And now, on with the awards! This year's five Best Picture nominees all find their way to shine in some way amongst the Mouton d'Or winners, but only one gets to claim the honour of a big, gold, digital sheep to print out and stick on their fridge. Will it be the one about the ballerina who ties her shoes too tight, loses her mind and sprouts wings? Or the one with that boxer who has like 18 sisters with huge hair and even bigger mouths? Maybe it will be the one with the annoying little computer geek who taught us all that we don't need friends in real life if we have lots of virtual ones. Perhaps Woody and Buzz will finally go to infinity and beyond! Or maybe, just maybe, it will be the one you all expected to be crowned king. You'll just have to read on to find out.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, here are the winners of the 2010 Mouton d'Or Awards ... (Scroll over any film title for the full Black Sheep review.)
Although it might be hard to see at times, films are inherently designed to entertain you. Of all the films I saw this year, these were the five that provided me with the best times and there was certainly no better time to be had at the movies this year than at TOY STORY 3. What was originally expected to be an unnecessary sequel ended up capping the series so perfectly and inspiring big laughs, incredible tension and a ton of tears as we all said goodbye to our toys of yesteryear.
I AM LOVE
As a film critic, I see a lot of movies and some of the smaller ones inevitably get missed from time to time. There is no better experience for me than when I sit down to a movie, knowing very little about it, expecting just as little, and then being floored. All five of these films had varying degrees of this effect on me but none more than I AM LOVE. This Italian film by Luca Guadagnino is breathaking and unabashedly romantic, in both imagery and content. It is a grand experience and one that I want to get lost in again and again.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
JACK GOES BOATING
Obviously, I do not see everything that is released each year. I try to avoid whatever I think will be dreadful but some crap always manages to get past my filter, either because I have to see it to review it or because I make a horrible judgment call. Though it may be considered rude to spit on a home team player, Michael McGowan's SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL is as insipid as the title suggests it will be. If you're going to make such a ludicrous movie than do it right, man. Instead, what we have here is a bunch of forgettable, meandering songs, and a lot of crude, fumbling dancing on ice. There isn't even any great hockey playing in it! I left before the last number. I couldn't have cared less to see who won the big game if it meant having to watch them sing again.
I AM LOVE
After a four-week voting session, the Black Sheep readers have chosen wisely. Although I did not love INCEPTION when it was first released, I have since seen it two more times and I am now a firm believer. And I am happy to get in line with my readers on this one as each year they choose a great winner amongst a stellar list of nominees. Thank you to all who participated in the survey and I'd like to extend that thanks further to all who read Black Sheep regularly. This one's for you!
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
As it already picked up Best Big Movie, it is not a big surprise to see TOY STORY 3 take the Animated Feature category. I do truly love and admire the other two nominees for their passionate artistry but I consider TOY STORY 3 to be a near perfect film.
I AM LOVE
There are always a few categories I get stuck on each year and this was certainly one of them. I love getting lost in the style of a film, from the cinematography to the editing to the art direction and costume design. Simply put, I like pretty things. And all of these elements come together to make THE SOCIAL NETWORK very, very pretty.
I AM LOVE
If there is anything I like more than movies, it is music and all of these nominees have beautiful scores that incorporate a lot of innovation into their bold works. As much as I would really like to reward Hans Zimmer for his incredibly stirring INCEPTION score, I must give the prize to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their trippy electronic score to THE SOCIAL NETWORK. It works so symbiotically with the visuals that it often turns the film into a digital symphony.
CHRISTIAN BALE in THE FIGHTER
ARMIE HAMMER in THE SOCIAL NETWORK
JOHN HAWKES in WINTER'S BONE
MARK RUFFALO in THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
GEOFFREY RUSH in THE KING'S SPEECH
I have not found Christian Bale's work to be very impressive in the last little while. It felt like he was distracted, not really pushing himself. From the moment he first appears on screen though in THE FIGHTER, it is clear that Bale is about to give a revelatory performance. He looks thin, sickly and cracked out of his head. His grip on his past, and reality for that matter, is strained, but his devotion to his brother is always there underneath all of his own junk. It is very good to see him fight for something again.
AMY ADAMS in THE FIGHTER
HELENA BONHAM CARTER in THE KING'S SPEECH
MELISSA LEO in THE FIGHTER
LESLEY MANVILLE in ANOTHER YEAR
DIANNE WEIST in RABBIT HOLE
Melissa Leo, a veteran character actor, seemed to come out of nowhere two years ago when she earned great acclaim for her lead performance in FROZEN RIVER. That recognition led to her being cast in THE FIGHTER, allowing her to solidify herself as one of the most talented actresses working in Hollywood today. As a mother torn between her sons and taken in by the allure of fame and fortune, her struggle to convince herself that she is still a good mother is being fought on her face in every frame. Judging from how much she actually says with her face, it could not have been an easy fight.
I like to be surprised by the movies and David Seidler's screenplay for THE KING'S SPEECH is certainly an original one. Sure it is based on real events but it is a period piece that is devoid of stuffiness and pretense. In fact, it is often shockingly droll. The relationship between a king and his subordinate speech therapist is certainly a unique one and it is fascinating to watch as it goes from purely professional to personal, a gap that should be bridged way more often than it probably is. A screenwriter for many years now, Seidler has written about a man who finds his voice and thus finds his own in the process.
My apologies to the rest of the nominees in this category. You are all excellent writers and have given us great works but there is truly no contest here. Aaron Sorkin's screenplay for THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a revelation. It is fast paced and runs around in so many circles, it is amazing we are able to keep up with it. Not only is the dialogue beautiful but it also stretches to such unexpected depths that it turns a movie about the creation of a website into a biting commentary on obsession, class, our dwindling privacy, our increased distance from each other and the ever evolving definition of what it now means to be someone's friend.
JAVIER BARDEM in BIUTIFUL
JEFF BRIDGES in TRUE GRIT
JESSE EISENBERG in THE SOCIAL NETWORK
JAMES FRANCO in 127 HOURS
COLIN FIRTH in THE KING'S SPEECH
This was the other category I struggled the most with this year. I thought it was a no-brainer. Colin Firth is performing at a new level as of late but I recognized that last year when I rewarded him for his heartbreaking work in A SINGLE MAN. I wanted to give it to him again for THE KING'S SPEECH (and seriously considered Jesse Eisenberg as I suspect he will never be this good again in his career) but Javier Bardem is just too good to ignore in Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's BIUTIFUL. As a dying man trying to put his affairs in order for his children before he goes, Bardem gives a heavy performance that is stretched in so many directions but never feels thin. With a ton of weight on his back, he always walks tall.
ANNETTE BENING in THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
NICOLE KIDMAN in RABBIT HOLE
JENNIFER LAWRENCE in WINTER'S BONE
NATALIE PORTMAN in BLACK SWAN
MICHELLE WILLIAMS in BLUE VALENTINE
This is, in my opinion, the most competitive category this year. These five performances are all worthy of winning and the combined talent of these five women is overwhelming. To some extent, it puts the boys to shame. And so, as hard as it was to make a decision, I am throwing my bouquet of roses at Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN. Her descent into madness is so palpable that you cannot help but feel like you're falling down that hole right alongside her. The weakness in her voice, the resolve in her face when she dances, the passion she exudes as she transforms on stage, all of it is completely transfixing - as beautiful and majestic as say, a swan.
DARREN ARONOFSKY for BLACK SWAN
DAVID FINCHER for THE SOCIAL NETWORK
TOM HOOPER for THE KING'S SPEECH
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN for INCEPTION
DAVID O. RUSSELL for THE FIGHTER
David Fincher has been making great movies for years now. He is an innovator and he likes to push people with his films. His command in THE SOCIAL NETWORK is evident from that very first scene in the bar, the moment that unknowingly catapulted the world into a new era. Fincher knows where he wants to go, where he wants to take us and what he wants us to see at all times. The journey he takes us on is so smooth that we hardly realize we're being taken on any kind of ride. Fincher's direction is confidant, bold and just plain triumphant.
And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for ... or reading quickly in hopes of getting to anyway, I am pleased to announce the winner of the 2010 Mouton d'Or Award for Best Picture of the year ...
I watched THE SOCIAL NETWORK for the third time the other day and I am still floored by how outstanding it is. It is such a self-assured piece of filmmaking, where all of the elements come together so seamlessly and with such masterful execution, that they make the film a modern masterpiece. Who knew a movie about Facebook could be so profound? The truth is no one really expected Fincher and friends to pull this off to begin with. I commend the entire SOCIAL NETWORK team for not only proving everyone wrong but for unexpectedly going one further and blowing everyone away as well.
Thank you all for joining me for the celebration of the best films of 2010. There were clearly a great deal of reasons to do so. As always, I appreciate your continued support and look forward to another great year of film and discussion in the year ahead. Bon cinema!