Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

The 2012 Queso Awards

Last night the Academy Awards happened. Like they do every year. And just like every other year the affair was a mostly tepid mediocre affair with a bland host telling bland jokes and films undeserving of praise walking home with what most would say is the pinnacle of acclaim. The relevance of the Oscars is debatable and while nobody will say that the opinion of a blog that gets perhaps a thousand hits per day at best is worth more than the collective wisdom of the academy, we are going to give a rundown of our picks for the top examples of cinema in 2011.

BEST PICTURE :

  • Drive, d. Nicholas Winding-Refn
  • Hanna, d. Joe Wright
  • The Tree of Life, d. Terrence Malick
  • Attack the Block, d. Joe Cornish
  • Warrior, d. Gavin O’Connor
  • Moneyball, d. Bennett Miller
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene, d. Sean Durkin
  • Shame, d. Steve McQueen
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, d. Tomas Alfredson

The Winner – DRIVE

Let’s be honest, it’s a ballsy movie and helped cement Ryan Gosling as a figure who will go on to be one of the next big leading men. Between his turn in this and Ides of March, he’s had a bang-up year and this was probably his finest hour.Drive is a haunting, melodious and violent magnum opus that works counter to expectation and delivers gut punches from start to finish. It’s a true rarity and I cannot gush over it enough.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Joe Wright, Hanna
  • Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
  • David Yates, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows pt. II
  • Nicholas Wynding-Refn, Drive
  • Martin Scorsese, Hugo

The Winner – Nicholas Winding-Refn

The direction in this film is top notch, along with just about everything else. But anyone who has seen any of Refn’s previous films knows the sort of tone and style he likes to set and withDrive he finally hit his apex with regard to his material matching his sensibilities. This is a masterwork and he deserves the recognition for it.

BEST ACTOR

  • Rainn Wilson, Super
  • Joel Edgarton, Warrior
  • Ryan Gosling, Drive
  • Michael Fassbender, Shame
  • Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Winner – Michael Fassbender

Probably the most powerhouse performance you could expect from any actor and somehow he was snubbed by the academy. Fassbender is on a roll and is on his way to being one of the most revered leading men in the industry and it is only a matter of time before he reaches the top of the a-list. Roles like this one are the reason why.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

 

  • Alan Rickman, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows pt. II
  • Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
  • Andy Serkis – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Albert Brooks, Drive
  • Tom Hardy, Warrior
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Winner – Tom Hardy, Warrior

Another actor who has been kicking all sorts of ass on his upward trajectory. He’s had two powerhouse roles this year in Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, both playing subtle and damaged characters who would have seemed overwrought in the hands of a lesser actor. By the time he shows up on screen as Bane in TDKR he’ll have a solid legion of new fans.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Mia Wasikowska, Jane Eyre
  • Ellen Page, Super
  • Saoirse Ronan, Hanna
  • Hayley Atwell, Capt. America – The First Avenger
  • Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Carey Mulligan, Shame

The Winner – Ellen Page, Super

Ellen Page plays a certain type 95% of the time. Here she plays so far against type that you suddenly find yourself uncomfortable. She was absolutely shocking in her role as the obsessed fangirl-turned-vigilante who partnered up with Rainn Wilson’s Crimson Bolt. The movie was a disturbing deconstruction of the realistic superhero genre of films and Ellen Page was one of the myriad of reasons it worked so well.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Kat Dennings, THOR

I’ll be honest, I can’t think of that many supporting actresses that wowed me this year and Kat Dennings was one of my favorite things about Thor so she wins this one by default. She shouldn’t get too cocky because 2 Broke Girls makes my head hurt.

BEST SCREENPLAY, ORIGINAL OR OTHERWISE

  • Super, James Gunn
  • Super 8, JJ Abrams
  • Warrior, Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
  • Drive, Nicholas Winding-Refn, Hossein Amini
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan

The Winner – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Adapting John Le’Carre’s sprawling novel into a comprehensible film is a herculean task. Considering that the previous adaptation of the material was a mini-series that ran several hours in length, that this film was so well put together is a damn marvel. It’s still somewhat dense and some would argue that it’s hard to follow, but like the best of all screenplays it challenges the viewer to keep up and the writing is sharp as a tack.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Drive, Newton Thomas Sigel
  • Contagion, Steven Soderbergh
  • Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Robert Elswit

The Winner – Drive

This was very close, as all the films I’ve listed were absolutely stunning. But the way L.A. was framed in Drive made it seem as if I’d never seen the city on screen before and the use of lighting was absolutely stunning. A masterclass in how to shoot a film.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That’s it for this year. Feel free to let me know what your own picks for the best of the year were in the comments section. I’m sure there are some compelling arguments for many films and all of them make more sense than the picks of the academy.

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