Sunday, July 13, 2008

UMA 2007: Part I

BEST PICTURE


The Top Ten: 1. This is England, 2. Noise, 3. Ratatouille, 4. The Lives of Others, 5. Death Proof, 6. Hairspray, 7. INLAND EMPIRE, 8. No Country for Old Men, 9. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, 10. The Simpsons Movie


GOLD
This is England
SILVER
Noise
BRONZE
Ratatouille



BEST DIRECTOR


Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
No Country for Old Men
Exceptional control. There's no overt flashiness, there's not even a music score to cue the audience in, which makes their efforts all the more stunning.



Florian Henckell von Donnersmarck
The Lives of Others
For a debut, von Donnersmarck shows remarkable talent and immediate skill. The way he works his film makes me excited for his future projects.



Shane Meadows
This is England
Taking his own life story and planting into into this pitch-perfect retelling of a time and place, Meadows has made one of the finest British films ever.



Christian Mungiu
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days
Showing remarkable abilities, taking a bleak storyline, paring it down to it's bare essentials, yet not allowing the film to succumb to worn out foreign arthouse cliches.



Matthew Saville
Noise
Much like von Dommersmarck above, after witnessing Saville's first feature I am excited to see what he can do next because with Noise he has crafted a fantastic suburban Aussie thriller.


Honourable Mentions: David Lynch did his thing on INLAND EMPIRE, whatever it was, Brad Bird directed Ratatouille perfectly, animated be damned, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sarah Polley and Ben Affleck all did solid work on Zodiac, There Will Be Blood, Away from Her and Gone Baby Gone respectively. Andrea Arnold's Red Road was the scariest movie of the year, Ang Lee crafted Lust, Caution into a beautiful 1950s film while Julian Schnabel DIRECTED The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, that's for sure.

GOLD
Shane Meadows for This is England
SILVER
Matthew Saville for Noise
BRONZE
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men


BEST ACTOR


Casey Affleck
"Robert Ford" & "Patrick Kenzie"
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford & Gone Baby Gone
Two completely fascinating character studies by one of the best upcoming young actors in the biz.


Daniel Day-Lewis
"Daniel Plainview"
There Will Be Blood
Like a possessed madman, Day-Lewis knocked up another notch in his ever-expanding belt of classic portrayals. Elevates the film around him with captivating ease.


Romain Duris
"Paul"
Inside Paris
I'm a sucker for a cute sadsack, and Duris continues to be a favourite of mine. Put the two together and it was like falling in love all over again.


Ulrich Mühe
"Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler"
The Lives of Others
As the conflicted Stasi Agent, Mühe's performance in this German film acts as a fitting last hurrah for the late actor. A blaze of subtle intensity.


Sam Riley
"Ian Curtis"
Control
Does more than "become" Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, Riley appears to completely get what made Curtis such a tortured soul outside of the cliched.

Honourable Mentions: Brendan "Scowl" Cowell gave Noise gravitas, James McAvoy grounded Atonement with his fine performance, Thomas Turgoose was quite a find for the lead of This is England, while at the other end Gordon Pinsent gave fine renaissance in Away from Her. If Transformers had kept it's ADD-riddled attention on Shia LeBeouf he coulda been a legitimate contender for his film-lifting work. Josh Brolin was macho excellence in No Country for Old Men, while George Clooney and Johnny Depp gave solid oldschool turns in Michael Clayton and Sweeney Todd respectively. Matthew Newton broke through with The Bet and Samuel L Jackson briefly flirted with a return to quality in Black Snake Moan.

GOLD
Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James...
SILVER
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
BRONZE
Sam Riley in Control


BEST ACTRESS


Julie Christie
"Fiona Anderson"
Away from Her
A beautiful and restrained portrait of a woman slowly losing herself. The quietness is almost as captivating as her face.



Joan Chen
"Rose Hong"
The Home Song Stories
An electric and fiery performance. It's the best work she's ever done, and she had to come to Australia to give it.



Laura Dern
"Nikki Grace / Susan Blue"
INLAND EMPIRE
Going above-and-beyond the call of duty in David Lynch's nightmare. She reaches to places that few actresses dare to go, let alone actually go to. You can't take your eyes off her.


Nicole Kidman
"Margot"
Margot at the Wedding
Brutal in her delivery and wicked in her intent, Kidman continues to do her best work in maligned independent cinema with darkly unlikable characters. It's a true test of her skill.


Christina Ricci
"Rae"
Black Snake Moan
Gussying it up as a smalltown slut, Ricci shines in the comedic and, when it comes to it, the dramatic. The sort of performance not enough young actors would give.


Honourable Mentions: Yet again, the women came out swinging in 2007. Ellen Page wrapped her tongue around the dialogue of Juno with aplomb, Ashley Judd did her best work yet in Bug, Tang Wei's debut in Lust, Caution was intense and great, Kate Dickie did wonders for the slowburn Red Road. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days was made even better by Anamaria Marinca's dedicated turn, Molly Shannon gave her all for Year of the Dog, as did Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart. Sigourney Weaver and Amy Adams were hysterical in The TV Set respectively. Lorraine Stanley did her slag role in London to Brighton justice. Anna Sophia Robb did something special in Bridge to Terabithia and Carice van Houton was sublimely sexy in Blackbook. Keira Knightley flirted with supporting actress status in Atonement, which knocked her down some spots, while Nikki Blonsky was sprightly fun in Hairspray

GOLD
Laura Dern in INLAND EMPIRE
SILVER
Nicole Kidman in Margot at the Wedding
BRONZE
Joan Chen in The Home Song Stories



BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR


Javier Bardem
"Anton Chigurh"
No Country for Old Men
Justifiably has already become a classic character and a classic performance, Bardem just oozes CREEP out of every pore in this tingly performance.


Nick Frost
"Danny Butterman"
Hot Fuzz
For pure comic effect, Frost was my favourite part of this British action send-up. Routinely delivering his lines to laugh out loud effect.



Stephen Graham
"Combo"
This is England
Frightening. Graham's force of nature performance anchor's this film's second half, making it's descent into madness all the more devastating.


Joe Gilgun
"Woody"
This is England
Much like how Graham, above, is utterly believable as the Yang, Gilgun is spot on as the Ying, a likable ringleader, but not at the sake of the film. Now he needs to make more movies, pronto!


James Marsden
"Prince Edward" & "Corny Collin"
Enchanted and Hairspray
A twofer by Marsden, solidifying his claim for continued fame. Pitch perfect takes on two history-laden character types, Marsden is a cheery hoot in both.

Honourable Mentions: Alan Tudyk was a lot of fun in Death at a Funeral, Tommy Lee Jones and Michael Cera added pathos to their solid routines in No Country for Old Men and Juno respectively. Toby Kebbell was convincing in Control and Paul Schneider stole some thunder in The Assassination of Jesse James... And, yes, Christopher Mintz-Plasse did the geeky John Hughes sidekick schtick excellently.

GOLD
Stephen Graham in This is England
SILVER
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
BRONZE
Joe Gilgun in This is England



BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS


Saskia Burmeister
"Vanya"
The Jammed
Searing courage and vulnerability in equal measure, Burmeister delivers on the promise she's shown throughout her early career in this confronting Aussie flick.


Cate Blanchett
"Jude" [aka Bob Dylan]
I'm Not There
Sure, she has the singers' most interesting passage, but she not only lifts her segment to new heights with her portrayal, but the rest of the film too. You can't wait to see what she pulls out next.


Sidse Babett Knudsen
"Helene Hannson"
After the Wedding
Wonderfully portraying Helene's confusion and complexities. She rises above the film's melodramatic - at times - bend and gives a forceful conflicted performance.


Samantha Morton
"Deborah Curtis"
Control
One of the perpetual mysteries of the 07/08 Oscar season was how this performance didn't garner any buzz. It's got it all and Morton doesn't go overboard when she very easily could have.


Tilda Swinton
"Karen Crowder"
Michael Clayton
A tour de force of the miniscule. Those tiny body movements, the way she stares and shifts her eyes, the way she communicates so much without any words. Oscar got it right!


Honourable Mentions: Sheri Moon Zombie was willing to give Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween more than the film gave anybody watching it, Laura Linney gave the bitch turn a good going over in Breach, Georgia Groome and Saoirse Ronan were both shockingly good for her age in London to Brighton and Atonement respectively. Sarah Michelle Gellar was hilarious in Southland Tales, while Julie Kavner's vocal work grounded The Simpsons Movie. Regina King didn't do much, but was funny doing it in Year of the Dog, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton and Michelle Pfeiffer made fine villains in The Golden Compass, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hairspray and Stardust. Amy Ryan and Amy Madigan were bogan forces in Gone Baby Gone, Maia Thomas was impressively grounded in Noise. Judy Greer and Ruby Dee stole scenes in The TV Set and American Gangster respectively and I was a fan of Kristen Thomas' small work in Away from Her.

GOLD
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
SILVER
Samantha Morton in Control
BRONZE
Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There



BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY


Diablo Cody
Juno
Even if you don't care for it, you've got to admit that Cody's screenplay is an original. Filled with dialogue that has a life of it's own.




Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
The Lives of Others
Contorting a stylish and engaging thriller around a politically charged screenplay about freedom and the lengths people go to destroy it.



Matthew Saville
Noise
A true Australian original - filled with expressions like "frangers", "mouth breathers" and "munted") - this character study and thriller mixed together is perfectly crafted.



Brad Bird, Jim Capobianco & Jan Pinkava
Ratatouille
Wildly inventive and filled with - yes it's a cliche, but it's true - heart. Characters and situations that feel fresh, new and with a more mature glow.



Shane Meadows
This is England
Sublimely reflective and a recreation of 1980s Britain that is both nostalgic and terrifying. Startling in it's autobiographical nature and filled with moments that strike in their potency.


Honourable Mentions: Quentin Tarantino perhaps veered too much on the side of excess - costing him a spot - but I could listen to his dialogue all day long, really. The team behind the screenplay for The Simpsons Movie should be proud of themselves! Andrei Romanov's work on The Italian was a strong effort, Tony Gilroy put in a very solid effort with Michael Clayton while Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen were doing interesting things with After the Wedding. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg) and Knocked Up (Judd Apatow) had great comedy screenplays.

Interestingly, I thought The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman), Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach) and Year of the Dog (Mike White) all had issues, but I adored their deadpan nature.

GOLD
This is England
SILVER
Noise
BRONZE
Ratatouille
Random Fact: All of my five Best Picture nomineers are original, four are nominated in this category!



BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY


Christopher Hampton
Atonement
Based on the novel "Atonement"
Intricately playing with fact and fiction, distilling Ian McEwan's miles of internalised thoughts and feelings into cinematic language.


Sarah Polley
Away from Her
Based on the short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain"
With class and style, Polley transforms Alice Munroe's short story into an aching beauty.



Leslie Dixon
Hairpsray
Based on the book of the musical "Hairspray"
In actually adapting the Broadway musical (as well as John Waters' 1988 film) Dixon makes a surprisingly strong musical screenplay from Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan's book.


Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
No Country for Old Men
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy
Faithfully transporting McCarthy's story to the cinema screen with appropriate levels of Coen Gothic, the screenplay takes no prisoners and no concessions.


James Vanderbilt
Zodiac
Based on the books "Zodiac" and "Zodiac: Unmasked"
Robert Graysmith's, I imagine, lengthy and detail-filled books provide such compelling source material that it was hard to excise, but even then it's still fascinating and thorough.

Honourable Mentions: Dee McLachlan's painfully researched The Jammed was fine work indeed, James Schamus and Hui-Lung Wang give Lust, Caution's short story a classical reworking, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard reworked Dennis Lehane's original wonderfully, Paul Thomas Anderson's adaption of Oil! was apparently not faithful at all, but it was still well-written. Jeff Stockwell and David Paterson adapted Katherine Paterson's novel effectively and with class, Tracy Letts' own adaptation of her stageplay made the transition very well and Sean Ellis stretched his Oscar-nominated short Cashback nicely into a feature of the same name.

GOLD
No Country for Old Men
SILVER
Away From Her
BRONZE
Atonement



BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM



4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days [4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni si 2 Zile]
dir. Christian Mungui
Romania
Top Ten entry here



Blackbook [Zwartboek]
dir. Paul Verhoeven
The Netherlands / Germany
A sexy espionage thriller that is actually sexy and thrilling. Whod've thunk it? Verhoeven's bad habits sure do die hard...




The Lives of Others [Das Leben de Anderen]
dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Germany
Top Ten entry here




Lust, Caution [Se, Jie]
dir. Ang Lee
Taiwan / China / Hong Kong
A sexy espionage thriller that is actually sexy and thrilling. Whod've thunk it? Lee's bad habits sure do die hard...




Taxidermia
dir. György Pálfi
Hungary
Full review here



Honourable Mentions: Susanne Bier's After the Wedding (Efter Brylluppet, Denmark) was a great family drama, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, France) was a moving art project from Julian Schnabel, The Italian [Italianetz, Russia] was a fine movie for kids and adults alike, Paprika [Japan] was absurd anime from genre master Satoshi Kon, Ils [France] was terrifying horror from Moreau and Palud.

GOLD
The Lives of Others
SILVER
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days
BRONZE
Blackbook



BEST AUSTRALIAN FILM


Dr Plonk
dir. Rolf de Heer
Only mad genius de Heer would attempt to make a silent comedy using an original handcranked camera and actual black and white filmstock from the 1920s... and make it work.


The Jammed
dir. Dee McLachlan
A gritty and important social thriller about human trafficking and the people drawn into its web. A big accomplishment for all involved, and deserving of all the belated success they've gotten.




Noise
dir. Matthew Saville
Top Ten entry here




Rogue
dir. Greg McLean
A fun and occasionally frightening monster flick from the maker of Wolf Creek is far better than anything else the genre has given us lately, no matter what the country of origin.


September
dir. Peter Carstairs
Visual poetry that, sure, borrows heavily from Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, but still has a strong Australian identity. Utterly beautiful and yet another fine debut from a year full of them.

Honourable Mentions: I thought Razzle Dazzle: A Journey Into Dance was much funnier than many others seemed to, The Bet was a great-looking nifty little stock market drama, Clubland was surprisingly affective with it's Australian Gothic suburban nightmare.

GOLD
Noise
SILVER
September
BRONZE
The Jammed



BEST ANIMATED/MIXED MEDIA FILM


Paprika
dir. Satoshi Kon
Nearly justifying it's newly tagged rep as the Akira for this generation, genre master Satoshi Kon goes absolutely stark raving mad with this techno-thriller about dreams, nightmares, cops, robots and multiple personalities. It's a wild ride.




Ratatouille
dir. Brad Bird
Top Ten entry here






The Simpsons Movie
dir. David Silverman
Top Ten entry here



Honourable Mentions: None, although I enjoyed Beowulf 3D, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres and Tekkonkinkreet in various aspects, just not enough to nominate them.

GOLD
Ratatouille
SILVER
The Simpsons Movie
BRONZE
Paprika



...more awards to come...

3 comments:

J.D. said...

Unsurprisingly, the UMAs are totally rockin' so far.

OMG, you actually nominated Christina Ricci. I can't stop gasping, and trembling, and sweating, and writhing, and... I feel weird now.

You mentioned Bridge to Terabithia in Adapted Screenplay! Yay! That makes me smile. :)

Dame James Henry said...

I honestly feel like in 10 or 20 years people will look back on Casey Affleck's performance in The Assassination of Jesse James... and wonder what the hell we were doing when we didn't give it an Oscar (in either Best Actor or Supporting Actor, since it's blatant Oscar fraud). At first, you have no idea what the hell he is doing, but out of nowhere it just clicks and its absolutely mesmerizing to watch.

JS said...

Those pictures for the Adapted Screenplay category nominees look like a competition for Best Promotional Poster. Why couldn't Atonement's poster have looked like that?

Oh and Glenn, would you happen to know where I can find/get that "Thinking About You" song from The Home Song Stories?