Friday, August 01, 2014

The Fifties 2014: Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Art Direction



Patricia Arquette, Boyhood: Because shouldering an entire alternate perspective isn't easy, and she sells her big moments.

Jillian Bell, 22 Jump Street: For going all Rebel Wilson on this shit, stealing the entire movie, and probably booking herself about six further gigs.

Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow: For handling the tricky balance of both subject and object at once. Parcels herself out incredibly smartly.

Gaby Hoffmann, Obvious Child: For continuing the Hoffmannassaince with a whole bunch of new colors and a quiet confidence of someone who can steal scenes without really trying to steal scenes.

Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer: For getting on a tricky wavelength and going for it, like she always does, and succeeding, like she pretty much always does. And some spillover goodwill for Only Lovers Left Alive, sure, yes.

Runners Up: Krysten Ritter, Veronica Mars; Mia Wasikowska, Only Lovers Left Alive; Melanie Lynskey, Happy Christmas; Kathy Bates, Tammy


Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow: Fills the character's Herculean profile while scaling her down to accessible size. Plays every beat for real.

Gaby Hoffmann, Obvious Child: No vague sidekick but no focus-puller. Nails important speeches. Also interesting quietly watching her friend.

Agata Kulesza, Ida: You feel the weight of grief she's carrying around and believe the many tactics she's employed to manage or suppress it.

Mary Roscoe, Unrelated: Manages to appear blind to her friend's condition while secretly studying her at every moment, keeping bitter score.

Yeo Yann Yann, Ilo Ilo: Could easily have been a harridan wife and mom, but finds a whole personality in her character's chronic crankiness.

Honorable Mentions: Melanie Lynskey, Happy Christmas (missed my cutoff); Zoe Graham, Boyhood (missed my cutoff)
Runners Up: Géraldine Pailhas, Young & Beautiful; Angeli Bayani, Ilo Ilo; Ilinca Goia, Child's Pose
On the Radar: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Charlotte Rampling, Young & Beautiful; Kathy Bates, Tammy

JOE: It looks to me like we're both enthusiastic about a deep roster in this category for the first half of the year. I know I am. At some point, every one of my runners-up was slotted in my top five (often at the expense of Tilda, which: think about that). I'm so happy to see us on the same page re: Blunt and Hoffmann, and rest assured that phrases like "chronic crankiness" and "keeping bitter score" will have me eager to see what your other nominees got up to. Talk to me about Kathy Bates in Tammy, the one element of that movie it seems we agree most on (we agree on a lot).

NICK: Bates is here for doing rescue work; she shows up when Tammy badly needs a reason for being, and Bates's real-talk scene provides one. Nobody else here is on a recovery mission, especially given how many of them make the movie more interesting throughout. Some, like Roscoe, Pailhas, and Goia bob in and out of the movie but not only ace their forefront scenes, they reveal how deceptively hard they've been working throughout. Some, like Blunt, Lynskey, Bayani, and Kulesza have so much screen time and are so brilliantly close to their movies' centers of gravity that they're arguably leads.



Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Michael Seresin): For anthropological curiosity about the ape community; for working wonders with out-of-focus background doings.

Godzilla (Seamus McGarvey): For honestly some of the most gorgeous images of the film year; those skydivers streaking red smoke could sustain me for another six months.

Locke (Haris Zambarloukos): For keeping things interesting with an unchanging set and some really limited lighting schemes.

Snowpiercer (Hong Kyung-pyo): For the lights-out scene and the school-car scene, if nothing else.

Under the Skin (Daniel Landin): For moody, chilly, inky Scotland looking like the most interesting biosphere imaginable.


Edge of Tomorrow (Dion Beebe): Beebe doesn't brag, yet the camera squeezes, darts, and circles all over, never seeming trapped by its restricted palette.

Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski & Lukasz Zal): It's not just the black and white. So many frames have unexpected bare space in the middle, evoking the hole in the heart of the movie.

The Immigrant (Darius Khondji): Works outward from expertly calibrated yellows, just gold enough to imply romance, just sallow enough to make the world sick.

Norte, the End of History (Lauro Rene Manda): With its modest equipment, spans dingy interiors and livid panoramas, alternating broad and narrow perspectives.

Under the Skin (Daniel Landin): Sustains Glazer's trademark of sleek and evocative visuals while incorporating rough, underlit footage to articulate ends.

Runners Up: Heli (Lorenzo Hagerman); Stranger by the Lake (Claire Mathon); Only Lovers Left Alive (Yorick Le Saux)
On the Radar: Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier); Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Michael Seresin); The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)

JOE: I'm fascinated by how far apart we are (or aren't) on this one, though I think Under the Skin is more than worthy of being our common ground. We've talked about how you think a lot of Godzilla is rather ugly beyond the painterly scenes I've singled out, but I'm eager to discuss your thoughts on the look of Locke so pleeease see it..

NICK: I think I got the kind of kitschy, throwback flatness Godzilla was going for in its lensing of the less effects-driven sequences, but yeah, I couldn't get too into it. But I agree that the peaks were high! I wonder what McGarvey shot and what got farmed out to other units. Ida and The Immigrant were the only finalists I never considered swapping out for something else. I wish I could squeeze in all three of my runners-up, and I hope "Peter Andrews" takes a lesson or two from Saulnier about d.p.'ing your own movie. I'll definitely seek Locke out on DVD, though it'll be hard not to think about the review I saw that was headlined "Dick in a Box."



Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier): For a revenge story stripped of (most) sensationalism and played with a "realism" that plays as human ineptitude rather than black-hold bleakness.

Boyhood (Richard Linklater): For doing that magic trick he always (often) does, where he gets to very specific and lived-in moments via a tesseract of broad archetypes and hipster philosophy.

Chef (Jon Favreau): For being incredibly charming and not the least bit "cool" even when dealing with a subject as hip as food trucks.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch): For a cool, wry, funny, literate take on the vampire genre via burned-out goth rockers and dying urban America.

Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie): For speaking truths about human desire without doing that annoying reward/punishment thing some storytellers do with sex.


Gloria (Sebastián Lelio): Puts middle-aged singleton front and center without overselling charms or belaboring her plight. Refuses to boil down to a solo act.

Ilo Ilo (Anthony Chen): Hard to classify as drama or comedy because its feeling for story and view of humanity modestly encompass so many angles and tones.

The Immigrant (James Gray & Ric Menello): Layers of character, logics of scenario emerged more on second viewing. Ambitious array of themes that pass as a simple tale.

The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh & Christophe Bataille): Distills painful era without seeming to simplify it. Complex perspectives, tactfully stated, without dulling the shock.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch): What's left to bring to the vampire trope in 2013? A fair question, yet the screenplay hums with fresh, witty beats.

Runner Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness), Le Week-end (Hanif Kureishi), Unrelated (Joanna Hogg), Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier)
On the Radar: Neighbors (Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O'Brien), Borgman (Alex van Warmerdam), Heli (Amat Escalante and Gabriel Reyes), Closed Curtain (Jafar Panahi & Kambuzia Partovi), Child's Pose (Răzvan Rădulescu and Călin Peter Netzer)

JOE: You've shamed me somewhat by name-checking Le Week-end in your runners up. I maybe should have given that a smidge more consideration. But I love my five, particularly the ones that surprised me the most (that'd be Blue Ruin and most especially Chef). Tell me: are the script or themes of Stranger By the Lake where we end up diverging somewhat on that film?

NICK: This isn't a space for shame! Especially when you pulled off "tesseract"! I think I like almost every element of Stranger about equally in terms of yielding an unusual, sexy-but-scary provocation.  I think it's all really clever, including the script, but I guess the detection sequences and the end feel a bit under-realized, and it's not a film that makes me think I'd learn a lot from rewatching. Whereas I do feel that way about all five of my choices, all of my many alternates (what a great field!), and what I hope I'll feel about Chef if I catch up with it.



The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen): For, even in a movie I didn't really like, still being a Wes Anderson film in design, which is still pretty damn good.

Hide Your Smiling Faces (Charlotte Royer): For lived-in homes with break-innable windows and hidden secrets and not enough room to keep everybody completely out of your hair.

The Immigrant (Happy Massee): For a modest-but-not-grimy look at the unwelcoming metropolis.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Marco Bittner Rosser): For those stacks and stacks of books, and all those guitars, and for that dark-wood bar, and those Algerian hideouts.

Snowpiercer (Ondrej Nekvasil): For each car of the train being a new playground.

Runners Up: Boyhood (Rodney Becker & Gay Studebaker)


The German Doctor (Marcelo Chaves): I often recall Mengele's teeming notebooks and macabre curios, all believably fascinating but also manifestly horrifying.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen): Even if you're tiring of Wes Anderson's dollhouses, the specific aesthetics of successive decades really dazzle.

The Immigrant (Happy Massee): Plenty of textured, resonant details we expect from period dramas, often pared down to the striking eloquence of a stage set.

The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh): Beyond ingenuity of the overall conceit, dioramas are abundant in specific details, making a risky experiment sublime.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Marco Bittner Rosser): Few sets to dress, but props all wittily chosen (those books!). Detroit recalls Tangier and utterly contrasts it.

Runners Up: Godzilla (Owen Paterson), Edge of Tomorrow (Oliver Scholl), Belle (Simon Bowles), The LEGO Movie (Grant Freckelton), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Yuchung Peter Chan, et al.)
On the Radar: Under the Skin (Chris Oddy), Noah (Mark Friedberg), Snowpiercer (Ondrej Nekvasil)

JOE: The German Doctor is a good call! And if I had any confidence in what exactly I'd be honoring in animated art direction, I'd be totally onboard with LEGO and Dragon 2. One day, I hope to see in The Immigrant what you see, but I'm glad we can agree on costumes/production design.

NICK: I'm not sure what I'm recognizing in the animated features, either, but the visual concepts and overall aesthetics really impressed me; I guess I'm thinking of character designs and things, too. LEGO went way up and down for me.  I think I'm recognizing some of the same glories of Godzilla as production design that you're singling out in Cinematography.  The scenes that look good look so good that it's hard to know whom to credit. Love the Smiling Faces mention here.

Previous in the 2014 Fifties: Supporting Actor, Ensemble Cast, Adapted Screenplay, Foreign Film, Film Editing, Sound Mixing & Editing, Original Score, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Eligibility Lists

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Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

wonderful again though the Kathy Bates notice perplexes me.

interesting to see emily blunt in supporting and i'm floored by what you both said about her. you're both so insanely smart.

co-sign nick's comments on the use of "tesseract"

8:16 PM, August 02, 2014  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I know you saw it too late for official inclusion in your consideration, Nick, but I'm so glad that Zoe Graham from Boyhood got a mention. I could have watched a whole film about her. Maybe not a three-hour one... but a good one nonetheless!

8:16 PM, August 03, 2014  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Narhaniel: Yeah, it's a borderline call, and I totally did the publicist thing of twigging which category had more room. But I also have to say, a second viewing of EoT reminded me that she's in less of the movie than I into initially remembered. Could go either way. Is this her Dark Knight Rises, and then she wins as the Baker's Wife? We'll see...

@Jonathan: Yes, I saw on your site that you're a fan, too! She's one of the few elements of Boyhood that would impress me just as much if I had no idea how the movie was made.

8:28 PM, August 03, 2014  
Blogger Glenn said...

Continuing to join in on the fun. I had THE MISSING PICTURE as a 2013 film so even though it was my number of the year (and would be for 2014, too) it's not here.

Patricia Arquette, BOYHOOD
Gillian Jones, THE ROVER
Melanie Lynskey, HAPPY CHRISTMAS
Agata Kulesza, IDA

Grand Piano
The Immigrant
Under the Skin

52 Tuesdays
Blue Ruin
Closed Curtain
Land Ho!
The Lego Movie

The Babadook
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Immigrant
Under the Skin

11:51 PM, August 04, 2014  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I haven't been keeping up with cinema as much as I used to, but I'm so elated nonetheless to see all these mentions for Ilo Ilo throughout the Fifties, pretty much where I'd expect them.

That aside, the only other Fifties contender I've seen (and wholeheartedly stand behind) is Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant. Yowza. She has a face made even for the silents, except such a compliment diminishes her amazing vocal work.

5:00 AM, August 07, 2014  

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