The Fifties 2014: Supporting Actor, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay
SUPPORTING ACTORNICK'S PICKS:
Carlo Cecchi, Honey (Miele): Because even if the film hints what he might be up to, the actor keeps you guessing, not just about what but about why.
Patrick d'Assumçao, Stranger by the Lake: Because he doesn't pity his character and pulls focus from all those penises, deepening the movie.
Jeff Goldblum, Le Week-end: Because even if we've seen this acerbic maybe-asshole from Goldblum before, he's especially spry and funny here.
Tom Hiddleston, Unrelated: For keeping within a limited spectrum, never getting fully attached to Anna but leaning toward and away from her.
Jake Lacy, Obvious Child: For playing a more vanilla guy than the genre or the lead usually invite but convincing us he's a happy accident.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart, made for cable; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood, missed my cutoff
Runners Up: Àlex Brendemühl, The German Doctor; Ronen Rubinstein, It Felt Like Love; Johan Leysen, Young & Beautiful; James Corden, Begin Again
On the Radar: Sam Shepard, Cold in July; Don Johnson, Cold in July; Adam Levine, Begin Again
Patrick d'Assumçao, Stranger by the Lake: His function in the story, the sad ugly guy on the sidelines watching the pretty ones cavort, was always going to speak to me, but he really played it so smartly, wisely, with the right air of mystery.
Jeff Goldblum, Le Week-end: He is not always my cup of tea but he's an absolute riot playing off, around, and sometimes through the central warring couple.
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood: Another one I don't always love, but he knows exactly what the audience is already thinking about his character and both plays to and away from that with a lot of enthusiasm and, in the end, kindness.
Harvey Keitel, The Congress: He gets one big scene, really, and it doesn't even start out like it's going to be a big thing, at least not for him, but his particular affect gives it equal parts sincere emotional honesty and arch weirdness, quite fitting with the film.
Christophe Paou, Stranger by the Lake: For refusing to simply rest on that 'stache, though he easily might have. His is the least nuanced role, but he plays with the menace of his own beauty in ways that wholly serve the film.
Honorable Mention: Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart, made for cable
JOE: Part of me predicts that you thought less of Paou's bad-baddie-bad-bad routine than I did. I'm too busy stewing over the fact that there's an award-worthy Tom Hiddleston performance I haven't seen. Thumbs-up on the Jake Lacy love, too; that is not an easy task that he was given. I know you were high on Hawke in Boyhood. Is he usually as tough a sell for you as he is for me? I wish you'd seen The Congress, because I have a feeling you'd dissent on Keitel.
NICK: I currently have The Congress on deck in my Amazon Video Library, along with We Are the Best! and that movie The Face of Love where Annette Bening falls in love with Ed Harris twice, which is understandable. Will report back in due course. Keitel has seemed pretty scarce lately? Get thee to Unrelated if it's still playing NYC. I think you'll love Hiddleston and the movie. Hawke would probably walk away with this category if I were picking winners, and yes, at this point he's someone who has to overcome my accumulated reluctance about him. Not as much as his former wife does, but he's getting there.
ORIGINAL SCORENICK'S PICKS:
Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat): Because Desplat blends the kitschy and the menacing dimensions of the movie more coherently than the actors or cinematographer do.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat): Because the combination of antique and contemporary sounds, conjuring jubilant and sorrowful tones, is so perfect.
The Immigrant (Christopher Spelman): Because Spelman builds adeptly around the Trovatore and Funeral Canticle excerpts and draws out the story's operatic aspects.
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jozef van Wissem & Sqürl): Because I'd believe the witty, dolorous ambient music was the inspiration for the movie or an ideal response to it.
Under the Skin (Mica Levi): Because Mica Levi is an alien who drives around at night hunting weird-ass sounds but the weirdness has texture and feeling.
Runners Up: Belle (Rachel Portman); Snowpiercer (Marco Beltrami); Non-Stop (John Ottman)
On the Radar: Edge of Tomorrow (Christophe Beck); How to Train Your Dragon 2 (John Powell)
The Congress (Max Richter): Mournful and dramatic and legitimately haunting, even when the action onscreen was teasing optimism.
Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat): Somewhat standard but no less impressive blockbuster fare.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (John Powell): Every bit as thrilling and sweet as the original film. Every time those dragons hit the air, get ready to fly with them, on the wings of music (sorry).
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jozef van Wissem & Sqürl): As gorgeous and cool to listen to as the film is to watch. You can barely stand up when you're listening to it.
Snowpiercer (Marco Beltrami): I could probably be talked out of this one, as it borders on minor, but there's so much forward propulsion in Snowpiercer, visual and sonic. Beltrami does his part.
JOE: Gosh, do I sound like a fraud when discussing music. I should maybe give Grand Budapest another listen? Or another watch, honestly. I remain incredibly puzzled that I didn't connect to it given my usual Anderson love. I might be experiencing Buyer's Remorse on the Snowpiercer call.
NICK: Not my most comfortable area, either, and we share more than that: Grand Budapest Hotel is my 2014 release most in need of a re-watch (though I'm usually in the B/B- range on Anderson, so in that way this isn't news), and I thought Beltrami's contributions to Snowpiercer were really valuable, balancing excitement, portent, and hokeyness in a way that, for me, the rest of the film had trouble doing. My worry now is that the internet is going to boot you off for not being seduced by Under the Skin's abrasive-cum-insinuating tones.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAYNICK'S PICKS:
Edge of Tomorrow (Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth): Because give or take the wobbly dismount, this quest has so many layers and rattles off plot convolutions with elegance.
Honey (Miele) (Valeria Golino, Francesca Marciano, and Valia Santella): Because, though it could have been a short (man who's not sick tricks woman into euthanizing him), I appreciated the expansive scale.
Norte, the End of History (Lav Diaz & Rody Vera): Which is clearly Crime and Punishment but allows themes and plot-points to grow from place-specific observations.
Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre, Karen Maine, and Elisabeth Holm): Since even though "adapting" a short film into a feature still smells fishy, it links stand-alone bits and long arcs so well.
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer & Walter Campbell): Because I read the novel's first 50 pages and virtually nothing matches up, but its spirit is so creatively metamorphosed.
Honorable Mention: The Normal Heart (Larry Kramer), because even though he hasn't flexed his play all that much it remains an angry, essential piece
Runner Up: Enemy (Javier Gullón)
The Congress (Ari Folman): Walks right up to the edge of crypto-philosophical gibberish, but then has the good sense to calm the heck down and just guide its characters to where they need to be. Some sharp lines in there too.
Edge of Tomorrow (Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth): For being inventive without getting bogged down, for finding new ways through old scenes, and for some solid banter along the way.
Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre, Karen Maine, and Elisabeth Holm): Which, hey, I'm not above a little willful category blindness at this early stage of the year. The film is warm, smart, funny, all those good things you usually say. It's progressive without ever looking like it's trying to be, and it's Brooklyn without either stress or apology about it.
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer & Walter Campbell): For saying a lot with a little, for making Scarlett's words count, and for guiding her character to the exact right scenarios to push her further.
Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero): Despite some not-insignificant problems (that creaky alcoholism motif made the narration a burden in a way it rarely was on the TV show), the script retained boatloads of the sparkling dialogue that made me remember why I fell in love with the show to begin with.
Honorable Mention: The Normal Heart (Larry Kramer)
Runners Up: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver); How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois)
JOE: I had slim pickings to choose from here. I wanted to give Dawn of the Planet of the Apes credit for setting up the sympathies so well on both sides of the ape/man conflict, but the dearth of anything for the women to do was too big a demerit.
NICK: I'm fully behind my five picks, but I agree that the pool immediately gets shallower, even with Grand Budapest futzing around with that "Inspired by Stefan Zweig" thing so the studio can campaign however it wants to come Oscar time. I've seen cases where a short truly does change in significant ways on its way to being a feature, enough so to warrant the "Adaptation" tag (see: Pariah), so maybe Obvious Child is legit here. Norte is as to Dostoyevsky as Blue Jasmine was to Streetcar, and that felt Adapted to me, too. I've mentioned Honey twice in this entry. It was the actress Valeria Golino's debut as writer-director, and though it might not change anyone's life, it's smart, well-acted, and well-assembled, and I hope more people see it. You've done a lot of stumping for The Congress today, so let's call those two our big FYC plugs for this installment.
Previous in the 2014 Fifties: Film Editing and Visual Effects, Eligibility Lists