Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Best Cinematic Breakthrough, 2008

Martin McDonagh [director/screenwriter- In Bruges] (68 points/11 votes)

Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges is a major announcement by a singular, boisterous new voice. McDonagh’s debut feature is packed with mischievous humor and splashes of brutal violence, yet it still manages to somehow mix together tender male bonding, existential contemplation and even a racist American midget. Who knows what madness is brewing inside McDonagh’s head, but I for one am more than pleased to see such a brazen, uncompromising imagination come from a new personality in the film world. Between the devilish thrills of In Bruges lies a touching examination of real, identifiable themes; McDonagh never reduces the material to lewd emptiness or violent excess. There’s a depth of real-life experience beneath the surface of the characters, a maturity to the story that elevates a lean dark comedy to something greater than one might initially expect. It’s impressive, memorable filmmaking by a talented artist breaking into an entirely new field of storytelling (McDonagh is a successful playwright), a debut that hopefully marks the beginning of a tremendous career in film. ~ Ari Dassa

2. James Franco [actor- Pineapple Express, Milk] (67/11)
3. Mickey Rourke [actor- The Wrestler] (49/8)
4. Sally Hawkins [actor- Happy-Go-Lucky] (47/7)
5. Anne Hathaway [actor- Rachel Getting Married] (41/7)


Lucas said...

how did only one other person vote for Dev Patel? From unknown to almost a household name. How is that not a breakthrough?

Andrew Dignan said...

This category would probably benefit from some form of clarification in the future because clearly I'm not interpreting this award in the same way as the people who think Mickey Rourke "broke through" in 2008.

Paul C. said...


Yeah, I'm aware of that. Like the best web site category, this is a tough one to get right. Maybe next year.


Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time voting for in any capacity for an actor who has maybe two facial expressions in his acting arsenal. He's basically a placeholder in Slumdog around which the action revolves. Like a Dickens hero, he's pretty much reactive, surrounded by more colorful stuff. He's nothing special, and despite the love the movie as a whole's gotten so far, I don't see much of a future from him as an actor.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Jeff McMahon said...

I agree with what Paul said re: Patel.

I enjoyed The Strangers, but I'd have more interest in Bertino's future if he had actually made a movie instead of a simple escalating set of scenes that abruptly halted.

That said, with all due respect, I have a lot more respect for him than Matt (blecch) Reeves.

Lucas said...

I'm not going to argue Patel's acting ability because, well, I pretty much agree with you.

He is, however, a big part of the movie and good enough to not fuck it all up (and never really seems to be in danger of doing so), and even if the film hadn't become this awards magnet, he would have been in pretty big demand, I suspect, for a couple of films until he either proved he could do more or that he couldn't.

He also held his own on the Daily Show, which most people can't.

If that isn't a breakthrough, I don't know what is.

Lucas said...

I'm also with Andrew. I put Rourke on top of my actor list, but never considered him here.

Andrew Bemis said...

I guess I just don't get In Bruges. Good write-up, though.

Mark Pfeiffer said...

To join the baffled chorus, I think of Breakthrough as first film/performance that attracts attention. Among others, Jonathan Demme, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr., and Anne Hathaway wouldn't even merit consideration.

But as the keeper of another critics group's votes/awards, I know that how some people define breakthrough is wildly different than my interpretation.

Evan Derrick said...

Well, at least one other person voted on The Fall with me. For shame Tarsem hasn't received the attention that he deserved for that film.

Bryan Whitefield said...

At this point I think I'm going to have to see "In Bruges" - which I'd totally written off based off the trailer and the fact that the only Colin Farrell movies I've enjoyed were the ones in which he spoke very little (New World, Miami Vice).