Another awards season is soon coming to an end but before we roll the credits on 2012, it's time once again to announce the winners of the 8th annual Mouton d'Or Awards. Past winners include BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, THE SOCIAL NETWORK and last year's winner, DRIVE. Will this year's winner be THE MASTER, which led the nominations in January with a total of 8? Or will LIFE OF PI, a movie which should never have really worked to begin with, take it all? Perhaps the little Sundance success that could, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, will continue its charge. Or perhaps ARGO will continue to win everything it touches. Maybe even MOONRISE KINGDOM, a movie I didn't connect with the first time around but that bowled me over in subsequent viewings, could keep working its magic over me all the way to the top prize. Not to give anything away but all five of these films feel the Mouton d'Or love is some form or another and rightfully so. Only one can take the Mouton d'Or for Best Picture though and with that in mind, let's find out the winners of the 8th annual Mouton d'Or Awards ...
(Scroll over any title to read the original Black Sheep review.)
I've now seen SKYFALL three times and it never ceases to floor me. From the incredible dialogue to the striking cinematography, from the explosive stunts to the universally talented cast, SKYFALL is technically perfect. Director, Sam Mendes is James Bond's new God and saviour.
Of the major nominees this year, AMOUR is the only one I've not seen more than once. I'm not sure if I could go through it again really. One day I will have to though because, as hard as it can be emotionally to bear at times, it is also meticulously exquisite filmmaking, featuring two very brave and tender performances. It is haunting but also oddly life affirming.
I've tried very hard to block DETACHMENT out of my head. It was an insult to my intelligence, an assault on my senses and an utter embarrassment for all involved. The issue of a declining education system is important but director, Tony Kaye, thinks the expression of his talent to be far more so. This is especially bad when there isn't any talent to speak of.
The submissions to determine the nominees in this category this year showed support for such a wide range of films that the category was expanded to 10 titles to ensure as many voices as possible would be heard. That said, when the voting started, there was a clear winner right away. ARGO earned nearly 25% of the vote and the runner-up was SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Thank you to everyone who voted and once again, you did great, guys. I am so happy that my readers have such fantastic taste!
Only three nominees this year but three very worthy selections. Any one of which deserves the win here but for me, FRANKENWEENIE was the standout. It is classic Tim Burton in a way that even Burton himself has not been able to capture as of late.
I don't often encourage people to see a film specifically in theatres, let alone in 3D, but LIFE OF PI is an experience that needs to be had in all its grandeur, on the glorious big screen. It is constantly surprising and wondrous to behold; it almost feels at times like you too are lost at sea. And on top of all this, Richard Parker isn't even a real tiger. Just awesome, in the traditional sense of the word, that is.
I often feel that I get this category wrong after the fact. This year I know I'm not mistaken though. Hans Zimmer's scores for all three Christopher Nolan Batman films have been exquisite and their intensity has been building all this time into the culminated climax that is THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Also, when you listen to it on headphones, it turns ordinary tasks like taking out the garbage into dangerous missions.
ROBERT DE NIRO in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
LEONARDO DICAPRIO in DJANGO UNCHAINED
DWIGHT HENRY in BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN in THE MASTER
EWAN MCGREGOR in THE IMPOSSIBLE
Philip Seymour Hoffman is most masterful in THE MASTER. The character he plays may be making it all up as he goes along, while fooling everyone along the way, but Hoffman himself isn't fooling anyone. He knows exactly what he's doing at all times and his control and awareness are unmatched.
AMY ADAMS in THE MASTER
SALLY FIELD in LINCOLN
ANNE HATHAWAY in LES MISERABLES
HELEN HUNT in THE SESSIONS
NICOLE KIDMAN in THE PAPERBOY
Sure, Anne Hathaway isn't in LES MISERABLES for very long and only really sings one song by herself but oh, that time she spent on screen was heavenly. And that song! Her pain reaches out and dares people not to feel for her without begging for it. Every moment she's on screen, is hers.
DANIEL DAY LEWIS in LINCOLN
JOHN HAWKES in THE SESSIONS
HUGH JACKMAN in LES MISERABLES
JOAQUIN PHOENIX in THE MASTER
DENZEL WASHINGTON in FLIGHT
I debated between Daniel Day-Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix here for quite some time but ultimately went with Phoenix because of the fierceness of his performance. While Day-Lewis was transformative as Lincoln, Phoenix was almost rabid in THE MASTER. His performance was demonstrative and uncontrollably so at times but its rawness was also fresh and sometimes frightening.
JESSICA CHASTAIN in ZERO DARK THIRTY
JENNIFER LAWRENCE in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
EMANUELLE RIVA in AMOUR
QUVENZHANE WALLIS in BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
NAOMI WATTS in THE IMPOSSIBLE
The bravery in Emmanuelle Riva's performance is moving. In many ways, this win is a shout out to her co-star, Jean-Louis Trintignant as well. He supports her throughout the film and his performance allows hers to shine even brighter. Her character's struggle is so real and so often only in her eyes. Riva is absolutely heartbreaking.
I can find things I don't like about SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK but the collective charm of the cast makes me not care about those things in the least. Jacki Weaver's nervous tenderness is touching. Robert De Niro gives his best performance in maybe 20 years. Jennifer Lawrence is impossible not to fall in love with. And this is the first time I've ever seen Bradley Cooper and thought that he could really act. Under David O. Russell's direction, this ensemble turns anxiety into great comfort.
AMOUR written by Michael Haneke
LOOPER written by Rian Johnson
THE MASTER written by Paul Thomas Anderson
written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
STORIES WE TELL written by Sarah Polley
Charming and concise, MOONRISE KINGDOM is a constant delight. When I first saw it, I wanted it to be about the adults and not the kids but when I saw it again, I realized its true genius is that it is about the adults, but only told through the kids. As they fight to find love in their young lives, they fight against everything their parents passed on to them without them realizing. And we watch as young love fights tirelessly against years of decline.
ARGO written by Chris Terrio
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
LIFE OF PI written by David McGee
LINCOLN written by Tony Kushner
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK written by David O. Russell
This is another award that almost went to LINCOLN because the dialogue is often like poetry but ultimately it is the versatility of ARGO that wins out. One minute, it's a historical drama, the next it's a Hollywood satire and then it shifts again into a hostage extraction thriller. It may not be reinventing any of these genres but it moves through each of them seamlessly and smoothly without sacrificing a trace of tension or humour.
ANTIVIRAL announces a new Canadian talent in Brandon Cronenberg, a disturbing voice with a stylish way of seeing the morose. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, by Colin Trevorrow, is one of the most endearing and surprisingly relatable films I've seen this year. As good as these films are though, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is just that, a beast of a first film. Director, Benh Zeitlin has a fresh and focused new voice. His imagination is one I look forward to getting to know much better.
BEN AFFLECK for ARGO
PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON for THE MASTER
WES ANDERSON for MOONRISE KINGDOM
MICHAEL HANEKE for AMOUR
ANG LEE for LIFE OF PI
As you likely already know, I was so nervous that LIFE OF PI would be a disaster. I loved the book so much and knew that it might not translate to film at all. What Ang Lee did with Yann Martel's book, the work he must have put in to pull this great feat off, is a little miracle all unto itself. When Pi curses at the heavens in the midst of a particularly violent storm, he should know it isn't God he is yelling at. For it is Ang Lee who is making it rain and who rules with great might over this uncontrollable sea.
I'm just going to say it, THE MASTER is a masterpiece. Paul Thomas Anderson has completely outdone himself. He brings you into this strange place and makes you feel as though you're constantly half in reality and half in a dream. And though I struggled to fully understand my surroundings, I always felt safe in his hands, like he knew exactly what he was doing at all times. Anderson is the true master and I am in awe of how boundless his talents seem to stretch. I didn't think he could go any further but he truly has. THE MASTER may not have connected with that wide an audience upon its release but I feel like they will be talking about this one for year's to come for Anderson is far, far ahead of his own time.
Thank you kindly for reading.
Here's to another great year at the movies!