Posts Tagged 'christian bale'

The 2016 Biggie Awards (and My Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2015)

The 27th Annual Biggie Awards

for achievements in film for the year 2015

2015. Goddamn. “Weird” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In my view, this was the weakest year overall for movies since 2009, where I only “loved” 14 movies. In 2015, as of this writing, I added 17 films to my Love List. For perspective, since I’ve started tracking these things in 1997, this is only the third year where I didn’t love at least 20 movies. I didn’t love anything in 2015 until early May when Avengers: Age of Ultron opened, and even that was a disappointment compared to its predecessor.

This was not a year like 2000 (Gladiator), 2003 (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) or 2012 (Lincoln) where a single film dominated the year while also facing stiff competition (Gladiator fended off The Patriot, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon AND Traffic, ROTK is the most awarded film in Biggies history, but still had to face Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World AND The Last Samurai– which would have been the Best Picture winner in most other years, while Lincoln had to battle Zero Dark Thirty). The closest comp I can come up with is 2011, when Drive snuck in out of nowhere to take Best Picture in a wide open field. Drive would’ve been crushed had it come out the same year as There Will Be Blood or Titanic, but it happened to arrive in a mediocre year and was able to edge out the victory. Fast forward to now, and I don’t even know if there was a 2015 film as good as Drive. As a result, this is probably the most winnable year in Biggies history for “great but not masterful” movies, which is simultaneously really fun and disappointing by default. As I post this, I honestly haven’t decided what I think the best movie of 2015 was.

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The 2014 Biggie Awards (& The 25 Movies from 2013 That You Should’ve Seen)

The 25th Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

celebrating achievements in cinema for the year 2013

First off, this is me patting myself on the back for 25 years of recognizing excellence in film. It’s pretty cool to hit a milestone like that. I’ve been doing these awards since I was 17 years old, aka half of my life. I started in 1997 with awards for that year’s amazing roster of movies, but eventually I retroactively went back and did my awards from 1989 forward. Why 1989? Well, basically it was so I could recognize Glory (one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time) as my first Best Picture winner. What other reason do I need? I take this very seriously, and I’m proud of the legacy I’ve been able to build here, even if that legacy exists only in my own mind. Hopefully that pride shows in how much time and care I put into this post every year.

Gatsby - glass raise“Happy 25th anniversary, Old Sport.”
Thanks, Gatsby!

As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, for those interested, here are all of my previous Best Picture winners, with the Oscars’ Best Picture winner that year in parentheses for comparison:

Continue reading ‘The 2014 Biggie Awards (& The 25 Movies from 2013 That You Should’ve Seen)’

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5 “In Development” Projects I Need Right Now

Ever wonder what happened to that cool-sounding movie project you heard about a few years ago that still hasn’t been made? Ever wonder why a sequel that seemed like a sure thing seems to now be drifting aimlessly in limbo? Well, more than likely that project is stuck in what Hollywood calls “Development Hell”. Movies get stalled for an infinite number of reasons, but some are more common than others. For example, an actor may be holding out for a bigger paycheck, the studio may not give a greenlight until the filmmakers find a way to reduce the budget, or the director may have found another project he or she wants to do first. Sometimes, on a movie like Avatar (which James Cameron first concocted sometime in the 90’s), the filmmakers have to wait for technology to catch up with their vision. Other times, the strange can occur: did you know that Tom Cruise was originally going to star in Salt? When he dropped out and moved on, the main character was rewritten as a woman and presented to Angelina Jolie, who said yes.

BUT…the biggest thing holding up most in-development movies is the script. Either it isn’t done yet, or somebody isn’t satisfied with how the first draft ended up, so the studio has to commission a rewrite, perhaps with an entirely different writer (or writers). A lot of big name actors, producers and directors have script approval, so some movies can’t get made until the people at the top of the creative food chain are satisfied. And then, even when they are satisfied, the studio may then have hesitations. It’s a common conundrum in big budget filmmaking, causing some movies to be delayed months or years, even after the studio has publicly stated, “Yes, we’re making this.”

Continue reading ‘5 “In Development” Projects I Need Right Now’

Review & Perspective: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The Dark Knight Rises arrived in theaters as my most anticipated movie of 2012, and if I think about it, one of my most anticipated movies EVAR. As in, top 5 on my “keeps me up nights I’m so excited to see it” list, right up there with The Phantom Menace, The Matrix Reloaded, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers & Return of the King, Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and the first Transformers. That’s not an official list, but it gives you some historical comps. It’s been four long years since The Dark Knight rocked our socks with its awesomeness (it remains the best comic book movie ever made), and even though Christopher Nolan has continued to shit greatness in the interim (Inception), ever since 2008 I was always more excited about any and all news regarding his third Batflick. What’s the title gonna be? Who is the next villain to get the Nolan Treatment? The instant I walked out of that theater in July, 2008, I was wondering how soon Warner Bros. would announce a release date for the followup. And it didn’t happen. Forever. Even as The Dark Knight broke the almighty 3-day opening weekend box office record (which has since been topped twice by two 3D-enhanced juggernauts, Harry Potter 7-b and The Avengers), went on to gross more than $500 million domestically and just over a billion worldwide. Nowadays, when studios get results like that, they announce the release dates for the next 3 movies in a series. But it wasn’t until April 30, 2010 that they announced the release date (which I correctly predicted in 2008 would be in 2012), and the Dark Knight Rises title wasn’t announced until October 27, 2010. I remember being hugely underwhelmed by the title choice (Huh? You’re just gonna add one word to the title of the last movie? was my reaction at the time), but I trusted that it would all make sense once we saw the film. And even with all the trailers and ads prior to release, you don’t fully come to appreciate the title until literally the final shot of the movie, at which point it does in fact make perfect sense…as I thought it would. Continue reading ‘Review & Perspective: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES’

My Top 5 Concerns Going Into THE AVENGERS

The Avengers is now but 2 Fridays away, after 4 years of buildup through 5 other superhero movies. One of the most unique and challenging attempts in history at a cinematic merger is complete. That fact alone makes this a really big deal. Nothing like this has been attempted before in the hundred-plus years people have been making movies. I always had serious doubts this movie would even happen, let alone come together this smoothly. Now that it’s here, despite my excitement and trust in the talented people involved, I’m still a little hesitant to believe it will work. Or at least work the way I want it to (that’s a big caveat there).

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The 2010 Biggie Awards (And My Top 10 of 2010 List)

The 22nd Annual BGW Academy Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2010

Welcome to my annual celebration of the year that was at the movies. After a disappointing 2009, it was so much fun to get back to a solid year, and 2010 was just that. On a scale of 1-10, if 2009 was a 6.5-7, 2010 was definitely an 8. There was no runaway, “this is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen”, but there were a couple dozen very good films, and 5-7 excellent ones. It was solid from start to finish, kicking off with the underrated but damned good The Book of Eli in January, and finishing with movies like The King’s Speech and 127 Hours. I added 15 movies from 2010 to my all-time list of Movies I Love, and a few even cracked my all-time top 150.

I rehash this every year for those unaware, but the Biggies are my answer to the Oscars. I long ago grew tired of the Academy passing over movies and people I thought KNEW should be nominated. In 1997, I started doing my own nominees every year in the same categories as the Oscars (with the exception of Foreign Language films, documentaries and short films, which I don’t see enough of every year to do their own category), and I’ve since gone back and done nominees and winners all the way back to 1989, where Glory is my first Best Picture winner. ’97 was the first year in my so-called “Modern Era”, as in it was the first year where I started seeing every big contender in theaters (which was much easier then when I saw all my movies for free as an employee). My awards have evolved over time, and I now do two categories (Best Ensemble Performance, Best Stuntwork) that the Oscars don’t, but should. On the other hand, unlike the Academy, I did not add a Best Animated Feature category, as I’m simply not interested in seeing every CG kids movie that comes out every year. They’re called the Biggies because Biggie is my longtime nickname, and it seemed to instantly make sense, since every awards show has to end in an “ees” pronunciation (Grammys, Tonys, Emmys, you get it).

How do I remember everything, and how do I pick my nominees? Basically, I create a file every year called a “nomination ballot”, where I list every category. Every time I see a movie that year, I come home and list it under every category I think it deserves consideration in, so at the end of each year, I’ll have a bunch of options in each category from which I choose 5 final nominees. In some cases, they’re easy choices, in others it can take weeks before I settle on the top 5. I try to put my nominees out each year after the Oscars announce their nominees, but before the actual Oscar ceremony. I will announce my winners a day or two after the Oscars.

I’m proud of how my awards have evolved over the years. I take this very seriously and try to see every major awards contender every year before doing my own nominations. You’ll see a wide variety of films and styles represented, and I like to think that my opinion has some legitimacy amongst my friends who are also big movie buffs, or among anyone who knows a lot about movies. I also hope that casual moviegoers can learn a few things from my impassioned arguments for my nominees. I’ve been slowly building a history book that will show every nominee and winner for every year I’ve done this (as well as some cool stats), and I even have my own Motion Picture Hall of Fame. Again, I take this pretty seriously, but it’s also very damn fun and one of the things I most look forward to doing each January-February. As a movie nerd and aspiring filmmaker, I love having my own interpretation of cinematic history on record.

If you’d like to compare my nominees with the Oscars, you can find this year’s Oscar nominees HERE. I’m doing a cool little thing this year, where next to each category (in red percentages) I tell you how many of my nominees line up with the Oscars’. For the math disinclined, 20% means only 1 nominee in that category is the same as the Oscars, 40% for 2, 60% for 3, etc. I think you’ll find I don’t disagree in vast numbers with the Academy, but where we do disagree, I disagree violently.

Without further ado, here is one educated opinion on the very best the movies had to offer in 2010:

UPDATE: WINNERS are in bold. HERE are the Oscar winners for comparison. Any new notes I made after choosing the winners are in green. Also updated is the “Big Winners!” section.

BEST PICTURE (80% Oscar compliance)

1. Inception (producers Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan- Warner Bros.)

2. The King’s Speech (producers Iain Cumming, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin- Weinstein)

3. The Social Network (producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin- Sony)

4. The Town (producers Graham King, Basil Iwanyk- Warner Bros.)

5. True Grit (producers Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen- Paramount)






I didn’t expect this to be the case, but True Grit is our overall nominations leader, with a massive 14. That doesn’t mean it’s the best movie of the year, but often the film with the most nominations does end up with the top prize. It is one of the finest westerns ever made, and the best Hollywood has churned out since Clint Eastwood‘s Unforgiven in 1992. It may also have topped Fargo as my all-time favorite Coen Brothers movie. Let it be known that I don’t go into this with an agenda. If I did, Inception, my favorite movie of 2010, would lead the nominations. But that’s not the case. I call em like I see em. That said, Inception is doing just fine with 12 nominations (4 more than the dumb Oscars saw fit to give it), and it’s Christopher Nolan‘s 4th straight film to be nominated for Best Picture (after Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight).

I wasn’t sure I’d like King’s Speech as much as I did. It’s not a forced nomination just to coincide with what everyone else is doing. The film deserves to be here. It’s an excellent picture that isn’t boring for a second (as one might wrongly assume from a British costume drama), and it features some of the best visuals and 3 of the best individual performances of the year (though none of its acting nominees got where they are without the assistance of the others). The Social Network was a no-brainer, as it is perhaps the most socially relevant film to come out since the turn of the century. It also helps that the movie was brought to life in every aspect with near perfect execution. The Town edged out 127 Hours for the last spot for several reasons, but mainly because it’s so very hard to create a stirring drama or a good heist thriller, let alone combine the two in a way that hasn’t been done since Michael Mann‘s 1995 masterpiece, Heat. The fact that it was made in and around my beloved Boston is a factor, but only a minor one. This film earns its merits, and those include 6 nominations here today.

To put things in perspective, I have 4 movies this year with 10 or more nominations. In 2009, Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek led the way with 9 nominations each. True Grit‘s 14 nods ties it with the likes of Braveheart and Titanic, but falls short of the all-time Biggies record holder, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which garnered 17 nods in an epic 2003 (which saw it battle The Last Samurai and its 15 nominations).

This was a very tough decision, but I like that. In the end, I truly believe Inception was best, and it also helps that it’s exactly the kind of film I hope to be making. It was close, though. If this had been a horse race, Inception would have beaten True Grit by half a length, with Social Network just a head’s length behind True Grit. As much as I love a clear-cut, Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes-level winner (like Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, or Gladiator in years past), it’s always fun to agonize over the top choice when there is another movie (or in this year’s case, 2 movies) that are right there with it in consideration.

BEST DIRECTOR (60% Oscar compliance)
1. Ben Affleck, The Town

2. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

3. David Fincher, The Social Network

4. Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

5. Christopher Nolan, Inception






My directing nominees line up with the Best Picture nominees 9 times out of 10, and this year is no different. Film is a directors’ medium, and this year’s best directing jobs were done on the year’s 5 best films. Ben Affleck grabs a well-deserved first directing nomination on just his second feature film. I knew he could handle actors and get good performances, but I wasn’t prepared for how good he’d be at suspense and action scenes as well. And let’s face it, anytime you set your climactic showdown inside Fenway Park, you’re ahead of the game with me. Though no one predicted it, David Fincher ended up being the only director who could make the Facebook story this interesting. In a career of sublime directing work, this may take top marks, particularly with regards to degree of difficulty. Fincher is nominated for his 4th Best Director Biggie.

England produces some fine directors, and I was not surprised in the least at how good a job Tom Hooper did on The King’s Speech, not after the incredible work he did directing 7 episodes of HBO’s John Adams miniseries. Christopher Nolan, another Brit import, may be the hottest director in Hollywood right now, and he’s also quickly rising on the list of filmmakers who inspire me the most. Inception, a big canvas, big idea, smart, equal on action and drama, piece of mainstream entertainment (that’s also an original idea) is exactly the kind of movie I want to make. This is Nolan’s third directing nomination (after both Batmovies, including a win for Dark Knight), and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last. And big shocker! The Coens can do westerns, too.

It would take circumstances that I can’t even imagine for me to not have the Best Director winner line up with the Best Picture winner. There were no such circumstances this year, and Mr. Nolan takes home his second Best Director Biggie in 3 years.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY (80%)
1. Black Swan, written by Andres Heinz, Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin

2. The Fighter, written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson

3. Inception, written by Christopher Nolan

4. The Kids Are All Right, written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg

5. The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler

Though the King’s Speech script is a little neater and has stronger dialogue, Inception wins because of the magnitude and vision of its originality, along with the fact that it has strong dialogue as well. But those were the two scripts that were well ahead of the pack here. Congrats again to Chris Nolan for pulling off the trifecta, winning for writing, producing and directing. In Biggies history, he joins the likes of James CameronPeter JacksonMichael Mann, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Pretty elite company.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (60%)
1. 127 Hours, screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy

2. Shutter Island, screenplay by Laeta Kalogridi

3. The Social Network, screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

4. The Town, screenplay by Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard, Peter Craig

5. True Grit, screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

No surprise, all 5 Best Picture nominees have their scripts nominated as well, 2 in original, and 3 based on previous works. I think True Grit and Social Network are two of the best scripts I’ve ever seen put to film, so this is a tough, tough race.

Choosing between Social Network and True Grit was excruciating, but in the end I went with Aaron Sorkin primarily because the degree of difficulty was probably a little higher on that project. But that’s the kind of amazing script it took to beat Grit, which would have taken this category handily in almost any other year. Fine scripts, all.

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
1. Inception

2. The King’s Speech

3. The Social Network

4. The Town

5. True Grit

Interesting that this category also lines up perfectly with Best Picture this year. It may be the first time that’s happened. It’s no coincidence that I prefer movies with big, talented casts, and this year we were very lucky to get more than a few sterling ensemble films.

BEST ACTOR (80%)

1. Jeff Bridges, True Grit

2. Robert Duvall, Get Low

3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

4. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

5. James Franco, 127 Hours






Many of you will almost certainly see 4 of these performances, but I cannot recommend highly enough that you seek out Get Low and rediscover the genius of Robert Duvall. His was the first of these films that I saw this year, and I was fairly certain he’d be sticking around until the end and pick up a nomination. The film is available to buy now, and available on Netflix on the 22nd. Add it to your queue, and add it high. Jeff Bridges picks up his second consecutive nomination (after winning last year for his incredible performance in Crazy Heart), and his work in True Grit is simply sublime. I still haven’t seen the John Wayne version, but I can’t imagine there’s any comparison. Jesse Eisenberg has the least “showy” role in this group, but his workmanship and his subtlety are just as impressive as anyone screaming or crying in a more glamorous role. He’s incredible. Colin Firth is also nominated here for the second straight year, and if this year’s other awards races are any indication, he’s the frontrunner. We’ll see. If YOU haven’t seen him in The King’s Speech, you’re doing yourself a great disservice as a movie fan. And then there’s James Franco, the holy-shit one man show of 127 Hours. This seems to be his breakout year, but I saw this success coming as far back as his amazing performance in the TNT TV movie James Dean, where yes, he played James Dean. A really good movie. That was back in 2001. I love this guy. I can’t wait to see him co-host the Oscars, and I can’t wait to see what he does with his new clout. As you’ll see in the close calls section below, it pained me to leave 4 or 5 other performances off this list.

BEST ACTRESS (40%)
1. Anne Hathaway, Love & Other Drugs

2. Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

3. Natalie Portman, Black Swan

4. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

5. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine






This may have been the strongest year yet for contenders in this category. There were 3 or 4 that I hated to leave off, and a couple more big performances that I didn’t even get the chance to see. After finally seeing The Kids Are All Right, I’m still baffled why Annette Bening is getting all the awards attention, when Julianne Moore has the more versatile, far more interesting role between the two of them. She was astounding, and deserves the nod over Bening. As you can also see, I refuse to put Hailee Steinfeld in the Supporting Actress category like most of this year’s awards shows have. It’s absurd. She doesn’t support anyone. She’s the lead character, she grips your attention even against Jeff Bridges, and she easily has the most screen time of any actor in the film. Placing her in the supporting category here would be like saying Tom Hanks was a supporting actor in Cast Away. Anne Hathaway was the last one in here, and though Love & Other Drugs struggled to maintain tone, her performance was too good to ignore. She gets to do so much in this movie, and it’s just as brave a performance as it is good.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (60%)
1. Christian Bale, The Fighter

2. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

3. Jeremy Renner, The Town

4. Sam Rockwell, Conviction

5. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech






Christian Bale was almost in the same boat as Hailee Steinfeld. He doesn’t have quite as much screen time as Mark Wahlberg, but it’s damn close. He’s as close to a co-lead as you can be. However, you can make the argument in Bale’s case that he is supporting Wahlberg, so I kept him in this category. The same was almost true with Mr. Garfield, but it’s not quite as close. He’s just a supporting actor with a lot of screen time. The Oscars somehow muffed on nominating him, but it was never in doubt for me. Almost nobody saw Conviction, but it’s one of Sam Rockwell‘s finest performances, if not his very best. If you’re a fan of his, you owe it to yourself to watch him and the great Hilary Swank as brother and sister in this movie. And of course, Jeremy Renner‘s (nominated for Best Actor just last year) greatness in The Town needs no introduction.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (80%)
1. Amy Adams, The Fighter

2. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

3. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

4. Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass

5. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom






I’m always good for at least one wild card in the acting categories, and Chloe Moretz is it this year. She was simply perfect in Kick-Ass (Hit Girl was one of my favorite characters of the year), and who am I to ignore perfection? Getting a 12-year old girl to appear sweet and innocent is one thing, but getting that same girl to look like a credible badass against grown men? Well, that’s fucking impressive. I look forward to seeing Moretz and Hailee Steinfeld grow up onscreen before our eyes, and hopefully they both continue to seek out interesting roles. Moretz was also great in Let Me In, making 2010 a revelatory year for her. Jacki Weaver gets in based almost solely on one incredible scene in Animal Kingdom (which I won’t spoil, but you’ll know it if you’ve seen the movie), and she’s the most evil mother character I’ve seen at the movies in years. She also gets one of the year’s best one-liners in the aforementioned scene, “You’ve done some bad things, sweetie.”

My 4 individual acting winners lined up perfectly with the Oscars, which is an incredibly rare occurrence.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (60%)
1. Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network

2. Roger Deakins, True Grit

3. John Mathieson, Robin Hood

4. Wally Pfister, Inception

5. Robert Richardson, Shutter Island

Another exceptional year for cinematic visuals. It’s criminal that the Oscars ignored Robin Hood for its craft, but that tends to happen when the overall movie isn’t very good. Well, it deserves this nod, as John Mathieson continues to do amazing work on Ridley Scott‘s epics. We also have the exquisite modern hi-def precision of Social Network‘s digital photography and Roger Deakins‘ old school 35mm giving us some of the most beautiful imagery in the history of the western (or any other genre for that matter).

BEST FILM EDITING (60%)
1. Tariq Anwar, The King’s Speech

2. Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Social Network

3. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

4. Jon Harris, 127 Hours

5. Lee Smith, Inception

Prior to my seeing 127 Hours, I had this category perfectly lined up with Best Picture, but sadly, I had to bump Dylan Tichenor (The Town) off in favor of Jon Harris‘ visceral, complex work on Danny Boyle‘s film. It was a very tough choice, but I believe the right one. I don’t usually prefer super flashy editing, but when it’s appropriate (as it was in the past for nominated movies like Snatch and Hot Fuzz), it’s tough to match. Don’t feel too bad for Tichenor though, as he won just 3 years ago for There Will Be Blood.

BEST ART DIRECTION (60%)

1. The Book of Eli

2. Inception

3. The King’s Speech

4. Robin Hood

5. True Grit

The production design around that first castle siege scene alone was almost enough to win the prize for Ridley Scott’s epic, but of course the rest of the movie was designed just as skillfully. Either way, 5 great choices here. Just a reminder that the Academy gave this to Alice in Fucking Wonderland. ‘Nuff said.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (40%)

1. Jenny Beaven, The King’s Speech

2. Sandy Powell, Shutter Island

3. Michael Wilkinson, Tron: Legacy

4. Janty Yates, Robin Hood

5. Mary Zophres, True Grit

This was a close one between Robin Hood and True Grit, but I decided the sheer volume of beautiful, detail-oriented costumes in Robin Hood was enough to take home the prize. That said, everyone who saw Tron was a winner whenever Olivia Wilde was on screen in her absurdly hot little outfit. Did I say that out loud? Oops.

BEST MAKEUP (0% – LOLZ)
1. Alice in Wonderland

2. Black Swan

3. Clash of the Titans

4. Shutter Island

5. True Grit

This just shows how fair-minded I am. I despised Alice in Wonderland, but won’t deny the exceptional work done by its makeup team. Shit, the Oscars nominated Norbit in this category a few years ago. For whatever reason, the Oscars fuck this category up on an annual basis.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (60%)

(next to each nominee is a sample for ya of a track I think epitomizes the quality of the score)


1. Carter Burwell, True Grit

2. Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy

3. Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, Claudia Sarne, The Book of Eli

4. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

5. Hans Zimmer, Inception

This was easily one of the top 5 years for scores since I’ve been doing this. The nominees are an eclectic mix, and as you’ll see below, there were 3 or 4 others I’d have been perfectly happy nominating. Veteran music producer and newbie film composer Atticus Ross becomes the first double nominee in this category since John Williams in 2005 (Munich/Star Wars: Episode III). I loved the completely original, melodically ambient score to Book of Eli since the first time I saw it last January, and I had hoped it would still be in the top 5 come the end of year. Thankfully, it is. This is also the sixth consecutive year Hans Zimmer has been nominated (he last won for The Dark Knight in ’08), and he’s still finding new twists to put on his epic stylings. In this case, it was the brilliant, seamless integration of Johnny Marr‘s guitar work. I’ve been wanting certain ‘regular’ musicians (Trent Reznor included) to try their hand at scoring for years, and I am thrilled with the initial results. Obviously, my love of electronic music was also rewarded this year, with Daft Punk‘s brilliant electronic/orchestral mix on Tron. The best thing about that score is that the orchestral arrangements are often just as strong as the electronic components.

The most interesting thing about the Tron score, for me, was the fact that the movie did not deserve music that good. You very rarely see a great score done to a subpar or bad movie. I’m of the belief that if a composer isn’t looking at a great film, you can’t expect him or her to go off and be inspired to write great music. Somehow, that didn’t happen here. Tron was just okay, but Daft Punk gave it a score as if it were the Best Picture frontrunner. I don’t know who to credit for that, but it’s a rare accomplishment, and no matter who wins, I wanted to make that clear as just another reason to be amazed at Daft Punk’s work here. This was not the case with True Grit, and Carter Burwell, like his collaborators the Coens, continues to show he can do any genre at any scale. A beautiful, classically inspired western score that could just as easily have been composed in 1950.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were great, but when Hans Zimmer does some of the best work of his career, that’s gonna be enough to beat just about anyone doing any other project. This is Zimmer’s 4th Original Score win, and the man is clearly still in his prime.


BEST ORIGINAL SONG (40%)
1. “If I Rise”, written by A.R. Rahman, Dido, Rollo Armstrong

performed by Dido, 127 Hours

2. “Furry Walls”, written by Dan Bern, Mike Viola, Judd Apatow

performed by Infant Sorrow, Get Him to the Greek

3. “Sticks and Stones”, written & performed by Jónsi, How to Train Your Dragon

4. “Black Sheep”, written by James Shaw, Emily Haines

performed by Metric and Brie Larson, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

5. “We Belong Together”, written & performed by Randy Newman, Toy Story 3

Though all of these songs are good, this was yet another incredibly weak year for the category. Compare my list with the Oscar nominees, and I’m sure you’ll agree, mine are infinitely better and more creative choices. I knew as soon as I walked out of Get Him to the Greek that “Furry Walls” would probably be one of my nominees. How the Oscars overlooked the Jonsi song is beyond me, but they specialize in oversights like that.

“Stay close to me, come one, two and three.” I love that song, man.


BEST STUNTWORK (N/A)

1. The Expendables

2. Inception

3. Salt

4. The Town

5. Unstoppable

I like the variety of stuntwork represented here. We’ve got bank heists and shootouts, zero-G acrobatics, massive train collisions, and brutal physicality. I was glad to fit The Expendables in, because you have to respect Stallone as a director, in that almost all of those great fight scenes, explosions and gun battles were done without CGI assistance.

It certainly helped The Expendables that I just rewatched it last week before making this decision, but it sure as hell deserves this recognition. Brutal hand-to-hand combat, awesome shootouts, numerous massive (and real!) explosions, big movie stars doing their own stunts. THIS is what stuntwork is all about. Bravo to Stallone and his cast, and especially to stunt coordinator Kyle Stahelski and his team.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS (40%)
1. Clash of the Titans

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

3. Inception

4. Predators

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Here was my chance to recognize some fine work that was done for films that didn’t qualify elsewhere. Though Clash of the Titans was hugely disappointing overall, its effects were excellent, and a recent rewatching of the movie on HBO confirmed this. I ADORED the design of their Kraken, and its big reveal at the end of the movie is jaw dropping. It’s just a shame they completely wasted the creature in the movie. I did not like Deathly Hallows: Part I, but the effects were excellent as they always are on the Potter films. I was thrilled by what they were able to accomplish on Predators on such a small budget (credit to Robert Rodriguez‘s genius filmmaking frugality), and the myriad effects shots (from onscreen text to people flying and fighting to Jason Schwartzmann‘s 8-bit sword to the little visual in-gags) in Scott Pilgrim are the very definition of effects done to enhance and support the story, which is what all visual effects must be if they’re to be in any way impressive. This was a great year for good VFX.


BEST SOUND (80%)

1. Buried

2. Inception

3. The King’s Speech

4. The Social Network

5. True Grit

BEST SOUND EDITING (80%)

1. 127 Hours

2. Inception

3. Tron: Legacy

4. True Grit

5. Unstoppable

Once again to clarify for the ignorant, basically, the difference between Sound and Sound Editing is that Sound is for the overall sound design (the effective mixing of dialogue, music, action, how it’s combined at the right volumes, etc.) and Sound Editing is for excellence in the creation and placement of sound effects. It’s no coincidence that 4 of the Best Picture nominees are represented in the Sound category. It’s rare that a great movie doesn’t have amazing sound design. I’d have to check, but I’m willing to bet at least half of my Best Picture winners have won Best Sound.

2010-11 Biggies Motion Picture Hall of Fame Inductees:

RICK CARTER (Orson Welles Craftsmanship Wing)

MICHAEL DOUGLAS (James Stewart Actors Wing)

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER (John Cazale Actors Wing)

MARTIN SCORSESE (Alfred Hitchcock Directors Wing)

STEVEN ZAILLIAN (Epstein-Koch Writers Wing)

I induct no more than 5 people per year, and no more than 2 in one year to a single wing. Eligibility for the Hall is based on work that person has done since the Biggies have existed (i.e. from 1989 to present).

Annual Career Achievement/Honorary Awards:

THE MARLON BRANDO LEGENDARY PERFORMANCE AWARD

2011 Recipient: TIM CURRY, for his performance in Clue (1985)



The Brando Award is given to an actor who gave a classic, memorable performance in a film released prior to the Biggies’ existence. The Biggies go back to the films of 1989.

THE STUDIO OF THE YEAR

2010 Recipient: 20TH Century Fox/Fox Searchlight (The A-Team, Machete, Predators, Conviction, Unstoppable, Love & Other Drugs, Black Swan, 127 Hours) (This is Fox’s first Studio of the Year victory since 2002 and their second overall since I began handing out the award in 2000.)

BIG WINNERS!

Inception – 8 wins [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score, Visual Effects, Sound, Sound Editing]

The Fighter, Robin Hood, The Social Network and True Grit each won 2.

BIG NOMINEES!

True Grit
– 14 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Actor, Actress, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing]

Inception – 12 nominations [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Original Score, Stuntwork, Visual Effects, Sound, Sound Editing]

The King’s Speech
– 11 nominations [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound]

The Social Network
– 10 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Actor, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound]

The Town – 6 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance, Supporting Actor, Stuntwork]

127 Hours – 5 nominations [Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Film Editing, Original Song, Sound Editing]

The Fighter
– 4 nominations [Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress x2]

Shutter Island – 4 nominations [Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup]

Black Swan
– 3 nominations [Original Screenplay, Actress, Makeup]

Robin Hood – 3 nominations [Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design]

Tron: Legacy – 3 nominations [Costume Design, Original Score, Sound Editing]

People:

Joel & Ethan Coen – 4 nominations [Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing]

Ben Affleck – 3 nominations [Director, Adapted Screenplay, Ensemble Performance]

Christopher Nolan – 3 nominations [Picture, Director, Original Screenplay]

Atticus Ross – 2 nominations [Original Score x2]

Scott Rudin – 2 nominations [Picture x2]

Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, Hailee Steinfeld, Andrew Garfield, Jeremy Renner, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter are all double-nominated, each for their individual performances as well as being nominated with their casts for Best Ensemble


NUMBER OF DIFFERENT FILMS NOMINATED:
31
(compared to 28 in 2009 and the Oscars’ 31 different films as well in the same categories this year)

This Year’s Strongest Categories: Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing

This Year’s Weakest Categories: Original Song

Notable Omissions (films and people that narrowly missed the cut)

BEST PICTURE–  127 Hours

BEST DIRECTOR Danny Boyle (127 Hours)

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE–  The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right

BEST ACTOR Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Samuel L. Jackson (Unthinkable), Ryan Reynolds (Buried), DID NOT SEE:
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)

BEST ACTRESS–  Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Hilary Swank (Conviction), DID NOT SEE:
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Leslie Manville (Another Year)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR–  Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), Matt Damon (True Grit), Gary Oldman (The Book of Eli), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Martin Sheen (Unthinkable)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS–  Rose Byrne (Get Him to the Greek), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Sissy Spacek (Get Low)

CINEMATOGRAPHYDon Burgess (The Book of Eli), Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle (127 Hours), Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech), Robert Elswit (The Town), Matthew Libatique (Black Swan), Eduardo Serra (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I)

ORIGINAL SCORERamin Djawadi (Clash of the Titans), Harry Gregson-Williams and David Buckley (The Town), John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon), A.R. Rahman (127 Hours)

BIGGIE’S TOP 10 OF 2010

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HONORABLE MENTIONS: BLACK SWAN, BURIED, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, KICK-ASS, TOY STORY 3, SHUTTER ISLAND, UNTHINKABLE

(Note: My Top 10 is a list of my favorite movies of the year, not the 10 best. As always, there is a difference between favorite and best. If I could put a gun to your head and force you to watch 10 movies from 2010, these are the films I’d make you watch.)


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