2011 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners!

The nominations for the 2011 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I'll be announcing the winners of those 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 2011 (this will most likely happen in early to mid-February). So let's do this thing:
  • Best Villain/Badass: The Plague (Rip & Grinder), played by Nick Bateman and Peter Simas in Hobo with a Shotgun. They might not be the main villains of the piece and they're only in the film for a short time, but they stole the show. The Plague are basically a duo of over-armored demonic bounty hunter assassins. Or something like that. At one point in the film, you see their lair, and they have a bunch of old, crossed-off bounties on the wall. Among their victims: Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, and the Easter Bunny. The Plague was best thing about Hobo With a Shotgun and certainly the best badass villain of the year.
    The Plague
    Competition wasn't weak either. Mickey Rourke was pretty great in Immortals. Michael Fassbender was fantastic as a young Magneto in X-Men: First Class, though he sorta straddles the line between villain and hero in this particular installment. The film wasn't all that good and the character wasn't written that well, but Christoph Waltz seemed to be having a lot of fun in The Green Hornet (though again, not much of a villain). And so on, but no one can compare to The Plague. My understanding is that there will be a Plague spin-off movie, which is something I would normally find uninteresting, but for whatever reason, I do want to see that movie!
  • Best Hero/Badass: Hanna, played by Saoirse Ronan in Hanna. And so a young female character takes this award two years in a row. I loved the movie, a sorta art-house action flick, and young Hanna was pretty damn badass throughout (and her dad, played by Eric Bana, is no slouch either.) Competition was high for this award. Rutger Hauer's hobo from Hobo with a Shotgun was most assuredly a runner-up, as he's totally badass and pretty damn funny (I love the "bear" monologue in the film). Immortals had lots of heroic badassery, but it was spread out between lots of characters. I ended up picking Poseidon as the nominee because his trident made him instantly recognizable, and he was totally kicking ass against the titans at the end. I think Sucker Punch, while not without its flaws, was unfairly maligned this year, which is why I nominated it for a bunch of awards, including this one.
  • Best Comedic Performance: Ellen Page in SUPER. If comic book nerds weren't already in love with Ellen Page, then they are now. Her performance was the highlight of SUPER. She's just so quirky and enthusiastic. A little demented too, but Page makes it work and because of her liveliness, she takes the award. None of her fellow nominees had to rise to that sort of challenge, but there's still some good ones on the list. In a lot of ways, Midnight in Paris suffers from typical Woody Allen tropes, but the scenes in the past with the historical figures were wonderful - I picked Corey Stoll because his performance as Hemmingway was one of the more memorable things about the movie. I love the hell out of Tucker and Dale vs Evil, and Tyler Labine led that charge. I liked Bridesmaids a lot, but it just wasn't that funny. I have a soft spot for Harold and Kumar and I was nice to see them again, but it all still pales in comparison to the original. The Muppets was a delight and Cedar Rapids was a lot of fun (and come to think of it, perhaps I should have nominated John C. Reilly for that one), but neither could really compare with Ellen Page in this category...
  • Breakthrough Performance: Elle Fanning in Super 8. A mildly disappointing movie that was elevated significantly by Fanning's performance. Her "acting" scenes in the film were probably the most memorable thing about the film and instantly had me penciling her in for this award... and no one could unseat her! Runner up would be Michael Parks's intense performance as a cult leader in Red State. Chris Hemsworth is one charismatic guy, and he managed to single-handedly make Thor kinda interesting (despite the fact that the film kinda stunk). Alison Pil was great, but I probably should have nominated her for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last year as that was the more memorable breakthrough performance (she was great in Midnight in Paris too). Rooney Mara did an excellent job in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a film that otherwise fell a little flat for me.
  • Most Visually Stunning: The Tree of Life. Say what you will about how pretentious it is or how personal it is or how much you like/hate it, you have to admit that it's a gorgeous film. I kinda hated a lot of things about this movie, but I was so mesmerized by the visuals that I watched the whole thing without complaint. Lots of competition for the award this year, but nothing even really comes close, which says a lot when you've got a category with Tarsem Singh and David Fincher movies. Sucker Punch gets another nod here too, because it was also a very pretty movie to look at. Meek's Cutoff, Melancholia, and Drive were a little slow, but immaculately composed and shot. Rubber was too, but it connected with me a lot better... but I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll talk more about this movie in just a moment...
  • Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: Rubber. What a wonderfully absurd and weird movie. It's a little slow moving, but visually interesting enough to keep momentum, and it has a lot to say about movies and audiences. Plus, it's about a tire named Robert who can use his telepathic powers to make people's head explode. Not sure it's really "scary", but it was among the most interesting films of the year for me (genre film or not), so it wasn't hard to pick this one as a winner.
    Rubber
    Attack the Block would probably take the silver here, as it was just a big ball of fun and there were some thematic confluences with real world events that helped make this movie more interesting than it even intended... Source Code doesn't entirely work, but I enjoyed it quite a bit anyway and it's hard to knock Duncan Jones for producing original SF material (I had a similar conflicted feeling about his previous effort, Moon). I enjoyed both Insidious and Paranormal Activity 3, but both owe a little too much to the original Paranormal Activity to warrant serious consideration. Rise of the Planet of the Apes certainly had its moments, but there were lots of things that didn't really work for me in that movie... Also worthy of note, a last-minute addition to the nominees (as I just watched it yesterday): Another Earth was a very interesting SF movie that seems like it's just using SF as a background, but eventually makes much more of the premise...
  • Best Sequel/Reboot: The Muppets. Always a difficult category to pick, but as already mentioned, The Muppets was a delightful little film and a ton of fun. Is that nostalgia talking? Maybe, though I never watched the Muppets that much as a kid, and I probably haven't even seen all their previous movies, so I wouldn't say I was overwhelmed by subjective feelings here. It's certainly not a perfect film, but how can you not like The Muppets when they're at the top of their game? Old favorites (Rainbow Connection) and new numbers (Am I a Man or a Muppet) both connected well for me, and I generally hate musical numbers. Again, not perfect, but still fun. I've already talked about a few of the other nominees, but I should call out Scream 4, which I think had one of the best opening sequences of the year, and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, wherein an animation director made a pretty great action flick. Also, I nominated Elite Squad II: The Enemy Within because I really enjoyed it, but I never saw the first one, so I should probably catch up with that...
  • Biggest Disappointment: Cowboys & Aliens. And it's probably the worst movie on the list too. It's not like I was expecting fine cinema here, but this movie utterly failed to deliver anything of note. Awful script, mediocre performances, and rather poor visual design as well. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was also quite disappointing, though they did manage to evoke some sense of atmosphere in that movie (still not worth watching). The Squad was a movie that had some buzz going into Fantastic Fest (apparently Tim League loved it), but it was a terrible, terrible movie (for reasons I've already belabored). The remaining nominees were all actually decent movies that just didn't manage to live up to high expectations.
  • Best Action Sequences: 13 Assassins and Immortals. I couldn't decide. This category was the most difficult of the year, as most of the nominees could easily take home the award. 13 Assassins gets the nod for its climactic battle, a well constructed 45 minute action sequence that has a lot of heft. Immortals is just gorgeous to look at, and some of the action sequences are very well composed. One thing that I'm very happy to see is that most action films this year tended towards clear, steady photography (as opposed to shaky-cam/quick cut), and that went over very well in a movie like Immortals (which also used slow motion to great effect). Rise of the Planet of the Apes really only had one great action sequence (on the Golden Gate Bridge), and Drive, well, didn't have enough driving in it (aside from the first sequence of the film, which was superb - and I like the rest of the film a lot too, just not necessarily as an action movie). The Yellow Sea is notable mainly for its hatchet fights (yeah, you read that right - one of the characters in particular favors the hatchet as his weapon of choice, and it's pretty badass). Hanna had a fantastic single tracking shot action sequence that was pretty astounding too (this one was also pretty close for the win). Really, this has been a great year for unconventional action movies - all of the nominees are worth watching.
  • Best Plot Twist/Surprise: Tabloid. I bet you didn't see this one coming. Especially since I didn't nominate the winner. In looking at the nominees, nothing was really jumping out at me, so I went back through all the movies I saw, and I realized that Tabloid fit pretty well. It's a documentary, so there's no real "plot" twists, but the movie consistently surprised me in the direction it went. Just when I thought the story couldn't get crazier, it did. And then it got even more crazy. None of the other nominees feature what would traditionally be called a huge plot twist, which is perhaps my problem. However, they all have surprises in them, and I actually quite enjoyed all of them. I do want to call out Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which has taken a lot of flak because it doesn't feature a typical spy thriller twist at the end. But I found the movie quite surprising at times, and while the ultimate "mole" was kinda irrelevant, there were enough other things going on that I thought it was a worthwhile venture...
  • Best High Concept Film: Rubber. I mean, come on, how much more high concept can you get? A sentient tire becomes self-animated and gains telepathic powers which it uses to go on a killing spree in the desert, all orchestrated by a weird police officer who has also commissioned an audience to watch the whole thing. Sheer insanity, and one of my favorites of the year. Other nominees are pretty good too. I love the premise of Tucker and Dale vs Evil and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, both of which are really clever. A Boy and His Samurai has a really tired high concept premise, but executes it so well that it doesn't really matter. Hobo with a Shotgun would have been a potential winner if it wasn't for the fact that it's not the first movie to be made that's based on a fake movie trailer. But ultimately it has to be Rubber. It was always Rubber.
  • 2011's 2010 Movie of the Year: Red Hill. This is an Australian movie with no real stars (closest thing to it is Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jason on True Blood) and a pretty simple plot: A young police officer on his first day in a small town has to deal with a murderer who escaped prison and is seeking revenge. As it turns out, though, it's a very well executed thriller. And it features someone that would have made a great nominee for best villain/badass last year (a pretty thin year for villainy). Anyways, this was a pretty lackluster category this year - I guess I saw most of the important stuff last year!
Well there you have it. Stay tuned for the Arbitrary Awards on Wednesday and, eventually, the top 10 of 2011.