starring together in Aftershock, and she’s remarkable in the lead here. Amazing work from all concerned, and I can’t wait to see Izzo and Roth reunite for Knock Knock next year.
Serenity Award for Best Directorial Debut:
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) / Justin Simien (Dear White People)
These two films are very different but equally amazing in their own rights, and Damien Chazelle and Justin Simien’s work behind the camera on each is a huge part of that.
Chazelle’s ability to draw such incredible performances out of both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons is every bit worthy of the praise he’s been getting, and I’d love to see him earn a Best Director nod at the Oscars when the nominations are announced next month.
Simien, too, proves himself on his first feature-length outing behind the camera. What could have easily gone the other way and been a disaster under a lesser director, and alongside his hilarious cast and everyone else involved, its brilliance is testament to his work at the helm.
The Royal Tenenbaums Award for Best Original Screenplay:
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) / Justin Simien (Dear White People) / Alejandro G. Iñarritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo (Birdman)
Chazelle and Simien’s scripts are both every bit as worthy of recognition as their talents as directors, with amazing dialogue, developed characters, and thought-out structuring.
Similarly, much credit must go to the work Alejandro G. Iñarritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo did on Birdman, because it’s an amazing film, and it all starts with their amazing work penning the script. All three are must-sees, and I’d love to see them gain the recognition they so well deserve during awards season.
Iron Man Award for Best Franchise-Starter:
The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner was a big winner for me this year. I hadn’t read any of the original books, but had previously fallen in love with Kaya Scodelario’s work in The Truth About Emanuel, and was looking forward to seeing her play the only young female here in a Lord of the Flies-like tale.
Dylan O’Brien was great in the lead, and Wes Ball’s camera work was so well done, keeping the dynamic thrilling and razor-sharp, fuelled by adrenaline throughout. Given how the film comes to an end, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Much Ado About Nothing Award for Best Adapted Screenplay:
Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) / Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Anthony McCarten’s work on The Theory of Everything really impressed me. He managed to write these thoroughly British characters without ever making them feel wooden, as so many British characters are in cinema. Of course, it helps that both he and director James Marsh are British, along with Jane and Stephen Hawking, themselves, but still.
The story of the two Hawkings’ lives was ripe for the telling, and McCarten’s take on it is spectacular. He incorporates enough science to be utterly inspirational, just as much as Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan’s work on Interstellar, with a fraction of the budget.
Gillian Flynn’s work adapting her own novel, too, is worthy of recognition. Given the diary structure of her novel, I was really curious to see how it would play out on screen, and was delighted to see it translate so well, keeping elements of the source material without overdoing the diary pieces. And, as previously mentioned, that sex-death scene was something else. A stroke of genius. (I’m really not a killer or a violent person, I promise. I just thought that scene was brilliant.)
Best Left Turn Award:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
After delivering a heightened version of the Games last time in Catching Fire with the special Quarter Quell, things took a completely different turn in Mockingjay – Part 1, which I thought was excellent.
In an industry where sequels cry out for more and more action, on a bigger and bigger scale, Francis Lawrence and co-writers Danny Strong and Peter Craig were willing to stick to the source material and pare down a little on the action.
We get to see more of the characters surrounding Katniss, with Liam Hemsworth’s Gale finally coming to the fore this time. And I just thought its willingness to come out and really present something different to the action-packed blockbusters that had come before it was a bold and brave move.
A welcome left turn from where the franchise had been before.