- Best Villain/Badass: Dr. Heiter, played by Dieter Laser in The Human Centipede. I know, this category is lame. What a bad year for villainy. I seriously considered nominating "speech impediments" (from The King's Speech), that's how bad this year was for villains. I suppose I could add CLU from TRON: Legacy now that I've seen that, but even he is a bit of a lame villain. Ivan Vanko would have been a great candidate if the movie he was in didn't suck so bad. The other nominees were fine, I guess, but in the end, I had to go with everyone's favorite mad scientist, Dr. Heiter, played with a manic and malevolent swagger by (best actor name ever?) Dieter Laser, in one of the more aggressively disgusting horror movies of the year.
- Best Hero/Badass: Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl, played by Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass. Now this was a much more difficult category to pick a winner in, as there have been lots of great heroic badasses this year. There are a couple that definitely weren't in the running (notably Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie, though I enjoy both of their characters and their movies), but the rest were pretty much on a level playing field, though how could Hit-Girl not come out on top. I suppose there's something of a controversy around such a young actress portraying such a foul-mouthed and violent character, but I'll be damned if she wasn't hysterically funny and totally badass at the same time. If the movie makes my top 10, it will most likely be because of this character and Moretz's performance. At the time I wasn't sure if such an aggressively juvenile film or the novelty of seeing an 11 year old girl swear like a sailor whilst eviscerating her enemies would stand the test of time. So far, at least, it has. I mean, how can this award not go to the character that responds to the seemingly reasonable inquiry of how to contact her in case of an emergency with this: "You just contact the mayor's office. He has a special signal he shines in the sky; it's in the shape of a giant cock." Brilliant.
- Best Comedic Performance: Kieran Culkin in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I'm as surprised as you are about this one, but he was damn funny in one of the few movies I found really funny this year. I did seriously consider Chloe Moretz for this one, but then, she's only in her movie for a short period of time overall, and a lot of that is really just action. This is really a category where none of the nominees really jumped out at me, so I really just gave it to the movie I thought best deserved to get a comedic award, at which point, Scott Pilgrim actually does stand out. Thats a lame way to pick a winner, I guess, but I really didn't have any other good ideas.
- Breakthrough Performance: Armie Hammer in The Social Network. Another difficult choice, though this time because there were too many good choices. The shortlist included Noomi Rapace and Jennifer Lawrence (and, ok, Emma Stone), but I ended up going with Hammer because I have to admit, I thought he was awesome in the movie AND that I didn't even realize he was playing two parts (he plays both Winklevoss twins, a testament to his acting ability and the special effects used to pull off those scenes). In the past, this award has traditionally gone to someone I knew, but never expected much out of... Previous winners include Rosario Dawson, Mila Kunis, Josh Brolin and Tom Hardy, all people who I knew and underestimated. This years nominees were mostly young folks who don't have much to their credit, which is very different than years past. Strange, but Hammer was really fantastic in his roles, and I look forward to seeing more of him...
- Most Visually Stunning: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. There seem to be two different types of visually stunning movie nominated every year - gorgeously photographed movies (for this year, think True Grit, Valhalla Rising, Winters Bone and Shutter Island) and movies that have lots of pretty special effects or animation (like Inception or the Secret of Kells), and I seem to generally favor the special effects for some reason. I'm not really sure why, perhaps because the films I choose tend to be more fast paced and have lots of visual pyrotechnics and creativity, like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. All of this year's nominees are pretty great from a visual perspective though.
- Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: Inception. Not sure how much actual science is there, but Inception certainly has the look and feel of great science fiction and it evokes that great sensawunda feeling that makes SF so entertaining. It sets up a complicated set of rules and then subverts them, but it does so in an internally consistent way, which is what makes this movie so great. None of the other nominees really came close (i.e. this is the first easy category this year!), though I will note that I got a very similar vibe from the little-seen Triangle (even if that one's even less of SF and more horror/fantasy).
- Best Sequel: Toy Story 3. This is usually a very difficult category to populate, but this year there were several worthy nominees, though I have to admit that I let a few crappy ones in, notably Piranha 3D, which I allowed based solely on the power of one scene (which will come up when we get to the arbitrary awards next week). I also wanted to note that I was really surprised at how well Paranormal Activity 2 fit into the first movie. There's some clear retconning going on there, but it fits surprisingly well. But in the end, how could I not give this to Toy Story 3? A fantastic movie, sequel or not, and it will most likely be finding its way onto my top 10.
- Biggest Disappointment: Cop Out. I don't know why I had such high expectations for this one, but I apparently did, and boy did it let me down. With the exception of Sean William Scott's performance, the film is pretty bad. From the cheesy Fletch-wannabe music score to the crappy writing to the boring performances (Bruce Willis mostly just sleeping his way through the movie, while Tracy Morgan was entirely too unrestrained), there's not much to recommend about this movie. I really like Kevin Smith's movies, but I have to admit that I'm confused by this direction - if anything, he should be writing scripts for other directors, not the other way around. As for the other nominees, I didn't really love Iron Man as much as everyone else, so the complete failure of the sequel wasn't really a surprise to me. Splice would be most accurately described as an "interesting failure", which isn't that bad in my book. Mother was actually a pretty good movie, but it's gotten so much play from almost every critic out there that I went into it with expectations that were way too high. And I wasn't expecting that much out of Doghouse in the first place. So yeah, Cop Out was the natural choice for me.
- Best Action Sequences: Kick-Ass. Another difficult category, and I'm a little surprised that I ended up with Kick-Ass, but it does, well, Kick-Ass. Part of it might just be the novelty of the young heroine (see Best Hero/Badass award above), but another part of it is that there simply wasn't a ton of competition this year. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Inception were on the shortlist for this one, but I felt like Inception was driven more by its ideas than its action, while the action sequences in Scot Pilgrim seemed to get a bit repetitive and desensitizing by the end of the film. Kick-Ass was also sorta making fun of itself as well, which helps.
- Best Plot Twist/Surprise: Triangle. Always a difficult category to talk about, as I don't want to give anything away, but I found Triangle pretty consistently surprising. Once I got about 30 minutes in, some stuff happened, and I really had no idea where the rest of the movie would go, and that happens a couple times as the movie goes on. Like Inception, it's got a lot of moving parts that all seem to fit together in the end, but which you don't really see coming until they're there. Of course, it's important to go into the movie knowing as little as possible about it, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem for this underseen movie. Inception was a runner up, as was Exit Through the Gift Shop, neither of which really employ conventional plot twists, to be sure (heck one of them is a documentary!), but both of which took me somewhere interesting that I wasn't expecting. Catfish was kinda predictable and as critic Michael Phillips notes in the latest Filmspotting, The Secret in Their Eyes is like a really great two-episode Law & Order: Buenos Aires (if such a thing existed).
- Best High Concept Film: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Always a difficult category to populate and pick a winner for because the concept is a bit nebulous to start with, but when I thought about this award and Exit Through the Gift Shop, it just made more and more sense. Here's a movie ostensibly about street art, but which ends up examining the person who shot most of the footage in detail, then mercilessly critiquing the art world and hype and ultimately, even itself. The movie is critically examining the very idea of high concept art, so how could it not win? The runner up would have to be The Human Centipede, which is entirely reliant on the disgusting high-concept premise at its core (almost to its detriment).
- 2010's 2009 Movie of the Year: (tie) Black Dynamite and Mystery Team. There are no clear standouts here, and the two I ended up with are both flawed, but only in ways that I find kinda endearing. For instance, the faux-blaxploitation of Black Dynamite begins to wear thin towards the end, though there are several brilliant sequences in the film (such as the montage in the park where he's kinda playing with his girlfriend). Mystery Team is a little too silly for its own good, but I actually really enjoyed that part of the film. Interestingly, almost all of the nominees here are pretty much comedies. Some have other elements as well, but they're mostly comedies, which is strange.
2010 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners!
The nominations for the 2010 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I'll be announcing the winners of those formal awards. Later in the week, I'll cover less traditional categories in what we like to call the Arbitrary Awards, and at some point in the near future, I'll post my top 10 of 2010 (this will most likely happen in early to mid-February). So let's get this party started: