Fox 5 San Diego Staff
11:50 PM PST, December 12, 2011
Last year when I wasn’t a party of the San Diego Film Critics Society, I cringed when I saw how many awards they gave to 44 Inch Chest, a movie with a great cast, but lame screenplay.
This year as part of the group, I enjoyed the fun as we sent our “think lists” back and forth, to come up with nominations. I laughed when one critic picked a movie as the best of the year, that we had seen a screening for that morning – and two critics leaving thought it was the worst of the year. Oh boy, this was going to get feelings hurt.
One critic was saying Hugo should win everything. Now, I was one of those critics that was complaining about all the movies I knew would get nominations and shouldn’t.
It was just announced that the Los Angeles Critics Society picked The Descendants for best film of 2011. It didn’t even make our list (it was good, not great). They also picked actress Jeong-hie Yun from Poetry for Best Actress – another that didn’t make our list (she was good, the movie was a bore).
So, here’s the list the San Diego Film Critics Society came up with. We’ll be voting for winners on December 14th. Check the website if you’re interested. My opinions are after the picks.
BEST FILM –
DRIVE (this movie was a mess; horrible songs/score, bizarre acting from Ryan Gosling, but with some great car chases and fun performance by Albert Brooks).
HUGO (one of my favorite movies of the year).
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (easily the most overrated movie by critics of the year; it was good, but not great).
THE ARTIST (good movie, and it deserves to be on the list just for the idea alone)
THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrance Malick never makes boring movies, but in this case, he made a bad movie; great cinematography doesn’t make a great film)
BEST DIRECTOR –
Martin Scorsese, HUGO (no problem with this pick; I would’ve preferred the scene about film preservation taken out, and a scene with a train inspector waking up with a dog head in his bed instead)
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST (as long as I don’t have to say the directors name…)
Nicolas Winding Refn, DRIVE (see comments in Best Film)
Terrence Malick, THE TREE OF LIFE (this guy takes 5 years between movies; I hope he takes 10 before the next)
Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (I have no problem with this pick)
BEST ACTRESS –
Brit Marling, ANOTHER EARTH (we’re one of the few critics groups that had her nominated, and I’m happy we did; she was amazing)
Elizabeth Olsen, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (this movie wasn’t very good, but wow – who knew the Olsen twins had a sister with talent; and the always reliable John Hawkes as a cult leader – who I voted for in Best Supporting but he didn’t make the cut)
Michelle Williams, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (former San Diego girl makes good; I knew this would happen, though…I wanted Kenneth Branagh, her co-star, to get nominated. He was just as good)
Tilda Swinton, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (I think Swinton should be given a lifetime Oscar; easily one of my favorite actresses working today. Even movies I don’t like, she makes them enjoyable to watch)
Viola Davis, THE HELP (I’m still mad she got on Oscar nomination for being in 10 minutes and one scene in DOUBT, but she does have the acting chops; it’s a shame The Help wasn’t a better movie).
BEST ACTOR –
Brad Pitt, MONEYBALL (was this performance even acting?)
Brendan Gleeson, THE GUARD (was this performance even acting? Not a lot of range shown in these first two picks)
George Clooney, THE DESCENDANTS (people can argue that Clooney doesn’t act but merely plays himself, too…but I feel he did a good, subtle performance in this)
Jean Dejardin, THE ARTIST (yeah, well…he didn’t have to remember any lines!)
Michael Shannon, TAKE SHELTER (same comments as Swinton; this guy is always playing different characters; perhaps the most underrated actor working today. He seems to play these crazies the best)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS –
Bérénice Bejo, THE ARTIST (good nomination)
Carey Mulligan, SHAME (good version of New York, New York, but as much as I loved Mulligan in An Education, this screenplay was frustrating and I wouldn’t have nominated her)
Jessica Chastain, THE HELP (I liked Chastain more in The Debt, but she’s one of the most exciting young actresses around)
Mélanie Laurent, BEGINNERS (I feel in love with her in this; great performance, great face).
Shailene Woodley, THE DESCENDANTS (former model turned actress – she should keep pursuing a film career, she was outstanding)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR –
Albert Brooks, DRIVE (was this character that different from the way better movie Out of Sight?)
Andy Serkis, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (I’m so thrilled we nominated Serkis for this; he brought the chimp Cesar to life, and who cares if he was acting in front of a green screen, with lots of things attached to his body – give him the award!)
Christopher Plummer, BEGINNERS (I love that Plummer didn’t go over-the-top playing this character; one of my favorite movies of the year).
Max von Sydow, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (what’s with all these performances this year where people didn’t have to remember lines? Max is an acting legend, but I don’t feel this performance shows that)
Nick Nolte, WARRIOR (Nolte was good in this, but so what; he played a drunk. One scene even looked exactly like that famous mug shot; Dennis Hopper was so much better in a movie about athletes, with a father falling off the wagon)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY –
Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST (such a great concept they came up with…let’s just hope people are “silent” during the movie)
Mike Mills, BEGINNERS (my favorite screenplay of the year, along with his wife, Miranda July, who gave us the bizarre but touching The Future)
Thomas McCarthy, WIN WIN (this movie is a tad flawed, but I enjoyed it tremendously)
Will Reiser, 50/50 (you laugh, you cry…)
Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (this screenplay had some brilliant elements; instead of Inception having a dream within a dream, this had time travel within time travel – and with amazing results; I just thought there weren’t enough jokes, and just having Hemingway walk around a bar saying he wanted to fight, or run with the bulls, was weak)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY –
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, THE DESCENDANTS (low-key movie, but totally worthy of this nomination)
Hossein Amini, DRIVE (stop with all the nominations for this overrated movie!!!!)
John Logan, HUGO (taking a childrens book, written by a La Jolla resident, and making such a wonderful tribute to cinema, was a joy to watch)
Steve Kloves, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (not my cup of tea, but a good movie, no doubt about that)
Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, MONEYBALL (a baseball movie with hardly any baseball; okay film, but overrated)
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM –
A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN (this movie goes in my Top 10 of the year, not just for foreign films – rent it now!)
HAPPY HAPPY (I was Happy Happy watching this; reminded me of a foreign Coen brothers movie)
LE QUATTRO VOLTE (an interesting concept, turned into a boring movie; 4 of the 8 people in the theatre I saw it with, walked out)
OF GODS AND MEN (one of the few movies that got by me this year)
THE DOUBLE HOUR (I loved this movie; if you don’t mind subtitles, Netflix it)
BEST DOCUMENTARY –
BUCK (I don’t care about horses, but I love Buck and was thrilled to get the opportunity to interview him)
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (this needed 45 minutes cut out of it, but was still good)
INTO THE ABYSS (wait a second…two Werner Herzog movies?)
PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (okay movie, with three interesting characters…but it felt like yesterdays news)
PROJECT NIM (is Andy Serkis in this?)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY –
Adam Stone, TAKE SHELTER (no problems with this pick)
Emmanuel Lubezki, THE TREE OF LIFE (the great cinematography was the only thing this had going for it; oh, and cool dinosaurs)
Guillaume Schiffman, THE ARTIST (what happens if you watch this on your color TV?)
Newton Thomas Sigel, DRIVE (I didn’t like the movie, but liked the cinematography)
Robert Richardson, HUGO (one of the few movies where the 3-D added something)
BEST ANIMATED FILM –
ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (one of the rare times an entire family can laugh and have fun with an animated picture)
HAPPY FEET TWO
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (am I the only one that doesn’t love these Panda films?)
RANGO (an I the only one that liked this? All the friends I recommend see this, hated it)
WINNIE THE POOH (I passed on this, as I’m not 5-years-old)
BEST EDITING –
Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST
Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, & Mark Yoshikawa, THE TREE OF LIFE
Mat Newman, DRIVE
Oliver Bugge Coutté, BEGINNERS
Thelma Schoonmaker, HUGO
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN –
Anne Seibel, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Dante Ferretti, HUGO
Jack Fisk, THE TREE OF LIFE
Laurence Bennett, THE ARTIST
Stuart Craig, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
BEST SCORE –
Alexandre Desplat, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
Alexandre Desplat, HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
Alexandre Desplat, THE TREE OF LIFE
Howard Shore, HUGO
Ludovic Bource, THE ARTIST
BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE –
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
For the list of winners, check the San Diego Film Critics Society website after Wednesday when we vote.
For my list of the Top 10 movies of the year, you have a few more weeks to wait. For my reviews of many of these films, just check this website.
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