Now, it is time to get to the third, final, and most exciting installment of the Film Misery Awards! In Part 1 we announced our favorite technical achievements in cinema this year, and in Part 2 we honored our favorite films in the realm of animation, nonfiction and more. These awards are the big kahunas; our favorite achievements in acting, writing, directing and – at the very end – our pick for the Best Picture of the year (though admittedly it’s a bit of an anticlimax; we announced our joint “Best Film” a few days ago).
But enough preamble. Let’s hammer out the last of the 2012 Film Misery Awards…
Best Original Screenplay
Let’s not mince words…Anderson pretty much secured this top writing prize for that “processing” scene alone. While it’s easy to credit The Master‘s power to its visuals, its elliptical editing and its performances, it would be a mistake not to recognize the work that clearly went in to transforming what could have been an indulgent Scientology hatchet-job into a more thoughtful, surprisingly ruminative story about faith and identity, about conviction and impulse. A character as unwieldy and id-driven, yet as identifiable as Freddie Quell does not exactly write himself. Anderson deserves to be recognized for more than his directing.
1 – Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master – WINNER!!!!
2 – Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
3 – Reid Carolin, Magic Mike
4 – Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
5 -Michael Haneke, Amour
Best Adapted Screenplay
To steal a few words from G Clark: “Tony Kushner’s words [in Lincoln] are not naturalistic. This is not a failing on his part, and anyone familiar with his theatrical works will know to expect his characters to represent ideas and themes more than people.” This focus on ideas and themes is precisely how the Angels in America scribe elevates Lincoln from some trite, Oscar-baiting biopic into a work committed to exploring the ever-waging war between principle and politics. And that’s not even to speak of Kushner’s most significant achievement: that broiling under all the talk of policy and patriotism is a sly, perhaps jaded, undercurrent of cynicism toward our democratic process. Don’t let the “happy ending” fool you; Kushner’s words turn Lincoln into a far more bittersweet experience than you might initially think. And bully for that.
1 – Tony Kushner, Lincoln – WINNER!!!!
2 – Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain and Craig Davidson, Rust and Bone and Terence Davies, The Deep Blue Sea (TIE)
4 – David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
5 – Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill, 21 Jump Street
Best Supporting Actor
To be completely honest with you, it is official policy at Film Misery to shower accolades upon any performance that manages to bellow the phrase “pig-fuck!” But even if Hoffman’s line readings hadn’t been so blessed, it’s likely he would have made it to the top of our list of supporting performers anyway. As the eponymous “Master” of the Cause, Lancaster Dodd is a benevolent, yet menacing and imposing presence (so imposing, that some of our staffers initially argued his was the year’s best leading performance). And through Hoffman’s committed portrayal, he transitions from affection to outburst effortlessly and seamlessly. And at the same time he evokes a strange, unspoken homosocial (or is it homoerotic?) affection for Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie character. Such evocation adds a quizzical element of tragedy to the man who might one day grow up to be the next L. Ron Hubbard.
1 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master – WINNER!!!!
2 – Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
3 – Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild
4 – Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
5 – Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
Best Supporting Actress
This category is not without its share of performers who became scene-stealers in their movies by means of scenery-chewing. But Adams, an all-American sweetheart whose waify roles in recent crowd-pleasers like The Muppets and Trouble with the Curve might have you mistake her for an acting lightweight, leaves an impression in her few scenes that truly makes you wonder to which character “The Cause” really belongs. Staunchly partisan in her defense of Dr. Dodd’s teachings, yet far more cool-headed and ostensibly soft-spoken than her husband, a phantom menace glowers behind Adams’ fierce, blackening eyes. In this supporting category, she was the clear favorite among the Film Misery staff. No contest.
1 – Amy Adams, The Master – WINNER!!!!
2 – Sally Field, Lincoln
3 – Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables and Cécile de France, The Kid With a Bike (TIE)
5 – Elena Lyadova, Elena
WINNER: Rachel Weisz – The Deep Blue Sea
Emmanuelle Riva might have won this category, had her heartbreaking work in Amour been available for all our staffers to see when voting began. But we almost all saw what Weisz did in Terence Davies’ heart-wrenching film The Deep Blue Sea, and that is how she swept up this top acting prize. It’s debatable that Weisz has ever given a stronger performance than the one she gives here as Hester, a woman who attempts to kill herself when, having forsaken all in her life that has given her security, she finds that following her impulses has ultimately left her heart wanting. That Weisz manages to understand a flawed, nuanced woman like Hester with boundless empathy – and without pat psychoanalysis – demonstrates just how invaluable and how enviable her skills are as an actor. The Academy forgot about her, so I’m glad we didn’t.
1 – Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea – WINNER!!!!
2 – Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz
3 – Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
4 – Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
5 – Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
I think it’s safe to say that this was by far the closest race the staff voted on this year, as it was a practical dead-heat between Day-Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix for The Master. And while Phoenix gives us the year’s most idiosyncratic, daring and immersive character study in his performance as Freddie Quell, Day-Lewis’s POTUS with the Mostus narrowly edged him out (and by “narrowly,” I mean literally by a single point). But if anybody were to beat Phoenix here, it had to be DDL; he transports himself into the character of Lincoln with a looming yet slightly awkward physicality, and a reedy voice that slinks from meekness to bombast with thrilling intensity. If Day-Lewis wins his third Best Actor Oscar for this, he’d be the first in history to do so. I can’t imagine a more worthy candidate for such a milestone.
1 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln – WINNER!!!!
2 – Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
3 – Denis Levant, Holy Motors
4 – Jack Black, Bernie
5 – Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
When I first beheld Lancaster Dodd as he was singing that mirthful sea-shanty in a sea of fully nude women, my mind momentarily made a connection to the ceaseless, naked haven-dances of Judge Holden at the end of Blood Meridian. The power the Judge conducts is palpable; it’s a personification of chaos incarnate, courtesy of Cormac McCarthy’s deceptively unkempt prose. And that got me thinking: just as the language of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘s words create a kind of verbal poetry only the novel could produce, the storytelling language employed by Anderson in The Master is incontrovertibly unique to cinema. No other medium could have told this story, and few directors could have told it like Anderson. Years from now, his ambition will be uttered in the same breath as that of Hitchcock or Coppola, and this most recent work of his could very well go down as his Vertigo or Conversation.
1 – Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master – WINNER!!!!
2 – Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
3 – Belà Tarr, The Turin Horse
4 – Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
5 – Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
This year’s “Film Misery Awards” might as well have been called the “Master Awards,” seeing how thoroughly it dominated the whole voting process for the Film Misery staff. But it shouldn’t really be all that much of a surprise to those who followed our 2012 IN REVIEW coverage over the past two weeks. The film made the top ten list of five of our six participating staffers, and came in at the top spot for three of them. In truth, though, it really couldn’t have gone to a more deserving film – even though it has been a pretty decent year for movies. The Master is the kind of singular filmmaking achievement we’ve come to expect from Paul Thomas Anderson. And if you’re irritated that the movie basically pulled a Titanic-like coup on our awards, I would point you to Alex’s succinct and most accurate assessment: “[The Master] really is a movie that does everything.” So one could argue that to honor The Master so exclusively is really to honor the fact that it is 2012’s one-stop shop for everything we look for when we go to the movies. How could we resist?
1 – The Master – WINNER!!!!
2 – Lincoln
3 – Django Unchained
4 – Amour & The Turin Horse (TIE)
6 – Argo
7 – Beasts of the Southern Wild & Moonrise Kingdom (TIE)
9 – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
10 – The Dark Knight Rises
Do you agree or disagree with these picks? What are your picks for the best films and individual achievements in film from this past year?
- The Master – 8 Wins
- Lincoln – 4 Wins
- Moonrise Kingdom – 2 Wins
- Argo – 1 Win
- The Dark Knight Rises – 1 Win
- The Deep Blue Sea – 1 Win
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi – 1 Win
- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – 1 Win
- ParaNorman – 1 Win
- Prometheus – 1 Win
- Skyfall – 1 Win
- The Master – 12 Nominations
- Moonrise Kingdom – 7 Nominations
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – 6 Nominations
- Django Unchained – 6 Nominations
- Lincoln – 6 Nominations
- Amour – 5 Nominations
- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – 5 Nominations
- The Turin Horse – 5 Nominations
- Zero Dark Thirty – 4 Nominations
- Argo – 3 Nominations
- The Dark Knight Rises – 3 Nominations
- Holy Motors – 3 Nominations
- Magic Mike – 3 Nominations
- Silver Linings Playbook – 3 Nominations
- Skyfall – 3 Nominations
- Chronicle – 2 Nominations
- The Deep Blue Sea – 2 Nominations
- Looper – 2 Nominations
- Rust and Bone – 2 Nominations
- 21 Jump Street – 1 Nomination
- Anna Karenina – 1 Nomination
- The Avengers – 1 Nomination
- Bernie – 1 Nomination
- Brave – 1 Nomination
- Damsels in Distress – 1 Nomination
- Elena – 1 Nomination
- The Grey – 1 Nomination
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 1 Nomination
- How to Survive a Plague – 1 Nomination
- The Imposter – 1 Nomination
- The Impossible – 1 Nomination
- The Invisible War – 1 Nomination
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day – 1 Nomination
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi – 1 Nomination
- John Carter – 1 Nomination
- The Kid With a Bike – 1 Nomination
- Killer Joe – 1 Nomination
- Life of Pi – 1 Nomination
- The Loneliest Planet – 1 Nomination
- Mirror, Mirror – 1 Nomination
- Les Miserables – 1 Nomination
- Oslo, August 31 – 1 Nomination
- ParaNorman – 1 Nomination
- Prometheus – 1 Nomination
- The Queen of Versailles – 1 Nomination
- The Secret World of Arrietty – 1 Nomination
- Take This Waltz – 1 Nomination
- Wreck-It Ralph – 1 Nomination
- Wuthering Heights – 1 Nomination