Tit for Tat Film Awards 2014   4 comments

Welp better late than never! This should have been posted three-four months ago, but I’ve just finished my viewing list two weeks ago. As per tradition, I offer my own picks of the best in cinema from 2014. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment whatsoever. Trimming this to six per category is quite hard considering I’ve seen more than a hundred films from last year (you can check the complete eligibility list here), and I have left a boatload of other deserving achievements in my shortlist. That said, unlike the last two years (which you can see 2012 and 2013  here), there isn’t any Her or Holy Motors that dominated the race this year. Anyway, here we go! My picks in 24 different categories.

best film ensemble

gold PRIDE
silver SELMA

bronzeTHE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson once again managed to come up with a delicious cast to portray these larger than life characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but his bigger achievement is compiling these Wes regulars who already had a grasp of his direction and humor. Selma is a passion project for everyone involved, and said passion has translated to screen even if Oprah is overselling it. But my ensemble pick for this year would be the cast of Pride with its successful combination of veterans like Dominic West, Bill Nighy, and Imelda Staunton and newbies Ben Schnetzer and George McKay all giving standout performances.

best debut feature

gold NIGHTCRAWLER
silver A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

bronzeTHE BABADOOK

Jennifer Kent’s influences were clear in The Babadook, but the way she handled the material treated the movie more as a homage instead of a copycat, and for that she has my admiration. In A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Ana Lily Amirpour treated Western feels to her unique vampire story effectively setting up the atmosphere of the whole film. Ultimately, it’s Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, which he also wrote aside from directing, that takes the cake in this category. The solid thriller was incredibly shot and every inch thought provoking.

best visual effects

gold GODZILLA
silver DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
bronze X-MEN: DAYS OF THE FUTURE PAST

Sure Quicksilver’s scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past has already been overpraised to death, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not worthy of a mention here. it’s one of the few times when the audience I was watching with literally went “Woooah.” The reboot of the Planet of the Apes series has been a great decision mixing great quality while bringing in the visual spectacle. But Godzilla tops the year in terms of dropping the wow. Whether it’s Godzilla’s first appearance, the Hawaii attack, or the Golden Gate Bridge scene, we’re thisclose in forgiving the existence of the 1998 version.

best sound

gold WHIPLASH
silver GODZILLA
bronze SNOWPIERCER

Snowpiercer was an aural achievement in the same vein that it was a visual treat for its fans — the train sounds and everything that has happened inside were all specifically detailed in the movie. Godzilla has a lot more to chew bringing in more setpieces and more scenarios to showcase its sound design, but surpassed all those rather easily. But in the end, it’s all about Whiplash. It was loud and tense one minute, while calm and tender the other.

best original song

gold “LOST STARS” (Begin Again)
silver “LIKE A FOOL” (Begin Again)
bronze “GLORY” (Selma)

John Legend and Common’s “Glory” brings the emotional punches that compatibly suits Selma‘s intentions. However, my two favorite original soundtracks are from John Carney’s follow up to Once — Begin Again. In “Like A Fool“, Keira Knightley’s Greta puts a twist to the feelings of a heartbroken woman by supplying it with sugary sweet arrangement. Meanwhile, “Lost Stars” is one of those rare cases of a song playing an integral role in the movie. Plus points for finding a song that would suit Adam Levine’s voice.

best original score

gold UNDER THE SKIN
silver BIRDMAN
bronze GONE GIRL

The pairing of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross continues to compliment David Fincher’s visuals in their third collaboration together in Gone Girl. Meanwhile, one of last year’s award season travesty is Antonio Sanchez’ disqualification for his musical work in Birdman. It was a gimmick that could have turned out as a disaster but ended up in an exactly different position. However, Mica Levi’s score for Under the Skin tops the list just for effectively sustaining the tension as we follow Scarlett Johansson’s character.

best makeup and hairstyling

gold GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
silver THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
bronze SNOWPIERCER

The idea in Snowpiercer was to highlight the different classes where the characters in the film belong to, and a large part of its successful portrayal of such was in its makeup and hairstyling. Meanwhile, the work in The Grand Budapest Hotel is as wacky and as big as its intention. In the end, the colorful (albeit obvious) work in Guardians of the Galaxy is my pick for this year.

best editing

gold BOYHOOD
silver WHIPLASH
bronze WILD TALES

What makes the editing in Wild Tales impressive isn’t the fact that it managed to showcase six different but effective stand alone stories in a span of 120 minutes, but the little nuances that connect the stories when one part ends and another begins. Whiplash is obviously an editing catnip, but it’s effective with what it achieved escalating the tension further between Fletcher and Neyman. Boyhood managed to feature a 12 year span of a story in merely two and a half hours, but that same amount of time already made us feel attached to these characters we started to barely know anything about.

best costume design

gold THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
silver MR. TURNER
bronze INHERENT VICE

The costume design in Inherent Vice plays some sort of an additional character in the film making the recreation of the 70s more effective. One can easily be dismissive of the usual big British costume pieces, but Jacqueline Durran’s work in Mr. Turner is simply irresistible. Ultimately, it’s the wardrobe pieces from the Grand Budapest Hotel that takes the win for me. When the clothes attract as much attention as these out of this world characters, you know the designer has more than done her job.

best cinematography

gold MR. TURNER
silver THE IMMIGRANT
bronze  IDA

There seems to be an easy route for black and white films to attract cinematography mentions, but in Ida, it feels more of a complement than a gimmick. The soft touches in The Immigrant perfectly complements the soft touches of Marion Cotillard’s character, Eva. But every scene in Mr. Turner seemed like it was taken straight out of a painting providing us picturesque visuals during the whole course of the movie.

best production design

gold THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
silver MR. TURNER
bronze INHERENT VICE

The atmosphere 70s hippie scene was effectively conveyed in Inherent Vice where you can smell the characters right outside of your screen. Mr. Turner is rich in colors and texture that it just invites you to be a part of its world. But the vibrant set pieces in the Grand Budapest Hotel is beyond astonishing that it totally delivers in true Wes Anderson fashion.

best foreign language film

gold FORCE MAJEURE
silver THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
bronze WILD TALES

Hilarious on the outside but reflective on the inside, Wild Tales successfully conveyed themes of violence and vengeance, albeit on different levels. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was such a sweet surprise — it was gorgeous to look at, but not sacrificing the maturity of its content, just like any Studio Ghibli film. Force Majeure poses a really important question in terms of the roles we play in the society, and it’s even more clever when you consider the scenario that led to such.

best animated feature

gold THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
silver THE LEGO MOVIE
bronze SONG OF THE SEA

Song of the Sea is the definition of an underrated gem, combining mythological elements with a more broad theme. The Lego Movie is definitely a lot of people’s most entertaining experience in the cinema from last year. To sum it in one word -awesome. But The Tale of the Princess Kaguya;s poignancy wins me over, as its dreamy visuals bring one of my favorite movie moments of the past year.

best documentary

gold NATIONAL GALLERY
silver THE MISSING PICTURE
bronze JODOROWSKY’S DUNE

Jodorowsky’s Dune is fascinating to watch simply because it features the ambition of a man in how he “fulfills” his dream. The Missing Picture, on the other hand, takes a different approach by using clay animation in dealing an equally important time in history. Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery takes the win though for bringing us not only to the interiors of this prominent London attraction, but giving us an experience along with it.

best male breakthrough

gold ANTOINE OLIVIER PILON (Mommy)
silver JACK O’CONNELL (Starred Up)
bronze ANSEL ELGORT (The Fault In Our Stars)

Hazel Lancaster is the heart of The Fault in Our Stars, but Ansel Elgort’s dreamy demeanor made us embrace and feel for his character just the same.While his turn in failed Oscar bait Unbroken is one of the film’s few saving graces, it was in Starred Up that showed O’Connell’s gravitas as an aspiring actor with depth. Female characters might be Xavier Dolan’s forte, but Antoine Olivier Pilon totally got what Dolan wanted for this character in Mommy.

best female breakthrough

gold GUGU MBATHA RAW (Beyond the Lights)
silver JENNY SLATE (Obvious Child)
bronze KATHERINE WATERSTON (Inherent Vice)

Fearless is what I’d probably call Katherine Waterston’s first foray into acting taking a role as bold and as daring that what she did in Inherent Vice. Jenny Slate continues the trend of SNL performers giving a great turn at the movies carrying Obvious Child with much more insights. What’s impressive about Gugu Mbatha Raw’s turn in Beyond the Lights is how accurate her popstar interpretation is. That and the achievement of making her character really transparent and feel more human.

best adapted screenplay

 

gold ISAO TAKAHATA (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)
silver DAMIEN CHAZELLE (Whiplash)
bronze GILLIAN FLYNN (Gone Girl)

Gillian Flynn effectively translates her own novel to the big screen choosing which details needs to be included (and excluded) from the literary adaptation of this popular book series. We’ve seen a lot of “drive into madness to achieve greatness” in films, but Whiplash emphasizes that if you can’t beat him, join him. The complexities of life and the sins we need to pay is what I like about The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, particularly that one dreamy sequence before the ending.

best original screenplay

gold RUBEN OSTLUND (Force Majeure)
silver STEPHEN BERESFORD (Pride)
bronze JIM JARMUSCH (Only Lovers Left Alive)

What Jim Jarmusch did in Only Lovers Left Alive was a refreshing approach to vampires co-existing with humans, only this time it’s more mesmerizing and bittersweet. In Pride, Beresford wrote a crowdpleasing film, but carefully managed to tone it with the perfect amount for it not to be too sentimental nor preachy. Ruben Ostlund posed the question of the perceived roles of the genders in the society making us contemplate even after the credits has rolled.

best supp actress

gold ROSE BYRNE (Neighbors)
silver SUZANNE CLEMENT (Mommy)
bronze PATRICIA ARQUETTE (Boyhood)

Patricia Arquette was very much deserving of the Oscar she won just a few months ago, even without her already iconic speech, as her turn in Boyhood was as natural as the character can get. Suzanne Clement overcomes the possibility of making her role in Mommy gimmicky, which would be a real challenge had it been in the hands of a less competent actress. What Rose Byrne did in Neighbors is simply prove that women can hold against their own, albeit supporting roles, in a testosterone filled film.

best supp actor

gold TIMUR MAGOMEDGADZHIEV (Two Days, One Night)
silver EDWARD NORTON (Birdman)
bronze JOSH BROLIN (Inherent Vice)

Josh Brolin steals every scene he’s in in Inherent Vice, and he made sure you’ve felt his presence given his story arc. It might be too obvious that Edward Norton’s role in Birdman is one that has a huge ego (and hard on, apparently), but what he did was to let the character get loose without letting it go full retard. When people talk about single scenes that made impact, they better be including that of Timur Magomedhadzhiev in it. He was featured in only a single scene in Two Days, One Night, but the film hasn’t reached an emotional high as compared to what happened in his scene.

best actress

gold ANNE DORVAL (Mommy)
silver MARION COTILLARD (Two Days, One Night)
bronze ROSAMUND PIKE (Gone Girl)

Rosamund Pike was devilishly delicious in her turn as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Years from now, it’ll be a reference point to the iconic performances compared with the likes of Alex Forrest. Marion Cotillard was seriously heartbreaking in Two Days, One Night carrying the whole film on her back and showcasing a gamut of different emotions. It was a tall order for Anne Dorval to be the foundation of Mommy, but her Diane was such a painfully honest portrayal of a woman who wasn’t afraid to showcase the highs and lows of her life.

best actor

gold BILL HADER (The Skeleton Twins)
silver DAVID OYELOWO (Selma)
bronze TIMOTHY SPALL (Mr. Turner)

Only in the hands of a capable actor like Timothy Spall can make Mr. Turner a really complex character, which showcases his clear understanding of how Mike Leigh envisions the titular character. You might not agree with everything he;s doing, but you’re just hooked with him. David Oyelowo breathes and lives the icon that is Martin Luther King Jr, in Selma, possessing the latter’s charismatic and strong willed character. But in the end, it’s all about Bill Hader’s revelatory performance in The Skeleton Twins that does it for me. Sure, having Kristen Wiig as his co-actor in a lot of his scenes helped, but he made you care for him much more than what you anticipated.

best director

gold RICHARD LINKLATER (Boyhood)
silver JONATHAN GLAZER (Under the Skin)
bronze JEAN-PIERRE AND LUC DARDENNE (Two Days, One Night)

By now it’s pretty clear that whatever the Dardennes do will surely be great, but it still won’t stop me from specifying their work in Two Days, One Night. It took Jonathan Glazer almost a decade to follow up his equally great work in Birth, but it was worth the wait when he gave us something like Under the Skin. And Richard Linklater’s remarkable peak in Boyhood is to inject complex human emotions in what could have been a tempting gimmicky narrative.

best picture

gold BOYHOOD (Richard Linklater)
silver UNDER THE SKIN (Jonathan Glazer)
bronze DEUX JOURS, UNE NUIT (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

Two Days, One Night  was pretty much straightforward in putting the complexities of human emotions in its center, as we follow Sandra talk to her workmates one by one as she makes her case. But it is within these different reactions and stories towards their answers to her request that further showcased the versatile thematic layers of the movie ranging from issues of economic struggles to one’s personal strength in dealing with such and the morality of these other people’s decisions

Based on Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same title, Under the Skin is one chilling and mysterious story filled with bold and brave imagery; the film just hypes up the tension more and more. In Glazer’s world, the mood is gloomy and the atmosphere is just as dark as ever, and it is through these visuals that he paints the most uncommon situations.  It is harrowing and visceral, disturbing and sensational movie watching experience.

Richard Linklater’s 12 year in the making masterpiece Boyhood is as ambitious as one can get, but the simple and organic approach in its depiction of a slice (is it even just a slice?) of life is certainly one of the most emotionally affecting movie watching experience I’ve ever had. More than the achievement of such a “stunt” project (if one can even call it that), what makes Linklater’s Boyhood every inch effective and memorable is that it was able to capture the accuracy of one’s growing up beyond its literal meaning. The feelings you invested in these characters are too much and too deep that you just don’t want it to end. Well in my case, I really don’t.

That was it! As a recap, here are the winners for the 2014 Tit for Tat Film Awards:

PICTURE: Boyhood
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
LEAD ACTOR: Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins
LEAD ACTRESS: Anne Dorval, Mommy
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Timur Magomedgadzhiev, Two Days, One Night
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Rose Byrne, Neighbors
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Ruben Ostlund, Force Majeure
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Isao Takahata, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Force Majeure (Ruben Ostlund)
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM: National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman)
MALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Antoine Olivier Pilon, Mommy
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Gugu Mbatha Raw, Beyond the Lights
ART DIRECTION: The Grand Budapest Hotel
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mr. Turner
COSTUME DESIGN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
EDITING: Boyhood
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: Guardians of the Galaxy
ORIGINAL SCORE: Under the Skin
ORIGINAL SONG: Lost Stars (Begin Again)
SOUND: Whiplash
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Godzilla
FIRST FEATURE: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
ENSEMBLE: Pride

See you again next year! What are your favorites from 2014?

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter and let’s talk about it more: @nikowl

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Posted July 11, 2015 by Nicol Latayan in Tit for Tat Awards

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4 responses to “Tit for Tat Film Awards 2014

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  1. LOVE these! Images are beautiful (as always) and the Mommy love makes my heart burst, especially the wins for Pilon and Dorval! There’s still a slew of films here I need to see, and these awards make me more excited to check them out!

    • Dolan actresses has won the Actress category the last two years. I wonder if he’ll make it three a row maybe something for Marion next year? :))

      Anyway, thanks for the complement! Trust me, I’m way too flattered. Can’t wait for your own picks (even if I have a hunch Mommy will be sweeping). 🙂

  2. I’m quite puzzled by the lack of love for Chazelle in directing, but these are great!

    As you know, I loathe Xavier Dolan but I really adore Mommy and Anne Dorval, but I (still) hate Suzanne Clement in it. I think she’s an actress with no screen presence at all lol.

    And YAY for the ensemble win for Pride! Far and away the best cast ensemble of the year.

    Kayo Jolongbayan
    • Whiplash was my sixth for BP and it took me almost five different changes before it ended up with that slot. Same goes for Chazelle in Directing, but I can’t deny how Duvernay translated Selma to the screen. 🙂

      And yes, it wasn’t even a close choice sa Pride winning Ensemble. That was the definition of an ensemble.

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