Archive for the ‘Tit for Tat Awards’ Category

Tit for Tat Local Film Awards: Screenplay Winners 2000-2014   Leave a comment

So I’ve started this project way back in the mid-2000s. As one who’s a sucker for awards shows and predicting them (it’s weird I know), I try to pick my own choices in the main categories. Just a few years ago, I decided to do the techs as well. But it’s mostly focused on the four acting categories, directing, screenplay, ensemble, and Best Picture. This has been a work in progress, as I still catch up on some movies years past their actual release (especially the ones in the mid-2000s and early 2010s). Let it be clear as well that I have so many blindspots in terms of movies that I still haven’t seen (in Lav Diaz’ case for instance, I’ve only seen Batang WestsideNorte, and Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon) missing almost everything in his filmography (my loss, I understand). Also, the reason why I decided to begin with 2000s is probably because that’s the reasonable year when materials are still searchable and probably the year when I began to sleep late catching up awards shows in RPN 9 as I list them in a yellow paper. LOL. Anyway, let’s begin with my Screenplay picks of the last fifteen years:

screenplay

As a recap, here are my winners for the first 15 years:

2000: Armando Lao, “Tuhog
2001: Lav Diaz, “Batang Westside
2002: Lualhati Bautista, “Dekada ’70
2003: Michiko Yamamoto, “Magnifico
2004: Armando Lao, “Minsan Pa
2005: Michiko Yamamoto, “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros
2006: Mary Ann Bautista, Jose Javier Reyes, “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo
2007: Jade Castro, Michiko Yamamoto, Raymond Lee, “Endo
2008: Francis Xavier Pasion, “Jay
2009: Veronica Velasco, Jinky Laurel, “Last Supper #3
2010: Jerrold Tarog, “Senior Year
2011: Alvin Yapan, “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa
2012: Jun Lana, “Bwakaw
2013: Lav Diaz, Rody Vera, “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
2014: Giancarlo Abrahan, “Dagitab

And some other random stats:
MULTIPLE WINNERS:
3: Michiko Yamamoto (Magnifico, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Endo)
2: Lav Diaz (Batang West Side, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
2: Armando Lao (Tuhog, Minsan Pa)

MULTIPLE MENTIONS:
4: Armando Lao (Tuhog, La Vida Rosa, Minsan Pa, Biyaheng Lupa)
3: Raymond Lee (Tanging Yaman, Milan, Endo)
3: Jerrold Tarog (Confessional, Senior Year, Sana Dati)
3: Rody Vera (Nino, Requieme, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
3: Michiko Yamamoto (Magnifico, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Endo)
2: Lav Diaz (Batang West Side, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
2: Antoinette Jadaone (Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay, That Thing Called Tadhana)
2: Chris Martinez (100, Here Comes the Bride)
2: Jose Javier Reyes (Minsan May Isang Puso, Kasal Kasali Kasalo)
2: Veronica Velasco (Inang Yaya, Last Supper #3)

What are your favorite local film Screenplay from the last fifteen years? Pipe ’em in below!

 

Tit for Tat Local Film Awards 2014   Leave a comment

I really thought I’d be skipping this year, but better late than never! For the third year in my blog (see here 2012 and 2013 winners) From MMFF entries to Cinemalaya ones, and from Lav Diaz to Andoy Ranay (probably the only time you’ll see them in the same sentence), I’ve finally come up with a list of my own awards choices. This year, barbers, violators, janitors, and coffin makers are on the forefront as we search for tadhana and sparks. After eight months and lots of waiting in between, I present my picks for the best of local cinema in 2014.

best ensemble

gold LORNA
silver BARBER’S TALES

bronzeMARIQUINA

best first feature

gold VIOLATOR
silver DAGITAB

bronzeCHILDREN’S SHOW

visual effects

gold KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
silver SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15
bronze FENG SHUI 2

sound editing and mixing

gold VIOLATOR
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze THE JANITOR

original song

gold “BAHALA NA” (Tak Back and You’re Dead)
silver “KAKAIBABE” (Diary ng Panget)
bronze “SIGLE LANG NANG SIGE” (Hari ng Tondo)

original score

gold MARIQUINA
silver LORNA
bronze DAGITAB

hairstyling and makeup

gold THE GIFTED
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15

editing

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver #Y
bronze VIOLATOR

costume

gold LORNA
silver THE GIFTED
bronze KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2

cinematography

gold MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON
silver DAGITAB
bronze  VIOLATOR

prod design

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver  KUBOT: THER ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze ESPRIT DE CORPS

best breakthrough actress

gold NADINE LUSTRE (Diary ng Panget)
silver KARENINA HANIEL (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)
bronze COLEEN GARCIA (#Y)

best breakthrough actor

gold  SANDINO MARTIN (Esprit de Corps)
silver MATT DACLAN (Soap Opera)
bronze  RAFA SIGUION-REYNA (Hari ng Tondo)

best screenplay

gold  GIANCARLO ABRAHAN (Dagitab)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze SIGRID ANDREA BERNARDO (Lorna)

best supp actor

gold ANDY BAIS (Violator)
silver MIGGS CUADERNO (Children’s Show)
bronze MARTIN DEL ROSARIO (Dagitab)

best supp actress

gold SYLVIA SANCHEZ (The Trial)
silver MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ (Lorna)
bronze GLADYS REYES (Barber’s Tales)

best actor

gold ALLEN DIZON (Magkakabaung)
silver ARNOLD REYES (Kasal)
bronze  JOHN LLOYD CRUZ (The Trial)

best actress

gold EUGENE DOMINGO (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANGELICA PANGANIBAN (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze  SHAMAINE BUENCAMINO (Lorna)

best directing

gold JUN LANA (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze LAV DIAZ (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)

best picture

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver THAT THING CALLED TADHANA
bronze  MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON

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

PICTURE: Barber’s Tales
DIRECTOR: Jun Lana, Barber’s Tales
LEAD ACTOR: Allen Dizon, Magkakabaung
LEAD ACTRESS: Eugene Domingo, Barber’s Tales
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Andy Bais, Violator
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sylvia Sanchez, The Trial
SCREENPLAY: Giancarlo Abrahan, Dagitab
MALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Sandino Martin, Esprit de Corps
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Nadine Lustre, Diary ng Panget
ART DIRECTION: Barber’s Tales
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon
COSTUME DESIGN: Lorna
EDITING: Barber’s Tales
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: The Gifted
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mariquina
ORIGINAL SONG: Bahala Na (Talk Back and You’re Dead)
SOUND: Violator
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2
FIRST FEATURE: Eduardo Dayao, Violator
ENSEMBLE: Lorna

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

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

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

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Tit for Tat TV Awards 2014   Leave a comment

Now that I have shared with you my top choices in film (both local and foreign) and music videos for 2014, it’s time to close the trifecta and do one for the small screen as well. It has been a month since the Emmys have rewarded their picks, and while I don’t give a shiny balded angel trophy to my picks, these shows and performances will always be the caliber in their respective categories for the past television season. So let’s begin unveiling the cream of the crop in 29 different categories of the Titties TVs 2014!!!

Reality Competition Program

WINNER: RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE

Season 6 might have been one of the breeziest competition in the show’s her-story (I mean duh Bianca del Rio obviously is winning since the premiere), but the fancy drag queens this season are as colorful and interesting as the tasks and the friendship that they have built. Oh and have we already mentioned Bianca del Rio?

Ensemble Longform

WINNER: the ensemble of “AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN”

If there’s one thing Ryan Murphy excels at, it’s to make the dream of all actressing fans happen. This season alone, we have had the pleasure of witness the triumvirate of Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett happen. And on top of we that have Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts and Lily Rabe happen. Then Frances Conroy and Patti Lupone joins mid-season. I’m a certain believer that big cast is not necessarily the best cast, but every now and then, such as the case with this one, it holds truth.

Ensemble Comedy

WINNER: the ensemble of “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK”

Like that of Horror StoryOrange is the new Black also boasts of having the biggest cast in this line-up. But then again, when you have respected veteran Kate Mulgrew (or Taylor Schilling a.k.a Zac Efron’s leading lady in one of his movies) as the biggest name in your cast, it somehow equates the whole thing perfectly balanced. In the show, we notice the credits highlight six to seven names, but watching the whole season proves that these names, no matter how  they’re billed, accounts for nothing as it’s the whole group who contributes to the great chemistry that they all have.

Ensemble Drama

WINNER: the ensemble of “BREAKING BAD”

The show started as merely Bryan Cranston’s departure as Malcolm’s father and his foray into drama. That is, until the world discovered the greatness that is Aaron Paul. And then Anna Gunn followed to break through. But in the show’s last season, there’s really no one stopping this particular group now as it’s definitely the whole ensemble who is responsible for bringing the drama week in and week out.

Writing TV Movie or Miniseries

WINNER: Noah Hawley, Fargo (“The Crocodile’s Dilemma“)

When you have an Oscar winning material (one which won for Writing at that) in your hands and you have the task of adapting it to a different type of medium, the pressure that comes with the task is definitely terrifying. But that’s just the opening of it. Adapting it is one thing, making it distinct is another. And with Noah Hawley’s writing of the pilot Fargo, there is no doubt that he managed to achieve such.

Writing Comedy

WINNER: Louis C.K, Louie (“So Did the Fat Lady“)

In one of the rare moments when the Emmys actually awarded the rightful winner, there’s a lot one can make of Louis C.K’s handling of “So Did the Fat Lady.” On one hand, it’s a fresh perspective when it comes to human dating as it is seen from the perspective of the guy. What makes it even more special is that he’s just not the typical manic pixie dream guy that a lot of girls would instantly swoon for, as it’s Louie’s character we’re talking about it. It’s a refreshing take on a topic rarely tackled and not even would go dare reach, and how Louis C.K made it in 21 minutes tops (including a seven minute focus on the conversation alone) is definitely deserving of a win.

Writing Drama

WINNER: Robert King, Michelle King, The Good Wife (“Hitting the Fan“)

By now, there is a somewhat connotation that broadcast drama is synonymous to basic drama, and for the most part, it can be seen as true. But then every once in a while, there comes a solid hour of broadcast drama which will just surprises everyone to hold on for their dear lives. That is what Robert and Michelle King have managed to achieve with their Hitting the Fan episode. It is rare nowadays for a broadcast TV to deliver, but it is even rarer to start off on fire just like what we’ve seen here. There isn’t any time to breathe or adjust as it just shock you out of nowhere and maintain the level of intensity all throughout.

Directing in a TV Movie or Miniseries

WINNER: Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective (“Who Goes There“)

The buzz is all about the seven minute tracking shot at the end of the episode, and while others may found the reaction borderline overrated, I beg to disagree. Fukunaga, in this episode, manage to tie up great writing to great direction which made its viewers feel like they are part of the whole scene. A director’s vision in his mind will always be his best work, but if he managed to translate all of that into something that other people can see and appreciate is a far even, better version.

Directing Comedy

WINNER: Andrew Haigh, Looking (“Looking for the Future“)

To say that Looking, in its first few episodes, is a mess can be considered a legit argument. The characters are rarely memorable and annoying or that they remind you of someone who either tries too hard or doesn’t try at all. But all it took is one episode to change all that perspective. Andrew Haigh bringing his Weekend trademark in this one managed to catapult the show into going to places that we’ve never felt the show can even reach. Call it whatever you want, an homage, a tribute, a rip off or a copycat, but the moment the show managed to put its heart on its sleeve is when you finally see its greatest potential.

Directing Drama

WINNER: Rian Johnson, Breaking Bad (“Ozymandias”)

Sorry Vince Gilligan, while we’re forever grateful to you for bringing Breaking Bad into our screens, yours is not the best episode we’ve seen from this season. Ozymandias is one thrilling ride from beginning to end, all thanks to director Rian Johnson’s riveting and masterful direction of the episode. And let me say that this isn’t only one of the show’s best episodes, but I’d even go as far as declaring it as the show’s best episode in history.

Guest Actress Comedy

WINNER: SARAH BAKER (Louie)

Fearless is a term that is thrown around quickly nowadays when we judge performances. But I refuse to think that all those labeled such merits the compliment. However, if there’s one the past season that is complete deserving of such, it is Sarah Baker’s fearless portrayal as a woman who asked Louie out in the Comedy Writing winning episode of So Did the Fat Lady. Prior to being on Louie, Baker has made an appearance on a lot of shows but her only two film credits were Sweet Home Alabama in 2002 and The Campaign in 2012. Obviously, this talent needs to be featured more especially since she can effectively do heartfelt and funny, comedy and drama even at the same time.

Guest Actress Drama

WINNER: ALLISON JANNEY (Masters of Sex)

Ever since her performance of CJ BGregg in The West Wing ended eight years ago, Allison Janney has made a lot of interesting projects since then. There’s starring in Best Picture nominee films like Juno, or guest starring in other series such as Lost, Veep, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to name a few. But in 2013, she managed to shock us all with her one two knock out performances in her television comeback. One is in the CBS comedy Mom and the other is for her brave turn in Masters of Sex. Also winning one of her two Emmys this year for this performance, Janney’s raw and poignant take of a woman who never had an orgasm is definitely organic.

 

Guest Actor Comedy

WINNER: PABLO SCHREIBER (Orange is the New Black)

In a female driven show where 90% of the characters are completely female, it takes a very daunting and difficult task in order to stand out from the rest of the pack. But all thanks to that porn star stache, Pablo Schrieber managed not only to steal scenes during his turn in the season but managed to make his character stand out as well. Pornstache is a disgusting character to say the least, but Schreiber managed to play with the over the top machismo of his character and capitalize on that to make all of his moments count.

Guest Actor Drama

WINNER: BEAU BRIDGES (Masters of Sex)

Being a veteran character for decades now, there’s probably no role that can limit Beau Bridges’ capabilities as an actor. And with his turn as closeted husband in Masters of Sex, the initial claim holds truth to it. On the outside, Barton Scully is responsible, dependable, and calm. But the tests are within himself. Bridges’ calm portrayal of such was every inch consistent, effective and in full on display for the whole season.

Supporting Actress Longform

WINNER: ALLISON TOLMAN (Fargo)

When Frances McDormand won the Oscar in 1997 for Fargo, a lot of the credit goes to her ability to insert her own personal charisma into her performance which was the key why she ended up as the Best Actress of that year. Thus, it is very much surprising that when an unknown named Allison Tolman was tasked to play the role inspired of McDormand’s Marge, not only did she manage to inject her own personality in it too, but she avoided to copy the former’s performance and made it all her own. This is definitely one of the previous TV season’s breakthrough performances and one that introduced Alison Tolman to the rest of the TV world.

Supporting Actress Comedy

WINNER: LAVERNE COX (Orange is the New Black)

It is fitting that my favorite episode of Orange is the New Black‘s freshman season is the one whose flashback had transgendered Sophia as the core story. Sure a lot of the things I like about Cox reflects outside of her performance in the show and how she has become one of the representative of LGBT society in television, but one has to appreciate her in it as well. As the resident hairdresser of the inmate, her presence is not to be missed even if she’s just on the background or reacting to another character in the series.

Supporting Actress Drama

WINNER: BELLAMY YOUNG (Scandal)

Scandal is a show that I love and hate at the same time. I love how ridiculous it is, but I hate it that I’m dedicating my time to watch how ridiculous it is. You have unlikable characters left and right, but if there’s one bitch that I am definitely behind for, it’s definitely Mellie Grant. Mellie is an over the top character meant to be a punching bag for all those Olivia-Fitz shippers, but Bellamy Young’s actressing over it is definitely a highlight every time I watch an episode. She clearly knows the strength of the material and the overall show, and she plays it up ham and fun and camp that instead of acting above it, she goes with the flow of the whole story. Very wise actress definitely.

Supporting Actor Longform

WINNER: MATT BOMER (The Normal Heart)

The whole of Matt Bomer’s career can be summed into three parts: people gushing over his looks, people arguing over his sexuality preference, and people still in hopes that he’d star as Christian Grey. But Bomer is above all that, as what he has shown in The Normal Heart. I don’t know if this is a story that is close to his heart or anything else, but the intensity of the acting he has shown here not only matched his onscreen partner Mark Ruffalo’s, but he also held his own going on depths one never expected from him. This is a character that is made to win awards, but what do I know? He can’t even win the Emmy. But for me, Bomer is the rightful winner in this category.

Supporting Actor Comedy

WINNER: REID SCOTT (Veep)

One of the reasons why Veep is fun to watch is because of all these outlandish characters that there is. You have Tony Hale’s Gary who has this special connection with Vice President Selina Meyer. Then you have Jonah who’s towering height symbolizes how a big dick he is. Then there’s Reid Scott’s Dan, probably the straight guy of the group, if ever there was one. Dan can be an asshole, but he delivers. And he can be fun, but he knows how to play the game. That is why when this season showed a bit of his vulnerable side such as him lashing out on everyone or having a nervous breakdown, it makes the riot more chaotic than usual.

Supporting Actor Drama

WINNER: JOSH CHARLES (The Good Wife)

In one of TV history’s most shocking exit, we bid goodbye to Will Gardner in a very unfashionable way. And that’s when we realize how big of a character he is filling out and how Josh Charles has managed to inject his own brand in playing this lovable character. Will was the likable guy and an ideal man for most of the viewers. He was intelligent, patient, and giving. But it is through supporting actor Josh Charles that made Will live and breathe for five seasons, and we are still grieving right now.

Lead Actress Longform

WINNER: OLIVIA COLMAN (Broadchurch)

Every time we witness one of these “saving” shows or those that calls for inspections or detectives of “Who did it?”, there is a certain sense of distance that we feel towards the saviors or the leaders since it is predictably expected that they’ll be the key to such discoveries. However, what made Olivia Colman’s take on Broadchurch quite different and more distinct is that she gave us a sense of closeness to her. We see her vulnerable, we see her panic, and we see her imperfections. It is a very giving and sensible performance that makes her viewers feel more attached to the story even if they’re indirectly involved with it.

Lead Actress Comedy

WINNER: JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS (Veep)

Just like wine, Julia Louis Dreyfus indeed gets better with age. And the same can be said for her career. Remember before when they keep on being plastered with the constant labeling of the Seinfeld curse? Look who’s laughing now. Julia’s consistent performance as Vice President Selina Meyer is as hoot as it is a testament of her great comedic skills. It takes more than a role to shine like this, and a talent like that of Julia’s is the pushing boundary of this show. Not only is she consistently great, but she manages to make everyone around her feel as if they’re on the same level (and this isn’t a knock out to either her or her cast), but more of a recognition that a giving and talented actress like Julia Louis Dreyfus has already carved her name as one of the comedy legends of all time.

Lead Actress Drama

WINNER: ROBIN WRIGHT (House of Cards)

She started on the show as a borderline character playing support to her husband. But in the second season, we see Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood come out of her own shell and even eclipsing her husband which was a humongous task to do. Claire, at the beginning, was cold and distant, but she surely knows how to introduce herself. She’s probably still manipulative and bitchy when the situations called for it, but we’ve also seen her show vulnerability — a vulnerability that doesn’t make her weak, but rather shows the strength she can reach when push comes to the shove.

Lead Actor Longform

WINNER: MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY (True Detective)

By now, you are probably sick of hearing the term McConaissance which partially refers to the career turnaround that Matthew McConaughey has did in his film career, And he was even validated with an Oscar for that. But that said, his best performance to date can’t be seen in the big screen but one in the four corners of our television in HBO’s True Detective. To say McConaughey is a revelation here is underselling it, and that even includes the fantastic performances he has shown in film the last two years. The last few minutes of the season alone has made me think that every time I get to feel that his performance in Dallas Buyers Club was overrated, it was his performance in this show that was definitely Oscar-worthy.

Lead Actor Comedy

WINNER: LOUIS C.K. (Louie)

It is quite telling to give a Comedy Actor win for his show’s most dramatic season yet, but this isn’t even a level playing field anymore. In Louie, Louis C.K managed to show us everything he can literally and figuratively. There is an uncertainty that comes off as you watch the episodes of the last season and how you’ve seen C.K grew and mastered it over the years. Louis C.K. the actor is a very underrated one, and I agree that it is probably his “weakest” talent if you compare it to himself as a writer, director, or a stand up comic. But during the last season, he manages to up the scale this time and show that he is, indeed, a jack of all trades.

Lead Actor Drama

WINNER: MATTHEW RHYS (The Americans)

Yes let me be the first to say that dramatic performances in television by actors doesn’t begin and end with Bryan Cranston alone. As a matter of fact there is a whole lot of choices out there including my top pick for this past TV season, Matthew Rhys. Season 1 of The Americans is more of a transition period for me especially since the last I saw of him was playing the gay character in Brothers and Sisters, However, Season 2 showed him taking the stakes even higher and delivering a performance that is too irresistible to pass on. When he questions, you ask. When  he stops, you try to figure it out. Rhys has managed to show the complications not only of his work but with his relationships as well and he does it  in a more than satisfying manner.

TV Movie or Miniseries

WINNER: FARGO (FX)

All the talk the past season has been about HBO and True Detective, and while that indeed was a game changing show in more ways than one, here comes the little show that could rival and even exceed it. The challenge with FX’s Fargo is how to make it distinct but still be able to maintain the collected coldness that the original material has managed to showcase effortlessly. The end result was different from that, as not only did it deviate enough to avoid criticisms of copy cat or lack of originality, but it built a foundation strong enough that it can stand on its own. And that’s how the whole season rolled.

Comedy Series

WINNER: VEEP (HBO)

While its first two seasons teases with what will happen to the Veep, the third one bravely manages to take a step forward in a direction that everyone probably knew was coming but they just don’t know how. And that’s where the greatness of Veep lies. How it still brings in the surprise is a field that they have successfully crossed over. In any other scenario, it is very hard to root or at least tolerate horrible people interacting with each other, but in here, you don’t only tolerate them, but you root for them to succeed. Veep has long passed that mark where it was simply “the Julia Louis Dreyfus” show, and while Julia is still the front and center, heart and soul of the show, it is a more collaborative effort now.

Drama Series

WINNER: THE AMERICANS (FX)

Rarely does a drama show these days manage to deliver consistent episodes week in and week out with rarely any filler in it. And that’s what the second season of The Americans has been about. Everything about it has been doubled: doubled the intensity, doubled the tension, doubled the greatness. It has reached that feat when you just can’t get enough of what the show has been dropping and that they just continue to do so is indeed significant. The upward trajectory that the show has reached in its sophomore year is definitely justified of the title Best Drama Series.

And there you have it. Another season of Television has been closed and the new one will start next week! Until next year! 😉

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted September 17, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Tit for Tat Awards, TV

Tit for Tat Video Music Awards 2014   Leave a comment

Now that the MTV has awarded of what it thought was the best of music video this year, it’s time to reveal my choices for my own Video Music Awards. I have been doing this since ’99, and this is the first year where I mustered enough time and effort to do mine.  My eligibility period for a given year is July 1 of the previous year up to June 30 of the current year to make it to to any given year’s awards. Unlike MTV, I also have more categories to spare. Ready? I now present my picks in all 20 categories of my Titties(!!!) Video Music Awards (TVMAs) for 2014! Let’s begin!

*Clicking the photo will lead you to the winning music video of the category.

Directing

Visual Effects

Hair and Make Up

Editing

Costumes

Choregraphy

Cinematography

Art Direction

Collaboration

Country Video

Rock Video

Rap Video

Dance Video

RnB Video

Pop Video

New Artist in a Video

Group Video

Male Video

Female Video

Video of the Year

As a recap, here are the winners of the 2014 TVMAs:

VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball
MALE VIDEO: Jack White, “Lazaretto
FEMALE VIDEO: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball
GROUP VIDEO: Arcade Fire, “Reflektor
NEW ARTIST IN A VIDEO: Steve Grand, “All American Boy
POP VIDEO: Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
R&B VIDEO: Beyonce, “Pretty Hurts
DANCE VIDEO: DJ Snake, Lil Jon, “Turn Down for What
RAP VIDEO: Kanye West, “Black Skinhead
ROCK VIDEO: Arcade Fire, “Reflektor
COUNTRY VIDEO: Steve Grand, “All American Boy
COLLABORATION IN A VIDEO: Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX, “Fancy
ART DIRECTION IN A VIDEO: Katy Perry, “Unconditionally
CHOREOGRAPHY IN A VIDEO: Sia, “Chandelier
CINEMATOGRAPHY IN A VIDEO: 30 Seconds to Mars, “City of Angels
COSTUMES IN A VIDEO: Beyonce, “Partition
EDITING IN A VIDEO: Zedd ft. Hayley Williams, “Stay the Night
HAIR AND MAKE UP IN A VIDEO: Lady Gaga, “Applause
VISUAL EFEFCTS IN A VIDEO: DJ Snake, Lil Jon, “Turn Down for What
DIRECTION IN A VIDEO: Arcade Fire, “Reflektor

And there you have it! Until next year’s music video mania! 🙂

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit For Tat Local Film Awards 2013   6 comments

May used to be the awards season here in the Philippines, but that tradition has been long since gone. But not for me. This is when I reveal my top picks for the best in Philippine cinema. 2013 is a very difficult one, not because there are only few films to choose from, but because of the many selections the year gave us. Granted I still missed some few films here and there, I’ll share to you my picks in 20 different categories (including my three top choices per film component.) And without further ado, here’s my 2013 Tit for Tat Local Film Awards:

first feature

GOLD: BLUE BUSTAMANTE (Miko Livelo)
SILVER: TRANSIT (Hannah Espia)
BRONZE: PUROK 7 (Carlo Obispo)

ensemble

GOLD: the cast of Iskalawags
SILVER: the cast of Norte
BRONZE: the cast of Transit

visual effects

GOLD: KUNG FU DIVAS
SILVER: DEBOSYON
BRONZE: PAGPAG

sound

GOLD: RIDDLES OF MY HOMECOMING (Arnel Barbarona)
SILVER: ON THE JOB (Corrine de San Jose, Mikko Quizon)
BRONZE: NORTE (Corrine de San Jose)

song

GOLD: INDAK (Sana Dati)
SILVER: SCARED TO DEATH (Tuhog)
BRONZE: SEA OF TREES (Shift)

score

GOLD: DEBOSYON (Teresa Barrozo)
SILVER: SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)
BRONZE: RIDDLES OF MY HOMECOMING (Gauss Obenza)

hair and make up

GOLD: Quick Change
SILVER: Kung Fu Divas
BRONZE: Boy Golden

editing

GOLD: ON THE JOB (Jay Halili)
SILVER: BADIL (Carlo Francisco Manatad)
BRONZE: TRANSIT (Hannah Espia, Benjamin Tolentino)

costume design

GOLD: Boy Golden
SILVER: Kung Fu Divas
BRONZE: Ekstra

cinematography

GOLD: NORTE (Lauro Rene Manda)
SILVER: ON THE JOB (Ricardo Buhay III)
BRONZE: DEBOSYON (Dexter dela Pena)

art direction

GOLD: ON THE JOB (Richard Somes)
SILVER: BLUE BUSTAMANTE (Marielle Hizon)
BRONZE: PAGPAG (Luis Custodio IV)

breakthrough actor

GOLD: MIMI JUAREZA, Quick Change
SILVER: JUNJUN QUINTANA, Philippino Story
BRONZE: VINCE TANADA, Otso

breakthrough actress

GOLD: KRYSTLE VALENTINO, Purok 7
SILVER: JASMINE CURTIS, Transit
BRONZE: YENG CONSTANTINO, Shift

screenplay

GOLD: NORTE (Lav Diaz, Rody Vera)
SILVER: SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)
BRONZE: BABAGWA (Jason Paul Laxamana)

supporting actress

GOLD: ANGELI BAYANI, Norte
SILVER: BING PIMENTEL, Kabisera
BRONZE: IRMA ADLAWAN, Transit

supporting actor

GOLD: DICK ISRAEL, Badil
SILVER: JOEY MARQUEZ, On the Job
BRONZE: JOEY PARAS, Babagwa

lead actress

GOLD: KRYSTLE VALENTINO, Purok 7
SILVER: LOVI POE, Sana Dati
BRONZE: VILMA SANTOS, Ekstra

lead actor

GOLD: SID LUCERO, Norte
SILVER: JHONG HILARIO, Badil
BRONZE: JOEL TORRE, Kabisera

directing

GOLD: LAV DIAZ, Norte
SILVER: CHITO RONO, Badil
BRONZE: ERIK MATTI, On the Job

picture

GOLD: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
SILVER: Badil
BRONZE: Sana Dati

Whew, there you have it! 🙂 As a recap, here’s the complete list of my 2013 winners:

BEST PICTURE: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST DIRECTOR: Lav Diaz, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST ACTOR: Sid Lucero, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST ACTRESS: Krystle Valentino, Purok 7
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Dick Israel, Badil
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Angeli Bayani, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST SCREENPLAY: Lav Diaz, Rody Vera, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Mimi Juareza, Quick Change
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTRESS: Krystle Valentino, Purok 7
BEST ART DIRECTION: Richard Somes, On the Job
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Lauro Rene Manda, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Boy Golden
BEST EDITING: Jay Halili, On the Job
BEST HAIR AND MAKE UP: Quick Change
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Teresa Barrozo, Debosyon
BEST SONG: “Indak” from Sana Dati
BEST SOUND: Arnel Barbarona, Riddles of my Homecoming
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Kung Fu Divas
BEST ENSEMBLE: the cast of Iskalawags
BEST FIRST FEATURE:Blue Bustamante” by Miko Livelo

Until next year! 🙂

Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit for Tat Film Awards 2013   6 comments

So it will be almost a month from now since we had the Oscars, and all the hoopla has finally died down. But wait, there’s still one more awards group to reveal their choices. It’s the Tit for Tat Film Awards a.k.a Titties. Okay I still haven’t finalized on a name yet, but I’m currently leaning to that. The Titties is my personal award giving group where this time, I shy away from the buzz and the outside factors in choosing my favorite films of the last movie year. After all, film is far too interesting as a tool to simply focus on the prognosticating and the predicting tasks. Anyway, eligibility of films are quite blurry since they depend on the availability. Mostly, I try to follow the standard US eligibility format, though if a film is available earlier than that, then it will easily make the cut for that given year. By the way you can check my 2012 picks here.  Anyway, here are my picks in 23 different categories and I offer a sample commentary after revealing each one of them. 🙂

best ensemble

Given how faulty the screenplay of American Hustle was, its core strength relies on how its actors will sell the story to its audience. And boy did they do that more than enough in the film. It’s almost certain that one will find Hustle’s plot thin, and it’s really true, but one thing director David O. Russell successfully managed to achieve is to write really lively and entertaining characters that were brought to life by this great ensemble.  It is an obvious fact that big cast does not equate to great cast, but for the sheer enjoyment of seeing them spark up in that long dinner scene, the ensemble of August: Osage County deserves a mention as a finalist in this category. Sofia Coppola’s ensemble of youngsters in The Bling Ring might skew as too new save for Emma Watson, but if there’s one aspect of the film that was consistent all throughout, it’s that they were able to maintain the interest with these characters. Speaking of young, another relatively young ensemble was that of Spring BreakersSure you have Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens on the forefront, but nothing about these foursome rang and felt false. Add some James Franco in the mix and you know you hit jackpot. Continuign the Franco connection, This is the End might be too shallow or forced for one’s taste, but one can’t deny that you were really interested with these six main characters. Plus points for some inspired cameo appearances (well basically it’s Emma Watson and Channing Tatum. Oh and the Backstreet Boys). Lastly, Farhadi continues his streak of coming up with great ensembles and Le Passe is no exception. The complications that transpire between the members of this certain family were narrated seamlessly, but it was displayed to greater heights, thanks to this fantastic array of actors.

BRONZE: the cast of Spring Breakers
SILVER: the cast of This Is the End
GOLD: the cast of Le Passe

best first feature

As if it’s not obvious yet, but Joseph Gordon Levitt is one talented guy. He can act, he can sing, he can be cute, and to add, he can direct as well. In Don Jon, his debut feature film which he also wrote and starred in. Gordon-Levitt has showcased his most confident persona on screen yet. And even if the last act was quite messy, it still is an admirable effort. Speaking of writer slash directors, Ryan Coogler’s debut feature Fruitvale Station, was pretty much compelling even if you can see some minor quips here and there. One could have credited that Oscar’s story was the driving force of the film, but Coogler did a more than inspired job of touching the human emotion in the film. Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo was another touching story, and it’s one that’s closer to me because I grew up with a housemaid. More props given to him for totally painting a scenario of late 90s from the costumes and the overall environment of the film. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s collaborative effort on This is the End makes it as one of the year’s funniest and wittiest films. For a film to totally learn how to poke fun at itself and at its characters might not have been the most original concept to tackle, but I like the touches of commentary it provided when it spoke about the humanity’s actions and the heaven and hell notion. Another collaborative effort is between Oscar winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. After winning the writing Oscar for The Descendants, they followed it up with this heartwarming piece called The Way Way Back. If there’s one film in here that mixes wit, heart, and making you laugh while saying “aww”, it’s totally this one. Lastly, Haifaa al-Mansour’s historical Saudi Arabian film Wadjda might be about the little girl of the same name, but it’s really interesting to see how parallel the narrative of the director which lead to the first female directed Saudi Arabian film ever.

BRONZE: Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)
SILVER: Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour)
GOLD: Ilo Ilo (Anthony Chen)

best visual effects

Rush might not have been too heavy in terms of visual effects the way the other films nominated here were, but it doesn’t even have to be as grand as those to say that did marvelous visual effects in it. Both The Hunger Games Catching Fire and Oblivion introduced us to worlds of their own, and the CGI played a big part in making us feel as if we’re a part of them whether it’s the Capitol or the Earth 64 years from now. I’ve also a penchant of seeing prominent places being destructed (I’m horrible I know), so I had my annual fix of that, thanks to the wonderful effects of a destroyed Sydney Opera House in Pacific Rim and the aftermath of San Francisco in Star Trek Into DarknessBut really, it’s foolish to talk about visual effects in 2013 without mentioning the film that really defined it all. The work in Gravity is simply breathtaking and so iconic that it will be a benchmark in the succeeding years to come.

BRONZE: Star Trek Into Darkness
SILVER: Pacific Rim
GOLD: Gravity

best sound

It’s basically the year of thrillers and sports flicks. All of Stoker, Spring Breakers, and Inside Llewyn Davis provided commendable sound achievements particularly in the sound mixing department, but it’s hard to battle with this year’s cream of the crop such as the crisp sound as the race cars swiftly competes with one another whether under the rain or battling each other out in Rush. The sound not only of desperation of Sandra Bullock’s character but as we hear every inch of her breath and her panic when she’s alone in Gravity. And lastly, there’s the gun shots, and the motion of the waves in the middle of the ocean highlighted in Captain Phillips.

BRONZE: Captain Phillips
SILVER: Rush
GOLD: Gravity

best original song

 

One might find Bridegroom‘s last act already too emotional, but wait until you hear the originally composed song by the pair’s close friend Colleen McMahon entitled Beautiful Boy and you’d probably be needing more than a box of tissue. The whole aura of Stoker is filled with airs of mystery and Become the Color perfectly compliments it by adding another layer of mystique. Tall hats aside, Pharrell Williams’s Happy from Despicable Me 2 is the perfect bopping song. It’s too charismatic and catchy that even Meryl Streep can’t help but dance to it when she heard it. I can’t say that I See Fire is a total departure from the previous Lord of the Rings soundtrack, but this Ed Sheeran song is too solemn though not bordering on lullaby sleep inducing one. Her‘s The Moon Song is one of those cases when the song is an integral part of the film and simply not a background song. While I’m usually not a fan of the “music video” montage format in films, the use of this song also sums up the relationship between Theodore and Samantha. Lastly, even if Lana del Rey’s star didn’t shine as bright as it was perceived, it still does not hinder her from coming up with great songs such as this one from The Great Gatsby. Young and Beautiful  was nostalgic, romantic, and sappy, but I think it works the best that way.

BRONZE: “The Moon Song” (from Her)
SILVER: “Young and Beautiful” (from The Great Gatsby)
GOLD: “Become the Color” (from Stoker)

best original score

It’s nice that Alex Ebert has been rewarded with a Golden Globe win for All is Lost‘s score since I think it’s an unrewarded piece of achievement. For a film that does have very minimal dialogue in it, the score becomes the saving grace of the movie and Ebert is up to the challenge. Blancanieves contains a really lively and festive music, one that makes every scene more enjoyable to watch, thanks to its film score composer Alfonso de Villalonga. The less said about Arcade Fire, the better, not because they’re not good, but I don’t think words wold even describe the achievement they did in Her. Speaking of other bands, M83’s ambient synth pop score gave Oblivion a much livelier boost in presenting what the Earth looks like from the future. Cliff Martinez did a one two punch of memorable music this year: the one with Skrillex for Spring Breakers, but his work in Only God Forgives gets my vote as it compliments the visceral visuals of Nicolas Winding Refn. And Clint Mansell makes Stoker a more haunting film than what it already is with his score that’s as intriguing and perplexing as India and her uncle.

BRONZE: Stoker (Clint Mansell)
SILVER: Oblivion (Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Trapanese)
GOLD: Her (Arcade Fire)

best make up

In The Act of Killingrecreations of killing scenes were shown in the most convincing manner aided by the film’s effective make up and hairtsyling team. Meanwhile, Tina Fey summed it best when she referred to American Hustle as explosions from the wig factory. The perms! The curls! The tease! It’s too much an enjoyable 70’s extravaganza . Despite the film being shot in black and white , one can totally see in Blancanieves that this Snow White recreation lives up to the fancy world of this fairy tale. The colorful characters in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Catching Fire were given bigger than life personas when translated into the big screen. Plus points for Stanley Tucci’s whiter than white teeth (srsly. They;re so white one can create necklace pendants out of them). The transformation of one’s identity to transgender-ism was shown in intricate yet vulnerable state in Laurence Anywaysthough it simply did not end with Laurence’s character. And to end this, Daniel Bruhl not only acted Niki Lauda, but he totally looked the part as well in Rush, thanks to its make up team.

BRONZE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
SILVER: The Act of Killing
GOLD: Laurence Anyways

best editing

 

Christopher Rouse brought in the nitty gritty in Captain Phillips and even if I felt the film borders at “Look at me, I’m doing something impressive!”, the film still holds the thrill up to the last minute. Gravity is the least edited film of this bunch, but it still doesn’t shy away from the fact that this marvelous technical achievement in any way possible. Hers shift to Theodore’s life with and away from Samantha is a telling representation of how effective this film is effective in going back and forth with different facets of Theodore’s life without skipping a beat. In Rush, it was a delight to revisit these different race car moments in history, and because of the crisp editing, despite knowing the results already, it still made for one thrilling ride. The shots and clips from real spring break moments were effectively incorporated not only as mere transitions but as a presentation of what the fur girls can possibly enter to in Spring BreakersAnd to cap it off, the suspense built in Stoker was pulled off sharply by Nicolas de Toth.

BRONZE: Her
SILVER: Spring Breakers
GOLD: Captain Phillips

best costume design

Whether it’s the hats, the furry coats, and the tux, American Hustle will be remmebered the most for its plunging dresses. After all, it played a big part in getting to know these larger than life characters. Speaking of, Snow White, the famous German fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, was definitely given justice by intricately coming up with a more culturally specific approach in Blancanieves. Janty Yates’ work in The Counselor another added layer to its already stand out characters. Javier Bardem’s spiky high hair was extremely complimented by his electric blue jeans, and Cameron Diaz’s vixen was shown covered in a leopard print dress. It is through details like this one that makes the costume designer’s work more appreciated. Nothing could have painted the glitz and glamour of the 1920s better than what Catherine Martin did this year in The Great Gatsby. Meanwhile in Laurence Anyways, while it is the personal transformation of Laurence that was the front and center of the film, the bold colors worn by both Laurence and Fred were statements to their feelings and characters as well. And in Stoker, I very much appreciate the modern and stylish clothing of the characters even if they’re not as showy and in your face as the others.

BRONZE: American Hustle
SILVER: Blancanieves
GOLD: Laurence Anyways

best cinematography

Ever been to outer space? Me neither. But thanks to Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography in Gravity, it gave us an out of the world glimpse of what it feels like to be there. And boy was it a thrilling ride! Meanwhile, Hoyte van Hoytema used city lights and nightscape in juxtaposing Theodore Twobmly’s feelings and translate it to the screen in HerThe gloomy cinematography used by Bruno Delbonell in Inside Llewyn Davis can be seen as a comparative piece on the bleak future left for Llewyn himself. A span of decades was fittingly inserted in Laurence Anyways with the help of Yves Belenger in showing the progress of a relationship gone awry. Flashing lights combined with a relatively darker palette was  Benoit Debie’s technical achievement in making Spring Breakers set a mood in its scenes. Finally, the colors used in Stoker served not only as transitions (from Nicole Kidman’s hair to big group of hay) but they were seamlessly incorporated, thus making this a visual delight as well.

BRONZE: Laurence Anyways
SILVER: Gravity
GOLD: Her

art direction

Watching Blancanieves was like turning the pages of a screen sized book as we see the story literally come larger than life. in Camille Claudel 1915, we felt the confinement of Camille as she was locked out of an asylum that made us feel as if we’re trapped in it with her. Speaking of her, Her a futuristic LA was effectively constructed as K.K. Barrett built a world, literally that is, that seems so close but so really is so far away. Anne Pritchet was able to make good use of small spaces whether it’s a bar, a rest house, or a studio in further showcasing the intimacy (and the gradual loss of it) between two people in Laurence AnywaysMeanwhile, in Oblivion, we were treated to a world that is ahead of us and while most of it is heavy CGI, it gave us a glimpse of an environment that we will never be a part of. Finally, I appreciate how vague the timeline is in Stokeraside from the phonebooth, we haven’t seen any means of technological gadget in it. It obviously is from the current time, but I love that small touch of aesthetic there.

BRONZE: Her
SILVER: Camille Claudel 1915
GOLD: Laurence Anyways 

best foreign language film

In choosing the nominees here, I’ve decided to exclude those foreign films that will also be nominated for Best Picture to spread the wealth. Charm seems to be Blancanieves biggest asset. Sure, it looks like a simple re-telling of a prominent fairy tale, but it achieved more than that at the end of the film. It was a visual treat, and it just so happened that this was a silent film. As a matter of fact, I felt that it was too genuine that I did not feel it as gimmicky at all. Camille Claudel 1915 somehow suffers in the part hat focused on Camille’s brother, but it has built enough momentum to use it as a character study of a woman who feels confined in a literal and figurative manner. Oscar Best Foreign Language Film winner is Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, and just like the film’s title, it is indeed the great beauty. Mixing some Malick-esque feels in the visuals and approach, but it’s one that gets better as the screentime goes longer. In The Hunt, excellent storytelling and a powerful performance by Mads Mikkelsen elevate the greatness of the film. it’s one of those uncomfortable movie watching experiences that will probably stand out not because of the experience, but because of the impact it brings to you. Asghar Farhadi’s follow up to A Separation likely suffered because it followed such, (and I know that’s unfair and unfortunate), since on its own Le Passe is a very emotional and haunting film. It’s awkward since it’s the audience who gets to see everything that’s happening, and it feels so helpless to see them connect the pieces together. By the time the last scene happened, I was already bawling.  And lastly, tension was very present in Stranger by the Lake. It’s a tad repetitive, but even that did not bother me since it was like a walking symbol of sex, desire, and obsession.

BRONZE: The Great Beauty
SILVER: Stranger by the Lake
GOLD: Le Passe

animated feature film

I think The Croods as a whole is underrated. It did not rely to gimmicky characters (minions) or the legacy of an original version of where it ended up as a sequel. On its core, it was a simple heartwarming film that appeals to the whole family. The story of Ernest & Celestine is too thin that it wears out easily, but if there’s one thing I like about my animated films is that the intricate and lovely imagery that it paints. Frozen tackles a tale that has been done before, but its charisma lies in having characters that you care about. Plus points for the musical aspect. I mean by now, who still hasn’t heard Let It Go? Ari Folman’s The Congress isn’t 100% an animated film, but if there’s something I admire about it, it’s that it went beyond the norms and used animation as a platform to narrate a story that is haunting and atypical.

BRONZE: Frozen
SILVER: Ernest & Celestine
GOLD: The Congress

best documentary feature

There’s something about the approach did in The Act of Killing that will just leave you speechless. The recreations were too truthful that they still affect you even if you’re aware that they’re just that – mere reprisal; an act. When a film manages to toy with your emotion from grabbing your interest to breaking your heart, you know it has affected you more ways than one, and it simply is one of the best I’ve seen all year. Bridegroom was practically safe in its approach and it might not be as experimental as the others were, but damn if you did not feel anything by the last part. It was one of those documentaries that went straight to the point with its narration, but it still doesn’t fail to tug you. Leviathan‘s biggest achievement is how it brings you to the experience not merely as a spectator but as a part of what’s happening. The opening is mostly dark with just the sounds towering over the whole screen, and it makes you feel that you’re the one in the situation. Musical documentaries have been done so much to death the past few years, but every now and then, you can’t still resist the charm of them, no matter how pedestrian and predictable they were. I was totally invested with This Is Us, and it’s a love letter to all of their fans. Sentiment seems to be the main feeling you’d get from watching Sound City, and it’s one of the few where it’s an educational road trip instead of exposing something to elicit emotions. From Stevie Nicks to Mick Jagger, it was an hour and a half filled of musical tribute and remembering.  And in Stories We Tellthe thing I appreciate the most is how relate-able it is; sure we’re no part of their families but all of us have one and we’re all a part of our own families and the secrets and discoveries that lie within them.

BRONZE: One Direction: This Is Us
SILVER: The Act of Killing
GOLD: Stories We Tell

best breakthrough

Barkhad Abdi‘s role in Captain Phillips can be seen as one-note, but it speaks volumes when you’re also interested with him despite his role as the protagonist. Plus points for hiding his enthusiasm to act opposite Tom Hanks even if he’s dying of giddy inside. Another plus point for coming up with the adlib “I’m the captain now!” which is definitely one of the most prominent movie catchphrases in recent history. Adele Exarchopoulos was simply sensational in Blue is the Warmest Color that it’s hard to believe that this is her debut screen performance. To be fair though, her naive approach worked well in her case in the movie. And despite years in Friday Night Lights, it’s glad to see Michael B. Jordan take the lead spotlight for once.  Comments comparing him to a young Denzel Washington were so apt given how he handled the character of Oscar in Fruitvale Station. In Short Term 12, Brie Larson was on the forefront and I love how her character was devoid of any histrionics. She wasn’t given anything awards baity to do, but that’s what makes it more admirable. She was natural and you cared for her. It was a subtle contrast to all the other acting showdown we’ve seen this year. Koh Jia Ler in Ilo Ilo wasn’t necessarily a big breakthrough performance, but he was able to build as chemistry with Angeli Bayani that by the time he was punished in front of the students, you simply wasn’t watching him but you already cared for him and his character. In Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie proved that she’s just not a pretty face. With most of her scenes requiring her to act with Leonardo di Caprio, she definitely held her own in all of them.

BRONZE: Michael B. Jordan,  Fruitvale Station
SILVER: Brie LarsonShort Term 12
GOLD: Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

best adapted screenplay

The triumvirate of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy did it again – for the third time – in Before Midnight. As if it’s not enough achievement yet how they did Before Sunset, but they followed it up with another one to possibly(?) close the Before series. This one is more vulnerable than ever, as we witness Celine and Jessie in a supposed comforting and assuring place in their lives now where they’re living as a couple already. And just like any other relationships, theirs is not perfect, but it’s generous enough to talk about the imperfections. For Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche was able to show both the freedom and limitations of a relationship whether in lines, symbols, and actions of the characters in it. The Congress is one of the most imaginative films of the year, and its screenplay is one that lets the film to be realistic in acknowledging the issues but adventurous in tackling it. Francis Ozon’s In the House is probably the most enjoyable film I’ve seen that dealt with the complications of writing. It was interesting, at times even intriguing, to take a peek at someone else’s lives by touching the innate human nature of knowing your boundaries limitations. What Destin Cretton achieved in Short Term 12 is to make us care about a group of people that we barely know about. We’ve seen these films from before, but it is subtly written that it avoided its characters from being flat and gave a humanizing appeal. And lastly, Michael Weber has been the go to guy for young love stories that were out of the norm, and like what he did in 500 Days of Summer, his work in The Spectacular Now is an eye opener on how you approach a topic that has been done and injecting a fresh take on it.

BRONZE: Destin Cretton,  Short Term 12
SILVER: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
GOLD: Francois Ozon, In the House

best original screenplay

Just like her previous films, Nicole Holocefner in Enough Said manages to come up with a film that highly registers to the human emotions in a very natural manner. It’s one that lets you pause and makes you appreciate the simple joys of everyday life and one’s relationship on both interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. Noah Baumbach, wh usually has stand out characters who are flat out unlikable (I mean that bitch Margot for instance), changed the beat this time and gave us Frances. Frances is someone who makes up bad decisions, but that doesn’t translate to her being a bad person. If anything, Frances was a lovely character; one you’d root for, and one you’ve definitely shared some characteristics with at a point in your life. It is with Frances’ continuous changing of locations that probably defined and makes her character settled to the audience, and that was what she achieved in Frances Ha. On the outside, what Spike Jonze greatly achieved in Her is to introduce us to a world that seems so far fetched but one that is understandable. More than that, he wrote a story of intimacy between two existent souls that somehow found and connected with each other. With music as a vital component in Inside Llewyn DavisI think it can be compared to a song. What happens to Llewyn is comparable to what happens in a song. There’s a bridge, a chorus, an instrumental and the opening and closing scene represents the same beat that happens at the beginning and end of a given song. Like Frances, Llewyn is one character whose luck was not on his side, but even if he comes off across as annoying, you understand what pushes him to do so. Xavier Dolan wrote a film that spanned a long amount of time, but it did not feel like a chore watching this almost three hour film. You get invested with these characters, and you see both of them transform. Laurence Anyways isn’t a film that dictates you what to feel; instead, it opens you to all these questions and stimulates you even after the credits rolled already. Meanwhile in Le Passeit really is astonishing to think how writer Farhadi has managed to tap out the innermost of the human emotion and showcase a relationship that is far from common but one that ignites reaction from its viewers.

BRONZE: Asghar Farhadi,  Le Passe
SILVER: Xavier Dolan, Laurence Anyways
GOLD: Spike Jonze, Her

best supp actress

We haven’t seen an inch of Scarlett Johansson in Her, but her commanding presence as Samantha is a vital component of the film. It is difficult to build a character by solely using your voice because it will affect the viewers’ experience and imagine that it was the actress talking all the time. But not in Johansson’s case. In Her, it probably worked more as an advantage since it gave a glimpse of how people imagine Samantha. Nicole Kidman was a minor albeit necessary character in Stoker. She wasn’t given much to do, but her presence is needed in the film. This is one of the times where her icy persona contributed to her overall performance. Also, that dialogue to Mia Wasikowska in the dining scene? Nailed it. Oscar nominated for this performance, Jennifer Lawrence was a hit or a miss for others in this. Sure, she was bringing in the same quirks that she gave us as Tiffany, but what makes Rosalyn a far better performance was that it was in sync to the movie aims. And it is such an underrated fact how she was great in her scenes as well that didn’t involve one liners. Her emotions in her dining scene with Jack Huston’s characters opened us up to Rosalyn’s insecurities, and Lawrence effectively showed us that. Lea Seydoux was unfairly missed a lot in these precursor races since she was as good as Adele Exarchopoulos was in Blue is the Warmest Color. Of course the point of view was presented on Adele’s point, but Seydoux was generous and complimentary not to upstage or battle it out with Adele. It was a commendable turn that is unfortunately ignored by a lot. When Harry Potter ended, a lot were worried that Emma Watson would be in that awkward transition as a child star to a teenager, but her two post Potter projects (Perks of Being a Wall Flower and The Bling Ring) show otherwise. In The Bling Ring, she was mostly relegated to a caricature character, but Watson was every inch up for it. And from one teen star to the other, Shailene Woodley was a great supporting presence in the Spectacular Now. It’s not a role that required scenery chewing nor OMG acting, but it was one that required total commitment and Woodley was naturally effortless in it.

BRONZE: Jennifer Lawrence,  American Hustle
SILVER: Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color
GOLD: Scarlett Johansson, Her

best supp actor

Say what you want about his personal persona, but James Franco delivers where it matters. Whether it’s his masturbating monologue in This is the End or his gun blowjob scene in Spring Breakers, his commitment to his performance is always commendable. And in Spring Breakers, he was simply brilliant. Alien was always on the brink of caricature, but Franco avoided him to cross over there. James Gandolfini is one of those reliable character actors, and I guess it’ll be hard to think of him as other than Tony Soprano, but in Enough Said, he was playing an altogether different character. He was charming, witty, and and totally lovable, and it was such a tender performance that you’d definitely warm up to. If anything, with his death, he ended his movie career on a high note in his best film performance. Matthew Goode is probably one of the most good looking actors of his generation, and it is fortunate that he was able to put those to goode (pun intended) use in Stoker.  Giving some Anthony Perkins tease, he was creepily effective in here. He’s one whom you’d easily fall for because of his looks despite the sinister vibes that he emulates. He’s one you’d easily get swept away with because he’s so perfect on the outside. Oscar winner Jared Leto is just a revelation in Dallas Buyers Club. Sure one might consider the whole thing gimmicky, but I bought every single of it. He was phenomenal in the lady clothes, but in his scene where he was wearing male clothes (in front of his father) or the one one where he’s out of any clothing (his Oscar clip) are his finest moments. I’d even dare say that without him on the screen, the film loses its energy. In In the House, Fabrice Luchini plays  the professor who was hooked with one of his student’s writings. He suddenly lose himself to his writings, obsessing about what happens next. It was a performance from an unlikable character that you’d definitely like. After all, it was a representation of one of human’s most uncontrollable feeling: that of gossiping and intruding. He was very natural and it’s one that started out as really funny until you see him get more controlling than ever. And I won’t ever get tired of saying this, but Matthew McConaughey‘s last two years shames most of the actors working in Hollywood. I’m glad he’s choosing better roles now, and while most of those are related to Texas, I can’t blame him especially if that’s where he’s good at. Like in the case of Mud. Playing the title role, McConaughey was captivating and great here. He’s so organic in this performance that I think it’s my favorite from him by a mile.

BRONZE: Jared Leto,  Dallas Buyers Club
SILVER: Matthew Goode, Stoker
GOLD: James Franco, Spring Breakers

best actor

Leonardo di Caprio gives his career best performance in Wolf of Wall Street. It’s one that relies on charisma and he wasn’t running out of it. I like how he just immersed himself and got lost with the character of Belfort that it clearly shows he had so much fun in this role. His physical commitment to it is also commendable with all the demands of the character. Since I’m a long time fan of his works, it’s really a breath of fresh air to finally see Tom Hanks give a performance that is worthy of recognition. Hanks has been phoning it in now for a long time coasting on his name in his project the last few years, so seeing him in Captain Phillips take the command in the film is really exciting. His last thirty minutes in the film is probably some of the best career work he has ever put out, and I hope this trend will continue for him. It’s hard to separate Oscar Isaac from Llewyn Davis now especially after his towering performance in Inside Llewyn Davis. He carried the whole film in his shoulders, and you feel for him all throughout the movie. One might not agree with all of his actions but not once did I feel I should question him for it. It was a restrained performance that you know was just waiting to erupt at one point in the film. It’s hard to stand out in a great ensemble cast, but Ali Mossafa probably is my favorite in Le Passe. His character was the one stuck between a rock and a hard place, and you know he’s aware of it, so he tries as much as possible to overcome it in his actions. It’s easy to like him, though you know he’s no perfect and he contributed to why the situation is there in the first place. Continuing to be one of the most versatile actors of his era, Joaquin Phoenix gives us another character to cherish. Right after last year’s Freddie Quell, he followed it up with Theodore, and not only did Phoenix showed us his versatility as an actor, he showed the sensitive character in his portrayal of a person who was in love with the voice in an operating system. In Her, Phoenix showed us how love can be transcending even if it’s not between two human beings. And with a very intriguing role to tackle, Melvil Poupaud did not back away from the complexities needed by his character whether it’s on a physical or emotional matter. It’s easy to do a cop out and oversell the character of Laurence, but Poupaud made it as truthful and human as possible that you find yourself being concerned with him as the movie progresses.

BRONZE: Leonardo di Caprio  Wolf of Wall Street
SILVER: Melvil Poupaud, Laurence Anyways
GOLD: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

best actress

 

This category is really great this year that it took me the longest time to decide on my winners here. Anyway let’s begin. If there’s one adjective that I can use to describe Juliette Binoche in Camille Claudel 1915, it’s riveting. She was riveting. Binoche totally plunged herself in Camille’s shoes, and she was heartbreakingly great in the movie. The movie lives and breathes in Camille, and Binoche commanded the screen with her presence. Dare I say it’s one of the best performances of the year of any category. In Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett was given a lot to work with yet she nails every single one of all those emotions. It’s one I appreciate a lot from her because it works right up her alley. It’s a character that is histrionic and gives Blanchett a lot of breathing room to portray her. With that said, she was also good in Jasmine’s calmer moments, so that says a lot about her performance here. And how do I even begin with Suzanne Clement? Clement was simply sensational. As Fred, it was such a difficult task for one to give a complete understandable portrayal of this character, but Suzanne defied all of those and turned out one of the best performances I have ever seen. The gamut of emotions she displayed all throughout the movie whether it’s frustration, happiness, contentment, and vulnerability were all spot on. It was simply a wild ride to witness her performance here. Like mentioned in the breakthrough category, Adele Exarchopoulos is simply a revelation in Blue is the Warmest Color. It’s one her naive looks contributed to her character. I love how she just bared herself in this, and I’m not simply referring to her physical nudity. It’s the one where she just opened up all of her to further show the innocence and inquisitive side of Adele. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have Brie Larson of Short Term 12. While other characters gave their actors a lot to work on, Larson’s Grace was pretty much low key. But I think that’s what also makes the portrayal work. It stands out in a field of showy characters, as Larson’s one still stood out despite lack of that. And between her role in House of Cards and The Congress, I’m totally digging Robin Wright lately. Playing herself in The Congress, it takes a different kind of guts to sacrifice your career under scrutiny like what was done to her character here. And yet her energy still increased as the film progressed. The abundant emotions in one scene in the film totally left me impressed and she was able to keep the momentum until the end. Really. Such a towering great performance.

BRONZE: Adele Exarchopoulos,  Blue is the Warmest Color
SILVER: Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel 1915
GOLD: Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways

best director

 

I don’t particularly think that what Abdellatif Kechiche did in Blue is the Warmest Color is particularly and completely original, but what I admire about it is how he had a clear grasp of what he wants to convey in the film. Sure, the long shots, the repetitive actions, the final scene have been done before, but I did not feel like he was imitating, but more of an instance where in that’s what he foresees to happen given the situation. His portrayal of the lust, love, heartbreak, relationship, and innocence is on point that it’s hard to argue with what he’s presenting. In Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron comes up with a defining masterpiece that will always set the standard for directors to come close to in the years to come. Everyone is simply in awe with what he did in the film, and it is obvious why it is such. The whole film was one great directorial achievement. It’s a visual spectacle that will go down in history books. Spike Jonze, on the other hand, showcased the vulnerability of the human soul in Her that despite one’s feelings towards the overall film, it’s hard not to, at least, appreciate his efforts in doing so. Jonze has a knack of introducing us to world we’ve never been to, and Her is definitely another addition to that. Simply for the shifting points of view and the distinct illustration of such, Francois Ozon was every inch the entertainer in In the House and his playfulness was clearly visible. Xavier Dolan (who continues to impress and brings out the envy in me) at 23 years old managed to come up with something as great as Laurence Anyways. As if it’s not captivating yet on where he gets all these inspiration, what I’m particularly in awe with here is how he clearly mixed style with substance without one upstaging the other and instead the two areas complimenting each other resulting to the film. It’s a confident and mature take that clearly lures you in while watching. And say what you want about Harmony Korine as a person, but his direction in Spring Breakers is a fascinating achievement since he’s clearly aware of what he wants to present to his audience which leads to a great movie watching experience.

BRONZE: Xavier Dolan,  Laurence Anyways
SILVER: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
GOLD: Spike Jonze, Her

best picture

 

And we’ve finally reach the end of the road. The final award of the night is also the most important one: Best Picture. Here’s a breakdown of my six favorite films of the year: Blue is the Warmest Color is such a passionate film. It’s one that showed the journey of a young woman who delved into herself and experienced the feeling of a first relationship, first heartbreak, first sexual experience among other things, and did all of that in a realistic manner. The intensity of the film radiates from the screen to the viewers that it’s so painful to take all of these emotions in, and that’s where the film succeeds. In Her, the intimacy between two existing beings was put into the center and it spoke volumes especially now that we’re living in the modern times where technology is no longer an option, but a necessity. Where does the extent of communicating work? How does it make us connected with other people? With our own self? Her was poignant and devastating and a painful reminder that while there are lots of possibilities out there, not all of them will really work the way we hope they will. Instead of telling a story, Inside Llewyn Davis presents us a song. It’s one love song that while not totally optimistic, gives us a ground of reality that one usually finds himself in. Sometimes it’s really hard to grasp the reality where we live in, but it gives us an option whether to settle for what’s presented to us or continue to be hopeful and wish that we can rise to the occasion. In the House was totally relaxed and intriguing as it taps the inner inquisitive in us. It further blurs the line of actual reality to our perception of such but in a cool and collective manner. It presents the conflict that writers usually encounter: when do we know if intrusive is intrusive enough? If what we’re exposing is still what’s being exposed or what we want to be exposed? The approach of conflict used here is lively and exciting and a delightful movie seeing experience. Laurence Anyways is raw take on a person’s transformation. It’s so magical to see the two main characters transform right in front of you yet it doesn’t feel exploitative and contrived but even view it as honest. It’s an exposition of each and everyone’s uniqueness and how everyone around us (especially those close to us) will be reacting towards it. It didn’t go the preachy route, but what’s impressive is that it acknowledged that it happens. If anything, it makes you feel more submerged in learning and discovering your own identity more which resonated me on a more personal level. Plus that ending is definitely one of my favorites ever. Lastly, Spring Breakers is a brilliant and hilarious celebration of different archetypes. On one hand, it’s another take on the American dream and the validation of youth nowadays to be a part of something wild and exciting to feel and emphasize their freedom. On the other, it’s like a conscious parody since it’s clearly aware of what it’s portraying. This is a hypnotic approach to such a a self serving statement, and the whole Everytime part is one of my year’s favorite scenes.

BRONZE: In the House
SILVER: Laurence Anyways
GOLD: Her

As a recap, here are the winners of my 2013 Tit for Tat Film Awards:

PICTURE: Her
DIRECTOR: Spike Jonze, Her
LEAD ACTOR: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
LEAD ACTRESS; Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways
SUPPORTING ACTOR: James Franco, Spring Breakers
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Scarlett Johansson, Her
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Spike Jonze, Her
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Francois Ozon, In the House
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Past (Asghar Farhadi)
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: The Congress  (Ari Folman)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM: Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
ART DIRECTION: Laurence Anyways
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Her
COSTUME DESIGN: Laurence Anyways
EDITING: Captain Phillips
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: Laurence Anyways
ORIGINAL SCORE: Her
ORIGINAL SONG: Become the Color (Stoker)
SOUND: Gravity
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Gravity
FIRST FEATURE: Anthony Chen, Ilo Ilo
ENSEMBLE: The Past

Whew! That was really long. What a film year! Excited for 2014! What are your favorites from 2013?

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted March 25, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Tit for Tat Awards

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