Friday, March 11, 2011

2010 Muriels Wrap-up!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to post links to the Muriels announcements this year. So instead, for the benefit of those who haven’t been keeping up, I’m going to include all the winners in one convenient wrap-up post, complete with links to the almost uniformly awesome write-ups penned by the voters. Here’s the list, with the winners listed alongside my personal ballot and a handful of my thoughts. And if you want to check out all of this year’s Muriel goodies, I encourage you to slide on over to the Muriels blog or check out the full results at the Muriels Web site.

Anyway, the list:

Best Film:
Muriel’s top 10:
1. The Social Network
2. True Grit
3 (tie). Dogtooth and Toy Story 3
5 (tie). The Ghost Writer and Winter’s Bone
7. Carlos
8. Exit Through the Gift Shop
9. Black Swan
10. Mother

My top 10:
1. Dogtooth
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
3. The Social Network
4. Winter’s Bone
5. Another Year
6. Inception
7. The Ghost Writer
8. Somewhere
9. Carlos
10. Everyone Else

Unless you’re the Skandies (or if you’re less awesome, the Oscars), the dominance of Social Network was pretty predictable. But as always, I’m impressed by the diversity of our choices here. Sure, there are a handful of Oscar-nominated films, but be fair- at least they’re good Oscar nominees instead of the requisite tepid middlebrow stuff. Seeing as how we’re junkies for all things Coen and Pixar, it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine True Grit and Toy Story 3 figuring prominently in this year’s Muriels. But who could have predicted that Dogtooth would go over this well with our crowd? Not only did Lanthimos’ masterpiece go toe to toe with three of this year’s most acclaimed wide releases- it also turned out to be the highest-placing foreign-produced film in the five-year history of the Muriels. Good job, folks.

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Muriel’s top 5: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Edgar Ramirez, Carlos; Tahar Rahim, A Prophet; James Franco, 127 Hours; Jeff Bridges, True Grit
My top 5: Ramirez, Eisenberg, Rahim, Franco, Louis-do de Lencequesaing, The Father of My Children

Can’t complain about this top 5- Muriel’s top 4 match mine, albeit in a slightly different order, and I’m a Bridges fan of long standing. That said, how awesome would it have been if Ramirez pulled out the upset? It ended up being a surprisingly tight race, as you’ll be able to see by checking the Muriels site.

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Muriel’s top 5: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Kim Hye-ja, Mother; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone; Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
My top 5: Sylvie Testud, Lourdes; Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Vincere; Lawrence; Ruth Sheen, Another Year; Birgit Minichmayr, Everyone Else

Good job Muriel buds realizing that True Grit is Mattie’s story, and therefore that Steinfeld is the daggum lead in the movie. Seeing Kim placing in the top 5, along with the diversity in the best picture and actor categories, makes me wonder if 2010 wasn’t the year of the foreign film… at least in Muriels land.

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Muriel’s top 5: John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone; Christian Bale, The Fighter; Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech; Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Matt Damon, True Grit
My top 5: Hawkes; Garfield; Niels Arestrup, A Prophet; Armie Hammer, The Social Network; Pierce Brosnan, The Ghost Writer

So… not a close race. But Hawkes is so great in Winter’s Bone that I don’t mind. But wait… only four other people voted for Armie Hammer? Seriously? That just doesn’t compute with me.

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Muriel’s top 5: Greta Gerwig, Greenberg; Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer; Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom; Aggeliki Papoulia, Dogtooth; Amy Adams, The Fighter
My top 5: Williams; Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone; Papoulia; Kathryn Hahn, How Do You Know; Elle Fanning, Somewhere

Gerwig wasn’t on my ballot- and frankly, I would’ve considered her a lead in Greenberg- but this is the kind of off-the-wall surprise I always hope for from the Muriels, not unlike Tilda Swinton and Antichrist taking home Best Actress and Cinematography, respectively, last year. Additionally, a second look at my ballot leads me to wonder if I didn’t underrate Hahn, whose warm and funny performance in How Do You Know grows in my memory along with the film itself.

Best Direction:
Muriel’s top 5: David Fincher, The Social Network; Olivier Assayas, Carlos; Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit; Yorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth; Bong Joon-ho, Mother
My top 5: Lanthimos; Fincher; Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop; Mike Leigh, Another Year; Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone

I would just like to give a nice shout-out to Sony Pictures Classics, who distributed Another Year like it was, oh I dunno, Take Me Home Tonight, dropping it in theatres just after Oscar nominations came out, and a scant two days before Muriels ballots were due. With a cannier release pattern, Leigh’s film could have gained some critical traction a la Winter’s Bone, as well as connecting with Leigh’s usual audiences in arthouses everywhere. It’s sad to see a film like this, that everyone seems to care about except for those in charge of distributing the damn thing.

Best Screenplay:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin); True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen); Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou); Inception (Christopher Nolan); Carlos (Olivier Assayas and Dan Franck)
My top 5: The Social Network; Dogtooth; Carlos; Inception; The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski and Robert Harris)

Again, can’t argue with this.

Best Cinematography:
Muriel’s top 5: True Grit (Roger Deakins); Shutter Island (Robert Richardson); The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth); Inception (Wally Pfister); Black Swan (Matthew Libatique)
My top 5: Let Me In (Greig Fraser); The Social Network; Valhalla Rising (Morten Søborg); Never Let Me Go (Adam Kimmel); Shutter Island

Even if the Academy doesn’t recognize Deakins, Muriel sure the hell does.

Best Editing:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network; Inception; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Shutter Island; Black Swan
My top 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Exit Through the Gift Shop; Inception; The Social Network; Dogtooth

New category this year, and these choices are all fairly solid in my opinion.

Best Music:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Inception; Tron: Legacy; True Grit
My top 5: Never Let Me Go; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; The Social Network; Tron: Legacy; Soul Kitchen

This is always a bit of a strange one, since for me it’s not about which movie has the best music so much as which one uses it most effectively. For my money, my top two choices are easily the best of 2010, although it says something that the Tron Legacy score is on regular rotation on my iPod.

Best Cinematic Moment:
Muriel’s top 10:
1. Staring into the inferno - Toy Story 3
2. “Burning for You” - Let Me In
3. Nina Sayers is… the Black Swan - Black Swan
4. Anniversary dance - Dogtooth
5. Zero-gravity fight - Inception
6. Opening breakup - The Social Network
7. Facemash - The Social Network
8. Ending - The Ghost Writer
9. Opening credits - Enter the Void
10. Blackie’s midnight ride - True Grit

My top 10:
1. Bedside proposal, takes 1 and 2 - How Do You Know
2. Henley Royal Regatta - The Social Network
3. Opening credits - Enter the Void
4. Sex Bob-omb vs. the Katayanagi Twins - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
5. Initiation killing - A Prophet
6. “Burning for You” - Let Me In
7. Cat with a hammer - Dogtooth
8. “Is this our time?” - Winter’s Bone
9. Tale of the Three Brothers - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
10. Carlos stops the party - Carlos

This is always a lot of fun, although it can be tough to narrow it down to ten. It’s such a competitive category that my favorite never seems to crack the top 10, and that was the case again this year. Was it that everyone skipped How Do You Know due to the disappointing reviews? As I’ve said before, I expect time will be very kind to Brooks’ film. Oh well- at least the centerpiece scene of Let Me In ended up at a strong #2.

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Muriel’s top 5: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone; Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop; Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass/Let Me In; Yorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth
My top 5: Lanthimos; Edgar Ramirez, Carlos; Banksy; Lawrence; Tahar Rahim, A Prophet

This category is always all over the map, and not always in a good way. But it’s hard to knock our choice of winner, who landed just outside my personal top 5. And hey, Lanthimos!

Best Body of Work:
Muriel’s top 5: Leonardo DiCaprio; Mark Ruffalo; Manoel de Oliveira; Chloe Grace Moretz; Andrew Garfield
My top 5: Garfield; DiCaprio; Oliveira; Ruffalo; Ewan McGregor

Looking at our winner, you’d think DiCaprio had strong showings for both of his 2010 performances in the Best Male Lead category, but no- five votes for Shutter Island, none at all for Inception. It was just one of those wonky categories, on in which a teenaged actress could find herself placing alongside a filmmaker roughly six times her age (seriously, the dude just keeps crankin’ ‘em out. I hope I can even make it to 102, much less be as productive as he is).

Best Ensemble Performance:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network; True Grit; The Kids Are All Right; Carlos; Another Year
My top 5: Dogtooth; The Social Network; Winter’s Bone; Another Year; How Do You Know

A handful of Muriel favorites show up here again, but this is the only appearance of Kids Are All Right in the top 5 in any category, unless you count Ruffalo’s silver medal in Body of Work. Makes sense- I didn’t love the movie as a whole, but the cast was pretty solid.

Best Web-Based Film Criticism:
Muriel’s top 5: The AV Club; The Man Who Viewed Too Much; Slant; MUBI; Roger Ebert
My top 5: The AV Club; The Man Who Viewed Too Much; MUBI; Vern; The Academic Hack

Hey look- I wrote this one up. Check it out!

10th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 2000:
Muriel’s top 5: In the Mood for Love (Wong); Memento (Nolan); Yi Yi (Yang); Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky); Dancer in the Dark (von Trier)
My top 5: La Commune [Paris, 1871] (Watkins); Songs From the Second Floor (Andersson); Code Unknown (Haneke); Yi Yi; Eureka (Aoyama)

25th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 1985:
Muriel’s top 5: Brazil (Gilliam); Ran (Kurosawa); After Hours (Scorsese); Back to the Future (Zemeckis); Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (Burton)
My top 5: Come and See (Klimov); Back to the Future; Brazil; Ran; After Hours

50th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 1960:
Muriel’s top 5 6: Psycho (Hitchcock); The Apartment (Wilder); Breathless (Godard); Peeping Tom (Powell); L’Avventura (Antonioni); La Dolce Vita (Fellini)
My top 5: Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol); Peeping Tom; The Apartment; L’Avventura; Psycho

Something I enjoy doing is predicting a year in advance what movies will take the anniversary awards the following year. This year was pretty easy, and I went three-for-three. Psycho was a particularly obvious choice, considering that he’s taken this category for the third straight year now. This makes next year that much trickier, since he didn’t release a movie in 1961. As such I’m predicting that David Lynch takes both 2001 and 1986, and that Yojimbo edges out Jules and Jim for 1961.

Special award: Best Film of the 1950s:
Muriel’s top 10:
1. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
2. Rear Window (Hitchcock)
3. The Searchers (Ford)
4. The 400 Blows (Truffaut)
5. Touch of Evil (Welles)
6. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
7. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder)
8. Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly/Donen)
9. Rashomon (Kurosawa)
10. Night of the Hunter (Laughton)

My top 10:
1. Orpheus (Cocteau)
2. The 400 Blows
3. The Seven Samurai
4. M. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati)
5. Vertigo
6. Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick)
7. Singin’ in the Rain
8. Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi)
9. Rio Bravo (Hawks)
10. Ordet (Dreyer)

After last year’s best-of-the-00s categories, Steve decided it would be a good idea to continue doing special awards on a year basis. I know several of the voters who complained how tough of a choice it was to narrow down this category to 10, so rich a filmgoing period was the 1950s. And yet… there’s Hitchcock again, in both the first and second spots. Then again, considering the dude pretty much owned the decade (with special mention for Messrs. Kurosawa, Wilder, and Ray), that’s not a bad thing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost: The Poll

I've been really swamped lately, which means that something had to give. Hence, no content for almost a month now. It's nothing personal, but with so few worthwhile movies out right now and so much else going on in my life, I just don't have the energy to write as much as I'd like to. At the end of a long day, I'd just as soon watch something. In the past, this would have been a movie, but in recent months Angela and I have gotten hooked on watching Lost, which we can stream through Netflix. As of now we're almost done with season 3, and while it's sort of bumpy going on occasion, it's also compulsively watchable. So for all you Lost fans out there, here's a poll I made for your enjoyment, which will hopefully stir up discussion until such time as I can rustle up new content.

Why only the survivors, you ask? Because at this point I can't begin to get a reading on many of the Others, not to mention the supporting characters who appear in flashbacks and such. Besides, considering how many characters have appeared on Lost, can you really blame me for keeping the number down?

So which of the characters listed below are your favorites? You can choose up to three. And yes, I've included Vincent for all you dog lovers out there.