gARTh's 2011 Movie Awards


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Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist

George Clooney - The Descendants

Viola Davis - The Help

Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer - Beginners

Supporting Actress:
Octavia Spencer - The Help

Adapted Screenplay:
George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon - The Ides of March

Original Screenplay:
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Tree of Life

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Art Direction:

Costume Design:
The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Visual Effects:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Sound Mixing:

Music - Original Score:
Cliff Martinez - Drive

Music - Original Song: (select link to listen)
Kermit the Frog & the Muppets - "Pictures in My Head" - The Muppets

Music - Use of Previously Recorded Song; Feature:
Bjork featuring Skunk Anansie & Marius de Vries - "Army of Me (Sucker Punch Remix)" - Sucker Punch

Music - Use of Previously Recorded Song; Trailer:
Karen O, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Led Zeppelin) - "Immigrant Song" - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Animated Feature Film:
The Adventures of Tintin

Documentary Feature Film:
The Interrupters

Foreign Language Film:
13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku)

Animated Performance:
Andy Serkis - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Villainous Performance:
Min-sik Choi  - I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boatda)

Comedic Performance:
Rainn Wilson - Super

Cameo / Bit-Part Performance:
Hugh Jackman - X-Men: First Class

Breakthrough Performance:
Joel Courtney  - Super 8

Breakthrough Filmmaker:
Joe Cornish - Attack the Block

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Holmes and Moriarty duel, inside each other's minds.

Attack the Block - "This is too much madness to explain in one text!"

Super - "Shut Up, Crime!"

Poster Art: (select link to view)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (One Sheet)

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Most Underrated Film:

Films that did not receive a wide release, were unsuccessful at the box office, were not nominated for any major awards or receive acclaim at any major film festivals, and were generally unknown to most audiences at the time of their release... but were well-liked by most critics and audiences that did happen to see them.

Some Guy Who Kills People - Directed by Jack Perez. Written by Ryan A. Levin.

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"Grindhouse" Film Award:

Films that uphold the "Grindhouse" traditions of off-beat, exploitative, and taboo subjects, guerilla filmmaking techniques, and unconventional narrative structures, without which filmmaking as a whole cannot move forward.

Red State

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Special Achievement Award:

The entire cast and crew of the Harry Potter series (2001-2011).

Never before has an undertaking of this magnitude been carried through to such an end in the world of film. Eight films, all of which are epics in both tone and scale, with a continuously growing yet consistent cast of many of the greatest actors of our time, and with each film maintaining the highest levels of filmmaking quality.

The only other film series that go on for this long are horror film franchises, but they lack, among many things, this level of consistency in story, tone and cast. If The Lord of the Rings series had five more films, then it would be the closest comparison. Star Wars, while having six films in its series, are technically two series because of the major tonal differences and obvious casting differences in the two separate-yet-connected trilogies. The James Bond films change casts, and tones, with the times. There is no real comparison... nothing like Harry Potter has been THIS fully realized before.

Bringing the extraordinary series to life ten years ago was veteran family-film director Chris Columbus, whose first two films, 2001's The Sorcerer's Stone and 2002's The Chamber of Secrets, brought the magic, in more ways than one, and characters to wondrous life. With the third film, 2004's The Prisoner of Azkaban, auteur director Alfonso Cuarón made the world feel real like never before, not only to make the impossible seem possible, but also to show that the darkness and dangers faced were emotional, not simply plot devices. Director Mike Newell continued on this path with the fourth installment, 2005's The Goblet of Fire, up to that point the darkest of the series, pushing the emotions even higher and characters even further. With each film, as the characters grew, so did each film's understanding that for good to triumph over evil, hardships would have to be endured, sacrifices would have to be made, and personal choices, for better or worse, would have to be lived with. Lessons of such complexity are rarely found in blockbuster films, be they of the family genre or otherwise.

Director David Yates crafted the final four films, and while his first at the helm, 2007's The Order of the Phoenix, is in my opinion the least best in the series due to the brisk pace of the action and lack of story explanation, character motivation, and all of the subtle moments that draw audiences in, he has with every subsequent film fine-tuned his craft to make the films better and better as they draw to a close. In that way, 2009's The Half-Blood Prince was an immediate improvement, and almost wound up with a Best Film nomination that year on this list. The two-part finale, 2010's The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and 2011's The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, are among the best fantasy films ever made.

Now, while the last story is technically one story told over two films, they both match tonally while standing on their own feet, which means they work as one continuous story or as stand alone films. (Obviously, you can't follow what's going on without having seen the first part, but the same can be said about the entire series, or any other series like this. There are enough film franchises and episodic television shows out there that audiences should be aware by now of the pitfalls of jumping into an ongoing story in the middle or at the end). The break between the two films in the middle of the story is a perfect stopping/jumping off point, and doesn't feel any different than the break up of the overall story into seven other films.

As far as buildup goes, not only is The Deathly Hallows building up towards the inevitable conclusion to the series, but it is in itself the culmination of the building up of characters and stories that got their start in 2001's The Sorcerer's Stone. Ten years of build up, and the payoff is finally and gloriously realized. Everything is thrown at this film, with huge set pieces and so many characters played by now-familiar faces that it should by all rights be an impossible task to follow the flow of action and the development of any sort of character interaction. But you can (a testamant to screenwriter Steve Kloves, who wrote 7 of the 8 films, with Michael Goldenberg writing the fifth film). The film follows, as the series on film has since the beginning, the journey of Harry. Like any literary adaptation, there are things cut out, moments that are close to reader's hearts that are either removed or merely hinted at, but as a film it follows the lead character first and foremost... and that is a wise move. Plenty of adaptations don't know how to include what's necessary and make sacrifices for the betterment of the film, and they attempt to include everything and suffer for it.

In the end, this series will be remembered in part because it was done, from the beginning in 2001 to the end in 2011, with a love and integrity unmatched in film. So many stories get bogged down in changes, in casting, crew, etc. due to those involved wanting to move on. Or the excitement from the fans dries up, and so each subsequent films fall prey to budgetary cuts or lack of enthusiasm. Most series never continue to the end of the story as they should, and even if they do, each release is lacking from the last and obviously not up to the standards set when the series was begun. Sometimes, they're continued direct-to-video/DVD/Blu-ray, and the quality has dropped so far that the entire series, other than maybe the first film, is generally forgotten, mocked - or both.

It is a wonder, then, how a series like this was able to sustain itself where others have failed? That the fanbase not only maintained interest but grew and became more interested with each film. That the box office receipts kept pouring in. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was not only the highest grossing Harry Potter film, and the highest grossing film of 2011 both domestically and internationally, but broke box-office records and ended up as the third highest grossing film ever made by the time the year was out.

Many of the films that receive this Special Achievement Award are also the highest-grossing films of the year. This is not because the business side of filmmaking is so important, it's because there's a reason why so many people went to see these films. A film doesn't earn over a billion dollars simply because the core fanbase loved it. Its reach is far greater than that.

Films such as these, The Lord of the Rings series, which won a Special Acheivement Award in 2003 for similar reasons and helped in some way to pave the way for franchises like Harry Potter to continue (hopefully, the Harry Potter series will pave the way for something even greater in our future), The Dark Knight (Special Achievement Award 2008), and Avatar (Special Achievement Award 2009), are given a special nod, not due to their money-making abilities or popularity, because they are important to the overall fabric of film history.

Despite their flaws and many detractors (not everyone is going to absolutely love these films, but there are far more ways to think about film that strictly loving and hating. If those are the only two ways a person looks at a film, in such a black-and-white/good-and-bad manner with no middle-ground, no grey area, and no room for all of the infinite possiblities in-between, then that person is truly missing out on so much that films, and the entire world of the arts, have to offer), these films have reached - truly reached - more people than most films could dream of, entertaining, dazzling, inspiring, and giving the ENTIRE world something that for a few hours we can all relate to and/or get lost in. Films like these are not always the very best films ever made, but they are perfect examples of why films still continue to amaze us.

The Harry Potter series is a story of friendship, love, growing up, dealing with loss and betrayal, understanding and recognizing our differences while focusing on what we have in common, risking all for what's right and protecting those in need, learning right from wrong from within the grey areas of life, coping with death, overcoming obstacles both large and small, learning who you truly are and standing behind what you believe... and that's just the scratching the surface. A story that brought magic to the hearts of moviegoers for a decade. A story that's universally identifiable and yet unlike any before it.

I congratulate and thank each and every person that worked on these films, from the more than 85 principle cast members, the four directors, the two screenwriters, to the unnamable amounts of crewmembers who tirelessly worked on building a world that we had never seen the likes of before, and of course author J.K. Rowling whose imagination sparked this whole series to begin with, and wish them all the best in future endeavors.

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- gARTh -

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