- Best Villain/Badass: (tie) Calvin Candie and Stephen, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained and The Zec, played by Werner Herzog in Jack Reacher. A total copout, but these two selections are hands down the best of the bunch, and their are tradeoffs for each. Django Unchained is clearly the better movie, but it's already got a lot of attention (and will get more) and I actually nominated two different characters in one nomination (another cheat). Both characters are great, and both feature standout performances from their respective actors (both of whom have a tendency to be a bit samey with their choices, but not here). Herzog's character, on the other hand, is singularly awesome, deeply abstruse, frightening, and totally the best part of Jack Reacher. Unfortunately, while I enjoy the movie and think it's a bit underseen, it doesn't really stand up to Django in terms of quality. Plus, Herzog's only in the movie for a few minutes. Glorious minutes, though. I really couldn't decide between the two, so they both win. The other nominees weren't slouches, to be sure, but they just couldn't compare. Special callouts to Lena Headey's Ma Ma, who elevated a thankless part, and Javier Bardem's Silva, which is probably more due to that utterly fantastic introduction than anything else.
- Best Hero/Badass: The Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers. This was a stronger category this year, so the decision as also more difficult. That being said, The Hulk/Bruce Banner is clearly a challenging character, as evidenced by the fact that no less than 2 other movies (and good ones too) have made the attempt over the past few years and pretty much failed. Both of those movies have their merits, I guess, but it's not until you see The Avengers that you realize just how flawed those previous attempts were. Now, sure, The Hulk is but one part of a team, but he's the clear standout of the movie, perhaps because he's the biggest surprise. Django Unchained, who were absolutely brilliant. Barry Bostwick's performance as Franklin Delano Roosevelt was fearless, a necessity for a movie as ridiculous as FDR: American Badass!. Jessica Chastain as Maya was great in Zero Dark Thirty, worth the nomination for the "I'm the motherfucker that found this place." line alone. I seriously considered this as an offbeat choice, playing against the more ostentatious badassery by picking someone who spends the majority of the movie analyzing files and videos and whatnot. Alas, I went for the more obvious choice.
- Best Comedic Performance: Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. This might be the most surprising movie of the year. I remember being perplexed when the initial good reviews came in, and even more flummoxed when I actually saw the movie, which was hilarious. Tatum, too, was a bit of a surprise, as he showed a goofy openness and magnetic personality that you just didn't get when he was, say, Duke in G.I. Joe. Special mention, again, to Barry Bostwick's fearless performance as FDR, and Seann William Scott in Goon (worth the nomination for the E.T. speech alone). I kinda hate Mark Wahlberg as an actor, but he was a good fit for Ted, and that scene you always here where he's trying to guess Ted's white-trash girlfriend's name is brilliant.
- Breakthrough Performance: Channing Tatum in Haywire, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike. Two wins for Tatum? Well, he had a very good year, and it was just so surprising coming from someone who seemed like a charismatic black hole before (not that I had much exposure to Tatum - not much of a fan of dance movies, either, so perhaps he showed some sense of life in those Step Up things). Next choice would have been Jessica Chastain, who was fantastic. Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey were both included because these were two actors that I'd totally written off this late in their careers, but who put in some great, unusual performances in 2012.
- Most Visually Stunning: Prometheus. It's a little depressing that most winners of this award are movies that I don't particularly care for. Usually, there's some element of artistic respect, but Prometheus is just not a very good movie. Visually, though, it's spectacular. Django Unchained (which I loved), or maybe The Master (which I didn't). And a special callout to Detention for the most hyperactive visual sense. And that gorgeous red hair in Brave. And the landscapes in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. And the highrise fight sequence in Skyfall. And ok, fine, maybe this category was harder to pick than I'm letting on.
- Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: The Cabin in the Woods. Ultimately a pretty tight race between that movie and Detention, both of which will receive further recognition, because they're both pretty fantastic. All of the other nominees are worthwhile, and genre fans would do well to seek them out.
- Best Sequel/Reboot: The Avengers. I suppose you could argue that this isn't technically a "sequel", but really, it is. And it was actually much better than I was expecting. Thrilling, exciting, and a return to just plain fun entertainment (as opposed to the grim and gritty direction comic book movies seemed to be moving in). I enjoyed all of the other nominees well enough, but The Avengers is the one I like the most. It's also the only one I sought to revisit...
- Biggest Disappointment: Prometheus. Aside from the visuals, this was possibly the worst movie I saw all year. It's just so mindnumbingly, unforgivably stupid in so many ways. I wasn't a big fan of any of the other nominees either, though they all were mildly enjoyable enough diversions, and none of them quite managed to anger me like Prometheus did. In truth, I had difficulty populating the nominees for this category, which is a sign of a pretty good year.
- Best Action Sequences: The Raid: Redemption. Duh. This thing is pretty much wall-to-wall action. Exquisitely choreographed martial arts sequences, mixed with some weapon work and some just all around awesomeness. It shares some similarities with the underrated and underseen Dredd, and I have to wonder how I'd feel if I saw The Raid after Dredd... but I suspect I'd still respond more to The Raid. I also wanted to make special mention of Haywire, which had some of the most memorable action sequences of the year. The fights in that movie have this really raw sensibility that is striking, and the fact that Gina Carano is pretty badass out here in the real world (she's apparently an MMA star) serves that film well. I also wanted to callout just how impressive The Dark Knight Rises was in IMAX. I saw the movie twice in theaters, and the action sequences were seemingly much more effective in that larger format. The other nominees were all rather good as well, and worth checking out for action junkies.
- Best Plot Twist/Surprise: The Cabin in the Woods. Another category where Detention was a strong contender with Woods. Still, Cabin in the Woods was seemingly filled with twists, right from the very opening of the film, leading all the way to the button/elevator sequence, which was surprising in the most awesome way. Once again, all of the nominees are strong films, well worth seeking out.
- Best High Concept Film: Detention. And finally, Detention manages to defeat The Cabin in the Woods. Manic, kinetic, exuberant, energetic, Detention is a movie that is all over the place, and you never know where it's going to go next. It's a movie made for the information overloaded, internet soaked generation, and it's clearly calibrated for a younger audience when it comes to the way it presents information. And once again, the rest of the slate of nominees is really good, so check them out.
- 2012's 2011 Movie of the Year: Bobby Fischer Against the World. I had a rough time choosing the nominees for this, mostly because I didn't see a lot of 2011 movies in 2012, but the winner was a pretty clear choice for me. I have a fascination with this type of story, the obsessive genius who pursues one subject to the detriment of pretty much everything else. We'll see a flavor of this in my top ten for 2012 too, though it's a little different. Anyway, the biggest surprise of the nominees was Fright Night, a movie that I was shocked to enjoy so much, even if it's not exactly fine cinema!
2012 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners!
The nominations for the 2012 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I'll be announcing the winners of said awards. Next 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 2012 (this will most likely happen in mid-February, usually the week before the Oscars). So let's get this party started: