gARTh's 2013 Movie Awards: Winners

gARTh's 2013 Movie Awards

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W I N N E R S :

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Film: 12 Years a Slave

Director: Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity

Actor: Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club

Actress: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle

Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter - The Wolf of Wall Street

Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze - Her

Editing: Rush

Cinematography: Gravity

Stuntwork: Iron Man 3

Art Direction: The Great Gatsby

Costume Design: The Great Gatsby

Make-Up: American Hustle

Visual Effects: Gravity

Sound Mixing: The Great Gatsby

Music - Original Score: Arcade Fire - Her

Music - Original Song: Lana Del Ray - "Young and Beautiful" - The Great Gatsby

Music - Use of Previously Recorded Song; Feature: Muse - "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" - World War Z

Music - Use of Previously Recorded Song; Trailer: Lou Reed - "Perfect Day" - You're Next

Animated Feature Film: The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)

Documentary Feature Film: 20 Feet from Stardom

Foreign Language Film: The Hunt (Jagten) - Denmark

Animated / Vocal Performance: Scarlett Johansson - Her

Villainous Performance: Sharlto Copely - Elysium

Comedic Performance: Dwayne Johnson - Pain & Gain

Cameo / Bit-Part Performance: Michael Cera - This Is the End

Breakthrough Performance: Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips

Breakthrough Filmmaker: John Krokidas - Kill Your Darlings

Cast: The Wolf of Wall Street

Scene: Evil Dead - Finale: And the rain shall turn to blood.

Quote: The World's End 

"Tonight, we will be partaking of a liquid repast, as we wind our way up the golden mile commencing with an inaugural tankard in The First Post, then on to The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, The Cross Hands The Good Companions, The Trusty Servant, The Two-Headed Dog, The Mermaid, The Beehive, The King’s Head, and The Hole in the Wall for a measure of the same—all before the last bittersweet pint in that most fateful: The World’s End. Leave a light on, good lady, for though we may return with a twinkle in our eyes, we will in truth be blind—drunk!"

Tagline: John Dies at the End

"Just So You Know... They're Sorry For Everything That's About To Happen."

Poster Art: (select link to view)

Nebraska (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.

+1 - Directed by Dennis Iliadis. Written by Bill Gullo.

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"Grindhouse" Film Award:

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

John Dies At the End - Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli.

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Special Achievement Award for Excellence in Filmmaking:

Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity

Often, the films that become notorious for their awe-inspiring visuals are not always the films that tell the most in-depth stories or have the best written characters. George Lucas and James Cameron are filmmakers who have built careers on pushing the film medium forward (by giant leaps), but their films are not always remembered for being the very best films, they are simply outstanding and dazzling visual entertainment.

Alfonso Cuarón has likewise built his career on visual storytelling, but in a way that has seperated him from the likes of Lucas and Cameron. The Little Princess, Great Expectations, and Y Tu Mamá También are all visual feasts, but of a more arthouse variety. The characters and story are still in the forefront, while the visuals he utilizes are servicing the characters and story and not the other way around. It wasn't until his first blockbuster film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, that he showed that he could still maintain a focus on character and story within a huge world of big-budget visual effects. After that, he proved that it wasn't just the Harry Potter formula, with his brilliantly made science fiction film Children of Men - which has some of the greatest camera moves and visual trickery ever put on film.

Seven years later, he returns with Gravity. On the surface, Gravity is almost a simple story - two people fight for survival in a life-threatening situation in outer space. This scenario brings to mind, at first, something akin to Apollo 13.

But, being the kind of visual director that Cuarón is, Gravity turns out to be much more that just a story of two people in space. The way the film is made, and the realistic detail in which outer space and what it's really like, bring a seemingly simple thriller story involving minimal characters into uncharted territory. Because it's all trickery - of the camera, of the sound, of the light, and using digital effects to put it all into a life-like framework that now makes a film like Apollo 13 seem quite tame.

And whether people respond to the characters and the story of a film like this doesn't matter, because at the end of the day the biggest character in a film like this is its environment. Much like the forests of Pandora in Avatar, space in Gravity is the central focus. And Cuarón has filmed his subject so well, and using such interesting devices to do so, that it's amazing how real it seems. It's not just "special effects," it's not just an amazing sound design or great performances by the actors to sell it, it's a combination of everything in the book and then some, all masterfully crafted by an artisan of the film industry and placed before you to experience. Not just to watch as entertainment - but to experience.

And that, more than anything else, is what motion pictures were made for.

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Special Achievement Award for Excellence in Performance:

Adèle Exarchopoulos & Léa Seydoux - Blue Is the Warmest Color (La vie d'Adèle)

Raw emotion, powerful and real and unflinching. Say what you want about the movie, its director, or the taboo subject matter (that it expertly handles to the point of rendering it passed shock onto endearing) but any way you look at it these two female leads give performances for the ages. That the characters are so well defined, so well captured in every little detail, two living and breathing real women, makes the subject matter seem much more real than it actually is (it is only a movie, not sure why all the fuss).

Both actresses shared in the film's win of the Palm D'or at the Cannes Film Festival, the first time ever that anyone other than the director was given the award. And deservedly so. The film is great, it's direction, writing, cinematography, everything is handled very well... but like Charlize Theron in Monster, the performances of Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux overshadow the film itself, and have already helped to carve out their own little nitch in film history. Twenty years from now, no one will remember all the fuss caused by a bunch of prudes over some sex scenes, but their performances will remain just as strong and captivating.

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Special Achievement Award for Excellence in Writing:

Spike Jonze - Her

While best known for his directing - Charlie Kaufman's brilliantly written films Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, the beautifully imaginative take on Where the Wild Things Are, and a slew of the best music videos to come out of the '90's - Spike Jonze is not always remembered as a great writer in his own right. However, he did co-write Where the Wild Things Are, not exactly an easy tale to tell, and whether anyone knows it or not, his off-beat sense of humor has been on display for years - he's the creator of the show "Jackass" and has helped to write and put together each of the theatrical films. All of these collected works, though, could not have prepared the world for such a touching and beautifully crafted love story in Her. And yet, though his time working with Kaufman probably rubbed off on him a bit, this is a tale I don't think anyone other than Jonze could have told.

The use of subtlety in acting gives realism and nuance to the most trivial of facial expressions or body language. In direction, subtlety brings out "the little things" that sometimes matter more to the telling of a story than anything else. The use of subtlety in writing is, however, not only difficult to do in the first place, but difficult to convey. Somehow, Jonze does it. In his use of the words he has his characters speak, to the way scenes play out almost unconventionally. It's poignant in that way that afternoon sunlight filtering into a room or raindrops on a window pane can hold one's gaze for minutes - or hours. It's such a simple thing, when you stop and think about it, but man is it amazing how wonderful it is while you're captivated.

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Special Achievement Award for Technical Innovation:

Neil Corbould, Glenn Freemantle, Emmanuel Lubezki, Tim Webber, & Alfonso Cuarón
- Gravity

For the development of the lighting aperatus known as The Lightbox, a nine foot cube outfitted with 4,096 LED bulbs that could replicate any lighting effects, and shadows, onto and across the actors faces.

For the development of a newly designed harness that could move the actors in any direction, puppeteered by off-camera crews, to simulate weightlessness in a way never before achieved.

For the development of a two-ton camera rig that could move around the actors in a similar weightless fashion.

The mixing/bluring of the production design, the photography and camera, the visual effects, and the practical special effects into one organism with one goal in the way that this film was made (taking four and a half years to get right), is almost unheard of. Similar to the 2002 Special Achievement winner (David Fincher and the DP's of Panic Room) and 2009
Special Achievement winner (James Cameron and the crew of Avatar), the technical innovations of Gravity are just as stupifying in their end result as the film as a whole, and will most assuredly have an impact on future films and future generations of filmmakers and technical wizards.

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Thanks to all that participated.

- gARTh -