|The "Justy", which is commonly known as the "Bored"|
Frankly, I’m tired of the usual lists. Best actor/actress—as if that could even be determined? Best cinematography? Who but a camera buff could even determine that? Look, I’m not qualified to give awards for the real lists. So I’m giving my own awards. So there. And some of them may be very specific to this year.
Best attempt to change the world
The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer wanted to change the basic point of view of the Indonesian massacre decades ago. He started by interviewing victims’ families, but he found that between fear and police crackdowns, he wasn’t getting far. So he started interviewing the killers, whom he found to be proud to tell of their participation in the killings. Then Joshua invited them to re-create their participation on film. They were happy to do so. In this manner, Joshua created one of the best films about mass killings not the Holocaust.
Cutie and the Boxer
Although The Act of Killing is powerful, it didn’t engage me near as much as the story about two artists and their difficult marriage: Cutie and the Boxer. It has a lot to do with gender politics in marriage, a personal story about immigration and how a person can be liberal in every way except their personal life.
Film that Most Failed Its Basic Premise
The East is supposed to provide a response to the Occupy movement, supposing what would happen if a radical form of that gave to CEOs what they were giving to the public—mildly poisoning them, etc. It begins in an interesting way, exposing the complexity of such a situation, and then it just falls flat into stereotype and a political message which denies that the Occupy movement ever happened (“Let’s get involved in politics” as if politics had never failed the public.) Pitiful.
Most Underrated “Comeback”
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
In opposition to The East, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a powerful, insightful story about the war on terrorism and what terrorism is about. It is also an examination of judgmentalism. Mira Nair directed, who is known for great films such as Salaam Bombay! and Monsoon Wedding. Yet this film was just ignored by almost everyone. Very few of the film buffs I know even bothered to see it, which is a terrible shame. Some might say it doesn’t deserve to be on this list because it was really a 2012 film, but so few people saw it that I bet no one calls me on it.
The World’s End
Edgar Wright is the smartest comedian around, especially when he is helped with his friends Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film at first isn’t even funny, but the layers are deep, providing both personal and social commentary. In the end, the real test of a comedy is: Did you laugh? And it thoroughly passes with flying colors.
Best Talking Film
Richard Linklater would win this category almost every year. He has a sense of how intellectual and personal dialogue can be dramatic on screen and gives us beautiful, interesting scenes for us to look at. This year, we have the return of his most compelling couples, Jesse and Celeste, and they are in their most dramatic situations. For those of us who love this couple it was hard, at times, to watch, but worth every minute.
Best Film that Should Win Best Picture at the Oscars
12 Years a Slave
I don’t know that 12 Years will win today, but it should. What are we going to tell the future about what we want from movies? That the best we could come up with is another spectacular whose special effects will eventually be bested in another decade or so? That we love to watch excessive greed gone wild? Or that we are the kinds of people who, at our best, are compassionate and concerned about social justice? The Academy has the opportunity to say something about our decade, tonight.
Best Performance No One Will Admit To Because It Was In a Teen Flick
Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Jennifer Lawrence is a gift to this generation. She is subtle and powerful. Almost every film she does is a lesson in acting. In Catching Fire, her role is almost too subtle to catch the conflict she was struggling with. But in case we missed it, we just need to keep watching to the end. The best screenshot in the year is the final close up of Lawrence’s face. We almost don’t need the next two movies—they are contained already in that ten second, speechless shot of her face. I was floored. So powerful.
It was funny enough. John Goodman and Billy Crystal were fine. But it’s as if Pixar took the book they re-wrote about how a studio makes films and they threw it away. No stakes, no energy, nothing compelling. Some good laughs, sure. But no Pixar magic, not a hint. Look, it’s not a game-breaker guys, but I thought you were better than this.
Best Category I’m Not Allowed to Vote On
Best Film about Excess
People letting their greed and lust for fame get away with them was a big theme this year: The Great Gatsby, Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring, The Wolf of Wall Street and perhaps The World’s End all are about people who just go too far. But I can’t vote in this category because I haven’t watched The Bling Ring and I won’t watch Wolf of Wall Street. Please, if you’ve watched these films, vote. Your voice deserves to be heard.
Ben Kingsley’s role in Iron Man 3
I’m not saying anything, just in case you haven’t seen this film. But it’s all worth the superhero stereotype just to watch Ben Kingsley. So much fun. Best. Bad. Guy. Ever.
Short Term 12
The most emotional experiences this year at the cinema have the number 12 in them. 12 Years a Slave made be shake with passion at the injustice. Short Term 12 stabbed me in the heart and made me weep openly. No one involved in any kind of social work, from a kindergarten teacher to a CEO of a nonprofit cannot help but be touched by this story, not so much of struggling kids, but of people who work with struggling kids. It was an amazing experience.
Best Film of 2013
A number of critics didn’t think much of this film. Everyone thinks the cinematography was amazing, and the presentation unique. Many critics felt that it was “just a bunch of images with nothing to hold them together.” So, let me get this straight. You didn’t like it because you didn’t get it and decided not to research the film at all to see if you, just maybe, missed something? Just maybe there’s an amazing science fiction story that tells us something about ourselves and our relationships that Her doesn’t touch? Yeah, the storytelling is amazing because it requires some experience in radical storytelling and some thought. This is the most innovative and one of the most insightful movies of the year. Hands down best.