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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Picture

My disappointment in 2012 can be seen in the fact that two movies I've rated 'B' manage to make it into my Top Twenty -- the first time that's happened in my four years of doing this.  While my #1 film is one of the best films I've seen in years (and my top six below I think quite fondly of), 2012 was a cinematic year that didn't excite me nearly as much as I had hoped it would.  Here's hoping 2013 is better (and considering that fact that as of this post I've only seen four movies released in 2013, I've got a lot of catching up to do).

For those interested, seventeen of the films listed below are streaming on Netflix and they're all worth checking out.

Best Picture of 2012

(SoN = Streaming on Netflix)
#50 - Zero Dark Thirty   - - - - -   #49 - The Queen of Versailles (SoN)
#48 - The Hunger Games (SoN)   - - - - -   #47 - Mirror Mirror (SoN)
#46 - Snow White and the Huntsman   - - - - -   #45 - End of Watch (SoN)
#44 - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
#43 - The Dark Knight Rises   - - - - -   #42 - Sinister
#41 - Les Miserables   - - - - -   #40 - Celeste and Jesse Forever
#39 - Frankenweenie
#38 - Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
#37 - Haywire (SoN)   - - - - -   #36 - The Grey (SoN)
#35 - The Woman in the Fifth (SoN)   - - - - -   #34 - The Master
#33 - Sleepwalk with Me (SoN)   - - - - -   #32 - Safe House
#31 - Amour   - - - - -   #30 - 21 Jump Street
#29 - Seven Psychopaths   - - - - -   #28 - A Late Quartet (SoN)
#27 - The Bay (SoN)   - - - - -   #26 - The Five-Year Engagement
#25 - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
#24 - Prometheus   - - - - -   #23 - Your Sister's Sister
#22 - Butter (SoN)   - - - - -   #21 - Django Unchained

#20 - Brave - B
Even lower-end Pixar is better than most animated films, but the revered company is fading a tiny bit as of late.  Brave is a good film, but it's one of Pixar's least imaginative.  Still, I think it got unfairly lambasted by some critics.  The animation and voice acting is still top notch -- two areas at which Pixar still excels.

#19 - Cabin in the Woods - B
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***
The most inventive (non-animated) horror film of the year, Cabin in the Woods takes the typical horror clichés and twists them around creating something fresh, yet honoring what came before it.

#18 - Killer Joe - B+
Killer Joe is twisted and fun, filled with people as white trash as they come.  A darkly comic tone invites the audience to embrace the characters rather than be turned off by them.  Granted, this film is off-the-wall and its NC-17 rating certainly indicates that it isn't for everyone, but if you're someone that enjoyed Bug, the previous director/screenwriter collaboration of William Friedkin and Tracy Letts, than check this one out.  (That being said, I don't know anyone other than me who liked Bug, so maybe you should take this recommendation with a grain of salt.)

I'm not sure I've ever seen a film as violent as The Raid: Redemption so right off the bat I've now either hooked you or sent you running.  Story doesn't matter here.  You watch this film solely for the action scenes which are refreshing in that the quick cuts and edits are tossed to the side in favor of extended highly choreographed sequences that oftentimes are shocking in their complexity.

#16 - Bachelorette - B+
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***
This is the lowest rated film in my Top 20 on RottenTomatoes, but I found Bachelorette a refreshing addition to the female-centric "dirty comedy"genre started a few years ago with Bridesmaids.  All I can ask for in a comedy is to laugh out loud and I did with these characters.  Kirsten Dunst and Lizzy Caplan's characters are given nice arcs that allow the actresses to imbue them with enough depth to make this worth checking out.

The remaining fifteen will come after the jump...Be sure to click "Read More" below...

Monday, July 29, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Scene

This is typically my favorite category to form every year as I get to look back at the best singular moments in film throughout the prior year.  This year, you'll notice the dominance of one film (deservedly so) and the absence of some good films with good scenes that just missed the cut (Looper,  The Master).

Moreso than in years past, I've included both video clips and links to scenes via YouTube.

It should be noted that spoilers will abound in this category so be forewarned.

Be sure to click on "Read More" down below to continue on with the category.

Best Scenes of 2012

#25 - The Avengers - The Good Guys Argue
I certainly was not a fan of the biggest film of 2012, but I loved this scene where the good guys turn on each other.

#24 - Argo - Airport
Ben Affleck's film has been building tension to this point culminating in a scene at the Iranian airport where their "fake film" faces high scrutiny.  When they finally get on that plane to leave, you can feel yourself breathe a little easier.

#23 - Django Unchained - "Tell Miss Laura Good-Bye"
I imagine most love the massive shoot-out towards the end of Django Unchained in which the title character goes on a rampage through Candyland only to be caught at the end.  I, however, will take the short clip presented here any day of the week.  (The link is provided as it may be too graphic for some.)  The sheer ridiculousness of the final five seconds of the clip stayed with me quite a while after the film ended.

#22 - Les Miserables - Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
One of the film's final songs proves rather heartbreaking following the loss of many of Marius's colleagues.  A nice turn from Eddie Redmayne helps elevate the emotional level.

#21 - Lincoln - Mary Todd Steals the Show

Lincoln himself had some great speeches, but some of the most memorable scenes in Spielberg's film featured Sally Field as Mrs Lincoln.  In the first scene pictured above, Mrs. Lincoln tells off a group of pompous congressmen, creating the film's funniest moment.  In the second scene, Mary desperately pleads with her husband to not allow their son to join the Army having already lost a previous child.  With this being one of the few scenes in Lincoln that pushes politics to the side, it gives the familial aspects of the Lincoln family a much needed emphasis.

The Top Twenty Scenes of the Year can be found after the jump...

Friday, July 26, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Actor

Quite simply, there's an overabundance of wealth in the Best Actor category this year.  While my top two choices were pretty much set, any one of these men could've landed in the Top Five and it was an incredibly difficult task choosing which ones finally got the placement there.  That's why I've included a Top 15 (plus two extras who were quite popular this past year who just missed the cut).  Be sure to click on "Read More" to see the Top Ten.

Best Male Performance of 2012

Also in the running
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

Honorable Mentions
#15 - Jean-Louis Trintignant- Amour
"...Trintignant [has] the ability with the simple movement of an eye to convey everything the audience needs to know..."

#13/#14 - Omar Sy and François Cluzet - The Intouchables
"...Like the best buddy comedies, Cluzet and Sy play off each other incredibly well.  Both have a captivating presence and can easily switch between the humor and drama their roles require of them..."

#12 - Liam Neeson - The Grey
"...Neeson, who lately has seemingly been taking any film that comes his way for a paycheck, finally finds himself in a movie with purpose...and takes on his role with gusto..."

#11 - Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
"...his best role since his stint on Alias...Cooper has finally stepped out of Douche-Land, a place where he's been stuck ever since he became a "movie star"...[a role that has] some quieter, emotion-driven moments and he succeeds..."
The Top Ten will be revealed after the jump...
Click "Read More" to continue...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Actress

As I've mentioned, this was a rather weak year for Best Actress nominees.  You'll notice that Oscar darlings Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) didn't make the cut below as I found neither of their roles particularly praise-worthy in any way.

Still, while I say this was a "weak year," I'm incredibly pleased by my Top Five choices listed below.  I only wish there was more of an overabundance of solid choices to choose from as the top five were pretty much the only ones that were ever in the running for me.

Best Actress of 2012

Honorable Mentions
#7 - Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone
"...Marion Cotillard gives the best performance I've seen from her...but I should mention I haven't really been a fan before this..."
#6 - Noomi Rapace - Prometheus
"...Rapace is quite good, embodying a completely different female from Sigourney Weaver's kick-ass Ripley.  [She's] mellow and slightly timid...[trying] to understand her place in this world..."
And the Top Five...

#5 - Helen Hunt - The Sessions
This is a brave role to undertake considering that Hunt is naked for many of her scenes, but the film isn't about titillation in the slightest (despite the fact that it's all about sex).  Hunt emanates a kindness and gentleness that is absolutely lovely, giving the film a tenderness that never becomes melodramatic.  Hunt was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar this past year, but this role is really a co-lead, hence her placement here.

#4 - Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
Receiving a well-deserved Oscar nom, this oldest ever Best Actress nominee absolutely earned her spot.  Able to convey so much with the slightest flicker of an eye or the tiniest movement of her mouth, Riva proves that talent doesn't diminish with age.

#3 - Keira Knightley - Anna Karenina
Even in her better roles, Keira Knightley has the tendency to show emotion simply (and only) by clenching her jaw.  However, working here with director Joe Wright for the third time, she nixed that crutch that's constantly bothered me in the past.  As the title character, this is Knightley's most mature role yet, exuding passion, sexiness, heartbreak, and maternal instincts.  The character is so well-rounded, it's a shame the classic story felt so stodgy and archaic.

#2 - Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
While I wasn't a fan of the script of Silver Linings Playbook, the film was able to show me a different side of Jennifer Lawrence.  Never once playing the victim, her character is feisty, tough, sweet, and always a strong presence whenever she's onscreen.  While I wouldn't have given her the Oscar, she's absolutely a worthy runner up...and I'm not at all upset that the Academy gave her their reward.

#1 - Naomi Watts - The Impossible
Naomi Watts made my eyes well up this past year and that's oftentimes enough to win me over.  The performance is tough and heartwarming at the same time.  Watts had to make the special effects scenes wholly believable which I can't imagine was an easy task, while at the same time conveying the emotions of a mother ripped away from her family.  Powerful stuff and an awe-inspiring performance.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Supporting Actor

As is the trend this year, I wasn't really blown away by any Supporting Actor nominations.  While I like everyone on this list, this list was screaming for a stand-out bravura performance and it didn't quite achieve that this year.  In fact, I think this category (despite eleven men listed below) is actually the most disappointing overall this year.

Once again, you'll notice only two Oscar nominees below with winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Alan Arkin (Argo), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) not finding placement here, however, I found Waltz and Hoffman's performances to be more lead than supporting anyway.

Best Supporting Actor of 2012

Also in the running...
Jim Broadbent - Cloud Atlas
Rob Corddry - Butter
Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook

Honorable Mentions

#8 - Eddie Redmayne - Les Miserables
"...a standout in the ensemble who has a lovely voice and is also granted a Hathaway/Fantine-like moment at the film's conclusion with the song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables..."

#7 - William H. Macy - The Sessions
"...[Macy] provides simple, yet thoughtful work as Mark's priest/friend..."

#6 - Michael Fassbender - Prometheus
"...Fassbender continues on with his excellent string of work with the robotic David.  Even  lacking the ability to show emotions, [he] still manages to draw your eye to him...thanks to the underlying (and sometimes not so underlying) menace his character exudes."

And the Top Five...

#5 - James Badge Dale - Flight
James Badge Dale is on screen in Flight for less than ten minutes.  Yet, as a cancer patient who stumbles across Whip who was recently injured in a plane crash and Nicole who recently overdosed (played by Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly respectively) in a hospital stairwell, he's part of one of the most emotional moments of the film as the trio speaks openly about life, death, faith, love, and fear. We never even learn the name of this character, but his screen time is incredibly memorable.

#4 - Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
Jones' role as conservative senator Thaddeus Stevens is understated, yet strong.  With his more "down home" qualities compared to the eloquence of Lincoln's speeches, it provides a nice counterpart for the film.

#3 - Matthew McConaughey - Magic Mike
In my review of Magic Mike, I said McConaughey was a strong presence, but I wasn't sold on his awards-worthiness.  The fact that he shows up here gives credence to my statement above that this category really failed to blow me away.  The fact of the matter is, comedic roles are a bit more difficult to garner any awards traction and while my awards fare a bit better than the Oscars, they still don't quite garner the respect they deserve.  McConaughey was a fun presence and in a weaker year, that's all that it takes to get a top five placement.

#2 - Javier Bardem - Skyfall
Javier Bardem doesn't make an appearance in Skyfall until about ninety minutes in, but when he pops up he reinvigorates the film.  He capitalizes on the humor that sometimes comes with an over-the-top Machiavellian supervillain and his Raoul Silva is dripping with slimy gusto.

#1 - Ewan McGregor - The Impossible
With The Impossible, Ewan McGregor gives the best performance I've seen from him.  Faced with the pain of being separated from his eldest son and his wife, there's a scene where McGregor breaks down that won him this top spot.  A fantastic performance that becomes even richer upon repeated viewings.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Supporting Actress

Unfortunately, as you will see, 2012 was a horrible year for actresses in my opinion.  Roles that received praise from others left me shrugging my shoulders and unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot else that didn't garner critical attention (those diamonds in the rough that I see that no one else does) to pick up the slack.  There were some great performances, but there simply weren't enough and that's disappointing.

You'll notice the absence of Oscar nominees Amy Adams (The Master), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) and Helen Hunt (The Sessions), although one of these ladies will show up in a different category since I feel she wasn't a supporting actress at all.

Best Supporting Actress of 2012

Honorable Mentions
#7 - Charlize Theron - Snow White and the Huntsman
"...The film certainly revolves around evil Queen Ravenna played with wicked abandon by Charlize Theron.  Sexy and alluring, but frighteningly menacing, Theron sinks her teeth into the dark side..."
#6 - Julia Roberts - Mirror Mirror
"...Obviously hamming it up and seemingly having a blast, Roberts appears to be relishing this opportunity to play evil...in an over-the-top scenery chewing performance..."
And the Top Five...

#5 - Annika Marks - The Sessions
As Amanda, Annika Marks begins as a simple caregiver for the polio-stricken Mark, but as time passes, she becomes a huge part of the heart contained within this lovely film.  It's a small role, but I was entranced by it immediately and was thrilled that her character receives a satisfying conclusion to her relationship with Mark.

#4 - Kelly Reilly - Flight
Unlike the character that placed #5, Kelly Reilly's recovering junkie Nicole in Flight didn't quite get the  well-rounded send-off that I was hoping for, but I still found her role utterly engaging.  She's the counterpoint to many a dramatic and emotional scene with her larger than life co-star Denzel Washington and she more than holds her own.

#3 - Judi Dench - Skyfall
How refreshing that a role that could (and probably should) be a throwaway became a richly developed character that the great Judi Dench could sink her British chompers into.  There's a weathered intelligence she brings to the screen, giving Daniel Craig's Bond the emotional attachment that makes this more than just your typical action flick.

#2 - Sally Field - Lincoln
Ms. Field is really only given two scenes to truly shine in Lincoln, but what she does with them won me over right away.  In the moments where she puts down her husband's colleagues to their faces and when she breaks down after learning of her son's desire to head into the army, Field is given two disparate types of moments, excelling at both, and making her character quite memorable.

#1 - Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Much like Ms. Field, Anne Hathway only has a few moments to shine in Les Miserables before [SPOILER ALERT] she bites the dust, but thanks to Tom Hooper's direction of her "I Dreamed a Dream" scene, Hathaway earned herself an Oscar and the much more prestigious RyMickey Award.  Raw, gripping, and emotionally devastating, she deserved the praise she got this past year for this role.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Monday, July 22, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Director

Honorable Mentions
#10 - Tom Hooper - Les Miserables
#9 - Gareth Evans - The Raid: Redemption
#8 - Joe Wright - Anna Karenina
#7 - Ang Lee - Life of Pi
#6 - Robert Zemeckis - Flight

And the Top Five...

#5 - Tom Twyker, Larry Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski - Cloud Atlas
They don't make movies like this anymore.  Epic in length and scope, the trio of directors made Cloud Atlas a unique experience and that alone is a major reason they make the list.

#4 - Juan Antonio Bayona - The Impossible
Bayona only has one prior feature film directorial effort (for a horror movie, no less) so the fact that he was able to combine fantastic realistic special effects with a heartbreaking and heartwarming story is a credit to this new-to-the-scene auteur.

#3 - Sam Mendes - Skyfall
The action scenes here are fantastic -- the opening fifteen minutes are taut, exciting, and breathtaking as an example -- but Mendes also brings his dramatic chops to the table, injecting this Bond film with more character-driven moments than I ever could have expected.

#2 - Ben Affleck - Argo
Really, the #1 and #2 spots here are a toss-up and I've flip-flopped more than once when setting this award up.  Affleck makes his mark with Argo proving that he's a director to be respected.  What fascinated me with Argo is that Affleck manages to build tension to an edge-of-your-seat level, keeping us invested with the multitude of characters.

#1 - Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
Quite honestly, I could repeat my Argo comments here -- Spielberg manages to build tension to an edge-of-your-seat level, keeping us invested with the multitude of characters, but Spielberg ekes out the win because he manages to do this with a story that is much more well-known and therein a bit more difficult to keep us invested.  I am not a biopic guy, yet Spielberg makes this a movie I'd want to watch again.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Screenplays

Best Original Screenplay 2012

Honorable Mentions
#8 - Wreck-It Ralph - story by Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, and Jim Reardon; screenplay by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee
#7 - The Intouchables - Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano
#6 - Seven Psychopaths -- Martin McDonagh

And the Top Five...

#5 - Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard - Cabin in the Woods
A clever and unique spin on the horror genre that was loved by others a bit more than by me, but still was successful in what it set out to accomplish.

 #4 - Chris Butler - Paranorman
How refreshing that this animated flick wasn't sugar-coated.  It reminded me of movies I watched in the 80s growing up where kid's films didn't stoop to the lowest common denominator to achieve their humor and heart.

#3 - Nicholas Jarecki - Arbitrage
A smart adult thriller...we don't get too much of those anymore.  Considering Jarecki wrote the absolutely abysmal The Informers in 2009, I would've never guessed he had this type of talent in him.  Let's hope he keeps pursuing it.

#2 - John Gatins - Flight
Some thought Flight was all over the place, but I appreciated the time it took to focus not only on Denzel Washington's troubled pilot character, but also the people he came into contact with after the horrible plane crash.  I found it refreshingly dramatic and engaging.

#1 - Zoe Kazan - Ruby Sparks
Funny, smart, and packed with emotion, Zoe Kazan impressed with her debut screenwriting project.  Indie comedies tend to always have that same (pretentious) feel to me, but Ruby Sparks was a refreshing change.

Best Adapted Screenplay 2012

Honorable Mentions
#8 - The Impossible - Sergio G. Sánchez
#7 - 21 Jump Street - Michael Bacall (screenplay/story) and Jonah Hill (story)
#7 - The Sessions - Ben Lewin

And the Top Five...

#5 - Richard Linklater - Bernie
Presented as a mix of mockumentary and straightfoward film, Richard Linklater crafts a portrait of a flawed man while at the same time showcasing small town Americana in a way that some might find insulting, but I saw more as a tribute to the slowed-down "old school" Bible-thumping lifestyle.

#4 - William Nicholson and Alain Boublil - Les Miserables
This film isn't without its faults, but I was impressed with the screenwriters' abilities to take an epic operatic musical (in an of itself adapted from an epic novel) and have it provide motivation and story for all of its multitude of characters.

#3 - Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan - Skyfall
I would've never guessed that I'd see a James Bond movie contain as much heart as this.  Not only are the action sequences great, but the character interactions are fantastic for a genre that typically never provides the viewer anything but explosions.

#2 - Chris Terrio - Argo
The Argo backlash came on strong as it headed into the Oscar season, but I found Argo to be a taut thrill ride that worked from beginning to end.

#1 - Tony Kushner - Lincoln
I was dreading seeing Lincoln and I waited a long time to take it in.  Historical dramas are not my cup of tea at all, but Tony Kushner crafted something special here allowing the title character to have multiple moments to shine politically with eloquent speeches, while also showing his more "human" side when dealing with his family members.  Honing in on a specific set of months in the man's life makes this "manageable" for even non-history buffs to take in. 

Previous RyMickey Award Winners
2009 (Original and Adapted)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Ensemble

This was a solid year for ensembles, but not as successful as 2010 and 2011's groupings (which can be seen via links at the bottom of this post).  Still, when films like Safe House, The Intouchables, The Grey, Silver Linings Playbook, and Skyfall don't make the list, it's obvious you had some decent ensembles this year.

Best Ensembles of 2012

Honorable Mentions
#10 - Butter
(Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, Yara Shahidi, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, Ashley Greene, Olivia Wilde, Kristen Schaal, and Hugh Jackman)
(John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, and Adam Arkin)
(Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie Dewitt)
(Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Edward Burns, and Megan Fox)
(Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant)

And the Top Five are...

#5 - Arbitrage
(Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Costa, and Nate Parker)
"Smart" is all I have to say about this ensemble.  As a group, this cast exudes intelligence, all perfectly capturing the slimy underbelly of this film's seedy corporate business. 

#4 - Flight
(Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Kelly Reilly, James Badge Dale, Don Cheadle, Brian Geraghty, Tamara Tunie, Nadine Velazquez, Bruce Greenwood, and Melissa Leo)
Really fantastic performances from the top of the credits to the bottom.  Little parts like those of James Badge Dale and Nadine Velazquez shine just as much as Denzel's main character.

#3 - Lincoln
(Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Lee Pace, Gloria Rueben, and tens of other folks whom you'd recognize from other films)
Although rightfully lauded for Daniel Day-Lewis' fantastic work, Lincoln was a who's who list of "I've seen that person before" and that's always kind of fun to see.  Of course that wouldn't matter if the performances weren't up to snuff, but the talent onscreen certainly shows.

(Tom Holland, Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, and Geraldine Chaplin)
Considering the fact that the three youngest members of the cast were making their film debut here makes the cast of The Impossible even more impressive.  Add in the wonderful and gripping performances of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and this is an incredibly engaging ensemble.

#1 - Argo
(Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea Duvall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, and Sheila Vand)
Much like Lincoln, Argo oftentimes feels like all of Hollywood makes an appearance in it.  Argo excels at making three different worlds -- Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and Iran -- successfully be portrayed by its fantastic cast who together is one of the reasons I loved the movie so much.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Friday, July 19, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Breakthrough Award

The Breakthrough Award is always the category most open to "cheating."  Some of the nominees/winners may have been around for years, but this just happened to be the year they really came into their own.

Breakthrough Award 2012

Honorable Mentions
#7 - Dane DeHaan - Chronicle, Lawless, Lincoln
#6 - Samantha Barks - Les Miserables

And the Top Five are...

#5 - Zoe Kazan
Ruby Sparks
A very nice actor/writer turn in Ruby Sparks shows Ms. Kazan's not only someone to watch in front of but also behind the camera.

#4 - Tom Holland
The Impossible
Carrying an effects heavy film on his shoulders that also required him to show his dramatic chops, Tom Holland made a fantastic feature film debut.  I imagine they'll be more to come from this young kid.

#3 - Logan Lerman
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Here's hoping Logan Lerman can use Perks as a bouncing off point to sink his teeth into some more dramatic roles.

#2 - Rebel Wilson
Pitch Perfect, Bachelorette
This pains me a bit because I'm not a fan of Rebel Wilson, but 2012 was certainly the year that put her on the map.  I worry that her shtick will run old quickly.  (I'm looking at you, Melissa McCarthy, who landed on last year's list and has already worn out her welcome.)

#1 - Channing Tatum
21 Jump Street, Magic Mike, Haywire
Channing Tatum's been around in film for nearly a decade, but 2012 was the year of the Tatum.  Also appearing in the romance The Vow (which I avoided), Tatum excelled at comedy (21 Jump Street), drama (Magic Mike), and action (Haywire) and turned from just a pretty face to a decent actor.  A note: it took quite a bit to find an image of Tatum with his shirt and/or pants on to post above.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The 2012 RyMickey Awards - Best Younger Actor/Actress

For the purposes of this category, nominees must be 21 years or younger at the time of the film's release.  Placing in this category does not preclude placing in other acting categories.

Note: For those wondering about a notable absence, there is no Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) on this list.  I found her performance incredibly overrated and completely unworthy of a Best Actress nomination at this year's Oscars.  You'll also note that the Moonrise Kingdom kids don't make an appearance here either as I thought both their performances were a bit wooden.

Another note:  As you'll notice as the 2012 RyMickey Awards progress, I felt this was a really weak year for women in film and that even makes its case in this category with only the sixth place honorable mention carrying two x-chromosomes.  This marks the first year that this category goes to all folks of a single sex.

Best Younger Actor/Actress of 2012

Honorable Mentions
#7 - Daniel Huttlestone - Les Miserables
#6 - Yara Shahidi - Butter

And the Top Five are...

#5 - Pierce Gagnon - Looper
I actually read some reviews panning this kid which shocked me, but I found Gagnon's ability to act both childlike and mature elevated the film's second half to something quite special.

#4 - Suraj Sharma - Life of Pi - debut - 19 year old
Making his film debut, Sharma carries the film much like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.  That's a difficult task, but Sharma handles it like a pro interacting with his computerized counterparts in an incredibly realistic manner.

#3 - Samuel Joslin - The Impossible
#2 - Tom Holland - The Impossible

Together, Samuel Joslin and Tom Holland both making their film debuts provided some of the most emotional moments captured on film in 2012.  The young Joslin has a heartbreaking moment where he must come to terms with the fact that he must become an adult pretty quickly and the look in his eyes is heartbreakingly real.  And Holland carries the difficult film on his shoulders as the leading man and succeeds.  I had a difficult time with the top three placement this year as all were fantastic performances.

#1 - Logan Lerman - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Logan Lerman's win here marks the first time a guy has topped this list of Best Younger Performers, but his win is rightly deserved.  First, he elevates the film to a better level than it probably deserves thanks to his performance.  Second, I was quite impressed with his realistic take on a young teen stepping foot into the scary world of high school.  Third, the final act gives his character a "twist" that brings all of the emotional qualities we've seen Lerman express heretofore make perfect sense.  It's actually quite a complex role that he has tackled and I look forward to whatever the future brings for this twenty year-old.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

Movie Review - The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Nina Dobrev, Johnny Simmons, Melanie Lynskey, Joan Cusack, and Paul Rudd
Directed by Stephen Chbosky

There's an aire of pretentiousness that runs throughout the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I found it a book that kept me at a distance because none of the characters were embraceable, nor were they nasty enough to be characters you loved to hate.  I was hoping that the movie might change my tune, but my overall reaction stayed pretty much the same.  Overall, the book's author Stephen Chbosky does a nice job in his first directorial gig in nearly two decades and he adapts his novel quite adequately to the screen, but this is simply a tale I never quite found winning.

The problem with The Perks of Being a Wallflower never lies with the storyline of the main character Charlie (Logan Lerman) who, as the film begins, is starting ninth grade after having a difficult summer in which he lost his best friend to suicide.  For most of his life, Charlie has always been battling psychological demons, but he hopes he's pushed them to the side as he begins the angst-filled four years of high school.  Charlie ends up befriending two seniors, step-siblings Patrick and Sam (Ezra Miller and Emma Watson) and it's in these two characters and their surroundings that the film (and the book) disappoint.  It's not that Patrick and Sam prove to be unrealistic, it's just that I couldn't care less about their problems and dreams for the future.  Patrick is an incredibly quirky gay teen who is seemingly the class clown and Sam is lovable with a pixie cut that indicates a slightly rough edge.  Everything with these two just feels overly angsty with a vibe of "aren't we unique/no teenager has ever done this before" thrown in when, in fact, their shenanigans are quite commonplace.

However, the character of Charlie makes the film work better than it probably should and Logan Lerman is a standout.  Lerman's fairly new to the acting scene and while I can't say I've ever been disappointed by the kid, I don't think I ever would've said I've been impressed.  That has changed.  Here, the now twenty year-old Lerman perfectly captures the fear of the initial days of high school, the insecurity of being one's true self even if it doesn't make you popular, and the tentativeness of one's first forays into romance, alcohol, and the other difficulties that come with one's teen years.  Also nice was Paul Rudd's turn as Charlie's English teacher, a friend/mentor who helps shape Charlie into a young man who can be proud of himself.

While there's part of me that can understand the effusive praise The Perks of Being a Wallflower received upon its release -- the film looks good, the acting is decent -- I've never been a fan of Mr. Chbosky's novel so its transition to film was going to be difficult to reel me in.  Still, thanks to a great performance from Logan Lerman, this one definitely lands in the "you should see this" category.

The RyMickey Rating: B-